Feds investigating shooting of a possible gray wolf in Marshall County

4A 3 col color WOLF.jpeg
Britton-area man Mike Werner shot and killed this animal that may be a gray wolf. Officials with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service are investigating the case, according to a state conservation officer. (Courtesy photo)

A Britton-area man is caught up in a federal investigation after shooting an animal that may be a gray wolf.

Mike Werner said he was hunting coyotes by a slough near Clear Lake in Marshall County on Jan. 13 when he shot and killed what he thought was a bigger, dark coyote that came up behind him about 100 yards away.

Immediately after shooting the animal, Werner said he realized it was much larger than a coyote and resembled a wolf.

Officials with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service are investigating the case.

Casey Dowler, a conservation officer with the state Game, Fish and Parks Department in Marshall County, said the animal is being tested at a federal lab.

Dowler would not give anymore information on the case since there is an active federal investigation into the shooting of the animal.

GFP Conservation Officer Supervisor Mike Klosowski said harvesting, trapping or recreational hunting of wolves is illegal.

Klosowski said any case involving gray wolves falls under the management of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. He said GFP has no wolf management authority at this time.

“So when we have an incident where a gray wolf is killed by a member of the public, we’d likely respond to the call, do a preliminary investigation then pass it off to Fish and Wildlife Service,” Klosowski said. “Then they would do any kind of prosecution on their end, or not prosecute on their end.”

Klosowski said gray wolf sightings are uncommon in northeastern South Dakota, but transient wolves do come through the state from time to time.

“To the east we have Minnesota. Northern Minnesota has a healthy population of gray wolves,” he said. “Then when you go out west near Yellowstone National Park, you have a very healthy population of wolves out there too.”

He explained that wolves are known to venture away from their pack to start their own pack in a new territory.

 Although gray wolves have not established populations in South Dakota, the species is still illegal to kill in the state.

Klosowski said if the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service were to prosecute someone for killing a gray wolf the case would go to court.

Knowing that wolves are protected under the Endangered Species Act and in South Dakota, Werner said he left the animal where it was shot and called the local game warden.

Werner said the animal had an old trapping injury on its foot, where it was missing a couple toes and part of its foot pad.

On another foot, the animal had a trapping device. Werner believes the animal was trapped and was able to break free of the chains that kept him immobilized.

Werner said if the lab testing results show the animal to be a dog-coyote hybrid, he will be able to take the animal home.

Officials with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service were unable to comment on the ongoing investigation.

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The snarling war between cattle ranchers and conservationists over wolves

By Nigel Duara Jan 24, 2018

About 23 years ago, the United States embarked on an experiment: What would happen if U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service released grey wolves in the West?

The results were… mixed.

To their credit, the wolves have successfully controlled the grass-munching elk and deer populations of the Northern Rockies, leaving more habitat available for other species, like bugs and beneficial algae.

But the wolves, it turns out, aren’t that picky when it comes to dinner, and ranchers’ cows make for easy targets. So states have had to readjust. In states like Idaho, for example, ranchers are permitted to protect their herds by killing wolves, and some states also allow wolf trophy hunts in an effort to further thin the packs.

But in Oregon, ranchers have found themselves caught between a snarling rock and a hard regulation — the wolves killing cows on their grazing grounds, and the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife, which has strict rules against killing them in all but the rarest circumstances.

The ranchers who keep losing cattle to wolves, and the residents of Eastern Oregon who rely on the economy created by the cattle industry, have long argued the state of Oregon should loosen the rules.

And for the first time, starting last year, the state allowed for just that. But when four wolves from the Harl Butte Pack of northeastern Oregon were killed, environmentalists decried the wolf killings as unnecessary and cruel.

Still, ranchers here hope it’s just the start.

Hunters and severe winters — not wolves — key to Wisconsin’s deer numbers

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When it comes to gray wolves and white-tailed deer, there are enough deep-seated beliefs to fill the Dells of the Wisconsin River.

Some of them, like many of the acts in the nearby town, are based more on fiction than fact.—

Here’s one: The wolves are killing all the deer in northern Wisconsin.

It’s not a new refrain, but it’s one I continue to hear from some of my hunting colleagues each year.

Now in late summer 2017, as bucks begin to lose their velvet and wolf pups start to venture out more with adults, conditions are ripe to discuss trends in both species.

In a word, both are “up.”

There are 480,273 deer in the 18-county northern forest management zone, according to the 2017 pre-hunt population estimate from the Department of Natural Resources.

The 2017 number represents an 18% year-over-year increase.

The population of wolves, as you may know, is at an all-time high in Wisconsin. The DNR in June reported a record high of at least 925 wolves, most of which are in northern Wisconsin.

The latest wolf report represents a 6% increase from 2015-’16 and a 24% rise from 2014-’15.

