Saturday, June 17, 2017

Wolves and Prey

Wolves have a reputation for killing needlessly or for fun, but in reality wolves work hard and rarely succeed when hunting large prey like elk, moose, bison, and deer. In Yellowstone National Park, wolves only successfully make a kill in about 1 of every 5 hunting attempts! 
Elk are large, smart animals, and they've evolved alongside wolves for thousands of years. It's extremely difficult for wolves to take down healthy adult elk. Wolves can be injured or killed by a kick from an elk. For this reason, wolves tend to target very young, old, or unhealthy elk. Even so, it takes a huge amount of energy for wolves to chase and (if they can) take down prey.

Friday, August 26, 2016

Working With The Wood River Wolf Project

I spent most of August around the West learning about wolves, wolf recovery, and livestock.
A big highlight was volunteering for the Wood River Wolf Project, which is based in the middle of wolf and sheep country in Idaho. The project, with Lava Lake Lamb, works collaboratively with livestock producers in the community to prevent depredations (killing of livestock) by wolves and other predators. They work with ranchers to implement proactive, nonlethal deterrents including livestock guardian dogs, foxlights, starter pistols, and fladry. They have found that the comprehensive and correct use of these tools has led to a direct decrease in attacks on livestock by wolves - as well as other predators like bears, cougars, and coyotes.
Not only do these methods help ranchers, they also help wolves. When ranchers and their livestock can successfully share the landscape with wolves, it means that less wolves are killed through "lethal control actions" in response to wolf depredations on livestock. Proactively preventing depredations often works much better than reacting after attacks happen.
While volunteering with the Wood River Wolf Project, I helped to conduct howl surveys. Howl surveys involve playing a recorded wolf howl in the backcountry and listening for responses. Responses can determine where and how many wolves might be in a particular area. This helps herders and range riders know where it's safe to move sheep bands and when particular proactive tools should be used.
The Wood River Wolf Project and the livestock producers who put time and energy into living with wolves are a model for wolf/livestock coexistence across the country and world. It was a privilege to work with them and Lava Lake Lamb and to learn more about ranching in wolf country!
Help support other ranchers taking on predator coexistence here:
Specific breeds of Livestock Guardian Dogs help to discourage wolves from approaching livestock during certain times of the year.

Monday, May 2, 2016

Springtime for Wolves and Livestock

Springtime means a new generation of wolf pups, but it also means a new generation of sheep and cattle for the summer grazing season. This can lead to conflict between wolves and livestock, as wolf families work to feed their growing pups and young livestock are especially vulnerable. This time of year, it's especially important to use proactive tools like range riders, foxlights, fladry, and others to protect livestock from wolves. About 80% of wolves in a population don't cause problems for ranchers. But it's important to be proactive and make sure those wolves don't start associating livestock with food as they hunt wild prey for their pups.

Photo of Spruce at Wolf Haven International.

Friday, September 4, 2015

Meeting with the Washington Wolf Advisory Group

       Yesterday I had the opportunity to address Washington state's Wolf Advisory Group, or the WAG. The WAG is a group of stakeholders (hunters, ranchers, and conservationists) that provides different perspectives and recommends strategies for reducing conflict with wolves to the Department of Fish and Wildlife as wolves return to Washington. 
       Because the members of this group have radically different views on wolf management, they had had trouble being productive and respectful towards each other when the group first started out a few years ago; so the department brought in a professional human/wildlife conflict facilitator to help improve the process and build trust between the members. As part of that, the facilitator is having the WAG meet with members of the public with various perspectives on wolves and how they should be managed. In May, the WAG met with some ranchers in wolf territory; yesterday, I voiced my opinion as part of the conservation community; and later, they will meet some hunters. 
        When I spoke to the WAG, I talked about my experiences studying wolves in the wild, why I think wolves are important, and what I think about the conflicts in Washington and in other places. I also talked about my experiences here on Kids4Wolves, interacting with you guys on Instagram and Facebook but also hearing from kids who are hunters and ranchers and have a different opinion about wolves than I do. I talked about how nasty these online conversations sometimes start (as some of you guys may have seen), but also how often we can get to a place where we respect each other's views even if we disagree. I think respect is essential if we want to accomplish anything. Hopefully the members of the WAG can respect each other and get something done for wolves and the communities that live alongside them. 

