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

Weather permitting, wolves will be moved by helicopter in January

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

‘Robust’ Canadian wolves desirable for genetic strength

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

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

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

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

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

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

Two wolf fatalities so far

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

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

Some natural mortality is to be expected, Green said.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

UPDATE: More info on shooting accident

Image source: Midwest Communications
Image source: Midwest Communications

UNION TOWNSHIP, MI (WTVB) – While a Wednesday night shooting incident in Branch County’s Union Township is still under investigation, Michigan State Police have pretty much determined it was a hunting accident.

The incident was reported at about 9:20 p.m..

After their initial investigation, troopers at the Marshall Post are now reporting it happened as two friends were trying to thin out varmints near Hodunk Road south of Sullivan Road, and that the shot did not come from a nearby residence.

Troopers say one of the hunters was lying down in a field when the other mistakenly thought he was wildlife and fired a small 22 caliber rifle.

They say the man who was shot was not wearing any orange high visibility clothing. He was airlifted from the scene to Bronson Methodist Hospital in Kalamazoo.

The names of the persons involved have not been released.

Michigan State Police were assisted by the Michigan Department of Natural Resources, LifeCare Ambulance and the Union City Fire Department.

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Fading wolf population to be restored at Lake Superior park

 

     

TRAVERSE CITY, Mich. (AP) — Federal officials have tentatively decided to transport 20-30 gray wolves to Isle Royale National Park in Michigan over the next three years to replenish a population that has nearly died out because of inbreeding and disease.

The National Park Service said Friday it will make a final decision in 30 days, after the public has had an opportunity to review a new environmental statement that endorses the restoration plan.

Wolves made their way to the Lake Superior island in the late 1940s. Since then, they have played a valuable role in keeping the moose population in check and have become a cherished symbol of the remote wilderness outpost.

But the wolves’ numbers have fallen drastically in recent years. Only two are believed to remain, posing a danger of moose overpopulation.

 

Charge lessened in hunting accident death

Roger Hoeker’s mug shot. (Oceana County Sheriff’s Department)

HART, Mich. (WOOD) — A man accused of killing a 13-year-old in a hunting accident earlier this year now faces a lesser charge.

On Monday, an Oceana County judge ruled there wasn’t enough evidence to support the involuntary manslaughter charge that was initially filed against Roger Hoeker in the death of Billy Gort Jr. The charge against Hoeker was amended to careless, reckless or negligent discharge of a firearm causing injury or death.

Undated photo of Billy Gort. (Courtesy GoFundMe)

In Michigan, involuntary manslaughter is a felony punishable by up to 15 years in prison. The reckless discharge of a firearm charge is a two-year misdemeanor.

Authorities say Billy, who was from Wyoming, was shot in the head while hunting on state-owned land in the Manistee National Forest in February. Hoeker, a hunting safety instructor from Jenison, was charged in August.

Hoeker’s case was sent to circuit court for trial on the amended charge. Trial dates have not yet been set.

Congress: Michigan, Great Lakes wolves could lose federal protection

http://www.freep.com/story/news/local/michigan/2017/09/12/michigan-wolves-endangered-species-protection/657932001/

WASHINGTON — Legislation under committee consideration in the U.S. House of Representatives today would strip gray wolves in the western Great Lakes states of protections they enjoy under the Endangered Species Act.

Less than two months after an appeals court in Washington, D.C., ruled that the protection afforded wolves in Michigan, Minnesota and Wisconsin should continue unless there is a further study, the House Federal Lands Subcommittee today took up legislation that would reverse that decision.

 A second bill —- co-sponsored by several Republican Michigan members of Congress — would do much the same and is expected to get a vote in the subcommittee, as well, perhaps as early as this week.

The section regarding gray wolves’ protection considered by the Federal Lands Subcommittee is part of a larger bill that would take steps to ensure that public lands remain largely open to hunting and fishing.

During today’s hearing, Democrats voiced deep concerns about other portions of the legislation, including measures that would make it easier for people to buy firearm silencers and put more of a legal and financial burden on law enforcement when stopping a vehicle suspected of potentially transporting a firearm across state lines.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has been attempting for years to de-list the 600 or so gray wolves in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula and larger populations from Minnesota and Wisconsin from protection under the Endangered Species Act but has been turned back each time.

Related:

In the most recent ruling, the court said Fish and Wildlife could not go through with such a de-listing without studying what such a move would mean to the population across the rest of the U.S. Proponents of hunting wolves argue that the numbers are significantly recovered to allow for de-listing and that wolves increasingly threaten livestock, reduce deer populations and even threaten humans.

