Archive for the ‘coyote’ Tag

Scientists Find That Evolution Of Dogs Was Spurred By Climate Change   Leave a comment

From Inquisitr August 19, 2015

Dog & Wolf

Nature has been most helpful to scientists aiming to study climate change, and thus, changes to the planet are very well documented. It has long been thought by scientists though that while herbivores adapted to the change in climatic conditions, carnivores did not. The recent findings of a study regarding the evolution of dogs has, however, disabused us of that notion.

On Tuesday, Nature Communications released a study by a group of scientists that analyzed North American wolves and fossils that were as old as 40 million years. It was found that these prehistoric dogs had an evolutionary path that was directly linked to climate change. A lot of the main evolution points of these animals occurred in tandem with major shifts in the climate.

The North America known today is very different from 40 million years ago. Back then, the area was a warm woodland. Canine ancestors living in that North America were small animals and bore more of a resemblance to a mongoose. Native dogs 40 million years ago had forelimbs that were not suited to running and instead relied on ambush methods. After a few million more years, though, the forests thinned and gave way to grasslands as the climate became cooler and drier. Herbivores evolved right along with the times, and long-legged animals like the bison and deer proliferated. The prehistoric dogs also were found to evolve at this time from their smaller counterparts.

Evolution of Dogs

Now that there was enough room to run, and less possibility of springing from dense bushes to trap prey, predators adapted also. Upon examination of the over 32 species of fossils, it was determined that the dog’s elbow joints and forelegs evolved to facilitate long-distance running, offering more support and less flexibility. Their teeth became more durable as well, which is speculated to have made it easier to deal with dry raw hides or perhaps the grit of the high plains mixed in with their meat. The dogs evolved from ambushers to the likes of predators like foxes and coyotes, and eventually into wolves, who use more pursuit then pounce methods. These species are so closely linked in the evolution gene pool that modern day scientists still make surprising discoveries.

Christine Janis, who is a co-author of the study and professor of ecology and evolutionary biology at Brown University, said that this study may have a broader impact than on dogs alone.

“It’s reinforcing the idea that predators may be as directly sensitive to climate and habitat as herbivores.”

Our modern day domesticated dogs do not have the need to hunt for their own food, and thus, it is arguable if our current climate change will have much of an impact on them. However, these human-wrought climate shifts may still lead to a change in the physiology of predators.

In inarguable fact, though, is that the study has proven that climate change has had a dramatic impact on both predators and their prey.

[Photos Courtesy of Discovery News and Mauricio Anton / Brown University]

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Rare gray wolf seen at Grand Canyon may be dead   1 comment

From:  azCentral 12 News

Dec. 30, 2014 by Brenna Goth

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(Photo: Arizona Game and Fish Department)

 

The federally protected female wolf seen last month near the Grand Canyon may have been shot and killed in southwestern Utah on Sunday, wildlife groups fear.

If that’s true, the first northern gray wolf seen in northern Arizona in 70 years has been lost.

A hunter shot the radio-collared animal over the weekend in the Tushar Mountains outside of Beaver, Utah, according to a release from the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources. The mountains are about 200 miles north of the Grand Canyon.

The hunter mistook the animal for a coyote, the agency said.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has not confirmed the wolf’s identity. But the Utah agency said the federal service identified the animal as a 3-year-old, female northern gray wolf. She was collared last January in Wyoming.

That description and the wolf’s location means she was likely the Grand Canyon wanderer, said Michael Robinson, wolf advocate for the Center for Biological Diversity.

That wolf, first seen in northern Arizona in October, has has been celebrated by conservationists as a symbol of hope for the species’ recovery. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service said the wolf traveled at least 450 miles to reach northern Arizona and was likely looking for food or a mate.

“Justice should be done for this animal,” Robinson said. “This shouldn’t just be brushed under the rug.”

MONTINI: Hooowl no! What this killing teaches us about wolves, and us.

Conservationists were early advocates for the radio-collared animal spotted and photographed by visitors and hunters on the Kaibab Plateau north of the Grand Canyon National Park.

State wildlife agencies worked together to track the animal after they discovered its radio collar was dead. They were originally unsure if it was a wolf or wolf-dog hybrid.

An animal seen north of Grand Canyon on Oct 27, 2014.

An animal seen north of Grand Canyon on Oct 27, 2014.(Photo: Arizona Game and Fish Department)

 

In November, a genetic test on the animal’s scat showed it was the first Rocky Mountain gray wolf seen in the area since the 1940s.

Attempts to replace the wolf’s tracking collar were unsuccessful, though the agency said DNA tests could confirm its identity from previously captured wolves.

Gray wolves were once common in the area but disappeared in the early 1900s after being hunted and killed. Robinson said last month that the wolf’s presence proved the Grand Canyon was still a suitable environment for the species.

Sunday’s death — whether or not it’s the same wolf — is a setback, he said.

“Whether it was persecution or recklessness, it highlights that wolves still need protection,” he said.

The Center for Biological Diversity is calling for a full investigation into the Sunday shooting.

