Study: To Mitigate Problem Predators, Give Wolves More Space, Tolerance

http://klcc.org/post/study-mitigate-problem-predators-give-wolves-more-space-tolerance

MAY 23, 2017

Wolves mostly make the news when they are in conflict with livestock and that’s part of the reason they were once removed from the Western landscape. But a new study shows wolves play an important role, whether we like it or not.

It’s not just wolves that prey on livestock.

“Worldwide, smaller meso-predators like coyotes, jackals and such, actually themselves prey pretty heavily on livestock and can cause a lot of economic damage,” Aaron Wirsing of the University of Washington said.

Wirsing co-authored a new study in the journal Nature Communications. He said current land management policies don’t offer apex predators enough space, but that doesn’t mean he wants to see wolves roaming rampant across North America.

“We need to allow predators to occupy more landscapes than just remote, protected areas,” Wirsing said. “On the other hand, we also need to heavily manage them, recognizing that they do conflict with people.”

That conflict made headlines last summer, when members of the Profanity Peak wolf pack killed four calves in Northeastern Washington. In response, Washington’s Department of Fish decided to shoot members of that pack from a helicopter.

“Historically, our model has been almost a postage stamp model where we protect certain areas and try to maintain intact assemblages of animals,” Wirsing said. “But we have a problem of scale.”

So, for example, areas protected for wildlife and public use might seem large from a human perspective, but what humans ay not consider is wolves can range up to 1,000 miles.

And it’s not only in the forest. Wirsing said wolves also roam the sage brush landscape in the central Northwest.

The study made use of bounty hunting data to show ecosystems function similarly in both Europe and Australia as well.

Copyright 2017 NWNews. To see more, visit NWNews.

Wolf-like golden jackal discovered in northern Germany

http://www.dw.com/en/wolf-like-golden-jackal-discovered-in-northern-germany/a-38977624

Golden jackals, similar to small grey wolves, have been making their way across Europe into new territory. A German farmer is claiming compensation after the protected, wolf-like predator killed a sheep.

Canis aureus (picture-alliance/dpa/Nationalpark Bayerischer Wald/LfU)A golden jackal was photographed by a camera trap in Bavaria in 2012

For the first time, golden jackals have been detected in the northern German state of Schleswig-Holstein, which borders Denmark, authorities announced this week. The animals are originally native to the Balkans, but have slowly spread to areas they never previously settled, such as northern Italy, eastern Austria and Hungary.

After three sheep were attacked by an animal in the region of Dithmarschen on the North Sea coast this month, authorities first suspected a wolf. A DNA sample, however, revealed the culprit to be a golden jackal (Canis aureus), the state ministry for the environment announced.

The predators are smaller and more slender than gray wolves and normally weigh 8 to 10 kilograms (17 to 22 pounds), while especially large specimens can reach 15 kilograms, according to the ministry. They are protected by German federal regulations.

One of the sheep died following the incident, meaning the farmer can claim compensation. Authorities pay farmers damages when wolves, which are also protected in Germany, kill their livestock.

Spreading north

Despite the name, golden jackals are believed to be more closely related to gray wolves and coyotes than to the black-backed and side-striped jackal species native to Africa.

Portrait of a golden jackal in Rajasthan, India (picture-alliance/blickwinkel/W. Layer)Golden jackals have been spreading through Europe to regions where they never previously lived

Individual specimens have been sporadically detected in Switzerland and Germany over the past few years, the ministry said. In the summer of 2000, evidence of their presence was first discovered in a southern part of Brandenburg state. Specimens popped up in Bavaria in 2012, in Hessen in 2013 and in Mecklenburg-Vorpommern and Lower Saxony in 2016, gradually moving north.

Europe’s northernmost population of golden jackals is in Denmark. The ministry said it could not accurately determine if the latest findings were evidence of Danish jackals colonizing Schleswig-Holstein.

