Researcher files complaint against WSU

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Also:

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

WA lawmakers OK new way to deter wolves

http://www.capitalpress.com/Washington/20170420/wa-lawmakers-ok-new-way-to-deter-wolves

Washington lawmakers thrust Department of Agriculture into new campaign to prevent wolves from killing cattle in Ferry, Stevens, Okanogan and Pend Oreille counties.
Don JenkinsCapital Press

Published on April 20, 2017 9:11AM

Washington lawmakers thrust Department of Agriculture into new campaign to prevent wolves from killing cattle in Ferry, Stevens, Okanogan and Pend Oreille counties.

U.S. FISH AND WILDLIFE SERVICE

Washington lawmakers thrust Department of Agriculture into new campaign to prevent wolves from killing cattle in Ferry, Stevens, Okanogan and Pend Oreille counties.

OLYMPIA — A bill creating a new program to prevent wolves from attacking livestock in northeast Washington has been sent by lawmakers to Gov. Jay Inslee.

House Bill 2126 directs the state Department of Agriculture and conservation district board members in Ferry, Okanogan, Stevens and Pend Oreille counties to oversee the awarding of money to nonprofit groups to protect herds, including by hiring range riders. The groups would be required to consult with resource agencies such as the Department of Fish and Wildlife and U.S. Forest Service.

HB 2126 proponents hope locally organized efforts to prevent depredations will be efficient and gain acceptance among producers.

“It needs to be a community-based approach where ranchers up here are largely steering the boat,” said Jay Shepherd of Conservation Northwest, an environmental group active in wolf recovery.

The program would be in addition to WDFW’s depredation-prevention program. Some ranchers have been reluctant to enter into formal agreements with WDFW.

The bill would assign to the state agriculture department for the first time a role in reducing livestock losses to wolves. WSDA stayed neutral on the bill because it wasn’t in the governor’s budget proposal, but will carry out the legislation if signed by Inslee, a department spokesman said.

The bill passed the House and Senate unanimously. It’s unknown how much money would be available to deploy new deterrence measures. The Legislature has not set aside money to fund the program. The bill creates an account in which grants, donations and state appropriations can be deposited.

“This is an important bill that will help us resolve the issue in wolf country,” said the bill’s prime sponsor, Aberdeen Democrat Brian Blake, chairman of the House Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee. “It creates a pot to put contributions into to help fund the efforts to keep wolves and people and livestock separate.”

Cattle Producers of Washington President Scott Nielsen, who’s also vice president of the Stevens County Cattlemen’s Association, said he liked the bill’s intent to involve local residents in making decisions.

But he said that he feared a new program could be used to justify delaying lethal removal of wolves in some cases. Ranchers who have lost livestock to wolves were using non-lethal deterrence measures, he said.

“We already know it has real limited effects,” Nielsen said. “I don’t know that there needs to be more money thrown at it.”

The Department of Fish and Wildlife, which manages wolves, supported the bill.

“We think this is a good approach because it is community based and will increase the uptake of these tools and help reduce the loss of livestock and ultimately the loss of wolves,” WDFW wolf policy coordinator Donny Martorello said.

Wolf management idea makes sense

[Consider the source]:

http://www.capitalpress.com/Opinion/Editorials/20170323/wolf-management-idea-makes-sense

March 23, 2017 9:51AM

Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife managers are offering an idea they believe would help them manage wolves more effectively.

WASHINGTON DEPARTMENT OF FISH AND WILDLIFE

Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife managers are offering an idea they believe would help them manage wolves more effectively.

If one follows the wolf issue long enough, occasionally a nugget of common sense appears.

Such is the case with a recent suggestion the folks at the Washington State Department of Fish and wildlife offered. Speaking during a conference call with the state Wolf Advisory Group, WDFW wolf policy coordinator Donny Martorello offered this idea: that dead livestock be considered “qualifying” victims of wolves if the time, circumstance and location of their deaths parallel other confirmed depredations.

In other words, if a carcass is found near those of other wolf victims but scavengers have destroyed the evidence directly linking the attack to wolves, state wildlife managers could label it a “qualifying” attack.

