California’s seven gray wolves are missing, according to reports by the San Francisco Chronicle. California Department of Fish and Wildlife biologist Pete Figura said the wolves, known as the Shasta Pack, could have migrated to a new region with more prey, but that it was unusual for the pack hunters to abandon their breeding grounds.
We’re reasonably confident that last year they did not use the same area as a pack as they did the year before, and we don’t know why,” Figura said. “Why they were not detected anywhere else this past summer we don’t have a clear explanation for.”
The Shasta Pack, which were the first wolf pack to live in California for nearly a century, have not been seen since May 2016. The pack was being monitored in southeastern Siskiyou County, by the CDFW and according to Figura, fresh wold tracks were spotted in late January this year, about 10 miles from the pack’s home in Siskiyou County. He said they’ve collected some scat and are currently awaiting DNA analysis to determine if it belongs to them.
“It could have been a member of the Shasta Pack or a completely different animal. We don’t know at this time,” Figura said.
The Center for Biological Diversity’s West Coast Wolf organizer Amaroq Weiss said she hoped the wolves moved on to different territory instead of being poached. Weiss said wolves in the northern Rockies had been poached in 2010, and a study found that poaching was responsible for 24 percent of wolf mortality within that region. The following year she said three family members were convicted of killing two wolves of the Lookout Pack in Washington state.
“Their poaching activities were uncovered when they tried to ship bloody wolf skins by mail to British Columbia, Canada to be tanned. They claimed to be shipping rugs but a mail clerk became suspicious when he noticed blood seeping from the package,” Weiss said. “I have no specific information to indicate the Shasta pack has been poached, however, I also have no information establishing that these wolves are still alive. (Like Figura said) it is odd that the pack has not been seen anywhere in the region of where they had previously set up a territory, den site and rendezvous sites.”
Weiss said she’s asked around and checked in with numerous people who know ranchers in the general area but no one has reported any sightings of the Shasta Pack. She said another possible outcome would be that the wolves had fallen victim to snares or poison bait traps that were used by ranchers to protect against coyotes.
“California has so few wolves. Those wolves face dire threats like intentional poaching and accidental poisoning or snaring highlights precisely why full state endangered species protections for these magnificent animals must remain in place,” Weiss said.
The Shasta Pack is believed to have killed and eaten a calf in November 2015, the first reported case of livestock predation by wolves since their return to California. That was also the last time the entire pack was known to be together. Figura said he has no evidence to suggest the wolves were killed in retaliation. Source
Taking place on Monday October 10, 2016 5:30 pm to 9:00 pm EST at Malibu Wines, 31740 Mulholland Hwy, Malibu, CA 90265 Register Today click HERE
Join Director of “Medicine of the Wolf” Julia Huffman and Co-founders of Apex Protection Project, Paula Ficara and Steve Wastell along with the Apex Ambassador Pack, Taboo, Kona, Thor and Loki, at Malibu Wines for an exciting and informative evening on Wolves and Wolfdogs. Meet the Apex Pack face to face and enjoy the first Malibu screening of the award-winning and eye-opening documentary “Medicine of The Wolf” followed by a Q&A with Director Juila Huffman, Paula Ficara and Steve Wastell, outside under the stars with great wine and delicious food. *Since this event is being hosted at a winery the event is 21 and over.
In this beautiful and important documentary, filmmaker Julia Huffman travels to Minnesota and into wolf country to pursue the deep intrinsic value of perhaps the most unjustly maligned animal on the face of the planet. Medicine of the Wolf centers on the remarkable, world-renowned environmentalist and National Geographic photographer Jim Brandenburg, who has photographed and studied wolves for 45 years—longer than anyone in history. As our guide, Brandenburg enables us to see the world of the wolf as we have never seen it before.
In the photograph: (left to right) Paula Ficara, Steve Wastell and Julia Huffman
In April 2010, Founders Paula Ficara and Steve Wastell discovered a place that would change the course of their lives; a young wolfdog rescue just getting its start in Los Angeles County. With a lifelong love of wildlife, particularly wolves, they found themselves volunteering as much time as possible to the growth and development of the small rescue, eventually leaving their former careers behind to become two of the first full-time staff members. Over the past seven years, they’ve helped rescue and rehabilitate over 50 wolves and wolfdogs, developed educational events and programs, and been active advocates for captive bred wolves and wolfdogs, as well as wolves in the wild. The goal of Apex Protection Project is to continue the quest of protecting wolves and wolfdogs through educational experiences, rescue, and advocacy with the dream of future generations living in a world where the wolf is protected and respected. Photography: Paula and Steve with their wolfdog Taboo, their first rescue. Apex Protection Project is a 501c3 non-profit organization.
