Wolf History, Conservation, Ecology and Behavior

JULY 2004
7.31.04 BOISE, ID (AP) -- Federal wildlife officials killed one gray wolf Friday and may take up to two more animals from the Hazard Lake pack in the backcountry north of McCall, authorities said. The male adult was trapped and killed Friday, a week after authorities exterminated the largest wolf pack in Idaho a few miles to the west. The Hazard Lake pack, which had seven wolves but now has six, is believed to be responsible for the killing of several domestic sheep and leaving dozens of others injured or missing. A guard dog was also injured and another is missing from the attack Thursday morning, said Jeff Foss, field supervisor for the Snake River Fish and Wildlife Office. The animals belonged to the same rancher who lost more than 100 sheep during previous weeks to the Cook pack. All nine wolves of that pack were also killed. The agency may kill two more members of the Hazard pack, five of which wear radio collars. Government trackers have already placed traps in the area, Foss said. However, if the pack's top female wolf is caught, she will be released to take care of any offspring.
7.29.04 BOISE, ID (KBCI ) -- Idaho Two News has learned that federal authorities are investigating a wolf attack in an area near McCall that has been a hotbed of recent wolf attacks. Federal wildlife officials spent Wednesday evening near McCall and confirmed this second attack in less than a month. A USDA Wildlife Services official Todd Grim tells Idaho 2 News there were 2 or 3 different sets of tracks found in the area where the sheep were attacked. 21 of the sheep were severely wounded, 14 more are missing, one guard dog was wounded and another is missing.Grim said he would be surprised if they were required to take out the entire pack due to this attack, but the US Fish & Wildlife Service will decide what course of action to take.Last week, the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service authorized the killing of a pack of nine wolves just north of McCall after authorities linked them to the slaughter of more than 100 sheep. Those wolves were tracked by radio collar and shot by U.S. Department of Agriculture employees who were hunting them from a helicopter and fixed-wing aircraft. The wolves have re-established themselves in Idaho. Since 1995 when the U.S. Government freed 35 Canadian wolves and re-introduced them to Idaho, their numbers have grown to 356 known wolves. Federal officials say the growing number of wolves is leading to larger losses of sheep and cattle. Federal authorities say more packs could be taken out according to Mark Collinge of the USDA Wildlife Service Program. Federal officials told Idaho Two News last week that they were considering destroying two more wolf packs in that area that have been killing livestock despite non-lethal efforts to deter them.
7.29.04 NEBRASKA (Omaha World Herald) -- The wolf population in Wyoming is spreading east, John Hobbs of the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service said. That means younger male wolves looking for territory could wander into Nebraska in a few years, Hobbs said. A similar pattern occurred with mountain lions, he said. They were not seen in Nebraska for nearly a century, but a growing population in the Black Hills of Wyoming and South Dakota forced younger males to move out.
7.27.04 ALPINE, AZ (Tucson Citizen) -- Five Mexican gray wolves were placed in an acclimation pen south of this eastern Arizona town in preparation for the animals' eventual release into the wild. The pack, consisting of a male, a female and their three pups, will stay in the nylon mesh pen for up to two weeks. If the wolves haven't freed themselves by then, they will be released. The area was selected because it has a good amount of prey, a permanent water supply and is isolated, said Paul Overy, wolf project field team leader for the Arizona Department of Game & Fish. Officials will provide food, such as elk or deer killed on the highway, for a short time after the release. The five wolves are part of a government program launched in 1998 to re-establish wild wolf populations in Arizona and New Mexico. Overy said there are about 50 wolves living in the wild in the two states. Terry B. Johnson, the department's endangered species chief, said the latest releases were necessary to help offset wolf deaths last year.
7.25.04 McCALL, ID (AP) -- The largest wolf pack in Idaho has been exterminated by federal agents after killing more than 100 sheep in central Idaho. "Non-lethal methods were tried, but they didn't work and the wolves continued to kill sheep," said Carter Niemeyer, wolf recovery coordinator for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. "We won't tolerate wolves that are confirmed to be chronically killing livestock." Niemeyer said the nine wolves in the Cook pack were killed earlier this week and members of two other packs roaming the McCall area could also be killed because they have been attacking livestock. No decision has been made on those packs yet, however. Federal officials said Cook pack wolves killed 90 sheep in the McCall area last year and resumed the attacks early this month. The rancher and his hands camped with the sheep and tried unsuccessfully to scare off the wolves with guard dogs, cracker shells, sirens, lights and live fire from shotguns. Biologists from the Nez Perce Tribe also were unable to prevent the wolves from attacking sheep. It was the second multiple wolf killing in the state this year. Three were shot by federal agents in early March after attacking cattle as far south as the Twin Falls area. The Cook, Partridge and Hazard packs in the McCall area are among nine of the estimated 37 wolf packs in Idaho blamed for the loss of 118 sheep, 13 calves and six guard dogs last year.
