By 2050, scientists forecast that emissions from agriculture alone will account for how much carbon dioxide the world can use to avoid catastrophic global warming. It already accounts for one-third of emissions today — and half of that comes from livestock.
A couple of years ago, biologists from Washington State University found that killing a wolf to rid a threat to livestock actually increased the chances that cattle or sheep would be killed in the following year. Only eliminating a quarter or more of the wolves in a state resulted in declines in wolves killing livestock.
Ranchers have long killed wolves to protect their animals, but the study’s results seemed to show that the practice might not be as productive as they’d like. Now a new study of wolves in the Italian Alps shows why keeping packs together could be a good move for ranchers.
Camille Imbert of the University of Pavia in Italy and colleagues wanted to know why wolves kill livestock instead of wild prey. Sheep or cattle might look like an easy meal to us, but that may not be true for wolves. And even if a goat was easy to catch, that might not be a wolf’s sole consideration when looking for something to eat.
The researchers studied a population of wolves in Liguria, in northwest Italy, one of the few European wolf populations that has managed to survive into the 21st century and is now starting to expand its range due to new laws and efforts to restore its habitat. From 2008 to 2013, the team collected 1,457 samples of wolf scat and determined which wolf had left the poop behind and what it had eaten. The scientists also figured out whether or not the wolf had belonged to a pack, which consist of a pair of adults and their offspring.
Wolves that belonged to packs tended to eat more wild boar and roe deer and less goat and other livestock than did single wolves, the researchers report in the March Biological Conservation. Lone wolves — either young wolves that are moving to new territory or the former members of a pack that has been broken up (say, when the leaders were killed) — may not know as well what prey is available in an area as the resident pack and may therefore hunt whatever is available, Imbert and her colleagues write. Packs, it seems, can be pickier and go for wild prey when it’s available.
Not that a pack of wolves won’t hunt livestock. Pack wolves did eat goats and other domestic animals. But it seems at least a little blame can be put on Italian herders, who let goats roam unguarded and free in the mountains. And wolves will readily eat young calves born in open pastures; when birthing is done closer to home, cows tend to be safe from wolves.
To keep livestock from being eaten by wolves, the researchers make a few recommendations: Institute a few more protections for domestic animals. Promote a rich community of wild animals that the wolves can eat. And don’t kill wolves and break up packs. “Removal measures do not solve the problem in the long run,” they write.
WSU study shows wolves’ favorite prey is deer — but moose are also on the menu
by Feb 18, 2016on
By Ann McCreary
An ongoing, state-funded study of interactions between wolves and livestock shows that — no big surprise — wolves primarily eat deer, according to a researcher involved in field studies conducted over the past two summers.
The study is documenting, among other things, the types and numbers of animals killed and eaten by wolves, said Gabe Spence, a graduate student at Washington State University (WSU), which is leading the scientific investigation.
The goal of the $600,000 study, which was authorized and funded by the Washington Legislature, is to provide accurate data about wolf depredations on livestock and evaluate ways to prevent conflicts between livestock and wolves.
Spence discussed the research and preliminary findings during a presentation at the North Cascades Basecamp in Mazama last week.
The Methow Valley’s Lookout Pack is one of seven packs in north central and northeast Washington that have been studied during the past two years to develop a more accurate picture of the prey taken by wolves, Spence said. Researchers monitored four packs last year.
A team of WSU researchers conducted field studies during grazing seasons, from May through October, when cattle are turned out on public grazing allotments known to overlap with the territories of gray wolf packs.
Researchers placed radio and GPS devices on calves, cows and wolves to track their locations, determine where wolves and livestock occupy same area, and locate wolf kills to document what wolves are eating.
Over the past two years the researchers have documented 285 “probable wolf kills” by the packs they have studied. Four of the 285 animals killed by wolves were cattle, and involved three different packs.
No cattle were killed in 2014 by the packs being monitored, and none of the four cattle killed last year were in the Methow Valley, Spence said.
Spence said that about 940 cows and calves occupied the same territory as the wolf packs during the 2015 grazing season. That means that the four cattle killed equal .4 percent of the cattle in wolf-occupied areas.
“I don’t know if people realize how often wolves and cows are in the same place at the same time. All the time. Every day,” Spence said.
“Livestock deaths on the range are really small. Of the ones that die, only a tiny fraction are killed by predators, and of those a tiny fraction are killed by wolves,” Spence said.
The cattle kills account for 2.3 percent of the all the prey killed by wolves in 2015, Spence said.
Preliminary results show that over the past two summers deer accounted for almost half the prey killed by wolves. Researchers documented 137 deer that were among the probable wolf kills.
“Deer are by far the most common prey,” Spence said. The second-most common prey is moose, which account for about 22 to 28 percent of the animals killed by wolves.
By tracking wolf kills, researchers determined that the average kill rate for wolves in the Cascades area is about .3 kills per pack per day during the summer grazing season, Spence said.
That equals one kill every 3.3 days, or about 110 kills per year if the kill rate stays the same year round.
