Mediator works to find common ground on Washington wolves

By Jason Nark, Special To The Washington Post.

Published: December 7, 2018, 10:28 PM

One summer, over a decade ago, biologists discovered that gray wolves — once driven to near-extinction in the continental United States — were breeding again in Washington. The sound of howling wolf pups was welcome news for conservationists, but not for the state’s $700 million cattle industry.

When some wolves began to prey on livestock, age-old tensions were resurrected. Some members of that first pack were poached, despite federal protections. Ranchers whose forefathers believed a good wolf was a dead one now had to contend with government officials and conservationists who had other opinions.

Fortunately, there was someone to call for help: Francine Madden and her Washington, D.C.-based nonprofit, the Center for Conservation Peacebuilding. In a city full of fascinating but oddly narrow areas of intellectual expertise, Madden’s is particularly niche: Her job is to make peace between humans who are fighting over wildlife.

On a warm October morning, I meet Madden at the National Zoo. The 48-year-old — today wearing cowboy boots a shade lighter than her brown hair — grows animated when she talks about her job, slapping my arm often to drive home a point. A curse or two slips out, though not when a pack of fourth-graders bounds down a path toward a hillside enclosure beside us.

“Is that a fox?” one boy asks.

“No, it’s a wolf,” another shouts.

The kids all howl at the wolf, then sprint off. Madden cracks a smile. “Honestly, I’m surprised when someone doesn’t have an opinion on wolves,” she says, hands waving excitedly. “When I see a wolf, my mental image of them is an animal that’s wearing this social, cultural and historical baggage, like a baggage cart at the airport we’ve loaded up. Think about it: ‘Little Red Riding Hood,’ ‘Peter and the Wolf,’ the Bible, the wolf in sheep’s clothing. The wolf’s had a lot of human emotion poured into it.”

Indeed, wolves have been trapped, shot and poisoned en masse for centuries, “pursued with more passion and determination,” the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service notes, “than any other animal in U.S. history.” By the mid-1970s, gray wolves were among the first animals to make the endangered species list.

Then, in the 1990s, the U.S. government embarked on a controversial plan to boost the American wolf population with Canadian wolves. And as the wolf population of Eastern Washington state grew, ranchers and environmentalists began baring fangs. By 2015, things had gotten so bad that Washington’s Department of Fish and Wildlife hired Madden as a “third-party neutral,” charged with deflating hostilities among factions within the state’s Wolf Advisory Group. “When I took this case, I wanted it,” Madden says, “because wolves are the Middle East of wildlife conflict.”

What qualified Madden for this job? In addition to graduate degrees in science and policy from Indiana University, she had spent time as a Peace Corps volunteer in Uganda. There, conservation efforts had helped increase the population of mountain gorillas — who occasionally terrorized villagers, who, in turn, resorted to poaching. Madden helped conservationists and villagers agree on a solution: create teams that could respond quickly to gorilla attacks. In the years since, she has gone on to mediate invasive-species conflicts in the Galapagos and around the globe.

In Washington, Madden spent 350 hours interviewing 80 people about wolves before she led advisory group meetings. She found anomalies in the narrative: a hunter who described seeing a wolf as a “religious experience”; environmentalists who supported, or at least were neutral about, the idea of a wolf hunt. Wolves, she found, were a proxy for other fears, such as fading traditions and a loss of control to Seattle progressives. “Sometimes,” she says, “a dispute has surface-level issues, and that can be taxes or climate change or, in this case, wolves. But it’s all about identity.”

Madden asked combatants to steer their hybrids and pickup trucks to local bars. Grab a beer, she asked them, or a veggie burger. And don’t talk about wolves. At least not right away. “The first time I saw her, to be honest with you, I felt like this is a lot of kumbaya, no way a cowboy is going to sit through this,” rancher Molly Linville told me by phone from her 6,000-acre spread in Douglas County. “I still don’t know how it worked. It all still feels like magic to me.”

In the end, Madden spent 200 days in Washington and 7,000 hours on the phone. (For 3 1/2 years of work, the state paid her nonprofit, with a staff of two, more than $1.2 million.) Conservationists eventually agreed that wolves could be culled if they preyed on livestock. For their part, ranchers agreed to try nonlethal methods, too.

