Inside the Heart of Wolf Advocacy: The Yellowstone Story

Wolves of Douglas County Wisconsin Films

Listen to the mournful calls from Little T, Small Dot and the five pups while they are out searching for 926F, their lost family member. This audio recording leaves no doubt in my mind or my heart that they have strong family bonds. There must be a way to protect YNP wolves that wonder outside the park boundary. In “Meet the Advocates” Film trailer, Listen to audio of Spitfire’s family and their mournful cries:

06 the legendary Alpha female and mother of Spitfire. Both wolves were killed as they left the sanctuary of the park.

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”Cyanide Bombs” used to kill wild animals are banned in Wyoming…

Most Americans are probably unfamiliar with the federal government’s taxpayer-subsidized killing campaign carried out every year against public wildlife on public lands, most of them located in the West.

Most are probably unaware that their hard-earned money, paid in taxes to Uncle Sam, helps to operate a federal agency known as Wildlife Services, a branch of the US Department of Agriculture’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service.

One of Wildlife Service’s primary missions is functioning essentially as a protective hit squad for privately-owned cattle and sheep producers allowed to graze their animals on public land grass at rates that haven’t risen much in over half a century.

Wolves of Douglas County Wisconsin Films

In an article published By Mountain Journal “Ultra-lethal ‘Cyanide Bombs’ Used To Kill Public Wildlife Banned For Now In Wyoming” August 20, 2019

UNDER PRESSURE, EPA ALSO REVERSES COURSE NATIONALLY, REVOKES APPROVAL FOR DEADLY M-44S TO KILL PREDATORS THAT MIGHT EAT LIVESTOCK ON PUBLIC LAND

by Todd Wilkinson

Most Americans are probably unfamiliar with the federal government’s taxpayer-subsidized killing campaign carried out every year against public wildlife on public lands, most of them located in the West.

Most are probably unaware that their hard-earned money, paid in taxes to Uncle Sam, helps to operate a federal agency known as Wildlife Services, a branch of the US Department of Agriculture’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service.

One of Wildlife Service’s primary missions is functioning essentially as a protective hit squad for privately-owned cattle and sheep producers allowed to graze their animals on public land grass at rates that haven’t risen much…

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Fringe Hunters: Living on the Edge of Morality

The death of ethics…

Wisconsin’s Gray wolves, credit Snapshot Wisconsin

Killing wild animals purely for sport is unethical and isn’t acceptable in this day & age. Yet, in the north woods of Wisconsin a few fringe hunters cling to sport-killing claiming it’s their heritage. Wisconsin’s Gray wolves are the only thing standing in the way of these fringe hunters. So every summer, year after year, they relentlessly harass gray wolves. Rendezvous sites are where gray wolves keep their young pups while they go off to hunt. Without any regard for these young pups, fringe hunters run their dogs through these sites in the pursuit of black bear. No doubt this careless act causes conflict, and dogs die. Caution is thrown to the wind, and the lust for violence takes precedent over morality.

Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources puts out wolf caution maps. Click here to view these wolf caution areas.

A couple decades ago Wisconsin began a compensation program to reimburse hunters for losses due to Gray wolves. Today it’s being abused. Abused through a lack of ethics because these same fringe hunters have worked to loosen regulations, making it easier to run dogs, unabated through Wisconsin’s north woods; demonstrating a lack morality, and their conduct isn’t anywhere near sportsmanlike!

“Conservation is getting nowhere because it is incompatible with our Abrahamic concept of land. We abuse land because we regard it as a commodity belonging to us. When we see land as a community to which we belong, we may begin to use it with love and respect.” ~Aldo Leopold

Let’s bring Wisconsin back in line with the values that made us known as a leader in conservation! Bring back the heart in conservation and most of all acknowledging the, “land as a community to which we all belong!”

Please take action…

Write letters to the Editor:

A letter to the editor is one way to keep your social cause, in this case wolf advocacy, in the public eye through your local newspaper.  Every newspaper has a section for opinion editorials or letters to the editor, read as many letters to the editor until you feel comfortable and then get to work on writing one of your own letters. 

