Wolf pack is biggest in West

MARK GOCKE / WYOMING GAME AND FISH DEPARTMENT Ken Mills, a Wyoming Game and Fish biologist, inspects a wolf from the Lava Mountain Pack in 2014.

MARK GOCKE / WYOMING GAME AND FISH DEPARTMENT

Ken Mills, a Wyoming Game and Fish biologist, inspects a wolf from the Lava Mountain Pack in 2014.

Mike Koshmrl | jhnewsandguide.com

The largest wolf pack known to exist in the American West roams the Gros Ventre hill country about 30 miles northeast of Jackson.

At last count there were 24 members of the Lava Mountain Pack, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service annual monitoring reports show. While far from unprecedented historically, a wolf pack two dozen strong has nine more members than any other pack surveyed this year in Wyoming, Montana, Idaho, Washington or Oregon, state and federal reports indicate.

“That’s a very large pack,” said Mike Jimenez, the service’s Northern Rocky Mountain wolf coordinator. “They actually had a double litter a year ago, and that’s uncommon.”

First documented in 2008, the Lava Mountain Pack ranges deep in the Gros Ventre north of the river’s main stem. It was already the largest pack in Wyoming a year ago when it had 15 wolves. Then its members added the two litters of pups in 2014, Jimenez said.

History suggests that the days of the Lava Mountain Pack’s jumbo size are likely numbered, he said.

Six years ago the largest gang of wolves in Wyoming was the Buffalo Pack, which roamed the Mount Leidy Highlands in numbers as high as 22.

The next year the pack fell to 14 members.

“After that they split up, and the pack was gone,” Jimenez said.

“Big packs don’t stay big for very long,” he said. “What happens is they kick out dispersers, or they fracture.”

Large carnivore biologist Ken Mills of the Wyoming Game and Fish Department also said the Lava Mountain Pack would more likely decline than persist for years at such numbers.

“They don’t tend to be very stable, just because they are so large and they require a lot of resources,” Mills said. “Socially they don’t tend to be stable.”

Before a judge’s September court ruling, Mills was the biologist who managed Wyoming’s wolf program. About a year ago he came face to face with the Lava Mountain Pack when he collared members for a research project on wolf predation in the Upper Gros Ventre. The research was put on hold after tracking collars failed and management jurisdiction shifted to the federal government.

Since the ruling, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has resumed management and hunting has been barred. Because they live within Wyoming’s trophy game area, the Lava Mountain Pack was never subjected to legal hunting last year.

It’s usually in protected areas — where human-caused mortality is low — that very large wolf packs tend to develop, Jimenez said.

Since the reintroduction of wolves to the West two decades ago, the largest pack has proved to be Yellowstone National Park’s now-defunct Druid Pack.

“Just think, in Yellowstone there’s no public hunting, no livestock control,” Jimenez said. “It’s pretty much running in a natural state.”

The Druids, which peaked at 37 wolves in 2001, declined naturally and broke up altogether by 2010.

It was a similar story for other Yellowstone packs with 20-plus wolves, such as the Nez Perce and Swan Lake packs, Jimenez said. They swelled in size after reintroduction and then declined and eventually disappeared, he said.

“The size of the big, big packs, it isn’t inherently better,” Jimenez said. “You get a pack that big, and you can imagine it’s probably formidable and it’s a pretty good defender of its territory.”

But an abundance of prey needs to be present to sustain very large numbers of wolves, he said.

The Upper Gros Ventre, Mills said, is a “rich environment without a lot of livestock.”

Last year, reports show, the Lava Mountain Pack killed two cattle. Generally, Jimenez said, “They’re not a particularly problematic pack.

“They’ve exploited the situation there,” he said, “and they’ve done very well.”

Wolf numbers in the Jackson Hole area as a whole were relatively stable over the past year.

Other Gros Ventre packs tended to stay the same size or shrink.

The Blackrock wolves, with territory to the west of the Lava Mountain Pack, stayed steady at four members. The Pinnacle Peak pack, a frequenter of the National Elk Refuge and Lower Gros Ventre, didn’t budge in number and came in at the second largest in the region with a dozen wolves, Fish and Wildlife’s report shows.

The Lower Slide Lake and Lower Gros Ventre packs both stayed small, numbering four animals or less.

