Wolf History, Conservation, Ecology and Behavior

October 2003
10.31.03 AFRICA (AP) -- A rabies outbreak is threatening the few hundred remaining Ethiopian wolves — one of the world's rarest animals, a wildlife expert said Friday. At least 20 of the endangered wolves died in the last month in Ethiopia's Bale Mountains, a critical breeding ground for the reddish-brown animal, said Dr. Stuart Williams, a British conservationist. The wolves are believed to have caught rabies from infected domestic dogs, said Williams, who heads the Ethiopian Wolf Conservation Program in Addis Ababa. Only about 500 Ethiopian wolves remain in the wild, with the majority in the Bale Mountains where the population was nearly wiped out by a 1991 rabies outbreak. It only has recovered within the last two years, Williams said. The solution is vaccinating those wolves that have not yet been infected, said Williams, who is awaiting permission from the Ethiopian government to go ahead with the inoculations. Thousands of Ethiopian wolves once roamed much of the country's mountainous north, but their numbers have fallen dramatically in recent decades as farmers encroached on their habitat and introduced domestic dogs that carried rabies. The wolves also mate with the dogs, diluting a shrinking gene pool.
10.22.03 CANADA (ENN) -- Canadian conservation groups are calling on Canadians to join people from around the world in recognition of International Wolf Awareness Week by visiting a new online Action and Resource Centre called CanadianWolves.net. Seven organizations have joined together to support priority issues in their own regions through the web site and promote conservation of Canada's wolf populations.
"There is an urgent need to address the increasing risks to wolves across Canada," says Stephen Legault, Executive Director of Wildcanada.net. "In Canada today wolves are threatened by trapping, hunting, loss of habitat, and regressive predator control policies harkening back not to the previous century, but the one before that." In much of Ontario, wolves can be hunted, trapped or snared 365 days of the year. There are no limits to how many wolves a single person can kill. Add to this, the fact that wolves are only adequately protected on 3 percent of their Ontario range and a pretty dismal picture is painted for Ontario's two wolf species."Though wolves symbolize biodiversity for many Canadians, they are still being managed in Ontario as a vermin species and are afforded less protection than the raccoon," says Earthroots' spokeswoman Melissa Tkachyk, "Earthroots has confidence that Premier-designate McGuinty will keep his commitment to manage wolves as an integral part of the ecosystem". Earthroots is encouraging the new provincial government to deliver on their promise to create a wolf protection plan....
10.10.03 YELLOWSTONE NATIONAL PARK, Wyo. (AP) -- The head of the park's wolf project was honored Wednesday night for his work with wolves since they were reintroduced here in 1995. Doug Smith has received awards from both the regional and national directors of the National Park Service. During a ceremony at a scientific conference at park headquarters, Smith said he was humbled by the awards and credited colleagues, volunteers in the wolf program and his wife for making his work a success. Smith oversees management of the about 150 wolves running in the park in about 14 packs. His job also includes dealing with ranchers who live near the park, the news media, scientists and bureaucrats...."What you have done," said Lee Talbot, one of the authors of the original Endangered Species Act in 1973, "is exactly what we hoped would happen with many, if not most, endangered species."
10.10.03 YELLOWSTONE NATIONAL PARK, Wyo. (EurekAlert) -- Gray wolves (Canis lupus) and human hunters both provide resource subsidies to scavengers in Yellowstone National Park, USA, by provisioning them with the remains of their kills. Carrion from wolf versus hunter kills is much more dispersed in both time and space. In the November issue of Ecology Letters, scientists from Berkeley and Yellowstone estimated the total amount of carrion consumed over a four year period by scavengers at both wolf and hunter kills. Highly mobile individuals such as bald eagles and ravens dominated consumption at hunter kills while competitively dominant but less mobile coyotes dominated at wolf kills. More importantly, a great diversity of species were found at wolf than hunter kills implying that wolves much more than hunters promote ecosystem diversity and, ultimately, the overall health of the Yellowstone ecosystem.
10.9.03 OSWEGO, IL (Suburban Chicago News) -- Panthers beware. There's a pack of wolves on the prowl, and they're moving in next door. Their gymnasium doesn't have a roof yet, and the sod on the football field won't be laid for months, but, from this point on, Oswego East High School will be known as the Home of the Wolves. Principal Ed Howerton unveiled the new school's mascot during a cornerstone-laying ceremony Wednesday evening, calling the name "a tip of the cap" to Oswego East's location off of Wolf's Crossing Road. The announcement followed a vote last week, where about 40 percent of students who will attend Oswego East next year picked the Wolves over five other options. Mustangs finished second with about 15 percent, while Eagles, Cyclones, Lions and Patriots followed in that order with a few dozen votes each. "This was a decision that we wanted to leave up to the kids," Howerton said. "Wolves gained a lot of steam early on and ended up coming out on top. I think it's a great choice."