7.25.04 SWITZERLAND (NZZ Online) -- The government has introduced a new law making it easier to kill wolves that prey on livestock, even though the endangered animal is a protected species.The legislation is a compromise demanded by parliament to take into account the concerns of sheep farmers.Announcing details on Friday, the Swiss environment agency said the law also gives the cantons more competence to act alone. There has been a small wolf population in Switzerland since 1995, but sheep farmers have not welcomed the predator’s reappearance.Wolves have killed dozens of sheep since they crossed over into the Swiss Alps from Italy. Regulations were introduced in 2001 permitting the shooting of any wolf believed to have killed at least 50 sheep over a four-month period, or 25 in a single month.The minimum has now been lowered to 35 sheep over a four-month time frame, but the cantons will be allowed to lower the number to 15 within a year if wolf attacks continue. The government has also agreed to compensate sheep farmers for lost livestock, footing 80 per cent of the bill, with the rest coming from the cantons.It will also continue to subsidise a pilot project, which employs shepherds and sheepdogs to look after herds grazing in areas where wolves have been spotted.Two years ago, parliament agreed to the compromise solution after narrowly rejecting a bill calling for the wolf to be removed from the list of protected species. Environmentalists argued that such a move would have been tantamount to the “extermination of the wolf with the blessing of the authorities."
7.22.04 CHEYENNE, WY (Casper Star-Tribune) -- Wyoming does not have the legal right to sue the federal government over wolf management in the state, according to legal documents filed in U.S. District Court here Wednesday. Wyoming Attorney General Pat Crank, however, finds that claim troubling, arrogant, absurd, outlandish and offensive. Having not heard Crank's remarks first-hand, Assistant U.S. Attorney Carol Statkus declined to respond. Crank offered his reactions to the federal government's formal response Wednesday to Wyoming's lawsuit against the U.S. Department of the Interior, Interior Secretary Gale Norton, and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Director Steve Williams over the department's refusal to accept Wyoming's dual-classification wolf management plan and law. The lawsuit aims to force the feds to immediately approve the state's wolf management plan and move forward toward delisting the gray wolf in the West. It is also an effort to force the feds to control wolf depredation until the state assumes management of the species. In their answer to Wyoming's lawsuit, the federal government defendants generally deny any part of the state's claim that alleges wrongdoing by the Interior Department. The feds pointedly deny that the state is entitled to any relief. The federal government also contends that the court does not have jurisdiction to hear the issue, that Wyoming failed to exhaust its administrative remedies before going to court, that Wyoming failed to state a legitimate claim for relief, and that Wyoming lacks standing, or the ability to legally sue over the wolf issue. When the lawsuit was filed in April, Gov. Dave Freudenthal said the state's wolf management plan "was rejected, as they explained to us, on a legal risk, slash, political analysis, summed up by the phrase, 'We don't think an Eastern judge will like the word predator.'" Wyoming's dual-classification plan called for managing the wolves as trophy game in Yellowstone and Grand Teton national parks and nearby areas, and as predators that could be shot on sight in the rest of the state. The lawsuit alleges that Norton and Williams committed four violations of the federal Administrative Procedures Act in rejecting Wyoming's wolf plan. The state also claims that the agency is usurping Wyoming's sovereignty in violation of the U.S. Constitution in its implementation of the Endangered Species Act by "essentially forcing the Wyoming Legislature to become a regulatory arm of the federal government," Crank said.
7.22.04 ENGLAND (Telegraph.co.uk) The safari park at Woburn has placed wolves and bears in the same enclosure, the first time the two species have roamed together in Britain since the 10th century.The European brown bear was hunted to extinction in the UK 1,000 years ago and the European wolf suffered the same fate in the mid-18th century.After careful study of their behaviour patterns, experts at the wildlife park in Bedfordshire announced yesterday that its nine North American black bears and seven Canadian timber wolves, previously kept apart, were now living harmoniously side by side.The two species evolved together in the wild and do not compete for the same foods, nor do they attack each other. Bears are bigger and stronger, while the wolves are faster and more agile.The bears ignore the wolves and the wolves, although curious, know that the bear is too tough an opponent to take on.And, unlike in the wild, the animals at Woburn do not have to hunt for their food. The wolves are given deer carcasses and the bears have fruit, berries, seeds and the occasional piece of meat. Both share a love of fish.Dr Jake Vasey, the park's animal manager, said several zoos on the Continent had already put bears and wolves together, without encountering problems, and in North American they still shared the same habitat."We have created a new reserve to produce a stimulating environment for both species, in terms of a more varied and larger terrain and also through their interaction."
