Archive for November 2014

Steller: Lone wolf deserves chance to meet others   3 comments

From:  tucson.com – Arizona Daily Star

Grand Canyon wolf

Arizona Game and Fish Deprtment

November 27, 2014 6:00 pm  • 

She must be lonely, spending Thanksgiving weekend wandering the Grand Canyon’s North Rim all on her own.

She’s a fertile, female wolf, and finding a mate is likely the force that drove her southward from her home in the northern Rocky Mountains.

This is how Ed Bangs, a former federal wolf expert in that region, explained her likely motivation: “It’s looking for love,” he told The Associated Press. “It leaves the core population and doesn’t know the love of its life is going to be right over the next hill, so it just keeps traveling.”

If only there were some wolves nearby …

Of course, there are 83 of them — about 200 miles southeast in the White Mountains and adjacent areas of eastern Arizona and western New Mexico. All that stands between her and them is the Grand Canyon and our wildlife bureaucracy.

This week, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service released documents that spell out some of the details of how they propose to manage the reintroduced Mexican gray wolves of the Blue Range Wolf Recovery Area. That’s where efforts to reintroduce endangered Mexican gray wolves began in 1998 and foundered for more than a decade before the population began to grow again over the last few years.

The documents show that the service plans to expand the areas in which the wolves are allowed to wander — a welcome change from the strict boundaries and behavioral rules that Arizona Game and Fish enforced during the first decade-plus of the effort. The newly opened areas would include about half of Arizona, including all of the southeastern quadrant, as well as about a third of New Mexico, mostly in the southwestern part of that state.

But the service sets a strict northern boundary for the Mexican gray wolves at Interstate 40. So even if the expanded range were already in effect now, wildlife managers would still prevent wolves from roaming northwest toward the Grand Canyon, cutting the distance between them and this potential new pack member and mate. Wolves north of that line could be picked up and returned or even killed if necessary.

That’s a shame, because this female wolf is from a different subspecies of gray wolves. Her genes, introduced to the semi-inbred population in the Blue Range, would increase their genetic diversity and vitality considerably. It’s also a shame because it puts our abstract rules and boundaries on what could be a natural flow.

“Wolf geneticists over the last decade have been documenting that there was genetically a gradient from the Mexican gray wolf to the northern Rockies wolves,” conservation biologistCarlos Carroll told me.

In other words, there wasn’t a clear genetic distinction between Mexican gray wolves in the south and northern gray wolves, but rather a transition zone between, say, Arizona and Wyoming, where the wolves were less and less Mexican the farther north they were found.

“That old paradigm of drawing hard lines on a map to divide subspecies — that was typical of naturalists 100 years ago,” said Carroll, of the Klamath Center for Conservation Research.

He was a member of the group of scientists contributing to the Mexican gray wolf recovery team up until last year and was lead author of a paper on wolf genetics in the journal Conservation Biology published last year. Among its conclusions: “long-term prospects for recovery of gray wolves in the western U.S. may hinge on wolves being able to successfully disperse between widely separated populations.”

The paper also points to the Grand Canyon area, all of which is north of Interstate 40, as one of the most suitable areas for additional Mexican gray wolf populations.

Arizona Game and Fish, which helped mold this latest Fish and Wildlife Service proposal, argues there is reason to have a northern boundary.

In short, the idea is that “we want Mexican wolves where Mexican wolves were,” explained Jim DeVos, the assistant director of Arizona Game and Fish overseeing wildlife.

The scientific research describes the wolves as largely having been a creature of Southeastern Arizona, as well as adjacent New Mexico and Mexico, he said. But it would be difficult to draw a line at, say, Mount Ord in the White Mountains and say no wolves should go north of there.

I-40 “is north of the historic range and a logical demarcation for Mexican wolves,” DeVos said. “Why go north when the suitable habitat goes south?”

My question is: Why demarcate the territory at all? Having reintroduced these animals, why not let them do what they obviously do naturally — roam, run into each other, mate and create their own packs and populations?

Related document:  http://tucson.com/study-of-wolf-habitat-genetics/pdf_94d895ca-f733-5bde-904f-c756dfefef40.html#.VHsVdsYNFJk.email

 

 

Bear attack survivor recounts the terrifying fight for his life   Leave a comment

BringMeTheNews.com

A hunter who survived a savage attack from a wounded bear has spoken for the first time about the terrifying fight for his life.

