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Grizzly bears, black bears, wolves, coyotes, cougars/ mountain lions,bobcats, wolverines, lynx, foxes, fishers and martens are the suite of carnivores that originally inhabited North America after the Pleistocene extinctions. This site invites research, commentary, point/counterpoint on that suite of native animals (predator and prey) that inhabited The Americas circa 1500-at the initial point of European exploration and subsequent colonization. Landscape ecology, journal accounts of explorers and frontiersmen, genetic evaluations of museum animals, peer reviewed 20th and 21st century research on various aspects of our "Wild America" as well as subjective commentary from expert and layman alike. All of the above being revealed and discussed with the underlying goal of one day seeing our Continent rewilded.....Where big enough swaths of open space exist with connective corridors to other large forest, meadow, mountain, valley, prairie, desert and chaparral wildlands.....Thereby enabling all of our historic fauna, including man, to live in a sustainable and healthy environment. - Blogger Rick

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Friday, March 30, 2012

Our friend George Wuerthner speaking out loudly, logically and passionately on why hunting and trapping Carnivores like Wolves is assnine----"INSANITY IS DOING SAME WRONG THING OVER AND OVER"--George Wuerthner...............His view is reiterated by Idaho resident Jack Lauer who calls his home state "backward" and always using Wolves as scapegoats rather than dealing with real habitat and management problems

The Predator Persecution Complex and The Perverse Logic of Wolf Hunts


The hysteria that surrounds wolf management in the Rockies has clouded rational discussion. Wolves are hardly a threat to either hunting opportunity or the livestock industry.


For instance, the Wyoming Fish and Game reports: “The Department continues to manage to reduce Wyoming’s elk numbers. The total population of the herds with estimates increased by 16 percent in 2009 and is now 29 percent above the statewide objective of 83,640 animals.”

Things are similar in Montana. Populations have grown from an estimated 89,000 animals in 1992 prior to wolf recovery to 140,000-150,000 animals in recent years.

In Idaho we find a similar trend. According to the IDFG 23 out of 29 elk units are at and/or above objective. Hunter success in 2011 was 20%: one in five hunters killed an elk.

Wolves are clearly not a threat to the future of hunting in any of these states.

Ranchers are equally irrational. In 2010 Wyoming livestock producers lost 41,000 cattle and calves due to weather, predators, digestive problems, respiratory issues, calving and other problems. But total livestock losses attributed to wolves was 26 cattle and 33 sheep!

Last year Montana livestock producers lost more than 140,000 cattle and sheep to all causes. But total livestock losses attributed to wolves was less than a hundred animals.

In 2010 Idaho cattle producers lost 93,000 animals to all causes. Respiratory problems were the largest cause accounting for 25.6 percent of the cattle lost. Next came digestive problems, accounting for 13.4 percent of the cattle deaths. Total cattle losses attributed to wolves was 75 animals.

To suggest that wolves are a threat to the livestock industry borders on absurdity.


Worse yet, the persecution of predators does not work to reduce even these minimum conflicts as most proponents of wolf control suggest.

The reason indiscriminate killing does not work is because it ignores the social ecology of predators. Wolves, cougars, and other predators are social animals. As such, any attempt to control them that does not consider their “social ecology” is likely to fail. Look at the century old war on coyotes—we kill them by the hundreds of thousands, yet ranchers continue to complain about how these predators are destroying their industry. And the usual response assumes that if we only kill a few more we’ll finally get the coyote population “under control.”

The problem with indiscriminate killing of predators whether coyotes, wolves, cougars or bears is that it creates social chaos. Wolves, in particular, learn how and where to hunt, and what to hunt from their elders. The older pack members help to raise the young. In heavily hunted (or trapped) wolf populations (or other predators), the average age is skewed towards younger age animals . Young wolves are like teenagers—bold, brash, and inexperienced. Wolf populations with a high percentage of young animals are much more likely to attack easy prey—like livestock and/or venture into places that an older, more experience animal might avoid—like the fringes of a town or someone’s backyard.

Furthermore, wolf packs that are continuously fragmented by human-caused mortality are less stable. They are less able to hold on to established territories which means they are often hunting in unfamiliar haunts and thus less able to find natural prey. Result : they are more likely to kill livestock.

Wolf packs that are hunted also tend to have fewer members. With fewer adults to hunt, and fewer adults to guard a recent kill against other scavengers, a small pack must actually kill more prey than a larger pack. Thus hunting wolves actually contributes to a higher net loss of elk and deer than if packs were left alone and more stable.

Finally hunting is just a lousy way to actually deal with individual problematic animals. Most hunting takes place on the large blocks of public land, not on the fringes of towns and/or on private ranches where the majority of conflicts occur. In fact, hunting often removes the very animals that have learned to avoid human conflicts and pose no threat to livestock producers or human safety. By indiscriminately removing such animals which would otherwise maintain the territory, hunting creates a void that, often as not, may be filled by a pack of younger, inexperienced animals that could and do cause conflicts.


We need a different paradigm for predator management than brute force. As Albert Einstein noted, the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. Unfortunately insanity has replaced rational thought when it comes to wolf management.

George Wuerthner is an ecologist with among others, a degree in wildlife biology, and is a former Montana hunting guide. He has published 35 books.

Strategy on wolves makes no sense

Statements made by federal officials in an Associated Press story ("Federal Agents shoot 14 wolves") in the Feb. 29 edition are totally confusing, to say the very least.

The story reads that the state spent $22,500 of tax money to kill 14 wolves from helicopters in north-central Idaho. The article then states that "biologists said the biggest problem for Lolo elk herds was a long-term change in habitat." It also states that "state officials also blame growing numbers of bears and mountain lions." Hunters and wildlife officials have also recently killed 42 additional wolves in the same area.

As is usual in this backward state, they are treating the problem with their known hatred of wolves rather than trying to rectify the real problem. They ignore their own facts and keep on killing wolves.

Two non-debatable and indisputable facts exist that are simply ignored in their zest to kill wolves. For thousands of years, predators such as bears, wolves, mountain lions, coyotes, etc. have lived side by side with wildlife until the white man arrived in the area with his (joking) infinite knowledge. Nature kept an even balance. Millions, yes millions, of head of buffalo, elk, deer, antelope, etc. lived most everywhere in the West, along with black bears, grizzly bears, wolves, coyotes, eagles and mountain lions.

I personally don't consider killing a defenseless and helpless animal of any kind, with a trap or high-powered rifle and scope at hundreds of yards, as sportsmanlike in any sense of the word. I would much rather have photographs, taken myself with a camera, hanging in my house than a decaying rack of something dead. The photo is of something alive and magnificent. But again, that is just me, and I am a born-and-raised Idaho native and resident.

Jack Lauer
Hailey, Idaho

Shooting, Trapping and Poisoning Wolves, Pumas, Bears, Coyotes, Bobcats, Lynx, Mink----Tell me why in 2012 that this makes any sense whatsoever...............Ecologist and Hunter George Wuerthner's knocks all kinds of holes in those who seek to justify Carnivore killing of any kind......Note that we previously posted George's treatise back in the Summer of 2011---Worthwhile to reread this together in the light of how bad things have gotten in the Rockies for Wolves

Wolf Torture and Execution Continues in the Northern Rockies
by James William Gibson

Montana Anti-Trapping Group Gets Death Threat for Releasing PhotosOn March 16, a Friday, a US Forest Service employee from Grangeville, Idaho, laid out his wolf traps. The following Monday, using the name “Pinching,” he posted his story and pictures on . “I got a call on Sunday morning from a FS [Forest Service] cop that I know. You got one up here as there was a crowd forming. Several guys had stopped and taken a shot at him already,” wrote Pinching. The big, black male wolf stood in the trap, some 300-350 yards from the road, wounded—the shots left him surrounded by blood-stained snow. Pinching concluded his first post, “Male that went right at 100 pounds. No rub spots on the hide, and he will make me a good wall hanger.”