Previously, such cases were considered “probable” attacks and were not counted against a wolfpack. Under the Washington wolf plan, managers can kill only wolves that are responsible for four confirmed depredations within a year.

While this may seem to be a bureaucratic splitting of hairs, it’s critically important for managing wolves. Under the new idea, if wolves are found to be responsible for four depredations, including any that are “qualifying,” managers could take steps to get rid of the wolves.

A study found wolfpacks that are thinned soon after attacking cattle or sheep get the message that attacking livestock is unacceptable. By including qualifying attacks, managers could act quicker to thin the ranks of wolves instead of waiting weeks or months for another confirmed depredation.

If managers thin a wolfpack after a long period of time, the wolves have no idea whether it is linked to a depredation, according to the study.

The idea is to manage wolves in a way that is both effective and assures ranchers and others that each step is effective.

That in itself is good reason for the department to adopt such a common sense rule.

It’s also something wolf managers in other states would do well to consider.

The state Wolf Advisory Group will discuss the idea during a March 29-30 meeting in Olympia. We urge the group to take a close look at it, as common sense can be a rare commodity when dealing with wolves.

Growing wolf packs leads state to consider changes in kill policy

WENATCHEE, Wash. — The number of wolves in Washington grew to at least 115 last year — up by about 25 animals — and the agency that keeps tabs on them will soon consider changes to make it easier to kill wolves that attack livestock.

The state Department of Fish and Wildlife released its annual gray wolf status report on Friday, and although the number of conflicts with livestock was not unusual, the agency hopes to find a better way to handle repeated wolf attacks by the same pack. Last summer, the Profanity Peak Pack killed or injured at least 10 cattle, and Fish and Wildlife officials killed seven pack members before the problem was resolved.

This year’s annual report shows that all of the state’s wolves are living on the east side of the Cascade Mountains, and three packs — the Lookout Pack near Twisp, the Teanaway Pack south of Wenatchee, and the Loup Loup Pack west of Okanogan — are in North Central Washington. Fifteen of the state’s 20 packs are in the northeast corner of the state, and half of the packs have a breeding pair, the agency’s report said.

The report also documented that last year wolves killed nine cattle, injured six and were probably responsible for killing six more.

On the flip side, 14 wolves died last year — half of them members of the Profanity Peak Pack, which were killed by state Fish and Wildlife officials after repeated attacks on cattle belonging to two ranchers.

Next week, agency officials will meet with the Wolf Advisory Group and attempt to agree on a new protocol for when the state will kill wolves that attacked livestock.

It’s not that last year’s conflicts were unexpected or higher than anticipated, said Donny Martorello, the agency’s wolf policy lead.

“There are no surprises” in the annual report or in last year’s numbers, he said.

But there may be a better way to handle problem wolves and prevent a repeat of last summer’s conflicts on the Colville National Forest, which, after three months, left 15 dead or injured cattle and led to killing seven of the 11 members of the Profanity Peak Pack.

The 18-member Wolf Advisory Group includes citizen members from several perspectives that includes ranchers and animal conservation organizations. Martorello said even before issues were raised over handling of the Profanity Peak Pack, the group had planned to revisit the agency’s protocols for when to kill wolves and to adapt to changes as they come up.

“All of us are looking for ways to help reduce the amount of conflict so fewer livestock die and fewer wolves die. Those are the common interests,” he said.

Livestock owners are already working to prevent conflicts using fencing, hazing, guard dogs and range riders to reduce the likelihood of a first incident.

Martorello said that although almost all of the state’s wolf territories overlap with livestock range land, 80 percent of them had no conflicts with domestic animals. Judging by wolf-livestock conflicts in other states, it’s not unusual to see 20 percent of the packs involved in attacks on livestock, he added.

Part of the discussion on a possible new wolf protocol will be whether to change the current policy, which now says that the agency will consider killing wolves after there are four confirmed attacks on livestock. Martorello said they will look at adding probable attacks — not just confirmed attacks — that include just one confirmed kill.

The suggestion is based, in part, on a U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service study concluding that killing part of a pack works best to deter continued livestock attacks when it’s done within a week of the conflict. Adding just one week to that time frame makes the partial-pack removal about as effective as doing nothing, the study concluded.

