Wolf news from across the country…

It certainly has been an up and down whirlwind of a week for news on gray wolves. From the disheartening reports out west where wildlife officials are killing members of Washington’s Smackout pack and the Harl Butte pack in Oregon, to the two encouraging news stories concerning Wisconsin wolves.

The first story affecting Wisconsin’s gray wolf was the Washington DC appellate court’s  3-0 decision to retain protection for gray wolves in Wisconsin, Minnesota, and Michigan. The court cited that the USFWS had not sufficiently considered how loss of historical territory would affect the predator’s recovery and how removing the Great Lakes population segment from the endangered list would affect wolves in other parts of the nation.

The second story affecting Wisconsin’s wolves was Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER) filing a criminal complaint citing state payments to hunters to compensate for hunting dogs killed or injured in clashes with wolves as evidence of violations. PEER has requested a criminal investigation for violation of the Endangered Species Act.  PEER Staff Counsel Adam Carlesco states, “Endangered species are legally protected from human activity which adversely affects the animals, not just physical injury but harm to habitat or breeding. Loosing packs of dogs on them absolutely constitutes an adverse impact.”

“Wisconsin encourages hunting practices that seem calculated to cause fatal conflicts with wolves,” ~Adam Carlesco, PEER

According to PEER, the WI DNR has not been authorized to give payments for hound depredations since 2014, but have been doing so in violation of Wisc. Stat. § 29.888 since then. This statute reads as follows:

“The department shall administer a wolf depredation program under which payments may be made to persons who apply for reimbursement for death or injury caused by wolves to livestock, to hunting dogs other than those being actively used in the hunting of wolves, and to pets and for management and control activities conducted by the department for the purpose of reducing such damage caused by wolves. The department may make payments for death or injury caused by wolves under this program only if the death or injury occurs during a period time when the wolf is not listed on the federal endangered list and is not listed on the state endangered list.”

“Wisconsin DNR does not pretend to manage bear hunting in any discernible fashion, nor do they even bother to monitor what is taking place.” ~Adam Carlesco, PEER

Rachel Tilseth, worked closely with PEER in gathering information for this criminal investigation. Rachel reached out to PEER a couple months ago requesting their help and stated that she was impressed at the amount of investigation, research, and digging that PEER did. Read her blog on this story here. WPR will be publishing more on this story. Email us at wolvesdouglasco@gmail.com for more information.

Both of these stories are wonderful news for Wisconsin’s gray wolf, but this is no time to rest on our laurels; we must remain vigilant and continue advocating. US Senate bill S1514 is getting closer to coming to the Senate floor for a vote. This bill would permanently delist wolves in the Great Lakes states, and preclude any judicial review – no appeals period – taking away a fundamental bedrock of our democracy. Our wolves deserve better than this.



News on Lemar Canyon Wolves 


Sarcoptic mange is a highly contagious canine skin disease caused by mites that burrow into the skin causing infections, hair loss, severe irritation and an insatiable desire to scratch. The resulting hair loss and depressed vigor of an infected animal leaves them vulnerable to hypothermia, malnutrition and dehydration, which can eventually lead to death. Mange was introduced into the Northern Rockies in 1909 by state wildlife veterinarians in an attempt to help eradicate local wolf and coyote populations. Scientists believe the troublesome mite that causes the disease persisted among coyotes and foxes after wolves were exterminated. Since their reintroduction into the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem in 1995-96, wolves appeared to be free of mange until 2002. As of March 2014, 2 of 8 known packs in Yellowstone National Park (YNP) have mange, mostly in the Northern Range, and the prevalence within a pack ranges from 25 to 60%.
On a hopeful note, in 2014 the Mollies pack suffered greatly from mange. The following year they had completely recovered, naturally and on their own, and today they are one of the healthiest packs in the Yellowstone. (Source)

This 10-month old wolf pup of the Lamar Canyon pack has been finding a way to survive while suffering from mange during Yellowstone’s winter. Our Wild Side group was able to get a good look at the effects of this disease today and, while heartwrenching to see, the good news is that he looks a bit better than earlier sightings this season.

