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Washington Wrestles With Managing Incoming Wolves

2013 年 3 月 13 日 水曜日

The North American gray wolf has made a flourishing comeback in the U.S. Midwestern states. Moving into the periphery states like Washington and Oregon however, has resulted in a struggle of opinions, politics, and environmental concerns. Photo by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

By Jordie Ricigliano, March 6, 2013


Saving endangered wolves from extinction in the wild is one thing; managing wolf reintroduction into the wild is quite another.  In Washington State (USA), a conundrum is brewing between animal activists and conservative property owners over just what to do with the wolves entering the state along its eastern and northern borders.


Wolves were common throughout Washington until the 19th century when trapping, poisoning, and hunting practices became popular. Ranching and farming by European-American settlers catalyzed negative opinions of the wild canids and their occasional tastes for livestock meat. By the 1930s, wolves were no longer considered a breeding species in the state. Despite the loss, Washington took no legal measures to reintroduce wolves into wilderness areas.


Reports of wolves entering into the state on their own via porous borders with Idaho and Canada cropped up in 2005; most involved sightings of single animals. The first fully recognized pack was confirmed in July 2008 in the northeastern corner of the state in the Okanogan and Chelan counties. This year, there are eight confirmed and four suspected wolf packs, numbering between 51 and 100 animals. All roam the eastern side of the Cascade Mountains where residents in respective regions have complained that they bear the burden of the state’s unofficial wolf recovery efforts.


The gray wolf (Canis lupus) is officially listed as endangered in Washington under state law and protected under the federal Endangered Species Act (ESA) in the western two-thirds of the state (meaning, it is illegal to kill, harm or harass them). Wolves in the eastern third of the state, where they are most common, were removed from federal protection in 2011. While no reintroduction measures have been developed, state and federal wildlife authorities monitor the activity of resident wolves to learn more about their use of habitat and to reduce potential conflicts with humans.Gray wolf_Washington_map


In January 2013, state representative Kretz (R-Wauconda) proposed to divert a portion of the booming wolf population from the east to the west. Lamenting that “the entire citizenship of the state has not been fully able to enjoy the re-establishment of this majestic species,” Kretz put on the legislation table a tongue-in-cheek bill that would move an undetermined number of wolves across the Cascade Mountains to the Olympic Peninsula and San Juan Islands.


“The Legislature finds that the rich habitat created by the land stewardship of Washington’s private landowners has created circumstances that allow the state to enjoy an expanding gray wolf population,” Kretz wrote. “Unfortunately, however, this bounty has been geographically limited to areas in eastern Washington and the entire citizenship of the state has not been fully able to enjoy the reestablishment of this majestic species.”


The ‘enjoyment’ Kretz mentions refers implicitly to the umbrage of managing wolves in a farming-dense region, where livestock tempt hungry canids just as McDonald’s entices children with its golden arches. Not surprisingly, as the wolf population rose in Washington, so did the death toll of domesticated animals. During 2012, wolves killed nine cows and sheep and wounded 15 more. One Stevens County ranch bore the brunt of the impact, losing six cows and seeing 10 more injured. Kretz’s bill urges the western counties to share the burden, as well as the majesty, of Washington wolves.


The bill has not gotten a hearing in the Democrat-led House, but it has received a litany of criticism. “It’s a stupid bill, and it’s a waste of our resources,” said Sen. Kevin Ranker a democrat representative from Orcas Island.


The proposal arises during an already tense period of civil debate in which various political parties wrestle with how to handle wolves that have recolonized the state faster than expected. John Smith (R-Colville) said the growing number of wolves shows that recovery is exceeding expectations. “We must put a plan in place now for wolf population management as recovery targets are reached,” Smith said.


Eastern Washington legislators, who tend to wave a flag of conservatism, have introduced a slew of bills that would give ranchers and local counties more leeway to deal with gray wolves on their own. Senate Bill 5187 and House Bill 1191 would allow livestock owners to shoot and kill wolves that threaten their livestock without first obtaining a permit from the state.


Fiercely opposing such measures, liberal wolf activists mostly from the western half of the state argue that citizen freedoms to shoot and control wolf numbers would only hurt the state’s wolf recovery efforts and contradict years of efforts that have attempted to pull together an official wolf plan.


One of the wolf packs in contestation is the Wedge pack in northeastern Washington. Last summer, the Department of Fish and Wildlife killed most members of that pack to end a series of attacks on an area rancher’s cattle that left at least six calves dead and 10 other animals injured. The decision further highlighted the public’s bipartite sentiments towards wild canids, arousing either criticism or approval depending on who was speaking.


