California Dreaming

The Shasta Pack, CaDFW
The Shasta Pack, Ca. Dept. Fish and Wildlife

I’m not complaining, but the way the wolf world is changing in these parts is making me feel old. I find myself making remarks like, “I remember the day when wolves were long gone from Oregon.” And, “Before last week, it seemed like a pipe dream to imagine a family of wolves residing in California.” I remind myself of an old timer, talking about the past like I’ve lived through the industrial revolution or the advent of computer technology.

But there have been enormous and rapid changes in the wolf situation in Oregon and California. Just eight years ago a wolf was found shot in Union County in northeast Oregon and ODFW wolf coordinator, Russ Morgan was quoted as saying, “It’s important for people to be thinking about the possibility of wolves in their area and to understand how to respond. It is illegal to shoot a wolf, even one mistaken for another animal. Hunters in particular need to identify their target before shooting because wolves can look similar to coyotes.”  This hapless wolf had been preceded by four others, no doubt all of them migrants from Idaho. One was returned to Idaho in 1999 and two others were found dead in 2000, one shot, the other hit by a vehicle. But they kept coming back and in July of 2008, the Wenaha pack produced what is believed to have been the first litter of wild wolves born in the state for over 60 years. About this same time,  B300, or Sophie, soon followed by OR 4, ditched Idaho for Oregon and started the Imnaha pack. The rest is history.

Of course, with available prey and a large enough area to roam, wolves do have a high reproductive potential. The current Oregon wolf population alone proves that. ODFW reported a minimum of 77 wolves in their most recent count, including eleven packs, at least eight of them breeding. There were also five known pairs that were not yet designated as packs. And Areas of Known Wolf Activity (AKWA) continue to pop up. This month two new areas were reported.

 ODFW map

Yet the dispersal of wolves seems to be fed by forces other than simply their ability to reproduce. They are returning to the landscape in many parts of the world, not just Oregon and northern California. They peek their noses into Iowa and Colorado and Utah, where they invariably end up dead. “Oh, I thought it was a coyote!” Over the last several years we’ve read of the return of Canis lupus to Germany (the last wolf was shot there in 1904), and their populations have risen in Italy, Spain, Portugal and France. The Netherlands recently saw their first wolf since 1869. And, as if it were still the 1800s, some of the same paranoia and dissention surrounds their return. One group called the Sicherheit und Artenschutz (Security and Species Protection) Association campaigned to shoot wolves on sight because they were sure the animals were going to attack the first human they came across.

I haven’t heard of anyone succumbing to the jaws of a wolf in Germany, but to paint an accurate picture, their return has not been without problems. When wolves first began to enter eastern Germany from Poland there were several hits on livestock. A 2013 article in The Independent reported that in 2002, one farmer lost 33 sheep in two nights. Since then, non-lethal measures, including guard dogs and electric fences have minimized depredations according to the article.

The movement of wolves into southern Oregon and now California has been so far, so good. Journey, the leader of the odyssey, has not been implicated in a single livestock death. Nor have any other wolves. Fingers crossed. And here’s hoping that ranchers are being proactive in protecting their property.

Despite a steady increase in the human population and the accompanying urban sprawl, wolves are returning to places where they haven’t lived for centuries, contributing to a renewal of a natural and balanced environment. Perhaps this time, with an attitude of tolerance and understanding that should prevail with all the available science, they will be allowed to stay.

Wenaha wolves, ODFW
Wenaha wolves, ODFW

Among Wolves-Inspiration From Gordon Haber

among-wolves-book-cover

Book Review: Among Wolves by Gordon Haber and Marybeth Holleman

Among Wolves begins with tragic news of Gordon Haber’s death. Haber, the legendary biologist who spent over four decades in Alaska, died the way he lived, studying wolves in the wilderness of Denali National Park. It was October of 2009; Haber was in a research plane, as he often was, looking for wolves, when the […]
Gordon Haber, photo from ktuu.com
Gordon Haber, photo from ktuu.com
To read the rest of the review go to the website of EcoLit Books, a website devoted to literature based on environmental and animal rights themes. EcoLit Books is affiliated with Ashland Creek Press, in Ashland, Oregon. Check out their books, I’m sure there will be plenty there that interest you.
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Gray Wolf Stays ‘Endangered’ Despite Conservationists’ Request

Beckie Elgin, Freelance Writer:

This article from Nature World News details the recent and somewhat confusing ruling by the USFWS on the listing status of wolves. Thanks, Wolves of Douglas County for posting this!

