US Rep Sean Duffy (R-WI) Proposes Removing Endangered Species Act Protection for Gray Wolves in the Lower 48 States…

…Duffy wants management returned to the states and court challenges of management plans would not be allowed under his proposal. Duffy proposes removing wolves from Endangered Species Act Law would eliminate possible court challenges by Rick Olivo Ashland Daily Press rolivo@ashlanddailypress.net

U.S. Rep. Sean Duffy again is trying to kill Endangered Species Act protection for wolves, this time as he is headed into a contentious election.

His proposal introduced earlier this month marks the fourth time in three years that members of Wisconsin’s congressional delegation have tried to reverse federal court actions that reinstated wolf protections. Previous efforts by Duffy and former Republican Rep. Reid Ribble of Shorewood have gone nowhere.

In a news release issued by Duffy, he said the bill would return management of the roughly 900 wolves in Wisconsin to state officials.

“Wisconsin deserves the opportunity to use science-based wildlife management for our own gray wolf population, because we know what’s better for our state’s ecosystem better than activist judges in Washington,” Duffy said. “I’m proud to introduce bipartisan legislation to delist the gray wolf because Wisconsin farmers deserve to be able to protect their livestock, and they should not suffer because of the decisions made by an overreaching federal government a thousand miles away.”

The wolf decline

Wolves were virtually extirpated in Wisconsin by hunters and farmers who feared depredations to livestock and who were also encouraged by bounties for wolf kills. Although wolves were essentially extinct in the state by the 1950s, the bounty remained in existence until 1957.

In the 1970s, wolves naturally began to make a comeback in the state and they were added to the Endangered Species Act in 1974, with the state following suit in 1975. In the face of growing numbers of wolves in the state, wolves were removed from the Endangered

Species Act in 2012 after a number of court challenges. A further legal challenge resulted in wolves being relisted in 2014.

Opponents of the relisting say it gives farmers and ranchers no legal avenue to protect their livestock from wolves.

Duffy’s proposal would allow all 48 of the continental United States to control their own populations and it includes a clause that says the action “shall not be subject to judicial review.”

Duffy Communications Director Mark Bednar said the bill, known as the Manage our Wolves Act, has bipartisan support. Its cosponsors include Washington representatives Dan Newhouse, R-Sunnyside and Cathy McMorris Rogers, R-Spokane and Minnesota congressman Collin Peterson, D-Detroit Lakes. He said the bill is different than earlier efforts.

“This would delist grey wolves over a wide range, the entire 48 states, rather than just reissue the older Fish and Wildlife Service rule, which is what the previous bill did; it was more narrow in scope, delisting protections only in the upper Midwest and in Wyoming.”

In an interview with radio-based Brownfield Ag News, Duffy said he has a slim-but-real possibility of getting the bill passed in the House by the end of September.

“We have the votes to pass it (in the House). Once that happens, I’ve got a few senators who have indicated they will introduce a companion bill in the Senate so we can get a package to the president’s desk,” Duffy told Brownfield.

Bednar said the act reflects the policy not only of the Trump administration, but also of the Obama administration, both of which agreed that wolves should be delisted.

“But they were and are being prevented from doing so because of the courts,” he said.

Pros and cons

There are arguments for and against delisting. Farmers are among those who most vocally favor removing protections.

Jack Johnson, a director with the North Central Wisconsin Cattlemen’s Association, told Wisconsin Public Radio in January that he supports any effort to delist the wolf.

“The state could start managing them and get a little control over the numbers, because right (now) they’re expanding way more than we’ve got room for them,” Johnson said.

The state spent $200,505 in wolf-damage payments to those who lost animals or livestock in 2015. Earlier this year, state officials were organizing claims from 2016, primarily from farmers and bear hunters whose dogs strayed into wolf territory and were killed.

“Given the number of dogs that were killed, the significant increase in the compensation payments related to hunting dogs, that is likely to drive an increase in the total amount of compensation,” said Dave MacFarland, large carnivore specialist with the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources.

He said 31 farms experienced wolf depredation or harassment in 2016 compared to the 35 farms in 2015.