Photograph by Leo Leckie 
About Leo Leckie

A life-long student of the natural world, I’ve been attending the dynamic classroom that is Yellowstone National Park year-round since 2010. My teachers and mentors are the myriad animate and inanimate species and forms who share their stories and insights daily.  Research areas of specialization include Wolves, Badgers, Bears, Geography and Geology.

On the trail of the wolf, Europe’s much maligned and misunderstood predator

Source When Poland banned wolf hunting, numbers doubled. But now animal scientists fear that politicians could turn back the clockBy Alex Duval Smith Friday 8 January 2016 

Robert Mysłajek stops dead. Between two paw prints on a muddy mountain track, the scientist finds what he is looking for. “Scats!’’ he enthuses. Wolf sightings are so rare that a flash of faeces marks a good day, even for a seasoned tracker.
But it is getting easier. There are now an estimated 1,500 wolves in Poland. The number has doubled in 15 years. Wolves are – along with the brown bear, the lynx and the wolverine – Europe’s last large predator carnivores. Conservationists from Britain, Germany and the Netherlands are beating a path here to find out how the country has saved this protected species, slandered even in fairytales.
Bits of bone and hair protrude from the precious black faeces. “It ate a red deer,’’ says the University of Warsaw biologist. “In my lab, I can tell you all about this wolf – not only its diet, but its gender, sexual habits, age, state of health and family connections.’’

A grey wolf on the prowl in the Carpathian mountains of Poland. Photograph: Grzegorz Leśniewski/NiS/Minden Pictures/Corbis

DNA tests have established that Polish wolves are travellers. “One wolf reached the Netherlands, where unfortunately it was hit by a car. They have a tremendous range. They need space. The average territory required by a Polish pack is 250 sq km (96 sq miles),’’ said Mysłajek
“Is there any prospect of our ever being able to reintroduce wolves to Scotland?’’ asks student Alex Entwisle, 23, on a field trip to southern Poland from his college near Chippenham, Wiltshire. The animal science students have spent the day observing scat and paw prints in the spruce-clad Beskidy mountains of the Polish Carpathians.
They are more used to discussing the red ants of the New Forest than the current hot topic among advocates of rewilding: whether to reintroduce wolves to the British Isles for the first time since the 18th century
As the guest of a British charity, the Wolves and Humans Foundation, Mysłajek toured the Scottish Highlands in September and took questions from villagers about the Polish experience. “The big difference between Scotland and Poland is that we eat pork. We do not have many sheep here.
“The similarity is that we have a lot of ungulates – 300,000 red deer and more than 800,000 roe deer. In Poland we also have a massive overpopulation of wild boar – about 200,000 – and these are ravaging farmers’ cereal crops. Here, wolves are part of the solution,’’ he says.

The scientist, who is a familiar face on Polish television, says wolves are exceptional animals that are capable of moving up to 30km (18 miles) during a single hunt. “The Beskidy pack’’ – the one that left us the scat – “is a strong unit, eight or nine individuals. This year we have recorded five cubs, two yearlings and two adults.
“We track them using motion-activated cameras in the forest, and by following their prints in the mud and snow. In each family group, only one pair reproduces, once a year. All pack members care for the young with solidarity and devotion.’’
Mysłajek, the son of a shepherd, is puzzled by wolves’ bad reputation. “Why does one speak of a ‘lone-wolf gunman’? Why did we have to have Little Red Riding Hood?’’ But that is about as dewy-eyed as he gets.
He is fascinated by these aloof canines who remained in the wild 33,000 years ago when others decided on a much more comfortable existence as domestic dogs.
 Biologist Robert Mysłajek says snow is nature’s helper, making the detection of wolf tracks much easier for scientists.