Opinion Wolves valuable part of ecosystems 

By: Sadie Par
Posted: 11/16/2018

<https://www.winnipegfreepress.com/opinion/analysis/wolves-valuable-part-of-ecosystems-500660781.html#have-your-say>

A recent Free Press story (“Wolves feasting on cattle: ‘A huge problem,’” on Oct. 31) requires more of a science-based perspective.

To begin, we must recognize that since European colonization, North America’s approach to wildlife management has focused on eradicating large carnivores or maintaining them at artificially low densities. The tools for this included poison and bounties, which continue in parts of Canada to the detriment of carnivores and the ecosystems they have evolved within.

There is growing understanding that wolves and other carnivores are an intrinsically valuable and an ecologically important component of intact ecosystems. In areas where the land is still whole enough, wolves are recolonizing the landscape they belong to. While this may provide some challenges, it is certainly worth celebrating from an ecological perspective.

If livestock-wolf conflicts are indeed increasing, a big part of this likely has to do with changes in husbandry practices after predators were killed off. Cattle have been left unsupervised in many areas following wolf extermination. Gone are the age-old methods of monitoring and doctoring domestic herds, which are often placed in areas that interface with wilderness zones. By maintaining a human presence, range-riders, shepherds and herders can deter carnivores and intervene to “teach” animals to stay away. A combination of new technology and traditional cultural practices are providing many “predator-friendly ranchers” with effective solutions that prevent and minimize losses. But a dead wolf won’t learn anything.

Following the outbreak of mad cow disease in 2003, Canada abandoned government-funded carcass removal programs. This challenge and cost fell on producers. Deadstock can attract carnivores to areas where cattle graze and may facilitate a new and easy meal. This is akin to creating a welcome buffet by baiting carnivores into the proximity of livestock.

The story made claims that an increasing number of depredation events are occurring. How many of these claims were verified by trained professionals? How much conflict prevention is occurring where these situations are unfolding? And how can this be prevented?

Studies across North America and beyond are providing mounting evidence to show that lethal control of wolves is ineffective and can even lead to increased conflicts when compared to changing husbandry practices and utilizing non-lethal preventive measures.

If producers are experiencing high numbers of calves being lost to predators, why are vulnerable calves not being monitored more closely? Several producers experience little or no losses by using a combination of methods that include synchronized and shorter calving periods, night corrals, turbo-fladry (lines with strips of coloured fabric that flap in the wind and deter wolves), livestock guardian dogs and range riding.

I agree with the Manitoba Beef Producers director’s statement that a plan is due; however, a sensible plan would focus on educating producers about prevention-based methods and facilitate support with incentives to make these methods feasible. This is in stark contrast with the stance in the Oct. 31 article that “producers want more incentives to make it worthwhile (to kill wolves),” which often results in more problems, not less. Ignoring the behaviour and biology of wolves leads to negative ecological repercussions, as well as more livestock losses.

Maintaining the social stability of apex predators, or allowing them to do so, is critical for best management practices when it comes to reducing conflicts between humans and carnivores. Socially stable carnivore populations are easier to coexist with because they are more predictable. We should not ignore the biology and behaviour of carnivores if we want to minimize conflicts and co-flourish.

Aside from their inherent intrinsic values, wolves and other apex predators (species at the top of the food chain) provide invaluable and irreplaceable ecological benefits. They have a disproportionately important role through top-down effects that shape entire ecosystems. Direct influences on herbivores and smaller consumers trickle down to stabilize vegetation structure, maintain diversity and mediate large-scale processes like carbon sequestration and hydrological cycles that characterize the diverse landscapes in our province and country.

No doubt humans will continue to find reasons to justify disdain of predators, but at the end of the day, these beings have evolved over millennia as an integral part of nature. They will continue to play their role in maintaining biodiversity, but only if we have sense enough to allow them to. Non-lethal approaches are proving to have better outcomes for livestock, wildlife and people.

Sadie Parr is the executive director of Wolf Awareness Inc.

https://www.winnipegfreepress.com/opinion/analysis/wolves-valuable-part-of-ecosystems-500660781.html

Wolves valuable part of ecosystems – Winnipeg Free Press <https://www.winnipegfreepress.com/opinion/analysis/wolves-valuable-part-of-ecosystems-500660781.html

Beloved Yellowstone Wolf ‘Spitfire’ Killed By Trophy Hunter

The wild wolf, also known as 926F, died the same way her famous mother did in 2012.