Just a month before the Wedge Pack culling, the Lookout Pack—Washington’s first recognized pack of wolves—appeared in a 90 minute BBC documentary sponsored by the Discovery Channel. The program featured the search for the wolves as well as some of harsh attitudes local landowners hold toward them. Parts of the program even showed how community members in the Methow Valley illegally poached a number of wolves.


For now, wolves are geographically clustered into one corner of the state, while public attitudes towards them are widespread and varied. Kretz’s bill is just one of a handful of proposals introduced in the last few months that takes a stab at determining just how wolves and humans can best co-exist.


“Wolves aren’t angels or devils,” said Mitch Friedman, executive director of Bellingham-based Conservation Northwest, at a Senate Natural Resources Committee hearing on the bills. “They can respond to management techniques.”


Friedman only expounds part of the concern. As Washington continues to become the stomping grounds for wild canids, the question most pressing is not how the wolves respond to management techniques, but rather, how Washingtonians will adapt to the change.




Northern Inner Mongolian Wolves

2013 年 1 月 3 日 木曜日

(By Naoki Maruyama)

Northern Inner Mongolian Wolves are Protected even in Severe Winter!
Wolf information from the northern Inner Mongolia:
Dr. Rinho Chang sent information on the status of wolves in the Hulunbeir grassland,
northern Inner Mongolia. This winter is colder than the usual, -25-30℃ every night and day in the air temperature. It looks like hard in condition also for wolves to find wild preys such as roe deer and Mongolian gazelle, so that they apt to depredate sheep. However, nomadic people are strictly prohibited to kill the nuisance animals now, because the wolf is designated as the national second-ranked protected animal species. Therefore, the grassland people should make various devices of guarding their livestock without killing from the depredation.

The wolf pack bronz statue of Hurunbeir Hotel, northern Inner Mongolia.

The wolf pack bronz statue of Hurunbeir Hotel, northern Inner Mongolia.


Review of UK’s wolf reintroduction problem

2012 年 12 月 23 日 日曜日

(By Daniel Lee)


gray_wolfHistorically, wolves had the largest natural distribution of any non-human mammalspecies. However, it cannot lay claim to this record as much of their former range has beenlost due to increasing pressure from humankind.

The British Isles, like Japan, was once home to wolves. Whereas the last wolf in Japan was killed in the early 20th century, in Ireland and Scotland it was last hunted to extinction in the 17th to 18th century. In Wales and England, wolves were deemed extinct by the 13th and 16th century respectively.

Wolves were severely persecuted in the British Isles due to a few reasons. Following Abrahamic religious traditions, the medieval mind took literally the idea that man had dominion over nature which can be exploited as a resource for humankind. Animals could thus be used for food, labour or sport. Unfortunately, among all other animals the
wolf has often been portrayed negatively. Wolves were depicted as monstrous rapacious beasts closely associated with witchcraft and the devil and a serious threat to livestock and livelihoods. Hence, they were considered evil, useless, and extremely dangerous and therefore ought to be exterminated for the betterment of all.

However, spurred by the success of wolf reintroduction in Yellowstone National Park, like Japan, the idea that wolves may once again roam the land in the United Kingdom has gained a foothold. Though still haunted by negative stereotypes, the wolf in recent years has been cast in a more positive light as more has been learnt about them.

The awareness of their plight from centuries of discrimination and their symbolic representation of the wild has captured the empathy and imagination of many. In addition, scientific understanding has brought an increasing awareness of the marvels of their social structure, the very low risk wolves’ presents to people and even to most livestock, the extent of its role in shaping ecosystems, allowing other species to flourish by regulating herbivore populations – has changed or altered attitudes and perceptions to this once near-universally maligned species.
In the United Kingdom, this ‘rewilding’ effort is in essence a broader ecological restoration project that considers the potential of other formerly native species of British flora and fauna for reintroduction which is strongly supported by the EU convention. As such, the reintroduction of large mammalian species native to the isles such as the elk, lynx, wolves and bear are being discussed.grey-wolf-pups

But as expected, the topic of wolf reintroduction never fails to stir up deep rooted emotions amongst those who would be directly involved and affected by their reintroduction.