 Biologist Robert Mysłajek says snow is nature’s helper, making the detection of wolf tracks much easier for scientists. Photograph: Alex Duval Smith/the Observer

Wolves are not pooches. Mysłajek says only scientific arguments – the need to regenerate forests and control the ungulate population – can save Europe’s wild carnivores, especially the unpopular wolf. “Natural predators balance the eco-system. They keep herbivores in check, thus allowing trees to grow tall for birds to nest in.’’
Shoot the deer? “It is only a partial solution,’’ he says. “In a diverse environment you have the so-called ‘landscape of fear’, where herbivores no longer spend all day grazing on the tender riverside grass. They move away, as a precaution, to avoid being trapped by a predator. This gives the vegetation a chance.’’
The ban on wolf hunting in the western Carpathians came into force in 1995, and nationwide in Poland in 1998. There are now resident packs in virtually all the country’s major forests. The predators coexist with humans rather than being fenced off, as they are in African safari parks.
The Polish government pays compensation for livestock killed by wolves. Mysłajek advises farmers on erecting electric fences. He has helped revive the use of two deterrents that, for reasons no one quite understands, wolves find particularly scary: red bunting (hung around sheep pens) and the bark of the fluffy white Tatra mountain sheepdog.
The survival and mobility of Poland’s wolves has been helped by the country’s belated infrastructure development. In 1989, when the communists relinquished power, Poland had only one motorway. Major road projects – requiring wildlife impact studies – began after Poland joined the European Union in 2004. The country now has one of the highest densities in the world of overhead crossings and underpasses for wild animals.
 Wolf scat in the Beskidy mountains. Photograph: Alex Duval Smith/the Observer

But attitudes have also changed. “For many years, hunting was cultural. In 1975 there were fewer than 100 wolves in Poland. Beginning in the 1950s, hunting wolves had been encouraged by the authorities. They paid a reward for killing a wolf worth a month’s salary. It was carnage.’’
Mysłajek says the improvement in Polish wolves’ survival chances has been considerable, but remains fragile. Packs are mobile across borders and hunting still goes on in neighbouring Russia, Lithuania, Belarus, Ukraine and Slovakia.
He claims Poland’s new national-conservative government, elected in October, is hostile to wolves. “The environment minister, Jan Szyszko, makes no secret of being a hunter. There are 120,000 licensed hunters in Poland, and they are influential in parliament.
“The hunters claim wolves are a pest and that there are 4,000 of them in Poland, which is a spurious figure based on an unscientific count. This government is capable of turning back the clock. They will go for wolves before brown bears or lynx, just because they can.’’

Being a wolf advocate is no easy mission. “It is not as if you can argue to the politicians that wolves are a big tourist attraction. Most tourists want to see the animals, not the just the scat. Wolves stay away from humans. They have a tremendously sensitive sense of smell.’’
The 12 British animal sciences students leave the Polish Carpathians without a sighting; just smartphone photographs of paw prints and scat. Entwisle is convinced that Scotland will never be able to match Poland’s success.


Little Red and the Wolf Dilemma

Source: Canis Lupus 101 by Lin Kerns 

 Everyone knows the tale of little Red Riding Hood generally by the time they enter kindergarten; whether they have had the good fortune of someone reading it to them or they have read it themselves, everyone knows the perilous journey Little Red must make to her granny’s house where she confronts the wolf in her granny’s bed clothes. But few are aware of how such a story sets the precedent for fear of wolves later in life. You may scoff and raise a brow at this connection, but follow my train of logic for a bit, and you’ll see what I mean.

Where did the tale of little Red begin? Durham University anthropologist Jamie Tehrani states that “Little Red Riding Hood” likely branched off 1,000 years ago from an ancestral story that has its roots in the first century A.D” (Source). Tehrani uses a math model to trace the roots of the story, but what’s more, every culture on the earth appears to have some variant on the same tale. Those variants include gender, place, victim, and purpose of travel, but the one mainstay is the monster in the form of an animal, which is generally a tiger or wolf. Along come the Brothers Grimm and in their enthusiasm to scare the bejeebers out of kids, set in stone the wolf as the devouring, amoral beastie.
  Like most myths and fairy tales, the story is generally always a metaphor for something else. In the instance of Red Riding Hood, Tehrani further enlightens us:

The stories are really about how people aren’t always who they seem to be, which is a really important lesson in life. Even people that we think we can trust can actually be out to harm us. In fact, it’s precisely because we trust them that we are vulnerable to what their harmful intentions might be toward us (Source).