Thursday, September 3, 2015

Kids4Wolves on Instagram

The main branch of Kids4Wolves is on Instagram; there, we post facts, photos, videos, ways to help, and updates on wolves around the country almost every day. We are up to over 12,000 followers as of September 2015! Please follow us to learn about wolves and to get involved!

Friday, November 21, 2014

Gray Wolf at the Grand Canyon - Naming Contest!

UPDATE FEBRUARY 11, 2015  -  10-year-old Zachary Tanner from Oregon won the naming contest with the beautiful name "Echo." Zachary thought of the name Echo "because she came back to the Grand Canyon like an Echo does." 
    Unfortunately, on December 28, 2014, Echo was shot and killed in southern Utah - apparently mistaken for a coyote by a hunter. Her incredible journey south from the Northern Rocky Mountain gray wolf population ended tragically.

 **Naming Contest Now CLOSED**
  Recently, a large, collared canine was spotted in the North Rim of the Grand Canyon in Arizona; DNA results just came in confirming that the lone animal is a wild gray wolf!

     This wolf is the first to roam the Grand Canyon  area since the 1940's!

   Conservationists are now holding a naming contest for the incredible Grand Canyon wolf, just for kids! You must be younger than 18 to enter: 


     The female wolf had to travel 450 miles from either Idaho, Montana, or Wyoming to reach the Grand Canyon. Check out the map below to see how far south she had to travel to reach northern Arizona (the occupied wolf range in southern Arizona is a small population of Mexican gray wolves; the Grand Canyon wolf was a gray wolf):

     This female wolf traveled an amazing distance to find a mate and start a family, just like Oregon's famous wandering wolf OR-7, affectionately named "Journey" by the public.

          Let's help give this astounding wandering wolf a name!

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Montana "Wolf Stamp"

**Public Comment Period Now CLOSED**
Montana is considering having a "Wolf Management Stamp."
        This stamp would "be issued to any persons who wish to donate to the department's management of wolves." Any resident or nonresident would be able to purchase one or more stamps for a donation of $20.00 each.
         Most of the Department of Fish, Wildlife, and Parks budget comes from the sale of hunting, trapping, and fishing licenses and tags. This perhaps gives 'consumptive' (hunters, fishermen, trappers) a more skewed influence on the Department and what it can do with those funds, especially when it comes to wolf management. The proposed Wolf Management Stamp provide an additional funding source for wolf conservation and management in Montana. The stamp would give non-consumptive users (wildlife and bird watchers, etc.) the opportunity to contribute to wolf and wildlife management.
        Montana wants to know if you think this stamp is a good idea or if you think there should be any changes. It's important for both residents and nonresidents of Montana to comment, as both will be able to use the stamp.

Please submit your comment here:
Comments are due Friday, August 22, 2014!

Here's a sample comment for a nonresident:

I live in _________ and visit Montana several times a year/plan to visit Montana in the future; one of the main reasons I go to Montana/plan to visit Montana is to enjoy Montana's rich array of wildlife, especially wolves, in a non-consumptive manner. I believe that the proposed Wolf Conservation Stamp is a good idea, and I know I would buy them to support Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks and their efforts to coexist with wolves using methods other than lethal management. 
I would suggest a few changes; in the proposed rule, change the stamp from "wolf management stamp " to "wolf conservation stamp". Make sure that "non-lethal" is specified. These stamps should go exclusively to non-lethal wolf management, as FWP already gets its lethal management funds from consumptive users. Especially, I would like to see money go toward non-lethal proactive measures to prevent wolf/livestock conflict. I approve of the proposal's inclusion of money going towards the purchase and maintenance of wolf habitat; conducting research, education, and outreach; and hiring additional wardens to prevent poaching of wolves and other wildlife.
Thank you for this proposal that gives everyone a say in the management and conservation Montana's amazing wildlife that draws so many people from around the country.