Wolf advocates remain opposed to placing the wolf back under state management. Rachel Tilseth, founder of the website Wolves of Douglas County Wisconsin, said her organization has little faith in the state to do what is best for the animals.

“Because apparently management of wolves means a wolf hunt,” Tilseth said. “For them, that’s the only way that they feel they can manage them, is through the hunting and trapping and barbaric use of dogs.”

Peter David, wildlife biologist with the Great Lakes Indian Fish and Wildlife Commission, said tribes also are concerned about the precedent that could be set with wolf delisting legislation.

“There are real concerns about any effort that undermines the Endangered Species Act if we start cherry-picking,” David said.

Wisconsin tribes oppose a wolf hunt and did not allow wolf hunting on reservations prior to the relisting.

“The tribes in general have supported maintaining wolves on the Endangered Species Act because of the cultural significance of wolves,” said David. “The tribes have felt those types of protections are appropriate for wolves.”

Meanwhile, the Sigurd Olson-based Timber Wolf Alliance is not opposed to the concept of delisting, but according to Alliance head Adrian Wyd even, the devil is in the details.

“Historically, the Timber Wolf Alliance has supported efforts to downlist and delist wolves in the western Great Lakes region, done through normal Endangered Species processes through the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service,” he said. The Alliance has favored reducing the timber wolf status to threatened from endangered and supported delisting in 2006 and 2011.

“But I think we would have some concerns about delisting wolves throughout the U.S. without a much more thorough assessment and analysis, something that should be done through the Fish and Wildlife Service, not just as a congressional action.”

Wydeven said that by agreeing with delisting in the past, the Alliance has concluded that states can be good conservationists in managing state wolf populations.

Nevertheless, many members of the Alliance were uncomfortable with the “overly aggressive” hunting goals set by the state.