All photographs were taken from website are being reproduced here under Fair Use

The Trapperman website went wild with comments. “That’s a dandy!! Keep at it,” wrote Watarrat. Otterman asked, “All the gray on that muzzle make a guy wonder how old he is or if it is just part of his black coloring.” Pinching’s picture of the wolf’s paw caught in the trap got special attention. “Is that the MB750 stamped ‘wolf’ on the pan?” asked one man. “Looks to be a perfect pad catch. Congratulations! Pinching confirmed the trap model and commented, “Oh an [sic] by the way, a wolf is a heck of a lot of work to put on a stretcher! Man those things hold on to their hide like no other!”

By late March some 117 Idaho wolves had been killed in traps and snares, and another 251 shot. Montana saw 166 killed, for a total of 534 wolves out of an estimated 1150 in the two states. Although Montana’s season ended in February, Idaho is not quite done. Both states have announced plans for increased hunting in the 2012-2013, and discussions are underway among hunting groups and state officials to allow private donations to establish wolf bounties.

As recently as the spring of 2011, gray wolves in the Northern Rockies received protection from he Endangered Species Act. But in April, 2011 Congress passed a rider on a federal appropriations bill removing them. Montana Democratic Senator Jon Tester, facing a 2012 challenge from Republican Congressman Danny Rehberg, wanted to show Democrats hated wolves just as much as Republicans. Conservation groups filed suit in Montana’s federal district court, claiming the delisting represented an unconstitutional infringement by Congress on the judicial branch while it deliberated an ongoing lawsuit over federal wolf protection.

Losing in district court, the Alliance for the Wild Rockies, Friends of the Clearwater, WildEarth Guardians, the Center for Biological Diversity, and Cascadia Wildlands appealed the decision to the Ninth Circuit. On March 14, the appeals court rejected their arguments, upholding the Congressional wolf delisting as a lawful amendment. This decision might well mark the endpoint for the conservation movement’s decades-long fundamental strategy of litigating in federal courts to promote wolf recovery in the Northern Rocky Mountains.

Thus wolves, demonized by the far-right in the Rockies as disease-ridden monsters and icons of the federal government (see my Summer 2011 Journal story, “Cry Wolf”), now face a brutal campaign to radically reduce their numbers so far that extermination can not be ruled out. Idaho’s Governor Butch Otter declared in a March 25 news conference that his state faced a “disaster emergency” from wolves. “We don’t want them here.”

Skirmishing on the web escalates. Footloose Montana, an anti-trapping group, posted the trapped wolf’s pictures on its website, drawing over a 1,000 comments within days. Word spread. Nabeki, founder of Howling for Justice, opined that “This wolf will be the face of the cruelty and ugliness that is the Idaho hunt…Our forests are hiding acts of unspeakable horrors that are being perpetuated on innocent animals.” Protesters called Idaho and Montana tourist bureaus, demanding the hunts end. By Monday, March 26, Trapperman learned that its photos now circulated offsite. The group’s administrator demanded that Footloose Montana remove the photographs.

Footloose staff and board members also received an anonymous death threat in their email: “I would like to donate [sic] a gun to your childs [sic] head to make sure you can watch it die slowly so I can have my picture taken with it’s [sic] bleeding dying screaming for mercy body. YOU WILL BE THE TARGET NEXT BITCHES!” FBI agents and Missoula, Montana police received copies of the threat.

Wolf advocates hope that these pictures will go viral, shaming a nation into facing the torture people inflict on animals and the moral and political failures that promote and legitimize it.
Wolf Hunts Morally Corrupt
By George Wuerthner; new west online

The resumption of wolf-hunts in Idaho, Montana and Wyoming illustrates why citizens must continue to oppose such unnecessary and senseless slaughters.

The wolf-hunts are predicated upon morally corrupt and inaccurate assumptions about wolf behavior and impacts that is not supported by recent scientific research. State wildlife agencies pander to the lowest common denominator in the hunting community—men who need to booster their own self esteem and release misdirected anger by killing.

Wolf-hunts, as Montana Fish and Game Commission Chairman Bob Ream noted at a public hearing, are in part to relieve hunters’ frustrations—frustration based on inaccurate information, flawed assumptions, and just plain old myths and fears about predators and their role in the world.

Maybe relieving hunter frustration is a good enough justification for wolf-hunts to many people. However, in my view permitting hunts to go forwards without even registering opposition is to acquiesce to ignorance, hatred, and the worse in human motivations. Thankfully a few environmental groups, most notably the Center for Biological Diversity, Wildearth Guardians, Alliance for Wild Rockies and Western Watersheds had the courage and gumption to stand up to ignorance and hatred.

All of the usual justifications given for wolf-hunts are spurious at best. For instance, one rationale given for hunting wolves is to reduce their presumed affects on big game populations. Yet in all three states, elk and deer populations are at or exceed population objectives for most hunting units.

wolves and elk have been partners in natures plan for millenia

For instance in Wyoming, one of the most vehement anti wolf states in the West, the 2010 elk population was 21,200 animals over state-wide objectives, and this did not include data for six herds, suggesting that elk populations are likely higher. Of the state’s elk herds most were at or above objectives and only 6 percent were below objectives. Similar data is found for Idaho and Montana elk herds as well.
However, you would not know that from the “howls” of hunters who characterize the elk populations as suffering from a wolf induced Armageddon. And Fish and Game departments are loath to counter the false accusations from hunters that wolves are somehow “destroying” hunting throughout the Rockies.

Only the mountain knows the adverse impact of being wolfless

Experience in other parts of the country where wolves have been part of the landscape longer suggests that in the long term, wolves while they may reduce prey populations in certain locales generally do not reduce hunting opportunities across a state or region. Despite the fact that there more than double the number of wolves in Minnesota (3000+) as in the entire Rocky Mountain region, Minnesota hunters experienced the highest deer kills ever in recent years, with Minnesota deer hunters killing over 250,000white-tailed deer during each of those hunting seasons – an approximate five-fold increase in hunter deer take since wolves were listed under the ESA in 1978.

Another claim made by wolf-hunt proponents is that hunting will reduce “conflicts” with livestock owners. Again this assertion is taken as a matter of faith without really looking into the veracity of it. Given the hysteria generated by the livestock industry one might think that the entire western livestock operations were in jeopardy from wolf predation. However, the number of livestock killed annually by wolves is pitifully small, especially by comparison to losses from other more mundane sources like poison plants, lightning and even domestic dogs.
For instance, the FWS reported that 75 cattle and 148 sheep were killed in Idaho during 2010. In Montana the same year 84cattle and 64 sheep were verified as killed by wolves. While any loss may represent a significant financial blow to individual ranchers, the livestock industry as a whole is hardly threatened by wolf predation. And it hardly warrants the exaggerated psychotic response by Congress, state legislators and state wildlife agencies.

In light of the fact that most losses are avoidable by implementation of simple measures of that reduce predator opportunity, persecution of predators like wolves is even more morally suspect. Rapid removal of dead carcasses from rangelands, corralling animals at night, electric fencing, and the use of herders, among other measures, are proven to significantly reduce predator losses—up to 90% in some studies. This suggests that ranchers have the capacity (if not the willingness) to basically make wolf losses a non-issue.

