Wolves and Baboons in Ethiopia Form Unlikely Friendships



Wolves show an increase in capturing rodents when within a gelada baboon herd
Post published by Marc Bekoff Ph.D. on Jun 19, 2015 in Animal Emotions

There are always surprises looming in the study of animal behavior. Just this week I learned that rare and critically endangered Ethiopian wolves living in the alpine grasslands form a pact with gelada baboons that helps the wolves catch rodents.

In an essay called “Monkeys’ cosy alliance with wolves looks like domestication (link is external)” by Bob Holmes in New Scientist we learn that “wolves succeeded in 67 per cent of attempts [to catch rodents] when within a gelada herd, but only 25 per cent of the time when on their own.” However, it’s not clear what makes the wolves more successful but it’s possible that hiding out in the herd is beneficial for these predators. (The title of Mr. Holmes’ essay in the print edition of New Scientist is titled “Wolves hang out with monkeys to hunt.”)

Mr. Holmes’ summary is based on a report by Dartmouth College’s Vivek Venkataraman and his colleagues titled “Solitary Ethiopian wolves increase predation success on rodents when among grazing gelada monkey herds (link is external)” published in the Journal of Mammalogy. The abstract of this study reads: “Mixed-species associations generally form to increase foraging success or to aid in the detection and deterrence of predators. While mixed-species associations are common among mammals, those involving carnivorous predators and potential prey species are seldom reported. On the Guassa Plateau, in the Ethiopian highlands, we observed solitary Ethiopian wolves (Canis simensis) foraging for rodents among grazing gelada monkey (Theropithecus gelada) herds. The tolerant and sometimes prolonged (> 1h) associations contrasted with the defensive behaviors exhibited by geladas toward other potential predators. Ethiopian wolves spent a higher proportion of time foraging and preyed more successfully on rodents when among geladas than when alone, providing evidence that gelada herds increase the vulnerability of subterranean rodents to predation. Ethiopian wolves appear to habituate gelada herds to their presence through nonthreatening behavior, thereby foregoing opportunistic foraging opportunities upon vulnerable juvenile geladas in order to feed more effectively on rodents. For Ethiopian wolves, establishing proximity to geladas as foraging commensals could be an adaptive strategy to elevate foraging success. The novel dynamics documented here shed light on the ecological circumstances that contribute to the stability of mixed groups of predators and potential prey.”

What’s very interesting is that the wolves don’t prey on the vulnerable baboons. To wit, “Only once has Venkataraman seen a wolf seize a young gelada, and other monkeys quickly attacked it and forced it to drop the infant, then drove the offending wolf away and prevented it from returning later.”

What I also found to be of interest is the speculation that the association between the wolves and the baboons resembled early moments in the domestication of dogs by humans. In a sidebar to the above essay called “Taming man’s best friend,” University of Oxford conservation biologist Claudio Sillero “doubts that the relationship could progress further down the road to domestication” because there is no reciprocal benefit for the baboons. Nonetheless, the association between the wolves and baboons is extremely interesting and “unlikely friendships (link is external)” such as these might be more common than we have previously imagined among wild animals. (For more on the domestication of dogs please see essays published by Psychology Today writer Mark Derr, an expert on this topic.)

Please stay tuned for more on the fascinating lives of the magnificent animals with whom we share our wondrous planet. There still is much to learn and there always are “surprises” looming on the horizon.

Marc Bekoff’s latest books are Jasper’s story: Saving moon bears (with Jill Robinson), Ignoring nature no more: The case for compassionate conservationWhy dogs hump and bees get depressed, and Rewilding our hearts: Building pathways of compassion and coexistence.

Who Really Are the Predators?

by Rosemary Lowe

A quote from this article:  https://exposingthebiggame.wordpress.com/2015/06/11/ranchers-mourn-wildlife-employees-killed-in-plane-crash/,  clearly indicates just how wide spread the massive slaughter of native carnivores is all over NM:
“Ranchers across New Mexico are mourning the two men, who were working for the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Wildlife Services branch at the time of the crash. Ranchers say they would often turn to Hobbs and Tunnell for help in protecting their cattle and sheep from predators.”
As a dedicated wildlife activist, I will never back down from my belief (from years of witnessing  the decline of native wildlife due to ranching and hunting activities), that if we truly wish to save native wildlife, here is what we must work for:
1. Dedicate our efforts to Abolishing NM Game & Fish.  Sorry, reform or restructuring will not be sufficient, due to the intrinsic corruption in this agency.
2. Work tirelessly to End Livestock Grazing on Public Lands. If the Mexican Wolf “recovery program” is anything, it is a failed project.Why? Any wildlife reintroduction or protection plan that includes the infamous “Wildlife Services” as a lead player in such programs, is bound to failure, and the wolves will continue to die, under the this barbaric approach, which works for the livestock industry.
3. Wolves, and other so-called “predators” must be given priority for protection,, over any livestock grazing, with clear emphasis on Preservation of these species, along with their habitats. Ranchers will just have to get along with grazing on private lands.
I plan to be at the Saturday Taos, NM Game Meeting and Rally. But, I do not plan to appease these game biostitutes, ranchers or hunters.
Those who would like to get serious about this issue, let’s plan to get together. I have been before these agencies for many years. Things are only getting worse for the wildlife. Isn’t time we do something different?
For The Wild Ones,
Rosemary Lowe   www.foranimals.org

