12.31.03 BOISE, Idaho (AP) -- Loudspeakers blaring out the recorded sound of gunfire or other loud noises or dog shock collars could resolve problems with wolves before ranchers resort to a rifle bullet, researchers believe. Since the federal reintroduction of 35 wolves into Idaho in 1995-1996, conservationists have warred with opponents of the predator. In the past three years, at least 30 wolves have been killed or removed in and around the Sawtooth National Recreation Area due to conflicts with livestock. "There's no one simple solution for the wolves," said John Shivik with the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Wildlife Services. "What we're trying to produce is options. You can never have too many tools in your toolbox." Shivik, Adrian Treves with the Wildlife Conservation Society in New York and Peggy Callahan of the Wildlife Science Center in Forest Lake, Minn., reported on those alternatives in the December issue of Conservation Biology. They researched whether devices -- called RAG or radio-activated guard boxes -- would scare off wolves. The RAG boxes have cassette players that are activated to broadcast loud noises when wolves with radio collars come too close. The three researchers compared the predators' consumption of road-killed deer carcasses and of dog food before and after being exposed to the noise. The sound scared the wolves off to the point that roadkill consumption dropped by two-third and dog food consumption by three-quarters. This experiment was done on wild wolves and bears in Wisconsin. The problem with the RAG boxes is wolves can learn to ignore the noise. Instead of scaring the wolves, electric collars like those used to train dogs may teach them to stay away from livestock, said Shivik, who has researched their use. They would also activate if the wolves get too close to calves or lambs protected by the system. "It's the same way that wolves learn not to eat porcupines," he said. "It's just not worth it." Federal experts have about a dozen RAG boxes at their disposal in Idaho, said Carter Niemeyer, Idaho wolf coordinator for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. He agrees the wolves can become habituated to the boxes and they work better in tight spaces than wide-open range. And an inherent problem in the West is most wolves are not collared. Niemeyer estimated there are about 760 wolves in Idaho, Wyoming and Montana, where the recovery project has been concentrated. About 360 are in Idaho. Although some wolves are captured and collared each winter, only about 50 Idaho animals have collars, Niemeyer said. The RAG boxes and shock collars may not be a complete answer, but they may save some wolves and livestock. "High-technology devices are much more expensive, complicated and limited in effectiveness than a single bullet from a high-powered rifle, but they also allow a predator to live -- surely the goal of conservation," Shivik said.
12.29.03 ANCHORAGE (AP) --Animal rights activists were taking advantage of the post-Christmas shopping in New York this weekend to hand out pamphlets calling for a tourism boycott of Alaska. Friends of Animals are angry about a decision by Gov. Frank Murkowski to allow aerial wolf hunts in the McGrath area. "Save a wolf. Sign a postcard. Boycott Alaska," Friends of Animals worker Bob Orabona called out to the crowd rushing past Rockefeller Center. Orabona held a sign depicting a howling wolf with cross hairs drawn over its chest. "Alaska is planning a heart-stopping wildlife spectacle," the placard read. "They call it 'management.' We call it murder." The Connecticut-based animal rights organization staged demonstrations around the country in the last weekend of the year to protest the state's wolf-control plan, which calls for shooting about 40 wolves in the McGrath area with the help of aircraft. The group printed 50,000 postcards addressed to Murkowski calling the lethal program unethical and disgraceful and warning of a boycott. Priscilla Feral, president of Friends of Animals, hopes to mirror the success of a similar protest in 1992 against a wolf control program supported by then-Gov. Walter J. Hickel. State officials received more than 100,000 letters and phone calls objecting to the plan and finally bowed to the pressure from Alaska's tourism industry. Murkowski said this month that he's concerned about a tourism boycott but is holding firm. "We think we addressed this in a responsible manner. We have a state to manage and game populations to manage, and we're not going to do it on emotion," Murkowski said. And state officials note, this protest does not appear to be generating the same steam as 1992. To date, only about 15,000 e-mails and 1,000 letters have been received protesting the program. "So far, it hasn't been anywhere near the same level of interest," said Wayne Regelin, deputy director for the state Wildlife Conservation division.