A wild wolf beloved by wolf watchers and biologists who visit Yellowstone National Park has been shot dead by a hunter.

The 7-year-old female wolf, known to scientists as Lamar Canyon Wolf Pack member 926F, had wandered just outside Yellowstone last weekend and was legally killed by a trophy hunter.

Nicknamed “Spitfire” by wolf enthusiasts, the slain she-wolf was the daughter of famous alpha female 824F, who inspired the book American Wolf: A True Story of Survival and Obsession in the West.

824F ― best known as “06” (a reference to the year she was born) ― was a tourist favorite at Yellowstone and the leader of the Lamar Canyon pack until she was killed by a hunter in 2012.

926F, also known as "Spitfire," was killed by a hunter last month after wandering just outside Yellowstone National Park.

MARK PERRY VIA GETTY IMAGES
926F, also known as “Spitfire,” was killed by a hunter last month after wandering just outside Yellowstone National Park.

“The 06 Legacy,” a Facebook group for wolf lovers, honored 926F’s life in a Facebook post Wednesday.

“926F showed incredible strength, courage and resilience in everything she did,” the Facebook post says. “She had a special bond with her daughter Little T and they stayed together all these years.”

The post continued: “We had so much to celebrate when we saw five strong and healthy pups this fall. And now it took just one bullet and 926F is gone. Just like her mother 06 and her uncle 754M before her. With current wolf management practices, the tragedy just doesn’t end. … Rest In Peace our beautiful Queen.”

The Montana Department of Fish, Wildlife and Parks confirmed Spitfire was legally killed by a trophy hunter less than five miles from the northeast entrance of Yellowstone.

The beloved wolf’s death has reignited calls for a buffer around Yellowstone, a hunting-free zone, to protect animals who wander beyond the park’s invisible boundary.

“Perhaps Montana should take a closer look at the economics of wolf hunting,” the New York-based Wolf Conservation Center wrote in a blog post Wednesday. “Seems that Yellowstone wolves are worth a lot more alive than dead.”

Famous Alpha Wolf’s Daughter, Spitfire, Is Killed by a Hunter

 

The shooting of another Lamar Canyon pack member has renewed calls for a buffer between Yellowstone and nearby lands, to protect roaming wolves.

926F, a wild wolf in Yellowstone, in the late fall of 2016. Like her mother, she was killed by a hunter.CreditDeby Dixon
926F, a wild wolf in Yellowstone, in the late fall of 2016. Like her mother, she was killed by a hunter.CreditCreditDeby Dixon

HELENA, Mont. — A wild wolf known as 926F, dear to the hearts of wolf watchers who visit Yellowstone, was killed by a hunter as it wandered just outside the park last weekend.

A member of the Lamar Canyon pack in the national park’s northeast region, 926F was the daughter of 832F, an alpha female that had become a celebrity, famous for her hunting prowess and for her frequent appearances along the road traveled by tourists in the park’s Lamar Valley.

While wolf biologists called the mother 832F, the she-wolf was famously known as “06” for the year she was born. The subject of the book “American Wolf: A True Story of Survival and Obsession in the West,” she was killed by a hunter as well.

“Everybody’s mourning, everybody’s thinking about what to do to stop this madness,” said Karol Miller, who founded a group of wolf lovers on Facebook called The 06 Legacy. “People love the Lamar Canyon Pack and people know 06 from her New York Times obituary. These are the descendants of 06, her legacy. People love those wolves.”

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Wolf watchers called 06’s daughter Spitfire.

The shooting occurred near cabins and was within hunting laws; Montana has permitted hunting of wolves since 2011, and a few hundred are killed each year.

“A game warden checked with the hunter and everything about this harvest was legal,” said Abby Nelson, a wolf management specialist with the Montana Department of Fish, Wildlife and Parks.

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But the killing has renewed calls for a buffer around the park so wolves that live within the safe harbor of Yellowstone and that have little fear of humans cannot be shot if they wander beyond the park’s invisible boundary.

Spitfire, or 926F, chased away a grizzly bear that was trying to steal her kill in 2013.CreditDeby Dixon
Image
Spitfire, or 926F, chased away a grizzly bear that was trying to steal her kill in 2013.CreditDeby Dixon

While Montana lawmakers have passed legislation forbidding creation of a buffer zone, there is a hunting limit of two wolves in each of two districts adjacent to the northern boundary of the park.