In August, Wayne Pacelle, president and CEO of the Humane Society of the United States, called such anecdotal evidence “fabricated” and “exaggerated,” noting that in cases where wolves are found to kill livestock, farmers can get permission to kill wolves.

“Congress should not subvert the rulings of two federal courts affirming the conclusion that de-listing of wolves in the Great Lakes region is premature,” Pacelle said today, adding that they help reduce auto collisions with deer by reducing the population. “The wolf population in the state is small and not increasing, and Michigan voters have rejected trophy hunting of the animals by voting down two statewide ballot measures to allow it.”

Michigan rejected wolf hunting in state referendums in 2014.

The legislation — like that co-sponsored by Republican U.S. Reps. Bill Huizenga of Zeeland, John Moolenaar of Midland and Tim Walberg of Tipton — calls for issuing the order de-listing wolves within 60 days of it being signed into law and prohibits any judicial review of the order.

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“Basically, it’s been technicalities in the rules (that have kept wolves listed). There’s no question (they) belong off the endangered species list,” said Anna Seidman, government affairs director for Safari Club International, a hunters rights group. “We need to end this endless court battle and have Congress step in.”

While it’s possible the full committee would send both measures to the full House for consideration, it’s unlikely both would be scheduled for a vote. The more sweeping legislation could be seen as more of a priority then and could get top consideration.

But the legislation still faces difficulties: With so much before Congress between now and the end of the year, it could be caught in a logjam and Democratic members of the U.S. House, while outnumbered with Republicans in the majority, will likely try to do all they can to slow it, especially because of the firearm portions of the bill.

If it gets to the Senate, it would have to cross a 60-vote threshold. Republicans hold only a 52-seat majority in the Senate, though some Democrats from western and rural states potentially might be convinced to vote for it with changes.

Contact Todd Spangler: 703-854-8947 or tspangler@freepress.com. Follow him on Twitter @tsspangler. Staff writer Keith Matheny contributed to this report.

Two wolves survive in world’s longest running predator-prey study

For 2 years in a row, a pair of wolves has managed to survive on Isle Royale, Michigan, the last of their kind on the wilderness island. Researchers continue to track the wolves and their moose prey, in the last installments of the world’s longest running predator-prey study.  They report today that although the wolves hunt successfully, they are too few to affect the moose population. Aquatic as well as terrestrial vegetation is taking a hit as moose numbers climb, according to the study’s 59th annual report.

After Canadian wolves colonized the island in 1949, the wolf population peaked at 50 in 1980, and as recently as a decade ago, 30 wolves prowled the island, a U.S. National Park. The island’s now-famous predator-prey study has tracked how wolf and moose numbers have risen and fallen in tandem over the decades, and left their mark on the island’s ecology.

In contrast to last year’s winter study, when wolf tracks were the only evidence of the predators, wildlife ecologist Rolf Peterson spotted both wolves sitting on lake ice on the January afternoon he arrived on the island.  Weeks later, Peterson and co-investigator John Vucetich, both of Michigan Technological University in Houghton, found the wolves feeding on a freshly-killed moose calf. “We were very lucky,” Peterson says. “There was no mystery left in terms of the wolf population,” or what they were eating.

The researchers also observed that, in what normally would have been the wolves’ breeding period, the 7-year-old female bared her teeth in response to the close interest of the 9-year-old male; he is both her father and half sibling.  Researchers don’t expect the highly inbred pair to reproduce.

The two wolves otherwise appeared healthy and still have all their canines, a key sign of well-being in the carnivores. The pair has already surpassed the average Isle Royale wolf lifespan of 4 years, dodging the main causes of death for their ancestors on the island: other wolves and starvation. “They are swimming in moose,” Vucetich says.

The four wolf-killed carcasses the researchers spotted made little dent in the overall moose population, estimated at 1600 in aerial surveys conducted this past winter.  The 20% increase from last winter is consistent with the population’s growth rate over the past 6 years, as the inbred wolf population dwindled and collapsed.  Both beaver and moose abundance have tripled since 2011, “undoubtedly because of lack of predation,” Vucetich says.

With moose density on the Guam-sized island already five to ten times higher than on the mainland–and with the numbers on track to double in three to four years—browsing on the island’s vegetation is intense. One aquatic plant, floating watershield (Brassenia  schreberi), which was abundant six years ago when moose were at historic lows, now thrives in ponds only where moose are excluded. “It’s the aquatic equivalent of deforestation,” says plant ecologist Eric Hellquist of SUNY Oswego, noting that moose’s effect on aquatic vegetation is not as well studied as that on terrestrial plants. Isle Royale’s ponds are demonstrating “how apex predators can have cascading effects on food webs.”

