Wolf History, Conservation, Ecology and Behavior

1.31.05 NORWAY (Aftenposten) -- A male wolf was shot in Løten in Hedmark County on Monday afternoon, NRK (Norwegian Broadcasting) reports. This means the licensed limit has been reached and the hunt is over.
The hunt for five of Norway's estimated 20 wolves began on Jan. 8 and 130 hunters have taken part. The hunt has been extremely controversial both at home and abroad, and prompted an official protest from Sweden's Environmental Minister. The debate raged even more after a reproducing female was shot by mistake after she strayed into the hunting zone.
1.28.05 NORWAY (Aftenposten) -- Norway's claim that killing five of its roughly 20 wolves poses no danger is based on an argument that Norway and Sweden have a shared wolf population of a bit over 100 animals. Experts dispute the Norwegian standpoint, forskning.no, the web site for Norway's research organizations, reports. The site published a series of articles on Friday that examined the ongoing licensed hunt of five wolves in Norway's Hedmark County. Wolf researchers at Skandulv (The Scandinavian Wolf Project) say that the Norwegian ruling has no documentary basis. "Norwegian authorities have not invited views from researchers before the hunt and they have not carried out any vulnerability analysis themselves, which would have been reasonable. So they cannot say with authority that the hunt does not pose a danger to the (wolf) population," said biologist and Skandulv coordinator Olof Liberg. "This is a hope and not a professionally founded assertion," he told the site. Liberg said that the ongoing hunt had destroyed two of Norway's three reproducing couples. Norwegian wolf researcher Petter Wabakken at the University College in Hedmark believes the hunt has purely political motives. Swedish wolf researcher Håkan Sand argued that the Norwegian claim had no direct scientific refutation either, except for one aspect. The Norwegian wolf population is now strongly marked by inbreeding, and the felling of an 'immigrant' wolf could have grave consequences for the pack's ability to grow and survive. Skandulv researchers believe that the Norwegian-Sweden wolf population is already showing signs of problems due to a lack of genetic diversity. The wolf is listed as a highly endangered species in both Sweden and Norway.
1.27.05 ANCHORAGE, ALASKA (Associated Press) -- An animal rights group failed to persuade a judge Thursday to immediately suspend Alaska's aerial wolf control program, which it likened to a slaughter. Friends of Animals sought to have the program, authorized in five areas of the state, suspended until May 16 when the issue is scheduled for trial. Superior Court Judge Sharon Gleason refused to issue a temporary injunction, saying she needed more time to review new concerns raised by Friends of Animals. Over the next few months, the state has set a goal of killing as many as 610 wolves, with the aim of increasing the number of harvestable moose. Under program rules, teams are allowed to shoot wolves from the air in some areas but are required to land and shoot in others. In some areas, they can do both. The judge said she would issue a decision after receiving written closing arguments Friday. If the program is suspended now, even for a few months, the more than $1 million already invested in the McGrath area, where the program has a research component, will largely be lost, said Matt Robus, director of the state Division of Wildlife Conservation. "The next three months ... is the prime opportunity to take wolves in this fashion. It is the time this action is really effective," Robus told the judge. He denied the plaintiff's claim that more than 1,000 wolves were to be killed under the program. As of Thursday, 86 wolves had been killed this winter. Hunters reported killing 144 wolves last winter in the program's first year. If the killing is not halted, the remaining wolves will suffer long-term effects, said Gordon Haber, a wolf biologist whose research is funded by Friends of Animals. He testified that aerial hunting tends to take out the dominant wolves, leaving a vulnerable pack that has higher death rates for years.
1.25.05 NORWAY (AFP) --OSLO (AFP) - Three environmental organizations filed suit against the Norwegian government for permitting the hunt of five of the country's approximately 20 wolves, claiming it was endangering Norway's wolf stock. The international environmental group WWF, the Norwegian Society for the Conservation of Nature (NSCN) and Foreningen Vaare Rovdyr, FVR, an association aimed at protecting carnivorous animals, are all suing. The Norwegian Directorate for Nature Management (DN) decided this month to allow hunters to shoot as many as five wolves in eastern Norway through February 15 in an attempt to reduce harm to cattle and reindeer in the area. Three wolves have already been killed. One was a female shot by accident. Females are protected so as not to reduce the number of wolves too drastically. A spokeswoman for Norwegian Environmental Minister Knut Arild Hareide said the minister was not yet prepared to comment on the case. "He's taking into consideration the claims from the environmental groups," spokeswoman Eva Nordvik told AFP, pointing out that the decision to allow the wolf hunt was based on a parliamentary ruling in the first half of 2004. Sweden, whose much larger wolf stock tends to roam back and forth across the Norwegian border, has meanwhile expressed outrage at its neighbor's decision to permit the hunt. "We have a common Nordic responsibility to maintain the wolf stock, but Norway is not taking that responsibility," Swedish Environmental Minister Lena Sommerstad told the news agency TT: "With Norway's wolf policy, the wolf stock will not survive and that means the burden on us will grow." According to DN, 11 wolf cub litters were born in Scandinavia in 2004, three of then in Norway.