12.26.03 LIVINGSTON, Mont. (AP) A wolf that had wandered far afield was captured in the Paradise Valley last week, just a few days after a resident pack had attacked sheep for the first time. The wolf, a male at least 2 years old, wore a radio collar and ear tags and had last been spotted west of Salmon, Idaho, on Oct. 22, according to Carter Niemeyer, wolf recovery coordinator for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in Idaho. That same wolf was captured Dec. 19 by a leghold trap south of here, in the Eight Mile area. The trap is owned by a private trapper seeking coyotes, who notified authorities when he found he had captured a wolf instead. The wolf had traveled about 180 air miles, which translates into a lot more than that, considering the rough country between central Idaho and the Paradise Valley. The wolf was part of the Moyer Basin pack, which is suspected in some livestock depredations. Niemeyer said the animal started wandering away from the eight-member pack in August. His signal was picked up Oct. 22, but he wasn’t located again until he turned up in Montana last week. Wolves occasionally break off from their pack and disperse over large distances, sometimes hundreds of miles. The animal was released from the trap, unharmed except for a sore foot. It was fitted with a new radio collar and is now considered part of the Yellowstone population of wolves. Last spring, a similar event happened when a Yellowstone wolf wandered to an area north of Boise and was captured. That animal has been collared and is now considered part of the Idaho population. The swap also illustrates that it’s possible for separate wolf populations to connect, something that’s been a goal for wolf advocates.
12.25.03 LANSING, Mich. (Detroit Free Press/Knight Ridder) Howling frequently reverberates around Lansing -- typically over budget cuts. Now get ready for the real thing. Animal rights groups expect to bring howling dogs and audiotapes of wolf howls, and do some howling themselves this weekend on the steps of the Capitol in Lansing. They're protesting the State of Alaska's predator control program, which allows pilots and hunters to shoot wolves from airplanes and helicopters to boost moose-hunting prospects near a town in the state's interior. Lansing is one of more than 30 cities where similar howl-ins will occur. Passersby will get postcards to send to Alaska Gov. Frank Murkowski and will be asked to boycott travel to Alaska until the shooting stops. "We don't think they should be killing wolves to make moose hunting more convenient," said Priscilla Feral, president of Friends of Animals, the Connecticut-based group organizing the howl-ins. In New York's Rockefeller Center, a "professional howling instructor" will teach protesters the fine points of raising their voices in unison, said Feral, who says she has no idea how one attains professional status as a howler.
12.24.03 ETHIOPIA (UN Integrated Regional Information Networks) -- A rabies outbreak threatening to wipe out the rare Ethiopian wolf is being controlled by an unprecedented vaccination campaign, wildlife experts said on Wednesday. Dr Stuart Williams, a conservationist fighting to save the endangered animal, told IRIN it was the first time that wildlife in Ethiopia had been vaccinated against disease. There are less than 500 Ethiopian wolves - an animal as rare as pandas - left in the wild, the majority living in the remote mountainous areas of southern Ethiopia. The rabies outbreak occurred in late October, and according to experts threatened the entire wolf population in the Bale Mountains area, 550 km from the capital Addis Ababa. Although 50 wolves have been lost, currently some 40 wolves in 10 packs have been caught and vaccinated ensuring their survival, Williams said. Only 70 per cent of a pack need to be vaccinated to fight rabies and the campaign - which started in November - will continue until March, he added. The last rabies outbreak occurred in 1991 when three quarters of the 300 wolves in the Bale Mountains were wiped out. It has taken a decade for their numbers to get back to 1991 levels, Dr Williams said
12.23.03 OREGON (Statesman Journal) -- The Oregon Fish and Wildlife Commission moved a step closer to dealing with the issue of wolves at the state’s doorstep.After recommending deletion of one element, commissioners recently approved a draft framework to create a Wolf Management Plan. Final approval is scheduled Jan. 9 in Salem during the commission’s regular monthly meeting.The Wolf Advisory Committee met for the first time in November and developed an outline for the draft plan. Next, the committee will begin the work of recommending management policies. No wolves are confirmed to live in Oregon, but biologists expect a permanent population to establish itself from the growing Idaho packs.In talks about the draft, the commission decided to re-move a section on ethical issues related to wolf management because no other Oregon species management plan includes this information. Commission members also affirmed their support of a goal statement adopted in April 2003 for the wolf management plan: “The goal of this management plan is to ensure the longterm survival and conservation of gray wolves as required by Oregon law, while minimizing conflicts with humans, primary land uses and other Oregon wildlife.”