The animals usually live in pairs and occupy fixed territories of about 3 square kilometers (1 square mile).

They tend to feed on insects, rodents, birds and amphibians but can also eat smaller mammals such as hares and rabbits, rare deer, and their offspring.

This week in southern Germany a golden jackal was struck on the highway near Freising, which is close to Munich airport.

Yellowstone wolf family tree and genealogy available online

BILLINGS, Mont. (AP) — Her parents may have been killed by her mate and his family. Her daughter was shot. Now she’s dead and her killing is under investigation.

Although the details may sound like the story line for a soap opera, a Shakespearean play or even the historical dirty deeds of Europe’s competing monarchies, it’s actually the tale of one of Yellowstone National Park’s well-known wolves — the white alpha female of the Canyon pack. Now, details of the park’s individual wolves and their inter-relatedness can be found in one place: online at Ancestry.com, a website formerly reserved for rooting out human family trees.

“People love their wolves,” said Jim Halfpenny, the founder of the Yellowstone Wolf Genealogy Family Tree.

That’s a sentiment Yellowstone officials have recognized, as well.

“I am amazed at the interest level in Yellowstone wolves,” said biologist Doug Smith, who leads the Yellowstone Wolf Project. “It’s insatiable.”

He noted that questionnaires distributed by the park in the early 2000s revealed that about 300,000 come to Yellowstone hoping to see wolves. Park interpreters annually talk to anywhere from 30,000 to 50,000 people a year about wolves.

It’s easy to see why there’s such an interest, Smith told The Billings Gazette.

“If you come to Yellowstone and put in a few days, you can see a wolf — and that’s pretty remarkable.”

The popularity of his genealogy charts became apparent to Halfpenny, a Gardiner-based biologist, after he started recording the lineage of Yellowstone’s wolves when they were first reintroduced to the park in 1995 and 1996.

“Through the years I’ve produced these laminated charts, selling about 4,000 a year,” he said. Now folks can order them online.

He updates the data yearly, using information gathered from multiple sources, including the Yellowstone Wolf Project. That’s no small task considering there can be more than 100 wolves scattered across the park’s 2.2 million acres (890,308 hectares) each year. At their population peak there were more than 170 wolves inside Yellowstone.

“We started out trying to do it by volunteers, and it was too overwhelming,” Halfpenny said.

So using a Kickstarter project to fund development — 273 people contributed more than $26,000 — Halfpenny was able to “put online the lives, pedigrees and genealogy of the Yellowstone wolves for access of all fans,” according to the website. The digital information is “enormous in scope and the first of its kind in the world.”

Those interested can go to www.wolfgenes.info to learn more about the project. Perusing Ancestry.com requires the payment of a membership fee. The information is also now available on a cellphone app allowing wolf devotees to carry the data with them into the field.

Smith said he hadn’t been able to check out the website yet but noted that building family trees and genealogy for wolves that have never been captured and had their DNA tested — such as the white alpha female from the Canyon pack — means some of the data isn’t scientifically valid. Each year about 40 percent of Yellowstone’s wolves are captured and have DNA samples taken.

“For scientific purposes, this probably is not the place to go,” Smith said. “For avid wolf watchers this is great. And he’s probably right most of the time.”

But the park has to be more conservative in its approach to linking individuals, he added.

Halfpenny admitted that observations by even hardcore wolf watchers are sometimes incorrect. For example, a wolf spotted in 2007 was believed to be a female. When found dead it turned out the wolf was a male.

Although the stories of known wolves are presented on the website, Halfpenny said it is the “interconnections that are just amazing” to him.

Take the earlier mentioned alpha female of the Canyon pack as an example. She was found seriously injured inside the park near Gardiner on April 11.

Park officials euthanized the white wolf because her injuries were so severe.

A necropsy later revealed she had been shot. Two $5,000 rewards, one from the National Park Service and another from a private group, have been offered for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the wolf’s killer.

