Oregon wolf found dead; cause of death unknown

OR42, the breeding female of the Chesnimnus Pack, had her failed radio-collar replaced on Feb. 23, 2017 in the Chesnimnus WMU in northern Wallowa County. (ODFW/CC BY-SA 2.0)

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ENTERPRISE, Ore. – The breeding female from an Oregon wolf pack was found dead earlier this month, the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife said.

OR42 from the Chesnimnus Pack was found dead in Wallowa County in early May, ODFW said in a press release Tuesday.

“A preliminary forensic examination did not identify a cause of death and no foul play is suspected at this time,” the agency said in the statement. “However, it is still under investigation and additional laboratory tests are being conducted.”

OR42 had her radio collar replaced in February 2017.

Two other wolves in the pack have collars that allow biologists to track their movements.

Study: To Mitigate Problem Predators, Give Wolves More Space, Tolerance

http://klcc.org/post/study-mitigate-problem-predators-give-wolves-more-space-tolerance

MAY 23, 2017

Wolves mostly make the news when they are in conflict with livestock and that’s part of the reason they were once removed from the Western landscape. But a new study shows wolves play an important role, whether we like it or not.

It’s not just wolves that prey on livestock.

“Worldwide, smaller meso-predators like coyotes, jackals and such, actually themselves prey pretty heavily on livestock and can cause a lot of economic damage,” Aaron Wirsing of the University of Washington said.

Wirsing co-authored a new study in the journal Nature Communications. He said current land management policies don’t offer apex predators enough space, but that doesn’t mean he wants to see wolves roaming rampant across North America.

“We need to allow predators to occupy more landscapes than just remote, protected areas,” Wirsing said. “On the other hand, we also need to heavily manage them, recognizing that they do conflict with people.”

That conflict made headlines last summer, when members of the Profanity Peak wolf pack killed four calves in Northeastern Washington. In response, Washington’s Department of Fish decided to shoot members of that pack from a helicopter.

“Historically, our model has been almost a postage stamp model where we protect certain areas and try to maintain intact assemblages of animals,” Wirsing said. “But we have a problem of scale.”

So, for example, areas protected for wildlife and public use might seem large from a human perspective, but what humans ay not consider is wolves can range up to 1,000 miles.

And it’s not only in the forest. Wirsing said wolves also roam the sage brush landscape in the central Northwest.

The study made use of bounty hunting data to show ecosystems function similarly in both Europe and Australia as well.

Copyright 2017 NWNews. To see more, visit NWNews.

Yellowstone wolf family tree and genealogy available online

BILLINGS, Mont. (AP) — Her parents may have been killed by her mate and his family. Her daughter was shot. Now she’s dead and her killing is under investigation.

Although the details may sound like the story line for a soap opera, a Shakespearean play or even the historical dirty deeds of Europe’s competing monarchies, it’s actually the tale of one of Yellowstone National Park’s well-known wolves — the white alpha female of the Canyon pack. Now, details of the park’s individual wolves and their inter-relatedness can be found in one place: online at Ancestry.com, a website formerly reserved for rooting out human family trees.

“People love their wolves,” said Jim Halfpenny, the founder of the Yellowstone Wolf Genealogy Family Tree.

That’s a sentiment Yellowstone officials have recognized, as well.

“I am amazed at the interest level in Yellowstone wolves,” said biologist Doug Smith, who leads the Yellowstone Wolf Project. “It’s insatiable.”

He noted that questionnaires distributed by the park in the early 2000s revealed that about 300,000 come to Yellowstone hoping to see wolves. Park interpreters annually talk to anywhere from 30,000 to 50,000 people a year about wolves.

It’s easy to see why there’s such an interest, Smith told The Billings Gazette.

“If you come to Yellowstone and put in a few days, you can see a wolf — and that’s pretty remarkable.”

The popularity of his genealogy charts became apparent to Halfpenny, a Gardiner-based biologist, after he started recording the lineage of Yellowstone’s wolves when they were first reintroduced to the park in 1995 and 1996.

“Through the years I’ve produced these laminated charts, selling about 4,000 a year,” he said. Now folks can order them online.

He updates the data yearly, using information gathered from multiple sources, including the Yellowstone Wolf Project. That’s no small task considering there can be more than 100 wolves scattered across the park’s 2.2 million acres (890,308 hectares) each year. At their population peak there were more than 170 wolves inside Yellowstone.