Even if kill rate is higher, for instance .5 kills per pack per day — to account for possible error or winter kill rates — it would add up to 183 kills per year, Spence said.
“To put this into perspective, roughly 350 deer are killed on the highway in the Methow Valley every year,” he said.
The study is expected to continue another two to three years and will likely include more packs, including the Methow Valley’s Loup Loup pack, if a collar can be placed on one of the wolves in that pack.
Researchers lost contact with a radio-collared female in the Lookout Pack last fall, and are not sure whether the collar failed or the wolf died or was killed. Spence said wildlife officials would try to capture and collar another Lookout pack wolf in spring or summer.
“Both packs overlap quite a bit with livestock,” Spence said.
One of the biggest challenges in conducting research into wolves and livestock “is how excited people get about this topic, on both sides. It makes it about the politics, not the biology,” Spence said.
“Having large predators on the landscape is really a social issue. The biology is pretty clear. It comes down to what we want for ourselves and our children,” Spence said.
Ammon Bundy speaks by phone to FBI negotiator
Standing outside the municipal airport in Burns, Oregon, Ammon Bundy spoke by phone Thursday to an unnamed FBI negotiator. The federal agency has used the airport, about 30 miles from the refuge, as a staging ground during the occupation.
The conversation happened a day after Oregon’s governor sharply criticized federal authorities for not doing more to remove Bundy’s group from the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in the state’s high-desert.
The FBI did not specifically comment on the Thursday conversation, though it was streamed live online by someone from his group.
Bundy said he went to the airport to meet with FBI officials face to face, but they declined to meet him. Bundy said the FBI had called him 14 times in a row earlier this week, but he couldn’t pick up the phone because he was in a meeting.
“We’re not going to escalate nothing, we’re there to work,” Bundy told the FBI official, with reporters and supporters watching. “You guys as the FBI… you would be the ones to escalate. I’m here to shake your hands… myself and those with me are not a threat.”
He also told the FBI the agency doesn’t have “the people’s authority” to station at the airport. Earlier this month, officials said the FBI has jurisdiction over the armed takeover of the federal buildings in the refuge, as well as any crimes committed there.
“This occupation has caused tremendous disruption and hardship for the people of Harney County, and our response has been deliberate and measured as we seek a peaceful resolution,” the FBI said Thursday in a statement.
On Wednesday, Oregon Gov. Kate Brown said she was angry because federal authorities have not taken action against Bundy’s group, which began occupying the refuge Jan 2. The Democratic governor said the occupation has cost Oregon taxpayers nearly half a million dollars.
“We’ll be asking federal officials to reimburse the state for these costs,” Brown said.
Bundy did not address concerns about how much the occupation is costing authorities. He did rail against federal land management policies and reiterated that his armed group would not leave the refuge until federal lands including the refuge are turned over to local control.
“We will leave there if those buildings are turned over to the proper authorities… and never used again by the federal government to control land and resources unconstitutionally in this county,” Bundy said.
Bundy said that despite some negative sentiments against his group expressed at recent community meetings, he believes his group’s work is appreciated by locals. He said the armed men have been “helping ranchers,” doing maintenance on the refuge because “it’s in a bad shape,” and taking care of fire hazards in the refuge’s fire house.
Bundy also asked the FBI to let two ranchers sent to prison for arson go back home. Bundy agreed to speak with authorities again on Friday. He said he would again come to the airport and hoped to speak with someone from the FBI face-to-face.
Earlier Bundy also said his group plans to have a ceremony Saturday for ranchers to renounce federal ownership of public land and tear up their federal grazing contracts. The armed group plans to open up the 300-square-mile refuge for cattle this spring.
Wozniacka reported from Portland, Oregon.
“This morally suspect male-bonding event is ecologically indefensible”
Jan 15, 2016 — It’s getting uglier around the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge this weekend. The Harney County Coyote Classic is coming to the area. Another destructive force. Spotlights and gunfire at night. Spin-offs into firefights? Best to stay far away.
Here’s some advice from Predator Defense on who to call:
“HERE’S HOW TO HELP: express your concern to County and State officials! Call the Harney County Sheriff’s Office at 541-573-6156 and urge them to either (a) cancel the coyote-killing contest, or (b) make the Wildlife Refuge out of bounds for coyote-hunt contestants. Call Oregon Governor Kate Brown at (503) 378-4582, or write at http://www.oregon.gov/gov/Pages/share-your-opinion.aspx and ask her to act.”
Also, check out the information from Predator Defense on the importance of coyotes to intact, healthy ecosystems; and the foolishness of indiscriminate killing–not just in contests like this, but in all of its misguided forms.
January 6, 2016, 36 mins ago
YELLOWSTONE NATIONAL PARK – Members of the Interagency Bison Management Plan (IBMP) have signed a winter operations plan that aims to reduce the current population of 4,900 animals.
The announcement was made in a press release from Yellowstone National Park.
The park says that because the Yellowstone bison population has high reproductive and survival rates, it will be necessary to cull 600-900 animals to offset the population increase expected this year.