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Still, wolf hunting near Yellowstone has been extremely controversial, highlighting the clash between the New West’s ecotourism and the Old West’s hunting to protect game and livestock.

Wolves were restored to the park in the 1990s and quickly grew in number. About 100 wolves belong to 10 packs in Yellowstone, which is considered the ideal park for sightings of the animals as they hunt elk, feed on carcasses and play with their pups. Some 1,700 wolves live in the Northern Rocky Mountain states of Montana, Idaho and Wyoming.

Wild wolf cubs born in Rome for the first time in 100 years

Wild wolf cubs born in Rome for the first time in 100 years
The wolves captured on camera. Photo: Oasi LIPU

The wolf is the symbolic animal of Rome, a city founded by two brothers who were raised by a she-wolf – or so the legend goes.

And now, for the first time in over 100 years, newly-born wolves have been spotted living just outside the Italian capital.

Hidden cameras in the Oasi LIPU Castel di Guido, a wildlife sanctuary spanning 180 hectares, have snapped pictures of an entire family of wolves: mother, father, and two cubs.  The male adult has been named Romulus by researchers, a nod to the city’s legendary founder, and since he was first sighted, scientists have been studying the animals through video footage and analysis of excrement to determine their diet.

“We were very surprised!” a spokesperson from LIPU said, speaking to The Local about the birth of the cubs. “We first spotted the [adult] wolves in 2013, and this is the first time there have been cubs.”

She added that the creatures should not pose any danger to locals, because wolves are “elusive animals which keep themselves hidden”. The organization has offered advice to farmers about protecting their livestock from any attacks, but stressed that the wolves’ diet is made up of 95 percent wild boar, and that abandoned dogs pose the greater risk to cattle.

The wolves at night. Photo: Oasi LIPU

The nature reserve is located close to the ring road that surrounds Rome, and the wolves likely made their way there from the area surrounding Lake Bracciano north of the capital, which has long had a wolf population. It’s a case of “natural recolonization”, according to LIPU, without any human intervention: adult wolves typically move away from their pack when they reach maturity in order to find a new mate and territory.

The cubs were first captured on camera in summer this year, but researchers waited until the autumn to make the news public as they were unsure whether the animals would survive – only 50 percent of a wolf’s litter typically reach maturity.

“It’s very good news because in this area in recent years, we have had lots of wild boars, which have caused problems for farmers in the area. Wolves are a natural predator of boars, so this could help control the boar population,” the spokesperson explained.

The female wolf was pictured lactating, signalling the arrival of the cubs. Photo: Oasi LIPU

Rome authorities have considered sterilization of the wild boars following an increase in sightings and the death of a man in March after his scooter collided with one of the animals. Video footage has shown them in streets and residential areas as well as parks, possibly enticed into urban areas due to the capital’s problems with waste management.

The Italian wolf population dropped to just 100 in the 1960s, but in 1971 they were declared a protected species and a ban on hunting them has allowed numbers to creep back up to an estimated 1,600. They live predominantly in the mountainous regions of the Appenines and the Alps.

However, the creatures are not popular with local farmers, with agricultural organization Coldiretti saying the number of attacks of livestock has risen sharply in recent years. In 2014, farmers in Tuscany illegally killed wolves and left the carcasses in public areas in protest at the damage to their cattle and property.

Earlier this year, the country mulled a controversial plan to cull five percent of the wolf population, a measure which was stopped following protests from environmentalists.

READ ALSO: A herd of ‘rebel cows’ has been living wildly in the Italian mountains for years

A herd of 'rebel cows' has been living wildly in the Italian mountains for years

File photo: antb/Depositphotos

Ontario wolves to be trapped, transferred in effort to restore population on Michigan island…

Weather permitting, wolves will be moved by helicopter in January

Amy Hadley · CBC News · Posted: Nov 21, 2018 7:30 AM ET | Last Updated: 3 hours ago

<https://i.cbc.ca/1.4847490.1538505763!/fileImage/httpImage/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/16x9_780/isle-royale-wolves.jpg>

The first female wolf to be transported to the island this fall is captured by a remote camera, before emerging from her crate. The first four wolves to be cleared for transfer were from Minnesota. (U.S. National Park Service)

Wolves from Ontario will soon be moved across the border to try to help restore the dwindling population in Michigan’s Isle Royale National Park.