However, since ranchers have traditionally been successful in externalizing many of their costs on to the land and taxpayers, including what should be their responsibility to reduce predator conflicts, I do not expect to see these kinds of measures enacted by the livestock industry any time soon, if ever. Ranchers are so used to being coddled; they have no motivation or incentives to change their practices in order to reduce predator losses. Why should they change animal husbandry practices when they can get the big bad government that they like to despise and disparage to come in and kill predators for them for free and even get environmental groups like Defenders of Wildlife to support paying for predator losses that are entirely avoidable?

But beyond those figures, wolf-hunting ignores a growing body of research that suggests that indiscriminate killing—which hunting is—actually exacerbates livestock/predator conflicts. The mantra of pro wolf-hunting community is that wolves should be “managed” like “other” wildlife. This ignores the findings that suggest that predators are not like other wildlife. They are behaviorally different from say elk and deer. Random killing of predators including bears, mountain lions and wolves creates social chaos that destabilizes predator social structure.

 Hunting of wolves can skew wolf populations towards younger animals. Younger animals are less skillful hunters. As a consequence, they will be more inclined to kill livestock. Destabilized and small wolf packs also have more difficulty in holding territories and even defending their kills from scavengers and other predators which in end means they are more likely to kill new prey animal.

As a result of these behavioral consequences, persecution of predators through hunting has a self fulfilling feedback mechanism whereby hunters kill more predators, which in turn leads to greater social chaos, and more livestock kills, and results in more demands for hunting as the presumed solution.

Today predator management by so called “professional” wildlife agencies is much more like the old time medical profession where sick people were bled. If they didn’t get better immediately, more blood was let. Finally if the patience died, it was because not enough blood was released from the body. The same illogical reasoning dominates predator management across the country. If killing predators doesn’t cause livestock losses to go down and/or game herds to rise, it must be because we haven’t killed enough predators yet.

Furthermore, most hunting occurs on larger blocks of public lands and most wolves as well as other predators killed by hunters have no relationship to the animals that may be killing livestock on private ranches or taking someone’s pet poodle from the back yard. A number of studies of various predators from cougars to bears show no relationship between hunter kills and a significant reduction in the actual animals considered to be problematic.

Again I hasten to add that most “problematic predators” are created a result of problem behavior by humans—for instance leaving animal carcasses out on the range or failure to keep garbage from bears, etc. and humans are supposed to be the more intelligent species—though if one were to observe predator management across the country it would be easy to doubt such presumptions.

Finally, wolf-hunting ignores yet another recent and growing body of scientific evidence that suggests that top predators have many top down ecological influences upon the landscape and other wildlife. The presence of wolves, for instance, can reduce deer and elk numbers in some places for some time period. But rather than viewing this as a negative as most hunters presume, reduction of prey species like elk can have many positive ecological influences. A reduction of elk herbivory on riparian vegetation can produce more song bird habitat. Wolves can reduce coyote predation on snowshoe hare thus competition for food by lynx, perhaps increasing survival for this endangered species.

 Wolves have been shown to increase the presence of voles and mice near their dens—a boon for some birds of prey like hawks. These and many other positive effects on the environment are ignored by wolf-hunt proponents and unfortunately by state wildlife management agencies as well who continue to advocate and/or at least not effectively counter old fallacies about predators.
Most state agencies operate under the assumption that production of elk and deer for hunters to shoot should have priority in wildlife management decisions. All state wildlife agencies are by law supposed to manage wildlife as a public trust for all citizens. Yet few challenge the common assumption that elk and deer exist merely for the pleasure of hunters to shoot.

I have no doubt that for many pro wolf-hunt supporters’ predators represent all that is wrong with the world. Declining job prospects, declining economic vitality of their rural communities, changes in social structures and challenges to long-held beliefs are exemplified by the wolf. Killing wolves is symbolic of destroying all those other things that are in bad in the world for which they have no control. They vent this misdirected anger on wolves-- that gives them the illusion that they can control something.

Nevertheless, making wolves and other predators scapegoats for the personal failures of individuals or the collective failures of society is not fair to wolves or individuals either. The entire premises upon which western wolf-hunts are based either are the result of inaccurate assumptions about wolf impacts or morally corrupt justifications like relieving hunter anger and frustrations over how their worlds are falling apart.

I applaud the few environmental groups that had the courage to stand up for wolves, and to challenge the old guard that currently controls our collective wildlife heritage. More of us need to stand up against persecution of wildlife to appease the frustrations of disenfranchised rural residents. It is time to have wildlife management based on science, and ecological integrity, not based upon relieving hunter frustrations over the disintegration state of their world.

George Wuerthner is an ecologist and former hunting guide with a degree in wildlife biology

Are Wolves, Pumas and Black Bears "spreading their wings into Southern Michigan?........The Michigan Wildlife Conservancy feels that they do in fact have a toehold south of the Lower Peninsula although the Michigan Dept of Ntl. Resources disputes that conclusion as it relates to Wolves and Pumas but does acknowledge that about 10% of the State's 15-19,000 Black Bears live South of the Lower Peninsula.........If we provide habitat, they will reoccupy former haunts!

Wildlife experts debate presence of cougars and wolves in lower Michigan
By Cole Waterman;

Puma in Oscoda County in 1993.

BAY CITY, MI — Black bears and feral hogs aren't the only predatory species increasing in numbers throughout southern and central Michigan.

Cougars and wolves are likewise experiencing population surges, says said Dennis Fijalkowski, executive director for Bath-based Michigan Wildlife Conservancy, though the Michigan Department of Natural Resources disputes such a conclusion.

With wolves, people don’t necessarily need to fret, but they should be conscious and respectful of their presence. "They've been in the northern Lower Peninsula for about 25 years,” Fijalkowski said. “They crossed the ice from the Upper Peninsula ... a trapper shot one in a coyote trap back in ’04. They’re as far south as Roscommon County, and there have been a few reports, unconfirmed, all the way to the Indiana line.”

Gray Wolf

Despite their reputation for fearsomeness, wolves aren’t much of a threat to people, with Fijalkowski saying there have only been two documented cases of wolves attacking humans in North American history. Wolves are prone, however, to attack pets, Fijalkowski said.

The DNR doesn't subscribe to Fijalkowski's belief about the wolves' range. "There’s no wolves in the whole Lower Peninsula that we know of," said Brian Roell, a DNR wildlife biologist. "I'm not saying they're not there, just that we haven’t detected them. If they are there, they're at a low level, but detection is very difficult. We could get that proof tomorrow."

Reports of suspected wolves in the northern Lower Peninsula were proven by DNA testing to actually be coyotes, Roell said. Coyotes are prevalent throughout Michigan.

As with wolves, the presence of cougars in the Lower Peninsula is a subject for much debate among experts.  “We have not confirmed any (cougars) in the Lower Peninsula,” said Adam Bump, bear and furbear specialist with the Department of Natural Resources. “We’ve confirmed quite a few in the Upper Peninsula since 2008. We look at a lot of potential sightings and pictures taken in the Lower Peninsula, but we have not been able to verify them.”


Fijalkowski contests the DNR’s findings regarding cougar presence, or the lack thereof. “They’ve been around since the ‘50s,” he said. “They followed the deer down from the UP. We’ve had many reports from Bay County and in and around the Thumb. They will benefit from the increasing wildness of southern Michigan.”

Fijalkowski attributes the cougar and wolf proliferation to them following prey. “Any place you have a big deer population, you’re going to have cougars, and you’re going to have wolves in the future,” he said.

Black Bear

Other species experiencing a renaissance in Michigan include otters, porcupines and pileated woodpeckers, Fijalkowski said. One reason, wildlife experts say, is that the Lower Peninsula is experiencing a resurgence of woodlands after turn-of-the-19th-century logging led to significant deforestation.

