Washington Salmon Researcher Safe After Wolf Encounter

a wolf in the snow
File photo. A researcher with the U.S. Forest Service in north-central Washington had to escape two wolves by climbing a tree. CREDIT: ERIC KILBY

LISTEN

Audio Player

Thanks to quick thinking, a tree and a helicopter, a salmon researcher in Washington was able to evade two wolves she couldn’t scare off.

Biologists who visited the spot Friday to investigate the incident attributed the rare wolf-human interaction to the presence of wolf pups nearby.

Authorities haven’t released the name of the student researcher involved. She could not be reached for comment. However, authorities have reconstructed what happened.

It started out as a normal morning of surveying streams in the Okanogan Wenatchee National Forest. Then the seasonal Forest Service employee started to notice wolf tracks and heard yipping and barking.

A little while later, two wolves from the Loup Loup pack appeared. The student yelled and tried to wave them away. She sprayed bear spray, but nothing worked.

That’s when she climbed 30 feet up a tree to escape. She climbed back down when she thought it was safe, only to encounter the wolves again. She called for help on a satellite phone and was rescued by a Washington Department of Natural Resources helicopter.

The helicopter crew that rescued the unidentified researcher. CREDIT: WASHINGTON DEPARTMENT OF NATURAL RESOURCES

The helicopter crew that rescued the unidentified researcher. CREDIT: WASHINGTON DEPARTMENT OF NATURAL RESOURCES

The helicopter was able to scare the wolves away and fly the researcher to safety. It was an unusual situation for the DNR pilots — typically they’re used in wildland firefighting and have been deployed all over the state for that purpose.

“To my knowledge this is the first time that we have rescued a biologist from a tree with wolves at the base,” said Hilary Franz, Washington’s commissioner of public lands.

Franz said the Department of Natural Resources, which she oversees, has helped respond to other rescues and accidents when pilots are able to.

Officials say the salmon researcher did everything right — and they’re not sure what went wrong.

Okanogan County Sheriff Frank Rogers says people need to be aware of their surroundings.

“I’ve tried to tell people, it’s not like the movies. The wolves aren’t running around in packs hunting humans. But if you see a pack, don’t antagonize it. If it’s feeding, for god’s sake, stay away from it. If you run upon a den, stay away from it,” Rogers said.

By Friday afternoon, after hiking into the area, biologists were able to determine that the researcher was near a spot where the wolves keep their pups until they are old enough to hunt. They said the location is so remote that they aren’t concerned that hikers or campers will have a similar wolf encounter.

“Wolves are generally pretty wary of humans and not aggressive towards humans,” said Ann Froschauer, a spokeswoman for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

Copyright 2018 Earthfix

Advertisements

CRISIS: A Death Sentence for Red Wolves

Donate Now!
Fewer than 40 red wolves cling to survival
in the wild. Help us fight for them!

The federal government seems bent on destroying what began as one of our nation’s greatest wildlife comeback stories.

As a result, red wolves are all but certain to go extinct in the wild – again.

You and I can’t let what began as such a success story end on such a heartbreaking and tragic note. This is a 100% preventable extinction.

Say ‘hell no’ to the red wolf extinction plan. Help us fight for the wildlife you love!

Last month the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service proposed to cripple the red wolf recovery program by:

  • Reducing the recovery area in Eastern North Carolina by nearly 90% – leaving barely enough room for a single wolf pack.
  • Allowing any wolf wandering outside the cramped confines of the Refuge to be gunned down, no questions asked.

30 years ago when the red wolf recovery effort launched it was destined to become a model for recovery of wolves across the U.S. The once nearly extinct population took root and grew to 150 wolves. But ever since anti-wolf extremists mounted an anti-wolf campaign, numbers have fallen.

Fewer than 40 red wolves cling to survival in the wild – won’t you help us fight for them?

Red wolves, native to Eastern North Carolina, are a key part of our natural heritage. In our not so distant past, these animals ranged from Florida to Pennsylvania and as far west as Texas. There are no words for how tragic it would be to see them disappear forever.