Ask for a meeting with your Wisconsin representatives:

https://legis.wisconsin.gov/ is the webpage that gets you to information about Wisconsin’s State Legislature.

Wisconsin State Governor https://evers.wi.gov/Pages/Home.aspx home page.

Wisconsin Natural Resources Board https://dnr.wi.gov/about/nrb/

The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, 2018-2019, Wolf Monitoring Report is out…

Photo credit: Snapshot Wisconsin

Did you know that a wolf hunting and trapping season is required by law when Wisconsin’s Gray is not listed on the Endangered Species Act. 2011 Wisconsin Act 169 was approved by the Governor Scott Walker-R in April 2012. This statute authorizes and requires a wolf hunting and trapping season. Numerous season and application details were described in the statute. Out of all the states that hunted wolves, only Wisconsin allows hound hunters to use unleashed packs of dogs to hunt wolves. Wisconsin, quite literally, throws “dogs to the wolves”.

Act 169 authorized the Department to delineate harvest management zones, set harvest quotas, and determine the number of licenses to be issued to accomplish the harvest objective.

Six-hundred and fifty-four gray wolves were killed during Wisconsin’s wolf hunting and trapping seasons that took place in 2012, 2013 and 2014.

Thankfully, a federal judge in December 2014 threw out an Obama administration decision to remove the gray wolf population in the western Great Lakes region from the endangered species list. This decision banned further wolf hunting and trapping in three states of Wisconsin, Minnesota and Michigan.

The state of Wisconsin’s misguided wolf management plans, regarding hunting and trapping, is important information to note as the USF&WS is working to revise a role to delist the Gray wolf in the Great Lakes Area. USF&WS held a Public comment period that closed on July 15, 2019 with over 900,000 commenters apposed Trump Administrations Plan to remove wolf protection.

Help protect Wisconsin’s Gray wolf from a required hunting and trapping season: contact you members of Congress by clicking here to get their contact information.

The 2018-2019 Wolf Monitoring Report is out…

Once a year the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources publishes a Wolf Monitoring Report 2018-2019 that was conducted using a territory mapping with telemetry technique, summer howl surveys, winter snow track surveys, recovery of dead wolves, depredation investigations, and collection of public observation reports.

In April 2019 the statewide minimum wolf population count was 914-978 wolves, a 1% increase from the previous year. There are roughly 978 gray wolves living throughout Wisconsin’s northern and central forests, minimum winter count, according to the WDNR Wolf Progress Report 2018-2019. All of this points to a wolf population that is self regulating or leveling off according to land carrying capacity.

Wolf Mortality…

A total of 41 wolf mortalities were detected during the monitoring period. Detected mortalities represented 4-5% of the minimum 2017-2018 late winter count of 905-944 wolves. Detected mortalities represented 4-5% of the minimum 2017-2018 late winter count of 905-944 wolves.

Once again, according to the Wolf Progress Report, vehicle collisions (44%) and illegal kills (24%) were the leading causes of death for detected mortalities and were slightly higher than rates detected the previous year. Human caused mortality represented 94% of known cause detected mortalities overall.

Wolf Depredation…

During the monitoring period, Wildlife Services confirmed 68 wolf complaints (wolf depredations) of the 121 investigated. While the number of confirmed livestock incidents increased from 37 in 2017-2018, the number of farms affected decreased from 31 the past 2 years.

The use of flandry, red strips of material, is used as deterrent to keep wolves away from livestock.

There’s always work to be done when it comes to protecting livestock and wolves…

Watch the interview of Brad Koele WDNR Wildlife Damages Specialist. I interviewed Koele on June 11, 2015 at the WDNR Wolf Population meeting held in Wausau Wisconsin.

Foxlights a nighttime predator deterrent that saves lives! Foxlights have been used by Wisconsin farmers. I gave an interview to Wisconsin Public Radio reporter Danielle Keading on June 21, 2016.