More black bears sighted in Michigan's populated areas

By The Associated Press

Department of Natural Resources Conservation Officer Jeff Goss, left, and Battle Creek police officer Kurt Dittmer carry a black bear after it was shot near Fremont Elementary School in Battle Creek Mich., in May 2008. Black bear populations are either increasing or moving in some Midwestern states, raising the chances of confrontations with humans in unexpected places. Michigan has an estimated 15,000 to 19,000 black bears.

LANSING, Mich. (AP) -- In southern Michigan, police officers responding to a mid-May domestic violence call were startled to find a black bear wandering the streets of a residential neighborhood dozens of miles from the species' typical roaming grounds. Five bear sightings have been confirmed in Iowa this year, the first since 2005. And in Wisconsin, wildlife officials reported this summer the state may have twice as many black bears as previously believed.

Black bear populations are either increasing or moving in some Midwestern states, raising the chances of confrontations with humans in unexpected places -- like Terry Cook's front yard in rural Jackson County. Cook, 66, went to bed one night last week and soon heard a telltale rattling sound outside. When he looked out the window, he expected to see squirrels or raccoons breaking into his birdfeeders, an ongoing issue for the Henrietta Township man. "It took me a while to comprehend what I was seeing," Cook said of the scene outside his house, roughly 60 miles west of Detroit. "There was a big bear, chewing on the feeder and busting up the plastic. I was just in shock, really."

While the bear didn't hurt anyone, it's those kinds of sightings that have state wildlife officials eager to update their bear management plan. They'll try to get a better fix on the bear population, and what to do about it, with a series of community meetings this month. The state Department of Natural Resources will help gather information over the next nine months with the goal of having a draft management plan by winter 2009.

About 90 percent of Michigan's estimated 15,000 to 19,000 black bears are thought to live in the state's Upper Peninsula, at least 250 miles north of Cook's home in the southern Lower Peninsula.

A wild black bear whose head got stuck inside a 2½-gallon clear plastic jug, presumably while foraging for food, is seen in a July 22, 2008 photo. Minnesota wildlife officials tried for six days to capture the bear but ended up killing the animal after it wandered into the city of Frazee, about 200 miles northwest of the Twin Cities, during the town's busy Turkey Days celebration.

The state's black bear population has edged southward over the past decade or so, likely squeezed out of their homes by suburban sprawl or to avoid territory where a larger bear already rules. Most often, a bear sighted in a new location -- especially in the spring -- turns out to be a young male on the prowl for food or an undisturbed home. "It's a normal behavior," said Adam Bump, the DNR's bear specialist. "They're looking for unoccupied territory."

Rarely has that location been in Battle Creek -- about 40 miles from the Indiana border. So police were shocked to find a bear standing in the middle of a northside neighborhood street about 2 a.m. one morning this spring. The bear scrambled between houses and climbed backyard fences while officers shot at him. The bear was hit by a patrol car and scrambled up a pine tree by an elementary school, where police shot and killed him.

Other sightings over the past few years abound. A young bear was struck and killed by a car in Ada, less than 10 miles east of Grand Rapids, in 2007. A 135-pound bear was killed in 2006 after being struck by at least three vehicles on I-75 in urban Flint Township. In the Lansing area in 2005, a bear was seen in a Wal-Mart parking lot north of the state's capital city, another in a residential neighborhood just west of town.
Two black bears have been shot in Iowa this year, among the state's five confirmed sightings. Wildlife officials speculate the bears may have wandered in from neighboring Minnesota or Missouri, although they haven't ruled out the possibility some of the bears may have been released into the wild by former owners or escaped from their holding pens.

Wisconsin officials now estimate their black bear population is about 26,000, twice as many as previously thought, based on preliminary results of a study coordinated by the University of Wisconsin.
That's no surprise to residents of northern Wisconsin's Rusk County, which reported 11 bear-vehicle accidents this year through July. That's up from eight for all of 2007. There also are more bear complaints in and around Ladysmith, the county's biggest city with a population of about 3,600.
"They're hitting garbage cans and bird feeders, looking for something to eat," Rusk County Sheriff David Kaminski said. "People need to be aware they're out there."

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Research in Southern California has proven without a doubt that Bobcats to not favor habitat close-in to suburban and urban human domiciles............However, up the road from my home, this "Bob" made himself(herself) right at home outside a neighbors window............The biggest threat to Bobcats in human dominated landscapes is mange contractred through the feeding on chemically poisoned mice and rats.............DO NOT USE CHEMICAL RODENTCIDES TO CONTROL MICE AND RATS........USE MECHANICAL TRAPS INSTEAD!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


Bobcat visits Agoura Hills home

2012-03-29 / Pets

LOCAL WILDLIFE—Nidia Beltramo, who lives on Oak Summit Road in the Liberty Canyon neighborhood of Agoura Hills, sent in this shot of a bobcat she sighted through her kitchen window as she was preparing breakfast recently. Beltramo said she had spotted bobcats near her home before, but this is the first time one stayed long enough to pose for a clear photo. Perhaps he was smelling the bacon sizzling inside.


Domestic cats in and around urban areas can make up 13 to 45 % of Coyote diets.............With Cats responsible for the deaths of millions of birds annually, the American Bird Conservancy wants all pet owners to not let their cats roam freely outdoors......They are also stongly opposed to THE TRAP, NEUTER AND RELEASE program that many cities employ as a means of trying to reduce feral cats from reproducing..............While the cats are unable to reproduce, they nonetheless are put back into the environment which allows them to feed on more birds,,,,,,,,as well as luring in coyotes into heavily dominated human environments which puts the coyotes as well as people into conflict-oriented situations

Studies Show Outdoor Cats Are Popular Prey For Coyotes

Coyote with a captured and killed cat

Around large cities such as New York, Chicago, Boston, Washington, D.C., Detroit, Los Angeles, and others, owners of cats should think twice before letting their pet roam free outdoors. Studies show that outdoor cats make up 13-45 percent of coyote diets in those environments.

A study just published in the spring edition of The Wildlife Professional, focuses on the urban coyote reality and references sightings of the carnivore in Central Park and Manhattan. While coyote attacks on humans are rare, the study says that when human attacks have occurred, “…there is a correlation between high percentages of anthropogenic food sources – such as dog food, trash, and domestic cats.” It states further that reducing such incidents might require removing all exterior food sources, including cats.

Cat attacking a bird

According to one widely-cited scientific study on cat mortality from coyotes, Observations of Coyote-Cat Interactions by Shannon Grubbs of the University of Arizona and Paul Krausman of the University of Montana, coyotes regularly feed on cats. This study was published in the Journal of Wildlife Management, and chronicles researchers tracking coyotes in Tucson, Arizona, where 36 coyote-cat interactions were observed of which 19 resulted in coyotes killing cats.

Other studies have found that approximately 13% of a coyote’s diet consists of cats. However, in the Grubbs-Krausman study, of the 45 instances where coyotes were observed feeding, 42% of the meals were cats. The researchers concluded that any cat outside is vulnerable to coyote attack, and recommended that cat owners keep their cats indoors.

This finding raises questions about Trap, Neuter, Release programs, where feral cats are caught, neutered, and then released back into the wild. ABC has consistently raised concerns about TNR programs because these cats kill hundreds of millions of birds each year, and also because TNR programs do not provide a humane solution for the cats themselves.

“Well-meaning but misguided cat lovers are creating unsafe conditions for domestic cats by releasing them back into areas where they may become prey for coyotes and other predators,” said Darin Schroeder, ABC’s Vice President of Conservation Advocacy. “Owners who let their pet cat out into their neighbourhoods may be unknowingly ringing the dinner bell to unseen coyotes. We urge states, cities, and communities to reject this inhumane approach to the feral cat problem and instead, require responsible care of pets and the removal of feral cats from the wild."