Even before her tragic death, the 12-year-old wolf had led a life worthy of an epic poem. Two years after being born into the Hayden pack her parents were killed by the rival Mollie’s pack. This is known as intraspecific mortality, when wolves kill wolves, and accounts for about 42 percent of all wolf deaths in Yellowstone — more than any other single factor.

The white female is believed to have later bred with an unknown black wolf from Mollie’s pack — the same wolves that had killed her parents.

For some reason the white alpha female’s first pairing didn’t last, and she found a new mate, who also was a member of the Mollie’s pack — 712M. Together with another Mollie’s male in 2008 they formed the Canyon pack in the center of the park.

It took two years for the Canyon pack to successfully raise a litter of three pups past a year old. One would later become the white alpha female of the Wapiti Lake pack who would eventually displace her own parents from their Canyon pack homeland.

In 2011 the Canyon pack produced two more pups, one of which was a female that seemed especially enamored with her father, earning her the nickname Daddy’s Girl. At age 2 this female wolf was shot by a rancher north of Gardiner.

“In 2016 this amazing alpha pair produced two more pups in their new denning area at the advanced ages of 11 and 10 (the Canyon Alpha Female was the older of the two),” according to the Yellowstone Wolf Genealogy site. “2016 also represented another milestone: the Canyon Alpha Female and 712M had been together as an alpha pair for eight years, making them the longest mated pair on record for Yellowstone wolves.” The female is believed to have given birth to at least 13 pups over the course of her life.

There’s rarely a happy ending in a wolf’s short life, though. Rejected by her own pack this past winter, the alpha female was seen roaming the Gardiner area alone, sometimes feeding on roadkill. Her mate, “712M was last seen in January 2017 just east of Mammoth Hot Springs. He would be 11 years old in April 2017,” the website noted.

The oldest known wolf in Yellowstone, 478F, lived to age 12.5. The average lifespan for park wolves is two to three years.

“I’m fascinated with it, following the family lines,” Halfpenny said.

The intrigues include female wolves mating with their fathers, grandfathers and even brothers.

“There are all sorts of complexities to this,” he said.

For each wolf recorded on the website there is a life story to be read, as well as facts and a photo gallery if shots are available. Adapting such complex family relations to a website was a challenge since the Ancestry.com formula was set up for humans who give birth to about one offspring a year, not 4.4 a year, which is the average litter size for Yellowstone wolves.

“So we had to work around problems like that,” Halfpenny said.

He compared the information to tracking the Smith family tree for all of North America.

‘White Lady’ wolf shot dead prompts Yellowstone reward

http://www.bbc.com/news/world-us-canada-39930372

  • 15 May 2017
  • White LadyImage copyrightYELLOWSTONE NATIONAL PARK
Image captionThe so-called White Lady was a hit with tourists

A $5,000 (£3,900) reward has been put up for information on how a rare white wolf at Yellowstone National Park was shot dead.

The female was one of three white wolves in the park and had 14 living pups, wildlife officials say.

The reward comes after initial results of a necropsy show the so-called White Lady was shot around 10 April.

“She was one of the most recognisable wolves and sought after by visitors to view and photograph,” the park said.

“Due to the serious nature of this incident, a reward of up to $5,000 is offered for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the individual(s) responsible for this criminal act,” said Yellowstone National Park Superintendent Dan Wenk.

At 12 years old, she had lived for more than twice the average lifespan of a wolf in Yellowstone, officials say.

The Canyon Pack Alpha, as she was known to wildlife researchers (and as The White Lady to tourists), was found by hikers on 11 April.

Wildlife officials were not able to save its life, and the wolf was put down.

Her remains were brought to a US Fish & Wildlife Service Forensics Laboratory in Oregon for a necropsy, where officials determined that it had been mortally wounded by a hunter’s rifle.

As of 2014, researchers had documented at least 104 wolves in 11 packs located within the park.