Phantom Springs wolves, residents of Grand Teton National Park and the Buffalo Valley, decreased from 11 to five wolves.

The park’s northern Huckleberry Pack also decreased significantly — from 11 to three wolves.

The Pacific Creek Pack, inhabitants of the Teton Wilderness, were stable over the past year and remained at six members.

Wolves in the southern extent of Jackson Hole and in the Hoback River drainage fared well. The Hoback-area Horse Creek Pack increased from five to eight. A new group of eight wolves, the Dell Creek Pack, sprung up in the area north and east of Bondurant, reports show.

Kids' school trip cancelled over wolf fears

Wolves in Schleswig-Holstein in March. Photo: DPA

Wolves in Schleswig-Holstein in March. Photo: DPA

Staff | TheLocal.de

Kindergartens in Lower Saxony have cancelled a trip to the forest for their pupils over parents' fears that the children might be attacked by wolves.

“Our children are terribly sad, they were looking forward to the forest weeks so much,” Martina Dahms, head of a kindergarten in Soltau, north of Hanover, told Norddeutsche Rundfunk (NDR).

During the spring and autumn holidays the kindergarten's 60 children were due to spend a total of 14 days in the forest in two “forest weeks” - a tradition that's been going on for 20 years.

But this year parents concerned by reports of wolf sightings in the town's Wacholder Park pushed for the trip to be cancelled.

“People ought to learn to deal with wolves, but wolves have to do the same for people,” Dahms said. “It can't work the way it is at the moment. People feel unsafe.”

State representative Lutz Winkelmann said that he and other members of the Lower Saxony legislature wanted to set up limits to the areas where wolves can roam freely.

People from the Heidekreis district have already sent a petition demanding such measures to state environment minister Stefan Wenzel.

Local farmers have reported that animals have been found bitten to death in their enclosures in recent months.

Local wolf expert Ralf Neumann told NDR that while he understood people's fear of the predators, there was no reason for the kindergartens to cancel their trip.

“Wolves living in the wild who aren't used to people present no danger,” Lower Saxony Hunting Association wolf expert Britta Habbesaid.

“It's true that people will most likely not accept seeing them close up, and then it's up to managers to find a balance between the wild animals and people's feeling of safety.”

Cost of wolves calculable

Staff | Wallowa.com

Three researchers with OSU list economic impacts from wolves on Oregon's cattle producers.

ECONOMIC IMPACTS OF WOLVES IN NORTHEAST OREGON

Below is a “snap shot”, simplistic view of the economic impact of wolves on rural communities based upon a six year, ongoing study conducted by Dr. Doug Johnson, OSU, Dr. Larry Larson, OSU, and John Williams, OSU – Beef Extension specialist – Wallowa County. Specific details are available through these individuals.

Economic Impact on a 100 cow/calf pair operation in forested grazing areas:

1. 8-12 fewer calves come off of grazing due to wolf predation... $13,000

2. Calves average 30-50 lbs. less at weaning due to harassment by wolves... $7,000

3. All cows come off of the range thinner... $5,000

It takes 5-10 lbs. of extra energy and protein per cow per day to restore her to adequate shape to calf properly, provide sufficient milk for the baby calf for the winter and breed back.

4. Fewer cows breed back while under harassment on the range... $5,600

These un-bred cows must be sold in the fall and replaced with either young heifers from the herd, which reduces calves available to sell, or replacement cows purchased to maintain an effective herd size.

5. Management costs increase due to supervision and preventative measures while cattle are on large, forested range plot and in winter calving areas. (Range riders, vet treatment of injured calves, various preventative measures, etc.)... $9,000

Total lost income on 100 cow/calf pairs based on January 2015 cattle prices: $39,600

Related important data based on the 2013 State of Oregon Agriculture census:

Wallowa County Cows 38,500 Calves 21,500

Union County Cows 33,500 Calves 19,100

The above data is not meant to reflect $39,600 for every 100 cows in each county, as the wolf density presently varies by area; however the potential exists if wolf numbers ever approach the density of the forested populations in Idaho, Montana and Wyoming. Presently almost all of the forested range area in Wallowa and Union counties have identified packs. Harassment and depredation are greatest in the portions of Wallowa County nearest the Idaho border. Umatilla and Baker counties both have packs and two more known packs exist, one in the Desolation area and one in SW Oregon.