Your donation will help fuel our all-out effort to rescue the red wolf from oblivion. You’ll help fund public outreach efforts in North Carolina, build community support for wolf conservation, and help us hold Fish and Wildlife Service’s feet to the fire, including legal action if necessary.

The story isn’t over. With your help, we’ll get the happy ending we have sought for three decades. It’s the happy ending these wolves deserve

Washington to study moving wolves from east to west

Washington lawmakers funded a study on moving wolves and a search to find wolves in the South Cascades

By Don Jenkins

EO Media Group

Published on March 20, 2018 5:36PM

Don Jenkins/Capital Press Washington House Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee Chairman Brian Blake, D-Aberdeen, listened to testimony Jan. 31 in Olympia on a bill to redistribute wolves within the state. Blake opposes translocating wolves to unoccupied regions, but let the bill through his committee, saying current state policy was unfair to northeast Washington.

Buy this photo

The Washington Legislature finished the 2018 session March 8 by passing a spending plan that includes money to study moving wolves from northeast Washington to unoccupied territories to the west.

DON JENKINS/CAPITAL PRESS

The Washington Legislature finished the 2018 session March 8 by passing a spending plan that includes money to study moving wolves from northeast Washington to unoccupied territories to the west.

Buy this photo

OLYMPIA — Washington lawmakers took two tentative steps earlier this month to hasten the day wolves are off the state’s protected-species list.

The spending plan passed on the session’s last day appropriates $183,000 to study moving wolves from northeast Washington to unoccupied territories to the west.

It also allocates $172,000 to the University of Washington to search for wolves in the South Cascades.

If wolves are moved or confirmed in the South Cascades, they would be big steps toward delisting.

Lawmakers are realizing the burden that wolf recolonization has put on four northeast counties, House Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee Chairman Brian Blake, D-Aberdeen, said March 9.

“I think some of the barriers are starting to break down,” Blake said.

Wolves have surpassed recovery goals in the northeast corner, but are too few or non-existent elsewhere to meet the state’s objectives. A decade after the Department of Fish and Wildlife identified Washington’s first pack, the South Cascades doesn’t have a confirmed wolf,

Already on the west side?

Blake said hunters tell him that wolves are in the region.

“We know there are wolves down there, but Fish and Wildlife has been so busy putting fires out in (northeast) Washington that they haven’t had the time or resources to put into the South Cascades,” he said.

The money is for a three-year study. Besides looking for wolves, researchers will study the region’s prey base.

Blake said he’s mostly interesting in sniffing out wolves. “If we’re ever going to get wolves delisted, we have to find out how many of them are in the South Cascades,” he said. “I firmly believe wolves are there. It is diverse, rugged country.”

Fish and Wildlife wolf policy coordinator Donny Martorello said the department has followed up on credible reports of wolves in the South Cascades. “It’s kind of like finding a needle in a haystack,” he said. “We expect there are at least a few dispersers.”

The state’s 2011 wolf plan holds out the possibility of moving wolves to energize recovery. The Department of Fish and Wildlife says it’s not necessary. The department maintains wolves will spread out on their own. For several years the department has said recovery goals could be met as soon as 2021.

“I don’t wish wolves on anybody else, but they are not dispersing naturally, like they told us they would,” said Scott Nielsen, president of the Cattle Producers of Washington, many of whose members ranch in northeast Washington. “The wolves are putting an incredible burden on a small portion of the state.”

No state involvement for now

The state won’t start moving wolves soon, if at all. The budget directs Fish and Wildlife to follow the State Environmental Protection Act and report back to the Legislature by the end of 2019. The act requires a study of the environmental consequences of state actions.

The House passed a bill directing Fish and Wildlife to do the study. The bill went nowhere in the Senate, but the House policy survived budget negotiations.