White wolfImage copyrightYELLOWSTONE/ FACEBOOK
Image captionShe had birthed 20 cubs, 14 of which lived past the age of one

The wolves were reintroduced in Yellowstone in 1995, having been eradicated by hunters.

Advocates of wolves say the presence of predators helps balance the ecosystem, and leads to healthier populations of other wild animals.

Opponents say they are a threat to humans, pets and livestock.


Read more

Media captionHere’s how the bison have been reintroduced into the wild

Wolves can be shot on sight in most of Wyoming after state takes over management

Wyoming assumed management once again of wolves within its borders on Tuesday, and those apex predators wandering outside the northwest corner of the state can be shot on sight.

The Circuit Court of Appeals in Washington, D.C., entered its final order in favor of Wyoming in a lawsuit that landed wolves back on the endangered species list in 2014. The court announced in early March that it had upheld the state’s plan but had not issued its final order.

Tuesday’s decision is what Wyoming wolf managers hope is the last legal battle in a roller-coaster legal process.

“All indications are that this decision shows once again that Wyoming’s plan is a sound management plan,” said Brian Nesvik, chief of the Wyoming Game and Fish Department’s wildlife division. “They will remain in the hands of state management. For Wyoming this is, again, this is a time for us to celebrate. This is a good thing for Wyoming to be able to take on another wildlife resource.”

No changes were made to Wyoming’s wolf management plan from when the state oversaw the carnivores between 2012 and 2014, Nesvik said.

That means Wyoming will manage the 100 wolves and 10 breeding pairs outside of Yellowstone National Park and the Wind River Reservation.

Wolves in 85 percent of the state are considered a predator and can be shot on sight, similar to coyotes. They are classified as a trophy animal in the northwest corner of the state and subject to fall hunting seasons. Those seasons have not yet been set, Nesvik said, adding that wolves in those areas cannot be hunted right now. The Wyoming Game and Fish Commission will set those seasons after a public comment period.

A coalition of environmental groups sued Wyoming in 2012 over the state’s management plan. A representative for the group said in early March the coalition was disappointed with the D.C. court’s ruling, said Tim Preso, an attorney for Earthjustice, a nonprofit law firm representing Defenders of Wildlife and several other environmental groups who filed suit against the state.

Earthjustice’s lawyers argued, essentially, that Wyoming’s plan to maintain a buffer of more wolves than the required amount was not legally binding and insufficient under the Endangered Species Act. The court ruled that Wyoming’s plan was adequate, and environmental groups did not appeal the decision.

Preliminary estimates showed Wyoming had about 240 wolves at the end of 2016, Tyler Abbott, Wyoming field supervisor for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, told the Star-Tribune in March.

The feds killed about 115 wolves in 2016 because of livestock depredations, he said. In 2015, the service killed about 54 wolves.

Because of the high number of wolves killed by the Fish and Wildlife Service, Nesvik estimates hunting season quotas this fall will be similar to those before wolves went back on the list.

In 2012, 42 wolves were killed by hunters in the state’s trophy area and 25 were killed in the rest of the state. The next year, 24 wolves were shot in the trophy area and 39 taken in the rest of the state.

Gov. Matt Mead expressed his satisfaction with the court’s decision in a news release sent Tuesday evening.

“I am delighted that the Circuit Court recognized Wyoming’s commitment to manage a recovered wolf population,” Mead said. “Our wolf management plan is a result of years of hard work by people across Wyoming. We recognize the need to maintain a healthy wolf population.”

Wolves were reintroduced into Yellowstone in 1995. They have been off the endangered species list in Montana and Idaho since 2011.

Wolf Pup Born in Missouri Offers Hope for Endangered Breed

https://www.usnews.com/news/us/articles/2017-04-24/wolf-pup-born-in-missouri-offers-hope-for-endangered-breed

A Mexican wolf born this month at a wildlife center in suburban St. Louis is offering new hope for repopulating the endangered species through artificial insemination using sperm that had been frozen.

| April 24, 2017, at 4:10 p.m.