1.22.05 ANCHORAGE, ALASKA (Fairbanks Daily News-Miner) -- Permits were mailed Friday allowing pilot and shooter teams to kill wolves near Tok as part of an expanded aerial wolf control program operating this winter in Alaska. The program, now operating in five areas of the state, aims to remove predators from areas where residents complained that wolves and bears are killing too many moose and caribou, leaving them with too little food for their tables. The state's goal is to kill more than 500 wolves over the next few months. Hunters reported killing 144 wolves last winter, the first year of the program. The five areas where the program is operating this winter all have things in common, said Cathie Harms, a spokeswoman for the Department of Fish and Game in Fairbanks. For example, the areas can sustain more moose and caribou, but predators are keeping levels low, she said. "These programs are in response to try and manipulate numbers to benefit people," Harms said.  The program near Tok near the Canada-Alaska border is the fifth one approved since the state Board of Game and the state Department of Fish and Game reinstituted lethal wolf control after a 10-year hiatus. Its goal is to remove about 140 wolves from the Tok area. The program will be suspended sometime in the spring, depending upon snow conditions. Snow is needed to track wolves. The game board approved the first aerial wolf control program in a decade in Alaska in the McGrath area in 2003. As of a week ago, seven wolves had been killed under that program this winter. After meeting with the area biologist to discuss the program, the pilot-shooter teams could begin searching immediately, she said. Under program rules, teams are not paid but can keep proceeds they get from the wolves.
1.21.05 CHARDON, OH (Ohio News Network) -- Neighbors say they aren't crying wolf over a pack of wolf dogs that has terrorized their community. The dispute in Chardon Township illustrates a national debate on whether wolf dogs should be treated as wild animals or pets. "Oh, look at them, aren't they scary?" said Carol Kruck, caressing 6-month-old Moose, one of her nine wolf dogs. "He's a big baby." Robin Dorka, who lives in the northeast Ohio township across from Kruck and her husband, Bob, said her 12-year-old daughter and her pony were stalked by a lone wolf dog several months ago. "She was scared to death," Dorka said. The Federal Animal Welfare Act regulations define wolf dogs as domestic animals, regulated like any other dogs. Several states require permits to keep them, while others prohibit their possession. In Ohio, wolves are considered wildlife and are regulated by the Ohio Division of Wildlife, but wolf dogs fall to the local dog warden, Geauga County Dog Warden Matt Granito said. "That's the problem: a wolf dog _ even if 99 percent wolf _ is just another dog," Granito said. "But even though they don't act like any other dog, all I can do is cite them for getting loose." The Krucks have been raising wolf dogs for 20 years. They were cited in 2003 for one animal getting loose, but now face 20 charges that accumulated over the month. Bob Kruck pleaded not guilty to the charges, which each carry a possible penalty of $250 and 30 days in jail. The judge ordered him to keep the dogs contained or the county dog warden will seize them. Estimates vary, but some show there may be around 300,000 wolf dogs in the United States and a growing number of breeders who sell them for $100 to five times that. Many groups have backed legislative efforts to get rabies vaccinations for wolf dogs or fight state laws regulating their containment or ownership. Alan Sironen, curator of mammalogy at the Cleveland Metroparks Zoo, said the term wolf dog "hybrid" is essentially a misnomer. That's because wolves (Canis lupus) and domesticated dogs (Canis familias) are of the same species. "The differences are really behavioral," he said. "The wolf and wolf dogs have different social needs in regards to being in a pack."
1.21.05 NORWAY (Afterposten) -- Controversy around the latest permissions to fell wolves is unlikely to subside after hunters mistakenly shot one of Norway's key she-wolves on Friday morning. The hunt will continue according to existing guidelines despite the risk that the error could mean a greater overall reduction to wolf population than planned, the Norwegian Directorate for Nature Management (DN) said Friday. The licensed hunting area on the Koppang pack actually overlapped with an area reserved for Gråfjell wolves. The felled she-wolf was part of the Gråfjell pack. Permission has been given to take five wolves, and the first was shot on Sunday. Minister of the Environment Knut Arild Hareide backed the DN decision. "The stock situation for wolves is now such that it is possible to cull five wolves without threatening the survival of the population," Hareide said.
1.21.05 NORWAY (Afterposten) -- Police in Akershus, eastern Norway, are investigating what appears to be an organized, illegal wolf hunt in the forest near Nes. Several moose carcasses were found lying near a marsh in the area, within easy shooting range of a hunter's shelter. The dead animal parts found nearby are believed to have been set out as bait, to lure wolves into shooting range. Two wolves are known to roam in the area, both protected under Norwegian law. Local ranchers have long opposed the authorities' decision to allow a rebuilding of the once nearly extinct wolf population, and illegal hunts have occurred before. As late as last Sunday, a hunter's dog was killed by a wolf. It was the third such incident this fall, and may have provoked local hunters to go after the wolves in addition to the moose and other wildlife they're allowed to shoot. State conservation authorities, keen on protecting the roughly 24 wolves believed to be in Norway, are alarmed by the evidence found in the woods.
