Archive for the ‘canis lupus’ Tag

Re-introducing wolves to Ireland: could we? Should we?   3 comments

From:  Ireland’s Wildlife

January 19, 2015 by Dan Lettice

Centuries ago wolves roamed the wilds of Ireland. In this full-length feature Ireland’s Wildlife contributor Dan Lettice, explores whether or not, one day, they could do so again….

European grey wolf

Could the European grey wolf roam Ireland’s landscapes again? Dan Lettice explores the question (Gunnar Ries [CC BY-SA 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons)

Wolves in Ireland: the background

The grey wolf, Canis lupis, was once reasonably common in Ireland and existed on all parts of the Island. The last wolf in Ireland was probably killed in or around 1786 but small populations or individual wolves may have existed into the early 1800’s. Before English rule in the country wolves were hunted, mainly by the ruling classes, and plenty of wolf skins were exported to Britain, but there seems to have been no coordinated attempt to exterminate them. During English rule this changed, and people began to view wolves as a troublesome species and targeted them for extermination. During Cromwell’s rule bounties for wolves were initiated and so began the complete removal of the wolf from the Irish landscape.

The wolf itself was once one of the most common land based mammals on the planet, and existed in the whole of the Northern hemisphere and on the Indian subcontinent. Sub species also existed in parts of Africa and South America. As human populations across Europe grew the wolf population suffered. There were many reasons for this, loss of habitat and decline of prey certainly contributed but a building hatred toward the species, mostly based on myth and folklore, resulted in their removal from large parts of Western Europe, with only isolated populations remaining.

As European Settlers set sail for the New World, North American Wolves suffered the same fate. As the settlers moved west across what is now the United States, wolves were steadily hated into extinction in most of the lower 48 States. No other animal suffered the same level of hatred and concentrated effort to exterminate it.

The almost complete destruction of the North American bison herd and the introduction of domestic cattle compounded the hatred and intensified the extermination effort, as wolves increasingly came into conflict with humans. For a much of the latter 1800’s and early 1900’s a large proportion of this extermination was state-sponsored. Finally in the early part of the 20th century most of North America’s wolves had been exterminated. An animal that was once revered and highly respected by Native Americans suffered the same fate as it had in Europe.

Although populations remained healthy in Canada, Alaska, Russia, and parts of Asia, the grey wolf had been removed from almost everywhere it found itself in proximity to people.

Could the wolf be re-introduced to Ireland?

Grey Wolf, Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming (Dan Lettice)

 

Fast forward nearly a century to 2015, and talk of re-introducing wolves to Ireland.

I’ve heard plenty of people arguing for re-introduction, or supporting it, but there are many complex issues that need to be considered before a re-introduction could even be considered. Many people consider wolves the epitome of true wilderness. Perhaps a pang of guilt for our role in their destruction makes some of us desperately want them back in our landscape. I would love, in an ideal world, to have wild wolves roam Ireland again, and I’m not alone, but not at any cost.

Potential benefits of wolves

The re-introduction of a top predator, what was perhaps Ireland’s top predator, into an area would have many benefits. Predators affect not just prey species, but the entire balance of an ecosystem right the way down the food chain. This natural phenomenon, known as trophic cascade, impacts everything from the immediate prey species right down to the primary producers in the ecosystem. When wolves were re-introduced to Yellowstone National Park in 1995, for example, elk, which form a large portion of the wolves’ diet in the park, could no longer stay in a feeding area for long periods overgrazing local plant populations. Instead, with wolves to worry about, elk, white tailed deer and mule deer had to be wary, and stay on the move to evade the predators.

We observed this at a distance on a recent visit to Yellowstone. On a faraway hillside a large, strung-out group of elk were feeding in reasonably close proximity to the Junction Butte Wolf pack. Over the course of 5 hours the elk fed on surrounding vegetation, but they were constantly moving and watching the wolves. The wolves kept them ‘honest’ by attempting to take an elk on a few occasions. In the absence of wolves the elk would have continued to overgraze the plant population.

Twenty years after the re-introduction of wolves the trophic cascade effects in Yellowstone are clear. Once over-grazed willows, aspen and other small trees are now thriving. Beavers have re-populated the park to take advantage of this ready supply of food and building material for their dams. Waterfowl, bird, and fish species have moved in to take advantage of the habitats created by the beavers, and so it continues.