The budget also allocates $80,000 to be split equally between sheriff’s offices in Ferry and Stevens counties for wolf management. Most attacks by wolves on cattle and sheep occur in those two counties.

The counties are dispatching deputies to depredations, even though Fish and Wildlife does the investigations.

Ranchers welcome the involvement of local law officers, Nielsen said.

“I think it will be a tremendously good thing,” he said. “We have confidence in our local sheriffs.”

http://www.chinookobserver.com/co/local-news/20180320/washington-to-study-moving-wolves-from-east-to-west

Wolves in Northern California aren’t just loping through anymore; they’re here to stay

May 8, 2018 Updated: May 9,

Seven years after an Oregon wolf named OR-7 caused an international sensation by taking a historic pilgrimage through California, his offspring are settling in the Golden State, starting families and giving every indication that the howling canines are here to stay.

Wildlife biologists regard the re-establishment of Canis lupus in California as a milestone in the country’s decades-long effort to protect and preserve natural habitats and endangered species. Up to 2 million gray wolves once lived in North America, but European settlers, fed by big, bad wolf myths, drove them to near-extinction in the lower 48 states.

The last wild gray wolf in California before OR-7 showed up was killed in 1924.

Four of OR-7’s progeny have been detected in California this year and last, including the leader of the Lassen Pack, which has staked out territory in western Lassen and Plumas counties, according to a recent update on the status of the predators by the California Department of Fish and Wildlife.

Several others could well be roaming through the state undetected, said wildlife biologists, who expect the wolf population in the Golden State to grow.

“It does seem like we are continuing to see wolves entering California, and we have a breeding pack, so the stage is set for population growth,” said Pete Figura, a wildlife management supervisor for the Department of Fish and Wildlife. “It seems to be following the pattern of wolf expansion that we’ve seen over the last 20 or 30 years in the American West.”

Above: The wolf known as OR-7 became the first known wolf to enter California since 1924 in late 2011. Right: A close-up of a female gray wolf at the Oakland Zoo. Photo: Oregon Department Of Fish And Wildlife Via Associated Press

Photo: Oregon Department Of Fish And Wildlife Via Associated Press

Above: The wolf known as OR-7 became the first known wolf to enter California since 1924 in late 2011. Right: A close-up of a female gray wolf at the Oakland Zoo.

OR-7, so named because he was the seventh wolf affixed with a radio collar in Oregon, eventually returned to his home state and found a mate. He is now the alpha male in the Rogue Pack, south of Crater Lake National Park, where he and his mate have raised litters every year since 2014.

One of his sons entered California and started the Lassen Pack, which is often seen in the Indian Valley area north of Quincy, in Plumas County. Known as CA-08M, he and his mate have had four puppies, three of which were spotted by locals and on trail cameras in late March.

“They’ve been fairly visible,” said Amaroq Weiss, the West Coast wolf organizer for the Center for Biological Diversity. “Someone recently posted a video of a pup barking at them.”

An uncollared wolf Figura said is the likely daughter of OR-7 is also in California, where she was observed and tracked in January moving southeast through Siskiyou County.

In January, wildlife biologists tracked another of OR-7’s daughters, OR-54, 500 miles through four California counties. The radio-collared female covered much of the same ground her famous father did from 2011 to 2013. State wildlife biologists said GPS showed she left California in February and then returned to eastern Siskiyou County on April 15.

Another collared wolf known as OR-44 was tracked in March nosing around eastern Siskiyou County, apparently looking for females. He is unrelated to OR-7 or his offspring.

Although conservationists are ecstatic, there is a disturbing element about the uptick in wolf activity. The first breeding pair of wolves ever in California had five puppies in the spring of 2015, all of them sporting distinctive black coats.

The black wolves, known as the Shasta Pack, killed and ate a calf in November 2015, the first reported case of livestock predation by wolves since their return to California. Curiously, that month was also the last time the entire pack was known to be together.

None of the seven were seen again until May 2016, when a single juvenile male was spotted by trail cameras near where it grew up. In March 2017, that same wolf was spotted in northwestern Nevada, the first wolf verified in Nevada in nearly 100 years.