1.21.05 ARIZONA (The Arizona Republic) -- The Mexican gray wolf needs more room to roam, and a government study is recommending that the entire state of Arizona, as well as all of New Mexico, be considered part of the wolves' territory. Parts of Utah, Colorado, Oklahoma and Texas, as well as Mexico, are also up for consideration, as long as the wolves do not conflict with livestock or humans, a five-year review of the wolf program recommends. The current boundaries - 4.4 million acres on the Apache-Sitgreaves and Gila national forests and 1.6 million acres on the Fort Apache Reservation - are too small, which has resulted in many wolves being captured, removed from the wild or relocated, according to the review of the program by members of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the Arizona and New Mexico game and fish departments.
"Wolves need more area," said Terry Johnson, an Arizona Game and Fish Department biologist who contributed to the study. How much, however, is unknown and will probably not be determined for one to three years, he said. "How and in which direction we haven't even begun to wrestle with," Johnson said. However, the wolves' habitat would likely extend north and east from the current boundaries, given their preference for higher elevation and wetter and cooler conditions, Johnson said. Currently, there are an estimated 50 Mexican gray wolves in the wild. Initially, 11 were released in 1998, with plans to have up to 100 wolves. But captures and relocations are hindering the success of the program, the report said. The review found that 26 cattle, along with a horse, two sheep and two dogs, were confirmed killed by wolves from the start of reintroduction in 1998 to the end of 2003. It found four other probable and 14 possible kills. The livestock industry claims the number is much higher. Fish and Wildlife Service Regional Director H. Dale Hall said a decision about boundaries or other rules will be made as part of a revision to the broader Mexican wolf recovery plan. The agency is accepting public comments on the five-year review through March 15. It will hold two public hearings in Arizona, on Jan. 28 in Alpine and Jan. 29 in Phoenix.

1.20.05 ROCKY MTNS. (Fox News)-- The gray wolf's recovery has been an incredible comeback story for some but a major headache for others. The gray wolf went from being nearly extinct 10 years ago in the northern Rockies to a current population of more than 800 roaming in the states of Wyoming, Montana and Idaho. Over the last decade, this predator, which sits on top of the food chain, has been so protected that ranchers could only kill a wolf when it was on their property and engaged "in the act of killing" livestock. That changes in a couple of weeks, ranchers will now be able to kill wolves on public or private land for just "threatening" sheep and cattle. Wildlife advocates say "de-listing" the animal is the ultimate goal, but they worry that some will view these relaxed rules as open season on wolves. "If the decline in wolves is great, if there's a slaughter going on," said Roy Farrar, president of the Wolf Education and Research Center in Lewiston, Idaho, "of course everybody is going to step back in. That's not the intent." But ranchers say the rule change doesn't go far enough. . "I think these damn wolves ought to be treated just like coyotes," said [sheep rancher Harry] Soulen. "When you see them out there, you should be able to take care of the problem, shoot 'em, get rid of them any way you can."
1.20.05 SCANDINAVIA (Afterposten) -- Researchers think that 13 packs of wolves in Norway and Sweden produced pups last year. That's the conclusion of a preliminary report from the Norwegian-Swedish project Skandulv, which is tracking the wolf population in southern Scandinavia. Most of the puppies, estimated at around 10, were born in Sweden. Puppies born on the Norwegian side of the border would bring the total over the 12 determined to have been born in 2001.Most of the wolf pups born in Norway are believed to be in Hedmark County, where a controversial wolf hunt is now underway. Researcher Petter Wabakken told newspaper Aftenposten that it's possible more pups will be registered, possibly near Halden in southeast Norway. He said it was too early to say whether the births will mean a net increase in the wolf population, because of those killed though legal and illegal hunts. Sweden's environmental minister, meanwhile, criticized Norwegian officials' decision to authorize the wolf hunt going on until mid-February. She claimed Norway isn't taking its share of responsibility to protect the Scandinavian wolf population, which officially is categorized as an endangered species.
1.19.05 JACKSON, WYO. (Associated Press) -- A second man who pleaded guilty to shooting a wolf near Kemmerer has been sentenced to four days in jail. James Brent, 25, of Diamondville pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court in Green River for killing a threatened species, a misdemeanor. Besides the jail time, he was ordered to pay a $500 fine and $2,128 in restitution, his hunting privileges were suspended for two years, and he was placed on probation for a year. Levi Adams, 26, of Opal pleaded guilty to the same charge and received the same punishment in November. U.S. Attorney John Barksdale said Brent and Adams were going hunting when they encountered the wolf while driving on Hams Fork Road in Bridger-Teton National Forest in September 2002. The wolf crossed the road, and the men pulled over and shot it simultaneously with hunting rifles, Barksdale said. Investigators found Adams and Brent, and both men confessed. The 3-year-old male belonged to the Nez Perce Pack, one of the original packs reintroduced to Yellowstone National Park in 1995 and 1996. Biologists speculate that the pack leaves its home range every fall or early winter to search for food because its territory in central Yellowstone is not rich in prey. Two years ago, 17 wolves from the Nez Perce Pack showed up at the National Elk Refuge near Jackson. Individual males from the pack also have a history of heading south in search of mates, including one male that was seen courting a lone female in the Upper Green River Basin.