From an Irish perspective a re-introduction might result in less tree damage from deer herds which have become over abundant. These deer are the subject of annual culls to control their numbers. In theory, a wolf re-introduction might result in these deer becoming more vigilant, resulting in less damage to our forests in the areas selected. Whether wolves would result in a significant reduction in deer populations is another question. Wolves generally kill weak, sick, young or old deer, and any re-introduction here would likely involve a small, heavily controlled wolf population. In such a scenario a significant reduction of the deer population would be unlikely.

Another potential benefit of wolf re-introduction is a possible eco-tourism opportunity.  Wolf watching, similar to what already exists in Yellowstone, Northern Spain and parts of Scandinavia could potentially contribute significantly to the local economy of re-introduction areas. It may also, selfishly, satisfy our desire to see wolves roam in Ireland once more, bringing a little ‘wild’ back to an Island that in reality has lost most, if not all of its true wilderness.

Reintroduction of wolves: the inevitable down side

Those that argue against a re-introduction on the basis of the ‘danger’ wolves pose to the human population are barking up the wrong tree if you’ll pardon the pun. Research and experience worldwide proves that wolves are no more a danger to humans than any other large wild mammal. Wolf fatalities worldwide in the last century are few and far between. In North America, including Canada, there were no recorded deaths after 1900 until the early part of this century. Two deaths occurred in Alberta province in Canada since 2000. One is probable the other one is certain. One was possibly down to wolves that had been habituated to humans through irresponsible feeding.

Despite these incidences you are far far more likely to be killed in North America by a moose, elk, bison, or indeed a domestic dog. The same would apply here, you would be infinitely more likely to be injured by your own or a neighbour’s dog or in the ‘wild’ by something like a large red deer, than you would by a wolf.

As long as wolves aren’t fed by humans (an incredibly stupid and irresponsible practice, resulting in habituation) then they want absolutely nothing to do with us. There have been deaths recorded on the Indian subcontinent but these were down to rabid wolves, a problem we would not have here. In short a re-introduction here would pose no threat to the human population. Wolves are not the demonic killing machines they are depicted to be by some people. They are highly evolved social animals and, similar to humans in the sense that family bonds are so strong, possibly the strongest of all animals, including chimpanzees and gorillas. Family bonds and interactions govern almost everything wolves do.

While the advantages of re-introduction are clear the difficulties associated with such an undertaking on our part, and perhaps more importantly for the wolves, are less clearly understood and rarely discussed.

Wolf populations are recovering in Europe, and wolves now exist in most European countries, Ireland is a different proposition, as is the Britain. Most of the recovery in Europe has been the result of re-population of areas from extant neighbouring populations, rather than the physical re-introduction of animals. Wolves from Italy (which never fully died out) have re-populated parts of France and Switzerland. Wolves from Eastern Europe moved westward and now occupy parts of Germany. In the US some argue that even without a formal re-introduction programme in Yellowstone and Central Idaho wolves were already moving through Alberta in Canada into Montana and Idaho and would have continued the natural expansion of their range. Wolves have also repopulated Oregon, Wisconsin, and Washington State naturally, without re-introduction.

Some reports suggest Ireland, Great Britain, Holland and Denmark are now the only European countries without a wild wolf population, although a dead wolf may have been discovered recently in Holland. Ireland and Britain would require a physical re-introduction of the species, and this presents many more difficulties.

Location, location, location

Glenveigh National Park -- a possible site for wolf re-introduction in Ireland

Glenveigh National Park — a possible site for wolf re-introduction in Ireland (by Michal Osmenda , [CC BY-SA 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons)

Firstly we need to consider where we would re-introduce them. Our largest National Park, Glenveagh National Park in Donegal is 170 square kilometres in size. To put this into context, Yellowstone National Park is nearly 9,000 square kilometres in size, and Cairngorms National Park in Scotland is over 4,500 square kilometres in size. While a wolf pack can live in a relatively small area given abundant prey, our parks are small and are not buffered by wilderness areas. Using Yellowstone or Cairgorms again as an example they are buffered by wilderness areas outside the park, in particular Yellowstone which is buffered by the Greater Yellowstone ecosystem with many large areas of wild country.