Brandon Johnson, 44, fought off the 525lb black bear he was tracking with a hunting knife after he was attacked in woods near Duxbury, Minnesota, on September 27.

He has spoken with KSTP about how the bear bit his face, arms, chest and leg while he stabbed it repeatedly in the head with his knife. The bear pretended to leave on two occasions only to resume its attack.

“At the very beginning I didn’t know where I was, I was looking up at the sky and this bear was biting my face. I didn’t know what happened, I didn’t see the bear coming,” he told KSTP.

“I felt its tooth going underneath my jaw. Just at that instance I said this isn’t a dream. I still…

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Posted 29 November, 2014 by Wolf is my Soul in News/Nyheter

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South Africa Turns To New Breed Of Anti-Poaching Crime Fighters   Leave a comment

Emilio Cogliani

RUSTENBURG, South Africa (AP) — Venom and Killer. These are members of a furry breed of anti-poaching operatives, dogs that can detect a whiff of hidden rhino horn in a suspect’s vehicle or follow the spoor of armed poachers in South Africa’s besieged wildlife parks.

Dogs are a small part of an increasingly desperate struggle to curb poaching in Africa, where tens of thousands of elephants have been slaughtered in recent years to meet a surging appetite for ivory in Asia, primarily China. In South Africa, poachers have killed more than 1,000 rhinos this year, surpassing the 2013 record. Countries and conservationists are trying more robust patrols and surveillance, community programs and other tactics against criminal gangs that sometimes benefit from official corruption.

As the conflict rages, elite dogs and handlers are drilling at an anti-poaching academy northwest of Johannesburg. The course prepares canine units to find firearms or contraband…

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Posted 29 November, 2014 by Wolf is my Soul in News/Nyheter

Fishermen continue illegal poaching of shad   Leave a comment

Police warn fishermen who are illegally poaching shad during the closed season.

From:  Northglen News

by Shiraz Habbib | 26 November 2014 13:22

A picture of shad confiscated by Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife officers. According to the organisation, officers confiscate between 30 to 80 shad per patrol.

THE illegal overfishing of shad along the Durban North and uMhlanga shoreline is continuing despite the season being closed. Hundreds of fishermen have ignored the law and have been fined and arrested along various beaches said Lt Raymond Deokaran, spokesman for the Durban North police station.

The most popular spots are the Shipwreck Beach (La Lucia), Glenashley Beach and Peace Cottage (uMhlanga). The shad season closed on the 1 October and ends on 30 November.

“Fishermen are still taking the chance and are illegally fishing for the shad. We have fined a number of them, but it still hasn’t deterred them. If you are caught with 10 or more shad, there is no bail, you are arrested and will appear in front of a magistrate and you will be left with a criminal record,” he said.

Approximately 60 per cent of all fish caught by shore anglers on the KZN coast are shad.

In an interview with Northglen News in October, Basil Pather, conservation manager at the Beachwood Nature Reserve, highlighted the plight of the sought after fish, saying the overfishing during the closed season was ‘killing’ the species.

“At the moment we have a situation where there’s a dwindling number of shad catches during the open season and anglers are illegally catching more shad during the closed season, which in turn affects the population. As a result we are compromising the breeding stock,” Pather said.

“Fishermen are unaware that their actions are directly impacting the declining shad population.”

 

Wandering moose spotted in Sleepy Eye dies   Leave a comment

BringMeTheNews.com

The wandering moose spotted chomping on apples at a farm in Sleepy Eye last week was found dead, the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources said Thursday.

The yearling bull, who likely traveled down from Canada, was found dead in someone’s yard, MPR News reports. No further details are available, but the DNR plans to perform an autopsy.

The moose got a lot of attention last week because he wandered so far from home. DNR officials told the Mankato Free Press it’s odd for a moose to end up in southern Minnesota, but it’s not unusual for a young male moose to leave his place of birth.

