5 things to know for Wolf Week in Wisconsin

Source Wisconsin has more than 200 wolf packs and 28 lone wolves and you can help track them this winter. Click HERE to learn about how you can help track wolves this winter. 
The state Department of Natural Resources will hold 15 workshops or classes on tracking and wolf ecology from now to February and is recruiting volunteers to help monitor the state’s wild canines.
Gray wolf numbers have increased in the Great Lakes region especially since a federal judge returned the animals to the endangered species list in 2014. Gray wolves are also known as timber wolves.
Some farmers, hunters and Republican politicians want the wolves off that list and subject to hunting, because wolves can be a menace to small ranchers. But advocates for the canines say the animals play an important role in the ecosystems.
Wolves in western states have preyed on elk, which in turn helped the growth of aspen and willow trees and decreased erosion along streams where the trees take root, said Adrian Wydeven, the coordinator of the Timber Wolf Alliance, at the private Northland College in Ashland. In Wisconsin, wolves have decreased the beaver population to the benefit of trout streams previously plugged up by beaver dams, Wydeven said.

In 1990 the Timber Wolf Alliance started Wolf Awareness Week, an educational effort which runs through Saturday. There’s a wolf ecology workshop in Ashland Saturday as part of the week.

In honor of wolf awareness, here are some fast facts about wolves in the Great Lakes.

1.  Wisconsin has nearly 900 wolves this year. That’s up 16 percent from 2015, according to the Timber Wolf Alliance.

2.  Encountering a wild wolf at close range is still a rare occurrence, according to the DNR’s “Living with wolves” page. People with pets should keep them in earshot or on a leash while in “wolf country” — Wisconsin’s Northwoods.

3.  In 2014 more Wisconsin residents surveyed by the DNR viewed wolves in a favorable light compared to those with unfavorable feelings toward wolves. About 26 percent of people in areas with wolf habitats wanted the population to stay steady, and 29 percent of people outside of wolf range wanted wolf numbers to stay the same in 2014. About 750 wolves made Wisconsin home in 2014-15. 

4.  Minnesota has the largest wolf population among Great Lakes states with more than 400 packs and roughly 2,200 wolves total, according to the Timber Wolf Alliance. Michigan’s wolf population estimate is just over 600 and declined slightly from 2014 to 2016

5. You can help track wolves and other Wisconsin carnivores. Volunteers have to take a wolf ecology course from the DNR, Timber Wolf Alliance or Timber Wolf Information Network as well as a DNR tracking course and a mammal track test. Volunteers complete three wildlife surveys and submit their findings to the state. 
Information on courses and the tracking program is available online at http://dnr.wi.gov/topic/wildlifehabitat/training.html.
Featured art is this year’s Wolf Awareness Week poster from Timber Wolf Alliance, for how to order yours click HERE

Learning to live with predators

A Wisconsin premiere of “Medicine of the Wolf” explores ecological significance

by Craig Johnson Source: The Isthmus 

October 13, 2016

Why are we afraid of the big, bad wolf? Is it because they kill so much livestock, or steal our babies? Or is it because they have been vilified for centuries in every manner of media from folk tales to blog posts?
Julia Huffman’s award-winning documentary, Medicine of the Wolf, explores the lives of wolves in Minnesota, their place in the ecosystem, their relationship with humans and the continued smear campaign against the predators.
It includes footage shot by National Geographic photographer Jim Brandenburg, and will screen at the Barrymore Theatre Oct. 19 as part of Wolf Awareness Week. The 7 p.m. screening will be followed by a panel discussion with wolf experts and advocates, including Robert Mann, an elder from the Ho-Chunk Nation, and Randy Jurewicz, former wolf administrator for the state Department of Natural Resources.
Wolves once ranged throughout the lower 48 states, but by the late 20th century they could only be found in northern Minnesota. After decades of protection and management, their range expanded to more than 10 states, and they were removed from the endangered species list. Here in Wisconsin, 528 wolves were “harvested” from the north from 2012 until 2014, when a federal court ruling put wolves back on the endangered list.
“A forest with wolves is a healthy forest,” says environmentalist and author Barry Babcock, who appears in the film and will speak on the panel. Babcock says wolves spark a “eutrophic cascade,” which influences plants and animals throughout the wilderness: Wolves cull the deer population, which means the deer don’t eat as much foliage; more foliage means a greater variety of herbivores are sustained, which leads to a greater variety of small predators and scavengers (eagles, foxes, weasels, etc).
Despite their beneficial effects, the vilification continues, with propaganda fueled by exaggerated tales of wolves killing livestock. Now, the push is on in various states, including Wisconsin, to allow wolf hunting again. Sometimes the hatred crosses into the irrational. Animal behaviorist and panelist Patricia McConnell says she heard “one hunter in Northern Wisconsin say he liked to kill wolves in as painful a way as possible, because ‘they are evil.’” The truth is that incidents of wolves attacking humans are about as common as them blowing over pigs’ houses.
Huffman and the panelists hope that Medicine of the Wolf will help turn society’s mistrust and hatred for wolves into a respectful partnership. Learning to share the world with wolves would not only improve their lives, but our own as well.

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Featured Image Jim Brandenburg 

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Purchase tickets here: http://www.barrymorelive.com/tickets/1610194.html

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