Prey abundance may not be an issue, at least initially, as wolves will eat almost anything, rabbits, hares, deer, carrion, wild goats and sheep (which may exist in Glenveagh) in some cases fish and even mice and rats. Where difficulties may begin to arise is when the wolf population grows, and grow it will. Pack size would increase significantly each year, assuming prey abundance and successful breeding. Wolf packs would inevitably drive some individuals out and some may leave of their own accord. These bigger packs would require more food and need to range further. The individual animals who have left the pack will wander in search of a mate and a territory. This will lead them outside the park and into contact with humans either directly or indirectly through interactions with farm animals.

Wolf / human interaction, perception and persecution

While wolves now exist in Europe in areas where the average human population is 37.5 people per sq KM (Donegal has a population density of 33 people per sq KM), Irish wolves would be wandering into areas where people have no experience of dealing with large predators, and have been led to believe, through myth and fairytale, that wolves are savage killing machines. Wolves kill when they need to feed themselves or their young, and despite what some might have us believe, they do not kill for fun or kill more than what they need. So while they won’t devastate or severely impact anyone’s livestock, they will come into contact with them and occasionally take cattle and sheep.

Even with extensive control of the wolf population (as discussed below), some livestock losses will occur. Our landscape, outside national parks, is heavily farmed, making farm animal encounters and losses almost inevitable. Acceptance of this loss would take a massive change in attitudes by people in the area and would also need the introduction of a program to compensate farmers for their losses.

While we have other nature reserves and protected areas outside our natural parks these are detached from each other and, again, are small. Wildlife corridors, which might allow wolves to pass between reserves and parks, simply do not exist here.

Our only experience of reintroductions are those of the golden eagle in Donegal, white-tailed eagle (WTE) in Kerry and Red Kite to Wicklow. While all of these programmes have successfully led to the first breeding of these birds in the wild in Ireland for a long time, they have not been without difficulties.

The reintroduction of the WTE in Killarney in particular met with a lot of resistance. Some representatives of the farming community protested at the airport as the first chicks arrived from Norway. They protested that the eagles would decimate their sheep herds with one prominent member even raising the issue of the safety of small children when the eagles were re-introduced. There have also been many poisoning and shooting incidences involving all 3 re-introduced species. No prosecutions for any of these wildlife crimes have been taken and like many other countries, Ireland’s record of dealing with wildlife crime is poor. This does not bode well for re-introduced wolves here. While education and communication will convince a lot of people it wont convince them all, and wolves would be a much harder sell given their unjustified reputation, the likelihood they would take some livestock, and the fact they are on terra firma rather than flying above our heads like the eagles.

The difficulties discussed above are significant, as would be the financial commitment. Research would need to be preformed, studies carried out, wolves transported, legislation enacted or reviewed, wolf populations sourced and compensated for, wolf management strategies developed and enacted, and those management strategies continued throughout the program. The ongoing wolf management would require telemetry equipment, wolf collars, periodic flights over the park, education programs, ongoing public consultation and full time personnel to carry it out. Compensation programmes for farmers, as discussed above, could also prove costly.

Never mind “could we” — how about “should we”?

Grey Wolf Norway

European grey wolves in southern Norway (photo AttributionNoncommercialNo Derivative Works Some rights reserved by Marius K. Eriksen via Flickr)

 

The difficulties discussed thus far are ecological, physical and financial ones, but what about the moral and ethical ones?

The most important aspect in all this discussion needs to be the welfare of the wolves themselves. Wolves for re-introduction here in Ireland would be sourced from multiple populations to give an initial genetic diversity. More wolves would possibly need to be added later to maintain this genetic diversity and prevent inbreeding, although wolves often disperse to avoid this. Even if the source country or countries agree to this, given our failure to stem poisoning and shooting of our re-introduced raptors, it could apply significant pressure on source populations.

The physical collection of wolves would pose difficulties and is likely to result in some losses. They would be collected by trapping, snaring or incapacitation by dart from a helicopter. All of these methods pose risks. During the collection of animals for the Yellowstone re-introduction programme at least 10 wolves died early in the process through trapping and snaring and at least one died during incapacitation from helicopter. One might argue that techniques have evolved and improved since then, but some losses would almost certainly occur.

Removal of alpha (lead) animals from a pack would cause huge upheaval, and studies show that it would almost certainly lead to the break up of the pack. Packs that may have been in existence for generations could literally be wiped out by the removal of perhaps just one animal. Wolves may also attempt to make their way back to their own territories. Relocation of wolves in Alaska’s Denali National Park has led to them returning hundreds of miles to their previous locations. Obviously wolves introduced in Ireland would be unable to do that, but the instinct to return home could lead them to wander into areas where they will subsequently need to be removed from.