Originally posted on Wolves of Douglas County Wisconsin:

By Brian Stallard Jul 04, 2015 03:54 PM EDT From Nature World News sourcehttp://www.natureworldnews.com/articles/15484/20150704/gray-wolves-stays-endangered-despite-conservationists-request.htm

Photo : USFWSmidwest / NPS) The US Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) recently ruled that the North American gray wolf will remain classified as an endangered species despite its speedy recovery across the continent. Strangely enough, many conservationists looking to compromise with angry farmers and state officials are saying that this is not the good news they were hoping to hear.

To be quite honest, when this reporter first came across a petition submitted last January by The Humane Society of the United States (THS) and 22 other animal conservation groups, he was a little confused. The petition calls for Congress and the FWS to strip the grey wolf (Canis lupis) of its status as an endangered species – a status that grants its special protections under the federal Endangered Species Act (ESA).

Instead, the…

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Action Alert: #TWEETSTORM at Congress #KeepWolvesListed and Protect the ESA

Beckie Elgin, Freelance Writer:

Please review this informative article from Wolves of Douglas County then join the Tweet Storm by sending Tweets to your congress people!

Originally posted on Wolves of Douglas County Wisconsin:

#TWEETSTORM sponsored by the following groups Wolves of Douglas County Wisconsin, Wolves and Writing, Canis Lupus 101, Passions For Wolves, Vote4wilderness, Medicine of the Wolf, Apex Protection Project and Save Wolves Now

In December of 2014, federal protections were reinstated for wolves in the Great Lakes states of MI, MN and WI because federal judge invalidated FWS’s delisting of wolves, the federal courts held that the state management plans for wolves did not protect wolves.

The result of these two recent court decisions is that wolves in Wyoming, Michigan, Minnesota, and Wisconsin are back on the federal Endangered Species Act list.

A new threat to wolves in the form of a house appropriations bill with a rider attached

Section 121 of the FY 2016 House Interior/EPA bill nullifies both of these recent federal court decisions, directing the Secretary of the Interior to reissue the two wolf delisting rules that federal…

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Speak for Wolves 2015!

logo-sfw-web-new1I’m happy to have the opportunity to share this information on the upcoming Speak for Wolves event. Thanks to Brett Haverstick, founder and organizer, for creating the event and for the following write up. Speak for Wolves was greatly successful last year and promises to be in the years to come. Imagine–a gathering complete with live music, educational talks about subjects you feel passionate about, a film about OR 7, and all the time being surrounded by fellow wolf advocates in the magical land of Yellowstone. It doesn’t get much better than that!
YNP
This year marks the 2nd Annual Speak for Wolves near Yellowstone National Park. On August 7-9, 2015 people will gather in the Union Pacific Dining Lodge in West Yellowstone, Montana to hear about the need to reform wildlife management in America. The 3-day family-friendly event will feature speakers, panelists, live music, children’s activities and wildlife documentaries. The Friday night screening of OR7-The Journey cost $10 and the rest of the event is free.
Neil Haverstick
Neil Haverstick

Filmmaker Clemens Schenk will be in attendance on Friday August 7 for the screening of the award-winning documentary, OR7-The Journey: The Epic Journey of a lone wolf from Oregon To California. http://www.or7themovie.com/ Amaroq Weiss with the Center for Biological Diversity will be accompanying Clemens to answer questions at the end of the film. Doors open at 6pm with music by Neil Haverstick. Film begins at 7:00 pm. Tickets can be purchased on-line at http://www.brownpapertickets.com/event/1634194

 
The Saturday August 8 afternoon program will run from 12:00 – 4:00 pm. Kim Wheeler of the Red Wolf Coalition will be delivering a program about the plight of the red wolf and the need to continue the US Fish & Wildlife Service Red Wolf Recovery program. http://redwolves.com/wp/. Wolf activist Oliver Starr will be delivering a program about the decline of gray wolves in Denali National Park and the need to re-establish a park boundary buffer zone to better protect wolves form hunting and trapping. Brian Ertz of Wildlands Defense will speak about the need to reform the controversial McKittrick Policy and equip the Department of Justice with tools to prosecute killers of threatened/endangered species. Live music by Neil Haverstick and Matt Stone. Children’s activities offered by Marilyn McGee and Gail McDiarmid of the children’s book, Running for Home. http://www.amazon.com/Running-Home-Gail-S-McDiarmid/dp/0985467703
Running
The Saturday evening program will feature an exciting panel discussion led by Camilla Fox of Project Coyote. http://projectcoyote.org/.