As the effects of the missing predators ripple through the island, the Park Service is assessing about 5000 public comments on its proposal to introduce 20 to 30 wolves to the island to establish a new population. The next steps on that plan are expected by the end of this year.

Midwest, Wyoming lawmakers target wolf protections again

 https://www.washingtonpost.com/national/energy-environment/midwest-wyoming-lawmakers-target-wolf-protections-again/2017/02/26/5e4ce15c-fc50-11e6-9b78-824ccab94435_story.html?utm_term=.73e2d4001ac9
February 26
MINNEAPOLIS — Pressure is building in Congress to take gray wolves in the western Great Lakes region and Wyoming off the endangered list, which would allow farmers to kill the animals if they threaten livestock.

Representatives from Minnesota, Wisconsin, Michigan and Wyoming have asked House Speaker Paul Ryan of Wisconsin for a fast floor vote before the season during which most cows and sheep will give birth begins in earnest. That followed testimony before a Senate committee a week earlier from the president of the Wisconsin Farm Bureau Federation, who said producers need to be able to defend their livestock and livelihoods.

Meanwhile, both sides in the debate are waiting for a federal appeals court to decide whether to uphold lower court rulings that put wolves in the four states back on the list or to let the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service return management of the species to the states, which it has wanted to do for years.

Here’s a look at some of the issues:

THE LETTER

 U.S. Rep. Collin Peterson of Minnesota, the ranking Democrat on the House Agriculture Committee, sent a letter co-signed by seven of his colleagues from the four states to House leaders urging a quick floor vote on a bill to return their wolves to state management. A key component of both is language that would prevent the courts from intervening.

The representatives said it’s urgent because calving season is when cows and calves are most vulnerable.

“As you know, cows and their calves can easily be worth several thousand dollars, so each instance of a wolf attack has devastating economic impacts on ranchers and their families. Currently, ranchers and farmers have no legal actions available to deal with gray wolf attacks because these predators are federally protected,” they wrote.

Peterson said in an interview that they very nearly passed a similar provision in the last Congress and that he thinks they have a decent shot at persuading Ryan to grant an early floor vote. Otherwise they’ll try to attach the language to a bigger appropriations bill later. The legislation is similar to what Congress used to delist wolves in Montana and Idaho in 2011 after courts blocked the federal government’s attempts to lift protections in those states.

“Wolves are not endangered,” Peterson said.

THE HEARING

The Senate’s Committee on Environment and Public Works held an informational hearing Feb. 15 billed as “Modernization of the Endangered Species Act.” Jim Holte, president of the Wisconsin Farm Bureau Federation, complained that it’s been illegal for farmers in the region to kill wolves that prey on their livestock since wolves went back on the list.

“As wolf populations continue to increase, interactions between farmers, their livestock, rural residents and wolves continue to escalate without a remedy in sight,” Holte testified.

THE COURTS

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has long contended that wolves in Minnesota, Wisconsin, Michigan and Wyoming have recovered to the point where they’re no longer threatened, so hunting and trapping can be allowed under state control.

Gray wolves were once hunted to the brink of extinction in the lower 48 states, but they recovered under Endangered Species Act protections and reintroduction programs to the point where they now number around 5,500, according to the service. The combined gray wolf population of the three western Great Lakes states is now about 4,000, while Wyoming has roughly 400. The agency describes wolf numbers in those states as “robust, stable and self-sustaining.”

But federal courts have blocked multiple attempts to take them off the endangered list, most recently in 2014. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit last fall heard oral arguments in challenges to those rulings but hasn’t ruled on them yet.

THE OPPOSITION

Groups that support the federal protections say it’s premature to lift them because wolves are still missing from most of their historical range. They’ve been able to persuade the courts that the terms of the Endangered Species Act requires recovery in more than just a few states, even though the Fish and Wildlife Service disagreed.

Brett Hartl, government affairs director of the Center for Biological Diversity, said he’s skeptical that the latest congressional efforts will get much traction. He said Peterson and the other representatives who sent the letter are just sending a message to their constituents that they’re still trying.

MICHIGAN WOLVES STAY PROTECTED

http://www.gohunt.com/read/news/michigan-wolves-stay-protected

 

Wolf in snow
Photo credits: Shutterstock

Michigan’s wolf hunting law was ruled unconstitutional by the Michigan Court of Appeals last week. This ruling means that the 2014 law that previously permitted wolf hunting within the state (should the animals ever be officially delisted from Michigan’s Endangered Species List) is no longer valid.

