Wolf News Roundup
by Cat Urbigkit, Pinedale Online!
December 28, 2016
Wyoming ends the year with a record number of livestock depredations by wolves, according to federal officials, and a record number of wolves killed by federal wildlife officials in response to those depredations. While the final numbers are not yet tallied, there were at least 110 wolves killed in the state in 2016 due to livestock depredations. This is more than twice as many wolves that were killed in each of the last two years in response to depredations.
Animal activists have been outraged that Norway planned to cull 2/3s of its wolf population due to continued conflicts with livestock. Of that nation’s estimated 68 wolves, 47 were to be culled, but Norwegian government officials backed off that number, instead authorizing the killing of 15 "lone" wolves.
The National Park Service is considering whether to transplant wolves on Isle Royale (Great Lakes region). The wolf and moose population in this region have been the subject of the longest continuous study of any predator-prey system in the world, with research beginning in 1958.
Wolves crossed an ice bridge from Lake Superior to Isle Royale back in the 1940s, taking up residence on the island and preying on its abundant moose population. As biologists watched, the moose population tripled its original size, with the wolf population increasing from a just few animals to 50. With increased wolf depredations, the moose population declined, followed by a wolf population crash. Eventually the island’s small wolf population became severely inbred, and with only two wolves now remaining, wolf advocates want an active intervention in the form of transplanting more wolves onto the island. The NPS is now taking public comments on its environmental impact statement to do just that, with its proposal to live-capture 20-30 wolves in the Great Lakes region and transplant them onto the island during the next three years.
According to a NPS statement: "Although wolves have not always been part of the Isle Royale ecosystem, they have been present for more than 65 years, and have played a key role in the ecosystem, affecting the moose population and other species during that time. The average wolf population on the island over the past 65 years has been about 22, but there have been as many as 50 wolves on the island and as few as three. Over the past five years the population has declined steeply, which has given rise to the need to determine whether the NPS should bring additional wolves to the island. There were three wolves documented on the island as of March 2015 and only two wolves have been confirmed as of February 2016. At this time, natural recovery of the population is unlikely."
Biologists with the Mexican Wolf Interagency Field Team recently learned a fostered wolf pup introduced to a pack in 2014 has produced a wild offspring of her own.
In a critical breakthrough in Mexican wolf management, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service recently reported that a genetic test of male 1561 revealed that it is the offspring of male 1293 and female 1346. The female was one of two pups fostered into the den of the Dark Canyon Pack in New Mexico in 2014. "We now have proof that a fostered pup not only survived to adulthood, but that it is reproducing and contributing genetically important young into the wild," said Jim deVos, assistant director of wildlife management for the Arizona Game and Fish Department. "This is fantastic news for the program and demonstrates that fostering Mexican wolves so they grow up wild is effective and provides a critical step forward for wolf recovery."
The Arizona Game and Fish Commission and department support this fostering technique that introduces very young pups from captivity and places them into a wild-born litter of the same age. The pups are then raised in the wild rather than captivity.
Bloomberg Businessweek has posted an article by Karen Weise that delves into the conflict over wolves in Washington. Titled ‘Delicate Dances With Those Who Save Wolves’, Weise describes the process to reach compromise between those who want wolf conservation and those who experiencing direct impact from such action.
For more information on these stories, check out the links below.