Wolf History, Conservation, Ecology and Behavior

MARCH 2005
3.11.05 AFGHANISTAN (News Telegraph UK) -- At least six people in remote Afghan villages have been killed by wolves descending from the hills to escape hunger in the country's worst winter in 15 years. Wolves are known to come into remote villages at night during the winter months. But they have recently attacked livestock in daylight and even seized livestock from inside the houses, working in packs of up to half a dozen. Like all villages in rural Afghanistan, Altamur is protected at night by mastiff guard dogs. However, several have been killed in the last month by the wolves. "When the wolves have a female with them they make a pack and then they are fearless," said one man. He said that the wolves killed two goats inside his house and terrified his family. Two miles away in Jawzar another fatal wolf attack was reported this winter when the body of a travelling merchant was found partly devoured near the village.
3.10.05 IDAHO (The Challis Messenger) -- A Mackay-area rancher shot and killed one of two wolves that were chasing his cattle around his calving pasture on Sunday, March 6. This is the first time a rancher or anyone has legally shot a wolf under a new rule that took effect on February 7 for central Idaho and parts of Montana and Wyoming, according to federal wolf managers. Rick Williamson, wolf management specialist for Wildlife Services, told The Challis Messenger the rancher shot and killed the wolf with one shot about 11 p.m. on Sunday. The wolf was an uncollared female. The other wolf ran away after the shooting. Williamson cannot be sure which pack the wolves belong to, but he suspects the Copper Basin Pack. Two wolves had been chasing cattle around the rancher’s calving pasture the previous Wednesday and Friday, said Williamson. The rancher was about 40 yards away from the wolf when he shot and killed it, Williamson said. The wolves were only 10-15 feet away from the cattle. The cows and calves had formed a circle and the wolves were running around them, he said. Williamson said he had talked to law enforcement agents and wolf managers from that agency and all agreed that the wolf had been legally shot. There will be no other investigation into the shooting, Williamson said. Carter Niemeyer, wolf recovery coordinator for FWS in Boise, confirmed March 7 that the shooting was legal. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced on February 3 the new rules would give private citizens more flexibility to protect their livestock, livestock herding and guard animals and dogs from wolves. The rule took effect on February 7 and allows ranchers, outfitters and private citizens to shoot wolves, but only inside the experimental population area on private and federal land in the act of “attacking, chasing, molesting or harassing” [domestic animals]. Prior to the new rules, a rancher could only have shot the wolf after it had inflicted wounds on his livestock. It would have been up to federal wolf managers to do a lethal or non-lethal control action on the depredating wolves. Niemeyer told The Messenger just before press time that another calf had been killed by a lone wolf the night of March 6 or the morning of March 7. As a result, Niemeyer said he has authorized the shooting of the responsible lone wolf, which wolf mangers do not think is a current member of the Buffalo Ridge Pack. Clayton residents remain concerned about wolves killing elk in the area and want to schedule a meeting with wolf managers, Niemeyer said.
3.10.05 ONTARIO (CBC News) -- Ontario will ban hunting of wolves in central and northern Ontario for much of the spring and summer to protect the threatened species. The closed season, announced Thursday, will be in effect from April 1 to Sept. 14 in all parts of central and northern Ontario that have wolf populations. The restrictions also apply to coyotes because of the difficulty distinguishing between the two species in the wild. The coyote season in southern Ontario will remain open all year, the Ministry of Natural Resources said in a release. Mike Reader, executive director of the Ontario Federation of Anglers and Hunters, welcomed the restrictions. He said they would let provincial scientists learn more about the wolves and "perhaps enhance wolf hunting and trapping in the future."