12.23.03 HELENA, Mont. (AP) -- Defenders of Wildlife, which compensates ranchers for livestock killed by wolves, paid out more than $68,000 in the 12-month period that ended in October, the group says. In all, 46 ranchers were compensated for 294 cattle or sheep that were confirmed killed by wolves during the 12-month period. Defenders of Wildlife, which supported the reintroduction of wolves into the Yellowstone ecosystem, established the special fund in 1987 to ensure that ranchers are compensated for livestock lost to the predators. Since 1987, $335,000 has been paid out, said Nina Fascione, vice president of species conservation for the Washington, D.C.-based group. The amount paid out has steadily increased since the first wolves were reintroduced beginning in in 1995 -- from $7,480 in 1996 to more than $62,000 in 2002. "With the wolf population not only growing, but spreading into new areas with more livestock, it was always expected that there would be more depradation," she said. Fascione said that while she didn't want to discount the economic loss that wolf kills have caused individual ranchers, she is surprised at the relatively small number of animals wolves have killed since the species was reintroduced. "It's been a fraction of what they thought it would be," she said. Since the fund was established, Defenders of Wildlife paid out on 1,322 dead animals, including 377 cattle and 897 sheep. The group will reimburse the full market value of sheep or cattle lost only if wildlife officials confirm that the animals were killed by wolves. The group will reimburse 50 percent of market value for animals killed in what is officially regarded as a possible but unproven wolf kill.
12.20.03 ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) -- More than two dozen demonstrations are planned for the weekend after Christmas to urge people to boycott Alaska's $2 billion tourism industry. The animal rights group Friends of Animals is organizing the demonstrations to protest Alaska's predator control program, which allows pilots and hunters to shoot wolves from airplanes. The state contends the program is necessary to increase the harvest of moose near a town in Alaska's Interior. The demonstrations will span the country, from Rockefeller Center in New York City to Union Square in San Francisco, according to the Darien, Conn.-based group. One of the protests will be held in Ontario, Canada. The demonstrations are planned for Dec. 27-28. The animal rights group, which touts 200,000 members, was behind a successful campaign a decade ago that resulted in then-Gov. Walter J. Hickel imposing a moratorium on wolf control. [Priscilla Feral, Friends of Animals president,] said protesters will be given postcards to send to Republican Gov. Frank Murkowski, saying they won't choose Alaska as a tourist destination as long as the state insists on going forward with its wolf-killing program. The state plans to kill about 40 wolves in a 1,700-square-mile area near the Interior town of McGrath where residents have long complained that bears and wolves are eating too many moose. The Board of Game also has approved plans to kill about 100 wolves in the Nelchina basin early next year.