NYT Opinion: Tapping Your Inner Wolf


MEN often face pressure to measure up as alpha males, to “wolf up” as it were. Alpha male connotes the man who at every moment demonstrates that he’s in total control in the home, and who away from home can become snarling and aggressive.

This alpha male stereotype comes from a misunderstanding of the real thing. In fact, the male wolf is an exemplary male role model. By observing wolves in free-living packs in Yellowstone National Park, I’ve seen that the leadership of the ranking male is not forced, not domineering and not aggressive to those on his team.

“The main characteristic of an alpha male wolf,” the veteran wolf researcher Rick McIntyre told me as we were watching gray wolves, “is a quiet confidence, quiet self-assurance. You know what you need to do; you know what’s best for your pack. You lead by example. You’re very comfortable with that. You have a calming effect.”

The point is, alpha males are not aggressive. They don’t need to be. “Think of an emotionally secure man, or a great champion. Whatever he needed to prove is already proven,” he said.

[I lived next door to Rick McItyre, just outside Yellowstone. His description of alpha male wolves matches the Hayden Pack’s alpha male I wrote about in my book, Exposing the Big Game, Jim]

Niv Bavarsky

There is an evolutionary logic to it.

“Imagine two wolf packs, or two human tribes,” Mr. McIntyre said. “Which is more likely to survive and reproduce? The one whose members are more cooperative, more sharing, less violent with one another; or the group whose members are beating each other up and competing with one another?”

Mr. McIntyre has spent 20 years watching and studying wolves in Yellowstone for the National Park Service. He rises early, uses radio telemetry to pinpoint the location of a pack with a radio-collared member, then heads out with his spotting scope to observe them, keeping careful notes of their activities.

In all that time, he has rarely seen an alpha male act aggressively toward the pack’s other members. They are his family — his mate, offspring (both biological and adopted) and maybe a sibling.

This does not mean that alpha males are not tough when they need to be. One famous wolf in Yellowstone whose radio collar number, 21, became his name, was considered a “super wolf” by the people who closely observed the arc of his life. He was fierce in defense of family and apparently never lost a fight with a rival pack. Yet within his own pack, one of his favorite things was to wrestle with little pups.

“And what he really loved to do was to pretend to lose. He just got a huge kick out of it,” Mr. McIntyre said.

One year, a pup was a bit sickly. The other pups seemed to be afraid of him and wouldn’t play with him. Once, after delivering food for the small pups, 21 stood looking around for something. Soon he started wagging his tail. He’d been looking for the sickly little pup, and he just went over to hang out with him for a while.

Of all Mr. McIntyre’s stories about the super wolf, that’s his favorite. Strength impresses us. But kindness is what we remember best.

If you watch wolves, it’s hard to escape the conclusion that perhaps no two species are more alike behaviorally than wolves and humans. Living as we do in families, we can easily recognize the social structures and status quests in wolf packs. No wonder Native Americans recognized in wolves a sibling spirit.

The similarities between male wolves and male humans can be quite striking. Males of very few other species help procure food year-round for the entire family, assist in raising their young to full maturity and defend their packs year-round against others of their species who threaten their safety. Male wolves appear to stick more with that program than their human counterparts do.

Biologists used to consider the alpha male the undisputed boss. But now they recognize two hierarchies at work in wolf packs — one for the males, the other for the females.

Doug Smith, the biologist who is the project leader for the Yellowstone Gray Wolf Restoration Project, said the females “do most of the decision making” for the pack, including where to travel, when to rest and when to hunt. The matriarch’s personality can set the tone for the whole pack, Dr. Smith said.

Or, as Mr. McIntyre put it: “It’s the alpha female who really runs the show.”

Clearly, our alpha male stereotype could use a corrective makeover. Men can learn a thing or two from real wolves: less snarl, more quiet confidence, leading by example, faithful devotion in the care and defense of families, respect for females and a sharing of responsibilities. That’s really what wolfing up should mean.☐

Sign on Letter to Congress

Sign on date by Friday April 17th

Attachments report and letter and list of signatures to date

Hello friends and colleagues,

Some of you have helped me in the past by signing onto a letter to request a ban on carnivore hunting in the National Seashore. I am writing again to ask for your help in signing another important letter.

