Barbarism on the Rise: Hunting Mama Wolves and Bears and Their Cubs in Alask

Barbarism on the Rise: Hunting Mama Wolves and Bears and Their Cubs in Alaska

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Arctic wolf. Photo: Jeffrey St. Clair.

When I was in elementary school, I had a slingshot for hunting birds. To this day, I find it impossible to explain why I indulged in such unsavory behavior.

However, since those youthful days, I never hunted again with either a slingshot or a gun.

I abhor the killing of wild and domesticated animals. They have as much right as we do to exist without fearing hunters may kill them.

I know humans have hunted and killed animals for food. Such open season lasted for millennia. Hunting of wildlife for food is probably still alive in some form or another in most countries of the world.

Hunting for sport is another, even more vicious, kind of killing of wild animals. Affluent European hunters decimated Africa’s wildlife in the nineteenth century.

Hunting for sport is probably just as ancient as killing wild animals for food. Members of the ruling classes in the past and now convince themselves they have divine rights to target wildlife at their convenience and pleasure.

This cruel and perverse habit is especially strong in affluent societies, where people with money and guns give license to their pathological instincts in killing wolves, bears, lions, tigers and other wild animals.

Human footprints

This killing, especially of important large carnivorous animals, adds more unnecessary instability in an already destabilized natural world.

Humans have been leaving their bloody and destructive footprints everywhere in the planet for a very long time.

Their industrialized farming has been producing unhealthy food while generating climate change. The effects are thoroughly unpleasant: insects, birds and small animals are steadily being driven towards extinction.

The logging of the world’s forests, no less than factory farming, disrupts and breaks down ecosystems, all but eliminating biological diversity and degrading land and life.

The damming of wild rivers unsettles water life and pushes countless species over the cliff.

As if these terrible practices, which “civilized” people do routinely, did not produce enough disruption and violence in the natural world, humans have been ravaging the land for petroleum, natural gas, coal, gold, silver, and other minerals.

War against the natural world in Alaska

It’s this political madness and ecological tsunami, the horror humans have been sowing in every wild land of the world, including the forests, rivers, and lands of the United States, that sets the stage for an additional and unusually horrific practice about to start in the parks of Alaska.

The Secretary of the US Department of the Interior, a Trump appointee by the name of David Bernhardt, signed a final rule June 11, 2020, that allows a dark age killing of bears, wolves and their cubs.

This is barbarism triumphant under the guise of restoring the authority of Alaska to do as it pleases with our national treasure of wildlife.

Hunters will be filling buckets with bait to attract bears in order to shoot them.

This reminds me of a story a friend told me of a similar barbaric practice in Michigan. Owners of gasoline stations attract deer with large carrots. Drivers buying gasoline shoot the deer from the comfort of their cars.

Listening to this story I thought he was making things up. But, no, he assured me, he witnessed such shameful affair. This put me in a bad mood.

How could these people be so cruel, so stone-dead in their feelings and emotions? Where did they grow up?

The evolving cruelty in Alaska confirms my friend’s story. The roots of violence against wildlife are deep and widespread.

Local and tourist hunters will soon be killing bears, wolves and their offspring in the vast national parks of Alaska.

This is a gift of the Trump administration, which made it legal to hunt these persecuted animals during the denning season.

Imagine TV-like explorers-hunters loaded with war pistols and guns and high tech flashlights entering holes in the ground or caves to shoot mama wolves and bears and their cubs.

What a tragedy, a charade, and paradigmatic act of utter stupidity. Could we say this is hidden hatred of compromised armed people for the animal emblems of wild freedom? Are these hunters hunting their nightmares or civilization itself?

Theresa Pierno, President and CEO of the National Parks Conservation Association, criticized the Trump administration, but she failed to express the anger of a person dedicated to protecting the threated animals. She was too diplomatic in describing the extraordinary vicious turn of policy:

“Amid the global pandemic, the Trump administration is declaring open season on bears and wolves, through their sport hunting rule on national parklands in Alaska….

“National preserve lands at Denali, Katmai, Gates of the Arctic… [in Alaska] are the very places where people travel from around the world, in hopes of seeing these iconic animals, alive in their natural habitat. Through this administration’s rule, [officials of] such treasured lands will now allow sport hunters to lure bears with greased donut bait piles to kill them, or crawl into hibernating bear dens to shoot bears and cubs.”