Wolves re-introduced in Ireland would need to be heavily managed, some might say controlled. It’s likely that their locations would need to be monitored daily, and that at several animals in the pack would be burdened with telemetry collars. Wolves may need to be re-captured if they move into areas deemed undesirable, and pups may have to be relocated if adults den outside the national park they are introduced into.

Would such a heavily monitored and managed population really mean we have wild wolves in Ireland again?

The verdict

In my opinion, while the re-introduction of wolves here might have some benefits, both ecologically and psychologically for us, there would be no benefit whatsoever to the wolf, either as a species, or to the individual animals released here. The number reintroduced would, by necessity, be small, extensively managed, and their population artificially controlled. Given the difficulties discussed above in relation to space, and interactions with humans, any such reintroduction would stand a reasonable probability of failing, resulting in the destruction of all of the wolves concerned. It would also have a significant negative impact on source populations.

Re-introduction in Ireland would not result in any increase in the the worldwide wolf population, and would simply be an exercise to satisfy our own selfish needs.

For re-introduction to even be considered in Ireland we would need a massive change in perception, understanding and attitude towards wolves and predators in general. We would need far more extensive wilderness areas, and a well established network of wildlife corridors to connect them. Wolves haven’t roamed free in Ireland for at least 200 years, and personally I don’t think they will be doing so again any time soon.

These are my own views on wolf re-introduction in Ireland, and I welcome debate about the subject via comments here or at intothewild@live.ie.

References

  • Wolves, Behaviour, Ecology, and Conservation, L.David Mech and Luigi Boitani
  • Among Wolves, Gordon Haber and Marybeth Holleman
  • Wolves in Ireland, Kieran Hickey
  • Wolf Wars, Hank Fischer
  • Decade of the Wolf, Douglas W. Smith and Gary Ferguson
  • Shadow Mountain, Renee Askins
  • A Wolf Called Romeo, Nick Jans
  • In the Temple of Wolves, Rick Lamplugh
  • Recovery of large carnivores in Europes’s modern human dominated landscapes. http://www.sciencemag.org/content/346/6216/1517

 

 

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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

 

MICHIGAN CONSERVATION AGENCY SEEKS INPUT FOR WOLF MANAGEMENT PLAN   1 comment

From:  Watchdog Wire Michigan

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Dept. of Natural Resources conducting survey

November 20, 2014

The Michigan Department of Natural Resources (DNR) is soliciting comments as the state conservation agency retools its 2008 Wolf Management Plan.

The 2008 plan was crafted with extensive public input. Among its principal goals were to maintain a viable wolf population, minimize wolf-related conflicts, and conduct science-based, socially acceptable management of the species.

Since the plan was enacted, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service determined that the gray wolf population (Canis lupus) in the western Great Lakes region, which includes Michigan, had recovered and no longer needed the protection of the federal Endangered Species Act (ESA).* The species was removed from the ESA in 2012, and, hence, the Wolverine State assumed “full management authority” for the wolves. The DNR estimates that in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula the wolf population has grown to over 600 which is up from 20 animals in 1992.

Great Lakes wolves remain divisive creatures. Either they are viewed as a dangerous nuisance by Michiganders who have lost pets or livestock in a wolf attack, or they aresacred icons, as many American Indian tribes view them. While the 2013 state-sponsored wolf hunt in Michigan yielded 22 animals being legally killed, organizations, like Keep Wolves Protected (a force behind the largely symbolic November 2014 ballot proposals) have rejected “trophy hunting” this natural predator.

Phase 1 of the comment period is now open. Interested parties can participate in an electronic survey in which respondents are asked questions about the 12 strategic goals from the 2008 plan. Comments and answers will be accepted until December 11, 2014. Those unable to participate in the survey electronically can contact the DNR Wildlife Division at 517-284-9453 to receive a paper survey.

The Michigan DNR, whose mission it is to conserve, protect, and manage the State’s natural resources, hopes to have the wolf plan update completed by the spring of 2015.

*This list features the gray wolves, in other regions of the United States, that are still protected by the ESA. These species are either in danger of extinction or are threatened (may become endangered).

Image: Michigan Tech University

English: Wolves chasing an elk

English: Wolves chasing an elk (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

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