Wolf News Roundup 2/26/2018
by Cat Urbigkit, Pinedale Online!
February 25, 2018
Wolves are killing each other in response to lack of elk in the Gros Ventre, while a former Yellowstone wolf biologist is telling the people of Colorado how they need wolves. Minnesota’s moose rise and decline is closely tied to wolf population numbers, and Idaho gets a reprieve from having to destroy data. Those are just a few highlights in recent wolf news. See article summaries and links below.
Gros Ventre wolves
Reporter Mike Koshmrl of the Jackson Hole News & Guide recently reported on the scarcity of elk in the Gros Ventre drainage this winter, and the "war" currently taking place between wolf packs in the area in response. The lack of elk have apparently caused the area’s two large wolf packs to move off their normal ranges, providing for territorial battles and wolves killing wolves in conflict.
Former Yellowstone wolf guru Mike Phillips (of the Turner Endangered Species Fund) continues the push by the Rocky Mountain Wolf Project that wolves should be reintroduced to Colorado. Allen Best reports in the Summit Daily on the latest effort, including Turner’s assertions that a population of 300-400 wolves would pose few problems.
Minnesota moose decline
Wolf populations have been documented to rise and fall with decline of a primary prey base: moose. Wolf researcher L. David Mech’s new study examines moose calf declines, after the moose population crashed while wolf density increased. According to an article by Tony Kennedy in the Star Tribune, Mech’s findings support the idea that decreasing the wolf population through hunting would allow the moose population to rebound.
Idaho wildlife officials have won a reprieve from destroying data collected from elk and wolves that were radio-collared when officials illegally landed in a wilderness area to place the collars. Western Watersheds Project had requested that a federal judge order the resulting wildlife data to be destroyed, to which Judge Lynn Winmill complied. But the order on data destruction is on hold as state officials appeal the decision to a higher court.
The Capital Press reports that although some ranchers and a new nonprofit organization will receive more than $2750,000 to hire range riders and erect fences to deter wolves in Washington, a proposal by the Cattle Producers of Washington – whose members include ranchers most affected by wolves – was denied funding. The cattlemen’s group had proposed to collar, monitor, and haze more wolves, working with state and local officials. But that local support (sheriffs and county commissioners) caused concerns with state wildlife officials who questioned whether the grants could be spent on a program that involved sheriff’s departments. In other Washington news, the Capital Press also reports that two ranchers recently shot and killed wolves that were attacking cattle – in an area outside the range of any documented wolf pack.
Farmers in France will soon face a larger wolf population, as the French government approved a plan to allow the wolf population to expand 40 percent in the next five years, to an estimated 500 animals. Last fall’s farmer protest where hundreds of domestic sheep were paraded through city streets was apparently to no avail.
A young female wolf that left Germany and moved into Belgium recently made headlines for being the first wolf in that country in more than 100 years. But the wolf is once again making headlines, this time for killing several sheep and injuring another.
For more information on all these stories, see the links below.