“We started out trying to do it by volunteers, and it was too overwhelming,” Halfpenny said.

So using a Kickstarter project to fund development — 273 people contributed more than $26,000 — Halfpenny was able to “put online the lives, pedigrees and genealogy of the Yellowstone wolves for access of all fans,” according to the website. The digital information is “enormous in scope and the first of its kind in the world.”

Those interested can go to www.wolfgenes.info to learn more about the project. Perusing Ancestry.com requires the payment of a membership fee. The information is also now available on a cellphone app allowing wolf devotees to carry the data with them into the field.

Smith said he hadn’t been able to check out the website yet but noted that building family trees and genealogy for wolves that have never been captured and had their DNA tested — such as the white alpha female from the Canyon pack — means some of the data isn’t scientifically valid. Each year about 40 percent of Yellowstone’s wolves are captured and have DNA samples taken.

“For scientific purposes, this probably is not the place to go,” Smith said. “For avid wolf watchers this is great. And he’s probably right most of the time.”

But the park has to be more conservative in its approach to linking individuals, he added.

Halfpenny admitted that observations by even hardcore wolf watchers are sometimes incorrect. For example, a wolf spotted in 2007 was believed to be a female. When found dead it turned out the wolf was a male.

Although the stories of known wolves are presented on the website, Halfpenny said it is the “interconnections that are just amazing” to him.

Take the earlier mentioned alpha female of the Canyon pack as an example. She was found seriously injured inside the park near Gardiner on April 11.

Park officials euthanized the white wolf because her injuries were so severe.

A necropsy later revealed she had been shot. Two $5,000 rewards, one from the National Park Service and another from a private group, have been offered for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the wolf’s killer.

Even before her tragic death, the 12-year-old wolf had led a life worthy of an epic poem. Two years after being born into the Hayden pack her parents were killed by the rival Mollie’s pack. This is known as intraspecific mortality, when wolves kill wolves, and accounts for about 42 percent of all wolf deaths in Yellowstone — more than any other single factor.

The white female is believed to have later bred with an unknown black wolf from Mollie’s pack — the same wolves that had killed her parents.

For some reason the white alpha female’s first pairing didn’t last, and she found a new mate, who also was a member of the Mollie’s pack — 712M. Together with another Mollie’s male in 2008 they formed the Canyon pack in the center of the park.

It took two years for the Canyon pack to successfully raise a litter of three pups past a year old. One would later become the white alpha female of the Wapiti Lake pack who would eventually displace her own parents from their Canyon pack homeland.

In 2011 the Canyon pack produced two more pups, one of which was a female that seemed especially enamored with her father, earning her the nickname Daddy’s Girl. At age 2 this female wolf was shot by a rancher north of Gardiner.

“In 2016 this amazing alpha pair produced two more pups in their new denning area at the advanced ages of 11 and 10 (the Canyon Alpha Female was the older of the two),” according to the Yellowstone Wolf Genealogy site. “2016 also represented another milestone: the Canyon Alpha Female and 712M had been together as an alpha pair for eight years, making them the longest mated pair on record for Yellowstone wolves.” The female is believed to have given birth to at least 13 pups over the course of her life.

There’s rarely a happy ending in a wolf’s short life, though. Rejected by her own pack this past winter, the alpha female was seen roaming the Gardiner area alone, sometimes feeding on roadkill. Her mate, “712M was last seen in January 2017 just east of Mammoth Hot Springs. He would be 11 years old in April 2017,” the website noted.

The oldest known wolf in Yellowstone, 478F, lived to age 12.5. The average lifespan for park wolves is two to three years.

“I’m fascinated with it, following the family lines,” Halfpenny said.

The intrigues include female wolves mating with their fathers, grandfathers and even brothers.

“There are all sorts of complexities to this,” he said.

For each wolf recorded on the website there is a life story to be read, as well as facts and a photo gallery if shots are available. Adapting such complex family relations to a website was a challenge since the Ancestry.com formula was set up for humans who give birth to about one offspring a year, not 4.4 a year, which is the average litter size for Yellowstone wolves.

“So we had to work around problems like that,” Halfpenny said.

He compared the information to tracking the Smith family tree for all of North America.

