Archive for the ‘OR-7’ Tag

More Wolves Bring Hope for Recovery in California   2 comments

November 5, 2016 by: Alicia Graef

Wildlife officials have officially confirmed a new pair of wolves in the northeastern part of the California, which has brought more hope that their presence will be restored in the state.

Wolves once ranged widely throughout California but were persecuted, shot, poisoned and otherwise eradicated from the landscape almost a century ago. That changed in 2011 when a lone wolf wandered down from Oregon and became the first known wolf to venture into the state since 1924.

The return of that wolf, OR-7, helped clear the way for the safe return of others of his kind. His appearance sparked widespread curiosity and support for wolves. Wolves were later protected under the California Endangered Species Act, which makes it illegal to harm, harass or kill them in the state.

Last year, California saw its very first official wolf pack after almost 100 years. But OR-7 has long since returned home to Oregon and has settled down and started his own family.

Now, it looks like OR-7′s son is carrying on his legacy as a far-ranging adventurer.

According to the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW), genetic testing of scat samples released this week have confirmed that the male in the newly discovered pair is one of OR-7′s pups who was born in 2014.

Although it’s not known where the female originated, officials suspect she may have dispersed from another western state.

lassen-wolf

Credit: California Department of Fish and Wildlife

The two now join members of the Shasta pack as residents of the state, who were the first to be confirmed last year in Siskiyou County, but the whereabouts of that pack are currently unknown. While there’s currently no evidence the latest arrivals have had any pups this year, they may yet become the state’s second official pack.

“This is another landmark day for wolf recovery in California,” said Amaroq Weiss, West Coast wolf organizer for the Center for Biological Diversity. “Scientists have long said California has great wolf habitat; wolf OR-7 proved that with his historic travels here between 2011 and 2014, and now his son and his son’s mate are helping create a legacy. The female in California is particularly exciting because she’s bringing genetic diversity that’s essential for achieving long-term recovery for wolves in the Golden State.”

Photo credit: Thinkstock

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Wolf Awareness: Oregon Update   Leave a comment

October 25, 2015

By Neva Knott SOURCE

IMG_6961c2small

Photograph courtesy of ODFW.

Last week was Wolf Awareness Week. In graduate school and here on The Ecotone Exchange I’ve written about wolf science and the legacy of wolves in Oregon and for Wolf Awareness Week 2013 I posted a commentary entitled “A Wolf’s Eye.” In the past few years, I’ve taught the essay “Lone Wolf” by Joe Donnelly, published in Orionmagazine, about Oregon’s famous wolf OR-7, the first to disperse from his pack and travel over the Cascade Mountains since wolves came back to Oregon in the mid-1990s. My community college students not only found Donnelly’s article to be an excellent example of essay-writing, but fascinating.

Today, I read updates on the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife website Wolf Page and looked for current media coverage. Oregon’s wolf population is growing and their status is up for re-evaluation and possibly a big change–and soon. Currently, all wolves in Oregon are protected under the state’s Endangered Species Act; additionally, wolves in western Oregon are federally protected. A meeting to consider delisting them from protection under the state’s ESA is slated for November, this year.

Wolf_or_zones_23Jan2015_ver2

Map courtesy of ODFW.

Oregon wolves are managed under the state’s Wolf Conservation and Management Plan. At the end of 2014, our wolf population numbered 77 wolves. Now that there are eight breeding pairs that have produced pups for at least three consecutive years, Phase II of the WCMP is in place, triggering the move to consider delisting.

Wolf_Use_Map_150224

Map courtesy of ODFW.