10.9.03 WISCONSIN (WISC Channel 3000.com) -- A timber wolf seeking out new turf died near Spring Green when a car hit and killed it Sept. 26. Wildlife officials identified the 90-pound animal as a timber wolf, also known as a gray wolf, Wednesday and say the now-frozen carcass will go the National Wildlife Center in Madison where technicians will determine the age of the animal and it's health before it died last month. The nearest wolf pack is 75 miles to the north of Madison; although it's not unheard of that wolves travel hundreds of miles seeking new territory. "Much of the available wolf habitat in the central part of the state even much of it in the northern part of the state is now occupied," said Bob Manwell of the DNR. "These are animals that are looking for mates and looking for new territory." This is the third such migration of a wolf to this area in recent years. The last known timber wolf died in traffic in Middleton a couple years ago. Public hearings are set for Nov. 5-6 around the state on a proposal to delist the wolf from the threatened to protected wild animal status.
10.8.03 MISSOULA (AP) -- A National Wildlife Federation lawyer has drawn fire from within his group and other conservation organizations for comments that were critical of a lawsuit against the federal government's wolf recovery plan. Tom France told a public lands conference in Missoula last week that he was disappointed that 17 other environmental groups sued to block the federal government's plan to reduce protections for gray wolves. He called the federal wolf recovery program in Montana, Idaho and Wyoming a success story, and cautioned that the lawsuit "threatens to undermine public support for endangered species protection." The Wildlife Federation's national office issued a statement late Wednesday that it said was intended to clarify the national group's position. Ben McNitt, a national spokesman for the group, said Tuesday that France acknowledges making the remarks last week, but that they had "brought on a bit of confusion and controversy ... and we felt it was important to make the group's position clear." France is quoted in the statement as saying the Wildlife Federation agrees with other groups that the federal wolf recovery plan has failed to return wolf populations to a significant portion of the animal's historic range.....In the group's statement, France said that while the National Wildlife Federation is "pursuing a different legal course" than other conservation groups, it agrees that the federal government has not met its obligations under the Endangered Species Act. The federation last month gave notice that it intends to sue the Fish and Wildlife Service because it is not pursuing efforts to restore wolves in the Northeast.
10.7.03 BAKER CITY, OR (Baker City Herald) -- [A] celebration [in honor of St. Francis of Assisi] — held either on or near the feast of St. Francis on Oct. 4 — is observed around the world....Francis, an Italian Roman Catholic friar who lived from 1182 to 1226, was known for his love of the animal kingdom. He even befriended a pack of wolves...."There was a pack of wolves around that bothered the town," [Father Robert] Irwin said. "St. Francis went down and made friends with them and they haven't been bothered since in Assisi." The statue at the...entrance [to St. Elizabeth Health Services] depicts St. Francis with a wolf kneeling at his feet.
10.6.03 OTTAWA (Environmental News Network) -- A dead wolf found lying on a frozen lake in Algonquin Park in February will never howl again, but provides silent testimony to a flawed moratorium that was supposed to protect her and all the wolves in one of Ontario's largest parks. The radio-collared wolf was part of a study conducted by Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources scientists to evaluate the impact of a temporary moratorium on wolf killing in all townships adjacent to Algonquin Park. Researchers discovered that a wire neck snare had slowly killed the wolf, found lying in a pool of blood on Vesper Lake...."This wolf was killed by an intentional loophole in the regulations," says Jean Langlois of the Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society (CPAWS). CPAWS believes that the most likely scenario is that the wolf fell victim to a snare that was set within the moratorium zone. A legislative loophole makes it perfectly legal for trappers to set snares in the moratorium zone if the "intended" target is a coyote, a loophole introduced during the formulation of the moratorium regulations. The province did an historical about-face in failing to make the protection for wolves apply to coyotes also, despite warnings that this would make the ban unenforceable and ineffective. Eastern wolves may easily be mistaken for coyotes and shot in error; neck snares do not distinguish between coyotes and wolves. If the animal was snared outside the moratorium zone, conservationists charge that this is a consequence of the government's negligence in failing to enact a provincial wolf conservation policy, despite a need identified by conservationists....Outside Algonquin Park and the temporary protection zone, it remains an open season on wolf hunting, trapping and snaring across the province and there is no limit on how many gray wolves or Eastern wolves can be killed.