(Press release by WDFW)

Washington State now home to 115 wolves…

Washington state’s wolf population grew by 28 percent last year and added at least two new packs, according to an annual report released today by the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW).

By the end of 2016, the state was home to a minimum of 115 wolves, 20 packs, and 10 successful breeding pairs documented by WDFW field staff during surveys conducted late last year. The findings draw on information gathered from aerial surveys, remote cameras, wolf tracks, and signals from radio-collared wolves in 13 packs.

The number of animals documented last December represents an increase of at least 25 individual wolves since 2015, despite the confirmed deaths of 14 wolves from various causes. Wolf counts are expressed as “minimum estimates,” due to the difficulty of accounting for every animal, especially lone wolves without a pack.

The report is available on WDFW’s website at http://wdfw.wa.gov/conservation/gray_wolf

All but eliminated from western states in the last century, Washington’s wolf population has grown steadily since 2008, when wildlife managers documented the state’s first resident pack since the 1930s in Okanogan County.

Gray wolves are listed under state law as endangered throughout Washington state. In the western two-thirds of the state, they are also listed as endangered under the federal Endangered Species Act.

All of the wolf packs documented in the report were found east of the Cascade Mountains, and 15 of Washington’s 20 known wolf packs are located in a four-county area in the northeast corner of the state. The Sherman pack, one of the two new packs confirmed last year, is in that area. The other new pack, the Touchet pack, is in southeastern Washington, east of Walla Walla.

“Washington’s wolf population continues to grow at about 30 percent each year,” said WDFW Director Jim Unsworth. “That increase, along with the concentration of wolves in northeast Washington, underscores the importance of collaborating with livestock producers and local residents to prevent conflict between wolves and domestic animals.”

State management of wolves is guided by the Wolf Conservation and Management Plan of 2011 and a protocol for reducing conflicts between wolves and livestock adopted by WDFW in conjunction with its 18-member Wolf Advisory Group.

The report outlines an array of non-lethal strategies WDFW employed last year to reduce conflicts between wolves and domestic animals, including cost-sharing agreements with 55 ranchers who took proactive steps to protect their livestock. State assistance included range riders to check on livestock, guard dogs, fox lights, fladry for fences and reports on the packs’ movements.

No conflicts with livestock were documented for 16 out of the 20 wolf packs identified in the report. Four packs – and one lone wolf – were each involved in at least one event leading to the death of a cow or calf in 2016.

The largest losses were inflicted by the Profanity Peak pack, which killed or injured at least 10 cattle on a grazing allotment in the Colville National Forest. Consistent with the state’s wolf plan and protocol for lethal action, WDFW removed seven members of the pack after non-lethal measures failed to stop wolves from preying on a rancher’s herd.

Seven other wolf mortalities referenced in the report were the result of legal tribal harvest, other human actions, and unknown causes.

“We know that some level of conflict is inevitable between wolves and livestock sharing the landscape,” said Donny Martorello, WDFW wolf manager. “For that reason, we are encouraged by the growing number of livestock producers using proactive, non-lethal measures to protect their herds and flocks over the past two years.”

The report notes that WDFW paid a total of $77,978 in 2016 to compensate ranchers for their losses.

Contributors to WDFW’s annual wolf report include the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, USDA Wildlife Service, the Confederated Colville Tribes and the Spokane Tribe of Indians.

Non-lethal control more effective, not perfect

http://www.scnews.com/news/article_2facc034-02c6-11e7-af32-3b60d9f3d592.html

  • By Matt Spaw WNPA Olympia News Bureau
  • Mar 10, 2017

In a surprising turn, a state panel in Olympia discussing studies of lethal means to control wolves preying on farm animals and invading humans’ territory, found that non-lethal control is a more effective option.

Wildlife experts and members of the public came together at a Washington Fish and Wildlife Commission meeting Feb. 10 to discuss wolf removal.

According to the panel, most of the state’s wolf packs are in northeastern Washington, with some in the North Cascades region. The panel was made up of Department of Wildlife experts specializing in wolves, wildlife conflict and carnivores.

