Archive for the ‘hunting’ Tag

Hunters ‘breeding foxes’ to provide for the kill   3 comments

From the Guardian by Paul Harris

Concrete chambers used as ‘artificial earths’ to ensure supply of animals for blood sport

Hunts across the country are breeding foxes in specially made dens to ensure an adequate supply of the animals, undermining claims that they are killed only in the name of pest control.

The ‘artificial earths’ are built on the territory of more than 50 hunts, from the Isle of Wight to Cumbria, including some of Britain’s most prestigious such as the Quorn and Beaufort hunts.

The earths are usually sunken concrete chambers built into the ground and connected by a network of tunnels. Foxes are encouraged to live in them and are sometimes fed and given water. They are usually built in areas near to key hunt ‘meets’, for example in woodland that will be hunted on Boxing Day or other prime occasions. The earths ensure that foxes are always available for a hunt in a specific area.

Animal rights campaigners last night expressed dismay over the use of such a widespread national network of artificial earths, claiming that the policy exploded a key argument of the pro-hunting lobby, which campaigns on the basis that fox hunting is a form of pest control.

‘Artificial earths are designed to ensure that hunts have a healthy population of foxes to kill. They are basically breeding these animals to be hunted. It is nothing to do with controlling a pest,’ said a spokesman for the League against Cruel Sports.

The league, which has documented the earths, believes that their true number is likely to be more than 200. ‘They are hard to find and we know we haven’t come anywhere close to discovering them all,’ a league spokesman said.

Sometimes the earths are concentrated in small areas. League members say they have found 31 on land hunted by the Thurlow foxhounds in Cambridgeshire, some of which are built with bricks. In a single wood owned and hunted by the Suffolk Foxhounds there are three artificial earths.

At some earths, foxes are fed by dumping animal carcasses near the entrances. League members have filmed and photographed two calf carcasses dumped within 100 yards of an artificial earth on land used by the Heythrop foxhounds in Oxfordshire, one of the country’s most prestigious hunts. Near the bodies were animal bones, indicating that carcasses had been dumped on the site before.

‘The proximity of the carcasses to an artificial earth where foxes were living is just too much of a coincidence. We believe they were put there to feed the foxes,’ one league member said.

A spokeswoman for the Heythrop hunt said it did not deliberately feed foxes. ‘I would strongly suggest it must be somebody else. The Heythrop does not put out calves’ carcasses anywhere,’ she said.

League members found a second artificial earth on the hunt’s range which was one of the most elaborate they had documented, containing a ‘dropping pot’, which allowed terriers to be put in to flush out a fox. It included water bowls fed by hosepipe and was located in trees in a sheep pasture.

The league said it would be handing a dossier of its findings to the Department for Rural Affairs and local trading standards officers. Dumping carcasses in the countryside is illegal.

The latest revelations come after league members last month showed deer carcasses being dumped near artificial earths on the estate of the Duke of Beaufort, a friend of the Prince of Wales.

Simon Hart, director of the Countryside Alliance’s Campaign for Hunting, said it was not illegal to create artificial earths, but most of them were unused and dated back decades. He said that those artificial earths that were used were designed to encourage foxes to settle away from roads or poultry farms and not for the purposes of hunting.

‘I don’t see that there’s any contradiction between countryside management, which includes the use of artificial earths, and the need to control fox numbers,’ he said.

However, a spokeswoman for the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals condemned the practice. ‘There are a lot of artificial earths around that are still in use. The only benefit of doing that is to know where foxes live so you can hunt them. It shows that hunting is not pest control; it is just a blood sport,’ she said.

Even sombane among the hunting fraternity admit that some hunts use artificial earths and leave out animal carcasses to ensure a plentiful fox population. ‘A few hunts do it and I have to say that I disapprove of it totally,’ said Janet George, co-founder of the Countryside Action Network. ‘There is no need to encourage them to breed. They will breed anywhere anyway.’

Some pro-hunters blame the creation of artificial earths on farmers seeking to control their fox populations. But a spokesman for the National Farmers’ Union said this was unlikely. ‘I would be amazed if farmers were involved. If hunts are using artificial earths for foxes, that would anger farmers,’ he said.

Last week the Scottish Parliament voted to ban hunting with dogs, prompting speculation that similar measures will be attempted in England and Wales. Pro-hunting groups have vowed to challenge such a ban.

Reader’s View: Killing one wolf impacts a larger system   Leave a comment

From:  Duluth News Tribune

February 22nd, 2015 by Lisa Herthel-Hendrickson

Much of what’s in the media regarding wolf hunting is propaganda. “Propaganda” is biased with undertones promoting a particular cause. The statement in a Jan. 14 letter that “city people don’t understand wolves” was propaganda at its finest. The assertion was narrow, lacked credibility and failed to consider the larger picture.