This fall, officials at the park began a multi-year effort to move wolves from the mainland to the island, to try to restore the balance between wolves and moose on the isolated island, which is located on Lake Superior, not far from Thunder Bay, Ont.

<https://i.cbc.ca/1.4857118.1539187600!/fileImage/httpImage/image.png_gen/derivatives/original_780/isle-royale.png>

The multi-year wolf transfer will involve capturing and moving mainland wolves from Michigan and Minnesota, but Isle Royale National Park superintendent Phyllis Green says they now also plan to move a pack from nearby Ontario.

The first wolves to be moved were trapped in Minnesota, but officials were hopeful that Canadian wolves would also be added to the mix. That plan has now been given the green light, said park superintendent Phyllis Green.

* Canadian wolves may be added to U.S. park service’s work to revive island population <https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/thunder-bay/isle-royale-wolf-transfer-1.4846093>
* U.S. National Park Service will soon transport wolves to Isle Royale <https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/thunder-bay/isle-royale-wolves-moose-1.4701281>

“Actually we were fortunate that Michigan’s Governor [Rick] Snyder had a conversation with [Ontario’s] Premier [Doug] Ford and talked about the importance of the project,” she said.

“And so after that conversation we were able to have further conversations and we’re definitely going to be — weather providing — receiving wolves from Ontario this winter.”

The wolves will come from Michipicoten Island in northeastern Lake Superior, where a very different wildlife management problem has made headlines. While Isle Royale’s wolf population has faced near extinction, wolves on Michipicoten were weakening the caribou population.

* Dwindling caribou population being moved off Michipicoten <https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/sudbury/michipicoten-caribou-relocation-1.4487408> Island — by air

If weather permits, suitable wolves will be trapped during a normal collaring exercise done by Ontario researchers in January and transferred to Isle Royale by helicopter, Green said.

<https://i.cbc.ca/1.4847451.1538505093!/fileImage/httpImage/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/original_780/phyllis-green.jpg>

Phyllis Green, superintendent of Isle Royale National Park in Michigan, stands in front of an empty crate that held one of the first wolves to be transported to the island. (National Park Service/John Pepin)

‘Robust’ Canadian wolves desirable for genetic strength

The Ontario wolves are desirable for several reasons, said Green, including the fact that the animals on Michipicoten are well-studied by Ontario researchers who will be able to identify alpha males and females that might be well suited to the trip.

“And also we actually know that they’re actually pretty prolific on pups, and that’s certainly what you would hope to see when you start a new population.”

“And the other positive is that they’re very robust genetically,” Green added.

“On the U.S. side, we’ve had situations where the wolf population has dropped and then there’s some incursion of coyote or dog genetics into the population.”

<https://i.cbc.ca/1.4913655.1542748542!/fileImage/httpImage/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/original_780/isle-royale-wolf.jpg>

A trail camera photo shows one of the female wolves transferred to Michigan’s Isle Royale National Park this fall, as part of a multi-year effort to restore the population and balance the ecosystem. (U.S. National Park Service)

Two wolf fatalities so far

The wolf transfer is not without risks. During the first phase of the project this fall, a wolf that had been cleared for transfer died before it could be moved to Isle Royale, prompting changes to protocols in an effort to reduce stress on the animals.

One male and three females were successfully moved to the island, but in November, the National Park Service confirmed that the male wolf had been found dead. The cause of death is not known, Green said, but necropsy results expected in December should yield more information.

Some natural mortality is to be expected, Green said.

“It’s unfortunate but in the wild population about 25 to 30 per cent of the wolves die annually,” she said.

“It’s a tough life out there for them.”

The transferred wolves are being monitored using GPS technology and the other three are doing well, Green said.

The Isle Royale wolf relocation effort is expected to take three to five years, with the eventual goal of moving up to 30 animals.

https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/thunder-bay/ontario-wolves-isle-royale-1.4913527

<https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/thunder-bay/ontario-wolves-isle-royale-1.4913527>

Ontario wolves to be trapped, transferred in effort to restore population on Michigan island | CBC News <https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/thunder-bay/ontario-wolves-isle-royale-1.4913527>

The first female wolf to be transported to the island this fall is captured by a remote camera, before emerging from her crate. The first four wolves to be cleared for transfer were from Minnesota.

http://www.cbc.ca <http://www.cbc.ca

U.S. House Prepares for Radical Assault Against Endangered Species Act

Legislation led by Rep. Sean Duffy Would Enable Trophy Hunting, Snaring of Small, Recovering Population of Wolves

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, the U.S. House of Representatives will conduct floor debate on H.R. 6784, the so-called “Manage our Wolves Act” led by U.S. Rep. Sean Duffy (R-WI-07). The legislation would short-circuit multiple federal court rulings against premature de-listing by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and put Congress in the position of cherry-picking the species it wants off the endangered species list. The measure, which may likely pass the lower chamber, is scheduled for a vote of the full House on Friday morning and the debate can be viewed here.