Kootenay conservation officers believe someone intentionally poisoning wolves

2 wolves dead of suspected poisoning; officers believe there may be more

By Matt Meuse, CBC News <http://www.cbc.ca/news/cbc-news-online-news-staff-list-1.1294364> Posted: May 18, 2017 1:55 PM PT Last Updated: May 18, 2017 1:55 PM PT

Conservation officers in B.C.’s East Kootenay region say someone appears to have left poison in a wolf travel corridor in order to kill wolves moving through the area. <https://i.cbc.ca/1.3961702.1485969914%21/fileImage/httpImage/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/16x9_620/lone-wolves.jpg>

Conservation officers in B.C.’s East Kootenay region say someone appears to have left poison in a wolf travel corridor in order to kill wolves moving through the area. (Shutterstock / Dennis W Donohue)

Conservation officers in B.C.’s East Kootenay are investigating after the discovery of two wolves they believe were intentionally poisoned.

Conservation officer Greg Kruger said poison was first discovered in early March in the Dutch Creek region, west of Canal Flats — an area known for its active wolf population.

“Where all these … poison containers have been found are all areas that we know are wolf travel corridors,” Kruger said. “So our investigation is looking at someone specifically targeting the wolf population.”

Discovered by dog owner

Kruger said a man contacted them in early March after his dog found and ate from something that looked like a white cupcake container in the area.

“Within a few minutes, that dog became ill [and] started having convulsions,” Kruger said.

The dog was treated by a vet and survived. Conservation officers investigated the area, and, over the course of a few weeks, found 17 different batches of poison along the same road within several kilometres of each other.

Kruger said a sample of the suspected poison tested positive for strychnine — a toxic chemical commonly used in rat poison.

Likely more dead wolves, poison traps

Then, in early April, two wolf carcasses were reported to conservation officers by members of the public.

Kruger said toxicology tests have not yet come back, but officers suspect poisoning, as there is no evidence of any other cause of death.

Kruger says it’s likely there are more dead wolves in less publicly accessible places that have yet to be discovered — and possibly more poison.

“[The containers we found] are all white, so we believe they were placed in the snow to blend in so they wouldn’t be detected,” Kruger said. “We’ve only found them since the snow has started to melt.”

Kruger asked anyone with information to contact the East Kootenay Conservation Officer Service.

He said under the Wildlife Act anyone found to be intentionally poisoning wolves could face a fine of up to $1 million and more than a year in jail.

http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/british-columbia/kootenay-wolf-poisonings-1.4121946

Portland howls for the future of Oregon wolves (Guest opinion)

http://www.oregonlive.com/opinion/index.ssf/2017/05/portland_howls_for_the_future.html

A wolf pack is pictured earlier this year on a remote camera in Hells Canyon National Recreation Area.
A wolf pack is pictured earlier this year on a remote camera in Hells Canyon National Recreation Area.(Courtesy of ODFW)

By Quinn Read

Wolves were once abundant throughout Oregon, but by the 1940s they were wiped out by hunters, poisoning campaigns and bounties. Thanks to conservation efforts by a variety of local, state and federal agencies and organizations, wolves are making a comeback in Oregon. Yet a draft plan threatens to turn back the clock on wolf recovery by weakening protections and opening the door to hunting and trapping.

At a public hearing in Portland on May 19, Oregonians can weigh in on the draft Oregon Wolf Conservation and Management Plan, which will guide how wolves are managed in the state for at least the next five years. Since wolves were removed from Oregon’s endangered species list a year ago, the wolf population appears to have stagnated. This year’s Oregon wolf count shows three fewer breeding pairs and one fewer pack in the state, though severe weather made surveying difficult. These numbers show we cannot take wolf recovery in Oregon for granted.

The draft Wolf Plan is heading in the wrong direction. It ignores the impacts of wolf poaching in the state and includes terms requested by hunting proponents as “a foot in the door” for a future general wolf hunting season. The draft would allow private hunters and trappers to carry out state-sanctioned killings of wolves to address so-called chronic livestock depredations. This means three or more livestock deaths caused by wolves within a year, but the new policy would also include a lower standard for determining whether livestock deaths were caused by wolves. Moreover, the state could issue permits to kill wolves if there are declines in elk and deer populations, even when wolves are not the primary reason for these declines. This is a clear departure from what the majority of Oregonians want for wolves in our state.

The draft Wolf Plan does have some promising components, including expanded descriptions of non-lethal tools such as livestock-guarding dogs and fencing to minimize wolf-livestock conflicts, detailed direction to reinitiate state protections when wolf populations decline, and the formation of a citizen advisory group to foster ongoing communication and collaboration among stakeholders.