So, ultimately, what is this lesson telling us? By anthropomorphizing animals in our telling, we are plainly stating that all monsters are human. Those fears we own have been transferred on to a poor beast that has no concept of such subtleties of manipulation or deceit. And herein lies the rub: somewhere between childhood and adulthood, some folks forget that this particular story is a metaphor and simply remember that the wolf is bad–very, very bad. A similar occurance takes place within the telling of the story of Adam and Eve; in this story, the serpent or snake is bad/evil and instead of remembering the metaphor, people think, ah-ha! the snake should die for its terrible nature.
Although we like to believe we live in an enlightened time, many, many people will continue to hold to their superstitions and irrational fears. They will tell you that the wolf is dangerous, unpredictable, a threat to home and hearth, and should be eradicated. Sure, some wolf haters exist via incipient greed and will use their hoarding tendencies to persuade others that wolves are bad, but most begin on the laps of their parents listening to stories created for a far deeper purpose. These are the people who shut their ears to the science of food webs, trophic predators, and the result of human encroachment. These same people, who might be otherwise, good citizens, will fall away at the mention of scientific understanding and revert to a story told long ago by someone they trusted.
It’s time we all grow the hell up and leave childhood behind and behave like thinking adults. It’s time we take responsibility for our actions and realize that thinking involves honesty with ourselves and our environment. It’s time to stop making monsters out of wolves. 



Born Free USA Fights to Keep the Great Lakes Wolf Listed

February 12, 2013 Wildlife Protection Groups File Suit to Restore Federal Protection for Great Lakes Wolves, including The Humane Society of the United States, Born Free USA, Help Our Wolves Live and Friends of Animals and Their Environment, filed suit against the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service over its decision to remove the protections of the Endangered Species Act from gray wolves living in the western Great Lakes region. 

These groups won this suit and the happy news broke on December 19, 2014 that the Great Lakes wolves ordered back to endangered list.

The Great Lakes wolf owes their continued protection to these organizations.  In the next couple of blog posts I would like to highlight each organization mentioned above. I’ve already posted on the wonderful work that Humane Society of the U.S. had done on behalf of the Great Lakes wolf. 

In this blog I would like to highlight the work of Born Free USA.

Born Free USA is a national nonprofit animal advocacy organization working to conserve and protect wildlife in the US and globally. 

Born Free USA was one of the organization that filed suit to return the Great Lakes wolf back to the ESA, read on: 

Victory for Wolves in the Great Lakes Region. In December, Judge Beryl Howell of the U.S. District Court in D.C. ruled that the Department of the Interior’s decision to remove federal Endangered Species Act (ESA) protection for gray wolves in the Great Lakes region was arbitrary and capricious. We have successfully restored ESA protection to gray wolves in the Great Lakes region: a huge win for endangered species conservation! Born Free USA proudly joined our colleagues at The Humane Society of the United States, Help Our Wolves Live, and Friends of Animals and Their Environment as plaintiffs in this case. You can read the entire ruling here.

Born Free USA’s History 
The Born Free Foundation was initiated in England in 1984 by Bill Travers and Virginia McKenna, the stars of the legendary film Born Free, along with their son Will. Having been deeply influenced by their time spent in Kenya, Bill and Virginia were inspired to act after the tragic and untimely death of Pole Pole, an elephant featured in the film An Elephant Called Slowly, who was sent to the London Zoo from the Government of Kenya after the making of the film.
In the subsequent two decades, Born Free has become an international force in wildlife conservation and animal protection, campaigning to save elephants, big cats, wolves, dolphins, bears, primates, and numerous other species. Born Free upholds a dynamic presence in international animal rescues, saving animals from miserable conditions, rehabilitating them, and either providing for their lifetime care in a sanctuary or, whenever possible, rehoming them to the wild.