So the two iconic wildlife species have been increasing in number across Wisconsin’s Northwoods.

Why? And how can it be? If wolves are at an all-time high – and if they “eat all the deer” – shouldn’t the deer herd at least be falling?

A look at the data and management related to each species can be illuminating.

The wolf population has increased largely due to a December 2014 federal judge’s decision that placed the western Great Lakes population under protections of the Endangered Species Act. The ruling has prevented state officials from holding public hunting and trapping seasons or using other lethal means to manage the species.

Deer have been increasing partly due to protection, too. For the last several years, the number of antlerless deer permits has been significantly reduced in northern units. Some counties have allowed zero.

With more female deer allowed to live and reproduce, the population assumed an upward trajectory.

Mother Nature is the other primary factor allowing deer herd growth in the north. The last three years have been marked by “soft” winters, including the fourth (2015-’16) and sixth (2016-’17) mildest on record since 1960, according to the DNR’s Winter Severity Index.

In contrast, two very rough winters took a toll on the deer herd in 2011-’12 and 2012-’13. The 2011-’12 winter was the third most severe on record; the following year was especially tough on deer since winter conditions lasted into May.

The milder winters have been reflected in recent years in higher fawn-doe ratios and a higher proportion of yearling bucks with forked antlers, according to DNR big game ecologist Kevin Wallenfang.

Another factor – habitat – likely has improved marginally in northern Wisconsin in recent years due to some changes in forestry practices. But it’s harder to quantify and likely takes longer to show its effects on the deer herd.

I find the status of both species particularly interesting now, as wolf numbers have climbed to a record high.

Wolves obviously eat deer. According to most experts, an adult wolf will consume the equivalent of 20 adult-sized deer annually.

But when compared to other sources of deer mortality in Wisconsin, wolves rank down the list.

I ran the numbers and trends past David Mech, senior research scientist with the U.S. Geological Survey in St. Paul, Minn. Mech has studied wolves for 59 years and is considered an expert on the species and its effect on plant and animal communities.

“Under these current Wisconsin regulations and conditions, wolves are apparently not a competitor, or aren’t really having that much of an impact (on deer),” Mech said.

The leading causes of deer mortality in the state, as Wisconsin wildlife managers have long said, are human hunters and severe winters.

A 2009 DNR document ranked the deer kill in Wisconsin’s northern and central forest regions this way: 122,000 deer killed by hunters (bow and gun), about 50,000 due to winter stress (the range could vary widely), 33,000 to black bears, 16,000 to coyotes, 13,000 to motor vehicles, 13,000 to wolves and 6,000 to bobcats.

The trends over the last few years in northern Wisconsin are clear.

When I was in Bayfield and Sawyer counties in May for the Governors Fishing Opener, I counted 72 deer on an evening drive from Cable to Hayward.

The conditions reminded me of the plethora of deer I used to see in the area in the mid to late 1990s.

Wolves are up in number. Deer are too.

Humans and Mother Nature have far more control over deer populations than wolves ever will.

I’m hoping my hunting buddies read this. But as always, I’ll be happy to tell them in person.

Pass it along to your friends, too.

As we move forward with management plans on both species, it’s important to bring as many facts to the debate as possible.

Report: Wolf Population Increase Not Hurting Deer Numbers

https://www.usnews.com/news/best-states/washington/articles/2017-12-08/report-wolf-population-increase-not-hurting-deer-numbers

A new report by Washington state’s Department of Fish and Wildlife has concluded that the growing population of wolves is not hurting populations of deer, elk, moose and bighorn sheep.

Dec. 8, 2017, at 3:01 p.m.

The Associated Press

FILE – This March 13, 2014 file photo provided by the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife shows a female wolf from the Minam pack outside La Grande, Ore., after it was fitted with a tracking collar. The growing population of wolves in eastern Washington state does not appear to be hurting the populations of deer, elk and other ungulates according to a report issued this week by the state Department of Fish and Wildlife. (Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife via AP, File) The Associated Press

By NICHOLAS K. GERANIOS, Associated Press

SPOKANE, Wash. (AP) — The growing population of wolves in eastern Washington state does not appear to be hurting the populations of deer, elk, moose and bighorn sheep, according to a report issued this week by the state Department of Fish and Wildlife.

The agency in 2015-2017 studied the populations of those animals, known as ungulates, that are hunted by wolves and found that none “in this assessment appear to show clear signs of being limited by predation,” the report concluded.

Gray wolves were hunted to extinction in Washington in the early 20th century. But the animals started migrating into the state in the early 2000s from Idaho and Canada. The first wolf pack was documented by the department in 2008.

At the end of 2016, the state estimated there were a minimum of 115 wolves, 20 packs and 10 successful breeding pairs in the state. All of the documented wolf packs are east of the Cascade Range.