As you know, federal protection for Wyoming wolves was restored September 2014. Then in December 2014, federal protections for wolves in the Great joh States was restored through judicial  action (HSUS v. Jewell).  In response to the decisions, two separate bills have been introduced: The Western Great Lakes Wolf Management Act (HR 843), introduced by Representative John Kline (R MN) now has 11 co-sponsors and Reissuing Final Rules Regarding Gray Wolves in the Western Great Lakes (HR (884) introduced by Representative Reid Ribble (R WI) now has 11 co-sponsors.

We have every reason to fear these bills since a bad precedent was set in 2011 when federal protections for wolves was removed through Congressional intervention in the Western states when legislation was attached as a rider to the “must pass” budget bill.  It could happen again.

Although several sign-on letters have been circulated, this one is different as it asks for a NO vote for each of the two bills but also offers two alternatives: 1) the HSUS petition to downgrade wolves from endangered to threatened and 2) to ask Congress to do some real work and use the Bruskotter/Vucetich Framework for Recovery as a start to address ambiguities in the ESA.

We are asking that you sign on to the attached document by submitting:




YOUR EMAIL (Your email will not be included in the document, it will only be used in case we need to contact you)


SEND TO louise@kaneproductions.net BY Friday, APRIL 17 , 2015

We plan to send the letter with all the signatories to members of Congress, their aids and USFWS along with Secretary Jewell when Congress returns from spring break.

Below is the link to the document (if you need a link to share) that is on the carnivore conservation act website.


Please distribute this message to colleagues and/or organizations or businesses that would be willing to sign. Our goal is to get a minimum of 150 signatories.  Please be one!

copyrighted wolf in river

Do We Need Wolves?


March 10, 2015

Article source:
In These Times

Howling For Wolves President and Founder Dr. Maureen Hackett was recently highlighted in the article, “Do We Need Wolves?” in the March, 10 edition of In These Times magazine.

The article explores the history of wolves in the United States – how their population dwindled, and then increased, and what past and current challenges they face. Author John Collins particularly explains the many ways wolves are vital to our ecology – citing Yellowstone National Park’s revitalization after they reintroduced wolves as a case study. Collins also addresses myths about wolves – such as how they actually have a net positive and not net negative as widely believed by hunters, when it comes to deer populations.

Dr. Hackett is quoted in the article explaining support for the use of non-lethal and scientific wolf management practices. She also provides information about state wolf management and the unfortunate negative attitude towards wolves.

Read the full article at the link above.

copyrighted Hayden wolf in lodgepoles

18 wolves shot near Interior AK village to boost moose population


Dermot Cole

Oregon wolves a conservation success story/Delisting would be a mistake

copyrighted Hayden wolf in lodgepoles

Oregon wolves a conservation success story, biologist says

 Eric Mortenson

Capital Press   March 6, 2015 

With nine packs and six pairs that may grow to form more, Oregon’s gray wolf population is increasing at a healthy pace.
SALEM — With nine known packs and six “start-up pairs” identified, Oregon’s gray wolves are continuing to increase and are spreading from the northeast corner of the state, the state’s wolf program coordinator reported to the state Department of Fish and Wildlife Commission Friday.

Wildlife biologist Russ Morgan said Oregon’s wolves are increasing at a pace identical to their recovery in the northern Rocky Mountains.

“From a conservation perspective this is very much a measure of success,” Morgan said.

The 2014 shows Oregon has a minimum of 77 wolves, including 26 known pups, in nine packs. More importantly, eight of those packs contained breeding pairs, meaning they had at least two pups that survived to the end of the year.

The numbers mean ODFW now moves into what’s known as Phase 2 of the Oregon Wolf Plan, the hard-fought compromise that governs wolf conservation and management in the state. It also means the agency can propose removing wolves from the state’s endangered species list. That’s likely to be a lengthy public process. More immediately, Phase 2 gives ranchers the right to shoot wolves caught in the act of biting, killing or chasing livestock.

State delisting would eliminate endangered species status for wolves in the eastern third of the state. Wolves in the rest of Oregon — all areas west of state Highways 395, 78 and 95 — remain covered under the federal Endangered Species Act, administered by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. The federal jurisdiction includes the Southwest Oregon Cascades now inhabited by the well-traveled OR-7 and his mate and pups.

Oregon’s true wolf population is unknown but is certainly higher than 77, Morgan said. The state tracks wolves from signals emitted by radio collars, but only 33 wolves have been collared in a decade of work. Many of those collars have failed, or the wolves have died or been killed, leaving researchers with only 13 collared wolves at year’s end. Three radio-collared wolves dispersed out of state in 2014, Morgan said. One was killed in Idaho, one was killed in Montana, and the third is living in Washington, Morgan said.