12.19.03 MONTANA (Great Falls Tribune) -- The wolf pack that frequents the North Fork of the Sun River drainage has a new name and is expanding its home range in the Bob Marshall Wilderness. In late 2001 Fish, Wildlife & Parks officials named the wolf pair and six pups that were in the North Fork of the Sun River the Gates Park Pack. That pack is now called the Red Shale Pack, said Ed Bangs, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service's wolf recovery coordinator. The name change was made because the pack is not just in the Gates Park area, but instead is traveling throughout the Bob Marshall. "Last spring that pack, or at least portions of it, made some wide-ranging movements," said Wendy Maples, wildlife biologist with the Rocky Mountain Ranger District in Choteau. "The pack could be west of the Divide," she said. "We aren't exactly sure where the wolves are right now." Ross Salmond, who has a ranch in the area, said he has not seen the pack near his property. And he said he is keeping a close watch. He also has concerns about the size of the pack and potential conflicts. Bangs said the Red Shale Pack has not been involved in any known conflicts. Wildlife managers believe the pack still only includes eight wolves. Last December, it was believed the pack had grown to 14, Bangs said. Some wolves traveling with the pack, however, apparently have left. The wolves also didn't den this year, meaning there likely are no new pups, Maples said. Bangs said he suspects wolf numbers in northwest Montana will be down when the official population reports come out next year. "I think the population is naturally leveling off," he said.
12.17.03 (Rocky Mountain News) The recovery of the highly endangered Mexican wolf may be further at risk under a new agreement among federal, state and tribal leaders, conservationists say. They said the so-called memorandum of understanding places too much authority over the wolves with local officials and the livestock industry. The agreement, signed by only a handful of agencies so far, acknowledges the responsibilities of state, county and tribal governments for the welfare and protection of their citizens, and makes them an intricate part of the management process for the wolves. Michael Robinson of the Center for Biological Diversity in New Mexico said the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is abdicating "life and death" powers over the wolf to agencies more directly responsive to the livestock industry. Robinson said the agreement is intended to give the states more say-so on day-to-day management, although the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is supposed to make the call on "control decisions," or whether to kill wolves that get into trouble. He said the responsibility for restoration of the wolves lies with the Wildlife Service recovery leader, a position that has gone unfilled for six months. But Wildlife Service spokeswoman Elizabeth Slown said that wolf biologist Colleen Buchanan is serving as acting recovery leader and is "doing a good job." Robinson agreed, but said that the wolf restoration plan still calls for a recovery leader to be responsible for decisions on what to do with wolves that wander out of the recovery area or attack livestock. The agreement, which is being signed without public involvement, also concerns Steve Torbit, senior scientist for the National Wildlife Federation. "My feeling is there is a real problem here," he said. "What this appears to be is a systematic program where the Wildlife Service walks away from their responsibilities under the (Endangered Species Act)."
12.16.03 ANCHORAGE (AP) The Alaska Board of Game is moving ahead with plans to expand lethal wolf control in the state. Board members reaffirmed a plan Monday to kill about 40 wolves near the Interior town of McGrath and approved plans to kill about 100 wolves in the Nelchina basin early next year. The board also paved the way for hunters on snowmachines to help out in the new wolf-kill programs after it approved radio and cellular telephone communication between ground and air. The decisions were made during a teleconference held at the Department of Fish and Game in Anchorage. Outside, about two dozen protesters wearing wolf masks and waving signs demonstrated against the state's aerial wolf-kill program in McGrath. Although state attorneys successfully defended the board's McGrath wolf-control plan in court last month, the board reconfirmed the program.None of the basics of the McGrath plan changed. The state still wants private pilot-gunner teams to shoot 40 to 45 wolves in a 1,700-square-mile area near McGrath. Fish and Game research biologist Mark Keech told the board that if wolf and bear predation can be eliminated for two more years, the area's moose herd should grow by about 250 animals, a 50 percent increase. Predator control in the Nelchina basin is substantially different than in McGrath. It calls for using airplanes to find, then land and shoot wolves in an area of nearly 8,000 square miles but aims to reduce the wolf population of about 250 to a level that Fish and Game believes would allow moose to rebound, 135 to 165. The new regulations should be implemented by late January, allowing the Nelchina program to begin. The McGrath program has already started, though poor weather has prevented hunters from shooting any wolves.