There have been numerous conflicts between wolves and livestock in recent years, and the state has killed 18 problem wolves since 2012, drawing sharp criticism from environmental groups.

Wolves are listed as endangered by the state in the eastern third of Washington and have federal endangered species protection in the western two-thirds of the state.

The study used population estimates obtained from aerial surveys, plus the number of ungulates harvested by hunters, the agency said. State officials have also launched a more comprehensive, multi-year study of the impact of wolves on ungulates.

The agency defined an at-risk ungulate population as one that falls 25 percent below its population objective for two consecutive years, or one in which the harvest decreases by 25 percent below the 10-year average harvest rate for two consecutive years.

The report showed that initial fears that wolves would wipe out wild ungulates were unfounded, said Amaroq Weiss, who works on wolf recovery issues for the Center for Biological Diversity, a Tucson, Arizona-based nonprofit group that focuses on protecting endangered species.

“Any hue and cry over negative predation impacts on elk herds in Washington with the return of wolves to the state is without merit,” she said. “The majority of mortality to elk in the state is human-caused.”

Sarah Ryan, executive vice president of the Washington Cattlemen’s Association, said ranchers support healthy populations of wild animals for wolves to hunt, she said.

“We need a robust population of ungulates so wolves will have something to snack on beyond cattle,” Ryan said, adding that she has not seen the study.

Washington state’s ungulate populations also include mountain goats and pronghorn, but they don’t usually live where the state’s wolves hunt.

As Northwest States Kill Wolves, Researchers Cast Doubt On Whether It Works

http://kuow.org/post/northwest-states-kill-wolves-researchers-cast-doubt-whether-it-works

  NOV 25, 2017
Originally published on November 27, 2017 2:53 pm

The long hunt finally paid off on the night of Aug. 6 for two employees of the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife. They’d spent a combined 85 hours and driven 752 miles in pursuit of the Harl Butte wolf pack in the northeast corner of the state.

They had already come close, spotting wolves twice but never firing a shot.

But finally, on a Saturday evening, they killed a young male. Two days later, an Oregon Fish and Wildlife employee fired a kill shot from a helicopter while patrolling the rolling forests and pastures. This time it was a young female.

The wolf-killing mission was meant to halt a pack that was helping itself to ranchers’ livestock.

It won’t work, thought Todd Nash. He and other local ranchers wanted the whole pack gone.

“If there was a gang in downtown Portland and there was 13 of them and you randomly took two, you didn’t know if they were the ringleaders or what they were … would you expect to have a positive outcome?” Nash said.

It turned out Nash was right; it didn’t work.

Weeks later, some of the Harl Butte pack’s surviving wolves tore into a 450-pound calf. It was found dead in a pasture Nash leases, with bite marks across its legs, flanks and hocks.

So Oregon wildlife officials killed two more wolves. Weeks later, they said the depredations had stopped.

They hadn’t. The Harl Butte pack struck again in late September, killing a 425-pound calf.

As the number of wolves in Oregon and Washington has grown, wildlife managers are increasingly turning toward lethal tactics to keep them away from ranchers’ livestock. State governments in the Northwest now spend tens of thousands of dollars to kill wolves that prey on cattle and sheep.

State wolf managers are walking a tightrope: growing and sustaining a population of wolves while limiting the loss of livestock for the ranchers who make their living where the predators now roam.

Managing wolves in the West is as much about politics, economics and emotion as it is about science.

“Sometimes you view it as being between a rock and a hard place, or being yelled at from both sides,” said Derek Broman, carnivore and furbearer coordinator for Oregon Fish and Wildlife. “I like to say it’s balance.”

To balance the costs of killing wolves, ecological needs and the concerns of ranchers and wolf advocates, it’s the policy of both Oregon and Washington to kill wolves incrementally — starting with one or two at a time. But in making that compromise between preserving wolves and preventing livestock damage, they’ve taken a course of action that scientific evidence suggests could achieve neither.

Policies and practices in both states go against a growing body of research casting doubt on the overall effectiveness of killing predators.

Neither state follows recent recommendations from top researchers that their efforts to control predators be conducted as well-designed scientific studies. And neither follows the primary recommendation from the research most often used as evidence, which found killing most or all of a pack is the most effective form of “lethal control” to reduce ranchers’ damages.

Instead, some scientists and advocates say, Oregon and Washington are risking harm to the Northwest’s wolf population without ever reducing predation on cattle and sheep.

“Oregon and Washington may be playing with fire in their incremental control approach,” said professor Adrian Treves, who founded the Carnivore Coexistence Lab at the University of Wisconsin. “Not only is there very little evidence for the effectiveness of lethal methods, but there are more studies that find counterproductive effects of lethal control, namely that you get higher livestock losses afterward.”