Agriculture economists fundamentally agree that it takes a herd of between 350 and 400 head to provide a middle income living for a family of four. The loss of about $140,000 for such a family trickles down into all of the fabric of these rural communities. Fewer dollars are available for local businesses and services, such as schools, health care and law enforcement. These losses in natural resource based counties further increase the economic disparities that exist between the rural and urban Oregon economies. Ranchers in northeast Oregon have proven over the last 5 years that they understand that the presence of wolves is a reality and have worked tirelessly within the law to survive, but further expansion of wolves beyond the minimum number listed in the Oregon wolf plan is not acceptable. While the State has made an honest attempt to help reduce the economic impact, the dollars available are so limited and the reimbursement areas so narrow (1 in 7 of the animals killed by wolves are ever found — 2003 study) that these, although well meaning, are not close to meeting the real economic impact of high wolf populations. Cattle populations are much larger in Malheur and Harney counties with similar range grazing operations on more open country. Presently we do not have sufficient data to predict if the impact of wolves in areas such as these will be greater or less than the more forested area. Ranchers in Wallowa, Union, Umatilla, and Baker counties are suffering from wolf harassment and predation in varying degrees and this problem will get worse as wolf numbers increase and expansion moves to far more rural counties.

Note: This analysis was originally published in “Oregon Beef Producer” magazine, published by the Oregon Cattlmen’s Association.

Largest pack has 24 wolves, biologists say

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service The largest wolf pack in the West has been found in Wyoming. It has 24 wolves — 9 more than the next largest pack.

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service The largest wolf pack in the West has been found in Wyoming. It has 24 wolves — 9 more than the next largest pack.

Staff | CapitalPress.com
The Lava Mountain Pack has 24 wolves, nine more than any other pack in Wyoming, Montana, Idaho, Washington or Oregon.

JACKSON, Wyo. (AP) The West’s largest known wolf pack roams in northwest Wyoming, federal wildlife officials say.

The 24 wolves in the Lava Mountain Pack is nine more than any other pack surveyed this year in Wyoming, Montana, Idaho, Washington or Oregon, state and federal reports indicate. The predators roam hill country about 30 miles northeast of Jackson.

“That’s a very large pack,” Mike Jimenez, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s Northern Rocky Mountain wolf coordinator, told the Jackson Hole News & Guide. “They actually had a double litter a year ago, and that’s uncommon.”

First documented in 2008, the Lava Mountain Pack was already the largest pack in Wyoming a year ago when it had 15 wolves. Then, two litters of pups were born in 2014, Jimenez said.

But the pack’s size likely will not last, he said.

“Big packs don’t stay big for very long,” Jimenez said. “What happens is they kick out dispersers, or they fracture.”

Ken Mills, large carnivore biologist with the Wyoming Game and Fish Department, agreed that the pack’s numbers likely would dwindle.

“They don’t tend to be very stable, just because they are so large and they require a lot of resources,” Mills said. “Socially, they don’t tend to be stable.”

After wolves were reintroduced to the West 20 years ago, the largest pack became Yellowstone National Park’s Druid Pack, which is now defunct.

“Just think, in Yellowstone, there’s no public hunting, no livestock control,” Jimenez said. “It’s pretty much running in a natural state.”

The Druids, which peaked at 37 wolves in 2001, declined naturally and broke up by 2010.

The pattern was similar for other Yellowstone packs with more than 20 wolves, Jimenez said. Their numbers grew after reintroduction, then dropped and eventually disappeared, he said.

“The size of the big, big packs, it isn’t inherently better,” Jimenez said. “You get a pack that big, and you can imagine it’s probably formidable and it’s a pretty good defender of its territory.”

But large numbers of wolves need lots of prey around to survive, he said.

Click here to read the full article on CapitalPress.com

Woman eaten by wolf 50 metres away from her house

By Ruth Doherty | travel.aol.co

A 77-year-old woman has been eaten by a wolf after collapsing just 50 metres away from her home.

It is believed Lima Ankudinova may have suffered a heart attack as she walked back to her house in Russia.

A neighbour found her half-eaten remains in a pool of blood.