“I am sure there would be concerns by our membership if that is done nationwide,” he said.

~~~

Featured image credit NPS photo / JMills

Will the Government Ever Get it Right on Delisting the Gray Wolf in the Great Lakes Region?

These and other questions come to mind as the Federal Government Working On Removing Gray Wolf From Endangered Species List . Will Wisconsin be transparent in its management of the Gray wolf population, and once again allow for greater pubic input as it did prior to the 2012 USF&WS delisting decision.

In 2011 WISCONSIN ACT 169 legislation mandated a trophy hunt on the newly delisted Gray wolf. Wisconsin Act 169 allowed reckless management policies such as; Out of all the states that hunt wolves, only Wisconsin allows hound hunters to use unleashed packs of dogs to hunt wolves. Wisconsin, quite literally, throws “dogs to the wolves.” Wolf Hounding Fact Sheet

In 2013 & 2014 Wisconsin sanctioned the use of dogs to hunt wolves.

This reckless management of the Gray wolf was overturned as part of Humane Society of the United States lawsuit of USF&WS’s 2012 delisting. In December 2014 a federal judge put Gray wolves in the Western Great Lakes Region back on the Endangered Species List. USF&WS appealed the 2014 ruling, but the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Washington, D.C., ruled Gray wolves in the Great Lakes region should remain on the endangered species list, July 2017.

Besides the horrific wolf management policies by the state of Wisconsin, problems exist within the way USF&WS determines criteria for wolf delisting in the Great Lakes Region in 2011. It’s seems USF&WS got its “hand slapped” by a judges ruling for trying to delist using the following:

“The proposal identifies the Western Great Lakes Distinct Population Segment (DPS) of wolves, which includes a core area of Minnesota, Michigan, and Wisconsin, as well as parts of adjacent states that are within the range of wolves dispersing from the core recovery area.” USF&WS Press Release 2011

But then, on July 2017, the three-judge panel unanimously said the wolves should stay under federal protection. The judges wrote, “The Endangered Species Act’s text requires the Service, when reviewing and redetermining the status of a species, to look at the whole picture of the listed species, not just a segment of it.”

As the Associated Press reports the judges ruled that,

“The service had not adequately considered a number of factors in making its decision, including loss of the wolf’s historical range and how its removal from the endangered list would affect the predator’s recovery in other areas, such as New England, North Dakota and South Dakota.”

Just how reckless is Wisconsin in its management policies of the Gray wolf?

If the Gray wolf in Wisconsin gets delisted tomorrow; it’s a law that a wolf hunt must take place:

“If the wolf is not listed on the federal endangered list and is not listed on the state endangered list, the department shall allow the hunting and trapping of wolves and shall regulate such hunting and trapping as provided in this section and shall implement a wolf management plan. In regulating wolf hunting and trapping, the department may limit the number of wolf hunters and trappers and the number of wolves that may be taken by issuing wolf harvesting licenses.” 2012 Wisconsin Act 169

A brief history on Wisconsin’s reckless management of it’s wolf population, 2012 through 2014.

Wisconsin’s Wolf Advisory Committee is not far and balanced. In other words, there is no transparency in WI DNR Secretary Cathy Stepp’s Wolf management process (WDNR secretary at the time).

WDNR Wolf Advisory Committee met once a month during the legislatively mandated trophy hunt on Wisconsin’s Gray wolf. The WAC recommend how wolf management in Wisconsin should be done. Here is a list of Cathy Stepp’s (WDNR secretary at the time) hand Picked WAC, that she thinks better suited to, “…people who were willing to work with us in partnership…”:United States Fish & Wildlife Service(USFWS), United States Department of Agriculture Wildlife Services(USDA WS), Great Lakes Indian Fish and Wildlife Commission(GLIFWC), Wisconsin County Forest Association(WCFA), Wisconsin Conservation Congress(WCC), Safari Club International(SCI), Timber Wolf Alliance(TWA), Wisconsin Bear Hunters Association(WBHA), Wisconsin Bowhunters Association(WBA), Wisconsin Cattlemans Association(WCA), Wisconsin Trappers Association(WTA), Wisconsin Wildlife Federation(WWF) and 10 WDNR biologists. WODCW blog

Several DNR staff are on the recently created Wolf Advisory Committee, as are representatives of several pro-hunting groups. A smaller number of wolf hunting skeptics also remain on the committee, including a representative of the Great Lakes Indian Fish and Wildlife Commission.  WPR reporter Chuck Quirmbach June 2014 

At a WI DNR meeting secretary Cathy Stepp admitted, “When we’re charged to manage and to implement a hunt, coming in and telling us, ‘Don’t hunt wolves,’ is not a productive way to run a committee, frankly,” said Stepp. “That’s just the candid way to lay it out. We had to have people who were willing to work with us in partnership, and be willing to help us and advise us along the way in implementing state law.” Source WPR June 2014