On one hand, delisting under Phase II of the WMP signals that wolves are thriving here on the landscapes of their once-home–wolves are a native species to Oregon:

“Wolves are native to Oregon. They were listed as endangered by the federal Endangered Species Act (ESA) in 1974. When the Oregon Legislature enacted the state’s own ESA in 1987, it grandfathered in all species native to Oregon that were then listed under the federal ESA, including wolves. This law requires the Fish and Wildlife Commission (and ODFW) to conserve wolves in Oregon. Also, Oregon’s Wildlife Policy directs the Commission to manage wildlife “… to prevent serious depletion of any indigenous species and to provide the optimum recreational and aesthetic benefits for present and future generations of the citizens of the state.” This includes a species as controversial as the wolf.” –ODFW.

On the other hand, delisting allows for killing of wolves at the hand of ranchers if they are caught in the act of depredation. Now, only ODFW can kill repeat offenders; as explained on the agency’s website, “Four Oregon wolves have been killed by ODFW or authorized agents in response to chronic depredations of livestock, including two in Baker County in September 2009 and two in Wallowa County in May 2011. In both situations, landowners and wildlife managers first tried a variety of non-lethal measures to avoid wolf-livestock conflict.” Currently, private citizens cannot harm or kill wolves.

Even though a reported 70 percent of Oregon citizens, according to the Statesman Journal, want wolves to come home, the conflict that spurred the wolf bounty and eradication remains and runs deep–generations deep.

I don’t live in wolf country–at least not yet, not until more of them trek over the mountains–and I know I’d be frightened and wary should I ever meet a wolf while camping or hiking. But I also believe wolves belong in Oregon. I believe in the ecosystems science that documents the benefits they provide as an apex predator–and if you’re interested in learning what wolves provide, I strongly suggest the filmLords of Nature.

More importantly, I fundamentally believe people cannot kill off everything in the way of human endeavor. We have hit the wall with that brand of progress mentality.

pups-in-log_stephenson_usfws

Photograph courtesy of ODFW.

Last weekend, my partner and I watched the original, animated version of Dr. Suess’s  The Lorax. In it, Dr. Suess so very aptly illustrates what happens when species are sacrificed at the hand of industry. Though ranching in Oregon has not compromised the landscape to the extent that Mr. Onceler’s Thneed business did in The Lorax, the truth remains that Oregon wolves were killed off for one reason only–so that the ranching industry could take hold.

So how big of a problem are Oregon’s wolves to Oregon’s livestock? Not a big problem at all, according to OFDW’s depredation reports–for example, of the handful of reports filed in September, none showed signs of wolf kill, though one animal had been eaten by wolves, along with other predators and scavengers. And The Statesman Journal, in an article entitled “When the Wolves Return to Western Oregon,” quantifies 104 wolf kills of livestock since wolves returned to Oregon [in the mid- to late-1990s].

In contrast to the attitude that wolves are a huge threat for ranchers, Oregon Wildreports that the Eastern Oregon’s cattle ranching industry has shown significant economic growth concurrent with the arrival of wolves to that area of the state:

“Northeast Oregon’s Wallowa County is a case study for that very point. It is ground zero for the argument from wolf detractors that wolves will decimate Oregon’s livestock industry. The county’s livestock industry has been in a steady decades-long decline preceding wolf recovery. However, from 2009 to 2011 – while the wolf population grew from two to fourteen, livestock revenue jumped nearly 50 percent to nearly $27 million in a county with barely 7,000 citizens. Wolves were not the cause of the increase, but it’s clear their effect on the industry is negligible. Though wolves may have some localized impacts on individual livestock operators, those can be significantly reduced with responsible husbandry. Additionally, in Oregon, ranchers are fully compensated by taxpayers for any losses.” –Oregon Wild.

This chart puts into prospect loss of of livestock to wolf attacks:

Cattle_losses_by_rank

Courtesy of WildEarth Guardians.

Clearly, wolves aren’t a problem. Next month, on November 9, the ODFW Commission will meet in Salem to discuss the delisting of wolves in Oregon. Delisting–or taking away wolves’ protection as an Endangered Species–is a public process. This means your voice matters. ODFW cannot make rules or change the listing status of wolves without public input. Please send your comments to odfw.commission@coho2.dfw.state.or.us. Please make sure to include “Comments on Wolf Delisting Proposal” in the subject line of emails. Public testimony will also be heard at the meeting.