Wolves present a challenge for livestock owners. Wolves are reestablishing themselves after being nearly eradicated in the early 1900s, but ranchers and others face the problem of protecting their livestock from wolf predation.

“We need to hone in on our objective. Is it tolerance? Is it to stop depredations forever?” said Donny Martorello, wolf policy lead for the state agency.

The panel went over studies about the culling of wolf populations.

Four of the five non-lethal tests reviewed had preventive effects, while only two of the seven lethal tests had preventive effects. Two of the lethal tests increased predation.

Non-lethal methods include fladry, which involves hanging flags that flap in the breeze and scare wolves, as well as using guard dogs for livestock.

In some areas the desired effect of culling wolf populations occurred.

“Less livestock were killed. In some areas it did not work,” Martorello said. “It drives home the message that there is no perfect solution.”

The department suspended the controversial killing of Profanity Peak wolves in October. That program, aimed at killing a pack of 11 wolves, resulted in the deaths of seven and cost $135,000 before being suspended. The wolves had attacked or killed about 15 cattle.

“Wolves are one of the most studied animals on the planet,” said Scott Becker, state wolf specialist.

The panelists also examined public opinion of wolves and what studies say about perception.

“If one has a positive valuation of wolves, they generally like to focus on the benefits,” Becker said. “If one has a negative value of wolves, they generally focus on those costs.”

Only 61 of 358 Northern Rocky Mountain region wolf packs in the United States — or about 17 percent — were involved in at least one confirmed livestock killing, according to Becker. People are willing to accept some level of conflict with wolves, but 50 to 70 percent of that conflict occurs on private property, which could affect public perceptions.

The department’s Wolf Advisory Group will use the meeting’s findings to inform future recommendations. Advisory group members are landowners, conservationists, hunters and other interests who work together to recommend strategies for reducing conflict with wolves.

This story is part of a series of news reports from the Washington State Legislature provided through a reporting internship sponsored by the Washington Newspaper Publishers Association Foundation.

How Washington ranchers are learning to cope with wolves, with lessons from Uganda

https://www.pri.org/stories/2017-02-24/how-washington-ranchers-are-learning-cope-wolves-lessons-uganda

Bill &Carol2.jpg

Rancher Bill Johnson and wildlife researcher Carol Bogezi are pictured, here, on Johnson’s ranch in Washington’s Teanaway Valley. Bogezi has been working with Johnson and other ranchers in eastern Washington to try to find a way to help them live more amicably with wolves.

Credit: Eilis O’Neil

Bill Johnson lives with his seven border collies in a log house that he built himself in the Teanaway Valley, just over the Cascade Mountains that divide rural eastern Washington state from the more urban western part.

Johnson’s been a cowboy here for about 16 years. When he started, there were no wolves around, but that changed about five years ago. He vividly remembers his first encounter with the returning predators.

He was driving out of the valley one night when a deer ran across the road.

“And these three large German shepherds ran across after the deer,” he says. “And I’m thinking, ‘Those aren’t German shepherds, those are wolves. … Those are wolves! Can you believe it?’”

A month later, the return of wolves to the area really hit home. Johnson was out with his dogs when one of them — Lance — disappeared.

“Lance went off on his own and by the time I realized he was gone, it was too late,” Johnson says, his voice cracking and his eyes tearing up. It was the first animal he’d lost to a wolf.

That night, Johnson saddled his horse and grabbed his gun.

“I was going to kill every wolf in the Teanaway,” he says.

Bill Johnson raises cattle but the first animal he lost to a wolf after they returned to the region was one of his beloved border collies. When that happen, Johnson says, he wanted "to kill every wolf in the Teanaway."

Bill Johnson raises cattle but the first animal he lost to a wolf after they returned to the region was one of his beloved border collies. When that happened, Johnson says, he wanted “to kill every wolf in the Teanaway.”

Credit: Eilis O’Neil

Johnson says a lot of ranchers in eastern Washington feel the same.

“There are ranchers who operate on the premise that ‘the only good wolf is a dead wolf,’” Johnson says. “When the wolves first came here, their vision was that the wolf pack was going to run rampant through the Teanaway Valley and kill all the elk and all the deer, and then start working on the horses and the llamas and the cattle, and eventually they would start pulling children out of the sleeping bags at night.”