3.5.05 ANCHORAGE, ALASKA (Associated Press) -- Trappers are picking off the remaining members of a wolf pack that has strayed from Denali National Park and Preserve onto state land, a researcher who has studied the pack for a decade said Friday. Gordon Haber, whose work is paid for by the animal-rights group Friends of Animals, said it was alarming and he would again appeal to the state for an emergency closure of hunting and trapping in the area. "All of these wolves have been trapped," Haber said. "This group that has been around for the last 40 years is virtually on its last legs." Alaska trapping season runs through April 30. Haber said he would make a personal appeal to the Alaska Board of Game. The wolf pack, known as the Toklat or East Fork wolves, are one of Denali's most visible wolf packs, delighting thousands of park visitors each year. Haber's account at this point is unsubstantiated, said Philip Hooge, Denali's assistant superintendent of resources. But he said the park was worried enough to send wildlife biologist Tom Meier to the area where the alpha, or breeding female, was trapped and killed last month. "Obviously, we are concerned and we are out looking," Hooge said. Hooge said the park had heard reports that a second female in the pack was trapped and a pup was running around with a trap on its leg. Those reports, too, are unconfirmed, he said. Haber wants the state to issue an emergency hunting and trapping closure where the remaining members of the pack have been seen after the death of the alpha female. It is within a few hundred feet of the park's northeast boundary and on the outside edge of a wolf buffer zone. The state refused a previous request that Haber made in a letter Feb. 17 to Wayne Regelin, acting commissioner of the Alaska Department of Fish and Game. Regelin responded five days later in a letter that said the loss of one wolf did not rise to the level of an emergency. Haber said the Toklat group is one of the and most-studied packs in Denali.
3.5.05 EVANSVILLE, ALASKA (Fairbanks Daily News Miner) -- When Wyoma Knight called biologist Beth Lenart at the Alaska Department of Fish and Game in Fairbanks a few weeks ago to report an injured wolf that had been roaming around the village of Evansville, a community in the Bush about 30 miles off the Dalton Highway 200 miles northwest of Fairbanks, she was surprised by what she was told. "She said to go ahead and shoot it," Knight said by phone on Friday. "I don't see no reasons for it to be shot. It obviously wants to live." A perturbed Knight called the animal-rights group Friends of Animals in Darien, Conn., to see if that group would be interested in trying to save the wolf. In doing so, Knight set in motion a chain of events that has resulted in a Bush village divided over the fate of the wolf and a campaign to place the injured animal in a Lower 48 sanctuary for wolves.  The state Department of Fish and Game, meanwhile, is considering shooting the wolf because it appears the animal is becoming habituated to humans as a result of being fed by villagers.
The politics surrounding the situation earned the wolf a short reprieve, Bedingfield said. "We are not going to shoot the wolf today," the trooper said on Friday. But that doesn't mean the wolf won't be shot in the near future, perhaps as early as today. That decision will be up to acting Fish and Game Commissioner Wayne Regelin, who was attending a state Board of Game meeting in Anchorage on Friday and could not be reached for comment. Friends of Animals has already found a home for the wolf if it can be caught. Wolf Haven International, a wolf sanctuary in Tenino, Wash., has agreed to take the wolf, she said. Friends of Animals would cover the costs, she said. But moving the wolf would require live trapping and/or tranquilizing it, said Bedingfield. A person would have to be authorized by the Department of Fish and Game to do that, he said.
The department on Friday didn't seem eager to commit the resources needed to save the wolf. "There's a lot of wounded animals in the state," said Harms in Fairbanks. "We can't afford to attempt to rescue every one. We're more concerned about wolf populations than individual animals." Wolf Haven interim director Carole Russo said the possibility of getting the wolf was "an exciting prospect." She didn't know of another wild wolf the sanctuary has received. Most of the 51 wolves at the sanctuary came from zoos, she said.
3.4.05 ANCHORAGE, ALASKA (PRNewswire) -- The death toll from Alaska's aerial wolf killing program has reached at least 210, with hundreds more scheduled for elimination by April 30th. Wolves are being shot directly from airplanes, or being chased to exhaustion by aerial gunning teams, who then land and shoot the wolves point blank. The citizens of Alaska have twice voted in statewide measures (1996 and 2000) to ban the aerial killing of wolves. Nonetheless, Governor Murkowski signed a bill two years ago overturning the most recent ban. "It's deplorable that Governor Murkowski continues to back the extermination of wolves in key areas across the state even though his so- called predator control programs lack scientifically-based standards and guidelines to monitor the program," stated Karen Deatherage, Alaska Associate for Defenders of Wildlife. "Lower 48 and urban trophy hunters are clearly the only beneficiaries of the governor's ill-advised policy." So far, over a hundred aerial gunning teams have obtained permits from the state to kill wolves in five relatively wild and pristine areas of interior Alaska. Plans call for up to 610 wolves to be killed in these areas by late spring. The programs are expected to last for four to five years. The objective of this year's program is to kill 80-100 percent of the wolves in a 50,000 square mile area in an attempt to boost moose populations for hunters, despite the fact that insufficient data has been gathered on the number of wolves and moose in this area. Aerial gunners can kill males, females and even wolf pups as part of the program.