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Posted 27 November, 2014 by Wolf is my Soul in News/Nyheter

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Deer harvest in Minnesota falls 31,000 as restrictions bite   Leave a comment

BringMeTheNews.com

The total number of deer killed at the end of this year’s firearms season is down 31,000 compared to 2013, state figures show.

The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources has revealed that hunters had registered 111,000 deer by the end of the third and final weekend of firearms hunting season.

Overall, 127,000 deer have been registered this year, which includes special hunts and archery season, and earlier antlerless and firearms seasons, down from 160,000 in 2013, according to the Duluth News Tribune.

This year’s harvest was expected to be lower, the News Tribune reports, because the DNR had put in place tighter restrictions on the number of deers allowed to be killed in a bid to boost the population across the state.

Numbers were depleted after a big harvest last year and an extreme winter.

Although the season is over for much of the state, the DNR says the late…

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Posted 27 November, 2014 by Wolf is my Soul in News/Nyheter

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What are the chances? Rare albino deer spotted in Minnesota state park   Leave a comment

BringMeTheNews.com

They’re considered as rare as a “gold nugget in a stream”, but earlier this month an albino deer was captured on camera in a Minnesota park.

The deer was spotted by an amateur photographer walking with a herd in Father Hennepin State Park on the southeast corner of Mille Lacs Lake, the Mail Online reports.

Realizing how unlikely a sighting it was, he quickly took video footage he uploaded to viral video website Jukin Media.

According to Buckmasters, as few as 1 in 100,000 deer is born with the genetic defect that turns them albino, with the website saying anyone who sees on is “very lucky.”

Although they have plenty to camouflage them in the winter, AOL.com reports that the deer rarely live to adulthood because they can be spotted so easily by predators, and also have very poor eyesight.

Another albino deer was spotted in Michigan…

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Posted 27 November, 2014 by Wolf is my Soul in News/Nyheter

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Geriatric Care Centre Planned for Elephants   Leave a comment

From:  The New Indian Express

ALAPPUZHA: The Travancore Devaswom Board  (TDB) has come out with a proposal to set up a geriatric care centre for elephants. The board is expected to finalise the land for the project by December and begin the works on it in March.

According to Devaswom Board Commissioner P Venugopal, the board was considering three locations for the purpose — Thiruvananthapuram, Thrissur and Muvattupuzha.

A special team has been constituted for identifying the land. The TDB would take a final call on it after the team submits its  recommendations, he said.

The TDB currently has 32 elephants, four of which are aged. The majority of the elephants are in Pathanamthitta and Kottayam districts.

The animal lovers are, however, opposed to the idea of shifting aged elephants to the geriatric care centre. According to them, the aged elephants should not be transported from one district to another, as they face various health issues.

“The government should take immediate steps to provide treatment to these elephants,” they said.

State general secretary of Heritage Animal Task Force (HATF) V K Venkitachalam stressed that the aged elephants were now facing serious health problems and they needed immediate medical care. “But instead of ensuring the treatment for them, the TDB is mulling an old age home either in Thiruvananthapuram or Central Kerala.

This means that the elephants would be forced to travel long distances. It would only worsen their health condition. Besides, it would take considerable time to set up the proposed centre. So, we have decided to approach the state government against the TDB’s decision,” he said.

Venkitachalam also pointed out that as per the diktat of Animal Welfare Board, the aged elephants should be protected at their current location itself.

He said the TDB should ensure  all the facilities for providing special care and treatment to the aged elephants at their current locations as soon as possible.

The HATF has submitted a memorandum to the state government in this regard. “We are hopeful of a positive response from the authorities concerned,” Venkitachalam said.

 

CURRENT SITUATION AND IBERIAN WOLF – WOLF SOS Cantabria   2 comments

From:  animalextinction.com

If we are asked of non-governmental associations or groups that defend animals there are surely some that are better known than others. But also think of those that work on more specific areas or covering less known animal species. The effort made ​​by each of the people in these groups, whether large or small, is the same: to devote their free time and all their energy to defend something they believe in. Some have larger resources and others less, they do what they can to make a better world, and therefore all have the same right to be heard, and that defending is just as important whether the organisation is large or small. Given this, animalesextincion.es want to give them a voice, and as a reference we have chosen SOS Lobo Cantabria. It consists of a group of people doing an important work in Spain, defending one of the most endangered species in the Iberian Peninsula, the Iberian wolf. This canine is threatened largely by archaic beliefs and ignorance of their behavior and SOS Wolf Cantabria are collecting signatures and continuous information about changing the dark future that awaited the wolf. There is an article written by José Ramón López that knows the real situation of the Iberian wolf and the work of SOS Lobo. Here you will find detailed and useful information to keep abreast of the species. Link to article.