One of the most significant take-aways from graduate school for me was reading into  case studies of environmental legislation and coming to understand how important public comments are in the rule-making, or legislative, process. Speaking on the issue of wolf protection is a democratic opportunity; please let your voice be heard.

I’ll leave you with this famous passage from Aldo Leopold:

“My own conviction on this score dates from the day I saw a wolf die. We were eating lunch on a high rimrock, at the foot of which a turbulent river elbowed its way. We saw what we thought was a doe fording the torrent, her breast awash in white water. When she climbed the bank toward us and shook out her tail, we realized our error: it was a wolf. A half-dozen others, evidently grown pups, sprang from the willows and all joined in a welcoming melee of wagging tails and playful maulings. What was literally a pile of wolves writhed and tumbled in the center of an open flat at the foot of our rimrock.

In those days we had never heard of passing up a chance to kill a wolf. In a second we were pumping lead into the pack, but with more excitement than accuracy: how to aim a steep downhill shot is always confusing. When our rifles were empty, the old wolf was down, and a pup was dragging a leg into impassable slide-rocks.

We reached the old wolf in time to watch a fierce green fire dying in her eyes. I realized then, and have known ever since, that there was something new to me in those eyes – something known only to her and to the mountain. I was young then, and full of trigger-itch; I thought that because fewer wolves meant more deer, that no wolves would mean hunters’ paradise. But after seeing the green fire die, I sensed that neither the wolf nor the mountain agreed with such a view.” —“Thinking Like a Mountain” 

———-

New Report IDs 350,000 Square Miles of Additional Habitat for Wolves in Lower 48, Including Grand Canyon Area Where Wolf Recently Spotted   2 comments

From: Center for Biological Diversity

Obama Administration Prematurely Abandoning Recovery, Despite Ample Room for
Wolves in Southern Rockies, West Coast, Northeast

SAN FRANCISCO— A first-of-its-kind analysis by the Center for Biological Diversity identifies 359,000 square miles of additional habitat for gray wolves in 19 of the lower 48 states that could significantly boost the nation’s 40-year wolf recovery efforts. The study indicates the gray wolf population could be doubled to around 10,000 by expanding recovery into areas researchers have identified as excellent habitat in the Northeast, West Coast and southern Rocky Mountains, as well as the Grand Canyon, an area where a radio-collared wolf was photographed in recent weeks.

Gray wolf habitat map
Map by Curt Bradley, Center for Biological Diversity. This map and wolf photos are available for media use.

The report comes as the Obama administration moves to strip Endangered Species Act protection from gray wolves by the end of the year, even though wolves have been recovered in less than 10 percent of their historic habitat and are routinely trekking hundreds of miles to disperse to areas of the American landscape they once called home.

“This wolf’s pioneering journey to Arizona, like the wolf OR-7’s remarkable trek across Oregon to California, highlights the compelling on-the-ground reality made clear in this new report,” said Amaroq Weiss, the Center’s West Coast wolf organizer. “The Obama administration must finally acknowledge that the job of recovering wolves to sustainable populations is far from done.”

Today’s report, Making Room for Wolf Recovery: The Case for Maintaining Endangered Species Act Protections for America’s Wolves, analyzes 27 published research papers identifying suitable wolf habitat. It shows that the current wolf population of 5,400 could be nearly doubled if federal protections were retained and recovery efforts began to restore wolves to some of the places they once called home.

The report documents 56 instances over 30 years where wolves have dispersed from existing core recovery areas to states where they have yet to reestablish, including Colorado, Utah, California, New York, Massachusetts and Maine. These events, which frequently have ended in the dispersing wolves being shot, highlight the need for continued federal protections and recovery planning to increase the odds for dispersing wolves to survive and recolonize former terrain. The most famous dispersing wolf, OR-7, traveled hundreds of miles from northeast Oregon to California and has started a family along the border of the two states.