It’s a common fear around here. Wolves have been unknown in Washington since the 1930s when they were largely eradicated.

But, since 2008, Washington’s wolf population has gone from zero to nearly 100, as wolves began moving back to the state from longstanding populations in Canada and reintroduced populations in the northern Rocky Mountains.

Conservationists have championed the return of wolves to some of their original territory. But many ranchers and other rural residents see the animals as a threat to their way of life.

It’s not an abstract fear. Since the first wolves returned, they’ve killed at least 27 cattle.

Wolves were eradicated from Washington state in the early 20th century, but they've begun repopulating the state over the last decade. This photo was shot by the state's wildlife department in 2014.

Wolves were eradicated from Washington state in the early 20th century, but they’ve begun repopulating the state over the last decade. This photo was shot by the state’s wildlife department in 2014.

Credit: Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife

The state generally protects the animals, but it does have a policy of culling any pack in eastern Washington that kills more than four cattle.

It also offers to compensate ranchers for animals lost to wolves, but it turns out that ranchers don’t much like that idea.

“With compensation, someone comes in and you have to write [everything] down, and it’s like you’re begging for this money,” says Carol Bogezi, a researcher at the University of Washington in Seattle. Bogezi’s been talking about wolves with ranchers and cowboys like Bill Johnson for the past two years, enough time to know how many of them they feel.

And getting to know them well has been key to her work here: trying to find ways to help rural residents become more accepting of wolves.

The effort starts with the choice of attire for her conversations: a checked flannel shirt.

And she says she starts every interview in the same way: “I’m not even from Seattle,” she tells each rancher, “so I won’t be telling you what to do!”

“Not from Seattle.” It’s a big icebreaker in these parts. For many folks in eastern Washington, Seattle represents the urban elite, people who like to pontificate about what others should do but have no idea what life elsewhere is really like.

And Bogezi is, indeed, not from Seattle. She grew up in Uganda on her family’s small farm outside the capital Kampala. But she says she understands the ranchers’ perspective because her family had problems with predators, too — things like civet cats and monkeys that would eat her family’s chickens, sheep and goats.

It was her job to shoo the predators away during the day. At night, the family hired someone to take more lethal action.

Bogezi would sometimes find a dead predator in the morning.

“It was heartbreaking,” she says. “You don’t want them to be eating the lambs or baby goats or chickens, that’s tough, but then also finding a dead civet cat felt sad.”

Carol Bogezi says she learned empathy for ranchers dealing with predators growing up on her family's farm in Uganda. She also says her status as an outsider in Washington's ranching communities made her have to listen more closely to residents' concerns t

Carol Bogezi says she learned empathy for ranchers dealing with predators growing up on her family’s farm in Uganda. She also says her status as an outsider in Washington’s ranching communities made her have to listen more closely to residents’ concerns than someone else might have.

Credit: Eilis O’Neil

Bogezi says her family thought she’d outgrow her love of predators, but she didn’t. After college in Uganda, she worked with crocodiles before getting a scholarship for grad school at the University of Washington.

At UW, she’s studied a range of possible solutions to Washington’s wolf conflict. The one she thinks would work best is a wolf-friendly meat certification program, in which ranchers who do their best to minimize conflict would be able to sell their meat for a premium in — ironically — places like Seattle.

There are a couple of reasons it could work, she believes.

“Once a market incentive takes off,” Bogezi says, “it pretty much is regulated by the laws of economics, which ranchers really mostly like to work with.”

And places like Montana have already tried out similar programs, so “it’s also not a very novel thing in the West,” she says. “You don’t have to start from scratch.”

Bogezi recently won a fellowship from the Seattle-based Bullitt Foundation that will help her study the certification idea from the consumer side, to see how much people might be willing to pay for wolf-friendly meat.

After that, she hopes to start a trial run of such a program.

Rancher Johnson was skeptical of the idea at first. But he says his talks with Bogezi helped change his mind about living with wolves.