12.12.03 MONTANA (AP) A federal wildlife agent killed two wolves Friday after the predators killed about 30 sheep on two Paradise Valley ranches. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service also issued permits to ranchers Friday that allow the killing of up to two wolves over the next 45 days, said Ed Bangs, the agency's wolf recovery coordinator. The wolves belonged to the Lone Bear pack, a group of eight or nine animals and one of three packs north of Yellowstone National Park. "A lot of time if you break the pattern of behavior it will stop," Bangs said. "If there's more problems, the pack will be eliminated. The bottom line is early on we said we wouldn't let wolves become chronic livestock depredators." "They got me first and the next night they got my brother," said rancher Bob Weber. The brothers, who have ranched in the valley for decades, said they had no problems until this week. "The first wolf I ever saw was a dead one this morning," Weber said. Bangs said a second Paradise Valley wolf pack, the Sheep Mountain pack north of Gardiner, killed several cattle this summer. He said an agent recently killed one of those wolves and a rancher with a permit shot another earlier this month. Bangs said the Defenders of Wildlife will compensate the Webers for their losses.
12.11.03 KETCHIKAN, ALASKA (AP) -- Local dogs have been falling prey to wolves in a repeat of events last spring. Boyd Porter, wildlife management biologist with the Alaska Department of Fish and Game, said he has received reports of two dogs killed by wolves and others injured. The attacks this month appear to involve wolves in what Porter called "the town pack" and were centered north of Ketchikan, he said. He urged pet owners to keep dogs and cats within sight. People also should be cautious on hiking trails, he said. The dogs injured by wolves recently were close to home. Kona, an 8 ½-year-old chocolate Labrador retriever, was attacked by wolves Monday night, according to owners Dennis Neill and Faith Duncan. Duncan said the attack happened close to home -- at the foot of a neighbor's driveway. Neill said he saw a wolf in their driveway on Friday morning. Wolf packs typically include five to seven animals, though a pack frequently splits into smaller groups to hunt, Porter said. Revillagigedo Island has an estimated 30 to 50 wolves, he said. "With the snow up high, deer are probably down at lower elevations, and deer numbers are relatively low on this island anyway," the biologist said. "It's not surprising they're looking for secondary food sources."
12.11.03 ANCHORAGE, ALASKA (AP) -- Gov. Frank Murkowski said Wednesday the state won't back away from its aerial wolf control program in McGrath, even if an animal rights group follows through on its promise to target the state with a tourism boycott. Murkowski, a Republican, said the state has a responsibility, particularly to the people of McGrath, to press forward with the program. "I think ultimately it will prove to be successful and we are going to pursue it in the manner we have initiated it," Murkowski told reporters. "We are not deviating from that." The weather has prevented the start of the wolf-killing part of the program, which could have begun Saturday. Murkowski said the state is taking a different approach to wolf control this time around. He said the decision to institute aerial wolf control was made by the game board and has withstood legal challenges. He emphasized that no state employees or state equipment were being used in the effort. "We think it is a responsible approach," Murkowski said. Alaska has a certain mystery to Outsiders who may not fully understand the predator control issue faced by the people of McGrath, the governor said. "They envision this area up there where there is a reduction in the majesty of the wolves, but they never look at the majesty of the moose calf and the rights of that calf to reproduce," Murkowski said.
12.10.03 CODY, Wyoming (AP) -- Of five recent Yellowstone-area wolf deaths under investigation, four of the animals did not die naturally, a federal official said. Three wolves were shot. The signal from the radio collar of one wolf, a black male, was located last week emanating from water near Buffalo Bill Dam. "It's obvious it didn't drown swimming across the reservoir," said Tim Eicher, special agent with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. "The wolf was shot, the collar cut off, and it was thrown in the reservoir." Four of the wolves that died this fall were from the Sunlight Basin pack and the fifth was from the Greybull River pack. Although several deaths have occurred during hunting season, those responsible for killing the wolves "aren't hunters, they're criminals," he said. In fact, hunters often help with investigations, and two hunters reported the deaths of two uncollared Sunlight wolves. "People disagree about wolves, but they don't go out and kill them," Eicher said. "Most people abide by the law." It is a federal crime to kill a wolf without authorization because wolves are protected under the federal Endangered Species Act.