Camilla Fox
Camilla Fox

Joining her will be Amaroq Weiss of the Center for Biological Diversity, Kevin Bixby of the Southwest Environmental Center and author George Wuerthner. The group will discuss wildlife killing contests targeting wolves, coyotes, bobcats, and other species for prizes and inducements and efforts to ban them on public and private lands in the U.S. Doors open at 6:00 pm with music by Matt Stone. Panel discussion begins at 7:00 pm.

goodshieldOn Sunday August 9 Mary Lee Sanders will wake us up at 10:00 am with an interpretive dance of the wild wolf. Music and song by Goodshield Aguilar will follow. Mike Mease and other members of the Buffalo Field Campaign will end the program by giving a presentation about the hazing and senseless killing of bison in and outside of Yellowstone National Park in order to appease the livestock industry. The group will offer a vision for a new management plan of America’s last and only genetically pure wild bison herd and speak about the efforts to list buffalo under the Endangered Species Act.
buffalo
Speak for Wolves is an opportunity for the American people to unite and demand wildlife management reform and take steps to restore our national heritage. The five principles to management reform can be found at http://www.speakforwolves.org/about/
We hope you and your family can join us on August 7-9, 2015 in the historic Union Pacific Dining Lodge of West Yellowstone, Montana!
Sincerely,
Brett Haverstick
Organizer
Send questions to info@speakforwolves.org
George Nickas of Wilderness Watch
George Nickas of Wilderness Watch

Oregon, a Great Place To Be a Wolf

 

OR 12 Wenaha pack male. ODFW photo
OR 12, Wenaha pack male. ODFW photo

Last Friday, wolves in Oregon were granted at least five more months before the decision may be made to remove them from the state Endangered Species List. During this time period, information will be gathered on the possibility of delisting them in certain areas, rather than state wide, or to leave them all on the list. Most likely, wolves in the eastern part of the state would lose protection while those in western Oregon would maintain it. There are 77 known wolves in the state and four breeding pairs, most residing  in northeast Oregon.

Not only does this reprieve give wolf advocates more time to rally against delisting but it will also likely come after the scheduled five-year review to the Oregon Wolf Plan. This is important because without state protection for wolves, the plan would likely be weakened, allowing an increase in lethal action against wolves as well as a decrease in the use of nonlethal methods to prevent problems.

The April 24th meeting of the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife Commission was held in Bend, Oregon. Staff from ODFW presented their Biological Status Review of Wolves in Oregon to the commission, as well as to an audience both for and against the delisting. I’m told that wolf advocates outnumbered opponents 33 to 5. The commission listened to nearly four hours of testimony, most of it from those who believe wolves should retain protection under the state’s ESA.

Several folks we know of spoke up, including Rob Klavins of Oregon Wild who is quoted as saying, ““The idea that 77 animals of any kind represents recovery doesn’t pass the laugh test.”

Amaroq Weiss, West Coast representative for the Center for Biological Diversity, said there is “simply no science anywhere on earth” that would support delisting such a small population.”

Wally Sykes, member of Wallowa County’s wolf compensation panel, stated 77 wolves is far too few to provide genetic diversity.

And Suzanne Stone, Northwest representative for Defenders of Wildlife, is reported as saying that ODFW’s field staff has earned the public’s trust, but that delisting is not warranted.

OR25, a yearling male in the Imnaha Pack, after being radio-collared on May 20, 2014. Photo courtesy of ODFW
OR25, a yearling male in the Imnaha Pack. ODFW photo.

Other wolf news is that OR 25, a black male from the Imnaha pack has recently dispersed from his homeland in northeast Oregon to the Warm Springs Indian Reservation, north of Mount Jefferson. Russ Morgan, ODFW’s wolf coordinator, reports that the wolf was collared last year and is now a two year old, a common time for dispersal.

Map from The Bulletin
Map from The Bulletin

News was released that there are three (not two as previously reported) wolves in the Keno unit in southwest Oregon. This group is within howling distance of Journey’s family, known as the Rogue Pack. This ups the number of wolves in this part of the state to at least seven, not counting pups that we hope were born this month. I’m blessed to live a few miles from this “area of known wolf activity” and travel there frequently to be in their presence.

Last month, a proposal was made to allow Oregonians the option of purchasing a specialty license plate featuring a wolf, specifically the much celebrated OR 7. Funds from sale of the plate would provide valuable monies for non-game projects within the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife.

We wouldn’t be wise to put our guard down yet, but it seems a fine time to take a deep breath and breath in the fresh, spring air of a state that has become a leader in the preservation of all of its natural resources, including wolves, a species that creates much more dissension than they earn. With this proactive approach to allowing the wild places to be truly wild, Oregon is a great place for wolves, and for humans.