7.16.04 (CNN.com) -- The gray wolf has made such a strong comeback that it should be removed from federal protection from Maine to the Dakotas, Interior Secretary Gail Norton said Friday. "This is a moment in which we can take great pride in achievement, both of people and in nature," Norton said at a wildlife science center in front of a pen containing six wolves, which watched their human audience with some curiosity. Norton announced a proposed rule that would lift protection under the Endangered Species Act for gray wolves in Minnesota, Wisconsin and Michigan -- where the population has grown to 3,200 animals -- as well as in at least 20 other states.  The proposal calls for states to assume management of the gray wolf populations in those states. The rule change includes New England, where conservationists fear that loss of federal protection would hurt attempts to develop future wolf populations through migrations from Canada. Norton said Friday marked the start of a four-month public comment period on the rule. Public meetings will be held across the region, and Norton said to expect her department to issue its final rule late this year or early next year. Norton said she expects environmental groups will sue to block the change. Conservationists acknowledged that the revival of the gray wolf in Minnesota, Wisconsin and Michigan is a tale of ecological success. But they called the Interior proposal shortsighted because it also removes all protection for the wolf in New England where -- especially in Maine -- there has been hope the wolf population would re-emerge, migrating in from Canada. Interior Department spokeswoman Tina Kreisher said that under the proposed rule in regions such as New England it would be up to the states to try to reintroduce gray wolves if they desire future populations. Two years ago, the Interior Department upgraded the wolf from endangered to threatened everywhere in the lower 48 states except for the Southwest, where a subspecies, known as the Mexican gray wolf, has been struggling to recover. The latest action for the time being would continue the "threatened" designation for gray wolves across the West including in Wyoming, Idaho and Montana where wolves were reintroduced in the mid-1990s under a federal program at Yellowstone National Park. The wolf would remain endangered in the Southwest.

JUNE 2004
6.13.04 MT. PLEASANT, MICH. (Associated Press) -- A wolf expert from Central Michigan University has reached back to the 12th century for an experimental technique to discourage wolves from hunting on three Upper Peninsula farms. Enlisted in the effort to ward off wolves from livestock farms, biologist Tom Gehring came up with a line of low-lying flags strung around farmers' fences in an experiment to discourage marauding wolves suspected of killing dozens of lambs and cattle. Called "fladry," the long lines of fluttering flags were used by Polish and Russian wolf hunters 900 years ago to herd wolves into a funnel-shaped enclosure toward a waiting hunter, Gehring said. He said the hunters knew wolves would shy away from low, flapping flags, even when they could easily jump over or shinny under the single strand of rope holding the hundreds of flags. "The flags seem to be a virtual barrier to wolves," Gehring said from his Mt. Pleasant office. "It may be a tool that could work at farms that have had wolf problems."
6.10.03 PARIS, FRANCE (AFP) -- French environmentalists voiced outrage after the government admitted it was mulling plans to slaughter more than half a dozen wolves to prevent the creatures from ravaging sheep. A "Wolf Action Plan" being studied by the government suggests that between five and seven wolves should be slaughtered to protect flocks in the Alps, the mountainous southeast of the country. Wolves became re-established in France about 12 years ago, when a small group crossed over from Italy. There are now between 37 and 55 of them, according to the various estimates. French shepherds are demanding a big cull, saying their livelihoods are at risk. Even though they are entitled to compensation if a sheep or lamb is devoured by wolves, some have been taking the law into their own hands, shooting at wolves or poisoning them. The Society for the Protection of Animals (SPA) warned Thursday that France's wolves could get "wiped out" by loss of genetic diversity if seven were killed. Aspas, an association for the protection of wild animals, vowed to file a suit against the government for breaching laws on endangered species if it pushed ahead. Ecology Minister Serge Lepeltier told reporters he had yet to decide on a course of action.
