Wolf News Roundup
by Cat Urbigkit, Pinedale Online!
November 26, 2014
Grand Canyon Wolf
The U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service has issued a press release confirming that the wolf spotted on the North Rim of the Grand Canyon is a female wolf originating in the Northern Rockies wolf population – not a Mexican wolf.
The release states: "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."
To see a few photos and a video of the wolf, click on the Tucson Sentinel article linked below.
The Science Times reports that news of the wolf's presence had been shared with environmentalists, but was "leaked" to the public – must to the displeasure of the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service.
FWS Triples Mex Wolf Population Goal
The U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service has proposed to triple the population goal for Mexican wolves roaming Arizona and New Mexico, but that's not good enough for wolf advocates.
The FWS proposal includes:
• expanding the areas within which Mexican wolves can be released, translocated, disperse and occupy. In Arizona, management activities would be methodically phased west of Highway 87 over a period of up to 12 years, • extending the Mexican Wolf Experimental Population Area’s (MWEPA) southern boundary from I-40 to the U.S.-Mexico border in Arizona and New Mexico to provide for a larger area where management flexibility applies, • clarifying definitions in the rule, including provisions for take of Mexican wolves when attacking livestock and non-feral dogs, or as needed to manage wild ungulate populations (particularly elk and deer), and • providing for a population objective of 300-325 Mexican wolves in the MWEPA.
Defenders of Wildlife, Wild Earth Guardians and other environmental groups aren’t happy about the proposal, and have already filed a lawsuit seeking an update to the Mexican Wolf Recovery Plan.
Idaho Wolf Depredations
The Capital Press in Idaho reports that livestock losses to wolves have decreased for a second consecutive year – a trend that an animal damage control manager attributes to the success of Idaho’s wolf hunting seasons. Cattle depredations were down 44 percent from last year, and sheep depredations decreased 67 percent. In 2009 (prior to Idaho’s annual wolf hunting season) wildlife damage control officials removed 107 wolves for livestock depredations. That number dropped to 30 wolves this year.
Red Wolf Woes
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service released a 171-page, peer-reviewed valuation of its Red Wolf Recovery Program’s non-essential, experimental population in five Eastern North Carolina counties. The report found numerous flaws with the current recovery program.
The evaluation is one action among several that are part of a broad agreement between the FWS and the North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission put in place in late 2013. Both agencies recognized that some steps were needed to improve management of the non-essential, experimental population in Eastern North Carolina, which was established under Section 10(j) of the Endangered Species Act and is a component of the overall recovery effort for the red wolf. As FWS indicated in August when it announced a review would be conducted this fall, the evaluation will be used with other information to help the agency address deficiencies and determine the program’s future in Eastern North Carolina. A broader announcement on that overall decision is expected in early 2015.