OR 7, May 3, 2014. ODFW photo
OR 7, May 3, 2014. ODFW photo

 

 

 

 

Wisconsin Wolves–Safe For Now

wolves-58998__180Last December I spent a few days in western Wisconsin with a group of avid wolf supporters including Rachel Tilseth of Wolves of Douglas County and members of Rod Coronodo’s Wolf Patrol. We were there during the wolf hunting season, specifically the time when hounds could be used to track down and kill wolves. We drove the back roads along the Wisconsin-Minnesota border looking for hound hunting activity. By that time, the snow had melted and there weren’t many hunters out, but it was a powerful experience being in the presence of people whose dedication to wolves takes them out of their comfort zones and into the field.

Since wolves in the Great Lakes regained protection under the Endangered Species Act in December of last year we’ve all been breathing sighs of relief. But good news in the wolf world often is short lived so many folks in Wisconsin and elsewhere are still battling to keep them safe.

A story on a Wisconsin news station released yesterday reported that the Red Cliff Band of Lake Superior Chippewa has completed its Wolf Protection Plan. According to this plan the Red Cliff Reservation will be considered a wolf sanctuary and if hunting is legalized again, it would not be allowed on their land. There is to be a six mile buffer zone around the reservation to protect wolves as they leave and enter the area. Red Cliff Reservation is on the tip of the Bayfield Peninsula in far northern Wisconsin and it encompasses approximately 14,000 heavily forested acres. Sounds like prime habitat for wolves, or Ma’iinganag as they are known to the Red Cliff Tribe. I suggest you take a look at the plan, it’s full of interesting information on wolves and their importance to the Chippewa people.

wolf packAnother group, Friends of the Wisconsin Wolf has recently released a full length documentary, aptly named Political Predator, about the wolf hunting situation in their state. This film is an educational and insightful look at the background of how wolf hunting has been managed (or not), the powers behind the harvest, and the opinions of those who do not see the need or value of the hunt. Enjoy the movie and use the information to further educate yourself about wolves in Wisconsin. The more we know, the more powerful will be our voice.

A Voice for the Red Wolf

Red wolf. USFWS photo
Red wolf. USFWS photo

I first met Gail McDiarmid and Marilyn McGee when they asked for my assistance in editing Running for Home, their youth book on the return of  wolves to Yellowstone. But Gail and Marilyn are advocates for more than Yellowstone wolves. Living in the southeast, they are in close proximity to Canis rufus, the red wolf. Their latest venture focuses on educating others, both young and old, about this unique and highly threatened species. I am deeply inspired by their work and reminded that each and every one of us can contribute in our own way toward an atmosphere of co-existence with wolves and other predators.

Marilyn and Gail
Marilyn and Gail at an Earth Day Kids Fest teaching about red wolves

And their project comes at a good time, as the N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission recently requested that the USFWS gather up and remove the red wolves they released there, saying that 64 of the wolves were set loose on private rather than public land. The state agency, which governs hunting and fishing in N.C. is asking the USFW to stop their efforts to reintroduce the red wolf in the southeast. I have no inside information on the details of this issue, but it sounds like there is some bad blood between these two agencies, or at least a vastly different philosophy on the importance of protecting endangered animals.

But Marilyn and Gail will continue their efforts to teach people about red wolf, and coyotes as well. They have started a new outreach program specifically on coyotes, partly in response to the coyote killing contests held in North Carolina and elsewhere.

Below is Marilyn’s intriguing story of how she and Gail became involved with “reds” and are spreading the word of how important it is to protect these beautiful animals:

red wolf playingSeven years ago, gravel country roads lead sister’s Gail McDiarmid and Marilyn McGee to one of North Carolina’s most unique wetland habitats, the Alligator River National Wildlife Refuge. Lured in by the soft, dangling Spanish moss, they discovered bogs, marshes, hardwood and cedar swamps. And it was also there that these southern ladies first heard one of the most soulful songs of the south.

Synonymous to the Carolinas, one often associates sweet tea, shrimp and grits, and lighthouses to this region. But to these curiosity seekers this part of eastern North Carolina meant learning more about the elusive and endangered red wolf.

Kim Wheeler, Executive Director of the Red Wolf Coalition, and former outreach coordinator Diane Hendry, took Marilyn and Gail into the Sandy Ridge enclosure to observe the shy, red wolf in captivity. After hours of discussion, both sisters realized that they were seeing the Southeast’s least known treasure.

Red wolf, photo from Red Wolf Coalition
Red wolf, photo from Red Wolf Coalition

Even though they have lived in the south their entire lives, neither knew the red wolf existed or the daily challenges it faced. The more they found out about the red wolf’s plight, the more they wanted to know!! Obsessed with learning, the ladies began reading science journals, interviewing the experts, and observed both gray and red wolves as often as possible. They have dedicated their free time to developing a Red Wolf Outreach Program for the public about North Carolina’s top predator.