12.9.03 ANCHORAGE, ALASKA (AP) -- An animal rights group is planning "howl-ins" in at least a half-dozen cities the weekend after Christmas to protest a predator control program allowing wolves to be shot from airplanes in Alaska. Using the Internet to spread the word, Friends of Animals is making plans for protests Dec. 27-28 in New York; San Francisco; Sacramento, Calif.; Colorado Springs, Colo.; and Lansing, Mich. Priscilla Feral, president of the group, said Tuesday the response from wolf advocates to launch a protest targeting Alaska's $2 billion tourism business has been enthusiastic. More protests will be held on following weekends in dozens of cities, Feral said. Protesters will be handed postcards to send to Republican Gov. Frank Murkowski, saying they won't choose Alaska as a tourist destination as long as the state insists on going forward with its wolf-killing program. Thirty-thousand post cards have been printed so far, she said. The Darien, Conn.-based group, which has 200,000 members, was responsible for a successful tourism boycott about a decade ago that resulted in then-Gov. Walter J. Hickel imposing a moratorium on wolf control. The group held howl-ins in 51 cities around the country. Something similar is planned this time around, she said. Nance Larsen, spokeswoman for the Anchorage Convention and Visitors Bureau, said Friends of Animals should tell its members that the plan to kill wolves is so people have food to eat. She also said she feels it is unfair to punish an entire industry. The state wants to kill wolves in approximately a 1,700-square-mile area near the Interior town of McGrath where residents have long complained that bears and wolves are eating too many moose. McGrath is off the road system and the nearest large supermarkets are 300 air miles away. The predator control program began this spring with the relocation of 75 black bears and eight grizzlies. State wildlife biologists say the relocation effort boosted the summer moose calf survival rate 20 percent. The next phase of the program calls for killing about 40 wolves. Those wolves would be killed now, while there is enough daylight to track them, and in late winter when conditions improve again. Moose calves are most vulnerable to being eaten by wolves in winter. A state judge refused last week to stop the program. Judge Sharon L. Gleason found that the Alaska Board of Game acted legally in approving the program. The Friends of Animals has asked the judge to reconsider her decision.
12.6.03 ANCHORAGE, ALASKA (AP) -- An Alaska judge has rejected an attempt by an animal rights group to stop a state-sponsored program allowing hunters to shoot wolves from airplanes in Alaska. The move Friday opens the door to a threatened nationwide tourism boycott targeting Alaska's $2 billion tourism business, the same tactic that halted a similar wolf eradication effort a decade ago. Connecticut-based Friends of Animals and seven Alaska plaintiffs asked Superior Court Judge Sharon L. Gleason to grant a preliminary injunction to stop the shooting, part of a wolf control program intended to boost the moose population in some areas. Gleason refused to grant the injunction and lifted a temporary restraining order that had kept three pilot-and-hunter teams grounded since November 26. Friends of Animals president Priscilla Feral said she is considering the possibility of further legal action but declined to elaborate. Friends of Animals, which touts 200,000 members, was behind a successful tourism boycott that resulted in then-Gov. Walter J. Hickel imposing a moratorium on wolf control in 1992. During that boycott, Friends of Animals launched 53 demonstrations called "howl-ins" in 51 cities around the country. The state wants to kill the wolves in approximately a 1,700-square-mile area near the village of McGrath. The program began this spring with the relocation of 75 black bears and eight grizzlies. State wildlife biologists say moving the bears increased the summer survival rate of moose calves by about 20 percent. Such methods of controlling the wolf population have been an emotionally charged issue in Alaska for decades. Before statehood in 1959, shooting wolves from airplanes was common practice. But aerial sport hunting was banned in 1972. The law, however, did allow for aerial shooting for predator control. Alaska voters in 1996 and 2000 banned a similar practice known as land-and-shoot hunting.