I rarely see mentions of the complexities surrounding pack instincts and wolf communities. Killing one wolf impacts a larger system. Are we as a civilized culture defending practices that have devastating repercussions on ecosystems based on the premise humans are a superior life form responsible for population control?

I have lived in rural Minnesota most of my life and now live in Duluth. In 15 years I’ve seen two wolves. Recently, a colleague caught a glimpse of a lone wolf in her yard that frightened off when she approached. Wolves are shy and elusive creatures. Rumors and misinformation abound.

Sport and population-control hunting causes an increase, not a decrease, in livestock and pet predation. Individual wolves, especially pups, depend on their pack (and not just the alpha, contrary to popular belief) to learn hunting and social skills required for survival. Wolves are more likely to prey on easier targets such as domesticated or livestock animals when their packs are compromised.

Under the recent federal ruling, it remains legal for an individual to kill wolves deemed a threat to human life. Even a perceived threat suffices. No one challenges the right of livestock owners to kill wolves posing a threat to their livestock.

I raise the question: What’s the wolf hunt actually about? In northern Minnesota, where anti-wolf sentiment is on the verge of hysteria, I can’t help but believe it’s about human predators perpetuating values that disrespect natural order and fellow species important to intricate ecological systems of life.

 

Taxpayers Are Footing The Bill For Canada’s Wolf Slaughter   2 comments

From:  The Dodo

Feb. 13, 2015 by Paul Watson

The government of British Columbia has a long history of wildlife mismanagement, because any form of human management is almost always mismanagement.

Humans are not Gods, although bureaucrats try hard to be Gods, deciding who is to live and who is to die. They tend to be good at the “who gets to die” part, and not so much with the “who gets to live” part.

The taxpayer-subsidized wolf slaughter in British Columbia is devoid of legitimate scientific research and cannot be justified on ecological or ethical grounds.

Killing wolves to protect caribou or elk does not benefit the caribou or the elk. The animals have survived precisely because of the value of nature’s prey-predThe problem is hunting, always has been. Unwanted predators are killed to “favor” animals whose death by hunting generates profit.

Hunting is simply big business, and most hunting today — even in the “wild” — is “canned hunting.”

Wolves kill the sick and the weak. Humans kill the strongest, biggest and best. Wolves strengthen the herds. Humans weaken the herds.

Back in 1984 I founded Friends of the Wolf, along with Farley Mowat, to challenge the insanity of the aerial wolf slaughter for the benefit of trophy hunters.

Today this travesty has returned, made even worse because the wolves being targeted first have been radio-collared by scientists who apparently believe the purpose of studying wolves is to make it more efficient to kill them.

The government of British Columbia is spending in excess of a half a million tax dollars to eradicate wolves in yet another example of governmental interference with the laws of nature — intervention that inevitably fails.

In 1984, I led a crew up the Kechika River to oppose the wolf slaughter. We brought this massacre to the attention of the world. We engaged the killers and forced the resignation of then Minister of the Environment Anthony Brummett. We also took the government to court for violating the Firearms Act, which makes it illegal to discharge a firearm from an aircraft.

Now we have to do it again, and one of my veteran Antarctic crewmembers, Tommy Knowles from British Columbia, has taken on the task of going into the areas where the wolves are targeted. These areas are the locations of the caribou herds that the government is trying to “protect” from the wolves. These areas have been identified as: Moberly (22 caribou), Scott herd (18), Kennedy Siding herd (23-25) and the Quinette herd (98-113).

The government wants to slaughter 184 wolves at a cost to the taxpayer of nearly $3,000 per wolf.

Tommy and his crew of volunteers are on the ground with the caribou, ready to risk their lives to intervene against any attempts to kill the wolves.

Once again, citizens have to organize to oppose the ecological insanity of their own governments.

Captain Paul Watson
Founder of Friends of the Wolf

 

Idaho Hunters Begin 3-Day ‘Predator Derby’ Killing SpreeDo   2 comments

From:  The Dodo

Jan.92, 2014 by Melissa Cronin

 

 

A controversial wolf and coyote hunting derby that angered conservationists earlier this year begins this Friday at sunrise in Idaho. The three-day hunt is now being held on mostly private land, after it was pushed off government land earlier this year.

The hunt was originally slated to occur on 3 million acres of federal land in the Rocky Mountain town of Salmon, thanks to a permit issued by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM). But after a coalition of outraged environmental organizations announced plans to file a lawsuit against the agency to stop the derby, the permit was withdrawn and the derby was promptly kicked off public lands.