When working with students of “all ages,” Gail and Marilyn realized the importance of capturing the attention of their audience. Whether the presentation was at a campground, within the walls of the public library, an assisted living facility, or in an elementary school or University, the goal of the programming was to teach in an entertaining fashion.

Marilyn little red riding hood photo
Little Red Riding Hood makes an appearance

Several times, they outfitted themselves as characters from the fairy tale, Little Red Riding Hood. This story allows them to address the fears and misconceptions about the wolf. On another occasion, they dressed as detectives with a spy glass in hand and lead a nature scavenger hunt. Eye catching props and colorful costumes lead to interactive discussions about red wolf behavior. Using artifacts such as pelts, skulls, tracks, and radio collars the participants learned about how this top predator helps to maintain the balance and health of ecosystems.

Marilyn  little kids howling
Howling with the wolves

The song “Country Roads” by John Denver and “The Song of the South” by Alabama are two popular tunes heard along the eastern NC shore. But if left up to Gail and Marilyn, all citizens living in the state will know more about the real stars of the south, the red wolf!

Their dedication to educating the public about the wolf inspired them to write their first book, Running for Home. Their goal in writing is to change attitudes with education, one heart at a time. Gail and Marilyn are also doing outreach programs to educate others about the plight of the much maligned coyote.

Running for Home

And if you haven’t read The Secret World of Red Wolves by T. Delene Beeland, you’ll want it. It is the definitive book on the red wolf, published in 2013.

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Trapping is NOT a constitutional right. Stop HB 212!

OR 10, photo from ODFW
OR 10, photo from ODFW

House Bill 212 endeavors to affirm that trapping is a form of hunting protected under the Montana Constitution. The bill, sponsored by Republican Representative Kirk Wagoner, changes terms and definitions within the constitution so the verbiage encompasses the right to trap, putting trapping in the same category as hunting and fishing which is currently preserved under Article IX, Section 7 of the Montana Constitution.

The Montana Wool Grower’s Association (MWGA) is all for the bill. A recent statement from them points out the antiquated and unscientific thinking behind HB 212, that if something was done a hundred years ago, it should still be done today, with no regard for the harm the action may cause. In the words of MWGA, “…historical evidence indicates that trapping has been taking place in Montana since the great Lewis and Clark adventure in the early 19th century. Further, there is a reason Trapper Peak is named “Trapper” Peak.”

Let’s hope there’s no Lynch Hill in rural Montana.

trap_free_montana_public_landsTrap Free Montana Public Lands (TFMPL) is putting forth great effort to raise awareness about HB 212. TFMPL was behind the 2014 ballot measure effort to curtail trapping on public lands. In four months of campaigning, volunteers obtained more valid signatures than any other 2014 initiative, although not enough to get on the ballot largely due to time constraints. A side effect of HB 212 is that ballot issue committees such as TFMPL would need a whopping 50,000 signatures (twice the number needed now) to get their initiative to the voters. This is because if HB 212 passes, TFMPL would be trying to change a constitutional amendment with their initiative. One wonders why HB 212 does not have to meet the same criteria as this bill is clearly an effort to change an amendment.

This is not only an issue about trapping, it’s also about adhering to what the public wants. In 2004 the Montana public voted to enact the inalienable rights of hunting and fishing (per the voter handbook) with no mention at all of trapping. Surely, this was not an oversight. HB 212 is making an attempt to significantly change an amendment without consulting the citizens of Montana. This approach seems underhanded and reminds me of the 2011 budget bill rider that served special interest groups that wanted wolves delisted so their individual states could mange them. Neither are actions approved by the majority.

TFMPL is asking us to say No! to HB 212. This link to legislators is easy to follow, takes only a minute, and can be used by everyone, not solely Montana citizens. When I did this, I checked the out of state box, chose to send my message to a committee, then picked the Fish, Wildlife and Parks Committee. Next I added my comment as to why I think the bill should not be passed.

We only have until 3 PM Mountain Time on Thursday, January 29, 2015 to submit comments. We’ve had enough success in our advocacy work to know that speaking up can make a difference. Please do so now!

beaver close up

 

2014 – Wolf Year in Review

Photo from ODFW
Photo from ODFW

Once again, I look back at the wolf related events of the past year and am in wonder at the controversy these four-legged beasts create. Is there any other creature, other than humans, that continually make the front page, year after year? Wolves are enigmatic animals, but it’s most certainly the people, not the wolves, that create the drama.

The following is a partial list of wolf news, month by month from around the world. There is a mixture of good news with the inevitable bad news. I’ve included hot links so you can read the source article. Feel free to help me out by adding your own news in the comment section. I’m sure I missed a lot as it has been a busy year.