Nobody knows what happened to the other members of the Shasta Pack. Figura said it is possible they all migrated to a new region, but that would be unusual.

Weiss believes the predators, none of which had radio collars, were gunned down. Ranchers in the area had previously threatened to employ the “three S’s” — shoot, shovel and shut up — if any of the sharp-toothed meat-eaters got near their livestock.

“I and others have reason to believe the wolves may have been poached (because) it’s rather difficult for an entire seven member all-black pack to have just disappeared,” Weiss said. “It is disturbing to have California wolf recovery starting out with something so bleak.”

State wildlife officials are trying hard to minimize wolf-livestock conflicts by providing ranchers with the locations of the animals, but not all of the wolves in California have GPS collars. The Lassen Pack traverses both public and private property, including National Park and U.S. Forest Service acreage and ranch and timber lands.

“Even though there are vast areas of forest, there are also little pockets of small towns, so people are going to see them,” Weiss said. “The response has so far been mixed.”

Meanwhile, two more calves in Northern California fell prey to wolves in 2017 and one adult cow is believed to have been killed by the pack hunters.

WA. Fish and Wildlife Asking County Input on New Wolf Protection Methods

AA

Wolf populations across Washington state have been steadily increasing. Washington Fish and Wildlife now has new information on how to best keep those populations protected. There are 122 wolves across Washington that make up 22 different packs. But even though numbers are still low, wolves are still being poached for encroaching on livestock. Three wolves were killed in 2017, and Fish and Wildlife are now asking for county input on what their options are.

In 2013, Washington Fish and Wildlife began tracking wolf populations in the state with radioed collars that can pinpoint to a specific location within a few feet.

“Wolf location information as a tool for livestock producers. To try to help producers on the ground have a sense of a radioed wolf’s territory, and when that particular animal was in proximity to its livestock.” Says Steve Pozzanghera, Fish and Wildlife Region One Director.

There are currently three wolf packs in the Blue Mountains, with one of the packs residing in Asotin County near the Oregon border. The data from those wolf collars is to be used for warning producers of potential wolf activity.

“I’m going to call up Mr. Johnson and let him know there’s wolf activity in his area, and livestock behaving normally, anything unusual, probably need to have a little bit of a heads up,” he says.

That’s how the information is supposed to be used. But Fish and Wildlife have seen maps with pinpoint data replicated and passed out to the public. That presents a problem.

“We also know that we have had collared wolves that have been poached. As well as un-collared wolves that have been illegally killed. We do know that in 2017 alone, we had 3 collared wolves that were killed.”

That’s why the department is now reworking the way that system works.

“When the wolf appears at the point on the map, the program that we utilized takes that point, and it fills in an entire section. It says the wolf was in that one mile by one-mile section.”

It’s also because they now have Washington specific data on the denning period. It was previously thought denning was from March 15th through June 1st. But now there’s newer data.

“Wolves are actually at their den until the middle of July. July 15th.”

During that period, producers are blacked out from the data, to ensure wolf safety.

“It becomes pretty obvious where the den site is. Currently, producers have that blackout. We need to modify that blackout period to actually reflect that denning window.”

That blackout window doesn’t apply to county commissioners, but Fish and Wildlife is collecting input from commissions across the state to see if they should also be blacked out from the data.

WY G&F proposes increase to 58 wolves in 2018 hunt

WYOMING – Wyoming Game and Fish Department is proposing an increase to the wolf mortality limit for the grey wolf 2018 hunting season. After a successful season last year where the 44-wolf quota was met, officials at WGFD would like to see the harvest targeted at 58 now, as they say the population is thriving and exceeding all criteria established to show that the species is recovered.