Answer the call of the wild without trekking into the woods as NerdMelt presents Art for Wolves. This exhibition features wolf-inspired works from Mike Judge, Martin Starr, Amanda Crew, Thank You X, David Flury, Rony Alwin and more. Proceeds benefit Wolf Connection, an youth empowerment program and a wolfdog rescue center and sanctuary.
7522 Sunset Blvd
Los Angeles CA 90046
View Website *Click blue highlight letters to view source details
Mendocino County dumps federal killings of livestock predators
By Peter Fimrite April 26, 2016
Wildlife advocates scored a major victory Tuesday when Mendocino County agreed to terminate its contract with the federal agency that helps ranchers kill predators such as mountain lions and coyotes that feast on livestock.
Troy Mcwilliams, with daughter Mikayala McWilliams, 10, tends to a non-lethal predator deterrent at the Hopland Research & Extension Center in Hopland, CA, which does research on non-lethal predator management on April 21, 2016. Mcwilliams is a 3rd generation worker on the property who has been working there for 15 years and lives on the property with his wife and 3 children.
Photo: Brian L. Frank, Special To The Chronicle
Environmental groups have long crusaded against what they characterize as indiscriminate killing of wildlife by an agency whose philosophy amounts to “the only good predator is a dead predator.” The decision by Mendocino County supervisors to sever ties with the division of the U.S. Department of Agriculture marks a rare instance of a California county opting to consider nonlethal methods of carnivore control.
Environmentalists had accused the county of violating the California Environmental Quality Act by hiring the Agriculture Department division known as Wildlife Services. Six environmental and animal protection groups claimed in a lawsuit that the county failed to consider nonlethal methods of animal control and should have done an environmental study on the effect that killing predators would have on the ecosystem before signing a contract with Wildlife Services.
“We’re thrilled,” said Jessica Blome, senior staff attorney for the Animal Legal Defense Fund, one of the plaintiffs in the case. “This is the first lawsuit in the country that attacks Wildlife Services based on its relationships with local governments.”
Todd Smith of Oakland’s Thomas Law Group, which represented Mendocino County, said the Board of Supervisors had agreed to set aside the contract while conducting an environmental study.
“The county is happy to undertake this analysis so the members of this community can understand the benefits and the impacts associated with the wildlife management program,” Smith said. “The program has been effective for almost 30 years, so the county was a little surprised (by the lawsuit). That said, the county wants to comply with the law. In the end, the analysis will drive what the program looks like in the future.”
The issue has exacerbated tensions between ranchers and conservationists. Livestock owners in the far northern part of the state have threatened to use the “three S’s” — shoot, shovel and shut up — when confronted with environmentalists’ efforts to protect wolves, coyotes and other “vermin.”
There are as many as 700,000 coyotes in the state, according to the California Department of Fish and Wildlife. Mountain lions are also abundant, and both predators kill a lot of livestock, which are commodities that contribute to the state and local economy, said the California Cattlemen’s Association.
The recent discovery of a wolf pack in Siskiyou County has turned the issue of predator control into a major area of concern among ranchers.
The USDA Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, which oversees the wildlife management program, told The Chronicle last year that agency trappers use nonlethal techniques when appropriate.
Some 47,000 animals were nevertheless killed by Wildlife Services trappers in California in 2014, while 2.7 million animals were done away with nationwide, including wolves, coyotes, bears, mountain lions, beavers, foxes and other animals deemed pests, federal records show.
In Mendocino County, federal wildlife specialists working under a $144,000 contract used traps, snares, poison and other devices to kill hundreds of coyotes, mountain lions, bears, bobcats and other wildlife last year, according to the plaintiffs in the case.
Paul Trouette, president of the nonprofit Mendocino County Blacktail Deer Association and a former county Fish and Game commissioner, said guardian dogs, fencing and other nonlethal methods aren’t always appropriate in the county because of the rugged terrain. Many predators climb fences, he said, and coyotes and cougars have been known to run sheep and other prey into them for easy kills.
“I think we have a perfect program right now. These guys who make a living can’t be out there shaking noisemakers all night” to scare away predators, Trouette said.