The Oregon Fish and Wildlife Commission should reject proposals that make it easier for the public to kill wolves, and should instead focus on new data, scientific research and lessons learned in Oregon. Oregon is a national leader in wolf recovery and has documented fewer wolf-livestock conflicts than any other wolf-occupied state in the nation. The updated Wolf Plan should reflect our conservation leadership and strengthen – not weaken – requirements for the use of non-lethal coexistence tools. Oregonians have a unique opportunity to speak out on behalf of wolves. Let’s not slide backwards towards a culture that favors killing wolves over protecting them.

Quinn Read is a northwest representative for Defenders of Wildlife.

‘White Lady’ wolf shot dead prompts Yellowstone reward

http://www.bbc.com/news/world-us-canada-39930372

  • 15 May 2017
  • White LadyImage copyrightYELLOWSTONE NATIONAL PARK
Image captionThe so-called White Lady was a hit with tourists

A $5,000 (£3,900) reward has been put up for information on how a rare white wolf at Yellowstone National Park was shot dead.

The female was one of three white wolves in the park and had 14 living pups, wildlife officials say.

The reward comes after initial results of a necropsy show the so-called White Lady was shot around 10 April.

“She was one of the most recognisable wolves and sought after by visitors to view and photograph,” the park said.

“Due to the serious nature of this incident, a reward of up to $5,000 is offered for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the individual(s) responsible for this criminal act,” said Yellowstone National Park Superintendent Dan Wenk.

At 12 years old, she had lived for more than twice the average lifespan of a wolf in Yellowstone, officials say.

The Canyon Pack Alpha, as she was known to wildlife researchers (and as The White Lady to tourists), was found by hikers on 11 April.

Wildlife officials were not able to save its life, and the wolf was put down.

Her remains were brought to a US Fish & Wildlife Service Forensics Laboratory in Oregon for a necropsy, where officials determined that it had been mortally wounded by a hunter’s rifle.

As of 2014, researchers had documented at least 104 wolves in 11 packs located within the park.

White wolfImage copyrightYELLOWSTONE/ FACEBOOK
Image captionShe had birthed 20 cubs, 14 of which lived past the age of one

The wolves were reintroduced in Yellowstone in 1995, having been eradicated by hunters.

Advocates of wolves say the presence of predators helps balance the ecosystem, and leads to healthier populations of other wild animals.

Opponents say they are a threat to humans, pets and livestock.


Read more

Media captionHere’s how the bison have been reintroduced into the wild

Denmark gets its first wild wolf pack in 200 years

Arrival of a female wolf, that trekked 500km from Germany, means the pack could have cubs by spring

Three wolves in snow
Wolves are returning to well-peopled landscapes after centuries of persecution. Photograph: Fred van Wijk/Alamy Stock Photo

A wolf pack is roaming wild in Denmark for the first time in more than 200 years after a young female wolf journeyed 500km from Germany.

Male wolves have been seen in Denmark since 2012 and the new female could produce cubs this spring in farmland in west Jutland after two wolves were filmed together last autumn.

It is further evidence that the wolf is returning to well-peopled landscapes after centuries of persecution, with wolf packs also re-establishing themselves in France and Germany and individuals sighted in Holland and even Luxembourg. Before the new population, Denmark’s last wolf was killed in 1813.

“We expect that they will have cubs this year or the next,” said Peter Sunde, a senior researcher at Aarhus University.

“People were very surprised when wolves first appeared in Denmark but they are highly mobile and are just as adaptable to cultural landscapes as foxes are. The only problem historically is that we killed them.”

DNA from two faeces samples have confirmed that the female wolf came from a pack 25km south of Berlin in Germany before travelling to north-west Denmark, probably leaving her family group last spring to do so.

There is sometimes speculation that wolves are deliberately released into the countryside by unofficial rewilders but according to Guillaume Chapron, a researcher at the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, this female’s trek north was entirely natural. “The wolf went on its four legs, it makes complete biological sense,” he said. Wolves can walk 50km in 24 hours and have been recorded making journeys of more than 1,000km across Europe from Germany, where they re-established themselves in 1998. Germany’s wolf population is currently growing at 25-30% each year, with the young dispersing across central Europe.

Researchers have found wolves in some cases living in suburban areasalongside up to 3,050 people per square kilometre – higher than the population density of Cambridge or Newcastle.