But that didn’t stop Idaho hunters. Now, the three-day “Predator Hunting Contest and Fur Rendezvous,” hosted by the group Idaho for Wildlife, will be held on private ranch land and U.S. Forest Service land near the town of Salmon, AP reports. The area is half the size of the original plan and a last-ditch attempt to revoke the land permit, led by conservationists and U.S. Rep. Peter DeFazio of Oregon, failed.

The organizers are offering a $1,000 prize to the hunter who kills the most wolves and coyotes. A spokesman for the hunt said that so far, 40 hunters from outside Idaho have committed to participate.

Wolves, long the center of political and environmental conflict, were nearly extinct in much of the U.S. until an aggressive reintroduction program began in 1995. They were finally granted protection under a precursor to the Endangered Species Act in the 1960s. Since then, gray wolves have seen a slow recovery in the U.S. — though their numbers are nowhere that of their historic population.

But that trend may end soon. Approximately 1,600 Rocky Mountain gray wolves were removed from protection in 2011 by Congress, and hunters have been targeting them since. And in June 2013, the Obama administration announced plans to strip Endangered Species Act protections from gray wolves across most of the lower 48 states. Many conservationists argue that wolves’ recovery is incomplete, and that the iconic animals still need government protection.

 

Minnesota Department of Natural Resources Closes Another Wolf Zone   Leave a comment

From:  WDIO.com

Dec. 09, 2014

ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) – The Department of Natural Resources is closing the late wolf season a second hunting zone, where hunters and trappers have exceeded the season target.

Hunters and trappers in the northwest zone had registered 96 wolves killed by late Tuesday afternoon, 14 more than the zone’s nonbinding target of 82. DNR wolf specialist Dan Stark says it’s not clear why there’s been a surge since late last week.

The northwest zone streches from northwestern Minnesota to western St. Louis County, including all of Itasca and Koochiching counties.

The DNR last Friday closed the northeast zone, where hunters and trappers registered 40 wolves, five over the zone’s target of 35. The small east-central zone remains open. One wolf has been registered there with a target of nine.

Late-season hunters and trappers have now registered 133 wolves statewide. Hunters killed 124 in Minnesota’s early hunting-only season.

The combined statewide harvest target was 250.

 

Group to protest Wisconsin’s wolf hunt at state Capitol   1 comment

From:  The Cap Times

December 04, 2014 8:45 am  • 

GRAY WOLF (copy)

A group of wolf advocates plans to engage in civil disobedience at Wisconsin’s Capitol building next week to protest the state’s wolf management policies.

The Wolf and Wildlife Action Group, a national group of activists, announced Wednesday that its members will protest at 11 a.m. on Dec. 8 on the Capitol steps. They will then move to Gov. Scott Walker’s office.

The group plans to deliver four “violation notices for Wisconsin’s crimes against nature” to the governor, citing the United Nations’ World Charter for Nature.

According to a news release, WWAG will release more details about the alleged violations when they deliver them to the governor.

The group “demands all wolf killing stops now and wolves be returned to full endangered species protection forthwith under the Endangered Species Act.”

Wisconsin’s wolf hunt has been controversial since Walker signed into law the state’s wolf hunting and trapping provisions. By way of that law, Wisconsin is the only state to allow dogs to be used hunting wolves.

The 2014 hunting and trapping season opened Oct. 15 and entered the hound phase on Monday. Dog use is prohibited until the conclusion of the gun deer season.

The state Department of Natural Resources sets a yearly quota for wolf kills; this year’s is 150. The DNR also sets smaller quotas for six management zones throughout the state, closing a zone when the quota is reached.

The season ends on Feb. 28, or when the statewide quota is met. As of Dec. 3, 147 harvests had been reported and only two of the six zones remained open.

Two zones were closed before their zone-specific quotas were met and two others were closed after their quotas were exceeded.

Some opposition to the wolf hunt comes from those opposed to the hunting and killing of any animals, while some comes from those who believe wolves specifically deserve protections.

In 2012, several groups sued the DNR seeking to halt the provision allowing the use of dogs in the hunt. The groups contended that the practice amounted to state-sanctioned animal fighting. That lawsuit failed.

The group coming to Wisconsin, WWAG, has led similar protests in Idaho and Montana.

Its members called for Idaho Republican Gov. Butch Otter’s resignation and spoke with him briefly in May. They delivered a “violation notice” to Montana Democratic Gov. Steve Bullock in October.

Wisconsin wolves were taken off the federal endangered species list in 2011, allowing state officials to determine how best to manage the population.

At the time the bill was signed, the state’s wolf population numbered more than 800. Last winter, Wisconsin had at least 660 wolves.