10.03.03 N. CAROLINA (Jacksonville Daily News) -- The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) Southeast Region is hard at work restoring access to National Wildlife Refuges and the Edenton National Fish Hatchery in North Carolina following Hurricane Isabel. Many refuges currently remain closed to public use due to the thousands of trees blown down by 100 mph winds across the roads and onto buildings. One endangered red wolf in the captive breeding program at Sandy Ridge captive wolf breeding facility at Alligator River National Wildlife Refuge was killed by a tree falling on its enclosure. Two other wolves escaped their pen but were recaptured. Initial damage repair estimates total nearly $22 million for roads, buildings and other infrastructure. This figure may change when more detailed inspections can be conducted as flood waters recede and trees are removed from roads and canals.
10.3.03 MISSOULA, Mont. (AP) -- A top official with the National Wildlife Federation says he was dismayed that 17 other conservation groups filed suit this week to stop efforts to reduce federal protections for gray wolves. Tom France, general counsel for the federation, said the return of healthy wolf populations to Montana, Idaho and Wyoming is a success story unequaled in the history of endangered species management, but that some conservationists seem intent on derailing that victory. Seventeen environmental and conservation groups filed suit Wednesday in federal court in Portland, Ore., hoping to stop the eventual removal of wolves from protection under the Endangered Species Act. The Wildlife Federation is not part of the lawsuit and has no plans to sue the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service over wolf recovery, France said. The lawsuit asks a judge to find that the agency violated the Endangered Species Act when it changed the gray wolf from an endangered to a threatened species April 1. It is the first step in the eventual delisting of the animals. The lawsuit alleges that Fish and Wildlife's decision ignored the fact that several states within the wolf's historic range still don't have any wolves. It also says the decision was not based on the best scientific and commercial information, and failed to recognize that hunting and habitat destruction would resume once endangered species protection was lifted. Ultimately, environmentalists risk losing "an opportunity to gain the confidence of the American public" by attempting to delay the removal of wolves from the endangered species list, France said. "This is our chance to show that conservation can be woven into the fabric of society in creative ways," he said. "And why? Why can't we celebrate that success?"
10.3.03 (ARIZONA Daily Star) -- Four endangered Mexican gray wolves have been found dead since Sept. 15 - a rash of mortalities that rivals any period since the animals were reintroduced to Arizona and New Mexico in 1998. While the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service will not list causes of death until necropsies have been performed, environmentalists fear all four wolves were either purposely or accidentally shot. "There are two potential scenarios," said Craig Miller, Southwest director for Defenders of Wildlife. "Either there is a calculated effort to sabotage the program, or there is a serious coincidence of mistaken identities, hunters mistaking wolves for coyotes." Miller said Dave Parsons, a former wolf recovery coordinator for Fish and Wildlife, found the most recent wolf carcass Sunday while camping in the Gila Wilderness area of western New Mexico. He said hunters reported hearing gunshots about an hour before he found the dead animal, identified as the alpha male of the Gapiwi Pack. A New Mexico rancher said she doubted all four dead wolves had been shot, but added that "people may be aggravated that they can't get an elk anymore." If the four dead wolves were indeed shot, that would bring the total number killed by humans to 18 since 1998, not counting four wolves killed by hit-and-run drivers, said Michael Robinson, a spokesman for the Center for Biological Diversity in Piños Altos, N.M. Nine wolves have died while being captured, and another wolf was intentionally shot by the service, Robinson said. "That's not counting the dozens of wolves that weren't causing any problems, but for whatever reason were relocated by Fish and Wildlife into areas that eventually resulted in their deaths." As of the end of August, the service identified 27 radio-collared wolves and estimated that an additional 10 to 15 wolves, not counting pups born this year, live in the recovery area established in Eastern Arizona and western New Mexico.
10.3.03 NORWAY (Aftenposten) -- A group of men out hunting moose in the eastern Norwegian valley called Oesterdalen had a close encounter with a pack of wolves last Saturday. They snapped digital photos and experts now say the wolves constitute a new family.Researcher Petter Wabakken, who specializes in tracking predators at a college in Hedmark, confirms the wolves seen last weekend are the offspring of a pair observed in the area last winter. "This means we have a new flock on Norwegian soil," Wabakken told newspaper Aftenposten Friday. He has dubbed it "Julussaflokken," after the name of the area where they're roaming. The hunters told newspaper Hamar Arbeiderblad that the wolves came so close that they fired warning shots to scare them off. They counted as many as six wolves as they took digital photos. Environmental officials have designated the area as a safe haven for the wolves, where they'll be allowed to establish themselves with no hunting allowed. Meanwhile, another wolf pack that frequented the area east of Moss, south of Oslo, has disappeared. Authorities believe the male leader of the pack was shot in an illegal hunt.