“Once the anger and the grief was gone, it was a natural process,” Johnson says. “You take somebody swimming in the ocean, there’s a chance they get eaten by a shark. The wolves came back — they’ve basically wandered back into their homeland — and so we’re going to get along. We’re going to make it work.”

If it does work, Bogezi says it may be partly because of her role as an outsider — not just from the other side of the mountains, but from the other side of the world.

“Because what happened here, is, I have to listen more. I have to make sure I understand,” she says. “And I think that’s a great skill to have when you’re going to be working with communities about wildlife or other natural resources which they may not think of as the most valuable thing.”

It’s a skill that Bogezi eventually hopes to bring back to Uganda, as well. When she has finished her work here, she wants to go home to work on preventing conflicts between people and elephants.

Wolf Packs in Washington (as of June 2016)

This shows wolf packs in Washington as of June 2016. The state’s wolf population has grown from zero to around 100 since 2008, after having been eradicated in the 1930s.

Credit: Washington Department of Fish & Wildlife

The WDFW & University of Washington are Collaborating on Wolf Study

http://lcvalley.dailyfly.com/Home/ArtMID/1352/ArticleID/45975/The-WDFW-University-of-Washington-are-Collaborating-on-Wolf-Study

pbrinegar / Monday, February 20, 2017

OLYMPIA, WA – The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife and the University of Washington are collaborating on a study to determine how eight years of growth in the wolf population is affecting other wildlife species in the state. This study is expected to last five years and will assess the health of deer and elk herds in northeast Washington.
From the WDFW:
“The experience in other western states shows that wolves and other predators may affect the size and behavior of deer and elk herds,” said Eric Gardner, head of the WDFW Wildlife Program. “We want to take a closer look at the situation here in Washington state as our own wolf population continues to grow.”
Researchers will also examine the response to wolves by other predators, especially cougars, said Gardner, noting that the study will dovetail with an ongoing research project on moose in northeast Washington.
As of June 2016, WDFW had confirmed the presence of 19 wolf packs and at least 90 wolves in Washington state – up from a single pack with five wolves in 2008. Most of the growth in the state’s wolf population has occurred in northeastern Washington, where the new study is now underway.
In January, WDFW research scientists and field biologists began capturing deer, elk, and cougars and fitting them with radio-collars to monitor their movements. Capture techniques include trapping animals using bait, steering them into nets, and darting them from helicopters with immobilization drugs.
The goal is to keep 65 white-tailed deer, 50 elk, and 10 cougars collared in one study area that includes areas of Ferry, Stevens and Pend Oreille counties, said John Pierce, chief scientist for the WDFW Wildlife Program. In addition, researchers plan to collar 100 mule deer and 10 cougars in a second area in Okanogan County.
Some wolves are already radio-collared in those areas, but researchers want to maintain collars on at least two wolves in each pack within the study areas, Pierce said.
Pierce asks that hunters who take a collared deer or elk contact the department, so researchers can recover the collar.
UW students will join WDFW research scientists and field biologists to monitor radio-collared animals and track their movements, distribution, habitat use, diet, productivity and survival. Cougars will be monitored to learn about changes in social behavior, prey selection and predation rates in areas where wolves also occur.
“This study concentrates on multiple-use lands used by people for activities such as logging, livestock ranching and hunting,” Pierce said. “In that way it differs from most other studies on the impact of wolves, which tend to be conducted in national parks and other protected areas.”
Pierce said the principal investigators from WDFW and UW will periodically develop and publicly share progress reports about the study over the next five years.
Funding for the five-year study includes $400,000 from a 2015 state legislative appropriation, $450,000 in federal Pittman-Robertson funds and $150,000 of WDFW funds. The UW also secured nearly $900,000 in National Science Foundation grant funds for the project.

Bill Introduced by State Lawmaker to Remove NE WA Gray Wolves From Endangered List

Mia Carlson / Monday, February 13, 2017

OLYMPIA, WA – A Washington State lawmaker has introduced legislation that would remove gray wolves from the Fish and Wildlife Commission’s endangered species list in four eastern Washington counties. House Bill 1872 would prohibit the agency from designating or maintaining a designation of the gray wolf as an endangered, threatened, or sensitive species in those counties along the Canadian border – areas of the state hit the hardest by predatory actions.