Northwest wildlife managers say they use lethal control, in part, to increase people’s willingness to tolerate wolves. Treves said there’s little data to support that it’s actually helping shape public opinion to accept wolf reintroduction. In fact, Treves has published research suggesting otherwise: that government-sanctioned killing of wolves may actually embolden individuals to illegally do the same.

Policies under scrutiny

He and others have called on governments to re-evaluate their predator control policies. Treves was also one of multiple scientists who filed comments with the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife, saying his research and others’ had been misinterpreted in the state’s revision of its wolf management plan, which Treves and others criticized for being biased in favor of lethal control.

“It’s just like (when) the government is putting a medicine out there; it needs to prove the medicine is effective,” Treves said. “ Because there are costs. And not just financial. Animals are dying.”

Lethal control policies in both Oregon and Washington are getting pushback from wolf advocates.

In Oregon, multiple groups have called on Gov. Kate Brown’s office to intervene. The governor’s office has not publicly responded and did not respond to requests for comment.

In Washington, two environmental groups filed a lawsuit in September claiming the state’s approach to killing wolves is unnecessary and that its protocols do not satisfy Washington’s State Environmental Policy Act.

Donny Martorello, wolf coordinator for Washington Fish and Wildlife, said the state has seen mixed results with lethal control.

“We’ve had situations where we’ve initiated lethal removal and had to stay with it for quite a period of time. Removing more and more wolves because the conflict kept going and going and going,” he said. In other cases, he said, it seemed to reduce the conflict.

Martorello said the decision to kill wolves to is not about decreasing long-term livestock losses. It’s about intervening in an escalating situation, where prevention has failed and a rancher’s cattle or sheep are dying.

“We turn to lethal removal as a last resort,” Martorello said. “When we remove wolves it is trying to change the behavior of wolves in that period of time. We can’t extend that to say that will prevent negative wolf-livestock interactions in the long term. Because it doesn’t.”

In its lethal control protocol, WDFW cites a paper from Michigan saying the “the act of attempting to lethally remove wolves may result in meeting the goal of changing the behavior of the pack.”

However, that study’s authors do not make claims about changing behavior, and attribute any lower recurrence of attacks on livestock to the increase in human activity nearby — not anything specific to lethal control.

That study also  found no correlation between killing a high number of wolves and a reduction in livestock depredation the following year.

Instead, it found the opposite: “Our analyses of localized farm clusters showed that as more wolves were killed one year, the depredations increased the following year.”

Ranchers say lethal is needed

In mid-October, Nash was hauling bags of mineral feed to where his cattle graze in the Wallowa-Whitman National Forest. He kept stopping along the snowy road.

“That right there is a wolf track,” he said, hopping out for a closer inspection.  He spotted another smaller set next to them. “That looks like a pup.”

They were fresh and led toward cattle.

Nearby, a state biologist and the local range rider were doing the same. From time to time, Nash checked in and shared what he knew.

“There’s tracks going both ways,” he tells them. “These were smokin’ fresh.”

In Oregon, like in Washington, wildlife managers only kill wolves if demonstrated non-lethal efforts to deter wolves have failed. Those preventative measures have been adopted inconsistently, and with mixed reviews. Many say they’ve seen improvements by removing bone piles that attract wolves and by increasing human presence. Here, Nash said he’s had someone in the pasture nearly every day, including his own cowboys, a county range rider and a friend he hired to camp nearby.

Cattle die for many reasons on the open range. Wolves account for only a fraction of ranchers’ losses, according to U.S. Department of Agriculture figures. In the Northwest, documented kills by wolves amount to a few dozen per year in a region with more than two million cattle.

But for an individual producer, wolf damage can be a devastating blow. Especially when it’s on top of added stress and added costs of preventing wolf attacks.

Turning cattle out to roam after a long winter used to be a time to relax and celebrate, Nash said.

“You’d go, ‘oh, this is so nice,’” he said. “And now, that’s been taken away from us. I’m sad about that.”

This past summer’s wolf killings are in the same area where Oregon officials previously killed four members of the Imnaha pack. Nash said killing wolves from the Imnaha pack bought ranchers temporary relief from the predators. But, eventually, a new pack moved in.

After a few hours on snowy roads in the Wallowa-Whitman National Forest, Nash had no wolves in his sights. He decided to head home.

“I’m a little disappointed,” he said, patting a black bolt-action rifle resting beside the driver’s seat of his pickup. “I’m definitely nervous. You see how close they are to the cattle.”

In most Western states where wolves live,  ranchers can submit claims for financial compensation for cattle killed by wolves. But Nash said that’s a poor substitute for losing one of the cows or calves he takes pride in and cares for.

“We’ll take the no wolves over compensation any day, given the choice,” Nash said. “It’s not in us to allow our cattle to be killed. It’s an act that’s contrary to everything we do.”