He argued that Wildlife Services trappers are the best available experts on predation, the spread of wildlife diseases and protection of livestock.
“Who is going to handle all the sick animals and the rabies or other diseases and provide technical assistance to ranchers if they get rid of the professionals?” he asked. “The county doesn’t have any programs set up for that. It’s going to be a nightmare.”
Wildlife advocates say the current system is both immoral and unnecessary.
“What we’re really talking about is the legitimacy of our federal government using American tax dollars to kill wildlife and ecologically valuable predators in huge numbers every year to benefit a tiny minority of ranchers and the agricultural industry,” said Camilla Fox, executive director of Project Coyote, a wildlife advocacy organization that was also a plaintiff in the lawsuit. “That’s the crux of this case.”
The county must now complete an environmental report that evaluates nonlethal predator control methods before it can enter into a contract with Wildlife Services in the future. Blome said the settlement could serve as a precedent for wildlife management programs in California and around the country.
“It’s a monumental achievement that we plan to use as a model,” she said. “We’ll go county by county if we have to, to force these counties to evaluate whether lethal control is necessary.”
Wildlife advocates are pushing for government support for a variety of nonlethal management techniques, including the use of guardian dogs, fencing, hazing of carnivores using lighting and flag techniques, night corrals and the placing of sheep in lambing sheds at night.
Fox cited research suggesting ways in which the killing of native predators harms the ecosystem. Coyotes, for instance, provide poison-free rodent control, while mountain lions can keep populations of other carnivores down.
In addition, wildlife advocates said, killing predators can make things worse — such as when trappers kill an alpha pair of coyotes. That ruins the pack structure, leaving coyote pups and young adults on their own. The result is a lot of coyotes that don’t have hunting skills going after the easiest prey they can find, which is livestock.
There is an example in the Bay Area of how a kill-as-a-last-resort predator control program can work. In Marin County, a nonlethal control program was adopted in 2000. It essentially used the money once paid to federal trappers to help ranchers build fences, night corrals and lambing sheds and purchase guardian dogs.
Financial assistance key
At the time, coyotes were killing hundreds of lambs and ewes every year in Marin County. Most sheep ranchers in Marin purchased guardian dogs, which naturally bond with sheep and goats and aggressively protect them. Ranchers credit the dogs with reducing predation.
County financial assistance was crucial, according to many ranchers, given that a guard dog can cost $1,000 or more. The program also helped pay for fences, electrification, noisemakers, lights and motion sensors — all at one-third the cost of predator control under the Wildlife Services program, according to county agricultural officials.
“It’s very easy to convince people that nonlethal predator control works when you look at the research that has been done,” Blome said. “Without exception, every rancher that has converted to nonlethal predator control is an advocate of it.”
The California Fish and Wildlife Commission is considering new regulations to ban nighttime hunting and lethal trapping in California’s gray wolf habitat. These regulations are an essential step in establishing a strong wolf recovery and management plan for California.
Mistaken killings of returning gray wolves pose a very real threat to the Shasta pack family and gray wolf recovery in California overall. Documented cases throughout the United States show that wolves are frequently killed by hunters targeting coyotes during night hunts and by lethal traps and snares set for coyotes and other animals.
While wolf recovery and management in California will be a long-term effort involving many stakeholders, the most immediate risks to the species can be addressed right now. The commission’s adoption of a ban against nighttime hunting and lethal trapping in wolf habitat would greatly reduce the likelihood of Endangered Species Act violations caused by mistaken killings.
~Erin Hauge, Sacramenta, California
Paula Ficara and Steve Wastell have worked with wolves and wolfdogs in the rescue industry for almost 7 years. They’ve helped rescue and rehabilitate over 50 wolves and wolfdogs, developed educational events and programs, and been active advocates for captive bred wolves and wolfdogs, as well as wolves in the wild.
Today they run Apex Protection Project, 501c3 non-profit dedicated to continuing the quest of protecting wolves and wolfdogs through educational experiences, rescue, and advocacy with the dream that future generations living in a world where the wolf and all species are highly valued, protected and respected for the balance they bring to the ecosystem, and for the gifts they offer to humanity. More information on the program click here.
You are invited
The benefit at Pitfire Pizza North Hollywood tomorrow from 5pm-9pm is in an effort to raise funds for the Apex Medical Fund and to help fund their trip to the Sedona Film Festival to speak on the panel with filmmaker Julia Huffman at her screening of revolutionary documentary Medicine of the Wolf where we’ll be bringing all four wolf ambassadors.