“The primary change for the 2018 wolf hunting season proposal is adjustment of the wolf mortality limit, which was increased to 58,” said Ken Mills, Game and Fish’s large carnivore biologist who focuses on wolves. “We calculate mortality limits annually based on the best available population and mortality data for wolves and packs present in the Wolf Trophy Game Management Area to be sure harvest levels are appropriate and ascribe to our commitment to manage for a recovered wolf population. This proposal is the result of a data-driven approach based on measured wolf population dynamics.”

The total minimum population of wolves in Wyoming living outside of Yellowstone National Park and the Wind River Reservation at the end of 2017 was 238, with 198 in the Wolf Trophy Game Management Area. The proposed mortality limit for 2018 is expected to result in an end of year population of around 160 wolves in the trophy game area, similar to the 2017 wolf hunting season.

The draft regulation for the 2018 wolf hunting regulation is now available for public comment.

It includes the allocation of higher hunt area quotas in those areas where wolf conflicts with livestock are high or in areas where wolves are impacting big game populations.

Public meetings on these regulation changes and others will occur at the following times and locations:

  • April 30, 6pm, Sheridan, Game and Fish Office
  • May 2, 6pm, Laramie, Game and Fish Office
  • May 8, 6pm, Cody, Park County Library
  • May 9, 6pm, Casper, Game and Fish Office
  • May 10, 6pm, Dubois, Headwaters Arts & Conference Center
  • May 16, 6pm, Pinedale, Game and Fish Office
  • May 17, 6pm, Jackson, Teton County Library Auditorium
  • May 22, 6pm, Evanston, BEAR Center Pavilion
  • May 23, 6pm, Kemmerer, South Lincoln Events Center
  • May 24, 6pm, Green River, Game and Fish Office

Written comments will be accepted through 5pm June 4 at public meetings, by mailing: Wyoming Game and Fish Department, Regulations, 3030 Energy Lane, Casper, WY  82604 or online at http://wgfd.wyo.gov. Copies of the proposed regulations are available on the Game and Fish website and at the address above.

Written comments will be presented to the Game and Fish Commission prior to the public hearing at its July 10-11 meeting in Laramie at the Game and Fish Office.

Wolf numbers “curbed” by hunting

Wolves
A wolf watches park visitors as it feeds on a elk carcass near the road in Yellowstone National Park in this June 2008 file photo. The return of hunting wolves has trimmed their numbers, but not as high as state goals.

File, Star-Tribune

JACKSON — Hunting’s return to the landscape slashed the number of wolves in Wyoming last year, though not to the degree wildlife managers sought.

Wyoming’s goal was to cut its wolf population by nearly a quarter in places in which the state has control, but only a 16 percent reduction was accomplished. The reason managers missed the mark, Wyoming Game and Fish Department wolf biologist Ken Mills said, is there were more wolves than expected.

“What happened is the Fish and Wildlife Service didn’t have anyone on the ground monitoring wolves,” Mills said. “We located four additional packs. There were 19 adult wolves in those packs.”

Hunters would have been allowed to target more wolves, he said, if those animals were identified ahead of an annual report that informs hunting seasons.

The annual census of Wyoming’s wolves, published Wednesday, found there were 347 animals thought to roam the Equality State as the calendar turned to 2018 — down 30 from a year ago. Yellowstone National Park’s population, 97 animals, remained about the same, as did the number of lobos calling the Wind River Indian Reservation home.

The most significant changes came in areas where Wyoming authorizes hunting, where the population fell from 285 to 238. A managed “trophy-game” hunting area in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem’s interior housed 198 wolves at the end of the year. Another 40 of the large canines roamed the remainder of Wyoming, where wolves are managed as pests and can be killed indiscriminately. In both areas combined, 77 wolves were killed last year.

Groups like the Center for Biological Diversity view the calculated, hunting-driven population decline as a travesty.

“Wolves won’t persist outside Yellowstone National Park if Wyoming continues to eradicate them at this appalling pace,” said Victor, Idaho, resident Andrea Santarsiere, an attorney with the center.