The Iberian Wolf now has a stable population northwest of the Iberian peninsula, where it is listed as “threatened” while in the Sierra Morena district the Iberian wolf is listed as “extinct”. IUCN has the sub species listed as “vulnerable”. The wolf is a gregarious and a strong social behavior mammal, linked to a group (flock) dominated by an alpha pair and descendants of different generations. The wolves hunt in small groups or individually. It is a territorial animal with a wide range. They can travel between 100 and 1000 km2 depending on the area and food. In the Iberian Peninsula, the optimal habitat for the wolf is one with dense vegetation cover, and low human population density, dense populations of deer and wild boar with domestic cattle to consume carrion mode. Big game does not represent a particularly important resource and livestock is not handled in extensive regime. In terms of biology and characteristics of the species, we will not extend as there is an extensive bibliography and has already been discussed here (Iberian wolf ).

The wolf has coexisted with man from the beginning, being a threat and competition, especially since man began to domesticate and breed animals for consumption. It has always been in direct competition for being a great carnivore. His distant relative, the dog (Canis lupus familiaris), adapted to the submission and dominance of men, today being his favorite animal companion. But the wolf has maintained its freedom, adapting its habits to the growing human presence. It was present in all ecosystems of the Iberian Peninsula, to the nineteenth century date when the population began to diminish. They were then considered a pest and vermin so farmers were organized to assist in eradication efforts. Between 1954 and 1962, 1 470 animals were officially hunted and killed. Cantabria, former province of Santander, was one of the provinces with seal species where 205 wolves were captured in the same period. In the 70s, the wolf was on the verge of disappearance, persecuted and almost extinct. During this period it was estimated that there were between 400 and 500 individuals remaining throughout Spain. In Europe the wolf was eradicated completely in France and Italy. The “lobero” or wolf hunter was respected for his contribution to the community with each kill, something that still happens in rural communities.

The Iberian Wolf, along with the Brown bear (Ursus arctos arctos) is one of the top carnivores at the top of the food chain in the Cantabrian ecosystems and as predators ensure a healthy wildlife. In Cantabria the wolf’s natural prey are roe deer, deer, boars, weasels, rodents, shrews, hares, reptiles and birds. They also eat carrion and even fruit. The wolves arre doing a great job in controlling overpopulation of species that otherwise would have no predator natural selection. Man has conquered their territory, with most of its range intended for cattle and other activities. Cantabria is an autonomous region that historically has specialized in livestock, due to the topography and climate. The scheme has been extended in many of its municipalities, leveraging the creation of pastures in mountain area which until the late twentieth century, was the livelihood for many mountain areas. The wolf when attacking livestock affected the livelihood itself and therefore, he was regarded as harmful and damaging. Any harm to human livelistock was addressed by eradicating the threat, in this case the wolves. This w’sas the origin of the declared war against the wolf. Cantabria is therefore become ​​a mosaic of grassland valleys, hillsides for livestock and some indigenous forests of great importance, especially in the west central region. The valleys correspond to populated areas, meadows and farms, while mountain areas are used as summer pastures. The range of the wolf in the peninsula makes Cantabria wolf populations share with neighboring communities and provinces. Wolves move from one territory to another from Asturias, León, Palencia and Burgos. To a lesser extent with Euskadi since in this region the wolf is practically eradicated. In recent years are being tracked wolves in Las Encartaciones district of borderline Vizcaya Cantabria. In terms of distribution in a 1988 report, it was estimated that the wolf affected 27 of the 102 municipalities of Cantabria occupying area of 2,130 km2. It also included the Commonwealth Campoo-Cabuérniga which is an area of 7,000 ha. of livestock use, jointly and without population. In the study of the report were calculated between 24 and 30 wolves in Cantabria. Another study the same year estimated between 15 and 21 wolves. Due to the territorial nature of the wolf, the range they have and the tight control population suffers, it is unlikely that there are more than 25-30 individuals in the region. Based on previous studies and the range we handle from SOS Lobo we estimate around 30 individuals in the region, failing to meet official and independent data.