Lethal control has broad support from farmers and ranchers. It’s seen as a crucial tool to protect livestock. Government killing of predators is common worldwide — from wolves, cougars and coyotes in the American West to dingos in the Australian Outback. In the United States, the federal government’s Wildlife Services agency has killed more than two million mammals since 2000.

In the dark on what works

“It’s not fair to our farmers,” said Australia-based scientist Lily Van Eden, who published a paper on the subject in 2017.

Examining past studies of the various techniques used to control predators, Van Eden found wide swings in results. That includes two studies of lethal control and one of guardian dogs that all showed increases in livestock losses.

Van Eden’s paper was one of four published in the past two years examining the current landscape of predator control research.

Each team reached the same conclusion: there is not sufficient evidence to say if and when killing large carnivores, such as wolves, actually achieves the desired result of reducing the loss of cattle or sheep. The same can be said for most non-lethal techniques.

Much of the research into the topic of both lethal and non-lethal predator control is flawed in one way or another. Of the research that does exists, more studies showed lethal control efforts to be ineffective or counterproductive at reducing ranchers’ losses.

Without gold-standard research on the subject, existing data can be used to justify opposing positions.

Take, for instance, a study published in 2014 led by Washington State University professor Robert Wielgus. It used data from the wolf population in Rocky Mountain states. The study showed livestock lost to wolves actually increased after some wolves were killed. It was criticized for not adequately accounting for changes over time. A University of Washington team re-analyzed the data and published essentially the opposite finding, only to be criticized for over-correcting and making their own statistical errors.

Exactly how killing wolves could lead to an increase in depredations is not well understood. But there are several possible factors: Removing a pack could allow new wolves to move in, creating disruptions and unusual foraging techniques. Removing part of the pack could displace the remaining wolves to neighboring farms or pastures, who then prey on livestock. Or the pack could be weakened, limiting its ability to successfully hunt its natural prey of elk and deer.

“The information out there is not conclusive,” said the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife’s Broman. “It’s still kind of an early discipline. We look at what pieces of that information are most applicable here and what could potentially work.”

Avoiding the all-or-nothing approach

That paper’s findings do not wholly endorse what Oregon and Washington are doing when they kill only one or two wolves at a time.

“There wasn’t very much gained by such a small partial pack removal. You gain about two months,” Bradley said.

The study concluded killing one or two wolves from a pack meant an average of about two months until the next wolf kill. With no action taken, that time between wolf attacks was a little less than a month. That’s a marginal difference compared to eliminating the full wolf pack, which resulted in an average of about two years until the next wolf attack. Ranchers like Todd Nash say this is a good reason to favor full pack removal.

Bradley acknowledged removing a full wolf pack isn’t always an option. But if you’re going to kill only one or two members of the pack, she found, it has to be within a week to be most effective. Bradley said her study wasn’t intended to endorse or condemn killing wolves but rather to offer guidance on how to be most effective.

Exactly why, she doesn’t know. But she suspects it increases the likelihood of shooting the culprit wolf.

Washington officials say they aim to respond within two weeks after a depredation. Oregon’s last two state-sanctioned wolf killings were carried out 10 days and 19 days, respectively, after a depredation.

These wolf attacks on livestock often happen in remote areas and go undiscovered for stretches of time. Responding within a week might not always be an option.

“If you don’t do it within the first week or two weeks, then you probably shouldn’t bother,” Bradley said. “After that, we found there was no difference.”

ODFW’s Broman said Oregon is testing out unproven methods like incremental pack killing because it doesn’t want an all-or-nothing approach.

“We’re seeing if it works. It’s still a test to see what we’re looking for,” Broman said. “If you went exclusively by Bradley, you’d either do nothing or full pack removal. Full pack removal is very difficult.”

The problem with non-lethal, and finding a better way

Wolf advocates have pushed non-lethal alternatives to killing wolves to reduce livestock depredations. They advocate techniques like hazing wolves, fencing off cattle or using guard dogs. But there’s also a lack of evidence on those. And they’re also expensive and time consuming for ranchers.

A recent study done in Idaho by the U.S. Department of Agriculture and Defenders of Wildlife yielded promising results for non-lethal techniques. Over seven years, researchers found the rate of sheep losses due to wolves was 3.5 times lower in an area where they used only non-lethal techniques, compared to an area open to lethal control. That was in rugged, remote pastures where non-lethal techniques were used.

That was a designed study with funding from conservation groups, the federal government and private donors. The study included field technicians who could help pen sheep at night and employ other wolf deterrents. The study’s author, Suzanne Stone of Defenders of Wildlife, said those non-lethal methods cost less money than Wildlife Services spent on killing wolves in nearby pastures. And those same methods are being used as part of a non-lethal program covering 10,000 sheep grazing across an area of nearly 1,000 square miles.

