State’s wolf population continues to grow

Posted 

The number of wolves in Washington has reached its highest level since they were essentially eliminated from the state in the 1930s, according to a report from the Department of Fish and Wildlife.

As of December 2019, there were an estimated 145 wolves across 26 packs living in the state.

Comparatively WDFW reported 133 wolves across 27 packs in 2018.

While this is a win for wolf conservation efforts, it also creates other challenges such as increased livestock attacks. Last year was a particularly rough year for livestock attacks, WDFW Director Kelly Susewind said in a press release.

“We are working with citizens and communities to strike a balance so both livestock producers and wolves can share the landscape and thrive in Washington,” she said.

“As the wolf population begins to recover, we’re going to see population growth slow in parts of the state where the local population is nearing capacity,” wolf specialist Ben Maletzke said.

In 2019, there were 21 documented wolf mortalities, 18 of which were by landowners protecting cattle, legal tribal harvests or by the WDFW in response to livestock attacks.

Fourteen cattle across the state were killed by wolves in 2019 and another 11 were injured. WDFW notes that 85% of the wolf packs have had no involvement in cattle attacks.

“We had more negative impacts to cattle and lethal removals last year than we’d like to see. It’s been a challenging situation, but ranchers are continuing to play an important role in reducing wolf-livestock conflict,” WDFW wolf policy lead Donny Martorello said.

Since 1980, gray wolves have been listed as an endangered species in Washington. In Western Washington they are protected by the federal Endangered Species Act, and in Eastern Washington they are managed by rules in the 2011 WDFW Wolf Conservation and Management Plan.

WA Wolf Count Up, But Species Isn’t Out of Woods Yet

Nine Washington state wolves were removed because of conflicts with livestock in 2019. (WDFW/Flickr)
Nine Washington state wolves were removed because of conflicts with livestock in 2019. (WDFW/Flickr)

April 23, 2020

SEATTLE — Washington state’s wolf population is on the rise, according to a new count, but conservation groups say the species still has a long road to recovery.

Wolf numbers increased to at least 145 in 2019, up from 126 in 2018.

Zoe Hanley, Northwest representative for Defenders of Wildlife, says that’s good news but wolves aren’t out of the woods yet.

She says one concerning point in the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife’s report is that nine wolves were removed because of their interactions with livestock or livestock depredation, and most conflicts occurred on public lands.

“It’s disappointing to see lethal removal in the same locations every year,” she states. “Wolves should have the right of way on our public lands.”

Defenders of Wildlife notes that in Oregon, where wolf management is similar, the state did not remove any wolves for interacting with livestock and depredation numbers were down 43% last year.

Hanley says there needs to be more proactive prevention methods in place, such as moving cattle away from high-use wolf areas.

Still, Hanley says it’s encouraging to see wolves recovering in the state.

“Wolves are extremely resilient and they’re so valued for their really positive impacts to the ecological systems and also the way that humans have a great way of relating to them, so we’re really excited that they’re coming back,” she states.

Wolves remain sparse in the western part of Washington, where they still are federally listed as endangered.

Alexander Archipelago Wolves Need Urgent Help Following Record Killings in Alaska’s Tongass National Forest

https://biologicaldiversity.org/w/news/press-releases/alexander-archipelago-wolves-need-urgent-help-following-record-killings-in-alaskas-tongass-national-forest-2020-04-15/

JUNEAU, Alaska― Conservation groups today called on the U.S. Forest Service to take immediate steps to protect Alexander Archipelago wolves on Prince of Wales Island in Alaska’s Tongass National Forest following word that 97 percent of the most recent estimated population was killed this past trapping season.

In their letter the groups also urged the agency to implement other wolf-conservation measures established in a 2017 habitat-management program developed specifically to protect this vulnerable population.