When Walker signed the bill, he said in a statement that the hunt will help farmers protect their livestock by reducing the wolf population to a “healthy, sustainable level.

The wolf hunt.

The wolf hunt. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

A 19th century painting depicting the conclusi...

A 19th century painting depicting the conclusion of a wolf hunt (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

 

 

 

 

Study: Killing wolves doesn’t result in fewer livestock attacks   Leave a comment

From:  UPI

“The only way you’re going to completely eliminate livestock depredations is to get rid of all the wolves,” Rob Wielgus said.
 By Brooks Hays   |   Dec. 4, 2014 at 11:31 AM

PULLMAN, Wash., Dec. 4 (UPI) — The frequent fights that boil up over the protection of wild predators routinely feature the same interested parties — conservationists and animals rights activists one on side, ranchers on the other.

Understandably, ranchers are consistently concerned about their ability to protect their herds — their assets. But now, new research may weaken their bargaining position, as recent scientific evidence suggests killing wolves does not reduce the frequency of livestock attacks.

Researchers at the Washington State University arrived at their findings after analyzing 25 years of lethal control data from U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. The data on wolf killings in Montana, Wyoming and Idaho showed that killing a single wolf actually increased the chance of livestock attacks the following year.

One dead wolf increased odds of depredations four percent for sheep herds, and five to six percent for cattle. If 20 wolves were shot or trapped the year prior, livestock deaths doubled.

“I had no idea what the results were going to be, positive or negative,” Rob Wielgus, a wildlife biologist at Washington State University, said in a press release. “I said, ‘Let’s take a look at it and see what happened.’ I was surprised that there was a big effect.”

Wielgus, who conducted the research with the help of data analyst Kaylie Peebles, says that killing wolves likely disrupts the social order of the pack. An older mating pair will keep younger, less mature wolves from coupling and starting a family. But should one or both of two mature mating wolves be killed, younger pairs will form. Starting a family limits a wolf’s ability to hunt, and increases the likelihood that a wolf will be forced to seek out easy prey like cattle and sheep.

Wielgus encourages ranchers to use more effective non-lethal strategies like guard dogs, range guards on horseback, flags and spotlights.

“The only way you’re going to completely eliminate livestock depredations is to get rid of all the wolves,” Wielgus said, “and society has told us that that’s not going to happen.”


 

The study was published this week in the journal PLOS ONE:

Effects of Wolf Mortality on Livestock Depredations

  • Robert B. Wielgus,
    Kaylie A. Peebles mail
  • Published: December 03, 2014
  • DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0113505

Abstract

Predator control and sport hunting are often used to reduce predator populations and livestock depredations, – but the efficacy of lethal control has rarely been tested. We assessed the effects of wolf mortality on reducing livestock depredations in Idaho, Montana and Wyoming from 1987–2012 using a 25 year time series. The number of livestock depredated, livestock populations, wolf population estimates, number of breeding pairs, and wolves killed were calculated for the wolf-occupied area of each state for each year. The data were then analyzed using a negative binomial generalized linear model to test for the expected negative relationship between the number of livestock depredated in the current year and the number of wolves controlled the previous year. We found that the number of livestock depredated was positively associated with the number of livestock and the number of breeding pairs. However, we also found that the number of livestock depredated the following year was positively, not negatively, associated with the number of wolves killed the previous year. The odds of livestock depredations increased 4% for sheep and 5–6% for cattle with increased wolf control – up until wolf mortality exceeded the mean intrinsic growth rate of wolves at 25%. Possible reasons for the increased livestock depredations at ≤25% mortality may be compensatory increased breeding pairs and numbers of wolves following increased mortality. After mortality exceeded 25%, the total number of breeding pairs, wolves, and livestock depredations declined. However, mortality rates exceeding 25% are unsustainable over the long term. Lethal control of individual depredating wolves may sometimes necessary to stop depredations in the near-term, but we recommend that non-lethal alternatives also be considered.

Figures

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Table 1. AIC and log-likelihood values for forward selection of main effects and interaction effects models of cattle depredations

doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0113505.t001

In both models all of the main effects and some two way interactions were found to be statistically significant (Table 2). The number of wolves killed in year one was positively related to the number of cattle depredated the following year (rate ratios = 1.05, 1.05 and 1.06,z = 5.67 and 5.66, 4.69, P<0.001) (Figure 1). For each additional wolf killed the estimated mean number of cattle depredated the following year increased by 5 to 6%. The number of breeding pairs was also positively related to the number of cattle depredated (rate ratios = 1.08, 1.09 and 1.08, z = 6.28, 4.87 and 6.04, P = 0.0336 and <0.001) (Figure 2). For each additional breeding pair on the landscape the estimated mean number of cattle depredated the following year increased by 8 to 9%. Breeding pairs were highly correlated with numbers of wolves (Table S2).
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Figure 1. Wolves killed vs cattle depredated.