The bill’s sponsor, State Representative Joel Kretz, raises horses and cattle on a ranch in the mountains of Okanogan County near Wauconda.  He says he has seen firsthand the devastation of predatory gray wolves.

“We’ve got one rancher with upwards of 70 head losses this year. You can’t sustain that very long. I’m really concerned that we’ve got grazing season this spring and I’m afraid that we’ll have a lot of ranchers will be out of business this year if it goes like it has,” Kretz says.

Kretz says the federal government has already delisted gray wolves. Some 19 packs have recovered with growing populations, and 16 of those packs are in northcentral and northeast Washington counties. The 7th District lawmaker says his bill could allow the state to get a preview in the four counties of proper wolf management before the animal is finally de-listed statewide.

The bill has been referred to the House Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee.

Kill Them or Move Them? Wolf Control Options Weigh on Wildlife Panel

http://www.chronline.com/news/kill-them-or-move-them-wolf-control-options-weigh-on/article_824b6554-f3ab-11e6-8060-8b4d17214337.html

Legislature: Wildlife Experts, Members of the Public Say They Prefer Relocation

  • By Matt Spaw / For The Chronicle
  • Feb 15, 2017

OLYMPIA — In a surprising turn, a state panel discussing studies of lethal means to control wolves preying on farm animals and invading humans’ territory found that non-lethal control is a more effective option.

Wildlife experts and members of the public came together at a Washington Fish and Wildlife Commission meeting Friday to discuss wolf removal.

According to the panel, most of the state’s wolf packs are in northeastern Washington, with some in the North Cascades region. The panel was made up of Department of Wildlife experts specializing in wolves, wildlife conflict and carnivores.

Wolves present a challenge for livestock owners. Wolves are reestablishing themselves after being nearly eradicated in the early 1900s, but ranchers and others face the problem of protecting their livestock from wolf predation.

“We need to hone in on our objective. Is it tolerance? Is it to stop depredations forever?” said Donny Martorello, wolf policy lead for the state agency.

The panel went over studies about the culling of wolf populations. The studies were all peer-reviewed, but taken together were not conclusive. The primary focus of Friday’s meeting was on using lethal methods to cull wolf populations, although non-lethal means also were discussed and debated.

Most of the studies examined Friday found non-lethal methods to be more effective than lethal methods at preventing livestock death. Four of the five non-lethal tests had preventive effects, while only two of the seven lethal tests had preventive effects. Two of the lethal tests increased predation.

Non-lethal methods include fladry, which involves hanging flags that flap in the breeze and scare wolves, as well as using guard dogs for livestock.

In some areas the desired effect of culling wolf populations occurred. “Less livestock were killed. In some areas it did not work,” Martorello said. “It drives home the message that there is no perfect solution.”

The department suspended the controversial killing of Profanity Peak wolves in October. That program, aimed at killing a pack of 11 wolves, resulted in the deaths of seven and cost $135,000 before being suspended. The wolves had attacked or killed about 15 cattle.

“Wolves are one of the most studied animals on the planet,” said Scott Becker, state wolf specialist. The large number of recent studies used by the panel supported that statement.

Panel members said their own anecdotal evidence and personal experience also provide important information about wolf populations and control.

The panelists also examined public opinion of wolves and what studies say about perception.

“If one has a positive valuation of wolves, they generally like to focus on the benefits,” Becker said. “If one has a negative value of wolves, they generally focus on those costs.”

Only 61 of 358 Northern Rocky Mountain region wolf packs in the United States — or about 17 percent — were involved in at least one confirmed livestock killing, according to Becker. People are willing to accept some level of conflict with wolves, but 50 to 70 percent of that conflict occurs on private property, which could affect public perceptions.

At the meeting, public comments centered on opposition to lethal methods of wolf removal.

“We spend too much time talking about lethal removal. Could we have a panel on non-lethal control?” asked Melinda Hirsch of Conservation Northwest. “The studies are showing that those are the ones that are effective.”

The meeting will be used by the department’s Wolf Advisory Group to inform future recommendations. The group of landowners, conservationists, hunters and other interests work together to recommend strategies for reducing conflict with wolves.

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