The report’s findings come as federal wildlife officials are working to verify the genetic identity of the radio-collared wolf photographed near Grand Canyon National Park — a discovery that suggests the wolf is likely a northern Rockies gray wolf who traveled hundreds of miles to historic wolf habitat where wolves were exterminated more than 50 years ago.

“What we’re seeing is that the amazing journeys of OR-7 and the wolf spotted in Arizona are far from oddities — they’re reflections of very natural dispersal patterns in recent years, where wolves have travelled hundreds of miles trying to expand to enough of their historic range to survive ongoing threats,” Weiss said. “But without the protection of the Endangered Species Act, we know that these wolves will too often face the same kind of hostility that nearly drove them extinct a century ago.”

Since endangered species protections were taken away from wolves in 2011 in the northern Rockies and western Great Lakes, the states have enacted aggressive hunting and trapping seasons designed to drastically reduce populations. To date more than 2,800 wolves have been killed, resulting in a 9 percent population decline in the northern Rockies and a 25 percent decline in Minnesota. Idaho passed legislation this year creating a “wolf control board,” with the sole purpose of killing wolves, and appropriated $400,000 for the task. Removal of protection in the rest of the country will ensure that anti-wolf prejudices prevail and wolf recovery is stopped in its tracks.

“State management of wolves has turned an Endangered Species Act success story into a tragedy,” said Weiss. “Rather than sound science, gray wolf management by the states has been dominated by anti-wolf hysteria and special-interest politics. Wolves need federal protection so they can survive, continue to recover, and eventually reprise their historic wilderness role at the top of the food chain.”

The report details the serious problems with state management and the important part wolves play in ecosystems; it can be read and downloaded here.

Background
Large members of the canid family, gray wolves are habitat generalists able to live nearly anywhere other than extreme desert or tropical environments, but which require human tolerance for survival. Living in family packs that typically range from five to 10 animals, wolves are highly social animals, with all pack members involved in rearing of young and in hunting forays for their prey (predominantly large wild ungulates such as elk, deer, moose and caribou). At around the age of two to three years, wolves tend to disperse from their family packs to seek mates and territories of their own.

Gray wolves were once the most widely ranging land mammals on the planet, with an estimated 2 million distributed throughout North America at the time of European colonization. As settlers moved west, they cleared the land for their grain and livestock, wiping out first the wolves’ wild prey and then the wolves themselves. Government-sponsored predator-eradication campaigns conducted on behalf of the livestock industry exterminated wolves everywhere in the lower 48 states, with the exception of a remnant population of fewer than 1,000 wolves in far northeastern Minnesota.

Wolves were first federally protected in 1967, under a precursor to the Endangered Species Act. This allowed Minnesota’s wolf population to expand in number and range into neighboring Wisconsin and parts of Michigan. In the mid-1990s, wolves were reintroduced to Yellowstone National Park and central Idaho; their descendants have slowly dispersed into parts of Washington and Oregon, with one wolf making it to California. In the late 1990s, the most highly endangered subspecies of gray wolf, the Mexican gray wolf, was reintroduced to Arizona.

In 2011 Congress stripped wolves of federal protections in the northern Rockies and adjacent areas, and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service did the same for wolves in the Western Great Lakes region. Under state management, in less than three years, wolf populations in these states have demonstrated substantial declines, with nearly 3,000 wolves killed in state-sanctioned hunting and trapping seasons.

In June 2013 the Obama administration proposed stripping federal protections from wolves across most of the lower 48 states. Despite receipt of more than 1.5 million public comments opposed to delisting wolves and critical comments from scientists and a peer review panel, the administration is expected to issue an official rule removing protection from wolves before the end of the year.

The Center for Biological Diversity is a national, nonprofit conservation organization with more than 800,000 members and online activists dedicated to the protection of endangered species and wild places.

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