Virginia and “Elsa” and Bill Virginia McKenna and Bill Travers on the set of BORN FREE with one of the lionesses who played Elsa. PHOTO CREDIT: Columbia Pictures

A companion organization was established in the United States in 2002, Born Free USA, to carry on the work of the organization, involving the American public in our compassionate conservation campaigns. Born Free USA launched with a national office in Washington, DC.
Born Free is committed to spreading its brand of compassionate conservation across America and, indeed, across the globe. Our shared institutional mission is to alleviate animal suffering, protect threatened and endangered species in the wild, and encourage everyone to treat wildlife everywhere with respect and compassion.
The combination of Animal Protection Institute and Born Free USA would not have been possible without the dedicated pro bono legal assistance of the attorneys at Bingham McCutchen

Read more on the work Born Free USA has done for Wolves in the following:

Groups Petition to Reclassify Gray Wolves to Threatened Status under Endangered Species Act 

Feel free to thank them in the comment section of this blog for all the outstanding work they have done for wolves and animals. 

You can also thank them through Twitter @BornFreeUSA 


Or thank them on Born Free USA Facebook  
For more information, how you can help Born Free USA website Introduction to Advocacy

Born Free USA has my continued support and gratitude for all they’ve accomplished for wolves and animals.  



Photograph: From left to right: Virginia McKenna, George Adamson, Bill Travers, and Joy Adamson. Virginia and Bill played George & Joy in the hit film Born Free and became wildlife conservationists and founders of The Born Free Foundation

Great Lakes Wolf Delisting Threat Continues in 2016

I have been a supporter of Wisconsin’s wolf recovery for a couple of decades. When I began working, as a volunteer monitoring wolves, only 249 wolves resided in Wisconsin (cited from Progress Report of Wolf Population Monitoring in Wisconsin for the period of April – September 2000). During this time, I have seen it all:

1. Wolves listed as temporary to threatened status.

2. Bear hound hunters ignoring WDNR wolf caution warnings, resulting in over $500,000 dollars in reimbursement costs and many dead dogs.

3. Multiple threats to delist the wolf.

 The year, 2015, began happily with the return of the Great Lakes wolf under federal protection after 3 years of trophy hunts in Wisconsin and Minnesota. The year ended with good news as well, as a rider was excluded from the federal omnibus bill that would have delisted them (Cited from WODCW blog Great Lakes Wolf News Highlights of the Year 2015)

Another threat to the Great Lakes wolf lies within the outcome of an appeal filed on behalf of several organizations:

“Earlier this month, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service filed notices – although it acknowledged that the final decision on whether to pursue the case would be made by the Department of Justice. On Feb. 26, Wisconsin filed an appeal, and a day later, Michigan’s DNR also filed. Now add Michigan United Conservation Clubs, the U.S. Sportsmen’s Alliance Foundation, the National Rifle Association, the Wisconsin Bear Hunters Association, Safari Club International, the Wisconsin Bowhunters Association, the Upper Peninsula Bear Houndsmen Association, the Michigan Hunting Dog Federation, and the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation to the list…The joint effort is an attempt to repeal the December 2014 ruling by U.S. District Court Judge Beryl Howell that returned wolves in the Western Great Lakes Region – Michigan, Wisconsin, and Minnesota – to the endangered species list. The judge’s ruling put an end to wolf management hunts and mandated that people can only kill a wolf in self-defense, but not to protect pets or livestock.” (Cited from Michigan Outdoor News, Appeals mount following court’s wolf ruling by Bill Parker Editor on March 12, 2015)

A decision could be forthcoming from this appeal within the next 2 months. Thus, Great Lakes wolves are not out of the woods yet; read on:

“The Obama administration, Michigan, Wisconsin and Wyoming are appealing the two decisions. Minnesota is not formally a party to the Midwest case, but the state attorney general’s office filed an amicus brief Tuesday supporting a reversal…The brief says Minnesota’s wolf management plan will ensure the animals continue to thrive in the state. It says Minnesota’s wolf population and range have expanded to the point of saturating the habitat in the state since the animals went on the endangered list in 1973, creating “human-wolf conflict that is unique in its cost and prevalence.” Cited from Budget Bill Won’t Have Wolf Management Returning To Minn.)

Humane Society of the United States has filed multiple suits to keep wolves under federal protection on the ESA and won those battles. HSUS’s hard work and efforts has kept the Great Lakes wolf protected for now. 