Most ranchers don’t have the time or manpower to do what that study did, said Julie Young, a researcher for the government’s Wildlife Services.

Young has been working on how to adapt non-lethal practices for widespread adoption.

“Maybe there’s a happy medium,” she said. “We’re going to do these things, but we actually want to measure it as we’re doing it, so we can know if this program we’re investing time or money or resources in is cost-effective or effective at all.”

She said programs like lethal control and compensation for non-lethal measures, including the ones used in Oregon and Washington, are ripe for study.

“We need better data,” Young said. “Otherwise we’re going to also lose trust, if we just start pushing tools on people and they don’t work.”

Copyright 2017 EarthFix. To see more, visit EarthFix.

Norway court grants reprieve to seven wolves

https://phys.org/news/2017-11-norway-court-grants-reprieve-wolves.html

November 21, 2017
There are between 105 and 112 wolves in Norway
There are between 105 and 112 wolves in Norway

A Norwegian court on Tuesday granted a reprieve to seven wolves near Oslo caught in the middle of a battle between environmental activists and sheep farmers.

The Oslo district  granted a request from the Norwegian branch of the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) and issued an injunction temporarily stopping the hunt of 12  in the Oslo region—five of which have already been killed—pending a final decision on the matter.

The number of wolves in the Scandinavian country is modest—between 105 and 112 individuals, according to the latest count—and the species is listed as being at risk of extinction. But its current population is above the target set by Norway’s parliament.

This winter, regional wildlife management authorities gave the go ahead to the culling of 50 wolves. While the final number still depends on a government decision, the announcement caused an uproar among animal rights activists.

Tuesday’s court  concerns only Oslo and its surrounding regions in southeastern Norway. The hunting of 14 other wolves will still be allowed in the rest of the country. One of them has already been killed.

WWF Norway has sued the state over its wolf policy, which it argues violates the country’s laws and constitution, as well as the Bern Convention on nature conservation.

The Oslo court will rule on that matter at a later, as yet unspecified date.

According to WWF, wolves account for just 1.3 percent of deaths in sheep flocks, which also fall victim to accidents and other predators such as wolverines, lynx, eagles and bears.

 Explore further: Uproar as Norway paves way for hunting wolves

Read more at: https://phys.org/news/2017-11-norway-court-grants-reprieve-wolves.html#jCp

Animal rights activists camp out to stop culling of wolf in Germany

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2017/11/02/animal-rights-activists-camp-stop-culling-wolf-germany/

Animal rights activists have flocked to eastern Germany in a bid to prevent the culling of a wolf that has been preying on local farmers’ sheep.

Activists from across Germany are camping out in the forests of Upper Lausitz, a sparsely populated area near the border with Poland, in an attempt to stop hunters tracking down the wolf.

“I’ve been here since Monday. We’re protecting the wolves and facing down the hunters,” Bettina Jung, the head of Germany’s Animal Protection Party, told Bild newspaper.

But local farmers are furious at what they see as the activists’ interference. “These radical eco-warriors hang around in the dark with their cars and night vision equipment, scaring my livestock,” one said.

The head of the local hunting association has called on landowners to press criminal charges against the activists.

French breeders hold a banner with a quote by French poet Victor Hugo reading "He who saves the wolf kills the sheep" as they demonstrate in Lyon to draw attention to rising wolf attacks on sheep
French breeders hold a banner with a quote by French poet Victor Hugo reading “He who saves the wolf kills the sheep” as they demonstrate in Lyon to draw attention to rising wolf attacks on sheepCREDIT: AFP

Wolves are generally protected by strict laws in Germany as an endangered species, and killing them is prohibited.

But local authorities have lifted the ban for a specific pack that has repeatedly attacked farms and mauled sheep in the area.

The stand-off between activists and farmers is a sign of the growing tensions as the rapidly rising wolf population begins to encroach on human habitations.

Just twenty years ago, there were no wolves left in Germany after the species was hunted to extinction in the early 20th century.

But wolves have made a remarkable comeback since the end of the Cold War. When the Iron Curtain fell and border defences were removed, they began to wander back into Germany from neighbouring Poland.

Today, there are believed to be more than 30 packs roaming Germany, and wolves have been photographed just 30 miles from Hamburg, the country’s second largest city.

The lifting on the hunting ban on what authorities have named the “Rosenthal Pack” only applies to a specific wolf which has been identified attacking sheep, and not to the pack in general.

A single licensed hunter has been appointed by the authorities to track and kill the culprit.

But the activists are determined to stop that happening. “We try to disturb the hunters, and keep watch over the sheep pastures,” said Stefan Voss, who patrols the forest every night.