3.3.05 CHALLIS, ID (Challis Messenger) -- The wolf responsible for killing two calves on the same Clayton-area private ranch in the last two months was shot and killed by a federal agent February 21. A local motorist hit and killed another wolf on Highway 75 the next day. Rick Williamson, wolf management specialist for the federal Wildlife Services (WS) agency, was driving by a calving pasture February 21 when he saw a lone gray wolf in the pasture with some cows, according to an email written by and sent to The Challis Messenger by Mark Collinge, state director of WS. By the time Williamson turned off the highway and reached the pasture, the wolf was no longer visible. He drove up in the direction he assumed the wolf had gone, got out and started howling. “The wolf came right in and he shot it,” according to Collinge. The wolf was a gray female wolf of about 90 pounds, and fit the description of the lone wolf the rancher had seen twice before in or near his calving pasture. This was the same calving pasture where Williamson on February 15 had confirmed a wolf killed a second calf. The first calf had been killed on January 10. Wolf managers are uncertain whether the wolf shot by Williamson is part of the Buffalo Ridge Pack, although the wolf was in the pack’s home range. Don Lanier of Challis hit and killed a second wolf on Highway 75 just down the Salmon River from Lower Stanley. Lanier told The Messenger he was driving downriver on February 22 when a wolf jumped out from the right or river side of the highway in front of his Chevy Tahoe. Lanier had no time to swerve or hit the brakes. Lanier noticed an elk was standing in the middle of the Salmon River – perhaps one the wolf pack had been chasing before the accident. “I just couldn’t get over how big it was,” Lanier said of the wolf, which was a gray female weighing about 150 pounds. The day Williamson shot the wolf, he had been in the Clayton area to give locals some rubber bullets and training to scare wolves away from elk that the predators have been killing. “Some individuals had expressed concerns about the wolves being too close to their homes, and a number of the locals were wanting the wolves moved or chased away,” Collinge wrote.
3.1.05 WYOMING (The Billings Gazette) -- The number of sheep and cattle killed by wolves in the northern Rocky Mountains continued to increase in 2004 - as did the number of wolves killed by government agents. The annual wolf report, released Tuesday by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, also showed that the growth of the wolf population in Montana, Idaho and Wyoming is starting to slow down. "I think what we're seeing is a saturation going on," said Joe Fontaine, a FWS wolf biologist. "I don't think we're going to reach much more than we have." Wolves continue to expand into new areas, but most of the best habitat is taken. In Yellowstone National Park, the number of wolves - about 170 - didn't increase in 2004, a sign that "you can only jam so many in there," Fontaine said. Overall, there are about 324 wolves in and around Yellowstone, according to the report. Although that's an increase of 23 over 2003, Fontaine said the population is reaching a plateau. As wolves expand into areas with more people, the potential for problems with livestock increases. Last year in Montana, investigators confirmed that wolves killed 91 sheep and 35 cows, the most recorded since a record of depredations began. The number of cattle killed in Wyoming jumped from 34 to 75 last year. In response, government agents took an aggressive tack against problem wolves. Last year, 85 were killed, including 39 in Montana and 29 in Wyoming. Defenders of Wildlife, an environmental group that pays ranchers for losses to wolves, paid out more than $138,000 in 2004, a record for the 17-year-old program. Fontaine said he expects 2005 to see no major population spikes but more individual wolves trying to make their way west and south to states such as Utah and Colorado. There are an estimated 153 wolves in Montana, 260 in Wyoming and 422 in Idaho. Overall, there are 110 packs and 66 documented breeding pairs. Wolf recovery in the Northern Rockies has cost more than $18 million since 1973. Wolf recovery will cost about $2 million a year under current management.