I’m keeping tabs on HSUS for any news about the appeals decision. 

Read the following press releases from HSUS: 

Humane society opposes wolf delisting

In the War Over Management of Wolves, The HSUS Won’t Shrink from Effort to Protect Them
Groups Petition to Reclassify Gray Wolves to Threatened Status under Endangered Species Act

Federal Court: Great Lakes Wolf Hunting Ends Now Sport Hunting and Trapping of Wolves is Over
Wisconsin Voters Support Protecting Wolves by 8 to 1 Margin New poll shows Wisconsin voters statewide oppose a reckless trophy hunt of wolves
October 15, 2012 The Humane Society of the United States Files Notice of Suit to Restore Federal Protection for Great Lakes Wolves

The following is a timeline from HSUS: 

April 2012 – July 2012 – Wisconsin enacts legislation mandating a wolf hunting and trapping season, requiring that the state wildlife agency authorize the use of dogs, night hunting, and snare and leg-hold traps. The state wildlife agency adopts regulations for the hunting and trapping of wolves in 2012-2013 via emergency rules, and sets the quota at 201 wolves.

July 2011 – August 2012 –
Minnesota enacts legislation allowing a wolf hunting and trapping season once the wolves are delisted. The state wildlife agency adopts regulations for the hunting and trapping of wolves in 2012-2013 via emergency rules, and sets the quota at 400 wolves.

December 2011 –
USFWS issues a final rule delisting the gray wolf population in the western Great Lakes.

September 2010 –
The USFWS issues a finding that petitions to delist wolves in the Great Lakes region “may be warranted.”

July 2009 –
The HSUS enters into a court-approved settlement agreement with the USFWS that reinstated federal protections for wolves in the Great Lakes region.

June 2009 –
The HSUS files suit in federal court to block the delisting decision.

April 2009 –
USFWS issues a final rule delisting the gray wolf population in the western Great Lakes.

September 2008 –
In response to litigation filed by The HSUS and other organizations, a federal court overturned the USFWS’ Great Lakes delisting decision, thereby reinstating federal protections for gray wolves in the region.

February 2007 –
The USFWS issues a final rule delisting the gray wolf population in the western Great Lakes. 

2005 – 2006 –
The USFWS tries to strip wolves of protection by issuing blanket permits to the state of Wisconsin that authorize state officials to kill dozens of wolves. These permits are thrown out by a federal court in response to a lawsuit by The HSUS. 

January 2005 –
A federal court rules that the 2003 downlisting was arbitrary and capricious, returning the wolf to endangered status. 

2003 –
USFWS issues a final rule downgrading most of the gray wolves living in the lower 48 states from endangered to threatened, making it easier for people to lethally take wolves. 

1974 – Gray wolf listed as an endangered species under the Endangered Species Act throughout the lower 48 states.

1967 – Wolves listed under the Endangered Species Preservation Act of 1966 – the precursor to the Endangered Species Act. 

Letter to the Editor: Humane society opposes wolf delisting – Wayne Pacelle

 Source: Green Bay Gazette
Recently, a few lawmakers in Congress attempted to subvert federal court rulings and attach a rider to a must-pass spending bill to remove federal protections for wolves.
The Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) opposed this action, working with our allies to ensure that gray wolf populations in the Great Lakes states and Wyoming remain protected according to law. Wolves have no track record of hurting people, and under federal law, problem wolves can be removed under certain circumstances.
The Press-Gazette’s hunting writer properly noted our role in defending wolves, but mischaracterized our broader intentions. (“Wolf delisting out of budget package,” Dec. 24). HSUS is not trying to stop deer hunting and other forms of hunting that are conducted humanely and for meat. Nobody, on the other hand, is killing gray wolves for meat; they are inedible. They are killed for their heads and fur.
On the biology of the issue, more than 70 wildlife biologists and scientists recently wrote to Congress to state the ecological and legal reasons against delisting. In the end, Congress made the right call and showed proper restraint in not meddling with the Endangered Species Act.
Wayne Pacelle
Pacelle is president/CEO of the Humane Society of the United States

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