Renowned wolf biologist casts doubt on hunter’s story of attack

http://www.capitalpress.com/Oregon/20171106/renowned-wolf-biologist-casts-doubt-on-hunters-story-of-attack

Wolf expert Carter Niemeyer trapped, collared, tracked and sometimes shot wolves during a long career with U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

Eric MortensonCapital Press
Published on November 6, 2017 1:36PM
A retired U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service biologist with 30 years experience said it is unlikely a wolf shot by an Oregon elk hunter was attacking the man.

Carter Niemeyer, who lives in Boise and oversaw or consulted on wolf recovery work throughout the West, also said descriptions of the bullet trajectory — in one shoulder and out the other – raise doubt about the hunter’s account that the wolf was running at him when he fired.

“That’s a broadside shot, not a running-at-you shot,” Niemeyer said. “If the bullet path is through one side and out the other, it indicates to me an animal could have been standing, not moving, and the shot was well placed.”

A bullet that hit the wolf as it was running forward most likely would have exited out the hips or rear end, Niemeyer said. He acknowledge the bullet or fragments could have deflected off bone, but said a forensic exam would have to explain that. Michelle Dennehy, Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife spokesman, said the agency did not request a necropsy because the cause of death — gunshot — was known.

Niemeyer said the hunter’s account of taking a “snap shot into a ball of fur” is unlikely.

“I have to tell you I doubt the story,” he said.

Niemeyer, 70, said he’s hunted predators for 52 years as a government hunter and a taxidermist, and has dealt with fellow sportsmen and shooters for decades. “I’ve heard every story,” he said. “This story is very suspect to me.”

The elk hunter, Brian Scott, 38, of Clackamas, Ore., told Oregon State Police that the wolf ran straight at him. Scott told police he screamed, took quick aim and fired his 30.06 rifle once. Scott said he saw nothing but fur in the rifle’s scope as the wolf ran at him, according to published reports.

In an interview with outdoor writer Bill Monroe of The Oregonian/Oregon Live, Scott said he was terrified.

“People envision this jerk hunter out to kill anything, but that’s not me,” he told Monroe. “It frustrates me they don’t understand. I’m a meat hunter. I was looking for a spike elk. This wasn’t exciting. It ruined my hunt.”

Scott told Monroe he didn’t think he had time to fire a warning shot. He could not explain the bullet’s path, which entered the wolf’s right shoulder and exited the left, other than perhaps the wolf turned at the last instant or the bullet deflected.

Niemeyer, the retired wildlife biologist, said wolves will “turn around and take off” when they realize they’re near a human. Niemeyer said he had “many, many close encounters with wolves” while doing trapping, collaring and other field work for USFWS in Idaho, Oregon and elsewhere. He said wolves sometimes ran at him and approached within 6 to 8 feet before veering away.

Wolves are potentially dangerous, he said, “but all my experience tells me it would be fearful of a human.”

People in such situations should stand up if they are concealed, show themselves, and yell or throw things, Niemeyer said. Hunters could fire a shot into the ground or into a tree and “scare the hell out of them,” he said.

“That would have been the first logical thing to do,” he said. “The gunshot and a yell from a human would turn every wolf I’ve ever known inside out trying to get away.”

He also suggested people venturing into the woods should carry bear repellent spray, which certainly would also deter wolves, cougars or coyotes.

“If everyone shoots everything they’re afraid of, wow, that’s not a good thing,” he said.

Niemeyer acknowledged his reaction is based on years of experience with wolves.

“People say, ‘That’s easy for you to say, Carter, you worked with wolves for 30 years and you’re familiar with their behavior,’” he said.

The shooting happened Oct. 27 in ODFW’s Starkey Wildlife Management Unit west of La Grande, in Northeast Oregon.

Scott, the hunter, told police he was hunting and had intermittently seen what he thought might be coyotes. At one point, two of them circled off to the side while a third ran at him. Scott said he shot that one and the others ran away.

Scott went back to his hunting camp and told companions what had happened. They returned to the shooting scene and concluded the dead animal was a wolf. The hunter then notified state police and ODFW, which investigated. Police later found a shell casing 27 yards from the wolf carcass. The Union County district attorney’s office reviewed the case and chose not to file charges.

The Portland-based conservation group Oregon Wild raised questions about the incident. Rob Klavins, Oregon Wild’s field representative in Northeast Oregon, said he’s seen wolves in the wild several times and backed away without trouble or harm. Even the late OR-4, the fearsome breeding male of the infamous Imnaha Pack in Wallowa County, retreated and barked when it encountered Klavins and a hiking party.

“This (hunter) may have felt fear, but since wolves returned to Oregon, no one has so much as been licked by a wolf, and that’s still true today,” Klavins said.

“What has changed is we now have wolves on the landscape, 10 years ago we didn’t,” Klavins said. “Especially in the fall (hunting season), armed people are going to be out encountering wolves.”