I was was interviewed on June 2014 regarding DNR secretary kicking off wolf hunt opponents Rachel Tilseth of Wolves of Douglas County Wisconsin was a volunteer DNR tracker of wolves for about a dozen winters, and attended a few meetings of what used to be called the Wisconsin Wolf Stakeholders Group. Tilseth testified about the wolf hunt proposal during Wednesday’s meeting. She later said she didn’t care for Stepp’s remarks.

“I was just appalled that somebody like Cathy Stepp, who’s in charge of this important issue, is saying something like that,” said Tilseth. “It sounds to me like it’s a committee that they want made up of wolf-killers.”

Recap of the last two years in the never-ending political rhetoric designed to stir public sentiment against an endangered species.

Wisconsin’s annual nine-day gun deer hunt sees increase in statewide buck harvest 2016. The largest change in buck harvest occurred in the Northern Forest Zone (30 percent increase from 2015) after two consecutive mild winters and limited antlerless tags. From WI DNR Press Release 

The increase in buck harvest is hopeful news, because fringe hunters, along with some politicians are claiming that wolves are killing all the deer. This news puts a damper on republican Senator Tom Tiffany’s efforts to delist the wolf.

“A Great Lakes Summit in September 2016, was organized by two Republican lawmakers from northern Wisconsin, Sen. Tom Tiffany and Rep. Adam Jarchow, who hope control of the wolf population returns to state governments.” MPR News

The 30 percent buck increase in the Northern Forest Zone (where the wolf lives) is good news as DNR’s own scientific data is proving wolves aren’t eating all the white-tailed deer in northern Wisconsin.

Yet, certain politicians in Wisconsin refuse to believe scientific fact.

As with any cause, a biased or misleading view can be used to promote, to publicize a particular political cause or point of view.  Here we have several anti-wolf politicians making claims to distort the public’ veiw of wolves; wolves are decimating the White-tailed deer herds, attacking livestock and killing hunting dogs.  Let’s set the record straight; wolves do hunt White-tailed deer, have killed some some livestock and did kill 37 bear hunting dogs.  But in reality; is there a big-bad-wolf here? Let’s get the facts before we sanction the killing of an endangered species.

Are wolves killing more livestock?

Let’s take some statistics from The Wisconsin Gray Wolf Monitoring Report for the period of 15 APRIL 2015 THROUGH 14 APRIL 2016 and read the graphic for yourself. There were 52 wolf depredations on livestock.

There were 52 wolf depredations from April 15, 2015 through April 15, 2016. To put it in perspective, that was 52 livestock deaths by wolves out of 3.50 million head of livestock in Wisconsin. Read for yourself:

“The total inventory of cattle and calves on January 1 rose 3 percent from 2014 to 2015, to 3.50 million head. The number of milk cows rose by 5,000 head to 1,275,000 head and the number of beef cows rose 25,000 head to 275,000 head. On the U.S. level, slaughter prices rose to $153.00 per cwt. for cattle and $255.00 per cwt. for calves. As a result, Wisconsin’s value of production rose 33 percent to $1.92 billion.”  Source: USDA Wisconsin statistics

Wisconsin’s wild wolf is the most talked about animal of late.  Politicians in Wisconsin have villianized the wolf, and are pushing to delist him.  It’s no secret that one cannot trust politicians. Politicians are in competition between competing interest groups or individuals for power and leadership; they’ve created propaganda to make the wolf look bad.

Politicians have removed science from wolf management and replaced it with political rhetoric. They put together a Wisconsin Wolf Advisory Committee with stakeholders primarily from the hunting community.

The WAC is heavily slanted towards recreational trophy hunting of wolves with 9 citizen pro wolf hunting organizations to 1 pro wolf citizen organization. Further, according to Cathy Stepp this committee is more productive than opponents of the wolf hunt. There is evidence to the contrary that shows the WAC productiveness is comparable to reality TV’s Housewives of NYC.  From WODCW’s Blog

In conclusion, if USF&WS, the government, gets it right this time in delisting the Gray wolf in the Great Lakes Region Wisconsin citizens must push for greater transparency in wolf management. Because trophy hunts are about power not conservation. We owe the Gray wolf, that was exterminated from our forest, an ethical & compassionate conservation management plan, because we have done enough harm to this iconic predator.

“The Yellowstone Story-Inside the Heart of Wolf Advocacy” film project…