Despite this risk of predation, TNR has been adopted in areas with large coyote populations. Arizona’s Maricopa County, which is the fourth largest county in the country with nearly four million people, has adopted TNR. “County officials are wrong when they say TNR is an effective and humane solution,” said Mr. Schroeder. “The truth is that studies repeatedly shows that in almost all cases, TNR fails to eliminate cat colonies because not all the cats can be caught, and because people see these colonies as places they can dump their unwanted and usually un-neutered cat., The reality is that TNR perpetuates many of the problems caused by feral cats, including risks to human and health, public nuisance, and the predation of birds and other wildlife. Feral and free-roaming cats kill hundreds of millions of our nation’s birds each year, putting additional pressure on the populations of many species that are in decline.”

American Bird Conservancy has produced a short film “Trap, Neuter, and Release: Bad for Cats, Disaster for Birds,” which reveals how Trap, Neuter, and Release is failing to substantially reduce cat numbers despite advocates’ claims, and is contributing to the deaths of an estimated 500 million birds each year. In addition, cats have been responsible for the extinction of an estimated 33 species of birds.

The Oregon Dept of Fish & Wildlife has an updated Black Bear Mgmt Plan,,,,,,the first update on Bruin mgmt in the state since 1998..............The Dept feels that Bear population has held steady somewhere between 25-35,000 with compatible habitat of somewhere in the neighborhood of 27-44,000 square miles.....Some 1800 bears were killed last year via hunting and damage control agents, only 7 % of the population if you use 25,000 as a minimum population figure..............However, conservation groups like BIG WILDLIFE challenge Oregon's bear census feeling that their population modeling techniques are aberrant if not downright faulty

ODFW unveils Black Bear Management Plan

| Medford Mail Tribune

Oregon wildlife managers want to maintain a stable black bear population and reduce human-bear conflicts, according to a new draft plan meant to guide management of one of the state's top predators.
The long-awaited draft Black Bear Management Plan also lists as top priorities an improved computer-modeling of the state's estimated 25,000 to 35,000 bruins and improved understanding of bear ecology through research projects.

Unveiled Tuesday, the 60-page draft is the first update since 1998 of the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife's guiding document for bear management. The update came after an Applegate Valley group announced plans to sue ODFW for breaking its self-imposed rule about updating such plans every five years.

Like elsewhere in North America, Oregon's bear population is thought to be stable or increasing, so the draft details no drastic management changes, ODFW Wildlife Division spokeswoman Michelle Dennehy said. "But we want the updated plan to reflect the latest research and population modeling techniques and our desire to see any negative outcomes with bears minimized," Dennehy said.

Spencer Lennard of the group Big Wildlife, which threatened to sue ODFW last year for failing to update the bear plan, said he and others believe the black bear population is trending down, not up, largely due to what he considers overkill by sport hunters and those killing bears that cause damage. Lennard said Tuesday he had not seen the draft, but the group's bear experts will pore over the draft before commenting.

"We are extremely distrustful of (ODFW), and we think this agency is running bears into the ground," Lennard said.\ Agency biologists will take public comments on the draft up until the Oregon Fish and Wildlife Commission votes on whether to approve it during its June 7-8 meeting in Salem. Comments sent in before April 13, however, will be reviewed and summarized for the commission at its April 20 meeting, where the commissioners will be briefed on it. A revised draft will be released in May, Dennehy said.

The plan's main objectives are managing Oregon bears in concert with other species while reducing human-bear conflicts that result in bears getting killed. Last year, 22 bears were killed over "real or perceived" threats to humans or pets, down from 30 in 2010 and 25 in 2009, according to the draft.
The agency has taken its lumps from the public over perceived inaccuracies in its big-game population computer models, and the bear plan draft specifically calls for updating and improving its modeling techniques — even if it means contracting with an academic institution to do so, the draft states.

The plan also details general guidelines for how agency biologists handle black bear complaints and interactions between bears and people.t also has an appendix, written last year by ODFW wildlife veterinarian Colin Gillin, detailing a suite of options for how orphaned bear cubs should be handled. It stresses returning them to the wild as an initial option — especially older cubs, which research shows can survive well in the wild on their own. For young orphaned cubs, agency officials would first seek out zoos or other facilities that meet Association of Zoos and Aquariums standards before they are euthanized, the draft states. "It's doing what's best for the animal, based on its condition," Dennehy said.

The plan concludes that Oregon has more than 26,800 square miles of good bear habitat and another 44,236 square miles of fair bruin habitat.

In 2011, agency biologists logged 384 complaints involving bear damage or public-safety concerns, down from 920 complaints in 2010.

Last year, 1,772 bears were killed statewide, with 1,346 of them killed by sport hunters and another 352 bears killed as a result of damage incidents, the draft states. Along with the 22 bears killed over safety complaints, another 52 died as a result of miscellaneous categories such as roadkill, accidental death or poaching, according to the draft.

Black-bear densities are highest in the Coast Range, the Cascade Range and Blue Mountains. The arid area of Southeast Oregon has the fewest bears.

The draft points out some often-overlooked aspects of black bears, such as their color, which can vary from light brown or cinnamon to black.

Most human-bear problems occur when bears are being fed by people, which led the Oregon Legislature to pass a bill last year that bans most instances of placing food, garbage or other attractants for black bears and some other wildlife species.

Oregon has never had a fatal black-bear attack on a human, and only four known human-bear interactions resulted in a person being injured, according to the draft. Those cases involved hunters, dogs agitating bears or bears becoming attracted to homes with accessible food or birdseed, the draft states.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Dan Strickland worked as a Naturalist in the Algonquin Provincial Park in Canada from 1965-2000..............A major concentration of his during this period(and currently) was the question of why the white-tail deer had originally been unable to live as far north as Algonquin with the supposition being that their colonization of the region had only took place because of human altering and clearing the landscape........ And that the subsequent decline of the deer herd in the 1960's was due to the return of the forests to a more mature, pre-settlement condition that had seemingly kept deer absent from the area.............In his 2009 paper that you can access below, you will read about Dan's SUITABLE ALTERNATE PREY HYPOTHESIS which states that Moose had historically dominated the landscape from Canada on down through Northern New England.....By subsisting on Moose, Wolves(perhaps Bears and Pumas as well) took the smaller and more vulnerable deer to very low levels of population.......As settlement disrupted Moose habitat and caused Wolves, Bears and Pumas to retreat farther north, deer took advantage of the vacancy and also moved farther north...........With Wolves present today in the Great Lakes and Algonquin regions and feeding on Moose,, the easier-to-kill deer are again kept at low densities............So called PREDATOR MEDIATED COMPETITION is not a rare event in nature.............Where we have altered the linchen landscape that Caribou thrive on, Wolves who are subsisting on Elk find the easier-to-kill Caribou and subsequently bring their population down to low ebb..............Dan's paper adroitly addresses ecosytem structure looking at it both from a "bottom up" as well as a "top down" perspective................He goes so far as to suggest that in some cases, control of wolves is necessary if the goal is to have larger deer herds..............And of course, we on this blog are constantly questioning if inflated deer numbers(for hunter satisfaction) should be the goal of wildlife agencies...........I encourage you reading the article attached!


                                              White-tail Deer

Gray Wolf in Minnesota

Eastern Wolf in Algonquin Park

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Wolf Biologist Doug Smith at Yellowstone National Park continues to reiterate that the Elk Herd that once numbered between 16-20,000 prior to the return of the Wolf, Griz and Puma is returning to historical "land healthy" levels of about 4000.........Smith said "it was inaccurate to heap too much blame for the elk herd's decline on wolves"....."the elk are looking really good," ...... "This was one of the hardest winters we've had in decades" …" We've got a leaner, meaner elk herd."