“This is a shocking number of wolves to have been taken, and once again there has to be concern for the viability of wolves on Prince of Wales Island,” said Nicole Whittington-Evans, Alaska program director for Defenders of Wildlife. “The U.S. Forest Service must engage with the state on wolf management decisions to ensure that this imperiled wolf population and its forest habitat will remain healthy for future generations,”

Today’s letter follows a March 5 announcement from the Alaska Department of Fish and Game that 165 wolves out of an estimated population of 170 (as of fall 2018) were legally trapped during the 2019-2020 season in the game management unit that includes Prince of Wales and surrounding islands. This record number of killings is in addition to any illegal killing, which is known to have been significant in the past.

“While wolf management has always been a controversial issue in Southeast Alaska, it simply belies common sense for the Alaska Department of Fish and Game to allow legal trapping of 97% of any game population,” said Meredith Trainor, executive director for the Southeast Alaska Conservation Council. “With this letter we’re calling on the U.S. Forest Service to take a larger role in, at a minimum, ensuring sustainably managed wolf populations on Prince of Wales Island by partnering with the Alaska Department of Fish and Game to immediately return to the quota system.

The department lifted the wolf-trapping quota for this past season despite the fact that the population had only recently rebounded after falling to a historic low in 2014. Had the quota been in place, the legal trapping limit would have been 34 wolves.

“The unprecedented killing of these imperiled wolves is an appalling and completely predictable result of reckless mismanagement,” said Shaye Wolf, a scientist at the Center for Biological Diversity. “It’s difficult to see how state and federal officials can allow hunting and trapping next season without completely wiping out these wolves. They have a duty to protect these beautiful animals from extinction.”

In previous years the quota had been set at about 20% of the population estimate, and sometimes significantly lower than that due to conservation concern for the population. The Tongass Land Management Plan directs the U.S. Forest Service to “assist in managing legal and illegal wolf mortality rates to within sustainable levels” and to “develop and implement a wolf habitat management program in conjunction with” the Alaska Department of Fish and Game. The Forest Service finalized that plan in 2017.

Background
Alexander Archipelago wolves and their rainforest home are under continued threats from industrial logging, road building, unsustainable trapping and hunting and large-scale habitat loss.

The population of wolves in the management unit decreased from an estimated mean of 336 animals in 1994 to just 89 animals in 2014.

Concern about the animal’s survival led the Forest Service, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the Alaska Department of Fish and Game to develop a Wolf Habitat Management Program. The program identified the key components of wolf management on Prince of Wales and surrounding islands as deer habitat, roads, mortality, den management and human dimensions. The program provided key recommendations in each category.

This interagency group considered quotas to be an important management tool in regulating mortality, reflected in these management recommendations:

● Maintain flexibility in quota management to alter quotas on a yearly basis to ensure wolf population and harvest sustainability;

● Continue to incorporate unreported human-caused mortality rates in developing wolf-harvest quotas using best available data;

● Monitor the wolf population to help evaluate program effectiveness;

● Prioritize and increase enforcement in pre-season and beginning of season, increase enforcement capabilities, and prioritize wolf-trapping season patrols in the game management unit.

Following implementation of the wolf-management program, the population recovered from a low mean estimate of 89 wolves in fall 2014 to 231 animals in fall 2016 and 225 wolves in fall 2017 before dropping to a mean estimate of 170 animals in fall 2018. The population estimates take several months to develop, so the fall 2019 estimate will not be available until August or September.

In addition to eliminating the wolf quota, the Alaska Department of Fish and Game also removed in-season monitoring of wolf mortality in the management unit. The department gave trappers more time to bring killed wolves to state officials for tagging and counting. The new deadline is up to 30 days after the trapping season ends, instead of 14 days after the animals are killed.

Alexander Archipelago wolf
Alexander Archipelago wolf. Photo credit: ©Robin Silver / Center for Biological Diversity Image is available for media use.

The Center for Biological Diversity is a national, nonprofit conservation organization with more than 1.7 million members and online activists dedicated to the protection of endangered species and wild places.