10.3.03 OSHKOSH, WI (The Northwestern) -- A call of the wild is believed a big reason why admission revenue jumped nearly 10 percent this year at Menominee Park Zoo in Oshkosh. This was the first full season visitors enjoyed a gray wolf exhibit at the zoo, which closed for the season Monday. “I’m going to say the wolves had a big part of it. They were a big attraction and the exhibit looks real nice,” said Terry Steele of the Oshkosh Zoological Society. Gray wolves Saleen, Caleb and Rutger are permanent residents of the zoo after being donated for educational purposes by the Wildlife Science Center in Forest Lake, Minn. The wolf exhibit opened in mid-August of 2002. “Word of mouth travels. People are coming from all around the area to see the wolf exhibit,” said Carrie Hill, zoo specialist at the Menominee Park facility.
10.1.03 GRANTS PASS, Ore.(AP) -- Environmental groups filed suit Wednesday challenging the federal government's decision to downgrade protection for the gray wolf, a predator being restored in parts of the United States. The federal lawsuit claims the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service violated the Endangered Species Act in April, when it changed the gray wolf from an endangered to a threatened species, loosening restrictions on killing the animal to protect livestock. "Wolves are coming into Oregon on their own," said Anne Mahle, a Minneapolis attorney handling the lawsuit. "The issue is once they get there, they need the full protection of the Endangered Species Act." Environmentalists are afraid that the current federal policy means wolves won't be restored throughout their historic range in the Pacific Northwest, the southern Rockies and the Northeast, said Nina Fascione of Defenders of Wildlife in Washington, D.C. About 3,500 of the 4,000 wolves in the lower 48 states are in the Great Lakes region. The lawsuit alleges that Fish and Wildlife's decision ignored the fact that several states within the wolf's historic range still don't have any wolves. Fish and Wildlife spokesman Nicholas Throckmorton said the agency had not seen the Oregon lawsuit, and had no immediate comment. Bill Drewien, a Medford rancher who is chairman of the endangered species committee for the Oregon Cattlemen's Association, said losses from wolves "can be devastating to a small cow operator.".....
10.1.03 WASHINGTON (U.S. Newswire) -- Defenders of Wildlife and 16 other organizations today filed suit to block Bush Administration plans to change the endangered status of wolves in the U.S., lessening protections in most regions, and sharply limiting the areas where wolves will be protected during recovery. The groups say that plans to change the wolf's status from "endangered" to "threatened" are premature, and noted that several state governments which are scheduled to take over management of the species under the Bush plan have declared their intent to initiate aggressive wolf killing programs. "It saddens us to have to take this step, especially when we've made such a tremendous start toward real, sustainable wolf recovery," said Rodger Schlickeisen, president of Defenders of Wildlife. "But Secretary Norton is backing away from wolf protection before the job is finished and is jeopardizing all the progress her agency has made so far." A March 18, 2003, FWS decision downlists the wolf from "endangered" to "threatened" throughout the Rockies and the Pacific Northwest, even though only three of nine states in the region with vast areas of suitable habitat have seen recovery efforts. The rule also downlists wolves to threatened throughout the Great Lakes and Northeast. The rule would sharply limit wolf recovery in the West to Idaho, Montana and Wyoming, and preclude wolf recovery in northern California, Oregon, Washington, northern Colorado, Utah, and the Northeastern United States. The Bush Administration's plan would ultimately hand over management of gray wolf recovery to various state governments, even though many of those states have made it clear that they intend to encourage large-scale wolf killing as soon as they have the authority to do so. For example, Idaho's legislature recently passed a resolution calling for elimination of wolves from the state "by any means necessary," and Wyoming intends to permit the shooting of wolves on sight anywhere outside of national park lands. Minnesota continues to offer a bounty for killing wolves. Parties to Defenders of Wildlife, et al. v. Norton are: Defenders of Wildlife, Sierra Club, American Lands Alliance, Animal Protection Institute, Center for Biological Diversity, Forest Watch, Hells Canyon Preservation Council, Help Our Wolves Live ("HOWL"), The Humane Society of the United States, Klamath Forest Alliance, Klamath-Siskiyou Wildlands Center, Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility ("PEER"), Minnesota Wolf Alliance, Oregon Natural Resources Council, RESTORE: The North Woods, Sinapu, and the Wildlands Project.