Wolves not the sole cause of Yellowstone Elk decrease

-with Elk down in number, the Aspens and Willows return to Yellowstone,,and with them beavers and song birds

A major elk herd that migrates between Yellowstone National Park and Montana suffered another steep decline last year due to a hard winter, predator attacks and hunting, state and federal scientists said Tuesday.
An Associated Press report says new data from wildlife agencies show the Northern Yellowstone elk herd is down to about 4,174 animals, a 10 percent drop from the prior year's count. That follows a 24 percent drop in 2011.

Wolves and Elk have "danced" together for millenia--as it should be!

Yellowstone biologist Doug Smith said the herd remains healthy despite its smaller size. The number is more in line with historic levels since wolves were reintroduced and grizzly bears and mountain lions returned naturally, he said.

The herd peaked at about 20,000 animals in 1992, a few years before wolves were brought back from Canada after being absent from the region for decades. Since then, the herd has declined about 80 percent.
Read on for details from the AP.

Some outfitters and others who live outside the park say officials have not done enough to curb predator attacks, particularly by wolves. The Yellowstone herd supported a thriving hunting industry, with several thousand elk killed in some years, before the numbers started to drop.

The Park Service has no set population target for the herd, but the latest counts have fallen below the target range of Montana Fish Wildlife and Parks.The state wants between 3,000 and 5,000 elk in portions of Montana just north of the park. The latest count found 2,734 elk in that area.

Smith said it was inaccurate to heap too much blame for the elk herd's decline on wolves.
Wolf numbers, too, have been dropping in recent years, from 94 in 2007 to 38 last year in the area populated by the Northern Yellowstone herd.

"That's some bad news, a 25 percent decline last year and 10 percent this year. But the elk are looking really good," Smith said. "This was one of the hardest winters we've had in decades … We've got a leaner, meaner elk herd."

Conservationists credit wolves with helping restore balance to the ecosystem, in part by reducing the size of a herd that some had said was far too large at its peak.

To keep the herd from declining too far, Montana wildlife commissioners in February approved a new permit system for Northern Yellowstone elk. Although there are unlimited numbers of the $9 permits, the requirement is expected to reduce the number of hunters who come to the area, said Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks spokesman Ron Aasheim.

Severe Winters weaken Elk

Agency biologist Karen Loveless said despite the decline seen in this year's count there are signs the Northern Yellowstone herd could rebound. Loveless says the number of calves per cow elk appears to be on the increase, an indication that more of the animals survived than in past winters. "I feel some encouragement in the long-term," Loveless said. "We sure would like to see it at least level off and I would like to see it coming back up. There is a possibility that could happen."

The White-tailed Jackrabbit seems to be a keystone creature in the Greater Yellowstone and Green River Basin ecosystems........U. of Montana Researcher Stephan Ekernas is focusing his PhD thesis on why the Rabbits are still common in the Green River Valley but now extirpated from Grand Teton National Park.........His hypothesis is that after the Wolves were killed off from the region in the 1920's, Coyotes increased in density,,,,,cold winters,,,,,,,,possible disease,,,,,,,,,,,,no nearby "feeder" rabbit populations to augment the fading Teton tribe----all seeming reasons for the current blinkout of the population..........With the rabbits not available as a foodstuff, the Coyotes intensify their predation of pronghorn fawns.........Now with Wolves back in the region bringing down Coyote numbers, a reasonable hypothesis suggests that if the Rabbits were re-introduced to the Tetons, they very well might "spread their seed and multiply to a sustainable population level.......As all of you do, I love the interconnectedness of predator and prey discussions and see them as being so logical and correct in their suggestion that you just cannot have just the animals that hunters and ranchers want on the landscape,,,,,,,,,,You must have all the "cogs"in place for our land to function properly and optimumly

Jumping to conclusions: Local research looks at jackrabbits

Long-legged and quick, the white-tailed jackrabbit is often seen – albeit for split seconds– in the Upper Green River Basin. This fact led a Montana-based biologist on a journey to track the animal and decipher just why it continues to flourish here, while disappearing completely in nearby areas. With almost no documented baseline data, the studies could be crucial – especially with the rabbit's potential effect on coyote predation on lambs and pronghorn fawns.

White-tailed jackrabbits went extinct for unknown reasons in Grant Teton National Park (GTNP) sometime between the 1940s – at the time described as  "commonly in the vicinity" – and the 1990s. Studies of coyote scat contents show they underwent a severe population decline from the 1930s to the 1970s and then completely disappeared between the 1970s and the 1990s.

"What's especially peculiar is that jackrabbits are still found on Forest Service land along the Gros Ventre River, and of course they're quite common in the Upper Green River Basin," said Stephan Ekernas, a 33-year-old University of Montana (UM) PhD student who is conducting the study. "That really begs the question of what's different in the national park compared to these other areas and how that might have caused jackrabbits to locally disappear."

This is the basis of Ekernas's dissertation and study, which UM is helping to support, along with the National Park Service, Grand Teton Association (GTA), the Montana Chapter of the Wildlife Society and the Wildlife Conservation Society.

However, even with all the support, he has had some difficulties. After having little luck capturing the animals last summer, he returned in mid-March to try again. "Turns out it's pretty difficult to capture jackrabbits, which is not all that surprising but a severe constraint," he said. "They're pretty difficult to get your hands on and pretty wily."

White-tailed Jackrabbit

While the traps seemed more adept at capturing cottontail rabbits, the snow cover did help with capturing at least one white-tailed jackrabbit, though Ekernas did not get to see it, returning home with frostbite while placing the traps.  "That meant no contact with cold for six months," he said. He would have tried earlier, maybe January, but having a newborn baby at home kept him there. Nonetheless, he did not give up.

His research partner Evan Sims, 24, a young UM biologist, took a break from his Montana ski-hill day job to set and check traps on different Sublette residents' land. Last summer's work was mostly on BLM, National Park Service and Forest Service land, said Ekernas. This time he connected with locals to research on different private land and received permission for the Webb, Bryant and Noble properties in the area.

Wolves do not easily tolerate Coyotes in their core territory

No one is sure why jackrabbits disappeared from GTNP, said Ekernas. At a 2005 meeting hosted by the Wildlife Conservation Society and the National Park Service, several hypotheses emerged: deeper snow; greater competition with ungulates (hoofed mammals like elk, deer, pronghorn and bison) inside the park than elsewhere and the loss of wolves, which kill coyotes. When wolves were hunted out in the 1920s, coyote density increased inside the park but not in areas like Sublette County where people run livestock and control them.

Another is disease, but that's hard to test, said Ekernas – who added the GTNP jackrabbit population faced risk factors that go beyond the immediate reasons for the disappearance. "(They were) effectively living on an island," he said, adding that isolation from other populations if their own was stricken left little opportunity for dispersing animals from other areas to recolonize. "That's in pretty stark contrast to what you find in the Upper Green River Basin."

In measuring many factors – ungulate density, coyote density, snow depth and vegetation in the GTNP and in sites where jackrabbits are still found – Ekernas hopes to determine what might have happened.
The second part of the research is to determine consequences of the jackrabbits' disappearance – especially how they affect coyote predation on pronghorn fawns.

"Everyone thinks of jackrabbits as this kind of pest that just eats your hay in the winter, but they actually have pretty strong effects on species that we care about, like domestic sheep, pronghorn and deer," he said. "The reason is that jackrabbits can affect coyote predation on lambs and fawns, which – as any sheep herder knows – can be pretty severe."

In a long-term study on black-tailed jackrabbits, Utah researchers found that coyote predation on domestic lambs increased dramatically in years when jackrabbit density was low, and similar effects were found with snowshoe hares (closely related to jackrabbits), said Ekernas.