Number of wolves killed through control methods the previous year versus the number of cattle depredated the following year. The dashed lines show the upper and lower limits of the 95% confidence interval for the best fit line.

doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0113505.g001

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Figure 2. Number of breeding pairs vs cattle depredated.

Number of breeding pairs present on the landscape the previous year versus the number of cattle depredated the following year. The dashed lines show the upper and lower limits of the 95% confidence interval for the best fit line.

doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0113505.g002

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Table 2. Summary of best model for cattle depredated.

doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0113505.t002

There was also one important 2-way negative interaction for the relationship between the increasing numbers of wolves killed and decreasing breeding pairs on livestock depredations (rate ratios = 0.99, z = −5.39, −5.49 and −5.12, P<0.001. In our models, the main effects of wolves killed was increased depredations. But the negative interaction effect in the model shows that depredations ultimately declined with increased wolf kills as number of breeding pairs decreased. These conflicting effects on livestock depredations are represented here as proportion of wolves killed vs. cattle depredations in (Figure 3). Depredations increased with increasing wolf mortality up to about 25% mortality but then depredations declined when mortality exceeded 25%.

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Figure 3. The proportion of wolves killed vs cattle depredated.

Proportion of wolves killed the previous year versus the number of cattle depredated the following year. The dashed lines show the upper and lower limits of the 95% confidence interval for the best fit line.

doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0113505.g003

One model out of 53 (Table 3) was also selected for determining which factors may influence the number of sheep depredated the following year (Table 4). The model was g(y) = exp [−10.499+0.05539(minimum wolf population) +0.03883(wolves killed through control methods) +3.058×10−5(cattle) +2.077×10−4(sheep) – 5.116×10−4(wolves killed*wolf population) – 4.932×10−7(wolves killed*cattle) – 1.159×10−7(wolf population*cattle) – 3.712×10−6(wolves killed*sheep) – 6.827×10−7(wolf population*sheep) – 3.408×10−10(cattle*sheep) +6.532×10-10(wolves killed*wolf population*cattle) +4.819×10−9(wolves killed*wolf population*sheep) +3.682×10−12(wolves killed*cattle*sheep) – 4.336×10−15(wolves killed*wolf population*cattle*sheep)].
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Table 3. AIC and log-likelihood values for forward selection of main effects and interaction effects models of sheep depredations.

doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0113505.t003

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Table 4. Summary of best following year sheep depredated models.

doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0113505.t004

Both of the main effects and one interaction effect were significant in this model. Once again, the number of wolves killed was positively related to the number of sheep depredated the following year (rate ratio = 1.04, z = 2.218, P = 0.026) (Figure 4). For each additional wolf killed the estimated mean number of sheep being depredated the following year increased by 4%. The minimum wolf population was also positively related to the number of sheep depredated the following year (rate ratio = 1.06, z = 3.220, P = 0.001) (Figure 5). For each additional wolf on the landscape the estimated mean number of sheep being depredated the following year increased by 6%. The number of cattle and sheep were found to be positively related to the number of sheep depredated but the coefficient was negligible (rate ratios = 1.00 and 1.00, z = 4.718 and 3.320, P = <0.001 and 0.001) which results in an increase of sheep depredated the following year by 1.00 or less than 1%. However, as with cattle, there was an important 2-way negative interaction. Sheep depredations increased with increasing wolf mortality rate up until about 25%, then depredations began to decline after mortality exceeded 25% (Figure 6).
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Figure 4. Wolves killed vs sheep depredated.

Number of wolves killed through control methods the previous year versus the number of sheep depredated the following year. The dashed lines show the upper and lower limits of the 95% confidence interval for the best fit line.

doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0113505.g004

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Figure 5. Minimum wolf population vs sheep depredated.

Minimum year end wolf population the previous year versus the number of sheep depredated the following year. The dashed lines show the upper and lower limits of the 95% confidence interval for the best fit line.

doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0113505.g005

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Figure 6. Proportion of wolves controlled versus the number of sheep depredated.