Apex Protection Project is looking for property in the Malibu area to open their permanent sanctuary.
Snares, lethal traps, night-hunting. These are just some of the deadly dangers that wolves face as they attempt to return to their native home of California.
Project Coyote and the Center for Biological Diversity have taken swift action to protect wolves by petitioning the California Fish and Game Commission to ban lethal trapping and night-hunting in the wolf recovery zone. Your voice in support of this petition is needed now!
We have also jointly petitioned the Commission to comply with state law regarding its trapping program. If implemented, it could mean the end of commercial trapping in the state. Read more here.
Our petitions will be considered by the Commission at the upcoming Santa Rosa Commission meeting on Thursday, April 14 and we need your support! You can help by taking any or all of the three simple actions below:
1. Submit comments to the Commission (click “Take Action Now” button below).
2. Join us at the upcoming Fish and Game Commission meeting where these issues will be considered. More information and agenda here (public testimony may be limited to 2 min.):
What: California Fish and Game Commission mtg.
When: Thursday, April 14th, 8am
Where: Flamingo Conference Resort & Spa, 2777 Fourth Street, Santa Rosa, CA 95405
3. Help keep these issues in the public eye by submitting Letters to the Editor to your local paper(s). Use the talking points below and our tips and tools for writing LTE’s
In June 2014, the Commission listed wolves under the California Endangered Species Act (CESA), providing wolves recolonizing their historic range in California with the extra protections needed for recovery (wolves in California are also still listed under the Federal Endangered Species Act though those protections are tenuous as the Fish and Wildlife Service debates delisting wolves from the ESA).
While these regulatory mechanisms render both the intentional and accidental taking of gray wolves in California illegal, specific regulations are necessary to protect wolves in the state from one of the greatest threats to their recovery: the accidental killing of gray wolves mistaken for other species, particularly coyotes, in night-time hunting and lethal trapping currently permitted in occupied and potential wolf territory. Read our joint letter to the Commission on this issue here.
Thank you for speaking out for wildlife and we hope to see you at the Commission meeting on April 14th! Please share this action alert!
Letter: North state residents can coexist with wolves POSTED: 02/29/16
Gray wolves are back in California, and whether you love them or hate them, it seems they are here to stay.
Right now, we have the Shasta Pack up in Siskiyou County, but as OR7 showed us, these animals can range over thousands of miles. In a few years, we in Butte and Tehama counties may have wolves for neighbors. I for one welcome the return of this iconic and controversial species, not with open arms but with a quiet respect borne of growing up in the rural mountains of the north state.
The California Department of Fish and Wildlife has wrapped up the public comment period for the Draft Wolf Conservation Plan, but folks continue to sound off. The old fears are alive and well, that wolves will decimate our deer, our livestock and even attack people, despite all evidence to the contrary. It’s likely that California will only ever be home to a few hundred of the big canids. There is still space enough for everyone.
A recent “ranching with wolves” workshop in McArthur drew more than 150 people interested in learning coexistence methods. Living with wolves may not be easy. It may require changes in livestock husbandry and hunting tactics, but our California landscape will be enhanced, not destroyed, by the presence of wolves.
I look forward to the day when I may come across wolf tracks of listen to the howling of a pack in full cry while camping in the mountains of Northern California.
— Sarah Skinner, Durham
by Rick Lamplugh’s Blog click HERE to go to Rick’s blog
For wolves and their advocates, 2015 was a year of triumph and tragedy. The year began with the glow from a great victory: wolves had been placed back under federal protection in four states where they had been slaughtered. The year ended with advocates breathing a tired sigh of nervous relief that wolves had not been stripped of that federal protection through a last-minute, cagey congressional rider.
Meanwhile, wolves did what comes naturally: dispersed in search of mates and territory. Wolves returned to their home in a state where they had not walked in ninety years. In other wolf states they dispersed into new areas.
And we humans also did what comes naturally: we let our wide-ranging beliefs about these essential predators bring out our best and worst. In one state, pro-wolf and anti-wolf groups met regularly to try and find common ground. In another state, a poacher in his truck chased an innocent wolf down, shot it, turned himself in, and was fined a measly $100 for killing an endangered animal.
Here is a wolf-state-by-wolf-state report on the triumphs and tragedies of 2015. As well as a glimpse into what 2016 may hold in store for wolves and their advocates.