1.19.05 NORWAY (Afterposten) -- A hunter who's among those authorized to go after five of Norway's wolves has received a death threat in the mail. He's one of the few who agreed to be identified publicly last weekend, when his team managed to zero in on their prey. "I probably should have expected something like this, since I stood forward in the newspapers as one of the participants in the hunting team," Per Arild Ås told newspaper Aftenposten. Ås, who works as a taxi driver in the eastern town of Atna, received the following letter, roughly translated, in the mail: "Dear degenerated wolf hunter. You will be the next to fall. We only have 24 wolves left. We have enough taxi drivers. We especially have enough of pigs like you. When we're finished with our job, there will be one less taxi driver in Atna. You can take this as an empty threat, or you can watch your back when you're out among people." The letter was signed "Johan Sevrinsen." Ås said he didn't know anybody by that name, and doubts it's the sender's correct name. Ås views the letter as a clear threat, and planned to report it to the police on Wednesday. State wildlife authorities authorized the hunt after residents in eastern Norway reported the killings of domestic pets and livestock. Debate has raged at the political level, with the Labour Party supporting the hunt and its potential government partner, the Socialist Left, condemning it.
Environmental groups remain firmly opposed to hunting wolves, which have been reestablishing themselves after near extinction.
1.18.05 1.17.05 NORWAY (Afterposten) -- Hunters with a license to kill five of Norway's wolves managed to shoot the first one over the weekend. The doomed wolf was among those that earlier had been marked with a radio transmitter, prompting protests from researchers and conservationists who have been tracking the wolf population's recovery after near-extinction.  "By shooting this transmitter-marked female, chances are high that the rest of the animals in the Koppang pack will spread out," fumed Rasmus Hansson, secretary general of conservation organization WWF in Norway. "That means (the hunters) have destroyed the core pack in the Norwegian wolf population," Hansson continued. He claimed that in turn will make it much more difficult to track the wolves' development, with more animals running loose and independently, "and thereby causing more damage for the ranchers." They've been among the most vocal critics of Norway's fledgling wolf population, because the wolves can attack their free-range sheep. Wildlife authorities therefore granted permission for this winter's wolf hunt, which runs until mid-February.
1.17.05 ITALY (AFP) -- Wolves are back at Rome's gates more than 2,000 years after the animal became a symbol of the capital, the discovery of a dead wolf in a nearby national park reviving environmentalists' hopes and farmers' fears.  Ecologists are excited by the discovery of the young wolf's carcass along a roadside, seeing it as the fruit of a 30-year protection programme after Italy's lupine population flirted with extinction in the 1970s. Up to now, Italy's few dozen packs have been largely confined to isolated areas of the Appenine mountains, and wolves haven't been spotted in the environs of Rome for 70 years. However, farmers in the Castelli Romani national park, where the wolf was found, have been complaining for weeks of damage to their livestock attributed to a wild animal, local newspapers reported. "It's wonderful for our protection campaign that such a specimen has been found in our region," Italian newspapers quoted biologist Daniele Badaloni as saying Monday. "I understand that farmers and people with livestock might be alarmed, but people have to bear in mind that wolves cause less damage than dogs," said Badaloni. Aged around seven months and weighing 22 kilos (48 pounds), the wolf found in the national park January 12 had been hit by a car. A veterinary examination showed that it had not eaten for the previous three days. Centuries of trapping wiped out the animal across much of western Europe, and by the mid-1970s only about 100 wolves survived in isolated areas of the Appenine mountains. Legend has it that twins Romulus and Remus, who founded Rome in 753, were discovered and raised by a she-wolf after being abandoned by their natural mother. A statue of the wolf suckling the twins stands outside Rome's city hall and is the official symbol of the city.
1.16.05 WORLAND, WYO. (Associated Press) -- U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service officials have killed all but one of the wolves in the Owl Creek wolf pack after a string of livestock killings in the Meeteetse area left six cattle and one horse dead. "It's not a good deal when people lose livestock," said U.S. Fish and Wildlife biologist Mike Jimenez. The Meeteetse livestock killings began last January after wolves formed a pack in the area, Jimenez told the Northern Wyoming Daily News. The pack was first recognized as three adults, one female and two males, one of which was collared, he said. When a cow was killed last January, one of the males was removed, leaving one collared male and a female. An adult male wolf and another wolf, which had not been noticed before, was shot on Jan. 9, leaving the one female. Another calf was killed in June. By that time, USFWS had recorded the wolf pair had four pups, he said. Another cow was killed in November of 2004, which resulted in the removal of two pups. The livestock kills continued into December when another cow was killed, at which time the remaining pups were removed, Jimenez said. "Later in that month we had the horse go down," he said.
