Wolves in Great Lakes States Ordered Returned to Endangered Species List

Fiona Howling by the PondUS District Judge Beryl Howell has thrown out a 2012 decision to remove gray wolves in the western Great Lakes region — including Michigan, Minnesota, and Wisconsin — from the Endangered Species List.  This has immediately ended wolf hunting seasons in all three states.

Wolves in Minnesota were first granted federal protection under the Endangered Species Act in 1978, when there were only a few hundred wolves living in the state, and a small population on Isle Royale in Michigan.  Since that time, the wolf population has expanded, with approximately 4,000 wolves across the Great Lakes region when the animals were removed from the Endangered Species List in 2012.

After the delisting, each Great Lakes state designated federally approved “minimums” for its wolf populations, representing a theoretically scientific estimate of how many wolves the area “should be” sustaining for a healthy population.  The chosen minimums would halve, or more than halve, the population in each state: in Minnesota, the plan allowed the population to drop from 3,000 to 1,600; in Wisconsin, from 782 to 350; and in Michigan, the population could drop from 687 to a minimum of only 200 individuals.  If the population dropped to the minimum, the states agreed to reconsider their management plans.  A number of US federal agencies, including the Forest Service, Geological Survey, and Park Service, planned to monitor wolf populations in the Great Lakes states for a minimum of five years to ensure that populations remained robust.

Since the 2012 delisting, all three states have held at least one hunting season, and Minnesota and Wisconsin have also permitted trapping.  More than 1,500 wolves have been killed during that time, according to Jonathan Lovvorn, senior vice president of the Humane Society of the United States, whose lawsuit prompted Howell’s ruling.  (Read the 2012-2014 post-delisting monitoring annual report from the USFWS here.)  A large percentage of the animals killed during the hunting season were taken with leg hold traps.

Judge Howell rejected claims by the USFWS that states’ management plans — which included hunting practices including snares, bait, calls, trapping, and, in Wisconsin, the use of hunting dogs — were appropriate for maintenance of healthy wolf populations.  Howell found that the delisting of wolves in the Great Lakes states was “arbitrary and capricious”.  Read the entire ruling here.

DNRs in all three states have closed hunting seasons in response to the ruling, but are likely to appeal the decision.  Fish and Wildlife Service spokesman Gavin Shire said the agency was disappointed in the decision. “The science clearly shows that wolves are recovered in the Great Lakes region, and we believe the Great Lakes states have clearly demonstrated their ability to effectively manage their wolf populations,” Shire said. “This is a significant step backward.”

The Great Lakes “population segment” is currently considered separate, for purposes of population management, from other wild wolf populations, including those in the Rocky Mountains, and decisions affecting the management of Great Lakes wolves do not affect the management of wolf populations elsewhere.

Read the original article here.

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Wolf Park Welcomes Scarlette The Red Fox!

Scarlette Posing by CornWolf Park proudly announces a new member of the family!

“Scarlette” the red fox comes to us from the Lakeside Nature Center in Kansas City, Missouri.  Kansas City Animal Control released Scarlette to the Nature Center after she was confiscated from her prior owner, who had not obtained the required permits to keep a fox.  She was actually born here in Indiana — her original owner purchased her in Indiana at 10 days of age from a private breeder.

Scarlette was born on May 2, 2014.  So far she loves everybody she meets.  She is already harness and leash trained so she will be able to go on walks and explore the Park with her new human friends.  She also loves laser toys as well as cat toys, rags, and blankets.

Red foxes are omnivorous, which means they’ll at least try to eat pretty much anything, and Scarlette is no exception — she loves sweet things like apples, pears, and cat food, although she does also eat meat.

Scarlette is available for sponsorship!  “Adopt” Scarlette today and you can be one of the founding members of the Scarlette Fan Club!

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Join Us For Winter Wolves January 17!

More of Wotan Posing with a Face Covered in SnowWolf Park’s Winter Wolves
Saturday, January 17, 2015
1:00—4:00 PM

Join us for a day of fun at Wolf Park featuring the wolves in their glorious full winter coats!  Hot drinks will be available indoors so that visitors can warm up in between activities, which will include games and a butchering demonstration.