Thanks to Wally Sykes and Rob Klavins for your wolf updates, to Rachel Tilseth with Wolves of Douglas County, and to Defenders of Wildlife for their Wolf Weekly Wrap-Up. And thanks to all of the wonderful folks out there who are determined to make this world a better place for wolves, and in turn, for humans as well. I feel blessed to have had the opportunity to get to know many of you in the three years I’ve been writing about wolves and I look forward to meeting more of you in the future. Wolf advocates are some of the finest people around!

January

The Idaho Department of Fish and Game (IDFG) sends out a hired hunter to kill wolves in the 2.3 million acre Frank Church-River of No Return Wilderness. The purpose was to annihilate all wolves of the Golden Creek and Monumental Creek packs. The reason? To improve elk numbers for commercial and recreational hunters. Ralph Maughan along with Defenders of Wildlife, Western Watersheds Project and Wilderness Watch and Center for Biological Diversity filed suit to stop the plan.They were represented by Tim Preso of Earthjustice. Amidst the controversy, the IDFG suspended the program on January 28, 2014 and on July 29, 2014 they abandoned the plan. Nine wolves were killed by the hired hunter. 

80 lb female wolf killed in SE Missouri
80 lb female wolf killed in SE Missouri

A wolf that wandered into Southeast Missouri was shot and killed by a man who mistook it for a coyote. Coyotes are considered vermin there and can be hunted year round. This was the fourth of five wolves that have been seen in Missouri since the species was eradicated in the state in 1950. The man was not charged for his actions.

 Journey continues to travel throughout southwestern Oregon. ODFW Wolf Program Coordinator Russ Morgan was interviewed by Jefferson Public Radio about the famous lone wolf. The article says, “He (Journey, not Russ) might be getting bored… there are just no opportunities to find mates in OR-7’s recent territory.”

February

On February 1, 2014, OR 4, Journey’s father, was darted from the air and his radio collar was replaced. ODFW reported that his previous GPS system quit working in late December. OR 4 is one wolf the ODFW wants to keep an eye on to help monitor for livestock depredations. In fact, this is the fourth time they have changed collars on this canine senior citizen.

OR 4 in May, 2011. ODFW photo.
OR 4 in May, 2011. ODFW photo.

Western Washington nonprofit Conservation Northwest offered a $7,500 reward (see comments below for addendum on reward) for help in solving the case of a wolf illegally shot and killed on February 9, 2014 in northern Stevens County. The wolf was a collared female that had been a member of the Smackout pack until they disbanded in April of 2014.

After being extinct in Germany for over 150 years, Canis lupus has made a comeback. This February 18, 2014 article in The Olympian reports that there are now 150 wolves in 35 packs in Germany. Scat studies show that fifty-two percent of the wolves diet is roe deer, 25 percent red deer, 16 percent is wild pig. Sheep, cattle, goats and pets combined comprise less than 1 percent of the diet. But as you can imagine, problems exist between humans and wolves, especially when fueled by the mythology and fairy tales of this long inhabited land.

 Five independent peer review scientists disagree with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Services‘ plan to delist the grey wolf. The species has recovered in only a fraction of its original range. Interior Secretary Jewell is still new in her job and some have hope that she will stand up as an advocate for wolves.
March
Representative Peter Defazio of Oregon (Ya Oregon!) released a letter co-signed by 73 House members requesting that Secretary Jewell continue Federal protections for grey wolves.
Wolf drawing 1
Wolf numbers in Washington are stable. The annual count done by the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) reported that there are 52 wolves in the state, only one more than in the 2012 count. Five packs were counted in both years.
Wolf tracks are found on Mount Hood in north-central Oregon!
April
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Fish released a pair of Mexican wolves in the 4.4 million acre Blue Range Wolf Recovery Area (BRWRA) that expands into Arizona and New Mexico. They also announced that a second pair would be released the following week. At the end of 2013 there were 83 wolves in the the BRWRA, with 60% of them wearing radio collars. Out of the fourteen known packs, seven of them produced pups in 2013. Two Mexican wolves had already been suspiciously killed in 2014, one in Arizona and one in New Mexico.
Mexican wolf, USFWS photo
Mexican wolf, USFWS photo

April was a good month for Mexican wolves. Arizona governor Jan Brewer vetoed two anti-wolf bills. SB 1211 would have allowed ranchers to kill these animals on public lands. HB2699 called native Mexican wolves varmints and sought to end the 16 year recovery program.

wolf dance
Photo from FB page of Mexican gray wolves. How did they manage to create this picture?

May

The first wolf seen in my home state of Iowa in 89 years was shot by a hunter. The hunter was not cited, as he told authorities he thought the 70 pound female grey wolf was a coyote.