PROBLEMS OF THE WOLF

To understand the conflict of wolves in Cantabria one must understand the territorial organization of the mountains of the region. Most of the woods and natural areas are public woodland. For centuries rural populations have exercised the right to use these mountains, currently regulated and controlled by the Forestry Act Cantabria, Law 10/2006 of 28 April . Other mountains correspond to municipal land, of neighborhood councils or less private measure, all subject to the said Act. Although the population density of areas with wolf is low, the density of cattle is still very high . According to the census of 2000, the heads are spread being the most abundant type of beef cattle (349,526), ​​followed by sheep (136,519), goats (30,754) and horses (21,462) mainly. Cattle with greater presence in the region is cattle in different races and specializations. The livestock management continues to maintain a nomadic regime between valleys and mountain passes. In the area of Cantabria, handling, and races, may vary. While the eastern coastal Cantabria and have specialized mainly in milk production with the introduction of Friesian cattle, western specializes in breeding for there is also a strong presence of sheep in Campo and some valleys and an increase in almost all the region of equines in extensive regime. As cattle in the east, livestock is controlled to a greater extent, having major housing. However, in the western area of specialization meat, livestock is long periods of time in the bush released without supervision or extensive regime. This did not occur just over 50 years ago. In those years there were one or several pastors who stayed in huts and cottages enabled to guard animals in the pastures where cattle graze during the summer months. Today there have been changes in grazing management, as it exploits the forest tracks and ATVs to upload and monitor livestock. In very few areas of the region there is anyone who cares. In the Liébana, there is still some shepherd that keeps the tradition of grazing. On the other hand, livestock, more often the main economic activity to complement the family economy. The greatest damage produced in smaller livestock grazing may be in most cases public forest or on private farms. The importance of livestock in the region and the large area of public forest make Cantabria have a counseling especially for Livestock and tertiary activities (Ministry of Livestock, Fisheries and Rural Development). The Directorate General of Forestry, dependent thereon, is responsible for managing public forests and ensure the conservation of nature, among many other functions. Currently this Ministry is responsible for managing natural areas and wildlife, thereby causing significant conflicts of interest between conservation, hunting management and livestock. That is, the conservation of wildlife is managed as in the case of the Iberian wolf, but the ranching and hunting is also managed. Due to pressure from municipalities with wolf and inheritance eradication as a management the Ministry of Livestock, Fisheries and Rural Development has always controlled the number of wolves, based on criteria such as the livestock kills and action lawsuits from farmers through their councils’

SOS LOBO Cantabria

The wolf and its management has always been a controversial issue, especially in a region like Cantabria. In the spring of 2013, as in previous years by that time, a series of major wolf raids were performed by National Park Picos de Europa (Municipalities Cantabria), in the Saja Besaya Natural Park and spaces of Red Natura 2000. In some collaboration with hunters and forestry crews, using arts as fireworks and combing the woods. He also performed raids in the breeding period of the wolves and many other species knowing the significant environmental impact that can be generated. In the vacuum of these raids, SOS Lobo Cantabria was founded. Then there is the ignorance of most of the population of the region (who is not related to rural, livestock or hunting) and Spain. We are a group of citizens who promote wolf conservation and the environment. We denounce the situation of the wolf in Spain and in Cantabria and promote that the administration works for the conservation and sustainable management of these beautiful creatures.