1.15.05 ALASKA (Fairbanks Daily News-Miner) -- A man once permitted by the state to kill wolves has been ordered not to participate in any type of predator control program in Alaska. Tony Zellers, 41, of Eagle River pleaded no contest Thursday in the McGrath District Court to shooting nine wolves outside a prescribed predator control management area near the Interior town of McGrath. Under a plea agreement, Zellers will spend 12 days in jail, pay a $1,000 fine and pay restitution of $4,500. His state hunting, trapping and guiding privileges also have been suspended until July, and he was placed on five years' probation. Even though Zellers and pilot David Haeg, 38, of Soldotna were permitted under the state's predator control program, they were acting on their own, said Matt Robus, director of the Division of Wildlife Conservation.  Priscilla Feral, president of Darien, Conn.-based Friends of Animals, said the behavior by the program participants illustrates how "abominable the entire program is and how little enforcement there can be to make sure it goes the way the states wants it to." Feral's group is engaged in a protracted fight with the state over the wolf control program, the first of its kind allowed in Alaska in a decade. The animal rights group has a hearing scheduled in Superior Court later this month in which they will seek to have the program stopped. A similar effort failed in 2003. Zellers and Haeg had been permitted by the Alaska Department of Fish and Game to participate in one of four wolf-control programs now under way in the state. Regulations are being finalized involving a fifth program near Tok. All together, the state has set of goal of more than 500 wolves to be killed this winter. The McGrath program, which was the first one approved, has a goal of eliminating wolves in a 3,300-square-mile area surrounding McGrath. Subsistence hunters have complained for years that wolves and bears are killing too many moose, leaving the town's approximately 370 residents with too little to eat. The remote town is 300 air miles away from the nearest supermarket. Permittees in the program are not paid but can keep the wolves to sell the pelts. The $4,500 in restitution is for the value of the wolves. State wildlife biologists estimate that Alaska's wolf population is between 8,000 to 11,000. Hunters and trappers on average kill 1,500 a year. Last year, 144 wolves were killed under the program.
1.14.05 LEWISTON, ID (The Times-News) -- Mountain lion hunters who use dogs to chase their prey have been losing some of the hounds to wolves this winter. Steve Nadeau, the wolf coordinator for the Idaho Department of Fish and Game at Boise, said there has been a flurry of hounds killed by wolves in recent weeks. Wolves do not tolerate other canines in their area and will attack the domestic animals. Nadeau said one dog was killed recently near Salmon and he has heard of two others in the Clearwater Region. Kevin Stamper of Grangeville lost Katie, a 2-year-old blue tick/walker hound mix, to a wolf pack in the Service Flats area near White Bird and Grangeville on Jan. 2. Stamper said he shot his pistol into the air to ward off the wolves and one of his dogs escaped, but he found Katie dead with a bite through her neck and back. Snow and winter conditions can concentrate both elk and wolves at lower elevations, wolves can be a problem. Since being reintroduced to Idaho 10 years ago, the wolf population has increased greatly. "It's the chances you take. Everybody knows they are out there. Like it or not it's something you have to put up with," Stamper said. Idaho soon will get more leeway to manage wolves when new rules recently approved by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service kick in early next month. The rules allow livestock owners to shoot wolves that are about to attack sheep or cattle, or dogs that guard or herd livestock where they hold a grazing lease. They do not allow hunters or anyone else to protect their pets or sporting dogs unless it is on private land owned by the pet owner. Nadeau said any killing of wolves will be investigated to make sure the killing was justified.
1.14.05 COLORADO (Rocky Mountain News) -- Members of the state's Wolf Management Working Group told the Colorado Wildlife Commission on Thursday that wolves are welcome in Colorado - as long as they behave themselves. The 14-member group spent six months on a draft management plan, agreeing unanimously on a number of issues, including impacts on livestock and wildlife, damage payments to livestock producers, and the need to monitor wolf movements and behaviors. "This is the first step in what we could do if a wolf wanders in from a neighboring state," said Gary Skiba, state Division of Wildlife wolf coordinator. Del Benson, a wildlife biology professor at Colorado State University who spoke for the group, told the commission that wolves will naturally migrate into Colorado if they are allowed to. Among other things, the working group studied what tools would be needed to deal with them. The group believes trapping and radio-collaring wolves to monitor the animals' activities and movements is necessary, but no one has come up with a funding source to accomplish that. Skiba told commissioners that $800,000 to $1 million a year is spent in both Idaho and Montana to monitor and manage wolves. That doesn't include the cost of replacing livestock attacked by wolves, which is paid for by Defenders of Wildlife, an environmental organization. Bonnie Kline, representing Colorado sheep growers, said the working group agreed that 100 percent of the replacement value of livestock should be paid if it is proved a wolf did the killing, and 50 percent if a wolf was only suspected. Dyanne Singler of the National Wildlife Federation said one thing the group wants the legislature to do is remove an antiquated $2 bounty on wolves in Colorado. Skiba said the next step would be to hold public meetings throughout Colorado to gather comments to refine the proposal and then submit a final plan to the commission in May for adoption. The plan would not be in force until the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service lifts federal restrictions on wolves north of Interstate 70. If that happens, the state rules would apply to the animals. Wolves south of the highway would still be considered endangered, meaning they would retain full federal protection.