Oregon Wild believes poachers have killed several Oregon wolves, and USFWS on Nov. 6 offered a $5,000 reward for information about a collared wolf designated OR-25 that was found dead Oct. 29 in South Central Oregon.

Klavins said wolf shooters might now use a “self-defense” claim as a “free pass to poaching.”

Details emerge in alleged self-defense wolf killing

http://www.bendbulletin.com/localstate/5724826-151/details-emerge-in-alleged-self-defense-wolf-killing

BY ANDREW THEEN

THE OREGONIAN

Brian Scott screamed, pointed his .30-06 rifle, saw hair through the scope, and pulled the trigger once.

Scott shot and killed a gray wolf while elk hunting in rural Union County on Oct. 27. The experienced hunter notified state police of the incident and told the responding trooper, Marcus McDowell, a harrowing tale of self-defense.

Authorities agreed and declined to prosecute the wolf killing, the first reported instance of a protected wolf being shot and killed by a hunter who feared for their life.

Scott could not be reached for comment on this story.

The 38-year-old Clackamas resident told McDowell those details on Oct. 27, hours after the shooting. More details emerged Friday one week after the incident.

McDowell determined the bullet entered the animal’s front right side and exited through the left.

In a Thursday press release, the agency said “based upon the available evidence” the hunter acted in self-defense.

According to the three-page police report obtained through a public record request, Scott was hunting last week in the Starkey hunting unit of Union County near La Grande off of a forest service road where he was camping with several other hunters. At about 7:15 a.m., he left to hunt, and a little after leaving camp he saw animals moving around him.

“I could not identify what was moving around me,” he told McDowell. “There are a lot of coyotes out here.”

Scott hiked into a nearby timber stand and sat for 20 or 30 minutes. After leaving the trees and heading into a meadow, he saw to his left what he assumed was a coyote.

“He was running at me, which is very odd,” Scott told the trooper.

A second animal was behind the first.

A third animal “was running directly at me,” Scott said.

“I definitely felt like she had targeted me,” he said, “and was running at me to make contact.”

He told the trooper he feared for his life. “It was unnerving.”

Scott shot the third animal from roughly 27 yards away and watched the other two run into the timber near a forest road.

The other wolves howled, according to the police account.

An Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife official, Leonard Erickson, later arrived to the scene and helped recover the animal. One of four additional hunters at the camp transported the wolf, an 83-pound female connected to OR-30.

The pictures and police report paint a different picture, according to wolf advocacy group Oregon Wild.

The animal’s death also comes on the heels of five recent approved wolf shootings in eastern Oregon. It is illegal to kill a wolf unless it’s caught red-handed killing livestock — a rare occurrence that has happened just once in 2016 — or in the event of self-defense. Legally, animals can be killed if they are confirmed to have repeatedly attacked livestock.

Steve Pedery, the nonprofit’s conservation director, said in an email that he’d like to see further investigation of the hunting incident. He’s not convinced the animal was running at the hunter, and questioned why the wounds are on the animal’s side.

“How can a wolf that is moving away from someone be a threat?” Pedery asked, “and why would ODFW sign off on a report that is directly contradicted by the evidence?”

Oregon hunter kills wolf, claims self-defense, W/photos

 http://www.kgw.com/news/local/animal/oregon-hunter-kills-wolf-claims-self-defense/488528341

A hunter shot and killed a wolf that he said was running at him.

A 38-year-old hunter says he shot and killed a wolf that was “running directly at him” in northeast Oregon’s Union County, the Oregon State Police reported Tuesday.

It’s illegal to kill a wolf in Oregon, but police said the hunter, who wasn’t named, won’t be charged because it’s believed he was acting in self-defense, officials said.

The incident marks the first time that a wolf has been reported shot in self-defense in Oregon since they began returning to the state in the late 1990s.

According to police, the hunter was stalking elk in the Starkey Wildlife Management Unit when he observed three of what he assumed were coyotes, police said.

One of the animals began to run directly at him, while another made its way around him, the hunter told police. He said he screamed at the lead animal but, fearing for his life, shot the animal a single time.

Here’s a picture of the wolf killed last week by a hunter in NE Oregon. He claimed self defense. No charges pending.

Later, the hunter, who is from Clackamas County, later discovered the animal was a wolf and “self-reported shooting a wolf in Union County,” police said.

The Union County District Attorney’s Office reviewed the case and said the hunter wouldn’t be prosecuted because it’s believed “to be an incidence of self-defense.”

Confirmed reports of wolves attacking humans are extremely rare.

“Wolves typically try to avoid humans whenever possible,” Oregon State University professor Bill Ripple told the Statesman Journal in a previous interview.

The Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife said in a report that “wolves will tend to avoid people and wolf-human conflicts are extremely rare. They are more likely to occur when wolves are habituated to people, when dogs are involved, or if wolves are sick (e.g. rabies).”

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