The first and foremost action that SOS Lobo disclosed is the petition on the platform change.org: To discontinue pursue and kill the Iberian wolf in Cantabria. SOS Lobo Cantabria is formed by people committed to the conservation of nature and the environment. Far from radical positions, we aim to raise awareness and encourage the competent authorities to rectify the way we manage nature and specifically to this species which has been so punished and yet so valued outside the region. The group starts to work to publicize the problem there is with the wolf, the collection of signatures grows and the press echoes. We denounce and we present serious situations like the death of nine wolves in the same group in two hunts of wild boar in the Liébana. Unfortunately, this practice in hunting and ferrous population controls have been doing for years, while many people think happily that Wolves are protected, the reality is that they are indeed hunted and far too often. After a year of campaigning and collecting over 84,000 signatures, we are making the same strides we pronounced in June 2013. The Ministry of Livestock, Fisheries and Rural Development, Government of Cantabria has announced that it would conduct a census of the wolf in the region and that was to prohibit the quota of a wolf in each whipped boar hunting season. View News

Despite the shocking holder ‘Cantabria prohibit hunting lobos’ and after examining the content of the proposed new rules, boar-hunters can still kill wolves for an extra smaller fee. On the other hand it was announced that the Ministry has requested a census of the wolf in the region, which we include in the letter accompanying our request. We do not know exactly how many wolves are in the region independently and reliably. What looked like a twist of wolf management in Cantabria seems to have been a publicity stunt if a real interest in changing anything.

CURRENT SITUATION

According to the administration livestock attacks can often be contributed to wild dogs. Although farmers blame the wolf in most of the complaints, it is the Ministry that, after opening the file, make appropriate inquiries and if the damage was caused by this animal, the owners receive compensation due. Instead farmers complain that aid is arriving late and procedures are lengthy. Furthermore there have already been detected many cases of fraud as recently reported in Asturias. Increased wild dogs and anger against the wolf in rural environments perceives a density much higher than the actual wolves, reaching as many as 30 wolves in a forest administration. It is overestimated the number of wolves occupying areas without actual knowledge of number. If you consider the thousands of head of cattle in the mountains of Cantabria go unchecked, you could that the number of attacks is not as important. On the other hand in case of an actual attack and upon certification by the competent technicians owners are indeed compensated. One can give the most varied circumstances, such as a carcass eaten by the wolf as carrion to intend to collect compensation. One of the arguments of the farmers concerned is the slow arrival of aid and amount. Of course we think it is essential that such compensation is fair and swift, and we think it should punish whoever seeks to benefit from these measures deceiving the administration that runs it. The ancestral battle with the wolf in rural areas being one of oral tradition has transmitted ideas like the wolf is an animal murderer who kills for pleasure or that it should be eradicated. The wolf or any wild animal take no pleasure in hunting, driven only by instinct and need. If it is known that the wolf kills and save carrion to feed later. The wolf behavior is altered by having its natural foodsource unsuited to escape his attacks. However, in areas where there are many cattle, but lots of wildlife such as deer, roe deer and other natural prey of wolf attacks are less frequent. Another commonly argument used by advocates of extinction is that the wolf can ruin families of farmers or shepherds. This is an argument that was true many years ago, but today very few people live only ranching. This argument today is meaningless because of the compensation, aid for rural development and livestock, in many cases, is a complement to income. Many of the areas of distribution of wolf form part of the Natura 2000 network. The governments receive and manage EU funds, including funds for livestock activities. In return, the management of these natural areas must be compatible with the conservation of species and habitats covered by EU rules. Furthermore, in order to maintain and set population in rural and mountain areas, European institutions help to promote traditional uses. The Iberian wolf is a jewel of our wildlife and it is expected that administrations ensure preservation of our heritage.

THREATS

Among the threats that the species in Cantabria highlight:

Alteration of habitat – Forest fires are an example. In Cantabria there is very frequent use of illegal burning in the mountains. Some infrastructure and specific actions also affect the foraging area and hunting.

Poaching – We do not have statistics, but wolf poachers in the region use the head as a trophy. Similarly, there is poaching on their natural prey.

Overhunting – Regulated hunting raids promoted by the administration cause heavy casualties on wolf populations. Packs are segmented, motherless babies, leaderless groups. Situations that can greatly affect the behavior of the species and favor hybridization.

Hybridization – The domestic dog and his kind, whether recognized as cases of hybridization. The hunting of the species without control is favoring that hybridization occurs. They kill wolves during the breeding leaving cubs and yearlings without reference group nor its kind, which is easier to establish connection with feral dogs.

Lazos – It was a very common practice of poaching used historically by alimañeros and whose culture is still present in the region.

Use of poisons – The great blackmail of those in favor of extinguishing species like the wolf. They know the dangers of this method and its effects on almost all wildlife populations.