Defenders of Wildlife is dedicated to the protection of all native animals and plants in their natural communities. With over 1.8 million members and activists, Defenders of Wildlife is a leading advocate for innovative solutions to safeguard our wildlife heritage for generations to come. For more information, visit Defenders.org/newsroom

Takaya, the lone wolf of Discovery Island, has been shot and killed

Takaya shotCTV News has learned that Takaya, the lone wolf of Discovery Island, has been shot and killed. (Instagram: @cher_wildawake)

VICTORIA — A lone wolf that recently ventured into Victoria and had to be relocated by conservation officers has been shot dead.

CTV News Vancouver Island has confirmed Takaya, a well known wolf who spent years living alone on Discovery Island, has died this week.

Cheryl Alexander is a conservation photographer who has been following one of nature’s great predators for years and said the animal was shot by a hunter.

“I’ve been crying for the last couple of hours,” said Alexander. “It’s heartbreaking.”

She lives in Victoria and has been following, documenting and studying the lone wolf named Takaya, which lived on Discovery Island off the coast of Oak Bay, for six years.

In January, Takaya was seen scurrying down the sidewalks of James Bay and was tranquilized by conservation officers. He was then relocated and released into the wild at an undisclosed location.

Alexander said Takaya was relocated to an area near Port Renfrew.

“I’ve known where he has been for the last month and he’s been doing really great and healthy,” she said.

On Wednesday, she was told by local hunters that a wolf with an ear tag had been shot.

“Takaya is the only wolf on the island with an ear tag,” she said. “I knew right away. I just found out a few hours ago.”

Alexander said she is at a loss for words and wants trophy hunting to be stopped.

“What are we doing allowing trophy hunting?,” she said. “As far as I know it was a legal hunt.”

CTV News Vancouver Island reached out to the BC Conservation Officer Service for more information and received the following statement in response:

“The Discovery Island wolf, that was relocated from James Bay earlier this year has been shot and killed by a hunter, the conservation officer service can confirm. We understand many British Columbians and people around the world shared care and concern for the well-being of this wolf and this update will affect many people.”

The conservation officer service went on to say the wolf was killed Tuesday near Shawnigan Lake, “approximately 50 kilometres away from where it was released in late January.”

“Conservation Officers released the wolf in rugged and remote wilderness outside of Port Renfrew, on the west side of Vancouver Island,” the statement continued. “This isolated coastal habitat similar to Discovery Island was carefully chosen to give the wolf the best chance possible. This decision was made in consultation with biologists from the Ministry of Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development (FLNRORD), as well as the Provincial Wildlife Veterinarian.”

“The wolf was not taken back to Discovery Island as it left for a reason – it may have been looking for food or resources. For the safety of the public and the animal, the wolf was relocated out of the urban environment in Victoria. The provincial hunting regulations are administered by FLNRORD.”

The conservation officer service says its investigation is ongoing and further details will be released as they become available.

Alanna Kelly

@CTVNewsAlanna

Takaya was relocated to an area near Port Renfrew and was doing really great and was healthy.

Today she was told that a wolf with an ear tag had been shot.

“Takaya is the only wolf on the island with an ear tag,” she said. “I knew right away. I just found out a few hours ago.”

View image on Twitter

Alanna Kelly

@CTVNewsAlanna

Alexander, who has been documenting for over six years, says she is at a loss for words and wants trophy hunting to be stopped.

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  • lone wolf discovery islandTakaya, a well known wolf who spent years living alone on Discovery Island, has died. (Instagram: @cher_wildawake)

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WA House Committee Approves Wolf Radio Collar Bill

  FEB 7, 2020

CREDIT WASHINGTON DEPARTMENT OF FISH AND WILDLIFE

A Washington House committee today [Friday] approved a bill that would lead to more radio collars on wolves.

The bill sponsored by Rep. Joel Kretz (R-Wauconda) would require the Department of Fish and Wildlife to use radio collars when possible to monitor wolves. It also requires the agency to collar at least two of the animals in each pack that have been causing trouble for farmers and ranchers.