The population will be decreased using two methods, according to the IBMP:
(1) Public and tribal hunting outside the park
(2) Capturing bison near the park boundary and transferring them to Native American tribes for processing and distribution of meat and hides to their members.
The press release says that bison are a migratory species and they move across a vast landscape. When they are inside Yellowstone, they have access to all habitat. But in the winter, when some bison migrate to lower elevations outside the park in search of food, the surrounding states and some private landowners don’t offer the same access to habitat.
Wild bison are only allowed in limited areas outside of Yellowstone…
“Many people are uncomfortable with the practice of culling bison, including the National Park Service,” says Yellowstone National Park Superintendent Dan Wenk.
by Paul Watson
These guys are poachers and in their defense, a group of armed thugs have seized a federal building to denounce the U.S. Federal government because of the conviction of two ranchers who burned 130 acres of public land to conceal their criminal poaching activities.
These are armed right wing anti-government anti-environmentalists defending the right of men to commit crimes.
If this was an occupation by armed Islamic militants the drones would already be launched.
If this was an occupation by Native Americans, the F>B>I> would be moving in aggressively right now.
If this was an occupation by animal rights or environmental activists, everyone would now be dead or in jail.
But somehow just because these guys carry guns, spout tea-party rhetoric, support Trump and the other Republican comedians running for President they are being handled with kid gloves.
Why the discrimination? Why the double standard? Waving the flag does not justify poaching, trespass, destruction of property, threats to civilians and law enforcement people.
There is a big why hanging in the air about this incident.
The question is, what the hell is going to be done about it?
Black lives don’t seem to matter. Native American lives don’t seem to matter. Environmentalist lives don’t seem to matter but cowboy rednecks lives who destroy public land and poach animals seem to matter.
This is rapidly evolving into a major national disgrace.
Sunday, 27 December 2015
Chief, a Kiger mustang born in the remote wilderness of Utah, lives with 400 other rescued wild horses and burros in a 1,500 acre sanctuary, hundreds of miles from his original home. Years ago the stallion was captured in a round up led by the Bureau of Land Management. After a long helicopter chase, he ended up in a government-run holding facility for years before being adopted by Return to Freedom Wild Horse Sanctuary in Lompoc, CA. Not all horses rounded up by the BLM are as lucky.
The majority of captured equines remain stuck for years, if not for the rest of their lives, in cramped holding facilities that are quickly running out of space. As of July 2015 the facilities held 47,000 wild horses, and the BLM’s holding capacity is set at 50,929. Yet the agency is planning to remove another 2,739 wild horses and burros this year at a taxpayer cost of $78 million.
An example of an emergency holding facility for excess mustangs is a cattle feedlot in Scott City, Kansas. In 2014, a BLM contractor leased the feedlot, owned by Beef Belt LLC, to hold 1,900 mares. The horses were transported from pasture to corrals designed for fattening up cattle. Within the first few weeks of their arrival, at least 75 mares died. Mortality reports acquired from the BLM through the Freedom of Information Act show that as of June 2015, 143 more horses had died. The facility is closed to the public.
by Don Jenkins
Washington wildlife officials are recruiting livestock experts and conservationists to advise the state on compensating ranchers for lost production caused by wolves.
The Department of Fish and Wildlife plans to appoint up to five volunteers to serve on the new committee.
The panel will review WDFW’s approval or denial of claims for reduced weight gain, low pregnancy rates and higher-than-normal losses.
The department will make the final call on payments, but the panel will bring additional expertise and transparency to the process, WDFW wolf policy coordinator Donny Martorello said.
He said WDFW wants a variety of viewpoints represented. “Diversity is important. If it were all like-minded people, we’d need only one person,” he said.
WDFW pays ranchers the market value for livestock killed by wolves. The state’s wolf recovery plan also calls for WDFW to develop a system to compensate ranchers for livestock losses where there is no direct evidence wolves caused the damage.
Martorello said WDFW has not made any payments for indirect losses, but two ranchers have filed claims.
Volunteers will serve staggered one- or two-year terms. The committee may start meeting as early as mid-November and will likely meet about four times a year, according to WDFW.
Committee members will be reimbursed for travel expenses.
Applications and nominations must be submitted in writing and include a description of “experience in collaborating with people who have different values.”
Applications also must include the candidate’s name, telephone number, email address and organization affiliations.
Candidates should explain why they would be an effective board member and report their experience with livestock, natural resource management or wildlife conservation.
People or groups nominating members must include their names and contact information.
There is irrefutable evidence that animal agriculture is a key cause of climate change. It is a leading cause of greenhouse-gas emissions, water waste, water pollution, ocean dead zones, deforestation, habitat destruction and species extinction that each significantly impacts the climate. Any global policy that claims to address climate change without addressing the catastrophic impact of animal agriculture is neither honest nor effective. While awareness about the fossil fuel industry is gaining momentum, the impact of animal agriculture on the climate has not received the same global attention.
We call on Ban Ki Moon and the leaders of the 2015 UN Climate Change Conference to ensure that the impact of animal agribusiness on our global climate is comprehensively addressed, and that an urgent action policy be created and made effective immediately.