AUTHOR José Ramón López Lobo SOS Cantabria .

Anyone wishing to add their name to their petition can do so at:

https://www.change.org/p/que-se-deje-de-perseguir-y-matar-al-lobo-ib%C3%A9rico-en-cantabria

 

New Plan Gives Mexican Wolves More Room in New Mexico, Arizona — But Also Subjects Them to More Traps, Bullets   1 comment

From:  Center for Biological Diversity

SILVER CITY, N.M.— A new federal plan for managing endangered Mexican gray wolves in the Southwest would expand the areas where wolves could be released and roam, including farther south, east and west in both Arizona and New Mexico. But the plan, released today by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, makes clear that wolves will not be allowed north of Interstate 40. As documented in a report recently issued by the Center for Biological Diversity, this runs directly counter to a draft recovery plan developed by a team of expert scientists in 2012, which determined that establishing additional populations in Grand Canyon National Park and northern New Mexico is critical to the ultimate recovery of Mexican wolves.

“We’re particularly glad that Mexican gray wolves will now be able to be released directly into the excellent habitat in the Gila National Forest in New Mexico, hopefully providing a needed infusion of new animals into the population,” said Michael Robinson of the Center. “But the Fish and Wildlife Service needs to listen to the science and get Mexican gray wolves into the Grand Canyon and northern New Mexico.”

Unfortunately the new plan, released as “final environmental impact statement,” will also give the Service great latitude to issue permits to private landowners or their agents, state agencies — as well as federal agents from Wildlife Services — to harass or kill wolves, including even for eating too many of their natural prey of deer and elk.

“We’re disappointed that despite the fact that killings of Mexican wolves — both legal and illegal — have hampered recovery, Fish and Wildlife is still handing out permits to kill more,” said Robinson. “This appears to be more about appeasing those who fear and abhor wolves than it is about rational, science-based management, underscoring the fact that despite three recovery teams being formed over nearly 20 years, the Service still doesn’t have a valid Mexican wolf recovery plan.”

The environmental impact statement was developed in the absence of a recovery plan for the Mexican wolf that could have provided recovery goals and a scientific foundation for decision making. The Center for Biological Diversity and allies filed suit against the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service this month to compel finalization of a recovery plan; a 2012 draft recovery plan calls for growth of the wolf population to more than 750 wolves that would live in three connected subpopulations, including in areas north of Interstate 40, where wolves would be banned under the new rule.

The new rule, subject to a final one-month comment period, is the first revision in management of Mexican wolves since 2000, two years after their reintroduction began in 1998, when the Service authorized releases of wolves captured from the wild into the Gila National Forest in New Mexico. The new rule would allow releases of captive-bred wolves into the Gila and portions of the Cibola (New Mexico) and Sitgreaves (Arizona) national forests, and would allow wolves to roam from the border with Mexico north to Interstate 40 in New Mexico and Arizona, but no farther.

“We’re relieved that Mexican wolves will be allowed to roam more widely and will be introduced directly into New Mexico,” said Robinson. “But increasing the authority to kill them will undo all the good in this new rule and further imperil them.”

The Fish and Wildlife Service also proposes to grant broad authority to state agencies to kill wolves, including for “unacceptable impacts” to herds of elk or deer.

“Wolves are the engine of evolution, honing the alertness of deer and the strength of elk that evolved with them over thousands of years,” said Robinson. “Trapping and shooting wolves to protect their prey harkens back to a prescientific world view, and it is disturbing to see in our government in 2014.”

Background
At last count in January, only 83 Mexican wolves survived in the Southwest, including a mere five breeding pairs. Scientists have shown that inbreeding caused by a lack of wolf releases to the wild, coupled with too many killings and removals of wolves, is causing smaller litter sizes and lower pup-survival rates in the wild population. Expanding wolf releases to New Mexico’s Gila National Forest, in particular, would enable managers to diversify the population through new releases and diminish inbreeding.

 

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Mrs S. London

She's Whiskey In A Teacup

Sizzles & Strings

Hostel-friendly recipes from an aspiring little chef. Fire Burn & Cauldron Bubble.

Over the Border

Man made borders not to limit himself, but to have something to cross. ~Anonymous

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