“The range riders, the ranchers that are dealing with that have expressed a lot of frustration that we’ve embraced non-lethal, preventative techniques,” Kretz said. “It’s hard to do when you have no idea where the wolves are. You can’t get in between the wolves and the livestock. So this will be an important tool in approving our preventative actions on the ground and I urge your support.”

Kretz’s bill was approved unanimously by the House Rural Development, Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee.

It also encourages the state to put collars on at least one wolf in every pack the agency has confirmed lives in the state. The bill specifies the agency must use radio collars it already owns.

FWP may expand wolf hunting opportunities in NW Montana

https://www.kpax.com/news/montana-and-regional-news/fwp-may-expand-wolf-hunting-opportunities-in-nw-montana

Posted: 6:37 AM, Feb 06, 2020
Updated: 8:06 AM, Feb 06, 2020

FWP may expand wolf hunting opportunities in NW Montana

Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks is recommending changes to the wolf hunting and trapping seasons in northwest Montana.

The Montana Fish and Wildlife Commission will consider these proposals at the February 13 meeting.

FWP’s proposals for Region 1 include:

  • Extend the general hunting season to begin Aug. 15 and end March 31. Currently, archery season begins Sept. 1, general season begins Sept. 15 and ends March 15.
  • Extend trapping season to March 15. Currently, the trapping season ends Feb. 28.
  • Increase the individual limit to 10 wolves per person. Currently, the limit is five per person.
  • If approved by the Commission, these proposed changes would take effect in Region 1.

These proposals emerged from the latest biennial season-setting process that involved the review of hunting season structures for most game animals and other managed species. FWP regional staff met and took input from local communities at four meetings across northwest Montana this winter. Public comment was also received online from Dec. 5 to Jan. 27 and forwarded to commissioners and FWP staff for their consideration.

FWP will recommend extending the public comment period through March 16 for these changes to the original hunting season proposals.

“We heard from a substantial number of people attending the public meetings throughout northwest Montana who requested additional opportunity for wolves. Biologically, we have the wolf population to sustain additional harvest opportunity and wanted to be responsive to public input and participation,” FWP Regional Wildlife Manager Neil Anderson said.

The Commission will consider these and other proposals from the statewide season-setting process at its Feb. 13 meeting in Helena. The meeting will be streamed live via video to all FWP regional offices. The meeting will also be audio streamed online at fwp.mt.gov . The meeting begins at 8:30 a.m. For the full agenda and background on the scheduled topics, go to the FWP website at fwp.mt.gov ; under “Quick Links” click “Commission.”

‘Critically low’ caribou population prompts wolf cull in the Chilcotin

The BC Government is moving forward with a predator control plan in an effort to save the Itcha-Ilgachuz mountain ranges’ rapidly declining caribou herd. (Public domain photo)

Itcha-Ilgachuz herd numbers down to 385, from 2,800 in 2003

The provincial government is moving forward next month with plans to remove about 90 wolves in the Itcha-Ilgachuz mountain ranges in an effort to save the area’s dwindling caribou herd.

Read more: Wolf cull being eyed for threatened Itcha-Ilgachuz caribou herd west of Williams Lake

Today approximately 385 caribou remain in the area, a decline from 2,800 in 2003, a spokesperson for the Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development noted.

“Wolves are caribou’s principal predator in B.C. and high wolf numbers are associated with declining caribou populations,” the spokesperson stated. “It is clearly the case for the Chilcotin/Itcha-Ilgachuz caribou herd which has reached a critically low population.”

In addition to the cull, other recovery actions including habitat protection, habitat restoration and maternal penning may be implemented.

“Based on five years of research on wolf management in the central group, we know that wolf populations can rebound quickly. It is imperative to implement a predator control plan to ensure the last remaining caribou in the Itcha-Ilgachuz have a chance to survive.”

Cariboo Chilcotin MLA Donna Barnett supports the wolf cull.