Conservation officials are still reviewing the case, according to the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources.

 

Coyotes could be key to saving the endangered red wolf   1 comment

From:  The Post and Courier

by Bo Petersen

 

A red wolf in its pen at the SeeWee Visitors Center in Awendaw in 2003. Wade Spees/Staff/File

 

The biggest threat to red wolves continuing in the wild isn’t a lack of money or land. It isn’t landowner opposition. It’s the coyote.

But oddly enough, the nuisance coyote just might be the reason the embattled U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service reintroduction program goes ahead, if it does.

That’s the head-shaker takeaway from a recently released review of the wolves’ recovery program. The review’s conclusions are expected to be deciding factors in whether the service keeps pursuing the 30-year-old program. The decision is expected after the first of the year.

The red wolf is a native animal and could be a stabilizing alpha species in an ecosystem getting overrun by invasive coyotes. The coyote has become a suburban menace.

The report doesn’t give much room for hope – calling for expansion of the reintroduction effort and more funding if it is to continue. But environmental groups supporting the wolf’s return are pushing that the wolf belongs in the countryside, to try to turn the decision.

“In the end, the red wolf is all we have left of the wolf in the Southeast. We can restore this cool, native wolf, or you’re going to have coyotes,” said conservation scientist Ron Sutherland, of Wildlands Network.

The red wolf once was the Lowcountry’s own, an animal as big as German shepherd, that moves with a slinking feral grace. Hunted as a varmint, the wolf was pronounced extinct in the wild in 1980, when only 14 captives wolves were known to be alive.

The recovery program was launched in 1987, largely as a wild breeding program at Bull’s Island in the Cape Romain National Wildlife Refuge north of Charleston. Now, the Alligator River National Wildlife Refuge in eastern North Carolina is the only place in the world where the wolves still run free.

The coyote problem is one of the chief concerns raised in the review of the program by Wildlife Management Institute, a private Kentucky based group. The concern is two-fold.

With a new night-hunting bill, South Carolina is inviting hunters to use almost any means to reduce expanding wild hog and coyote populations in the state.

First, wolves occasionally interbreed with the coyote, producing an animal that’s been called the coywolf. The hybrid is a larger coyote with more of the wolf’s jaw – capable of bringing down larger prey – and with potentially a lot less of the wolf’s wariness about living near inhabited areas like suburbs.

Already suburban communities around Charleston such as Sullivan’s Island are roiling with complaints about coyotes roaming. Researchers at the Alligator River refuge have launched efforts to keep re-introduced red wolves from interbreeding with coyotes there.

Secondly, there’s controversy among researchers just how genetically distinct the red wolf is from the coyote. The species share large portions of DNA that varies from animal to animal. Some researchers aren’t convinced the red wolves remaining really ought to be considered a distinct species.

Wolves under attack

The review is a periodic re-evaluation required under the federal Endangered Species Act.

On one hand, prospects for the wolves’ return appeared to be improving. The Alligator River refuge now has more than 100 wolves in the wild and about 200 captive. Fish and Wildlife biologists are looking at placing breeding pairs of wolves along remote East Coast islands as an alternative to the semi-captive program now used.

In this Oct. 6, 2011 photo, red wolves walk around their enclosure at the Wolf Conservation Center in South Salem, N.Y. The Wolf Conservation Center is raising and breeding endangered Mexican and red wolves. The animals roam in large pens on the 27-acre property, eating roadkill and whatever they catch.

Bull’s Island, where that approach started the recovery, is one of the places under consideration.

On the other hand, the program has been handcuffed by small budgets and staff – a shortage of both curtailed the Bull’s Island effort in 2005. Meanwhile, roving wolves are suffering a dire setback in the country outside the Alligator River refuge: They are being shot.

The native red wolf is so similar to the invasive coyote that at least some of the wolves are getting shot by mistake. A law passed recently that made it illegal to hunt coyote in an area around the refuge. And now, after years of relative acceptance, the wolves’ presence is being opposed by a group of landowners there, angry that they now longer can rid properties of the varmint coyote.

The review said the wolf’s distinct genetics need to be firmly established, and markers set for just how much DNA an animal must have to be considered a red wolf. Then, reintroduced wolves ought to be monitored for that marker – to see how much they remain wolves.

For a program already decisively squeezed by budgets and stirring new controversies, the needs for more wild sites, genetics and ongoing genetic monitoring is more than enough for managers to pull the plug, and restrict the wolf to captive sites.

Calls and emails to a Fish and Wildlife spokesman asking for comment were not returned. David Rabon, the longtime recovery program coordinator, has been re-assigned and is leaving the service.

‘Hold their own’

The pesky coyote, though, is prospering, and the wolves could be a prime weapon to keep it under control. Despite occasional, apparently “loner” interbreeding, wolf packs tend to run out coyotes and other deer predators. At the Alligator River refuge, deer herds have improved.