In the southeast, a court in North Carolina granted a temporary injunction against the Red-wolf-WNC-web-300x215shooting of coyotes in five counties in the Red Wolf Recovery Area. It has been reported that at least 50 red wolves have been shot when mistaken for coyotes. since 2008. With only 100 of the endangered red wolves in the wild, every effort must be made to protect them. Red wolves, as well as coyotes, can still be shot if they are caught preying on livestock.

When biologists checked their trail cams in the Rogue River-Siskiyou National Forest of southern Oregon on May 7, 2014 they saw evidence that Journey had found a mate. The black female (later dubbed Wandering Wanda by Bob Ferris of Cascadia Wildlands) was captured on a couple of photos. In one she was squatting in a decidedly female way. As it was denning season, there was speculation that the pair may have mated and were caring for pups.

Wandering Wanda. USFWS photo
Wandering Wanda. USFWS photo

Implementing 13 years of data on 280 collared wolves in Yellowstone National Park several biologists, including Doug Smith and Dan Stahler, provide evidence that wolves regulate their populations. Their findings were published in Journal of Animal Ecology on May 21, 2014.

Farley Mowat

Author and environmentalist Farley Mowat, of Never Cry Wolf fame died at age 92 on May 6, 2014. He wrote over 40 books in his lifetime.

June

The month started out with a bang as the ODFG released the news that Journey was a father. pups-in-log_stephenson_usfwsHe and the black female had indeed denned up and were raising a family, the first in the Oregon Cascades since the 1940s. John Stephenson, biologist with the USFWS took a photo of two pups, a black and a grey, peeking out from beneath a log. The origin of the black wolf is still unknown but scat samples have been collected to help determine this.

A few days after the new Oregon pack was photographed, the California Fish and Game Commission voted 3 to 1 to add wolves to their state Endangered Species List. This will allow protection for Journey and kin if and when they disperse south a few miles into California.

OR 18, a two year old Oregon wolf from the Snake River pack was illegally killed in Montana after he traveled through Idaho to enter the Bitterroot Valley of the Big Sky State. This is the first known Oregon wolf to have died in Montana, primarily because they don’t make it through Idaho alive. Five Oregon wolves had died in that state so far. The nonprofit group Wolves of the Rockies added $2,500 to the $1,000 reward originally offered by Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks.

Meanwhile, nonprofits Wolves of the Rockies, Defenders of Wildlife, Living with Wolves, and the Montana Wildlife Federation all verbalized their support at a Fish, Wildlife and Parks meeting for the Montana Wolf Conservation Stamp. They explained that this stamp would bring money to the state that could be used for nonlethal measures to prevent livestock depredation, to educate the public, to purchase more wolf habitat, and to hire additional FWP wardens to oversee this habitat.

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The first Speak For Wolves event is held on June 27-29 in Gardiner, Montana.

July

Oregon representative Peter Defazio fires a letter off to Interior Secretary Sally Jewell requesting that buffer zones be established around our National Parks to protect wolves. In Yellowstone alone, twelve wolves were killed as of March 2013 when they left the park.

A litter of five wolves are born in Mexico, the first litter born in the wild there for over 30 years. The Mexican grey wolf was extinct in the wild by the late 1980s. Reintroductions using captive animals began in 1998 in Arizona. All living Mexican greys come from only seven founding wolves! Later in the month, six more Mexican grey wolves were released in the Gila Mountain Wilderness of New Mexico.

Journey print by Pete Figura, CDFW
Journey print by Pete Figura, CDFW

Writer Marybeth Holleman speaks about Among Wolves, her recently published book on the much respected Denali wolf researcher Gordon Haber. Haber worked for thirty some years, following packs in Denali and trying to educate the public and authorities that these animals are intelligent and valuable beings. He was killed in a plane crash in the Alaska bush in 2009.

Pope Francis (named after Francis of Assisi, patrol saint of animals) speaks out on the need to protect the environment. In his words, “This is our sin, exploiting the Earth and not allowing her to her give us what she has within her.” He is working on a book on humans and nature.

August

This is the month of the Huckleberry pack fiasco in Washington state. Stevens County rancher, Dave Dashiell reported that wolves from the Huckleberry pack had killed at least 24 of his 1,800 sheep since mid-August. The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife gave the OK to lethally remove up to four members of the Huckleberry pack. A 66 pound female was killed from a helicopter and three weeks later, it was released that she was the three year old alpha female.

Following California’s lead, Illinois adds gray wolves, as well as black bears and cougars to their state’s protected species list. It may be a long time before wolves disperse to Illinois but protections will be in place when this happens.

Living with Wolves publishes this informative ad in an Idaho paper. Through the point of view of a wolf, the ad strives to dispel persistent myths and educate readers on the truth.