Wolf Pup Born in Missouri Offers Hope for Endangered Breed
The Associated Press

Regina Mossotti, director of animal care and conservation at the Endangered Wolf Center, holds a Mexican wolf born April 2 at the facility Monday, April 24, 2017, in Eureka, Mo. The wolf was conceived by artificial insemination which is offering new hope for repopulating the endangered species by using sperm that had been frozen. (AP Photo/Jeff Roberson) THE ASSOCIATED PRESS

 

By JIM SALTER, Associated Press

EUREKA, Mo. (AP) — A Mexican wolf born this month at a wildlife center in suburban St. Louis is offering new hope for repopulating the endangered species through artificial insemination using frozen sperm.

The Mexican wolf population once roamed Mexico and the western U.S. in the thousands but was nearly wiped out by the 1970s, largely from decades of hunting, trapping and poisoning. Commonly known as “El Lobos,” the species, distinguished by a smaller, more narrow skull and its gray and brown coloring, was designated an endangered species in 1976.

Even today, only 130 Mexican wolves live in the wild and another 220 live in captivity, including 20 at the Endangered Wolf Center in Eureka, Missouri.

A litter of Mexican wolves was conceived by artificial insemination in Mexico in 2014. But the birth April 2 at the Missouri center was the first-ever for the breed using frozen semen.

Regina Mossotti, director of animal care and conservation at the center, learned for the first time Monday that the pup is a boy. He’s gaining weight — now at 4.7 pounds after being less than 1 pound at birth — and appears to be progressing well, she said after an exam of the wiggly pup, which has not yet been named.

“He’s big and strong and healthy!” Mossotti said as other wolves howled from a distance.

The center has collaborated with the other organizations for 20 years to freeze semen of Mexican wolves. The semen is stored at the St. Louis Zoo’s cryopreservation gene bank, established specifically for the long-term conservation of endangered species.

A procedure to inseminate the mom, Vera, was performed Jan. 27.

“The technology has finally caught up,” Mossotti said.

It’s a big deal, experts say, because using frozen semen allows scientists to draw from a larger pool of genes, even from wolves that have died.

Mossotti said it’s possible the new pup will eventually be moved to the wild, where it would feed largely on elk, deer and other large hoofed mammals. An adult Mexican wolf will weigh 60 to 80 pounds.

The Fish and Wildlife Service began reintroducing Mexican wolves in New Mexico and Arizona starting in 1998, though the effort has been hurt by everything from politics to illegal killings and genetics. Many of the wolves in the wild have genetic ties to the suburban St. Louis center.

The nonprofit was founded in 1971 by zoologist Marlin Perkins, a St. Louis native best known as the host of TV’s “Mutual of Omaha Wild Kingdom.” Perkins died in 1986.

Mossotti said wolves are a “keystone” species that play a vital role in a healthy ecosystem. She said the caricature of the “Big, Bad Wolf” is a myth about an animal that actually shuns humans.

Copyright 2017 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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.

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.

Rare white wolf in Yellowstone park euthanized over injuries

http://www.vancouversun.com/travel/rare+white+wolf+yellowstone+park+euthanized+over+injuries/13302173/story.html

THE ASSOCIATED PRESS  04.14.2017

Rare white wolf in Yellowstone park euthanized over injuries
In this April 6, 2016 photo provided by the Yellowstone National Park Service a white wolf walks in Yellowstone National Park, in Wyo. One of only three white wolves roaming Yellowstone National Park has been put down by park staff after it was found with severe injuries. P.J. White of the National Park Service says the female wolf was found Tuesday, April 11, by hikers on the north side of the park. White says the wolf was in shock and dying, prompting the decision to euthanize it and investigate what caused the wolf’s injuries. The nature of the initial injuries could not immediately be determined. (Neal Herbert/Yellowstone National Park via AP)

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YELLOWSTONE NATIONAL PARK, Wyo. — One of only three white wolves roaming Yellowstone National Park has been put down by park staff after it was found with severe injuries.