In May and July, trail cameras in Siskiyou County recorded images of two adult wolves and five pups. California’s first wolf pack was named the Shasta Pack. Their scat was analyzed, and DNA revealed that the Shasta pack’s breeding female was born into Oregon’s Imnaha Pack, that state’s first wolf pack.
Any wolf that enters California is protected under both state and federal Endangered Species Acts. The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) will encourage the use of non-lethal methods to minimize livestock losses from wolves. This welcoming of wolves was, for Patricia Herman, founder of California-based Protect the Wolves advocacy group, “…our biggest success after fighting for so long with so many states to stop killing them. When we found a state that actually welcomed the idea of wolves it was a dream come true.”
The gray wolf is native to California. Records from 1750 to 1850 show that wolves roamed California’s Coastal Range from San Diego to Sacramento. From 1850-1900, they were spotted in Shasta County and in the central Sierra Nevada.
California has plenty of room for more wolves. The Klamath-Siskiyou and Modoc Plateau regions in northern California and southwestern Oregon could support up to 470 wolves, according to a study conducted by the Conservation Biology Institute and reported by the California Wolf Center.
CDFW is preparing for the return of wolves by developing a wolf management plan. “But the plan steps far outside the bounds of credible research and into the world of special interest-driven politics when it calls for authorizing the state to kill wolves when the population reaches as few as 50 to 75 animals,” says Amaroq Weiss of the Center for Biological Diversity. The deadline to comment on California’s plan is February 15, 2016.
By early 2015 Oregon had 81 wolves in nine packs, most in eastern Oregon. OR-7’s Rogue pack lives in the southwestern part of the state. The Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife (ODFW) confirmed that two new wolves were spotted traveling in territory near the Rogue pack.
Oregon’s response to the return of wolves has been positive. “Oregon has been the only state in the nation with a meaningful wolf population that did not kill them despite having the authority to do so,” said Rob Klavins of Oregon Wild.
But that may change. In November, ODFW stripped Oregon’s wolves of state endangered species protection. Wolves remain fully protected in the western two-thirds of state under the federal Endangered Species Act. In Northeast Oregon, where most of the wolves live, ranchers can still only shoot a wolf caught in the act of wounding, biting, killing, or chasing livestock. The state still makes non-lethal deterrence the first choice for resolving conflicts between ranchers and wolves.
To delist wolves, ODFW had to show that wolves were not in danger of extinction or population failure. The agency claims it did that. Klavins says ODFW did not. “They ignored substantive critiques from world-renowned scientists while justifying delisting based on a few sentences (in some cases cherry-picked) from a small number of selected experts of varying levels of credibility. They ignored over 20,000 public comments and overwhelming public testimony in favor of continued protections. They ignored troubling conflicts of interest and likely violated important legal requirements. The agency was dishonest with conservation stakeholders. Governor Brown was silent.”
On December 30, Oregon Wild, Cascadia Wildlands, and the Center for Biological Diversity filed a legal challenge to the removal of protection from gray wolves under Oregon’s Endangered Species act.
By early 2015, Washington had at least 68 wolves in 16 confirmed packs in the eastern and central portions of the state. Though Congress stripped wolves of federal Endangered Species Act protections in the eastern third of the state, all wolves remain protected under Washington’s ESA.
But, as elsewhere, protection hasn’t stopped the killing. According to the Seattle Times, at least half a dozen Washington wolves have been killed by poachers since 2012. This includes a Whitman County poacher fined a measly $100 last September. Another wolf was struck and killed on Interstate 90. State sharpshooters in helicopters shot and killed seven wolves in one pack in 2012 for preying on livestock.
The Western Environmental Law Center (WELC) went to court to stop such state-sponsored killing. WELC sued Wildlife Services, a federal extermination program under the USDA, challenging its authority to kill wolves in Washington. In late December the Seattle Times reported that a federal judge ruled that killing wolves “to reduce predation on livestock is not only highly controversial, but highly uncertain to work as intended, given the ongoing scientific dispute about the policy.
Therefore, the agency must complete a full environmental-impact statement before engaging further in “lethal removal” of wolves…”
As of early December, north-central Washington has a new wolf pack. The Loup Loup pack was identified after numerous reports of wolf sightings prompted wildlife officials to investigate the Methow Valley. Biologists tracked up to six animals traveling together. Because this pack is in western Washington, the animals are protected under the federal ESA. Officials plan to outfit at least one wolf with a radio collar.