Proportions of wolves killed through control methods the previous year versus the number of sheep depredated the following year. The dashed lines show the upper and lower limits of the 95% confidence interval for the best fit line.

doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0113505.g006

Discussion

Our results do not support the “remedial control” hypothesis of predator mortality on livestock depredations the following year. However, lethal control of wolves appears to be related to increased depredations in a larger area the following year. Our results are supported by the findings of Harper et al. (2008) in Minnesota where they found that across the state (large scale) none of their correlations supported the hypothesis that killing a high number of wolves reduced the following year’s depredations. Harper et al also found that trapping and not catching wolves decreased depredations more than no trapping at all, suggesting that a mere increase in human activity at depredation sites reduced further depredations by those wolves in their study area. By contrast, Bjorge and Gunson (1985) found reducing the population from 40 to 3 wolves in 2 years in Alberta (a 10 fold reduction to near extirpation) resulted in a decline of livestock depredations for two years – followed by subsequent recolonization and increased depredations thereafter. Tompa (1983) also found that lethal control prevented conflict for more than a year in some areas of British Columbia. It should be noted that these 2 studies examined wolf control and livestock depredations at a fine scale (grazing allotment or wolf pack territory or management zone). They did not examine wolf control and livestock depredations at a larger scale (wolf occupied areas) as was done by Harper et al. (2008) and us (this study). It appears that wolf control is associated with reduced depredations at the local wolf pack scale but increased depredations at the larger wolf population scale. This appears consistent with Treves et al. (2005) prediction that the removal of carnivores generally only achieves a temporary reduction in livestock depredations locally when immigrants can rapidly fill the vacancies.
There were several different factors that influenced the number of livestock depredated the following year by wolves. In order of importance, based on the values of the rate ratios, these include: the number of wolves removed through control methods, the number of breeding pairs, the minimum wolf population, and the number of livestock on the landscape. Consistent with expectations, each additional breeding pair on the landscape increased the expected mean number of cattle depredated by 8 to 9% and each additional wolf on the landscape increased the expected mean number of sheep depredated by 6%. Cattle were most affected by breeding pairs and sheep by wolves – perhaps because it takes more than one wolf (a pack) to kill a relatively larger cow and only one wolf to kill a smaller sheep. However, contrary to the “remedial control” hypothesis, each additional wolf killed increased the expected mean number of livestock depredated by 5–6% for cattle and 4% for sheep. It appears that lethal wolf control to reduce the number of livestock depredated is associated with increased, not decreased, depredations the following year, on a large scale – at least until wolf mortality exceeds 25%. Why 25%? The observed mean intrinsic growth rate of wolves in Idaho, Wyoming, and Montana is about 25% [21]. Therefore, once anthropogenic mortality exceeds 25%, the numbers of breeding pairs and wolves must decline – resulting in fewer livestock depredations.
Below 25% mortality, lethal control may increase breeding pairs and wolves through social disruption and compensatory, density dependent effects. For example, wolf control efforts occur year round and often peak during grazing season in areas with livestock depredations[22], [23]. However, if control takes place during the breeding season and a member of the breeding pair is removed it may lead to pack instability and increased breeding pairs [24], [10]. Furthermore, loss of a breeder in a pack during or near breeding season can result in dissolution of territorial social groups, smaller pack sizes and compensatory density dependent effects – such as increased per-capita reproduction [11], [25], [26]. Culling of wolves may also cause frequent breeder turnover [11] and related social disruption – which can result in reduced effective prey use (through loss of knowledge of prey sources and ability to subdue prey) which may also result in increased livestock depredations [27], [28]. All of these effects could potentially result in increased livestock depredations.
We would expect to see increased depredations, wolves killed, and breeding pairs as the wolf population grows and recolonizes the area – but our data suggest that lethal control exacerbates these increases. The secondary effects of time, wolf population growth rate, wolf occupied area, and wolf population size on depredations were already subsumed in the primary main effect terms of breeding pairs (cattle) and wolves (sheep), so those secondary effects cannot account for the positive effects of wolf kills on depredations. We do not yet know the exact mechanism of how increased wolf mortality up to ≤25% results in increased livestock depredations, but we do know that increased mortality is associated with compensatory increased breeding pairs, compensatory numbers of wolves, and depredations [24], [10], [27],[28], [11], [26]. Further research is needed to determine the exact causal mechanism(s). Annual mortality in excess of 25% will reduce future depredations, but that mortality rate is unsustainable and cannot be carried out indefinitely if federal relisting of wolves is to be avoided. Furthermore, a 5% (sheep) and 5% (cattle) kill rate of wolves yields the same number of cattle and sheep depredations as a 35% (cattle) and 30% (sheep) kill rate (Figures 3 & 6), but the 30% or 35% rate is unsustainable for wolf population persistence and the 5% rate is not. The worst possible case appears to be a high mortality rate at about 20–25%, since this corresponds to a “standing wave” of the highest livestock depredations. Further research is needed to test if this high level of anthropogenic wolf mortality (25%) is associated with high levels of predation on natural prey such as deer and elk.
Further research is also needed to account for the limitations of our data set. The scale of our analysis was large (wolf occupied areas in each state in each year) and the scale of some other studies were small (wolf packs). Simultaneous, multi-scale analysis (individual wolf packs, wolf management zones, and wolf occupied areas) may yield further insights.
Although lethal control is sometimes a necessary management tool in the near-term, we suggest that managers also consider testing non-lethal methods of wolf control [29] because these methods might not be associated with increased depredations in the long-term.