12.5.03 (CALGARY Herald) A black wolf killed early Thursday morning near Canmore was likely the last male member of the Bow Valley pack. The small Bow Valley pack, which consisted of a mother and son team, has most likely been reduced to a lone female. A motorist struck a wolf on Highway 1A, 15 kilometres east of Canmore, at about 2 a.m. The driver alerted RCMP to the accident. The death marks the third wolf mortality in the Bow Valley in the past two months. In early October, two individuals of the declining Fairholme pack were killed near the Stewart Creek turnoff, just east of Canmore. In November, the Fairholme pack, which dens in Banff National Park, sustained another blow after a hunter in the Columbia Valley, south of Golden, B.C., shot a two-year-old female from the pack. It is estimated that the Fairholme pack, which once boasted 17 members, is now down to about four wolves. Wolves tend to travel great distances and cross several man-made boundaries. To ensure the safety of wolves outside of protected areas, Parks Canada and the governments of Alberta and British Columbia must co-operate, say conservationists and researchers. "If we can't protect the wolves in protected areas, then the fate of wolves in these areas is in doubt," said Jim Pisott, director of Defenders of Wildlife Canada.
12.3.03 YUKON (Whitehorse Star Daily) -- A wolf or wolves are eating pets in the Wolf Creek, Mary Lake and Cowley Creek subdivisions, a Department of Environment spokesman said this morning.“We now have reports of seven or eight dogs that have been killed in the area this winter,” Dennis Senger said in an interview. “And other dogs have gone missing and owners have simply not reported them. We believe the pack may be the same pack that killed three dogs in the Wolf Creek subdivision last year.”Senger said department staff will be working with city staff through the next couple of days to place a network of snares throughout the rural subdivisions that abutt each other south of the city centre.Warning signs will be placed along public trails and other areas where snares are set.While there are plenty of wolf tracks in the area, it’s not clear if the problem is with a lone wolf or a small pack of two or three, he said. He said wildlife officers believe the dog killed a couple of weeks ago – originally thought to have been fatally wounded by a pig – was probably killed by this wolf or pack of wolves.
12.2.03 BILLINGS, Mont. (AP) -- Plans that Montana, Idaho and Wyoming drafted to manage gray wolves once they're removed from federal protection should be enough to ensure the animals' survival in the Northern Rockies, experts who reviewed the plans have concluded. But in reports made public Monday, a number of the experts said they are concerned about whether there will be enough money to properly manage the wolves and how the states plan to monitor the animals. A number of the experts found the states' reliance on federal funding troublesome. "The success of the three state plans, or the degree to which they will be implemented, will be dependent upon the amount and annual guarantee of federal funding," wrote Bill Paul, assistant state director with the U.S. Department of Agriculture Wildlife Services in Minnesota. Paul was one of 11 wildlife managers and scientists asked by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to review the three state plans as part of the agency's determination of whether the wolves should be removed from the endangered species list. The 11 wildlife managers and scientists concluded individually that plans Montana, Idaho and Wyoming have submitted for managing the animals should maintain a viable population into the foreseeable future. That, however, doesn't mean a proposal to take the wolves off the endangered species list is imminent, said Ed Bangs, the agency's wolf recovery coordinator in Helena. "We'll take the peer review comments into account but it does not mean that this is the end," Bangs said Monday. Besides funding, reviewers also questioned how wolves would be monitored. At least one reviewer said Idaho's plan was vague on that point. Additionally, some reviewers raised concerns with how Wyoming intends to classify wolves if they are removed from federal protection. Under the Wyoming plan, gray wolves in some areas would be considered trophy game and subject to regulated hunting, while in others they would be classified predators and could be killed with few restrictions. The wolves would be protected in the national parks. Chris Smith, chief of staff with Montana's Department of Fish, Wildlife and Parks, said the state's plan will cost between $800,000 and $1 million a year to implement. He, like officials in other states, believes the federal government should help. "We've said from the get-go, we believe that since this is a national initiative to restore wolves to the Northern Rockies, the people of the nation should share in the cost," he said. "We think it's appropriate that federal funding be made available and I'm fairly confident it will be."