Wolves have also been spotted in the North Cascades, where they have been moving back and forth across the Canadian border. Scientists have identified more wild landscape in Washington that wolves could occupy, including on the Olympic Peninsula.
The most recent official count found 770 wolves surviving in Idaho at the end of 2014. In that same year, hunters killed 256 wolves, wildlife agents killed 67, and 19 other wolves died at the hands of humans.
And 2015 looks to be as deadly. Wildlife Services has removed 70 wolves and as of early December 120 wolves have been shot or trapped, according to the Idaho Department of Fish and Game. And 145 more could still die.
The cost of hunting licenses reveals how Idaho values wolves. A wolf tag costs $11.50, while a turkey tag costs $19.75. A tag to take an elk costs $30.75. Hunters may buy up to five wolf hunting tags per year and use electronic calls to attract wolves.
A group of hunters with the misleading name Idaho for Wildlife was planning a January 2016 wolf and coyote killing derby on public lands near Salmon, Idaho. The contest included a $1,000 prize for whoever kills the most wolves and another $1,000 to the killer of the most coyotes. But in mid-November the group canceled the derby after being challenged in the courts by the Western Environmental Law Center, representing WildEarth Guardians, Cascadia Wildlands, and the Boulder-White Clouds Council. Four other groups—Defenders of Wildlife, the Center for Biological Diversity, Western Watersheds Project, and Project Coyote—also sued the Bureau of Land Management, contending the permit opposes the federal government’s wolf-reintroduction efforts.
Both lawsuits continue since the derby organizer has said that the derby would be held in January—but on private ranches in the Salmon area and on U.S. Forest Service land that doesn’t require a permit.
In early-August, conservation groups won another victory for Idaho wolves. Earthjustice, representing Ralph Maughan, Defenders of Wildlife, Western Watersheds Project, Wilderness Watch, and the Center for Biological Diversity, had filed a federal lawsuit to halt the killing of wolves in Idaho’s Frank Church River of No Return Wilderness. Idaho wanted to kill 60% of the wolves in this federally protected area managed by the USFS. But the USFS has told Earthjustice that Idaho will kill no wolves in the area in the winter of 2015-2016.
The number of gray wolves in Montana continues to fall under state management. The verified population at the end of 2014 (latest data) was 554, as compared to 627 wolves at the end of 2013, according to Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks (MFWP). In 2011, the year wolves were stripped of ESA protection, there were 653 wolves in Montana.
In 2014, 308 wolves died; 301 at the hands of humans. Wildlife managers, including Wildlife Services, killed 57 of those wolves. Hunters killed 206 during the state’s expanded 2014-15 hunting season. A wolf-hunting license costs $19 for residents, and 20,383 wolf licenses were sold in 2014. The combined maximum hunting and trapping bag limit is five wolves per person.
Conservation groups saved some wolves from hunters. In July of 2015 The Montana Fish and Wildlife Commission reduced from three to two the number of wolves that can be killed each year in two hunting districts near the north border of Yellowstone National Park. These districts are two of the three more tightly controlled wolf-hunting districts in the state. The third is near Glacier National Park, which already had a quota of two wolves. This quota reduction represents ongoing success: In 2014 wolf advocates were able to get the quota in those two units adjoining Yellowstone reduced from four to three wolves.
Also in 2015 MFWP brought together groups that want to protect wolves (for example, Wolves of the Rockies, Bear Creek Council, Natural Resources Defense Council, and Montana Audobon Society) and groups that want to shoot wolves (Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation, Montana Bowhunters’ Association, and Montana Stockgrowers’ Association). The groups discussed, among other issues, whether non-hunting conservation groups and hunter conservation groups can find common ground. “This is a promising move forward in working together for the betterment of wildlife management and is open to the public to attend,” said Kim Bean, vice-president of Wolves of the Rockies.
Wolf from Yellowstone’s Lamar Canyon pack. (Mary Strickroth)
At the end of 2014 (most recent count), Wyoming had 229 wolves in the state with an additional 104 in Yellowstone National Park for a total of 333 wolves.
In 2014 Earthjustice, representing Defenders of Wildlife, the Sierra Club, Natural Resources Defense Council, and the Center for Biological Diversity, fought in court to keep Endangered Species Act protections for wolves in Wyoming. The coalition won and stopped the killing of Wyoming’s wolves. The federal government and the state of Wyoming have appealed. “Wyoming appears determined to defend its uniquely hostile approach to wolf management,” said Tim Preso, managing attorney for Earthjustice.