A Documentary film project that tells the stories of people working to preserve the legacy of wolves in Yellowstone National Park. A Wolves of Douglas County Wisconsin Film. Co Produced by Rachel Tilseth And Maaike Middleton and Directed by Rachel Tilseth. Donate Here to support this film project

https://vimeo.com/264686221

About the featured photograph we see Wolf #7 in shipping container in Rose Creek pen. Photograph credit NPS Jim Peaco, January 12, 1995 from public domain YNP Wolf Restoration.

Rick Lamplugh

The shooting of 06, Yellowstone’s famous alpha wolf, was a turning point for me. In the years since her death, I have come to understand how that single bullet did more than kill the alpha female and uproot the alpha male. That bullet threw the delicate social order of the pack into life-threatening disarray. That bullet forced many wolves to choose new leaders, new roles, new lives. That bullet led to my becoming a wolf advocate. And I know I’m not alone; others have told me how the death of 06 motivated them to fight for wolves. ~Rick Lamplugh, Wolf Advocate and renowned author.

Rick Lamplugh’s path to advocating for wolves.
A few years ago, (2012) my wife Mary and I spent our first full winter living and working at the Lamar Buffalo Ranch in the heart of Yellowstone’s wolf country. We were thrilled to see wolves almost every day. Our second winter, sadly, was much quieter than the first. The valley did not resound with the howls of wolves. We did not see the Lamar Canyon wolves resting on the hillside above the ranch. Instead, we felt the shock and sadness of watching the pack disintegrate after the female alpha and one of the adult males was shot outside the park in Wyoming. Observing firsthand the destructive impact of hunting on wolves we had come to know and respect, started me thinking about advocating for wolves.

My experiences and learning during those three winters became the basis for a book, In the Temple of Wolves: A Winter’s Immersion in Wild Yellowstone. As the book became an Amazon best seller, I grew certain of the debt I owed wolves. If I was going to benefit from writing about them, I must speak for them as well. I became a wolf advocate.

Eventually Mary and I heeded the pull of Yellowstone, left Oregon where we had lived for 36 years, and moved to Gardiner, Montana, at the park’s north entrance. We have been surprised to learn that Gardiner sits smack in the middle of a number of controversies: the dispute over hunting Yellowstone wolves outside the park; the debate whether wolves help or harm the ecosystem and the local economy; the concern about overuse of and development around the park; the community effort to stop a possible gold mine on the park’s border; the outrage over the plan to remove grizzlies from the endangered species list; and the battle to stop the slaughter of park bison.

While living at the Lamar Buffalo Ranch—a wildlife-filled bubble where animals roamed without fear of human intervention—I had stayed blissfully unaware of most of these controversies. But I cannot avoid them in Gardiner, nor do I want to. Instead, I immerse myself in the midst of these struggles. I’ve become an advocate for wildlife and wildlands.

Indie author Rick Lamplugh writes to protect wildlife and preserve wild lands. His new book, Deep into Yellowstone, is available signed from Rick at http://bit.ly/2tIEt62, or unsigned on Amazon: http://amzn.to/2tgPU3E.

His best seller, In the Temple of Wolves, is available signed at http://bit.ly/1gYghB4, or unsigned at http://amzn.to/Jpea9Q.

A signed set of both books is available with free shipping at http://bit.ly/2uYTtsU.

“Inside the Heart of Wolf Advocacy-The Yellowstone Story” A Documentary film project that tells the stories of people working to preserve the legacy of wolves in Yellowstone National Park. A Wolves of Douglas County Wisconsin Film. Co Produced by Rachel Tilseth And Maaike Middleton and Directed by Rachel Tilseth.

To support the film project go to Plan B Foundation ” Inside the Heart of Wolf Advocacy” and donate

Highlights from Wisconsin’s premiere night of “Medicine of the Wolf” in Madison…

…produced and direct by Julia Huffman. On Wednesday night the Barrymore theatre’s box office line was all the way down the block. 


A big thank you to the panel members for making this a notable celebration of Wisconsin’s Wolf Awareness Week. 

Pictured: panel members, standing (left to right) Robert Mann, Patricia McConnell, Carl Anderson (emcee), & Randy Jurewicz. Seated (left to right) Barry Babcock, Rachel Tilseth (sponsor & organizer) & Melissa Tedrowe (sponsor & panelist).

Panel members; HSUS Wisconsin State Director Melissa Tedrowe; certified animal behaviorist Patricia McConnell, Ph.D.; Robert Mann, Ho-Chunk Nation Elder; Woodsman, environmentalist and author, Barry Babcock (who appears in the film); Randy Jurewicz, retired Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources Wolf Program Administrator, and emcee Carl Anderson.

There was a Q&A after the screening.
The panel members connected very well with the audience! This connection was evident in several ways; audience questions & comments, audience laughter, and keeping the audience’s attention for almost an hour’s time. This was a wonderful tribute to Wisconsin Wolf Awareness Week!