Supporting Information

Figure_S1.tif1 / 4

Proportion of wolves harvested vs cattle depredated. Proportion of wolves harvested the previous year in each state (Montana, Idaho and Wyoming) versus the number of cattle depredated the following year.

Figure S1.

Proportion of wolves harvested vs cattle depredated. Proportion of wolves harvested the previous year in each state (Montana, Idaho and Wyoming) versus the number of cattle depredated the following year.

doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0113505.s001

(TIF)

Figure S2.

Proportion of wolves harvested vs sheep depredated. Proportion of wolves harvested the previous year in each state (Montana, Idaho and Wyoming) versus the number of sheep depredated the following year.

doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0113505.s002

(TIF)

Table S1.

Data by state, 1987–2012. Data for all variables used in the analysis grouped by state from 1987–2012.

doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0113505.s003

(DOCX)

Table S2.

Pearson correlation matrix. Pearson correlation matrix for independent variables: cattle, sheep, minimum wolf population, wolves harvested and number of breeding pairs.

doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0113505.s004

(DOCX)

Acknowledgments

This analysis and paper benefitted from the insights and comments of Hilary Cooley (U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service), and John Pierce, Donny Martorello, Brian Kertsen, Ben Maletzke, and Stephanie Simick (Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife).

Author Contributions

Conceived and designed the experiments: RBW KAP. Performed the experiments: RBW KAP. Analyzed the data: RBW KAP. Contributed reagents/materials/analysis tools: RBW KAP. Wrote the paper: RBW KAP.

References

  1. Zimmerman B, Wabbakken P, Dotterer M (2003) Brown bear – livestock conflicts in a bear conservation zone in : are cattle a good alternative to sheep? Ursus 14 (1):72–83.
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  6. Balme GA, Batchelor A, De Woronin Britz N, Seymour G, Grover M, et al.. (2012) Reproductive success of female leopards Panthera pardus: the importance of top-down processes. Mammal Review doi: 10.1111/j. 1365-2907.2012.00219.x.
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  28. Stahler DR, Smith DW, Guernsey DS (2006) Foraging and feeding ecology of the gray wolf (Canis lupus): lessons from Yellowstone national park, Wyoming, USA. Journal of Wildlife Nutrition 36:1923s.
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Wolf cull backfires as wild canines feast on farm animals   Leave a comment

From:  The Conversation

Wolves, lions and other large carnivores rely on meat for sustenance and there are only so many wild animals to go round. Sometimes, dinner means cow or sheep.

Farmers can use guard dogs or protective fencing to deter predators and protect livestock. But lethal methods such as hunting and trapping are also used to control wild carnivore numbers.

As a livestock farmer in wolf country, it would be reasonable to assume that killing more predators would result in fewer attacks on your animals. However, a new study by Washington State University has turned this assumption on its head by discovering the opposite: the more wolves that are killed (up to a threshold of 25% of the population), the more the remainder preyed on local sheep and cows. Why is this?

Unpicking the pack

The researchers, Robert Wielgus and Kaylie Peebles, point to the nature of the species’ social systems: wolves live in family groups containing a breeding pair (also known as the alpha pair) along with related sub-adults, juveniles and pups. The alphas are the only breeders within the group as they limit reproduction by their subordinates.

Killing one of the alphas disrupts the pack and subordinate wolves, who often outnumber the breeders, are then free to reproduce. This could increase the number of breeding individuals in the area, thereby increasing the population of hungry wolves – maybe farmers who shoot wolves are inadvertently doing more towards conservation than they think!

Wolves take on a Bison. NPS

Conversely, as humans are more likely to shoot youngsters than adult breeding wolves, the alphas may be temporarily be in a more favourable situation. There would be less competition for food, fewer clashes with other wolves and less risk of the transmission of disease. Again, this could result in short-term increases in attacks on livestock.

Wolf packs also have an important educational role, as the experienced wolves pass on their knowledge. Killing them impairs this social learning. If the rest of the pack hasn’t learnt the skills necessary to take on bison or elk they may instead turn towards easier pickings on the farm.

This same behaviour has been seen in lions and cougars (although has not been documented in many other carnivore species).