Decline of Gray Woles in Northern Mongolia

2012 年 12 月 7 日 金曜日

(By Naoki Maruyama)

This report is on an ecological situation of Hulunbeir grassland and the
Daxingangling mountains, Inner Mongolia in the later half of the 1990s. This
area with wolves, comparatively near to Japan, attracted a strong concern of
the Japan Wolf Association with the plan of “restoration wolves into Japan”.
Wolves in this area is regarded to be important for a mother population which
supplies the individuals for reintroduction into Japan. The grasslands and
mountains have been overexploited mainly by heavily stocking and stockmen
tended to hate wolves and to easily kill them. As well the Mongolian gazelles
and deer like roe deer and red deer of main wolves’ prey were illegally
harvested for selling in markets. Thus, the principal  predator-prey system of
the grassland were almost destroyed. However, fortunately, in 1998 a China’s
wildlife policy was drastically changed to protection, since then wolves with their
prey wildlife became protected and are increasing in number and distribution.
However, unfortunate, unfavorable incident has occurred and increased;
because wolves have been increasing depredation of livestock like sheep and
cattle. This has caused stockmen’s hate against wolves. This is new problem of
conservation on the predator-prey system in this area.

The full text of the report is here:  mongolian_wolves_r


Follow-up story about the wolves in Portugal.

2012 年 10 月 5 日 金曜日


Mongolian wolvevs are in danger of eradication!!

2012 年 9 月 24 日 月曜日

Mongolian NGO, Nomadic Nature Conservation gave us this information about their wolf situation.


Nomadic Nature Conservation


Global status: Least Concern
Regional status: Near Threatened

Rational for assessment:
In 1980 the Mongolian population was estimated at 30.000 individuals by the Mongolian Academy of Sciences. More recent estimates vary greatly, with the most recent figures indicating that there may be fewer than 10.000 individuals remaining in Mongolia (Mech and Boitani, 2004). However, there is great uncertainly associate with these estimates and more extensive surveys are needed to gain insight into the current population size. No population studies have ever been conducted to determine wolf population densities, distribution, pack size, or range.
The number of gray wolf in Mongolia is declining, but the rate of decline is difficult to determine. Main causes of wolf decline are exploitation, illegal hunting and trade, forest and steppe fire etc.
It is therefore listed as Near Threatened, but further surveys may reveal that it should be listed as Vulnerable or even Endangered under Criterion.
Legal Status: Listed   CITES Appendix II, with an export quota of 150 skins and skulls in 2005 (UNEP-WCMC, 2006). There are no laws to protect this species from households or industrial hunting, no closed seasons and no quota limits. Approximately 13% of the species range occurs within protected areas, however, wolf protection within protected areas is rarely enforced, and exceptions are made in some areas to protect rare wildlife and livestock. Since, 2007 wolf hunting and catching are prohibited in Eastern Steppe region of Mongolia.


Help the Iberian wolf!! They are encountaring a crisis of becoming homeless!

2012 年 9 月 24 日 月曜日

Portuguese wolf protecting group Grupo Lobo gave us this email.

We would like to share their wolf’s situation here.


We appreciate your answer and availability to help our publishing campaign in your website.

Contrary to the wolf situation across most Europe and the particular case of the Iberian wolf in Spain, the Portuguese wolf population has not been expanding. According to the last population census (1996-97 and 2002-03) it has remained rather stable (being estimated around 300 individuals), with some packs in marginal distribution areas, showing increased instability and higher difficulty to establish.

One of the projects developed by our organization is the Iberian Wolf Recovery Centre (IWRC) was created in 1987 by Grupo Lobo. This project was founded with the aim of providing a safe environment in captivity for wolves that are unable to live in the freedom of the wild.

The Centre occupies 17 hectares of land in a wooded and secluded valley. The space is characterized by good vegetation cover and a variety of different landscape features, providing good shelter and conditions of refuge for the resident wolves.

The project tries to rehabilitate the wolves and ensures their welfare, and they will stay at the IWRC for the rest of their lives. The wolves live in enclosures of different sizes, with good vegetation cover, providing adequate shelter. The project tries to give the wolves a life as similar to that in the wild as much as possible. The wolves can be seen in their unique conditions from observation towers located at strategic points around the site, with a wide view of the different pens.

As well as providing the best care possible for the wolves, the Centre also carries out scientific studies, particularly in the area of social behaviour associated with investigations carried out in the wild by Grupo Lobo. These studies are part of a wider publicity campaign, which seeks to inform the public about the true nature of the wolf.

The project also organizes guided visits and educational days for schoolchildren, organized groups and the general public. Guided visits consist of tours along pedestrian trails which allow the public to observe and learn about wolves. These educational activities seek to spread correct information about the wolf and are of extreme importance to wolf conservation, by destroying the old myths and beliefs that motivate the wolf’s persecution.

Today, the survival of the Center is at risk and depends entirely on the purchase of this land. If we don’t reach the necessary target, we risk having to find another site to start all over again. Here we leave the link to the campaign.

Any kind of help is welcomed. We are very grateful with your support and sharing.
If you need more information about our work and other projects, please contact us.

Best regards,

Isabel Ambrósio