Pictured: Barry Babcock & Ian Whalan

Thank you to the Barrymore theatre for their continued support and for the full page ads they put out; Barrymore management, and staff for all your hard work in making the Wisconsin premiere of Medicine of the Wolf a success.

Thank you to WORT Eighty Nine FM Community Radio in Madison, Wisconsin for their promotion work that contributed to the success of this screening.

Audience at screening of “Medicine of the Wolf” at the historic Barrymore theatre in Madison Wisconsin on Wednesday October 19, 2016

Thank you to Ned Gannon for graciously lending your artistic talents by designing the “Keep The Wild” commemorative posters. Thank you Timothy Coburn for your generous support for funding the poster printing. Thank you Andy Reich for the graphic design work on the event invitation.

Thank you to Andrea Thalasinos for supporting the event with her novel “Fly By Night” along with Mystery to Me Bookstore’s advertising they would be selling books at the event.

Pictured: Barry Babcock, Ian Whalan & Andrea Thalasinos

 
Thank you to Barry Babcock & Andrea Thalasinos for donating their books for the raffle. Thank you Foxlights inventor, Ian Whalan, for supporting non lethal management of wolves with an informative booth at the screening.

Pictured Kevin Knipfer & Timothy Coburn

Thank you to our volunteers Mandy Mortimer, Kevin Knipfer, and LuAnn O’Dell.

Pictured: Julia Huffman

Special thank you goes out to Julia Huffman for the making of this remarkable film, and for donating signed DVDs for the raffle.

Thank you Humane Society of the United States for sponsoring the screening. 

Pictured: Volunteer Mandy Mortimer photobombing Wisconsin HSUS state director Melissa Tedrowe

Here’s how you can view Medicine of the Wolf either online or purchase your copy http://www.medicineofthewolf.com

Foxlights a new tool for non lethal management of wolves in Wisconsin

Source: USDA Experiments With New Tool To Deter Wolves Foxlights Latest Method To Keep Wolves Away From Livestock Tuesday, June 21, 2016, 5:30pm By Danielle Kaeding 

Wildlife officials in Wisconsin are experimenting with a new tool called Foxlights to help farmers and producers keep wolves away from livestock.
They were invented by an Australian sheep farmer to keep away foxes. Rachel Tilseth is founder of the advocacy website Wolves of Douglas County Wisconsin and a distributor of the lights. 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.”
Tilseth said the lights are relatively inexpensive at $85 on up. Wisconsin Wildlife Services installed the lights recently on a Douglas County farm experiencing wolf problems. David Ruid, supervisory wildlife biologist with Wildlife Services, said he’s optimistic about their effectiveness, but cautions that lights haven’t always kept wolves away from livestock.

“Some of these wolf packs that are living in human fragmented environments, they’re exposed to a tremendous amount of light pollution in their environment to begin with,” he said.
Ruid added that cost may also be a factor for producers interested in nonlethal methods to deter wolves.
“When you start talking about the spatial area of some of these farms that we’re trying to protect, which are hundreds of acres and miles of fence line – to have enough of these on hand is financially challenging,” he said.
Individual farmers experiencing wolf problems can receive the equipment from the department on a short-term loan.
Tilseth said the lights are just one of the nonlethal method farmers can use to coexist with wolves, adding that a wolf hunt is not the answer to conflicts between producers and wolves.

Wisconsin ended its wolf hunt after a federal judge ruled in December 2014 to place the gray wolf back on the Endangered Species List in the western Great Lakes region. Since then, wildlife managers have not been able to kill problem wolves except in extreme cases. The number of Wisconsin farms affected by wolf depredations has grown since then from 22 in 2014 to 32 last year, according to Ruid. Tilseth said the number of farms affected is small when compared to the number of operations within the state.
Some congressional lawmakers, and state and federal agencies would like the gray wolf removed from the endangered species list, saying their numbers have more than recovered since the wolf’s decline. People opposed to delisting wolves say they play a significant role in the balance of the ecosystem, tribal culture and haven’t recovered to their historic range.

An Encounter with Three Wild Wolves in the north woods of Wisconsin 

This is Mickey Nelson’s account of her encounter with wild wolves. This is truly a story of coexisting with wolves…

In September of 2012, I was at our cabin in Douglas County Wisconsin. My husband was in the cabin and I decided to go for a walk with our dog, a Giant Schnauzer weighing in at about 100 lbs.

My husband keeps many trails cut on our property and so Max, my dog, and I started hiking through the trails. Max usually never left sight of me nor me of him and if I called him he always returned.