P.J. White of the National Park Service says hikers found the female wolf Tuesday on the north side of the park.

White says the wolf was in shock and dying, leading to the decision to euthanize it and investigate what caused the injuries. The nature of the animal’s injuries could not immediately be determined.

The predator was one of three known white wolves in the park.

It had lived to 12 years old, twice the age of an average wolf in the park, and was one of the most recognizable and sought after to view and photograph by park visitors.

Oregon Wolf Population Growth Stalled First Year After Taken Off Endangered Species List

http://www.wweek.com/news/2017/04/14/oregon-gray-wolf-population-growth-stalled-first-year-after-taken-off-endangered-species-list/

The Oregon Wolf population increased by 1.8 percent this year. The year before they were delisted, the population increased by 33 percent.
Two adult wolves from the Walla Walla Pack were caught on remote trail camera Jan. 16 2016 in northern Umatilla County. (Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife)

A new wolf report from the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife has environmentalists concerned.

The report, the first since Oregon gray wolves were removed from the Endangered Species Act list in 2015, shows the population of wolves in Oregon has stalled, and the number of both breeding pairs and packs in the state declined in 2016. The current population is 112 wolves across 11 packs, a 1.8 percent increase from 2015, when there were 110 wolves.

Though the wolf population has technically increased, environmental groups are worried: Before losing protection in November 2015, the wolf population had a 33 percent increase from 2014 to 2015.

In 2016, there were 11 packs, including eight packs of breeding pairs—which is 27 percent fewer than 2015, when there were 11 breeding pairs.

Though the November 2015 decision to remove wolves from the list won in a 4-2 vote, it has remained controversial. The following month, three environmental groups filed a legal challenge to the removal. 

The lawsuit, filed by Oregon Wild, Cascadia Wildlands and the Center for Biological Diversity, said that the Oregon Fish and Wildlife Commission “violated the law by failing to follow best available science and prematurely removing protections before wolves are truly recovered.”

The Oregon Department of Justice ruled that the lawsuit was a moot point under House Bill 4040, which stated that the ability for wolves to repopulate was not being threatened. But in July 2016, the environmental groups were granted an appeal from the Oregon Court of Appeals to continue the legal challenge. That case is pending.

This year’s report also shows a sharp increase in livestock depredation by wolves in 2016. In 2015, there were just nine incidents, compared to 24 in 2016, a 116 percent increase.

Seven wolf deaths were documented in both 2015 and 2016.

In 2015, none of these deaths came from the department, but in 2016, four wolves were killed by the department in a depredation situation where non-lethal methods proved ineffective. One wolf was killed by a farmer while the wolf was killing a sheep.

“In the years immediately before losing protections, Oregon’s wolf population expanded while livestock conflict went down,” said Rob Klavins, a Field Representative for Oregon Wild based in Wallowa County said in a statement. “Unfortunately, as ODFW and special interests rushed to remove protections from wolves, not only did wolf recovery stall, but wolf killing and livestock conflict increased.”

While environmental groups are worried about the stall in population, an item on the ODFW’s newly revised Oregon Wolf Conservation and Management Plan also raises concerns.

In a draft of the plan, which is revised every five years, one section discusses wolves as “special status game animals,” a classification which came from Oregon legislators in 2009, under ORS 496.004 (9).

The classification “allows the use of controlled take through hunting and trapping (under two circumstances) in response to management concerns.” It specifies that “general season hunts are not permitted.”

The Center for Biological Diversity refers to the plan as a proposal “to create a sport trapping and hunting program for these iconic animals.”

Last month, 19 Oregon legislators sent a letter to ODFW to urge the department to reconsider the classification, calling it a “slippery slope to an open hunting and trapping season.”