The call of the wild lone wolf 

On a cool autumn evening in October we drove down an unpaved-country road in search of the wild Wisconsin wolf.  It was a perfect night for a wolf howl survey. There was a full moon out that night. The night air was cool with no breeze. A perfect night to make our human-howls carry through the night air. 

We stopped the car deep in the woods, and quietly exited the vehicle.  We walked to a spot in front of the car about 50 feet away.  We waited for the sounds of the car motor to die-down. Jeff made the first howl with no response. Then, I howled, and there was a response.  We heard wolves howl from our left about a hundred yards away. 

The forest canopy blocked out any moonlight making it impossible to see your hand in front of your face.  That’s how dark it was in the forest that night. 

Then, shortly after we heard the howls, a lone howl cut through the night air, and to my surprise, was not far from where I stood.  I frooze, didn’t even breathe, because that’s how close the lone wolf was to me.  I listened for any sounds that would reveal the position of the lone wolf. There was no sound, no sounds of rustling leaves, not a sound to be heard; except the sound of my heart pounding in my chest. 

I couldn’t believe my ears. Did a wolf just howl right next me me? 

We figured the howl was around 70 feet from my position, and in the forest to my right.  We must of interrupted this lone wolf, who was about to cross the road. We were in between the lone wolf and the rest of their family. We didn’t want to disturb them any further, and so we got back in the car and left the area. 

I’ll never forget that night. It’s etched into my memory forever; The call of the wild lone wolf, 2006, while helping to monitor wolves for the Wisconsin Wolf Recovery Program. 
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Featured image is from a trail camera in northern Wisconsin.

Wolves are benifical for the health of Wisconsin’s forests…

…According to a study by USDA Forest Service Research & Development: Wolf Recovery and the Future of Wisconsin’s Forests: A Trophic Link

Wolves were all but eradicated in Wisconsin by the late 1960s due to over hunting. In 1974 – Gray wolf listed as endangered in the lower 48 States and Mexico.  Wolves flourished under the guidance of Wisconsin’s Wolf Recovery Program.  On Dec. 28, 2011 wolves were delisted: the Western Great Lakes DPS – Revising the Listing of the Gray Wolf (Canis lupus) in the Western Great Lakes. Politicians rushed in to designate wolves as a game species that could be hunted on 2011, Wisconsin Legislation  Act 169. Then the hunting & trapping of wolves was abruptly halted in 2014; 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 on December 19, 2914. 

Wolves are reducing local browse intensity by white-tailed deer and thus mitigating the biotic impoverishment of understory plant communities

The following is from the study, “Wolf Recovery and the Future of Wisconsin’s Forests.”  Read on: 
USDA US Forest Service Research & Development  Wolf Recovery and the Future of Wisconsin’s Forests: A Trophic Link, 2010.  Wisconsin, Northern Research Station, principal investigator W. Keith Moser 

The following is a snapshot discription from the study:

“Overabundant white-tailed deer populations have serious negative effects on understory plant community structure and composition. Wolves, which are top predators of deer, have been recolonizing central Wisconsin since the early 1990s. NRS scientist Keith Moser and partners from the University of Georgia are measuring trophic cascade effects, that is, whether wolves are reducing local browse intensity by white-tailed deer and thus mitigating the biotic impoverishment of understory plant communities.”  Source

The following is a summary  from the study:

“Overabundant white-tailed deer populations have serious negative effects on understory plant community structure and composition. Wolves, which are top predators of deer, have been recolonizing central Wisconsin since the early 1990s. NRS scientist Keith Moser and partners from the University of Georgia are measuring trophic cascade effects, that is, whether wolves are reducing local browse intensity by white-tailed deer and thus mitigating the biotic impoverishment of understory plant communities. Wisconsin DNR wolf territory data combined with Forest Inventory and Analysis (FIA) data were used to develop a landscape-level spatially explicit analysis protocol in FIA plots categorized as high wolf impact areas and low wolf impact areas. : Preliminary results suggest that seedling survival of preferred, browse- sensitive seedlings is higher in areas continuously occupied by wolf packs.” Source 

Wolves are benifical for the health of Wisconsin’s forests. It’s vital that gray wolves retain federal protection in Wisconsin. 


Here is what you can do to insure that wolves continue to be protected under the Endangered Species Act in Wisconsin/Great Lakes Region, Contact your congressman using this easy email link democracy.io and ask that they do not approve any riders that call for delisting of wolves. 

Action Alert!  Anti-Wolf Riders in House Bill Funding Dept of Interior- oppose: S. 1514

Our politicians are once again using wolves as political pawns and resuming their seemingly relentless assault against them. On Wednesday a House Panel approved a bill funding the Department of Interior and the EPA. This bill contains 2 highly toxic riders which would undermine 40 years of recovery and jeopardize the future of wolves.

The first rider would strip all federal protections of wolves in the Great Lakes region (Wisconsin, Minnesota, and Michigan) and allow trapping and hunting to resume after it was put on hold in 2014 by a federal judge. The rider would also preclude any further judicial review of this overturned court order.

The second rider would prevent any money from being spent on federal recovery efforts of wolves in other parts of the country – the Mexican gray wolf in the southwest, the red wolf in North Carolina, and the 2 wolf packs that just resettled in California, to name a few.

We need to make our voices heard and let our politicians know that this bill, along with these anti-wolf riders, is not acceptable. Coexistence, not killing, should be the goal of wolf recovery. Our wolves deserve a better fate than the death sentences our legislators are proposing.

Please take a few minutes to call or email your Congressional Representative and US Senators. Links to contact your legislators are here:

US Senate: http://bit.ly/2sGeI1B

House of Representatives: http://www.house.gov/representatives/

To read more on the House bill: http://bit.ly/2tgjJOL


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Featured image by Jayne Belski