Tilseth sold 25 to the U.S. Department of Agriculture APHIS-Wildlife Services in northern Wisconsin and said they deter wolves from coming near livestock.

“It can be seen from a mile away,” she explained. “It operates with a six volt battery giving up to 12 months of nonstop protection. A light sensor automatically turns it on when it’s at dusk and turns it off during the day.”

These lights are just one of the abatements available to livestock producers in Wisconsin.

Once again it has been proven in scientific fact that Wisconsin’s Gray wolf is keeping White-tailed deer populations healthy.

White-tailed deer are the primary prey species for wolves in Wisconsin. White-tailed deer density estimates increased 7% statewide from the previous year estimate, but the majority of that increase was in wolf management unit 6 considered to be mostly unsuitable for wolf pack development. Wolf management units 1, 2, and 5, considered to be primary wolf range, contain 76% of the minimum winter wolf count. Deer density estimates remained stable at 25.3 deer / square mile of deer range in primary wolf range.

Photo credit: Snapshot Wisconsin

The state of Wisconsin’s misguided wolf management plans, regarding hunting and trapping, is important information to note as the USF&WS is working to revise a role to delist the Gray wolf in the Great Lakes Area. USF&WS held a Public comment period that closed on July 15, 2019 with over 900,000 commenters apposed Trump Administrations Plan to remove wolf protection; proving the public wants gray wolves on the landscape! The Gray wolf is part is a part of Wisconsin’s wild legacy!

Help protect Wisconsin’s Gray wolf from a required hunting and trapping season: contact you members of Congress by clicking here to get their contact information.

Volunteer Trackers Reported Minimum Count Of 914-978 Wolves as reported by WPR…

Source Wisconsin Public Radio

Latest Wolf Count Provides Further Evidence Wisconsin’s Wolf Population Is Stabilizing

By Danielle Kaeding
Thursday, August 29, 2019, 7:20am

State officials say the state’s latest wolf count is further evidence that Wisconsin’s wolf population might be stabilizing.

Volunteer trackers reported between 914 and 978 wolves from April 2018 to April 2019, according to the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources.

Scott Walter, DNR large carnivore specialist, said that’s about a 1 percent increase from the last monitoring period.  

“The last three winter track surveys suggested fairly similar numbers of wolves and that follows really two decades of sustained population growth,” said Walter. “It looks like numbers are leveling off.”

Walter said the data indicates wolves have reached the extent of suitable habitat statewide. The animals have encountered less forest cover, more agriculture and more people as they’ve spread southward. The DNR reported a slight increase in the number of wolf packs and wolves killed last winter. Vehicle collisions and illegal killings remained the leading cause of death in reported cases.

As many as 5,000 wolves once roamed the state, but the animals were hunted nearly to extinction. In 1980, the state had 25 wolves, according to the DNR. After recovery efforts, the federal government delisted the gray wolf in the western Great Lakes region in 2012. However, the animal was placed back on the endangered species list after a federal judge’s ruling in 2014

Earlier this year, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service proposed removing protections nationwide. Walter said the state conducts wolf monitoring to provide information to the federal agency as part of their review of whether delisting is warranted. 

Some scientists argue the state hasn’t been fully transparent or allowed independent verification of Wisconsin’s wolf count since 2012, including Adrian Treves, professor of environmental studies at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

“I don’t think that the information coming out of the state should be used by the federal government in its decisions on gray wolves under the Endangered Species Act,” Treves said.

DNR staff has said wolf monitoring has not changed although meetings on the count have been held behind closed doors. Others feel the count is a reasonable measure of the state’s wolf population, including Adrian Wydeven, former DNR wildlife biologist and chair of the Timber Wolf Alliance Council.

“These are minimum counts. They are fairly intensely done by the Wisconsin DNR. They are a reliable indicator of the growth of the population that’s probably a little bit less than what the actual population is,” said Wydeven. “There are also efforts by the DNR to develop new methods for monitoring the population.”

Republican state lawmakers and a bipartisan effort by Wisconsin congressional representatives have pushed legislation to delist the wolf. They, along with the Wisconsin DNR, would like to see management return to the states. 