History supports Preso’s statement. The federal government turned wolf management over to Wyoming in 2012. Most of the state was designated a predator zone, where anyone could kill any wolf, at any time, and for any reason. In less than two years, more than 200 wolves were slaughtered, according to Jamie Rappaport Clark, president of Defenders of Wildlife. Among the early victims of Wyoming’s killing spree was 06, the famous alpha female of Yellowstone’s Lamar Canyon pack.
The return of ESA protection has not stopped the killing. Kierán Suckling, executive director of the Center for Biological Diversity, reported in late-October that 55 wolves have been killed in Wyoming—mostly by Wildlife Services—and that is the largest government-funded wolf killing in eight years.
In mid-November, two U.S. senators (Republicans from Wyoming and Wisconsin) vowed to push to strip federal protection from gray wolves in Wyoming and the Great Lakes states—and to prohibit courts from intervening in those states on the embattled predator’s behalf.
The Great Lakes States
In June, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) estimated that 3,722 wolves live in the three Great Lakes states, Minnesota, Michigan, and Wisconsin. About sixty percent of those wolves roam Minnesota. The remainder is split almost evenly between Michigan and Wisconsin.
In December of 2014, all of those wolves came back under the protection of the federal Endangered Species Act. Relisting was a huge victory for wolf advocates, but fighting to keep them listed, says Rachel Tilseth, of Wolves of Douglas County Wisconsin, has been the biggest challenge of 2015. She told Wisconsin Public Radio, “Can states be trusted to manage wolves? I think not, and many other scientists agree that individual states cannot be trusted.”
In November two groups of scientists wrote letters about whether the gray wolf should be delisted as an endangered species.
First came a letter signed by 26 wildlife scientists urging the federal government to strip ESA protection from gray wolves in the western Great Lakes region. The scientists sent the letter to U.S. Interior Secretary Sally Jewell and Dan Ashe, director of USFWS. Among those writing the letter were David Mech, a wolf specialist with the U.S. Geological Survey and the University of Minnesota. The scientists say that the integrity of the ESA is undercut if species aren’t removed when they’ve scientifically recovered. They believe that the combined population in Michigan, Minnesota, and Wisconsin represents recovery.
Less than a week later a group of 70 scientists and scholars wrote an open letter disagreeing with their colleagues. These scientists said that removing ESA protection from wolves in Michigan, Minnesota, and Wisconsin could be justified if and when the USFWS “uses the best available science that justifies delisting,” But, they added, ”Currently, it does not.”
“Quite simply, wolves still fit the legal definition of endangerment in the Great Lakes region and nationwide,” said the scientists, including John Vucetich and Rolf Peterson of Michigan Technological University, leaders of a long-standing study of wolves at Isle Royale National Park in Lake Superior.
The Associated Press reported that in the rebuttal letter, the scientists said public tolerance of wolves has risen substantially since they were given protection. Any suggestions that patience is wearing thin are spread by “special interest groups that are vocal, but small in number.”
Michigan has about 630 wolves and all were believed to reside in the Upper Peninsula. In September, the website Michigan Live reported that the Michigan Department of Natural Resources (MDNR) confirmed that a second gray wolf has reached the Lower Peninsula. Genetic testing of male wolf scat found that this dispserser may have originated in northeast Ontario. Though wolves have moved into the Lower Peninsula, there’s not yet evidence of a breeding population.
Meanwhile, in Isle Royale National Park, the wolf population has fallen to three, including one deformed from inbreeding. In 2014, park officials hoped that new wolves would come to the island across ice bridges, but that didn’t happen. “There is now a good chance that it is too late to conduct genetic rescue,” John Vucetich told UPI. Vucetich and Rolf Peterson suggest that fewer and smaller ice bridges as well as development on the mainland may hinder repopulation.
The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources said in August that the state’s wolf population estimate has not varied “significantly” over the last three years. The latest survey estimates that 2,221 wolves live in 374 packs within northern and central Minnesota. That estimate is down from the previous winter’s estimate of 2,423 wolves.
In June, wildlife officials announced that the state’s wolf population is close to an all-time high. Preliminary surveys conducted by the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (WDNR) place current wolf numbers between 746 and 771, about a 13 percent increase from last year’s 660.
