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Three-state Cooperation needed to ratchet down Wolf Issue

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The article to follow talks about wolf depredation recently of livestock, and the article does point out that such action is normally the result of a lone wolf, or perhaps two that have joined up after being dispersed from their pack.  Ed Bangs(Head of wolf recovery for FWS), rightfully points out that wolves prefer to be in wooded and mountainous areas that are not human populated areas.  In fact wolves go to great lengths to steer clear of humans.

It also has always concerned me that many depredations on livestock are blamed on wolves when they are actually committed by other predators, including bears, lions, and wild dogs.  If a wolf is seen on a domestic animal carcass one has to remember that wolves are also scavengers, and if they happen across a kill, they would of course then feed .  This is certainly not to say that wolves are never responsible for killing livestock.

While the article mentions that three states  need to create a comprehensive wolf management  plan in the northern Rockies, Montana has broken such tradition and is presently trying to remove wolves from the ESA in Montana at present.  Efforts of wildlife advocacy groups are at the same time trying to reinforce ESA sanctions for wolves, and are urging members of the Senate and Congress to protect wolves from such bills as it would certainly create a widespread slaughter of this apex predator, and most certainly have a dramatic negative impact on their future survival in the wild.  ~wolfwatcher~

Read the article…

It was inevitable that gray wolves would eventually turn up out here on the prairie, and this week we learned that they had, indeed.

Their calling card was a string of livestock depredations — a couple of yearling calves injured by three wolves southeast of Lewistown in Fergus County, and 27 sheep killed in Cascade County south of Ulm.

Especially in the absence of legal hunting of them, wolves are spreading into previously unoccupied areas in search of food and, almost certainly, other wolves.

Montana is believed to be home to more than 400 of the critters, up from approximately zero a couple of decades ago.

Their reintroduction into the Yellowstone National Park ecosystem was controversial when it began, and it has continued to be controversial as their numbers increased and the packs fanned out across the Northern Rockies and, now, onto the adjacent plains.

The numbers were sufficient to the point that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in May 2009 removed wolves from the endangered list, turning management of them over to the three states — Montana, Idaho and Wyoming.

Because the states had significantly different plans for managing the animals — including different standards and quotas for hunting them — a federal judge last summer restored their endangered species status, much to the chagrin of livestock operators in the region.

Wolf experts say the prairie depredations are likely to be the actions of individual or small groupings of wolves rather than by entire packs.

Lone wolves travel incredible distances, said Ed Bangs, head of wolf recovery for FWS, and they sometimes join up with other singles in the course of their travels.

“That’s probably what’s going on,” he said. “Wolf dispersal peaks right about now.”

The animals prefer forested, mountainous and relatively uninhabited areas and have never persisted in open areas of private land that’s intensively used for livestock, he said.

All the same, like the grizzly bears that have wandered as far from the mountains as Loma north of Great Falls, wolves now are among our “neighbors” in Missouri River Country.

By their nature, wolves inflame emotions and fears.

The Legislature has before it a resolution urging Congress to take wolves off the endangered list.

But it’s not that simple. What’s needed is for the three states (read it: Wyoming) to agree to adequate, cooperative management plans so wolves can be removed from the endangered list without involving the courts.

At that point, wolves can be managed like any other wildlife and the controversy can be ratcheted down.

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