“It would certainly provide us more flexibility to address things like livestock depredation events and also make the determination about where wolves should or shouldn’t be in the state,” said Walter.

However, groups like the Humane Society of the United States fear the return of the state’s wolf hunt that was enacted in 2012.

“Time and again, state wildlife agencies have ignored the best available science and shown a propensity to lean towards the interest of trophy hunters and trappers and not the wishes of the majority public,” said Megan Nicholson, HSUS Wisconsin State Director, in an email.

Hunters killed 654 wolves during the three seasons a wolf hunt was held in Wisconsin, according to DNR reports. The state has a wolf population goal of 350 animals, but the DNR said the state’s management goal would be updated if the wolf is delisted. 

Composite photograph of a Wisconsin wolf taken on Wisconsin Snapshot

Inside the Heart of Wolf Advocacy: The Yellowstone Story

Listen to the mournful calls from Little T, Small Dot and the five pups while they are out searching for 926F, their lost family member. This audio recording leaves no doubt in my mind or my heart that they have strong family bonds. There must be a way to protect YNP wolves that wonder outside the park boundary. In “Meet the Advocates” Film trailer, Listen to audio of Spitfire’s family and their mournful cries:

06 the legendary Alpha female and mother of Spitfire. Both wolves were killed as they left the sanctuary of the park.

Support the film project

 

Who has more common sense & self-restraint: the hound hunter or the gray wolf? The conflict continues…

Just this week in Wisconsin a hound hunter ran his dog through a wolf rendezvous site, and two gray wolves killed his dog. He went into the area looking for his dog and witnessed two timber wolves holding onto the dead dog. He not only disturbed wolf pups, causing the death of his dog; he then walks right into the rendezvous site where wolves are already in defense of pups adding fuel to the fire! I’ve been a volunteer wolf tracker for 19 years, and this takes the cake! It wins the award for stupid! He’s posted it on his Facebook & claimed the two wolves went after him. I’ll tell ya something about wolves that if they were after him as he claims, they most definitely could of finished him off fast. But they did not. They did not touch a hair on his head. Because they are smarter than him, apparently! And proving they have more self-restraint than he does!

His post is now being shared on Facebook and being exaggerated, commented on, ranted on, & on, angrily & all because of a lack of common sense! It’s a wolf-hate-fest!

Photograph is of hound hunter’s dog. Dog was running on Bear right through gray wolf rendezvous site. It’s a well known fact, that wolves keep their young pups at rendezvous sites while they go hunting.

Gray wolves keep their three month old pups at rendezvous sites while they go hunting. Conflicts arise when bear hunters run their dogs through rendezvous sites. Gray wolves are forced to defend vulnerable pups from free ranging packs of hunting dogs.

Bear Hunters and Wolves

In the 1960s Wisconsin started allowing the use of dogs in the pursuit of bear. At that time there were maybe a handfull of wolves in Wisconsin if any. Wolves were not a threat to bear hunters because they were all but wiped out of Wisconsin by the 1960s.  It all changed for bear hunters when Wisconsin Wolf recovery began in the late 1970s.

This conflict between bear hunters and wolves isn’t new. Watch the following Wisconsin Public Television piece from 2010.

A Brief History on Wisconsin’s Gray Wolf

In 1967 and 1974 the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service designated the eastern timber wolf a federally endangered species. In 1975, wolves were listed as a state endangered species as they began to recolonize along the Minnesota border. Wolves crossed over into Wisconsin from Minnesota and established territories on their own. Today, Wisconsin’s Gray wolf is listed on the Endangered Species List. Final Rule to Delist – – Due to a Federal court decision, wolves in the western Great Lakes area (including Michigan, Minnesota, and Wisconsin) were relisted under the Endangered Species Act, effective December 19, 2014.

Wisconsin’s Gray Wolf Current Population

The 2017-18 overwinter minimum wolf count is 905-944, a 2.2% decrease from the 2016-17 minimum count of 925-956. The 2018-19 overwinter minimum wolf count is 914-978, a 1% increase from the 2017-18 minimum count of 905-944. Wisconsin’s Gray wolf appears to be self regulating.