Gray wolves, virtually eradicated between 1850 and 1920 during westward expansion, have had a slow walk back from near extinction. For decades, federal and state governments executed ruthless and effective predator control programs – a slaughter that stands alongside the massacre of bison as the most wanton chapters in the history of American wildlife management, and they’ve only recently began to recover.

“We’re shocked and dismayed that Congress would return to work and make killing endangered wolves its first order of business,” said Marty Irby, executive director at Animal Wellness Action. “It has half a dozen animal welfare bills with 218 cosponsors, but instead chooses to act on a special-interest bill with four cosponsors that is a priority for a handful of trophy hunters and ranchers. It’s so disappointing to see my fellow Republicans in the House show such disregard for animal welfare and to leave such a merciless legacy.”

Wolves now occupy habitat in about 10 states with an estimated population of only 5,000 in the lower 48 states – covering millions of square miles of space. These endangered icons play a critical role in their native ecosystems, in checking the growth of prey populations, restoring stream flows, and reducing flooding and bank erosion. Wolf predation helps maintain healthy deer populations, lowering the frequency of deer-auto collisions and prevalence of crop losses. They mitigate impacts on vegetation and bring vitality to entire ecosystems that saves private citizens and governments tens of millions of dollars a year, while also generating millions in tourism yearly.

https://mailchi.mp/animalwellnessaction.org/us-house-prepares-for-radical-assault-against-endangered-species-act-2197737?fbclid=IwAR3drDS-zGvW9EJUVE3vmOK2Nh4BBbKqRiO4tFjRd1MtxS1_ttsEvyZPZ3c

Washington Wildlife Agency Issues Kill Orders for Two More Wolf Packs

For Immediate Release, November 7, 2018

Contact: Noah Greenwald, (503) 484-7495, ngreenwald@biologicaldiversity.org

https://www.biologicaldiversity.org/news/press_releases/2018/washington-wolves-11-07-2018.php?fbclid=IwAR3RmhlDUSRvnx4BtVqlhT7E-W0H4erFqocVY8q7-UicKUkQtqbvbkQwKOE

OLYMPIA, Wash.— Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife Director Kelly Susewind today authorized the killing of wolves in the Smackout pack in Stevens County and the remaining wolves of the Togo pack in Ferry County. The Department already has been trying since Oct. 27 to kill the last adult and pup of the Old Profanity Territory pack in Ferry County.

“We’re devastated that Washington officials are killing still more endangered wolves when science shows it won’t reduce livestock loss or improve tolerance for these misunderstood animals,” said Noah Greenwald, endangered species director at the Center for Biological Diversity. “Three kill operations going at once on an endangered species by a state wildlife agency is very disturbing. They’re wiping out pack after pack, mostly at the behest of one livestock owner.”

Since 2012 the state has killed 21 state-endangered wolves, 17 of whom were killed for the same livestock operator, a longtime, vocal opponent of wolf recovery. The ongoing kill operation to kill the OPT pack’s father wolf and only remaining pup, as well as the kill order issued today for members of the Smackout pack, are on behalf of the same individual.

In September the Department killed the father wolf of the Togo pack, leaving his mate to fend for their two pups on her own. In October the Department killed the breeding female of the Old Profanity Territory pack and a five-month-old pup from the pack, leaving the breeding male on his own to provide for the sole remaining pup.

Both kill actions made it more likely the adults would attack more livestock, since livestock are easier prey than deer or elk for a lone wolf to successfully hunt. In both instances that proved to be the case, and even though it was the Department’s own actions that set these packs up for more conflict, the Department intends to eradicate both wolf families.

“Washingtonians overwhelmingly support wolf recovery,” said Greenwald. “Restoring these beautiful, intelligent animals will result in some loss of livestock, which is why the state compensates ranchers for their losses. But wildlife officials should not continue to kill this still endangered species.”