Kamots of the Sawtooth pack. Photo courtesy of Living with Wolves
Kamots of the Sawtooth pack. Photo courtesy of Living with Wolves

September

While wild fires rage in several states, things cool down for Wyoming wolves when the a federal judge reinstates protection for them in that state until a better plan is conceived. Previous to this ruling it was legal to shoot wolves nearly anywhere and at anytime in the Wyoming.

ODFW releases the news that scat studies show Journey’s mate, Wandering Wanda, is related to wolves in the Snake River and Minam packs of NE Oregon. Of course, these wolves came originally from Idaho so she may have made the long trip from there to find her new partner. The studies also prove that the pups (now up to three) are legitimate offspring of Journey and Wanda. Not that there was much question of that!

Pete Defazio
Pete Defazio

The fight continues to stop a Predator Derby to be held in January 2015 on public lands near Salmon, Idaho. Representative Pete Defazio (can we come up with a special award for this guy?) writes the BLM stating, “…this proposed activity is clearly inconsistent with BLM’s mission ‘to sustain the health, diversity, and productivity of America’s public lands for the use and enjoyment of present and future generations.”

October

Echo
Echo

For the first time since the 1940s, a grey wolf was seen in the Kaibab Plateau, just north of Grand Canyon National Park. The collared wolf, later determined to have dispersed from the Rocky Mountains,  was named Echo in a contest sponsored by several conservation groups. Milwaukee, Oregon resident, ten year old Zachary Tanner chose the name Echo. He said he came up with this name, “because she came back to the Grand Canyon like an Echo does.”

Wolves were seen within 50 miles of Paris, France. They have been extinct there since the middle of the 19th century. There is no stopping Canis lupus as they continue to return to their natural range throughout the world.

Wolf hunting in Wisconsin begins again on October 15. This will be the third season since the delisting. Wisconsin is the only state that allows wolves to be hunted with the use of hounds. A group called Wolf Patrol spearheaded by former Sea Shepard rebel Rod Coronado, goes to the field to observe the hunt, to report activities to the public and watch for infractions of the law.

November

The long and arduous battle by Keep Michigan Wolves Protected and many kmwp others is won when voters rejected the passing of laws that would have allowed the second season of wolf killing in Michigan to begin. 22 wolves were killed there in the 2013 season. This action led to a relatively peaceful year for the 700 some wolves living in the beautiful state of Michigan. Meanwhile, Isle Royale wolf numbers continue to drop and the controversy continues as to whether a relocation effort should be put into action.

Early season for wolves in Minnesota is set to start on November 8 and ends November 23. Late season runs from November 29 until January 13, with trapping allowed from November 29 until January 31. Harvest limits may alter the season dates. The previous winter’s wolf count reported 2,423 wolves in 470 packs. Wolf hunting licenses cost residents $30 and nonresidents $250.

Conservation Northwest, Center for Biological Diversity, Defenders of Wildlife, The Humane Society of the US, and the Woodland Park Zoo offer a $15,000 reward for information leading to the arrest of the poacher of the Teanaway Pack breeding female. She was killed in Washington’s Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forest in October 2014.

Most likely under similar circumstances, two Mexican greys were found dead in New Mexico. The USFWS is investigating the case.

December

The Wisconsin wolf hunt ends on December 5, 2014. 151 wolves were killed.

Anti-trapping organizations such as Trap Free Montana Public Lands,

Bronco was killed in a conibear trap in Minnesota
Bronco was killed in a Conibear trap in Minnesota

Wyoming Untrapped, Trap Free New Mexico, and New Hampshire Citizens Against Trapping continue to press for changes to protect wild fur-bearing animals, as well as pets. Dozens of dogs have died in traps set for wolves and other animals. A group called Sportsman Take Action reports that 30 dogs have succumb to Conibear traps since 2012, and these are just the ones reported.

Remember Echo, the collared wolf seen by the Grand Canyon? A wolf fitting her description was shot by a Utah hunter near the Colorado/Utah border. No, he was not charged. Despite the fact that Echo wore a conspicuous radio collar and weighed twice as much as a coyote, the hunter told authorities that he mistook her for a coyote and so was not cited.

In a move that heralded a joyous Christmas for advocates of the natural world, U.S. District Court Judge, Beryl A. Howell reversed the 2012 decision to allow Wisconsin, Minnesota and Michigan to manage their wolves by ordering Federal protections for these animals. Judge Howell wrote in her 111 page decision that, “…at times, a court must lean forward from the bench to let an agency know, in no uncertain terms, that enough is enough.”

How right she is. Enough is enough, and those who understand the importance of wolves in the ecosystems of our world will continue to advocate for their existence in 2015, 2016, 2017, and however long it takes. Happy New Year to all!

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