“The wolf is a predator to the roe deer – if you can have roe deer, you can have wolves,” said Chapron. “As long as we don’t disturb them, they will be fine in these human-dominated landscapes. In Denmark there’s no reason wolves can’t thrive. But the question has to be asked, are people going to accept the wolves? The wolf will need to eat something. When they realise that Danish sheep don’t taste too bad that may be a little problematic. It will be interesting to see how far we can coexist with big predators.”

Denmark’s wolves have settled in a well-farmed area of heathland and small pine plantations with plentiful prey in the form of burgeoning populations of red and roe deer.

There have been reports of wolves killing several sheep in the area over winter but the Danish government has already established a wolf management plan with compensation for farmers and funding so livestock farmers can erect wolf-proof fencing. The management plan, drawn up in consultation with game hunters as well as farmers and conservationists, allows for wolves that become “habituated” and live too close to humans to be controlled.

“There is a tradition in Denmark of reaching compromises and reaching solutions,” added Sunde, who said he was optimistic that Danes could coexist peacefully with wolves. “Technically, we can relatively easily manage the wolf population but the challenge is the psychology of humans. There are so many feelings and opinions about wolves in Denmark, as everywhere. The wolf debate is very much value-driven rather than related to concrete problems.”

There are more than 12,000 wolves in continental Europe (excluding Russia, Ukraine and Belarus) and the wolf is a protected species under the EU’s habitats directive. According to Chapron, southern European countries have often been better at accepting new wolf populations than northern Europe. Several countries with relatively small wolf populations including Finland and Norway still pursue controversial annual culls of the animals.

Chapron said he would not like to predict how many wolves could live wild in Denmark. “Let the wolf decide and let people decide as well because we are sharing the landscape. It’s very positive news for nature conservation. It shows that attitudes have changed and when we let nature take care of itself, nature comes back.

“Forget Little Red Riding Hood – it’s not a myth that is back, it’s just a natural part of the European fauna.”

Researcher files complaint against WSU

WSU’s leading wolf expert Robert Wielgus filed a complaint today detailing harassment and threats from WSU administrators following his public statements about wolf killings in the fall.

Wielgus is a WSU professor and director of the Large Carnivore Conservation Laboratory. Wielgus’ research has been considered in the drafting and implementation of the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife’s (WDFW) Gray Wolf Conservation and Management Plan and he is an adviser to the state’s Wolf Advisory Group, according to the complaint.

The 12-page complaint, sent to the WSU Faculty Status Committee by the Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER) on Friday, urges the Faculty Senate committee to investigate the actions of WSU administrators against the professor’s academic freedom and recommend disciplinary actions for the administrators.

Adam Carlesco, PEER staff counsel and the author of the complaint, said he has not yet received a response from the committee. Robert Rosenman, co-chair of the Faculty Status Committee, said all investigations by the committee are confidential, according to their bylaws.

Faculty Senate Chair A.G. Rud said he plans to talk to the Senate executive committee about this next week.

“I am not holding out a tremendous amount of hope that the Senate will do its job [in evaluating the complaint],” Carlesco said.

Carlesco said that according to the WSU Faculty Manual, there must initially be internal discussions in this process, which Wielgus already had with College of Agriculture, Human and Natural Resource Sciences (CAHNRS) Dean Ron Mittelhammer.

“[Wielgus’s] protestations fell on deaf ears,” Carlesco said.

WSU News Director Rob Strenge declined to comment and said this is a CAHNRS faculty issue.

Marta Coursey, CAHNRS communication director, said this is a personnel matter and, according to policy, the college doesn’t publicly discuss personnel issues in order to protect WSU faculty and staff confidentiality and privacy.

“CAHNRS administration is currently reviewing Dr. Wielgus’ communications and performance with respect to his roles and responsibilities as a WSU faculty member,” Coursey said.

Carlesco said WSU officials and the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) researchers had a verbal agreement to shut down Wielgus’s lab and give the research funding to the University of Washington.

“Litigation is not out of the picture on this matter,” Carlesco said.

The official complaint alleges 10 violations committed by WSU President Kirk Schulz, Mittelhammer and CAHNRS Associate Dean Jim Moyer, mainly following two public statements Wielgus made in the past year about wolf pack killings in Northeast Washington.

The first statement was about the killing of a gray wolf pack by the WDFW at Profanity Peak in August. Wielgus criticized a rancher in the area, whom the professor said released his cattle on top of the Profanity Peak wolf pack’s den. Wilegus argued that the wolf pack’s death could have been avoided, and that the rancher refused to cooperate with his lab or the WDFW in avoiding such confrontations, according to the complaint.