Trump above all  

This shameful and uncivilized behavior does fit the pattern of Trump, his administration, and his Republican Party and evangelical supporters. They are operating as if in a conquered territory.

Like the French monarch Louis XIV, Trump said I am the state. I can do anything I want. There’s no climate change. Corporations are right about the environment and pollution. I will follow their guidance.

In about 3.5 years, he reversed the modicum of theoretical and real environmental and public health protection Americans enjoyed.

He put this national dangerous policy into effect in the glare of television and lots of additional publicity. Most large media gloated over the tragic spectacle of a president ordering the demise of America. Yet, for the most part, these national televisions and newspapers have been treating him like a king.

I did not see demonstrations by either environmentalists or public health experts or citizens concerned with the rising pandemics of cancer, neurological disease, and the extinction of species. Climate change, the giant among environmental threats, did bring thousands in the streets of Europe and fewer in America.

This means TV advertisements, business practices and propaganda, and poisons in the food, drinking water, and air have diminished the intelligence of Americans – and people throughout the world. Otherwise, it’s impossible to explain these suicidal tendencies.

I consider the threats to our health and the health of the natural world the highest priorities of any civilized society. And yet, in the US House of Representatives “impeachment” of Trump, these existential threats directly linked to the Trump administration were ignored.

This undemocratic politics explains why Trump feels at home with both the virus pandemic and, potentially, ordering the military to take over the country. Like any other billionaire, Trump feels contempt for democracy.

As long as soldiers are in their barracks, Trump wants to be reelected. He is pleasing trophy hunters and Alaska elites that aspire to the total control of public wealth.

It is possible, though hard to document, that the projected visit of the president’s son, Donald Trump Jr., to Alaska for hunting mother grizzly bears and wolves and their cubs had something to do with the demolition of the slight protection these vulnerable animals enjoyed under previous administrations.

Trump’s son goes out of his way to kill wild animals. He even went to Mongolia where he hunted an endangered sheep.

The meaning of vicious hunting

The spectacle of the US government encouraging outrageous attacks on wildlife in Alaska tells us much more than the perverted habits of trophy hunters and the myopic and self-destructive politics of Alaska.

Killing animal mothers and cubs is an act of desperation. The killers have lost their humanity and a sense of living among other citizens under the rule of law. They have become what the Greeks defined as barbarians: people of incomprehensible speech and alien to civilization.

I like to think that Americans will have at least the sense of electing Joe Biden as our next president. His work will be much more difficult than I ever thought. He will be governing a country nearly unhinged by the Republicans, evangelicals, and their commander-in-chief, Trump.

Biden will have to tone down the Wall Street ideology of “me” for “us,” and, no less significant, embrace the environment and wildlife as foundations of our civilization.

Fight climate change and ban killings of mama wolves, grizzly bears and their cubs.

Mexican Wolf Recovery Tool Kit

PHOTO BY WILDEARTH GUARDIANS

Mexican Wolf Recovery Tool Kit

It’s a critical time for recovery of endangered Mexican gray wolves, so raise your voice to protect and defend lobos

Speak up for Wolves: Sign the Petition!

The Mexican gray wolf, or lobo, is one of the most endangered carnivores in the world. After lobos were nearly wiped out, reintroduction began in 1998 in remote areas of New Mexico and Arizona. Since then, recovery has been slow and turbulent. In 2015, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) decided that the only wild population of Mexican gray wolves in the U.S. was not essential to the recovery of Mexican gray wolves as a species. Guardians and our allies sued, and in 2018, a U.S. district judge told USFWS to go back to the drawing board to write a new management rule for the lobo. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is currently seeking comments on that new Mexican wolf management rule. This is our chance to make sure the agency gets recovery right, so please sign the petition!

Tweet for Lobos! 

We’ve assembled nine ready-to-go tweets, complete with inspiring images and a link to the petition. All you have to do is “grab-n-go” to help raise awareness and make a big difference in the defense of the lobos! P.S. These work great on Facebook, too!