According to the Mirror, Fedot Nekrasov, 68, said: "I had gone out in the morning as I do everyday for a brisk walk when I came across her body.

Click here to read full article.

Nolan to co-sponsor grey wolf bill

by Bill Hanna Mesabi, Daily News | hibbingmn.com

WASHINGTON — U.S. Rep. Rick Nolan will sign on as a co-sponsor of legislation that would remove gray wolves in Minnesota, Wisconsin and Michigan from the Endangered Species list.

And Minnesota’s Democratic U.S. Sens. Amy Klobuchar and Al Franken are also supportive of getting the gray wolves delisted again.

Gray wolves were taken off the Endangered Species list in December 2011 in the Great Lakes area when the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service determined that their numbers had sufficiently recovered.

But a federal judge in Washington, D.C., reimposed federal protection for the gray wolves, saying the removal had been “arbitrary and capricious” and violated the federal Endangered Species Act.

Click here to read full article.

20 Years of Wolves in Government Clothing

The 20th anniversary of a government program to bring gray wolves to Yellowstone Park marks two decades of debate over the Federal government’s role in forcing wolves on individuals, communities and states that may, or may not, want them. Sixty Canadian wolves planted in Yellowstone Park in 1995 and 1996 have turned into thousands of wolves roaming the surrounding states. For those who idolize wolves as an icon of the wilderness, this week marks the historic success of a government program to bring a species back to an area it once roamed prior to the settlement of human populations. But there is another side to this story. Many of those forced to live in areas populated by wolves see them as unnecessary, and an expensive burden to state budgets, livestock growers, and hunting industries. As a fourth generation Montanan, who has spent time in Yellowstone Park almost every year for five decades, I find myself in the latter category.

Wolves were removed from most settled areas in the lower 48 states nearly a century ago for a reason – they are a very difficult predator to manage. This is an apex predator that multiplies quickly and must kill more animals to survive than any other species in North America. It is also a species that is a threat to humans, as evidenced in the recent death of a teacher in Alaska who was killed by wolves while jogging. [...]

Will Graves responds to states restoring wolf protection

Article by Will Graves | wolvesinrussia.com

To read original article to which this response is written, click here.

Look what happened in Czarist Russia, the former USSR, parts of France, the Sakha Republic when wolf numbers were  not controlled. It was a disaster.  In Sakha in 2012 wolves killed 16,111 reindeer and about 320 horses.  This is what happened when wolf numbers are not controlled.  There is also the problem and threat of wolves carrying and spreading dangerous and damaging parasites over wide areas.  All of these countries have had much more experience with wolves than we here in the United States.

There is no "balance of nature."  Man controls the population of animals - including wolves.  The population of wolves in not controlled by any epizootic diseases but by man.  [...]

OUR OPINION: Judge's ruling on wolves defies biology

This time, the alarmists are not crying "Wolf." They're crying "Too few wolves."

But the effect will be the same: a cynical public not only ignoring the calls, but also resenting the groups that keep raising false alarms.

Expect a backlash, in the form of Congress taking control of wolf populations out of the hands of activists and judges and giving it back to wildlife biologists, where it belongs.

It has happened before. It should happen again. And if it does, it'll be well deserved. [...]

Young wolf mistaken for coyote shot, killed in Beaver County

SALT LAKE CITY — State wildlife officials have confirmed that a young female wolf was shot and killed in Beaver County — the first documented killing of a wolf in Utah in several years.

The men saw what they thought was a coyote attacking a cow and shot and killed it Sunday night.

They found a collar on it, and wildlife officials said the collar was first attached to the animal for identification and tracking purposes in January 2014 in Cody, Wyoming. [...]

Great Lakes Wolves Ordered Back to Endangered List

Great Lakes Wolves Ordered Back to Endangered List

Article by Associated Press | detroitnews.com

Traverse City – — A federal judge on Friday threw out an Obama administration decision to remove the gray wolf population in the western Great Lakes region from the endangered species list — a decision that will ban further wolf hunting and trapping in Michigan and two other states. 

The order also affects wolves in Minnesota and Wisconsin. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service dropped federal protections from those wolves in 2012 and handed over management to the states. 