“The Itcha-Ilgachuz herd are living in an isolated area, hard to get to,” Barnett said. “I’ve talked to many people who know something about wolves who say it is the right thing to do, so let’s hope it does what it is intended to do and we protect what caribou are left.”

She criticized the ministry for not having public meetings about the caribou recovery plan.

“The more people that understand why this is being done the better. We’ve asked for meetings throughout the region.”

So far the ministry confirmed it has consulted with local government and Indigenous communities on caribou recovery planning.

In 2019, the licensed hunt for caribou was closed in Management Unit 5-12 to protect the Itcha-Ilgachuz herd.

Residents living in the remote area say they have notice a rapid increase in wolf numbers, and a sharp decline in caribou numbers in recent years.

The wolf cull is expected to be carried out by helicopter.

Aerial removal is the favoured method for wolf culls as it is considered the most effective and humane, according to an August 2019 letter penned by ministry staff.

Wolf caught in downtown Victoria is celebrated Takaya, say conservation officers

known to live on a group of nearby islands, was subject of a documentary

Conservation officers are working to determine whether a wolf that’s set to be released back into the wild after being tranquilized in downtown Victoria is Takaya, the lone wolf pictured here, who was featured on CBC’s The Nature of Things. (WILD AWAKE IMAGES)

Conservation officers on Vancouver Island say they’re confident a wolf that was caught Sunday in the backyard of a Victoria residence is the same animal known to live alone on a group of small islands off the coast of the capital city.

According to a statement posted on the B.C. Conservation Officer Service’s Facebook page, the animal was assessed and is believed to be Takaya “due to several factors.”

The wolf was first spotted living on the Discovery and Chatham Islands in 2012 and was the subject of a recent Nature of Things documentary.

The service says the wolf is a mature male in good health with no apparent injuries.  It was released back into the wild Monday, but not back to Discovery Island.

This is because officers believe it left the island for a reason — likely looking for food or resources.

Officers picked a wild, coastal habitat on the west side of Vancouver Island to give Takaya the “best chance possible” of survival.

BC CO Service@_BCCOS

The has been safely released back into the wild, in a coastal habitat on the west side of Vancouver Island. The would like to thank @vicpdcanada for their help & the public for calling the line. More details here: http://tinyurl.com/qsafb8c 

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A trip to the city

Officers believe the wolf swam to Victoria.

“I’m sure it is scared and hungry and it just wants to get into a solitary place,” B.C. Conservation Officer Scott Norris.  Norris said in an interview on On The Island Monday.

The wolf was first spotted on Saturday trotting down a neighbourhood street in James Bay. It was tranquilized just after 6 p.m. Sunday in a residential yard in the 200 block of Michigan Street.

Norris said wolves do not generally venture into urbanized areas and this was “quite an anomaly.”

He thinks the animal likely followed the shoreline before ending up in the James Bay neighbourhood.

BC CO Service@_BCCOS

The safely tranquilized and captured the wolf. The wolf will be assessed by the provincial veterinarian tomorrow. It appears to be a healthy mature male wolf

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Chris Darimont, the Raincoast Research chair in Applied Conservation Science at the University of Victoria, said the wolf was much more likely scared of us than we were of it.

“The risks that the wolf accepted in running the gauntlet through town were much higher than any real risk to humans, maybe posing a serious threat to cats and dogs and the odd chicken along the way,” Darimont said.

“I’m glad things have seemed to transition without much harm to people or the wolf.”

Darimont says the wolf’s new, isolated west coast home will serve it well.

“Wolves tend to do much much better where human density, especially road access is limited,” he said.

And as a marine wolf, he should be able to find plenty to eat.

“He made most of his living off of [hunting] seafood things like harbour seals, sea lions, river otters and so on. So having some coastal habitat and resources to turn to now, particularly in an otherwise unfamiliar environment, is a really good strategy,” he said.

Anyone who spots a wolf should begin using scare tactics if it gets closer than 100 metres. This includes raising your arms and waving them in the air, using noisemakers and throwing sticks.