1.14.05 YELLOWSTONE NATIONAL PARK (Bozeman Daily Chronicle) -- The 1994 environmental impact statement outlining wolf reintroduction said wolves in the Yellowstone National Park area would kill between one and 32 cattle yearly, an average of 19 animals. It also predicted the wolves would kill between 17 and 110 sheep, an average of 68. The same document predicted a recovered wolf population would number about 100 wolves. However, there are now at least 300 wolves in the greater Yellowstone area. f you calculate the averages, losses to wolves since 1995 have averaged 16 cattle and 68 sheep, well within the averages even though there are three times the predicted level of wolves. But the averages don't tell the whole story. Depradations have climbed sharply over the past two years. In 2004, the environmental group Defenders of Wildlife, which pays ranchers for confirmed or probable losses, wrote checks for 200 sheep and 56 cattle in greater Yellowstone. That's roughly twice the predicted levels. The 2004 livestock kill is the highest ever, and twice the 2003 level. Whether it is an aberration or the beginning of a trend is anybody's guess. The losses aren't significant to the overall livestock industry. Sheep ranchers lost 17,000 animals to coyotes in 2003. However, when the losses concentrate on a few ranches, they hurt. The EIS also predicted that wolves would kill up to 1,200 ungulates a year: elk, deer and bison, mostly. However, those calculations have fallen short no matter how you parse them. With 170 wolves inside the park, that means they take approximately 2,890 animals a year. Wolves living outside the park take animals, too, but three of the four elk management units outside the park still have more elk than state managers want to see there.
1.13.05 BOISE, ID (Associated Press) -- The administrator of Idaho's Office of Species Conservation told lawmakers Wednesday that Idaho was ready to take over wolf management from the federal government next month. Under a new, 112-page federal rule, American Indian tribes and states with approved plans can assume management responsibility for gray wolf conservation and management Feb 2. Although final numbers will be released in March, an estimated 450 wolves now live in Idaho, not including about 155 pups born this year. The new population estimates reflect a growth rate of about 18 percent since last year, Jim Caswell told members of the Senate Resources and Environment Committee. The wolves live in 67 separate groups throughout the state in 51 confirmed packs. There are 34 breeding pairs, Caswell said, with 84 animals collared and another 24 collars missing or unaccounted for. Sen. Monte Pearce, R-New Plymouth, was skeptical that all of the wolves in Idaho had been counted. He said Fish and Game officials have indicated that there are areas of the state where no inventory is taken. "There are still holes in the map," he said, particularly in Frank Church River of No Return Wilderness Area and the Selway-Bitterroot Wilderness Area. "Not all packs or groups have collars. That's one of the things we need to work on." During the past year, 17 wolves were legally killed in Idaho when they proved to be destroying livestock, along with 13 wolves killed in Montana. Under the new management rules, wolves that attack, molest or harass livestock, livestock herding and guarding animals, and dogs on private land can be immediately killed. Also on public lands, permitted grazers and outfitters can immediately take wolves attacking their livestock or livestock herding and guarding animals. But a hunter cannot legally kill a wolf, even if attacks and kills his hunting dog. The same rule applies to hikers on public land who have their dogs with them.
1.13.05 MONTREAL, WIS (Ironwood Daily Globe) -- Wolves may be moving into the city, and Montreal officials are concerned about safety of residents. Mayor Robert Morzenti noted a pack of wolves has been sighted on many occasions in the Montreal area, and they are now venturing closer to residential areas. "We're now seeing them as close as Ohio Avenue," Morzenti told the city council Tuesday. "There are lots of kids and dogs on Ohio. They (wolves) are coming too close to the city." The council agreed to contact the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources to attempt to alleviate the problem. Mammal ecologist Adrian Wydeven, from the Park Falls DNR office, said he must first get a clear assessment of the problem. "We do not know if they are all wolves, or dogs, or coyotes," he said. "People do not need to panic. We have not had any wolf attacks on children in Wisconsin or the Great Lakes region in over 100 years," Wydeven said. "Dogs are a little more at risk, but very rarely do wolves attack dogs in the dogs' home area. They generally occur in wooded areas, in wolves' habitat. If people let their dogs roam at night, however, it exposes them to more risk." Wydeven said he has had a couple of reports of wolves in the Kimball area. He noted the nearest known wolf pack is the O'Brien Lake pack, located south of Pence and Iron Belt, and west of U.S. 51. There's another pack of wolves north of U.S. 2, along the Michigan-Wisconsin border. "It could be animals from either pack. Wolves travel within a 40- to 50-mile radius of their territory," Wydeven added. Wolves may be coming closer to town because of the deer. "The wolves could be coming into town for the food source, especially with the concentration of deer on the edge of town." Some Montreal residents are feeding deer. "A new pack of wolves could have established because of the deer wintering in the area with the recreational feeding by residents," Wydeven said.
1.11.05 FORT COLLINS, CO (Associated Press) -- A draft plan for the management of gray wolves will be presented to the Colorado Division of Wildlife on Thursday. The plan does not address the issue of whether wolves should be reintroduced to the state, but biologists believe they will migrate into the state from Wyoming in any case. The plan was put together by a 14-member group that included hunters, conservationists, livestock owners and federal officials. Details of the plan were not released Monday. "It certainly could have been better, but it could have been a whole lot worse," said Rob Edwards, director of carnivore restoration for Sinapu, a Boulder-based wildlife preservation group. "There's no place wolves can't go, no limit on the number of wolves, anything like that." It is expected that ranchers will be allowed to kill wolves attacking their livestock. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service this month authorized landowners to kill wolves in such situations. Livestock owners likely also will be compensated for losses by wolf predation. The Colorado plan is a mixture of those in place in northern states, with nothing startlingly new, said Del Benson, a Colorado State University wildlife specialist.