January is a great time to see the wolves, since they love the cold and tend to be active and howling all day long, unlike those long hot summer afternoons they spend napping.  When the pond is frozen over, the wolves skate and play on the ice.

Winter Wolves is a great time for families to come visit us — there is something for everyone!

For more information call (765)567-2265 or email wolfpark@wolfpark.org.

Adults $8; kids 6-13 $6; kids under 5 and Members FREE! Return for Howl Night at 7:30—a “combo ticket” will get you into both sessions for only $14 for adults; $10 for kids 6-13. For more information call (765)567-2265 or email wolfpark@wolfpark.org.

WINTER HOURS (January to May): Wolf Park is OPEN every Saturday night at 7:30 for our Howl Night program.

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Santa Visits Wolf Park Saturday, December 13!

Santa Visits Wolf Park
Saturday December 13, 2014
1:00—4:00 pm

Wolf Park is hosting a holiday party for the wolves (and for kids too!) from 1-4 pm on Saturday, December 13.  The public is invited to watch as the wolves receive their specially decorated trees. The trees will be covered with edible treats the wolves enjoy, such as hot dogs, spam,  pepperoni, cheese whiz and spaghetti.

Following the presentation, children are invited to go indoors and see Santa.  (We hear he takes requests!)

Do all of your holiday shopping for the animal lovers on your list at Wolf Park or shop online at shop.wolfpark.org.  We offer many $20 or less gift items!

Want to visit Santa in the afternoon and then return for our Howl Night program?  Our “combo ticket” will get you into both for only $14 for adults and $ 10 for kids 6-13.  Members and kids 5 and under FREE. Just ask for the combo ticket when you arrive, and show your receipt when you return for Howl Night at 7:30!  For more information, call (756)567-2265 or email wolfpark@wolfpark.org.

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Join Us For The Turkey Toss This Saturday!

Wolf Park's 2011 Turkey TossJoin us for the Thanksgiving Turkey Toss
Saturday, November 28

Wolf Park will be open from 1:00-5:00 pm
Toss for main pack starts at 4:00 pm

meijerlogoWolf Park’s environmental enrichment program strives to make life more interesting and novel for both our ambassador animals and the humans who love visiting them!  We present novel foods, items, and experiences to our animals to make their lives as interesting as possible.  Visit us on Saturday, November 28 to watch our wolves, foxes, and coyotes receive (raw, animal-safe) Thanksgiving turkeys, generously donated by Meijer!

Admission: Adults $8.00, kids 6-13 $6.00, kids 5 and under and Wolf Park members free

For more information please contact the Wolf Park office at (765) 567-2265!

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Canid Sighted Near Grand Canyon Confirmed To Be Gray Wolf

The photo taken by a tourist is courtesy of the Center for Biological Diversity.

The animal sighted near the Grand Canyon in October 2014.  This photo, taken by a tourist, is courtesy of the Center for Biological Diversity.

The canid recently sighted in the Kaibab Plateau area near the North Rim of the Grand Canyon has been confirmed to be a female gray wolf through genetic testing of its scat.  The wolf appears to be wearing a nonfunctional radio collar and likely traveled at least 450 miles from the Northern Rockies.

The official press release from the USFWS is available here.

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USFWS Review of Red Wolf Recovery Program Available Online

Captive female red wolf at Sandy Ridge.  Photo source: R. Nordsven/USFWS.

Captive female red wolf at Sandy Ridge. Photo source: R. Nordsven/USFWS.

The US Fish and Wildlife Service’s independent review, conducted by the Wildlife Management Institute, of the Red Wolf Recovery Program is now available online.

The review focused on three elements of the recovery program — the supporting science, management of the program, and the “human dimensions” of the program.  WMI interviewed many participants in the program, including FWS and North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission employees, commissioned relevant literature reviews, and conducted public meetings and surveys to form its opinion of the recovery program.  The review is not a decision document of any kind.  It is intended to help the FWS analyze the success of the program, and plan for its future.