Smackout pack wolf

Smackout pack wolf photo by Carter Niemeyer. This image is available for media use.

The Center for Biological Diversity is a national, nonprofit conservation organization with more than 1 million members and online activists dedicated to the protection of endangered species and wild places.

www.biologicaldiversity.org

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Washington Fish and Wildlife targets 2 more wolfpacks

Wolfpacks in Stevens and Ferry counties have been attacking cattle; state authorizes killing wolves.

Don JenkinsCapital Press

Published on November 7, 2018 9:50AM

The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife confirmed Sept. 7 that wolves in the Togo pack attacked this calf. The calf survived but was euthanized to end its suffering. Fish and Wildlife issued a permit Nov. 7 allowing the rancher to shoot the pack’s remaining three wolves if caught in a private fenced pasture with cattle.

COURTESY PHOTO

The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife confirmed Sept. 7 that wolves in the Togo pack attacked this calf. The calf survived but was euthanized to end its suffering. Fish and Wildlife issued a permit Nov. 7 allowing the rancher to shoot the pack’s remaining three wolves if caught in a private fenced pasture with cattle.

Washington Fish and Wildlife Director Kelly Susewind today authorized the killing of wolves in two packs attacking cattle in the northeast corner of the state. The orders come as the department continues to try to remove the rest of a third wolfpack.

The department plans to kill one or two wolves in the Smackout pack in Stevens County. Susewind also gave permission to a rancher in Ferry County to shoot the remaining three wolves in the Togo pack in Ferry County if the wolves enter a private fenced pasture with cattle.

Fish and Wildlife is continuing an effort to remove the remaining two wolves in the Old Profanity pack, also in Ferry County, the department’s wolf policy coordinator, Donny Martorello, said Wednesday. The department killed wolves in the pack in September and resumed targeting the pack Oct. 26 because of depredations on cattle continued.

Fish and Wildlife won’t immediately undertake removing the Togo pack because it’s occupied with the two other packs, but may in the coming weeks, according to the department.

Fish and Wildlife shot one Togo pack wolf in early September, but the pack has continued to attack cattle. The wolf already had been wounded by the rancher, who said he was approached by the wolf and shot in self-defense.

The department protocol calls for removing one or two wolves initially and waiting to see whether wolf depredations on livestock stop.

Fish and Wildlife won’t start the lethal-removal operation against the Smackout pack, or allow the shooting of Togo pack wolves, until Thursday at the earliest. The early morning directives today give environmental groups one day to go to court to challenge the order.

The notice is fallout from a lawsuit by environmental groups challenging an order last year to kill wolves. A Thurston County Superior Court judge dismissed the lawsuit, but said the department should give time for courts to review future lethal-removal orders.

The Smackout pack has killed four heifers and injured one calf on private land since Aug. 20, according to Fish and Wildlife. Four of the attacks occurred between Oct. 14 and Nov. 1.

Fish and Wildlife considers lethal removal after a pack attacks three times in 30 days or four times in 10 months. The department policy calls for ranchers to do whatever they can to prevent the attacks and for wildlife managers to conclude that the attacks will continue unless the state intervenes.

The Smackout pack has four or five adult wolves, according to recent surveys by the department. The pack includes one female wolf that had been trapped and fitted with a radio collar that transmits her location. The department has not seen evidence that the pack produced pups this year.

The Togo pack has attacked cattle at least six times in the past 10 months, according to Fish and Wildlife. Two of the attacks were confirmed after the department shot one of two adults in the pack. The department confirmed the first attack Sept. 7, but held off restarting lethal removal because the department was concerned that killing the last adult would doom the pups given their size at the time.

Fish and Wildlife confirmed Oct. 26 that the pack had attacked another calf. The latest depredation indicates the pack will continue to prey on livestock, according to the department.

Fish and Wildlife said in a statement today that it did not expect the lethal-removal operations to harm the state’s overall recovery objectives. The goal is to have wolves established and regularly reproducing at least as far west as the Cascades. Washington wolves now are mostly confined to Eastern Washington, particularly in four northeast counties.

The wolf population in the eastern one-third of Washington is more than three times the recovery goal for that region, according to Fish and Wildlife.

As the wolf population has grown in that corner of the state, so has attacks on livestock. The department has removed wolves before, dating back to 2012, but has never had three lethal-removal operations active at the same time.