1.10.05 PRINCE ALBERT NATIONAL PARK, SASK. (CBC News) -- Wolves in a Saskatchewan park have become isolated from other wolf populations and may become sick because of inbreeding, researchers say.
Erin Urton, a masters student at the University of Saskatchewan, tracks wolves in Prince Albert National Park. She collects and analyses DNA samples from their droppings and fur. Urton found that park wolves have lower genetic diversity than other wolf populations. "Wolves within that area are more related to each other," she said. Researchers fear that the wolves have become so comfortable and safe in the park that they stay there and mate only with each other, leading to some level of inbreeding. "I wouldn't go so far as to say they're inbreeding to a detrimental degree, but they're definitely not able to or they don't want to move around as much and intermix with other populations," said Urton. Biologist Paul Paquette with the University of Calgary says human activities are partly to blame for the isolation of the wolf population.  "What people are finding out is that wolves everywhere are being threatened by loss of habitat, primarily, but also by isolation," said Paquette. Another recent study, comparing DNA from century-old wolf skeletons to that of modern wolves, concluded that today's wolves are less genetically diverse than their ancestors. That loss of genetic diversity could make the wolves more susceptible to disease and reproductive problems, and more likely to die off completely. "If wolves disappear from the landscape, you have huge impacts on everything down to levels of vegetation and even water levels," said Urton.
1.10.05 NORWAY (Afterposten) -- Norway's fledgling wolf population managed to evade a large team of hunters who launched a four-week pursuit over the weekend. The hunters claimed three sightings, but none fired a shot. "We'll try again next weekend," said Odd Arne Ås, who's leading a team of around 40 hunters who are out after wolves. They recently won permission from state wildlife authorities to shoot five wolves in the eastern valley known as Østerdalen between now and February 15. Three can be shot in the Stor-Elvdal and Rendalen areas, while two others can be shot further south, near Elverum. The hunt is controversial. The World Wildlife Fund's Norwegian chapter has mounted an angry protest, and appealed to the government's Minister of the Environment, Knut Arild Hareide, to stop the hunt. The World Wildlife Fund (WWF) notes that there aren't more than 18 to 25 wolves in Norway at present. Shooting up to five of them, claims the WWF, will make a major dent in a species that was nearly wiped out just a decade ago. "The Norwegian wolf population hasn't increased for the past four years because of illegal hunts," said Rasmus Hansson, secretary general of the WWF. He wants the wolf put on endangered species lists in both Norway and Sweden. Proponents of the hunt say it's necessary to protect livestock and reindeer from the wolves. More than 100 hunters applied for licenses to take part in it.
1.7.05 MICHIGAN (Traverse City Record-Eagle) -- State officials haven't found new evidence of radio-collared gray wolves in the Lower Peninsula based on a series of airplane fly-overs in recent weeks, but remain confident in their plans to find the long-lost predators. Brian Mastenbrook, Department of Natural Resources wildlife biologist in Gaylord, is coordinating the state's Lower Peninsula wolf survey, which this year is the area north of M-32. The first proof of wolves in lower Michigan came when a 70-pound female wolf was killed in October by a trapper in Presque Isle County, who said he mistook it for a large coyote. Then, biologists with the state Department of Natural Resources confirmed tracks from two wolves near Millersburg in December. The Little Traverse Bay Band of Odawa Indians will assist with the state's wolf survey. Doug Craven, natural resources department director with the tribe, said they've sought evidence of wolves for the last four years. "We've found some tracks that are the right size for a wolf," Craven said, adding that tribal members reported hearing wolves howling for several years, mostly in the northern areas of Emmet County. One tribal member reported seeing a wolf crossing the ice on Wycamp Lake near Cross Village on Thursday. Craven said biologists in his office were investigating the area where the man was ice-fishing. The DNR wolf work group is meeting Jan. 19 and 20 to finalize the recommendations for the state's updated wolf management plan, now including the Lower Peninsula.
1.4.05 REGINA, SASK. (CBC) -- A man in Saskatchewan is recovering after being attacked by a timber wolf on New Year's Eve. Fred Desjarlais was coming home from his job at Key Lake, about 550 kilometres north of Saskatoon, when the wolf lunged at him from the ditch. Desjarlais said the wolf bit him several times on the back, arm, leg and groin. He grabbed it around the neck and tried to wrestle it into submission. A busload of his co-workers showed up and helped chase the wolf away. Desjarlais received stitches and was taken to hospital where he has been undergoing a series of rabies shots. The wolf was later shot and is being tested for rabies. Desjarlais said he thinks the wolf was hungry and sick. It was limping when it approached him. "He wasn't a young, healthy one," Desjarlais said. "If he was he wouldn't have been there. He wouldn't have done what he did. It was just an older wolf that was doing what he had to do to survive and I just reacted, thank God, the way I did and survived it." Unprovoked attacks on humans by healthy wolves are rare among the roughly 70,000 wolves that live in Canada and Alaska, according to a 2002 study by the Alaska Department of Fish and Game.