Coyotes testing adult Pronghorn

 Coyotes just killed this Pronghorns fawn

The idea is that coyotes target jackrabbits instead of fawns when jackrabbits are found at a reasonable density. As a big meal – a "highly energetically profitable food item" – they are available year-round; thus it does not make sense for coyotes to switch targets for a few weeks to focus on fawns.

However, without jackrabbits to feast on, coyotes mainly eat rodents, said Ekernas.

"And if I were a coyote I'd rather eat one fawn instead of a hundred mice."

To check this hypothesis – that jackrabbits by their presence affect coyote predation on pronghorn fawns – he will compare pronghorn fawn survival in areas with and without jackrabbits, namely GTNP, the Upper Green River Basin and the Gros Ventre drainage. The results could be of great priority for GTNP, where only several hundred pronghorn undergo the iconic long-distance migration from the Upper Green to reach their summer fawning grounds in the park.

Even though he has hit some snags – and the difficulty of catching jackrabbits led his PhD committee to express some reservations about logistics and feasibility – Ekernas will return this summer to continue, likely in May or June when the pronghorn arrive.

"I'm going to work on making it more rigorous within a limited budget," he said.

Monday, March 26, 2012

The 3 Wolverines that have been documented in the Eagle Cap Wilderness in Wallowa County, Oregon are related to Wolverines found in Idaho...........Known for their epic wandering, Wolvernines are moving back and forth between Northeast Oregon and Idaho despite the formidable Snake River barrier separating the States.............An ongoing study that will conclude in 2013 continues to reinforce the fact that Wolverines feed on the carcasses of Mountain Goats who succumb to the perils of Winter at the high elevations that the Wolverines favor...........The dead Goats are a key foodstuff for Wolverines that is not contested by most of the other Carnivores(Griz, Wolves, Pumas) becasue their habitat does not include mountain peaks.

Ferocious loners
Written by Dick Mason,
Forest Service biologist shares insight about wolverines in Eagle Cap Wilderness

A wolverine reaches up to eat part of a deer carcass at a trail camera station in the Eagle Cap Wilderness last winter. Wolverines may have been living in Wallowa County for years but had not been detected until recently.
The connection is both intriguing and illuminating. 
Wolverines and mountain goats appear to be linked. The connection is drawing increased interest from   Northeast Oregon residents since it recently has been established that  wolverines are living in Wallowa County. "There appears to be a correlation in some areas between mountain goats and wolverines," said Mark Penninger of La Grande, a U.S. Forest Service biologist who gave a presentation on wolverines March 1 at Cook Memorial Library.

Penninger said studies indicate that the distribution ranges of mountain goats almost always fall within those shared by wolverines. The biologist also stressed that wolverines are found in a wide variety of habitat. 
"There are a lot of places where there are wolverines but not mountain goats," Penninger said. 
The wolverine-mountain goat link holds true in the Eagle Cap Wilderness Area. Mountain goats were introduced in the Eagle Caps years ago, and wolverines have been found to exist there over the past 14 months. In this span three wolverines have been documented in the Eagle Caps. They are the only wolverines known to exist in Oregon.

One wolverine was caught and released from a bobcat trap in late December and also photographed by a trail cam in the winter of 2010-11. Two other wolverines were also photographed by trail cams last winter.
 The odds are that all three have or will feed on mountain goats. This does not mean anyone can expect to see a wolverine soon attacking a mountain goat in the Eagle Caps. Wolverines do not hunt mountain goats, but they eat the carcasses of the many that die in falls or in avalanches. Wolverines are adept at finding mountain goats buried under many feet of snow and burrowing to reach them, Penninger said. 

Wolverines face no competition for mountain goat carcasses in the winter since few if any other predators live at the high elevations. Wolverines do encounter competition for food in the spring and summer and are famous for ferociously defending the carcasses. They will fight off even wolves, black bears and grizzlies to keep a carcass. Documented cases of this happening are one of many reasons people view wolverines as fascinating. .

"They are charismatic in the minds of people. They are loners who cover huge amounts of territory and eke out a living in a hostile environment in the winter," said Penninger. Biologists have learned a great deal about wolverines in Wallowa County in recent years thanks to a study funded by the U.S. Forest Service, the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife, the Wolverine Foundation and the Oregon Natural Heritage Foundation. 

Biologists helping conduct the study include
Penninger and Pat Valkenberg and his wife, Audrey Magoun. Valkenberg and Magoun live in both Alaska and Wallowa County and have studied wolverines for years. Penninger said they are widely recognized wolverine experts whom he has learned a tremendous amount from. 

 The couple first came to Wallowa County several years ago and soon suspected wolverines were in the Eagle Caps, Penninger said. They did so because of the terrain and habitat and their proximity to Idaho, which has an established wolverine population.  Valkenberg and Magoun then helped start a study to determine if wolverines were present. Working with Penninger and others, they set up stations with trail cameras and road-kill deer carcasses.

To date, the deer carcasses have drawn in a number of animals plus three wolverines. The wolverines were each photographed at the trail cam stations in the Eagle Caps. At the stations the wolverines left small hair samples for which DNA tests were conducted.  The tests indicate that the wolverines in Wallowa County are related to ones in Idaho. It appears that wolverines are able to move between Northeast Oregon and Idaho despite the Snake River barrier, Penninger said.

Wolverines may have been living in Wallowa County for years but had not been detected until recently. Penninger said wolverines have low population densities in many areas. The three wolverines were documented in Wallowa County over the past 14 months are part of a short list in Oregon documented in the past 76 years.

Following are the only other wolverines documented in Oregon since 1936, according the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife:

 • In 1965, a male was killed on Three Fingered Jack in Linn County. 
• In 1973, a wolverine was trapped and released on Steens Mountain in Harney County. 
• In 1986, a wolverine was trapped in Wheeler County.
• In 1990, a dead wolverine was picked up on Interstate 84 in Hood River County.
• In 1992, a partial wolverine skeleton was recovered in Grant County. 

Penninger said he believes wolverines may have also been in the Eagle Caps many years ago before having their numbers cut back by concerted efforts to wipe out wolves, cougars, coyotes and other predators via poisoning, trapping and other means. The biologist said wolverines might have been unintended victims of poisoning and trapping during this campaign, which continued into the 1960s.
Penninger spoke at a meeting of the Union/Wallowa County chapter of the Oregon Hunters Association. He said that the wolverine study, which started in 2010, is set to run through 2013. Tracking information being monitored as part of the study indicates that the wolverines in the Eagle Caps are traveling throughout the wilderness area.

More and more Scientists are coming forward and agreeing that wild animals share the human animals ability to reflect on our own mental processes, with the ability to guide and optimize those processes!.........So for a social animal like the Wolf to be killed and trapped randomly with the only managing paradigm being "minimum number of animals needed to not go extinct" is just plain wrong,,,,,,,,,,,And we go about our business as if we are perfectly just and morally in the right instituting this management paradigm without losing a blink of sleep

Do Animals Have Reflective Minds Able to Self-Regulate Perception, Reasoning, Memory?

ScienceDaily  — According to one of the leading scholars in the field, there is an emerging consensus among scientists that animals share functional parallels with humans' conscious metacognition -- that is, our ability to reflect on our own mental processes and guide and optimize them.

In two new contributions to this influential field of comparative psychology, David Smith, PhD, of the University at Buffalo and his fellow researchers report on continuing advances in this domain.

Smith is a professor in the Department of Psychology at UB, and a member of the university's graduate program in evolution, ecology and behavior and its Center for Cognitive Science. His co-authors on the articles are Justin J. Couchman, PhD, visiting assistant professor of psychology, State University of New York at Fredonia, and Michael J. Beran, PhD, senior research scientist, Language Research Center, Georgia State University.