In his remarks to the wildlife commission and in an interview, Morgan said five of the six pairs living outside designated packs are known to be male-female pairs, which could produce pups and expand to pack status.

“These pairs are very important, they really represent an increasing population,” Morgan said.

In comments to the commission, representatives of three hunting organizations said the state should continue following the wolf plan guidelines.

“Certainly the population growth has caused some issues, but we strongly support staying the course with your plan,” said Dave Wiley, representing the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation.

Stephanie Taylor of Portland, who said she has an environmental science degree and hopes to become a wolf biologist, said it is “premature” to allow ranchers to take lethal measures against wolves.

Jerome Rosa, executive director of the Oregon Cattlemen’s Association, said the population increase means it is time to “think about the maximum number of wolves that will be acceptable.”

Rosa said the OCA is working on a idea to help fund endangered species programs with a self-imposed fee assessed to ranchers. “It would be unprecedented for our organization,” he said.

The OCA has previously said it expects more attacks on livestock this year if wolves remain on the endangered species list.

Conservation groups oppose delisting Oregon wolves too soon. Oregon Wild, a key player in formulating the wolf plan, said the wolf count represents “great progress” but does not represent biological recovery. Conservation director Doug Heiken has said the state needs to see better geographical distribution of wolves as well. He said that will happen over time if wolves are not prematurely delisted and “persecuted.”

How Many Wolves Died for Your Hamburger?

by               06/27/2014

Population and Sustainability Director, Center for Biological


When you bite into a hamburger or steak, you already know the cost to the cow, but what about the wolves, coyotes, bears and other wildlife that were killed in getting that meat to your plate?

There are a lot of ways that meat production hurts wildlife, from habitat taken over by feed crops to rivers polluted by manure to climate change caused by methane emissions. But perhaps the most shocking is the number of wild animals, including endangered species and other non-target animals, killed by a secretive government agency for the livestock industry.

Last year Wildlife Services, an agency within the Department of Agriculture, killed more than 2 million native animals. While wolf-rancher conflicts are well known, the death toll provided by the agency also included 75,326 coyotes, 3,700 foxes and 419 black bears. Even prairie dogs aren’t safe: They’re considered pests, blamed for competing with livestock for feed and creating burrow systems that present hazards for grazing cattle. The agency killed 12,186 black-tailed prairie dogs and destroyed more than 30,000 of their dens.

The methods used to kill these animals are equally shocking: death by exploding poison caps, suffering in inhumane traps and gunned down by men in airplanes and helicopters.

How many of the 2 million native animals were killed to feed America’s meat habit? No one really knows. This is where the secrecy comes in: While we know that they frequently respond to requests from the agricultural community to deal with “nuisance animals,” Wildlife Services operates with few rules and little public oversight. That’s why the Center for Biological Diversity, where I work, has called on the Obama administration to reform this rogue agency to make it more transparent and more accountable. Despite the growing outcry from the public, scientists, non-governmental organizations and members of Congress, the federal agency shows no signs of slowing its killing streak.

There are two important ways that you can help rein in Wildlife Services. First, sign our online petition demanding that the Department of Agriculture create rules and public access to all of the agency’s activities. Second, start taking extinction off your plate. Our growing population will mean a growing demand for meat and for the agency’s deadly services, unless we take steps to reduce meat consumption across the country. By eating less or no meat, you can reduce your environmental footprint and help save wildlife.

Also see: https://exposingthebiggame.wordpress.com/2012/08/18/save-the-wolves-go-vegan/

copyrighted Hayden wolf walking

Number of wolves in Oregon grows to 77



The number of gray wolves in Oregon has increased for the sixth year in a row, as the species slowly expands into the western half of the state, according to the annual report issued by the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife.

The number of wolves increased to 77 confirmed wolves in nine packs, up from 64 wolves in eight packs the previous year. Twenty-six of the wolves listed were pups less than a year old.

Seven wolves have now reached the Cascade Range, including the famous wandering wolf OR-7, which became head of the newly formed Rogue Pack, which has five members including three pups. The pups marked the first known wolf reproduction in the Oregon Cascades since the mid-1940s.

The Keno Pair, also in the Southern Cascades, has two members.

Even with the increase, ODFW said that the number of wolf conflicts with livestock (depredation) decreased to 11 incidents, down from 13 the previous year.

Wolves in Oregon are listed statewide as endangered under the Oregon Endangered Species Act. Wolves occurring west of Oregon Highways 395/78/95 are federally protected as endangered under the federal ESA.

Wolves in eastern Oregon are now under “Phase II” management, which triggers a status review and could result in changes to how wolves are managed.

Zach Urness has been an outdoors writer, photographer and videographer in Oregon for seven years. He is the author of the book “Hiking Southern Oregon”

Feds restore protected status for Great Lakes wolves!


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


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