Carrying capacity is an ecological term for the number of a given species that an ecosystem can sustainably support. Social carrying capacity, however, refers to the number of a species that people feel is appropriate.

Wisconsin Black Bear Hunters use dogs to track and trail bears. Conflicts arise when a hunter’s dogs run through Gray Wolf’s rendezvous sites where pups are kept. Rendezvous sites are:

Rendezvous Site Identification and Protection source WDNR Endangered Resources

Active Season for Rendezvous Sites: mid-May – mid-October

Habitat: Rendezvous sites are generally open areas of grass or sedge adjacent to wetlands. The sites are characterized by extensive matted vegetation, numerous trails, and beds usually at the forest edge. Rendezvous sites are often adjacent to bogs or occur in semi-open stands of mixed conifer-hardwoods adjacent to swamps. Sometimes abandoned beaver ponds are used as rendezvous sites.

Description: Rendezvous sites are the home sites or activity sites used by wolves after the denning period, and prior to the nomadic hunting period of fall and winter. Pups are brought to the rendezvous sites from dens when they are weaned, and remain at rendezvous sites until the pups are old enough to join the pack on their hunting circuits. Rendezvous site may be associated with food sources such as ungulate kills or berry patches. Generally a series of rendezvous sites are used by a specific pack. Rendezvous sites are mostly used from mid-June to late-September, but use may start as early as mid-May and may continue to early or mid-October. Some intermittent use of rendezvous sites may continue into the fall. It appears that the average number of rendezvous sites used by wolf packs is 4-6.

Although den and rendezvous sites each serve separate functions for wolves, they are sometimes used interchangeably. Excavations sometimes occur at rendezvous sites and these may be used as den sites in the future. Sometimes rendezvous sites may represent old den site areas. Therefore, a site used as a rendezvous site one year, could be used as a den site the next year or vice versa. Due to the transient use of rendezvous sites, special protections are not necessary. If recent excavations are observed indicating possible use as a den site, protocols in place for den site protection should be followed. Source

“Most Wisconsin citizens want at least some wolf presence in the state, but those who feel strongly, at either end of the spectrum, drive the argument.” Lisa Naughton, UW-Madison geography professor.

Wisconsin DNR puts out the following when there is a wolf depredation on hunting dogs:

When wolves attack dogs in hunting or training situations on public land, the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources will create wolf caution areas to warn hunters that a specific pack has attacked a dog or group of dogs. Bear hunters are urged to exercise greater caution if they plan to train hounds or hunt bear with hounds near any caution area, especially if near an actual kill site.

When a wolf depredation takes place on a Bear hunter’s dog he is compensated $2,500.00 per dog. Wisconsin’s wolf depredation program began in 1982, and soon afterwards bear hunters running dogs in pursuit of bear began receiving payouts. The payouts for wolf depredations were paid in the effort to help compensate hunters, livestock owners and residents living in wolf recovery areas.

We must mitigate the decades old conflict between bear hunters and wolves…

In 2015 Wisconsin Bear Hunters Association (WBA) worked at loosening regulations for bear hunters using dogs in pursuit of bear. It’s a mystery as to just how many dogs in pursuit of bear are running through the woods during training & hunting. Why is this a mystery? Because a change in regulations took place that removed the Class B bear training & hunting license. Because of that change it’s impossible to know; just how many dogs in pursuit of bear are running through the woods. It’s all carefully crafted propaganda to make the wolf look bad. 

I started working on the Wisconsin wolf recovery program as a volunteer Winter Wolf Tracker in the year 2000. I lost track of how many “no-wolf” bumper stickers were encountered in a day of tracking in the the Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest. This conflict between bear Hunters and wolves is decades-old.

It’s time we begin to address the conflict, especially with the possible delisting threats on the horizon. This would mean Wolf management would fall into state hands.

Contact your Wisconsin State Representative. Wisconsin’s Gray wolf needs your help.