A few minutes went by and I didn’t see him. I called and he didn’t come back. I was close to a road so I walked through the brush and looked up the road.

There at the intersection stood Max with three wolves. None of them were growling, no teeth showing, no hair standing up. I called to Max but he didn’t come.

They were about 100 feet from me so I started walking toward them with my walking stick, {my weapon of choice} and kept calling Max. I reached them and I just stared at the wolves and grabbed Max by the collar and began backing up with him.

Two of the wolves were on one side of Max and the third was on the other side. As we started backing up, the two turned and went one way and the third turned and went a different way.

I walked back to the cabin as quickly as I could. I told my husband about it and we went out in the truck to track the wolves. There were five sets of tracks. We have had that pack around for a couple of years and we are able to call them in.

If I stand on our deck and howl, and if they are anywhere near, they start howling back and then come in closer, and usually about 30 feet from the cabin.

I am so grateful to have seen these magnificent animals so up close and personal. I talked to Adrien Wydeven head wolf biologist in Wisconsin at the time and he said I was just lucky to have had that experience and yes, their eyes are yellow!

~Mickey Nelson

Mickey Nelson

I am very involved with everything in nature from, gardening, mushroom hunting, tracking and hiking. My husband and I built a small cabin in northern Wisconsin. We have two children and two grandsons. I also make the BEST fruitcake!

~Mickey Nelson – Wolf Howling Grandma

‘White Eyes’ alpha female-447F wolf of Douglas county Wisconsin

A history of Wolves of Douglas County Wisconsin. 

Wolves of Douglas County Wisconsin was started in 2012 to draw attention to the plight of wolves in Wisconsin. Wolves were being hunted with hound dogs, trapped and killed shortly after being taken off the endangered species list 2012. 


In loving memory of “White Eyes” who died in 2009 after being hit by a vehicle.  She leaves a lasting legacy as one of the Wolves of Douglas County Wisconsin. 

 

Drawing of White Eyes by Rachel Tilseth


I was assigned a wolf tracking block in the year 2000 that had a new alpha female wolf. I set out exploring the new wolf territory. I spent summers scouting this block, and winters surveying for wolf tracks.

Part of monitoring wolves is conducting wolf howl surveys during summer and fall seasons.

  
Photograph of wolf range in Douglas county Wisconsin by Rachel Tilseth 

While conducting wolf howl surveys,  I was favored with a howl from the entire wolf family, and on one evening was startled by a lone wolf howl right next to me. I was even privileged to see two wolf silhouettes in the moonlight as they howled back to me.

White Eyes’s pack only had 5 family members.

This meant that five wolves was the maximum number of wolves for this 24 square mile range. This wolf pack of 5 members couldn’t afford to leave a yearling to babysit the pups. Every adult was needed to hunt and the pups were to young to join them on a hunt. The puppies were usually stashed in a brushy area for safe keeping while the pack was off hunting.

On a warm July summer night in 2002 I was about to find out that a wolf’s trust could be broken.

I was on a howl survey that night when White Eyes stashed her two pups,   then headed off to hunt. 

That night on my first howl, White Eyes’ two pups responded back to me to my surprise. 

“How adorable they are” I thought to myself. One pup was light and the other was dark in color. One wolf pup was obviously an alpha, as was demonstrated with his or her aggressive behavior. 

I dared not linger, because that could bring danger to the pups. However, I did name them “Salt and Pepper.” And I left the area that night. 

Something changed that following year of 2003. The wolves didn’t howl back to me. 

I wasn’t able to get a peep out of “White Eyes” or any of her pack members. I was getting worried that maybe something happened to them.

Finally one night on a howl survey,  I said to my son Jacob, “you try a howl.” he did and was able to get several of White Eyes’s family to respond back to his howl. 

What did that tell me about White eyes? It told me , that a wolf’s trust could be broken.

I spent 2 years building a relationship with White Eyes, and in one summer lost her trust,  because I got too close to her pups. All of this made me realize, that I was a tolerated human observer; not a wolf babysitter.

It took another year before the relationship was back, and I was allowed to hear the family howls again. I was able to hear them howl again, just before sunset, and while they were hunting at midnight.  I learned to steer clear of White Eyes’s pups.

Photograph is of one of White Eyes’s pack members tracks as they trotted down a snow covered road in Douglas county Wisconsin. Photograph taken by Rachel Tilseth. 

~~~