Wielgus said his comments about this created a “firestorm,” according to a Daily Evergreen article. WSU disavowed his comments, stating the rancher did not release his cattle onto the wolf den, but four miles from it, and that the rancher cooperated with WDFW. The university publicly accused Wielgus of “inaccurate and inappropriate” statements in a news release.

Wielgus made the second statement when recommending wolf preservation pratices to the Wolf Advisory Group in March. The university alleged that this qualified as illegal lobbying activity because he sent it from his WSU email address.

One of the 10 violations listed in the complaint states that CAHNRS administrators and Schulz approved funding restrictions denying Wielgus summer funding or grant research money for his lab.

According to the complaint, there is no reasonable way under the Faculty Manual’s academic freedom policy to reconcile the administrators’ actions, which the complaint alleges were motivated by political pressure.

In 2013, Moyer made it clear that Wielgus was considered a political target of state Rep. Joel Kretz (R), the livestock industry, and possibly the WSU College of Agriculture, according to the complaint.

On Aug. 23, 2014, a female member of the Huckleberry wolf pack in Northeast Washington was shot and killed by a WDFW-hired marksman, as the pack had been preying on a flock of 1,800 sheep, according to the WDFW website.

According to the complaint, Gov. Jay Inslee then asked Wielgus for clarification on the inconsistencies in the reports published by the WDFW on the matter and others who were involved. In briefing Inslee’s office on his findings, Wielgus showed the misrepresentations the WDFW made in its reports, causing several of the department’s officials to resign.

After Wielgus presented his research to the legislature in 2015, Kretz told former WSU President Elson S. Floyd that he wanted to shut down Wielgus’ lab and stop its research, according to the complaint. Kretz introduced a provision to a bill that led to less funding for the lab, according to the complaint.

Brendon Wold, Kretz’s public information officer, declined to comment.

Carlesco said there is “ample precedent” for WSU suppressing a professor’s first amendment rights, bringing up a case filed in 2013, according to the case publication.

Wielgus stated in the complaint that he would like the matter settled amicably without resorting to litigation. For now, Wielgus said he is not commenting on the matter himself.

Also:

http://thehill.com/policy/energy-environment/331068-trump-starts-rollback-of-obamas-offshore-drilling-restrictions

Wolves can be shot on sight in most of Wyoming after state takes over management

Wyoming assumed management once again of wolves within its borders on Tuesday, and those apex predators wandering outside the northwest corner of the state can be shot on sight.

The Circuit Court of Appeals in Washington, D.C., entered its final order in favor of Wyoming in a lawsuit that landed wolves back on the endangered species list in 2014. The court announced in early March that it had upheld the state’s plan but had not issued its final order.

Tuesday’s decision is what Wyoming wolf managers hope is the last legal battle in a roller-coaster legal process.

“All indications are that this decision shows once again that Wyoming’s plan is a sound management plan,” said Brian Nesvik, chief of the Wyoming Game and Fish Department’s wildlife division. “They will remain in the hands of state management. For Wyoming this is, again, this is a time for us to celebrate. This is a good thing for Wyoming to be able to take on another wildlife resource.”

No changes were made to Wyoming’s wolf management plan from when the state oversaw the carnivores between 2012 and 2014, Nesvik said.

That means Wyoming will manage the 100 wolves and 10 breeding pairs outside of Yellowstone National Park and the Wind River Reservation.

Wolves in 85 percent of the state are considered a predator and can be shot on sight, similar to coyotes. They are classified as a trophy animal in the northwest corner of the state and subject to fall hunting seasons. Those seasons have not yet been set, Nesvik said, adding that wolves in those areas cannot be hunted right now. The Wyoming Game and Fish Commission will set those seasons after a public comment period.

A coalition of environmental groups sued Wyoming in 2012 over the state’s management plan. A representative for the group said in early March the coalition was disappointed with the D.C. court’s ruling, said Tim Preso, an attorney for Earthjustice, a nonprofit law firm representing Defenders of Wildlife and several other environmental groups who filed suit against the state.

Earthjustice’s lawyers argued, essentially, that Wyoming’s plan to maintain a buffer of more wolves than the required amount was not legally binding and insufficient under the Endangered Species Act. The court ruled that Wyoming’s plan was adequate, and environmental groups did not appeal the decision.