“There might have been a time when people said let’s not bring back the red wolf, but that paradigm has changed,” said Jeff Dennis, a local hunter who publishes the Lowcountry Outdoorsblog. “Now we have coyotes everywhere. Native critters have their place in the ecosystem. They will reclaim that place. I would think that red wolves could hold their own (against coyotes). It might take a long time and a lot of acreage.”

Spots like Francis Marion National Forest and adjacent Cape Romain could be big enough, he said.

That’s what wolf supporters are banking on. Wildlands Network already is talking with private donors to take on some of the cost of continuing the program, including educating landowners about the advantages, Sutherland said. But he concedes what he sees from Fish and Wildlife suggests they are pulling back from it.

“Yeah, it’s going to be tough,” he said. But “$5.4 million per year to manage three (wild) populations, I don’t think it’s too much to spend on an extremely rare species that’s down to its last 100 animals in the wild.”

The future of the red wolf

Among findings of the red wolf recovery program evaluation by the Wildlife Management Institute:

The primary challenges and impediments with the recovery program are: the need for redundancy in wild populations (in places other than Alligator River), (genetic) integrity, the impact of interbreeding with coyotes and the needed size of the landscape and (private land) ownership in the restoration areas.

The taxonomy (genetic difference from coyotes) of the red wolf remains unclear and the dominant ecological challenge to its recovery is (interbreeding) with coyotes.

The high cost and indefinite duration (of the recovery program) raise serious questions regarding the value of continuing this approach.

The original (Alligator River National Wildlife Refuge) area of 225 square miles was unrealistically small given the area’s habitat quality.

The project has demonstrated the captive red wolves can successfully be reintroduced to the wild and rear offspring.

 

Reach Bo Petersen at 937-5744, @bopete on twitter or Bo Petersen Reporting on Facebook.

NC coyote-hunting controls approved for red-wolf protection   1 comment

Red Wolf, captive specimen at "Parks at C...

Red Wolf, captive specimen at “Parks at Chehaw”, Albany GA, USA (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

From:  The State – South Carolina’s Homepage

The News & Observer (Raleigh, N.C.)November 13, 2014

Three conservation groups and the N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission have agreed on new rules aimed at reducing the shooting deaths of endangered red wolves in five Eastern North Carolina counties by limiting the hunting of the wolves’ non-endangered lookalikes: coyotes.

In the five-county Red Wolf Recovery Area, nighttime hunting of coyotes will be banned, and special permits will be required for daytime hunting. The area is home to the world’s only wild red wolves, which have dwindled in recent years to an estimated count of 100.

The new rules are part of an agreement that settled a lawsuit by conservation groups accusing the Wildlife Resources Commission of violating the federal Endangered Species Act. The groups argued that by allowing coyote hunting, the state agency was responsible for the deaths of red wolves.

Hunting the wolves is illegal. But the animals are frequently mistaken for coyotes, and gunshot is the leading killer of red wolves.

“This settlement will advance the long-term protection of red wolves by reducing the likelihood that they will be killed by hunters who mistake them for coyotes, thereby facilitating species recovery,” said D.J. Schubert, wildlife biologist for the Washington-based Animal Welfare Institute, one of three plaintiffs in the lawsuit. “With only an estimated 100 red wolves remaining in the wild, each death by gunshot jeopardizes the survival of the species.”

Saving the wolves

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has sought to reintroduce the red wolf with a program that started in 1987 at the Alligator River National Wildlife Refuge in Dare and Hyde counties. The red wolves’ gunshot death toll, 15 between 1987 and 2000, increased to 73 between 2000 and 2013.

The Wildlife Resources Commission has promoted trapping and hunting in recent years to reduce coyote attacks on livestock and pets. Across the state, hunters killed 27,000 coyotes last year.

A commission spokesman declined Thursday to comment on the new hunting rules or to say when they would take effect in the affected area: Dare, Hyde, Tyrrell, Beaufort and Washington counties.

The agreement was approved Wednesday in Elizabeth City by U.S. District Judge Terrence W. Boyle. The new hunting rules are a permanent replacement for a preliminary injunction Boyle issued in May, which temporarily halted all coyote hunting in the red wolf counties.

Under the new rules for the five counties:

—Coyote hunting remains illegal at night.

—Daytime hunting is legal only for licensed hunters, who also must have special coyote permits. Hunters must report coyote kills within 24 hours to the Wildlife Resources Commission.

—All coyote hunting permits in the five-county area will be suspended if two or more red wolves are shot during the same year on state game lands by hunters who have coyote permits.

After Boyle temporarily halted coyote hunting in the five-county area earlier this year, the Wildlife Resources Commission asked the Fish and Wildlife Service to reconsider its 27-year effort to restore red wolves. When the federal agency agreed to do so, it received more than 47,000 comments from citizens and organizations — including conservationists who support the program and Eastern North Carolina farmers who oppose it.

The Fish and Wildlife Service hired a nonprofit consulting group to evaluate the red wolf recovery program and to provide its recommendations by Friday. A decision is expected early next year.

Siceloff: 919-829-4527 or newsobserver.com/roadworrierblog Twitter: @Road_Worrier

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