U.S. District Judge Beryl Howell in Washington, D.C., ruled Friday the removal was “arbitrary and capricious” and violated the federal Endangered Species Act. 

Unless overturned, his decision will prohibit further wolf hunting and trapping in the three states, all of which have had at least one hunting season since protections were removed. [...]

Canid North of Grand Canyon Confirmed to be a Rocky Mountain Gray Wolf

Canid North of Grand Canyon Confirmed to be a Rocky Mountain Gray Wolf 

PHOENIX – Genetic tests of scat (feces) collected from a free-roaming canid north of Grand Canyon National Park on the North Kaibab National Forest have confirmed that the animal, first detected in early October, is a female Rocky Mountain gray wolf. The confirmation clarifies that this gray wolf is fully protected under the Endangered Species Act. 

Since early October, a collared, wolf-like canid was repeatedly observed and photographed on the Kaibab Plateau just north of Grand Canyon National Park. U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Arizona Game and Fish Department, and National Park Service wildlife officials were unsuccessful in detecting a radio signal from an apparently inoperable radio telemetry collar. 

On November 2, Fish and Wildlife Service biologists collected scat to obtain genetic information. Service biologists’ attempted to capture the animal to collect blood and replace the radio collar. Those efforts were unsuccessful and have been suspended due to cold weather, as our primary concern is the welfare of this animal. Any future capture efforts will be for collar and transmitter replacement, and the wolf will be released on site. 

The DNA analysis was conducted by University of Idaho’s Laboratory for Ecological, Evolutionary and Conservation Genetics. The DNA analysis confirmed that the animal is a gray wolf from the northern Rocky Mountain population. The lab may be able to determine the wolf’s individual identification by comparing its DNA profile with that of previously captured and sampled northern Rocky Mountain gray wolf females. This analysis will take several weeks to several months. We will provide any additional information when it becomes available. 

“The DNA results indicate this wolf traveled at least 450 miles from an area in the northern Rocky Mountains to northern Arizona,” said Benjamin Tuggle, Southwest Regional Director. “Wolves, particularly young wolves, can be quite nomadic dispersing great distances across the landscape. Such behavior is not unusual for juveniles as they travel to find food or another mate.” 

Gray wolves have not been observed in the area for over 70 years when the last of the animals were removed through a decades-long predator eradication campaign. This female gray wolf is not 

associated with the Mexican wolf population, a subspecies of gray wolves that occurs in Arizona and New Mexico south of Interstate 40. 

The mission of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is working with others to conserve, protect, and enhance fish, wildlife, plants, and their habitats for the continuing benefit of the American people. We are both a leader and trusted partner in fish and wildlife conservation, known for our scientific excellence, stewardship of lands and natural resources, dedicated professionals, and commitment to public service. For more information on our work and the people who make it happen, visit www.fws.gov. Connect with our Facebook page at www.facebook.com/usfws, follow our tweets at www.twitter.com/usfwshq, watch our YouTube Channel at http://www.youtube.com/usfws and download photos from our Flickr page at http://www.flickr.com/photos/usfwshq.

The Making of a Mexico-to-Canada Wolf Corridor — Part 2

Article by W.R. McAfee agenda21news.com

The South­west is the area where Cana­dian and Mex­i­can wolves mostly likely will meet and cross­breed. Accord­ing to USFWS doc­u­ments, the Mex­i­can wolf’s inbreed­ing con­tributes to small lit­ter sizes and low pup-survival rates. Cross-breeding with the non-native Cana­dian wolves would “solve” the Mex­i­can wolf’s gene pool prob­lem. Call it a “nonessen­tial exper­i­men­tal Mex­i­can wolf sub­species.” Or call it what it is—a big­ger cross­bred “Mex­i­can” gray wolf [...]

As Wolves Return, So Do Tensions with Ranchers

Article by Craig Welch | adn.com

SEATTLE -- When the cougar trackers finally figured out it wasn't a big cat that was wiping out Dave Dashiell's livestock, the wolves already were on their way to killing or wounding 33 sheep.

By then even dogs, traps and specialists armed with lights, paintball guns and rubber bullets couldn't keep the wolves and livestock apart.

"There were days when I walked down a drainage and when I came back two hours later there was a dead lamb where I walked," Dashiell's tearful wife, Julie, told a state wildlife panel [...]