Highlights of the review include:

  • Concerns remain over the taxonomy of red wolves as a species.  WMI believes the current FWS placeholder management strategy is a “valid conceptual technique” to reduce gene transmission between coyote and red wolf populations, but is concerned that the strategy has not been completely analyzed and reviewed.
  • The science of population monitoring for red wolves is still growing.  FWS continues to modify and enhance their monitoring techniques, with hopes that the effort will provide more accurate information on red wolf population dynamics.
  • WMI does not believe that the current red wolf management area is of sufficient size to reach the program’s original population recovery goals.  It recommends establishment of two new recovery areas.  This would require management of local coyote populations to reduce gene transmission between species.
  • Management for the program has been “inadequate”, although local staff “did their best” to “make it work”.  WMI “expected greater oversight and support for a landmark recovery program involving one of the most imperiled canids in the world,” and recommends a review of the plan to incorporate new knowledge and experience from the 5 county restoration area, focusing on the problem areas listed above.
  • WMI does not feel that the program has put sufficient effort into community outreach and public education.  While FWS met with individual landowners, no effort was observed to reach the entire landowner population in the restoration area.  WMI believes the lack of public awareness of the program has led to “an atmosphere of distrust” within the community, which has intensified due to recent injunctions on coyote hunting in the recovery area.

The full review is available here.

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Wild Wolf Confirmed in Denmark

Bicho Out Standing on the Frozen PondA team of researchers from Aarhus University and the Danish National History Museum have confirmed that at least one male wolf has moved into the Jutland area.  The wolf likely dispersed from the southern, German part of the peninsula.  Germany has approximately 25 active packs (original site | Google translate), 8 breeding pairs and a number of individual wolves, most in the northeast of the country.

The Jutland peninsula.

The Jutland peninsula.
Image Source: Wikipedia

There have been occasional sightings of wolves in Jutland since 2012, but the repeated detections of the same male wolf, confirmed by DNA analysis, have officially confirmed the return of wild wolves to the area.  The animal was detected seven times in 2013; wolves are considered to have settled in an area if they are seen there twice in six months.

Researchers note that, so far, they have only found DNA traces of male wolves in Denmark, and have not seen DNA evidence of female wolves or of pups, although Ulvetracking Denmark, a group of wolf enthusiasts, have recorded sounds in Jutland which appear to be a pack, with pups, howling (original site | Google translate).  The Danish Centre for Environment and Energy feels that a breeding population may develop in Jutland within ten years.

“We’re hoping for a snowy winter so wolf tracks can lead us to further documented finds,” Thomas Secher Jensen, a senior researcher with the Natural History Museum, told Denmark’s national broadcasting service, DR.

Original article can be found here.

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Article: Wolves and Trophic Cascades by Doug Smith

2007_05_08_leopold_hunting_sequence_24-smallCheck out the new article on our web site — Wolves and Trophic Cascades: What is All the Controversy About?, written by Doug Smith of the Yellowstone wolf project!

Photo source: Doug Smith

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Vote for Us on the Trail of Scarecrows at Prophetstown State Park!

2014-prophetstown-scarecrowWolf Park has a scarecrow on the Trail of Scarecrows at Prophetstown State Park!

You can support Prophetstown State Park’s interpretive services by “liking” your favorite scarecrow picture in the Facebook photo album linked below. There will be no cost to you – an anonymous individual will donate a penny for each “like” of a scarecrow up to a total of $100.00. That’s up to 10,000 likes, so vote and share this with all your friends so THEY can vote, too! Which is YOUR favorite scarecrow? (It’s ours, right?!?) You have until November 9th to vote and share!

Click here to see all the scarecrows!

Click HERE to go right to Wolf Park’s scarecrow!  (Don’t forget to click “like”!)

Come visit our scarecrow (and its many friends) at the Trail of Scarecrows at Prophetstown State Park!  While you’re there, you can also vote for your favorite scarecrow with your pennies (or nickels or dimes or quarters) at the park gatehouse! All donations support the interpretive programs at Prophetstown.

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