6.10.04 NORTH CAROLINA (Newsobserver.com) -- The eerie howl of red wolves -- a mournful song once silenced by fearful humans -- is making a steady comeback in northeastern North Carolina with a record number of pups joining the chorus this year. Biologists with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service said at least 55 pups in 11 litters were born in the wild this spring. In addition, two more puppies were released to foster parents who accepted them in their litters. That is the most successful breeding season since a project to re-establish the endangered wolves in the wild began 17 years ago, said Sarah Krueger, outreach coordinator with the Red Wolf Recovery program. The recovery began with release of a mated pair in the Alligator River National Wildlife Refuge in September 1987 and others later. Now there about 100 adult animals roaming lowlands and forests in five counties. Only about half the puppies are expected to survive, she said, but they will make a significant increase in the nation's only wild red wolf population. About 150 red wolves live in captive populations in zoos or research facilities around the country. The project drew strong support from wildlife groups that said the wolves should be saved. The Tar Heel wolf packs have become a tourist attraction for some who come to the refuge for a glimpse of the animals. The Alligator River refuge and the Red Wolf Coalition, a group of private program supporters, conduct weekly sessions in which dozens of people are taken into the refuge to listen for the howls. The programs will begin June 23 and run until September. Many of the wolves in the recovery program die from natural causes or from being hit by vehicles on highways where red wolf crossing signs are posted. However, Krueger said, one of the original wolves released in Alligator River refuge survived for 13 years. "He was the longest-living wolf we've ever seen," she said.
6.9.04 SILVER CITY, NM (Tucson Citizen) -- A pair of Mexican gray wolves in New Mexico will be captured and relocated because they moved outside the boundaries of a wolf recovery program and killed a newborn calf. The pair set up territory in the San Mateo Mountains southwest of Socorro, outside the recovery program boundaries along the New Mexico-Arizona state line in southwestern New Mexico. The wolves killed the calf about a month ago. The female wolf has given birth to pups, and project workers are trying to determine whether the pups are still alive. Then they will trap the family. Program rules require that wolves outside the boundaries be captured and moved or taken into captivity. Scientists recommended changing those rules years ago. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service officials say they plan to propose changes, but cannot say when. In March 1998, despite protests from ranchers, the government released the first 11 wolves in the Apache-Sitgreaves National Forest on the Arizona side of the border. The goal was to have a total of 11 packs and 55 wolves in the wild by the end of this year. Fish and Wildlife records show 13 endangered Mexican gray wolves were killed in Arizona and New Mexico last year, six shot to death and four hit by vehicles. One wolf was killed by project workers because the animal had been killing cattle. One wolf's body was too decomposed when it was found to determine what killed it. One death remained under investigation. The program said there currently are 15 radio-collared wolves and an estimated 35 to 40 uncollared wolves in the wild. Officials believe seven wolves now are denning with pups. Three other wolves are considered missing after aerial searches could not locate them.
6.9.04 ST. LOUIS (Associated Press) -- A research center founded 33 years ago by world-renowned naturalist Marlin Perkins says it has another distinction for the record book.Last year, a world record number of endangered Mexican gray wolf pups - 19 in three litters - was born at the Wild Canid Survival & Research Center, popularly known as the Wolf Sanctuary.This year at the site in the St. Louis suburb of Eureka, 10 puppies alone were born to one female, Anna - a first for the record books, said the center's director, Dr. Susan Lindsey. A second female, Tanamara, had a litter of three of the world's most-endangered wolf species. The average litter size is four to six. Anna's eight-week-old pups, born on Easter, are healthy; only one of Tanamara's pups, born April 25, survived. Less than a week before the birth of Anna's 10 puppies, her mate, Prietito, "the beautiful and genetically valuable father of this litter," died of cancer, the center said. Because both parents are instrumental in raising their young, the Wolf Sanctuary staff took a chance at introducing another male with parenting skills "that could greatly influence the upbringing of these puppies destined for a wild release," Lindsey said in a statement. The experiment paid off and Male No. 572, also known as "Dude," took on his new role admirably. Kim Scott, the center's assistant director, said it is very risky to introduce a dominant male to a new mother and litter of pups. "But he showed himself to be tolerant and accepted the situation very well," she said. "It worked out really well." Anna and Tanamara are part of a breeding program at the Wild Canid Center, located on 63 isolated wooded acres within Washington University's Tyson Research Center, 20 miles southwest of St. Louis. The center is part of a federal program to restore the endangered Mexican gray wolf, the rarest and most genetically distinct subspecies of gray wolf in North America. About 260 lobos now live in captivity at 40 U.S. and Mexican facilities. The Wild Canid Center, however, has produced more puppies and housed more Mexican grays than any other facility. The Wild Canid Center will be moving within three years from its present location to 582 acres south of Eureka it bought from a private landowner.