Gray wolves have managed to maintain a sustainable number within the state despite the first and only wolf hunt held in late 2013 where 23 wolves were killed; there are approximately 3,700 wolves in the Western Great Lakes population and 630 of them reside in Michigan, according to MLive.com. Last week’s decision was met with great approval by the group Keep Michigan Wolves Protected (KMWP) that had argued that the hunting law was misleading and the language stressed to those asked to sign in support promoted free licenses for veterans and protection against invasive species. KMWP say that signers did not know that wolf hunting was part of the package.

Because of the way the law was promoted, the judges on the panel agreed with KMWP, writing that “we cannot presume that the Legislature would have passed PA 281 without the provision allowing free hunting, trapping, and fishing licenses for active members of the military.” Misleading language in a law is good cause for termination of the entire law and the rationale behind labeling the act as unconstitutional.

“We are delighted the court has rejected the legislature’s outrageous attempt to subvert the will of the people of Michigan, and declared unconstitutional the legislature’s attempt to force a wolf hunt,” KMWP director Jill Fritz told MLive.com. “This ruling restores the people’s decision, in two statewide votes, overwhelmingly rejecting the trophy hunting and commercial trapping of the state’s small population of wolves.”

KMWP supports the downsizing of wolves, which would allow for lethal removal of problem animals without an open hunting season. Current protections only allow for killing a wolf if it attacks a human.

Michigan DNR appeals ruling that put grey wolves back on federal endangered species list

Featured Image -- 7624

By Jonathan Oosting

LANSING, MI — The Michigan Department of Natural Resources on Friday announced that it is appealing a recent federal ruling that returned the state’s grey wolves to the endangered species list.

The ruling, issued by U.S. District Judge Beryl Howell in December, reinstated federal protections for wolves in Michigan and other Great Lakes states that had been removed in 2012, effectively blocking local control efforts.

“Returning wolf management to wildlife professionals in the state of Michigan is critical to retaining a recovered, healthy, and socially-accepted wolf population in our state,” said DNR Director Keith Creagh said in a statement.

“Michigan residents who live with wolves deserve to have a full range of tools available to sustainably manage that population.”

Michigan’s Upper Peninsula is home to slightly more than 600 wolves, up from just six in the 1970s. The DNR has advocated for stronger management and backed the state’s first ever wolf hunt in 2013 as a means to reduce conflicts with livestock and comfort levels around humans.

Michigan’s grey wolf population has been the subject of intense debate in recent years, with the state’s Republican-led Legislature approving two separate hunting laws that were rejected by voters. But a third wolf hunt law, initiated by a petition drive and approved by lawmakers, cannot be overturned via referendum.

Animal rights groups, energized by the December ruling that reinstated federal protections, argue that hunting seasons in Michigan and other Great Lakes states have jeopardized the wolf recovery.

Jill Fritz, state director of the Humane Society of the United States and the Keep Michigan Wolves Protected coalition, said she was not surprised by the DNR’s appeal but “baffled” by the logic.

“I’m curious how having a wolf hunt — and that’s exactly what they want to do — would help retain a quote ‘recovered, healthy, and socially-accepted wolf population,'” she said. “I cannot make any sense of any part of that sentence.”

HSUS and allies have asked the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to “downlist” Great Lakes wolves, reclassifying them as a threatened species rather than an endangered one, which would give the state flexibility to kill or remove nuisance wolves.

Livestock attacks have been an issue for some farmers in the U.P. As MLive previously reported, there were 35 wolf attacks on livestock or dogs in Michigan last year, up from 20 in 2013 but lower than the 41 in 2012.

DNR Wildlife Division Chief Russ Mason, in a statement, called Michigan’s wolf recovery a “great success story” but said the endangered status “leaves farmers and others with no immediate recourse when their animals are being attacked and killed.”

http://www.mlive.com/lansing-news/index.ssf/2015/02/michigan_dnr_appeals_ruling_th.html

Feds restore protected status for Great Lakes wolves!

http://www.detroitnews.com/story/news/local/michigan/2015/02/20/gray-wolves-endangered/23726317/?fb_ref=Default

Associated Press 6:58 a.m. EST February 20, 2015

Traverse City — Gray wolves in the western Great Lakes region are protected by federal law once more.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is publishing a rule Friday designating wolves in Michigan and Wisconsin as “endangered” and those in Minnesota as “threatened.”

The rule complies with a federal judge’s order in December that overruled the agency’s earlier decision to revoke wolves’ protected status and hand management authority to the states.

It means sport hunting and trapping of Great Lakes wolves is no longer permissible.

A spokesman says the agency hasn’t decided whether to appeal the court ruling. Legislation to overturn it has been introduced in Congress.

More than 50 scientists this week signed a letter to Congress saying wolves occupy a small fraction of their former range and still need legal protection.

copyrighted wolf in water