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
At the opposite end of the political spectrum, Idaho governor Butch Otter’s request for a Wolf Control Board was passed by the Senate 26-8. The board was funded with $400,000 the first year, with the same amount available for four more years subject to appropriation, making a total of $2 million in taxpayer funds for lethally controlling wolves.
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 Transylvania Wildlife Project captured trail-cam photos of grey wolves in the Carpathian Mountains. Between 2,000 and 4,000 of these animals live in Romania, the European stronghold for the elusive grey wolf.
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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14 thoughts on “2014 – Wolf Year in Review

  1. Thank you, Amaroq Weiss, West Coast Wolf Organizer for Center for Biological Diversity (Center) for pointing out that several groups, including the Center pitched in to raise the reward to help solve the case of the poached Washington wolf in February. Here is the details from the Center’s Endangered Earth online (http://www.biologicaldiversity.org/publications/earthonline/endangered-earth-online-no714.html#three):

    Reward Offered for Info on Illegal Wolf Kill in Washington

    Following the illegal killing of a wolf in Washington state Feb. 9, the Center is helping fund a reward for information. The 2-year-old black wolf from the Smackout pack was found shot dead in Stevens County; she’d been captured last year and fitted with a radio collar to track her movements.

    The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife is offering a $22,500 reward — which includes contributions from the Center and other conservation groups — in the case.

    Wolves in Washington are just beginning to recover, and any wolf deaths from unnatural causes can impede the progress of that recovery. In addition to this illegal shooting, within just the past year five Washington wolves have died from causes such as automobile collisions; one was shot by a deer hunter. There are only about 52 wolves in the state, with 13 packs and five breeding pairs.

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  2. Beckie as always, thank you for your passion and your commitment to speak in a clear, strong voice for wolves. I LOVE that wolves have been seen within 50 miles of Paris. I will certainly let my former boss, who is now working in France know. He has become quite interested in wolves, as has his wife (I may have had a little to do with that 😉

    And I totally agree that we need to give Pete DeFazio an award!

    We have a struggle ahead of us in 2015 in trying to gain the protection that wolves and all other predators deserve. I am glad you are there to lend your voice to that cause.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Beckie thank you for the around-the-world wolf update! What a topsy-turvy year!

    Speak for Wolves is scheduled for August 7-9, 2015 in West Yellowstone, MT. Organizing is just underway.Speak for Wolves | An opportunity for the American people to unite and demand wildlife management reform and restore our national heritage

    brett haverstick

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