Mills sees it differently. Wyoming’s population, he said, is well above federally required “recovery” requirements: 50 wolves and five breeding pairs in Yellowstone and 100 animals and 10 breeding pairs outside the park. The wolf biologist noted the number of breeding pairs in the state increased over the last year, from 18 to 19.

“It’s recovered, and it’s functioning as a population,” Mills said. “There’s actually more wolves in 2017 in Wyoming outside of Yellowstone and the Wind River Reservation than there were before 2011 — before we ever managed wolves.”

A lawsuit caused Wyoming to lose control of its wolf population from 2014 to spring 2017, during which time the Endangered Species Act protected lobos from hunting and populations hit record highs.

2016 was the most conflict-prone one for wolves and livestock since the native carnivores were reintroduced to the region 23 years ago. Twenty-five wolf packs killed 243 sheep, cattle and horses, and 113 wolves were killed in retaliation. The numbers fell last year, with 191 wolf-suspected livestock deaths and 61 lobos killed in response.

“I think pretty much everyone can say that’s a positive, right?” Mills said. “Whether fewer wolves is a positive depends on who you are, but less conflict is a good thing.”

Assault Rifle Slaughter of Denali Wolves

Share on Facebook
Tweet on Twitter

 

Washington, DC, April 3, 2018 — The State of Alaska is scrambling to shut down hunting and trapping adjacent to Denali National Park over concerns that excessive kills may destabilize this iconic wolf population. Photos posted today by Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER) show a man armed with an AR15 semiautomatic rifle displaying ten wolf carcasses outside Denali.

In an emergency order issued on March 30, 2018 and revised yesterday, Alaska Department of Fish & Game (DFG) cut short the hunting and trapping season on state land along the Stampede Trail, including land adjacent to the eastern boundary of Denali National Park and Preserve. The stated reason for the order is that –

“The wolf harvest this season in the area described is more than the past 5-year average and there is the potential for more harvest to occur before the end of the regulatory hunting and trapping seasons.”

While DFG claims in its order that “There are no conservation concerns for wolves” in the Denali region, the agency admits that it has no idea how many wolves have been killed this year. Moreover, the state has not acknowledged reports that a hunter on a snow machine armed with a semiautomatic rifle recently killed ten wolves outside Denali.

“While I am glad that Governor Walker has acted I am concerned that it may be too little, too late,” said Rick Steiner, a retired University of Alaska professor and PEER board member, who has led the charge for permanent buffer zones around Denali. “The historic high level of take has already altered wolf ecological dynamics, not counting these reports of additional kills just now coming in.”

Studies show hunting and trapping outside Denali is having a big impact on the viability of wolf packs inside Denali, which is Alaska’s top tourist attraction, drawing more than a half-million visitors annually. Not only are Denali wolf family groups disrupted, but visitor-viewing success has plummeted as well.

Similarly, at Yukon-Charley Rivers National Preserve, hunting has so decimated wolf packs that the National Park Service had to end a more than 20-year research program on predator-prey relationships. Its scientists found that the wolf population in the 2.5 million acre national preserve is “no longer in a natural state” nor are there enough survivors to maintain a “self-sustaining population.”

Significantly, Alaska has agreed to participate in an independent National Academy of Sciences review of its predator control programs for the first time in 20 years since the administration of Governor Tony Knowles (1994-2002), the only governor in Alaska history to prohibit lethal predator control programs.

“Alaska’s predator control program is clearly out of control,” stated PEER Executive Director Jeff Ruch. “Alaska should put predator control on hold until it gets a handle on what is actually occurring.”

In response to the recent excessive losses at Denali, Alaska citizens are renewing their call for the Governor to establish a permanent no-kill buffer protecting all park predator species – wolves, bears, lynx, wolverines – along the boundary of Denali, to restore the natural ecosystem and visitor viewing success in the park.