A thinking, reflective and constantly learning and adapting wolf pack sleeping off a meal

In "The Highs and Lows of Theoretical Interpretation in Animal-Metacognition Research," in press at the journal Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society, Smith, Couchman and Beran examine the theoretical and philosophical problems associated with the attribution of self-reflective, conscious mind to nonverbal animals.

"The possibility of animal metacognition has become one of the research focal points in comparative psychology today," Smith says, "but, of course, this possibility poses difficult issues of scientific interpretation and inference." In this article, they evaluate the standards that science brings to making difficult interpretations about animal minds, describing how standards have been applied historically and as they perhaps should be applied. The article concludes that macaques do show uncertainty-monitoring capacities that are similar to those in humans.

The other contribution, "Animal Metacognition," will be published in March by Oxford University Press in the volume "Comparative Cognition: Experimental Explorations of Animal Intelligence."

Cooperation and consultation amongst pack members optimizes success

In this article, Smith and his colleagues provide a comprehensive review of the current state of the animal-metacognition literature. They describe how Smith inaugurated animal metacognition as a new field of study in 1995 with research on a bottlenosed dolphin. The dolphin assessed correctly when the experimenter's trials were too difficult for him, and adaptively declined to complete those trials.

The dolphin also showed his own distinctive set of hesitation, wavering and worrying behaviors when the trials were too difficult. In sharp contrast, when the trials were easy, he swam to the responses so fast that he would make a bow-wave around himself that would swamp Smith's delicate electronics. Smith says: "We finally had to buy condoms to protect the equipment."

Subsequently, Smith and many collaborators also explored the metacognitive capacities of joystick-trained macaques. These Old-World monkeys, native to Africa and Asia, can make specific responses to declare uncertainty about their memory. They can respond, "Uncertain," to gain hints from the experimenters of what to do on the first trial of new tasks. They can even respond, "Uncertain," when their memory has been erased by trans-cranial magnetic stimulation.

Accordingly, this second article by Smith and colleagues also supports the consensus that animals share with humans a form of the self-reflective, metacognitive capacity. "In all respects," says Smith, "their capacity for uncertainty monitoring, and for responding to uncertainty adaptively, show close correspondence to the same processes in humans.

"At present," he says, "members of South-American monkey species or New World monkeys have not shown the same robust capacities for uncertainty monitoring, a possible species difference that has intriguing implications regarding the emergence of reflective mind in monkeys, apes and humans."

Smith's ongoing research in this area is supported by generous grants from both the National Institutes of Health and the National Science Foundation.

A good friend helps us follow up from yesterdays Post on the complete disregard of scientific protocol being adhered to by the Idaho Fish & Wildlife Commision regarding its management of Wolves--IGNORING THEIR OWN BIOLOGISTS FINDINGS ON HOW MANY WOLVES EXISTED IN THE STATE PRIOR TO BLASTING THEM AWAY THIS PAST AUTUMN AND WINTER--An autocratic Commission instituting policy that has nothing to do with reality!

Ken Cole says:  (From Ralph Maughan's website)
I sent this message to Commissioner McDermott and Director Moore this evening. I cc'd Brian Kelly of the USFWS as well.
Dear Commissioner McDermott and Director Moore,
The other night, before accepting testimony of the public at the Commission meeting, Commissioner McDermott asserted to me and the rest of the public attending the meeting that there were 1200-1600 wolves in Idaho and at least 250 wolves in the Panhandle Region alone.  I would again like to reassert my strong concern about these comments and ask you to provide any documentation for these assertions.
I have examined the most recent annual report issued by your own department which states that the year-end estimate for 2011 was 746 wolves.

  Since the end of 2011 there have been an additional 167 wolves killed in the hunt, 17 others killed illegally (3) or by the cooperative efforts of IDFG and WS (14),  and presumably several more have died and have not been documented.  This additional mortality lowers this number to somewhere below 562 wolves.

Contained on page 93 the 2011 annual report, issued by your own department, is an explanation of how the estimate is derived.
From 1996 until 2005, wolf populations were counted using a total count technique that was quite accurate when wolf numbers were low and most had radiocollars. Since then, we have used an estimation technique that is more applicable to a larger population that is more difficult to monitor. This technique has been peer reviewed by the University of Idaho and northern Rocky Mountain wolf managers. This technique bypasses the need to count pups in every pack, and instead relies on documented packs, mean pack size (from number of wolves detected for those packs where counts were considered complete), number of wolves documented in small groups not considered packs, and a percentage of the population presumed to be lone wolves.

This technique differs slightly than that used since we initiated this estimation method, in that beginning in 2010 we used a total count of wolves for those packs where we had a high degree of confidence that we observed all pack members, and applied the mean pack size (statistical mean is used when number of packs with complete counts ≥20, otherwise median pack size is applied) to the remaining packs (with incomplete counts), rather than using the mean or median pack size for all packs. Mathematically this technique is represented as: 
 Minimum Wolf Population Estimate = [# Wolves counted in documented packs with complete count + (# Documented packs lacking complete count * mean [or median] pack size) + (# Wolves in other documented wolf groups of size >2)] * (lone wolf factor) 
# Wolves counted in documented packs with complete count = 109 
# Documented packs lacking complete count = 85 
the number of documented packs that were extant at the end of 2011 was 101, 
complete pack size counts were obtained on 16 of them, leaving 85 packs with counts that 
were presumed incomplete, 
Median pack size = 6.5 
median pack size was calculated using only those packs (= 16) for which complete pack counts were obtained in 2011, 
# Wolves in other documented wolf groups of size >2 = 2 
"total count" for those radiocollared wolves in groups of 2-3 wolves that were not 
considered packs under our definition, 
lone wolf factor = 12.5% 
a mid value from a range derived from 5 peer-reviewed studies and 4 non-reviewed papers 
from studies that occurred in North America and were summarized and reported in 2003 
(Mech and Boitani 2003, page 170). 
Using this technique, the 2011 wolf population estimate is 746 wolves, a decrease of ~4% from the 2010 corrected wolf population estimate: 
((109 + (85 * 6.5) + (2)) * 1.125 
(109 + (552) + (2)) * 1.125 
(663) * 1.125 = 746 

As you recall, I challenged Commissioner McDermott on the assertions he made to the public and we had what could be termed as a heated discussion. Please refer me to any documentation that explains your asserted 200-300% increase in the estimated number of wolves in Idaho.  I am at a loss to find this information anywhere on the Idaho Fish and Game website.  I was, however, able to find an article published on March 8, 2012 in which the IDFG big game biologist, Jon Rachael was quoted as saying there were approximately 577 wolves in the state.

I have been tracking the progress of the wolf hunting and trapping numbers in Idaho in a spreadsheet and assembled a graph to illustrate the various sources of mortality that has been reported publicly.  Surely the mortality that has been reported is an underestimate which does not account for undocumented mortality due to natural or illegal killing of wolves.  I would hazard to guess that the actual number of wolves killed since April of 2011 is in the range of 550 rather than the reported 480 or so.

I think it is highly unprofessional that you seem to disregard the judgements of your own staff about the number of wolves in Idaho.  More concerning is that you seem to believe these assertions and base your management decisions on totally unsubstantiated numbers.  I am disheartened that you have increased harvest in many parts of the state and, along with the rest of the Commission, have chosen to completely disregard the concerns that many citizens expressed at Wednesday night's meeting.

It appears that Idaho doesn't even need to pay our highly skilled biologists to count wolves and conduct monitoring because we now have commissioners who can pull an estimate out of their back pocket and make management decisions based on those estimates.

Again, please refer me to the valid estimates of wolf populations made using peer reviewed protocols which substantiate the claims made to the public on Wednesday night.

I look forward to your early reply.