In August, WDNR reported that a pack of three to four wolves resides in the Wisconsin Dells area, according to WiscNews. Except for one other location in the state’s southwest, this is the farthest south that wolves have migrated in Wisconsin.
A Look Ahead to 2016
Here’s how some of the advocates contacted for this report see 2016 shaping up.
“Sadly, our wolf, wildlife, and environmental issues will play out in the political arena based largely on special interest and politics, not on science, conservation, or preservation,” says Dr. Robin Chriss of Chriss Wildlife Consulting. “We need to be there in solidarity as wolf advocates, to be a voice. If not, we will lose a lot in 2016.”
“Corporate ranchers and farmers,” says Patricia Herman of Protect the Wolves, “don’t want to learn to coexist with wolves. They just want to continue to take more and more land, until there is no room for wildlife anywhere.”
“Keeping the Great Lakes wolves under federal protection,” says Rachel Tilseth of Wolves of Douglas County Wisconsin, “is and will be the biggest challenge of 2016.”
For Oregon Wild’s Rob Klavins, 2016 looks scary. “Anti-wolf interests and their political allies have brought anti-wolf legislation every year since wolf recovery began. They’ve promised to do so again, and wolves have lost some of their champions in recent years.”
Kim Bean from Wolves of the Rockies believes the attack on the ESA will continue and “wolves will most likely be delisted nationally.” This leaves the states to manage wolves without any federal help. “We as advocates,” advises Bean, “need to stand and fight even harder, and will need the help of an empathetic public to do so. We need one loud and powerful voice.”
The following is what Dr. Jane Goodall has to say about the film ‘Medicine of the Wolf’
“The sound of wolves howling under the stars is for me one of the most haunting and beautiful of nature’s voices. Native Americans
Dr. Jane Goodall
revered wolves for their wildness, courage, and loyalty. Today science respects them for the important role they play in maintaining a healthy ecosystem. And countless numbers of the general public are fascinated by them. Yet the myth of fierce and dangerous beasts, handed down from early white settlers, informs much of the horrific and unjustified cruelty and persecution that wolves faces today. Medicine of the Wolf explores the facts. It is powerful, informative and moving, and as I watched I was first enchanted and then enraged. I urge you to watch this compelling and courageous film and tell everyone you know to watch it as well. Thank you, Julia Huffman for making it.” Review by Dr. Jane Goodall
The Film Society and Minnesota Made presents an outdoor event at the Minneapolis Convention Center. Screening is on September 10, 2015, 8:30 pm
Medicine of the Wolf poster photograph by Jim Brandenburg with artwork by Rachael Howard
MN Made MSPIFFmovie at sunset, presented by the Film Society of Minneapolis St. Paul The Creative City Market is a free monthly experience in the heart of our downtown that celebrates the act of making. Each month the public is invited to the Minneapolis Convention Center Plaza to participate in an evening under the setting sun surrounded by MN made art, wares, and performance.
“The famous “wolf” cover of Never Die Young led James Taylor to a long-standing relationship with environmentalist and National Geographic photographer Jim Brandenburg. In this video, he talks about making that cover happen. Unfortunately, wolf populations are once again under attack. To find out how you can help, or to provide grassroots funding for Julia Huffman’s movie about the subject, go to Medicine of the Wolf website”
Starring renown Photographer Jim Brandenburg.
Bonnie Raitt Recommends Medicine of the Wolf
Please check Medicine of the Wolf a film that explores the spiritual, scientific, and ecological value of wolves. The main human subject of the film, Jim Brandenburg is a renowned wildlife photographer and author who has been a powerful wolf advocate for the last 30 years. In 2011, the US government lifted the Gray Wolf’s endangered species status, and since that time, hunters have killed over 1/3 of the population that was recovering since protection brought it back from the brink of extinction in the 1990s. -Bonnie Raitt
A review of Medicine of the Wolf from Jim and Jamie Dutcher
Medicine of the Wolf is an important and deeply moving film—a must-see for anyone with an interest in wolves. It conveys both the beauty and value of the wolf while also educating viewers about the persecutions they continue to face from those who do not yet understand them. Director Julia Huffman demonstrates through example the ways in which people can make a difference for wolves. -Jim and Jamie Dutcher, Award Winning Filmmakers, and founders of the nonprofit group Living With Wolves
“We are happy to announce that Medicine of the Wolf, starring renown Photographer Jim Brandenburg, will be coming back to Minneapolis and screening at its birth home!” Julia Huffman