If a wolf displays aggressive behaviour, you should back away slowly and not turn your back on the animal.

Eyewitness account plus scavenged elk carcass indicates likely presence of multiple wolves in northwest Colorado

1/8/2020

https://cpw.state.co.us/aboutus/Pages/News-Release-Details.aspx?NewsID=7209

 



FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Gray wolf (Photo/USFWS)
Mike Porras
CPW NW Region PIO
970-255-6162
Eyewitness account plus scavenged elk carcass indicates likely presence of multiple wolves in northwest Colorado

MOFFAT COUNTY, Colo. – Colorado Parks and Wildlife officials say an eyewitness report of six large canids traveling together in the far northwest corner of the state last October, in conjunction with last week’s discovery of a thoroughly scavenged elk carcass near Irish Canyon – a few miles from the location of the sighting – strongly suggests a pack of gray wolves may now be residing in Colorado.

According to the eyewitness, he and his hunting party observed the wolves near the Wyoming and Utah borders. One of the party caught two of the six animals on video.

“The sighting marks the first time in recent history CPW has received a report of multiple wolves traveling together,” said CPW Northwest Regional Manager JT Romatzke. “In addition, in the days prior, the eyewitness says he heard distinct howls coming from different animals. In my opinion, this is a very credible report.”

After learning about the scavenged elk carcass, CPW initiated an investigation which is still ongoing. At the site, the officers observed several large canid tracks from multiple animals surrounding the carcass. According to CPW wildlife managers, the tracks are consistent with those made by wolves. In addition, the condition of the carcass is consistent with known wolf predation. (Photos below)

“The latest sightings add to other credible reports of wolf activity in Colorado over the past several years,” said Romatzke. “In addition to tracks, howls, photos and videos, the presence of one wolf was confirmed by DNA testing a few years ago, and in a recent case, we have photos and continue to track a wolf with a collar from Wyoming’s Snake River pack.

Romatzke says from the evidence, there is only one logical conclusion CPW officials can make.

“It is inevitable, based on known wolf behavior, that they would travel here from states where their populations are well-established,” he said. “We have no doubt that they are here, and the most recent sighting of what appears to be wolves traveling together in what can be best described as a pack is further evidence of the presence of wolves in Colorado.”
Romatzke adds CPW will continue to operate under the agency’s current management direction.

“We will not take direct action and we want to remind the public that wolves are federally endangered species and fall under the jurisdiction of the US Fish and Wildlife Service. As wolves move into the state on their own, we will work with our federal partners to manage the species,” he said.

The public is urged to contact CPW immediately if they see or hear wolves or find evidence of any wolf activity.  The Wolf Sighting Form can be found on the CPW website.

For more information about wolves, visit the CPW website.

Isle Royale official: Wolves could soon form pack

  DEC 25, 2019

CREDIT EVA BLUE / UNSPLASH

Wolves on Isle Royale have begun to hunt and travel as a group.

It’s part of a process park officials say could eventually lead to the formation of the island’s first new pack.

Three of the island’s 15 wolves have begun to travel together, the group is made up of two males and one female.

“It will take a little time to see if we would consider them a pack because they have to be traveling together, defending the territory, and then also we’ll see in the spring if they reproduce,” says Liz Valencia, Isle Royale National Park’s temporary superintendent. “Then we’ll have an established pack.”

Valencia says if a pack forms on the island, she’ll consider it a success. The goal is to keep moose populations in check.

“When a pack forms, then they can take down more moose and that really shows that we brought these wolves out there and so far that has been a success because they have grouped together and formed packs.”

The park has also noted that two wolf deaths from the fall of this year were caused by other wolves.

Valencia said aggression between wolves was not unexpected.

“Researchers did expect that would happen. So many wolves are on the island, they are trying to establish territories, they are trying to sort out the social hierarchy, so that will happen on the island as wolves do that.”

One of the wolves that died was an old male that was on the island before relocation efforts began.