Read the state emergency hunting and trapping closure order

Look at hunting adverse impacts on Denali wolf packs

See decimation of Yukon-Charley wolf packs

View Trump repeal of hunting restrictions inside Alaskan national parks and refuges

Look at growing doubts about Alaska’s predator control program

One man’s plan to let wolves roam free in the Highlands

The ‘custodian’ of the Alladale estate wants to turn it into a fenced-off wildlife reserve
Eurasian grey wolves at the Highland Wildlife Park, Kingussie, Scotland.
 Eurasian grey wolves at the Highland Wildlife Park, Kingussie, Scotland.
Photograph: Alamy

The echoes of Scotland’s predator prince faded into silence three centuries ago. The wolf was once lord of these Sutherland slopes and the forest floors beneath and now a voice in the wilderness is calling him home.

Paul Lister acquired the Alladale estate, 50 miles north of Inverness, in 2003 and immediately set about creating a wilderness reserve according to his perception of what these wild and beautiful places ought to look like. He can’t imagine them without the packs of wolves that once roamed free here.

But his views are considered eccentric by ramblers and conservationists, who view them as a rich man’s caprice, centring their objections on his plans to fence off the vast reserve.

Lister’s plans for the controlled release of a pack of Swedish wolves have been known for years but last week he seemed to issue an ultimatum to the Highland and Islands council, using a local newspaper interview to tell them: “I want to do this, but we would really need to have the details nailed down by the end of 2018.” Yet, when you speak to this man, driven as he is by a vision of how these places should be managed, you form an unshakeable impression that he will strive to fulfil it for as long as it takes.

There are few spaces in the UK more achingly beautiful than Glen Mor and Glen Alladale, the ancient glacial valleys that form this wilderness. The last of the winter snow still coats the top of jagged ridges high above a river that cleaves the land below. At the top of one of these peaks is the only point in Scotland where you can observe the Atlantic on one side and the North Sea on the other. These rocks and this water are as old as Scotland itself and showcase this country in its most majestic raiment.

These places were once rich in a diversity of trees, flowers and wild animals, which rubbed alongside small human settlements eking a sparse existence. The people disappeared in their thousands during the clearances of the 18th and 19th centuries, forced to flee their homes in the face of the most ruthless, forced mass eviction of British citizens ever, clearing the way for the introduction of sheep as landowners eyed quicker and easier profits. Later they would be joined by thousands of red deer to exploit the whims of aristocratic shooting parties. These creatures denuded the great forests of their biodiversity, and something more barren emerged.

Lister’s form of land management is a rebuke to the way that much of Scotland has been artificially manipulated by fewer than 500 rich individuals to satisfy the demands of affluent hunting parties. “There will be no hunting, fishing or shooting here,” he said. “My connection to the Scottish Highlands goes back to the 1980s when my family invested in commercial forestry. I shot my first deer then. But over time I began to realise that human predation and selfishness had wrecked these places so that the soil became weaker and only a thin remnant of the ancient forests remained.

“You need to keep numbers of deer artificially high to satisfy the demands of the shooters who have paid a lot of money not to return empty-handed. Thus, an imbalance occurs. I want to restore balance and harmony to this place in accordance with the way it was created and the way it was meant to be. The controlled release of a pack of wolves would help achieve that harmony by changing the behaviours of the deer and keeping their numbers down to proportionate levels.”

Lister’s inspiration is North America’s Yellowstone national park where the introduction of a single pack of wolves in 1995 led to one of the most remarkable ecological turnarounds of the modern world. This is known as a trophic cascade and is the process by which the activity of an apex predator at the top of the food chain eventually stimulates the growth of several other animal species and enriches bio-diversity. It was in response to the way that huge numbers of elk and deer had grazed large parts of the natural landscape of Yellowstone into barren waste.

Paul Lister, laird of Alladale.
Pinterest
 Paul Lister, laird of Alladale.

“I don’t see myself as the owner of the Alladale wilderness,” says Lister. “How can any human, no matter how rich or powerful he thinks he is, assume ownership of a mountain or a river? These were here long before we came along and will remain long after we’re gone. I’m merely a custodian of this place with a responsibility to leave it in a better state than when I acquired it so that future generations can derive some pleasure or solace from its natural beauty.