1.4.05 CRYSTAL FALLS, MICH. (The Mining Journal) -- Poachers may be threatening the state's effort to control the number of gray wolves in the Upper Peninsula. The illegal act may persuade the federal government to keep the wolf on its endangered and threatened species list in Michigan. "Part of the delisting process is that the state has to show the ability to protect the animal," said Lt. Thomas Courchaine of the Crystal Falls office of the state Department of Natural Resources. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has proposed taking the gray wolf off the endangered and threatened list in the Midwest, including Michigan. Delisting the wolf would give management back to the state. Hunting of could be a possibility in the future. Several public hearings about the delisting proposal were held around the state during September, including in Marquette. Courchaine said U.P. poachers have killed 42 wolves during the past 16 years, and the DNR and other law enforcement officials have only been able to close a third of those cases. "We don't have a lot of success with these cases for several reasons," Courchaine said. "They're usually killed in remote locations, so even with radio collars, we don't find out about them until a while after they've been killed. The (protection) program is controversial anyway, so people aren't always willing to talk." The USFWS would continue to monitor the delisted wolf for five years and could relist the animal if populations were threatened by things such as loss of habitat, overuse for commercial purposes, disease or inadequacy of state laws. Advocates for continuing protection for the wolf said delisting is premature because the wolf populations are still too low, educational efforts have been inadequate to dispel myths about the animal, and there's a risk the states' natural resources agencies will give in to a powerful hunting and trapping lobby.
1.3.05 WYOMING (Cody Enterprise) -- The death of a horse from a wolf attack triggered the killing of two wolves in the Meeteetse area Sunday. Two more wolves were removed earlier in December, leaving two in the resident Owl Creek Pack, but federal agents will also kill them if depredations continue, said Ed Bangs of Helena, Mont., the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service's wolf recovery coordinator. A blue roan gelding, severely injured by wolves in a pasture on the Wood River, made it back to the corral before dying Dec. 26, Bobby Joe Long said. The horse was fine when he was seen Sunday in the corral and found dead Dec. 28 by Long's friend who checks the water every other day. The roan had been grazing with Long's three horses in a pasture 18 miles up the Wood River near Wood River Lodge and about 25 yards from a "fairly busy road," he said. The roan's death brings the total 2004 confirmed losses in Wyoming to three horses, along with 56 cattle, 10 sheep and one dog, said Bangs, who added that the only horse mortalities have occurred in Wyoming. The killing of a cow earlier in December caused the removal of two wolves, while the horse death prompted the killing of two more wolves, he said. The roan's death plus stories about cattle losses to wolves from area ranchers have changed Long's mind about the wolf reintroduction program. Initially he was supportive. "I thought it was pretty cool that such an animal could be brought back," he said. Long heard the howls three years ago in the wilderness. "I was alone, and it was exciting," he said. "Well, now I've since seen firsthand the devastation they cause and why they were killed off by past inhabitants of the Rocky Mountain region."
1.3.05 MICHIGAN (The Mining Journal) -- A Manistique-area man was arraigned Monday afternoon on charges of killing a radio-collared gray wolf in Iron County in late November. James Lakosky, 55, pleaded not guilty and faces a Jan. 17 pretrial hearing in 95th District Court in Crystal Falls before Judge Joseph Schwedler, according to a Monday press release from the Michigan Department of Natural Resources. Lakosky faces a misdemeanor charge of taking an animal designated in Michigan as threatened or endangered. He could face 90 days in jail, a $1,000 fine and $1,500 restitution to the state, according to Lt. Thomas Courchaine of the DNR's Crystal Falls office. He also could face suspension of hunting privileges at the discretion of the court, Courchaine said. Protected by state and federal law, about 360 gray wolves are in the Upper Peninsula, the DNR said. Recently, evidence also confirmed that there are at least a few wolves in the northern Lower Peninsula. An arrest warrant was issued by Iron County Prosecutor Joe Sartorelli for Lakosky on Dec. 21 after an investigation by DNR conservation officers, the press release said. The officers were called to the scene in Iron County when the radio transmitter on the wolf went into mortality mode, a signal that emanates when the animal has not moved for 24 hours. Evidence collected at the scene led to search warrants being issued and several people being interviewed during the investigation, which led officers to believe Lakosky shot the wolf Nov. 28 while he was hunting from a deer blind, the DNR said.
1.3.05 PARIS (Expatica Netherlands) -- French police are investigating a possible trade in wolf heads operating around a nature reserve in the south of the country, newspapers reported Monday. Collectors are suspected of paying several thousand euros to acquire the heads of animals from the Gevaudan wolf park in the Lozere department, French daily Liberation reported. A preliminary enquiry was launched two weeks ago after hikers found the headless carcass of a wolf bidden beneath a pile of branches, according to the local Midi Libre daily. "There are people out there who dream of having a stuffed wolf head in their living room wall ... If there is a trade going on, it would be extremely serious. Dead or alive, the wolf is a protected species," said Christian Hosy of France Nature Environment. Around 100 wolves live in semi-liberty at the Gevaudan park. Any that die are supposed to be incinerated at a veterinary clinic. Wolves disappeared from the wild in France before World War II, but have recently been reintroduced to parts of the Alps where their presence is fiercely resented by local sheep-farmers.