When culls go wrong

It is interesting to note that this paradoxical finding is not just found in relation to wolves – lethal control of cougars (or mountain lions) also means the remainder kill more cows and sheep as younger, inexperienced cougars are more likely to attack livestock.

Coyote vs sheep. USDA

Coyotes also show increased litter sizes and more frequent breeding in populations that were lethally controlled. Culling programmes could have even exacerbated livestock attacks by taking out younger, less predatory coyotes. Further, state-funded coyote removal campaigns have failed to reduce predation on sheep. Lynx, too, do not significantly reduce livestock attacks until lethal control dramatically reduces total population numbers.

It must be noted that other studies have shown that killing predators can sometimes reduce the numbers of livestock they themselves kill, but this is only temporary, until new populations of predators establish themselves.

What to do about wolves?

If we would like a world where neither livestock nor predators are killed, we are either going to have to take away all the predators or all the livestock. Clearly neither one of these options is viable so we must aim to reduce preying on farm animals to a tolerable level.

Should’ve ordered the lamb. Denali NPS

Despite proof that changes inlivestock husbandryreduces predation, farmers may still not want these creatures living near them as they may feel that the carnivores have “won” or taken over “their” land.

As such, despite scientific evidence showing that predators don’t kill that many cattle anyway, that lethal control usually doesn’t reduce attacks, and that non-lethal methods can almost eliminate attacks, this still may not be enough to sway farmers from their anti-predator mind-sets.

We must therefore start to think outside the box. Much of this conflict between humans and wild predators is not really about protecting livestock, but instead concerns a deeper historic and cultural aversion to wolves, lions and other scary carnivores. This won’t be fixed through simple technical solutions – and we now know it certainly won’t be fixed with a gun.

 

CPW seeks help with Moffat County poaching incidents   Leave a comment

From:  Craig Daily Press

Colorado Parks & Wildlife/For the Daily Press

Colorado Parks and Wildlife is investigating three additional incidents of illegally killed bull elk in high-quality hunting units in Moffat County, adding to three high-quality bulls illegally killed in Game Management Unit 10 in early November, near the town of Dinosaur.

Two bulls were found along Highway 318 late last week, northwest of Maybell. Both were estimated to have been killed before Thanksgiving and were entirely field-dressed. The other was found several miles away on Highway 10N, south of Irish Canyon.

Thought to have been killed at the end of the Fourth Rifle season, only the front shoulders and backstraps were removed from that bull.

With the known total of illegally taken elk in this area now at six this year, CPW officials are asking the public for help, reminding of a unique, CPW reward program available to anyone that can provide information about the person or persons responsible for killing the high-quality bulls.

The incentive program is known as Turn In Poachers, or TIP.

“Through TIP, if a hunter provides information about poaching incidents involving big game they may be eligible to receive a quality bull elk license in the unit where the tip was turned in if it results in a conviction for the take of an illegal six-point bull elk or willful destruction,”
said District Wildlife Manager Mike Swaro, of Craig.

Officials say that instead of a license a person may instead opt for a preference point for any big game species of their choice.

Swaro said that in the latest incident, the elk were taken in Game Management Units 2 and 201, known for producing some of the largest bulls in the state. It may take a hunter up to 20 years to gather enough preference points to hunt in these units, he said.

“Someone knows who did this, and we ask that they do the right thing and come forward,” added Swaro. “Along with the evidence we were able to gather at the scenes and additional information from the public, we should be able to find who did this in due time.”

To be eligible for points or a license through the TIP program, any person providing information must be willing to testify in court, in contrast to Operation Game Thief, a tip hotline that affords anonymity to any person providing information about a wildlife crime.

Colorado Parks and Wildlife officials remind the public that poaching is a serious offense that can lead to felony charges, significant fines, a prison sentence and the permanent loss of hunting and fishing privileges in Colorado and 43 other Interstate Wildlife Violator Compact states.

“If you saw something or heard something, let us know right away,” Swaro said. “Even if it does not seem like a significant detail, it may be the information we need to find the people responsible. Poachers commit crimes that affect everyone and the public’s help is critical to bring them to justice.”

To provide information about these incidents, call Colorado Parks and Wildlife’s Meeker office at 970-878-6090 or DWM Swaro at 970-942-8275. To remain anonymous, call Operation Game Thief at 877-265-6648.

Rewards are available if the information leads to a citation. Please specify which type of reward you are interested in, OGT or TIP.

For more information about Turn In Poachers, go towww.cpw.state.co.us/aboutus/Pages/TurnInPoachers.aspx. For more information about Operation Game Thief, go to www.cpw.state.co.us/aboutus/Pages/OGT.aspx.

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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