“My plans for the controlled release of wolves have been misrepresented. This will not mean packs of them roaming all over the Scottish Highlands. We’re talking about a fenced-in area of 50,000 square miles; this wilderness is 23,000 so I am hoping to persuade one or two of my neighbours to buy into this.”

Lister’s plans to surround the wilderness with a 9ft fence has been met with howls of outrage by the rambling community, who insist that it represents an unconscionable restriction on the right to roam that is now secured in Scots law following a long struggle. Cameron McNeish, the author and broadcaster and one of the UK’s foremost authorities on outdoor pursuits, has welcomed much of what Lister is doing at Alladale in terms of wilderness management but feels that his plan to erect a fence around such a wide area is a non-starter. He has also stated that what he believes Lister is proposing is tantamount to a zoo (albeit a large one) for high-paying customers.

The Alladale estate.
Pinterest
 The Alladale estate. Photograph: Alamy

“I believe the job of re-introducing large creatures like wolves and bears should be performed by Scottish Natural Heritage,” says McNeish. “Such reintroductions are of national importance and shouldn’t be down to the whims and ambitions of individual landowners who may, or may not, have a financial interest at heart. Lister’s proposals fall within the remit of zoo legislation, and Europe’s habitats directive.

“Having predators like wolves or bears and prey in the same enclosure would introduce animal welfare issues,” he added. “This would need careful consideration as re-introduced grey wolves would have no natural predator in Scotland.”

Lister’s reserve manager Innes Macneill said: “There aren’t any Munros in these glens and we only get around 1,000 ramblers per year. If these plans come to fruition we would expect more than ten times that amount.”

Macneill’s family has worked these lands for generations. He is responsible for planting 800,000 saplings in the hope of restoring a forest of Scots pine. He also wants to see a growth in birch, rowan, ash, alder and willow, among others. “Trees make other trees,” he said.

A personal view? Although the wolf would be installed officially as Scotland’s top predator, in reality it would never attain that status; not while humans are around. No species is more predatory than we who have specialised over centuries in making other species extinct or driven them to the brink of it.

It is ironic that we now cavil at the gentle reintroduction of a magnificent beast that we hunted down remorselessly. If some sacrifices have to be made by the walking community, some of whom invade our most beautiful places and treat them as items to be ticked off on a middle-class bucket list, then so be it.

Since you’re here …

… we have a small favour to ask. More people are reading the Guardian than ever but advertising revenues across the media are falling fast. And unlike many news organisations, we haven’t put up a paywall – we want to keep our journalism as open as we can. So you can see why we need to ask for your help. The Guardian’s independent, investigative journalism takes a lot of time, money and hard work to produce. But we do it because we believe our perspective matters – because it might well be your perspective, too.

I appreciate there not being a paywall: it is more democratic for the media to be available for all and not a commodity to be purchased by a few. I’m happy to make a contribution so others with less means still have access to information.Thomasine, Sweden

If everyone who reads our reporting, who likes it, helps fund it, our future would be much more secure

Should wolf hunting be increased in the Gros Ventre?

[If you’re asking me, I say HELLNO! The Tetons is where I saw my first wolf in the lower 48 states…]

Please Vote NO!!

http://www.jhnewsandguide.com/should-wolf-hunting-be-increased-in-the-gros-ventre/poll_b74e58fc-37ab-11e8-abeb-eb87d8a2d294.html

Yes. This winter’s Gros Ventre elk population suffered because of the packs. More tags!

Yes, but we need more than sport hunting to control wolf populations.
No. We don’t have enough data to show the wolves were responsible for this winter’s low herd count.
No. The nine killed in the last open season is already too much.

Vote View Results http://www.jhnewsandguide.com/should-wolf-hunting-be-increased-in-the-gros-ventre/poll_b74e58fc-37ab-11e8-abeb-eb87d8a2d294.html