Fish and Wildlife approves killing of remaining two wolves in the old Profanity Peak pack area

UPDATED: Fri., Oct. 26, 2018, 10:31 a.m.

FILE - This April 18, 2008 file photo provided by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife shows a grey wolf. The final two members of a wolf pack occupying the old Profanity Peak Pack area will be killed, according to a Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife news release. (Gary Kramer / AP)
FILE – This April 18, 2008 file photo provided by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife shows a grey wolf. The final two members of a wolf pack occupying the old Profanity Peak Pack area will be killed, according to a Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife news release. (Gary Kramer / AP)

The final two members of a wolf pack occupying the old Profanity Peak Pack area will be killed, according to a Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife news release.

The kill order comes after members of the pack, which the department dubbed the Old Profanity Territory pack, killed or injured at least 16 cattle. The most recent was on Tuesday, according to the release.

WDFW killed a member of the pack on Sept. 16 following documented depredations. Per agency policy WDFW then monitored the area to see if lethal removal was effective. Despite two depredations in early October WDFW refrained from killing more wolves due to concerns about whether the range riding and other nonlethal deterrents were being implemented effectively.

The livestock in question are on a federal grazing allotment. Per allotment rules the producer was supposed to have his cattle off the land on Oct. 15. However, because of the “dense timber and rugged terrain” 10 percent of the producer’s cattle remain on the federal land.

In an interview Thursday Jay Shepherd, the wolf program lead for Conservation Northwest and one of the founders of the Northeast Washington Wolf-Cattle Collaborative, said in past years wolf-cattle conflicts had usually tapered off by now.

“It’s a weird year,” he said. “It just keeps going.”

WDFW must wait eight court hours between the announcement of a lethal action order and the execution of the order. In the past environmental groups have used that time to challenge the kill order.

Despite losses of roughly a dozen wolves a year from selective state-authorized lethal control, plus poaching, vehicle collisions and other human-related causes, Washington’s wolf population has grown each year. A minimum of 122 wolves, 22 packs and 14 successful breeding pairs was reported by the WDFW this winter.

This story will be updated throughout the day.

The full news release is copied below:

WDFW Director Kelly Susewind today reauthorized department staff to lethally remove the remaining two wolves from a pack that has repeatedly preyed on cattle while occupying the Old Profanity Territory (OPT) in the Kettle River Range of Ferry County.

On Sept. 28 the department initiated an evaluation period to determine whether removing two wolves from the OPT pack last month has changed the pack’s behavior and reduced the potential for recurrent wolf depredations on livestock.

The Wolf Conservation and Management Plan and the department’s protocol indicate that a post-removal evaluation period should consider any depredations that take place after one or more wolves are removed from a pack.

The department documented two wolf depredations to calves found in the allotment between Oct. 5-7, and determined that the depredation by the OPT on Oct. 5 likely occurred after the removal period.

That incident would have supported a decision to remove more wolves at that time, but the Director sustained the evaluation period to consider the details and complexities of the situation in the field.

The U.S. Forest Service allotment where the affected producer grazes his livestock is large and lies entirely within the territory of the OPT pack. After the Oct. 5 depredation, the department took additional steps to document the range-riding operation on the allotment to make sure it is as effective as it can be.

However, the department documented another wolf depredation to livestock on Oct. 23, bringing the total to 16 wolf depredations by the OPT pack.

The affected producer was scheduled to remove his livestock from the U.S. Forest Service allotment by Oct.15. In practice, about 90 percent of the livestock are usually removed by that date. Due to the dense timber and rugged terrain, it may take several weeks longer to round up all the cattle on the allotment.

The producer is transporting a portion of his cattle to private grazing lands west of the Kettle Crest and another portion out of state. The private grazing lands west of the Kettle Crest are within the OPT pack territory, although they are at a lower elevations and on the periphery of the pack territory, which may reduce the likelihood of wolf depredations in these areas this winter.

There are also several other allotments with cattle within the OPT that are in a similar situation in terms of removing them from Forest Service grazing allotments.

The livestock producer who owns the affected livestock has continued to employ non-lethal methods to deter wolves from preying on his herd. Strategies used include contracting range riders to monitor his herd, removing or securing livestock carcasses to avoid attracting wolves to the rest of the herd, and removing known sick and injured livestock from the grazing area until they are healed.