Preliminary estimates showed Wyoming had about 240 wolves at the end of 2016, Tyler Abbott, Wyoming field supervisor for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, told the Star-Tribune in March.

The feds killed about 115 wolves in 2016 because of livestock depredations, he said. In 2015, the service killed about 54 wolves.

Because of the high number of wolves killed by the Fish and Wildlife Service, Nesvik estimates hunting season quotas this fall will be similar to those before wolves went back on the list.

In 2012, 42 wolves were killed by hunters in the state’s trophy area and 25 were killed in the rest of the state. The next year, 24 wolves were shot in the trophy area and 39 taken in the rest of the state.

Gov. Matt Mead expressed his satisfaction with the court’s decision in a news release sent Tuesday evening.

“I am delighted that the Circuit Court recognized Wyoming’s commitment to manage a recovered wolf population,” Mead said. “Our wolf management plan is a result of years of hard work by people across Wyoming. We recognize the need to maintain a healthy wolf population.”

Wolves were reintroduced into Yellowstone in 1995. They have been off the endangered species list in Montana and Idaho since 2011.

Wolf Pup Born in Missouri Offers Hope for Endangered Breed

https://www.usnews.com/news/us/articles/2017-04-24/wolf-pup-born-in-missouri-offers-hope-for-endangered-breed

A Mexican wolf born this month at a wildlife center in suburban St. Louis is offering new hope for repopulating the endangered species through artificial insemination using sperm that had been frozen.

| April 24, 2017, at 4:10 p.m.

Wolf Pup Born in Missouri Offers Hope for Endangered Breed
The Associated Press

Regina Mossotti, director of animal care and conservation at the Endangered Wolf Center, holds a Mexican wolf born April 2 at the facility Monday, April 24, 2017, in Eureka, Mo. The wolf was conceived by artificial insemination which is offering new hope for repopulating the endangered species by using sperm that had been frozen. (AP Photo/Jeff Roberson) THE ASSOCIATED PRESS

 

By JIM SALTER, Associated Press

EUREKA, Mo. (AP) — A Mexican wolf born this month at a wildlife center in suburban St. Louis is offering new hope for repopulating the endangered species through artificial insemination using frozen sperm.

The Mexican wolf population once roamed Mexico and the western U.S. in the thousands but was nearly wiped out by the 1970s, largely from decades of hunting, trapping and poisoning. Commonly known as “El Lobos,” the species, distinguished by a smaller, more narrow skull and its gray and brown coloring, was designated an endangered species in 1976.

Even today, only 130 Mexican wolves live in the wild and another 220 live in captivity, including 20 at the Endangered Wolf Center in Eureka, Missouri.

A litter of Mexican wolves was conceived by artificial insemination in Mexico in 2014. But the birth April 2 at the Missouri center was the first-ever for the breed using frozen semen.

Regina Mossotti, director of animal care and conservation at the center, learned for the first time Monday that the pup is a boy. He’s gaining weight — now at 4.7 pounds after being less than 1 pound at birth — and appears to be progressing well, she said after an exam of the wiggly pup, which has not yet been named.

“He’s big and strong and healthy!” Mossotti said as other wolves howled from a distance.

The center has collaborated with the other organizations for 20 years to freeze semen of Mexican wolves. The semen is stored at the St. Louis Zoo’s cryopreservation gene bank, established specifically for the long-term conservation of endangered species.

A procedure to inseminate the mom, Vera, was performed Jan. 27.

“The technology has finally caught up,” Mossotti said.

It’s a big deal, experts say, because using frozen semen allows scientists to draw from a larger pool of genes, even from wolves that have died.

Mossotti said it’s possible the new pup will eventually be moved to the wild, where it would feed largely on elk, deer and other large hoofed mammals. An adult Mexican wolf will weigh 60 to 80 pounds.

The Fish and Wildlife Service began reintroducing Mexican wolves in New Mexico and Arizona starting in 1998, though the effort has been hurt by everything from politics to illegal killings and genetics. Many of the wolves in the wild have genetic ties to the suburban St. Louis center.

The nonprofit was founded in 1971 by zoologist Marlin Perkins, a St. Louis native best known as the host of TV’s “Mutual of Omaha Wild Kingdom.” Perkins died in 1986.

Mossotti said wolves are a “keystone” species that play a vital role in a healthy ecosystem. She said the caricature of the “Big, Bad Wolf” is a myth about an animal that actually shuns humans.

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