Tweet #1

#Wolves keep the Gila wild! Celebrate the 96th anniversary of the Gila Wilderness in New Mexico by urging the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to protect the Gila’s most iconic resident—the critically endangered Mexican #wolf: https://guardiansaction.org/mexicanwolves #KeepItWild #StopExtinction


Tweet #2

Lobos are essential! Mexican gray #wolves are critical ecosystem influencers in the desert Southwest. They keep prey populations healthy and in balance, protect riparian and aquatic resources, and indicate the health of entire ecosystems. Take action: https://guardiansaction.org/mexicanwolves



Tweet #3

Humans are the largest obstacle to recovering Mexican #wolves. Along with illegal trapping, poaching and vehicular mortalities, politically motivated ‘recovery’ plans have put lobos in a precarious position. Take action to help get #wolf recovery right: https://guardiansaction.org/mexicanwolves

Tweet #4

Real recovery for Mexican #wolves would include three distinct, but connected populations. Along with lobos‘ current range in the Greater Gila Bioregion, the Grand Canyon area and the Southern Rockies are identified as prime habitat. Help make it happen: https://guardiansaction.org/mexicanwolves



Tweet #5

Mexican #wolves in the wild are, on average, as related as brothers and sisters. Though lobos numbers are slowly increasing, the greatest indicator of a successful #wolf recovery effort is the genetic health of the wild population. Support real recovery: https://guardiansaction.org/mexicanwolves



Tweet #6

Recovery of wild Mexican gray #wolves is at a critical juncture as the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has released a draft #wolf management rule for the Southwest. Help defend lobos! Submit your comment: https://guardiansaction.org/mexicanwolves Register for our webinar: https://guardiansaction.org/wolf-webinar



Tweet #7

To truly recover Mexican gray #wolves a new management rule should be based on the best available science and prioritize enhancing the genetic diversity of the wild lobo population. Raise your voice to make sure Mexican #wolf recovery is done right: https://guardiansaction.org/mexicanwolves


Tweet #8

Did you know that the Mexican gray wolf, or lobo, is the most endangered gray #wolf in North America and one of the most endangered carnivores in the world? Tell the @USFWS we need a new management rule that will actually recover Mexican #wolves: https://guardiansaction.org/mexicanwolves


Tweet #9

Almost a century after Aldo Leopold shot a Mexican #wolf in the Gila, only 163 of these wolves exist in the wild. The fierce green fire he saw in the wolf’s eyes still flickers in the #wolves who roam the Greater Gila today. Help support full recovery: https://guardiansaction.org/mexicanwolves


Amplify YOUR Voice for Wolves: Write a Letter to the Editor

Letters to the editor (LTE) are a great way to share your perspective and encourage others to speak up for lobos. It’s easy, fast, and effective—all you have to do is write your short perspective on why wolves deserve more protections and why the southwest needs more wolves. Be sure to mention that U.S. Fish and Wildlife is taking public comments on wolf management right now and comments can be submitted here: https://guardiansaction.org/mexicanwolf

You can submit your letter to your local outlet, or if you are not from the region, submit it to a statewide outlet. Here are direct links to submission forms, note that different papers have different word count limits.

New Mexico

Arizona

LTE Talking Points: Here are key elements of a new lobo management rule that will help truly recover and restore Mexican wolves to their historic range. Please use these talking points as a guideline for drafting your individual LTE, but what’s most important is that your voice and your reason for wanting lobo recovery come through. So, please speak in your own words, but make sure to emphasis the fact that a new Mexican wolf management rule must achieve the following:

Release more wolves into the wild

  • Releasing adult wolf pairs with pups is the only way to help diversify the genetics of wild wolves.

Limit the removal of wild wolves

  • Wolf removal, whether for crossing arbitrary political boundaries or being accused of livestock depredation when ranchers are reckless, is unacceptable.

Protect lobos from poaching

  • Lobos’ greatest threat is human-caused mortality. U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service needs to do better to protect wolves from illegal killings.

Reduce wolf-livestock conflict

  • Wolves are native carnivores highly adapted to the desert southwest. They should not bear the burden of livestock-wildlife conflict when non-native cows are grazing on public lands without protection.

Wolves need to be designated as “essential” to the recovery of the species in the wild

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.