Colville Tribe expands wolf hunting off reservation while pro-wolf groups wail

Mon., Aug. 7, 2017, 10 a.m.

A male wolf is released after being trapped an fitted with a radio collar on the Colville Indian Reservation onf June 5, 2012.  The Tribe named the group of wolves in the Sanpoil River region of the reservation the Nc’icn Pack, which means “grey mist as far as you can see” in the Okanogan language. (Colville Confederated Tribes)
A male wolf is released after being trapped an fitted with a radio collar on the Colville Indian Reservation onf June 5, 2012. The Tribe named the group of wolves in the Sanpoil River region of the reservation the Nc’icn Pack, which means “grey mist as far as you can see” in the Okanogan language. (Colville Confederated Tribes)

ENDANGERED SPECIES – While animal advocate groups write letters and court the media and public for more “transparency” in managing Washington’s recovering wolf population, Native Americans are expanding their options for wolf hunting.

Animal groups seem to go frantic every time a wolf is threatened or removed for killing livestock, as though wolves are sacred. State and federal endangered species rules protect wolves but make provisions for managing animals that threaten people or livestock.

The Tribes aren’t bound by state and federal rules and can hunt wolves under rules set by their tribal wildlife officials.

Wolf experts and recovery advocates say limited hunting of wolves is necessary in the long run to make sure wolves maintain their wariness of humans.

  • Read this story featuring five wolf experts world-wide who, while working to protect wolves, agreed that limited wolf hunting would be in the best interest of the wolves.

Animal advocates stumped the media and generated a lot of press in the past week, including Northwest Public Radio and the Seattle Times, for demanding that the Washington Department of Wildlife provide the public details of wolf management activities virtually in real time.

Here’s the deal: Wolf management shouldn’t be reduced to a play-by-play like a tennis match.  Pro-wolf groups’ claims that killing  a wolf here or there will ruin pack dynamics and set back wolf recovery have been proven false.  Hysteria and headlines might make their “donate now” buttons light up, but it doesn’t serve the future of wolves meshing with humans on public and private land.

The same day that wolf-lover campaign was released last week, the Confederated Tribes of the Colville Reservation approved wolf hunting for tribal members in land off its reservation in northeast Washington state. Since 2012, the tribe already has allowed a wolf hunting season on the reservation within Washington, where wolf hunting otherwise is prohibited.

This is not a slaughter. Last year, the tribe reported one wolf being killed by a member who shot the wolf incidentally while he was hunting deer. The quota of wolves tribal members can kill during the Aug. 1-Feb. 28 seasonson the reservation is three.

The tribes on Thursday voted to expand wolf hunting in land north of its reservation to the U.S.-Canada border, on mostly national forest lane where the tribes retain hunting and fishing rights. The quota on the “north half” of the tribes’ territory is three wolves a season.

Colville Tribal Fish and Wildlife Director, Randy Friedlander, says creating regulated seasons ensures tribal members have the opportunity to legally shoot a wolf if encountered at certain times of the year, the Seattle Times reported.

Critics worry that increasing the hunt will lead to more poaching and trapping, which is highly debatable. It could be just the opposite.

Meanwhile, other groups including cattlemen applauded the move as a way to reduce livestock kills.

Sea Shepherd Vessel Rammed By Fishing Boat in Panama

A Note from

Captain Paul Watson

         from Captain Paul Watson:
Forty years ago in August 1977, I established the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society. Today, thanks to supporters like you, we are an international movement. We have hundreds of dedicated volunteers that participate in ground campaigns all over the world, crew our ten ships on sea campaigns, and work to spread awareness about our organization in their local communities.

Our Neptune’s Navy is actively stopping poachers on the land and in the waters of Mexico, Liberia, Gabon, the Baltic, Panama, Galapagos, Australia, the Mediterranean, the Caribbean, the Southern Ocean, and the North Atlantic. Our organization is saving lives and upholding international conservation law. Our important work is only possible because of our supporters – individuals who care about biodiversity in the sea and the protection of our oceans.
I’d like to extend my deepest thanks to you for your generosity in supporting our life-saving efforts. As you know, if the oceans die, we all die. I am thankful that you are helping us save the oceans and the wildlife that call the oceans home.
For the Oceans,

The M/V John Paul DeJoria suffered minor damage while patrolling a marine reserve 

John Paul DeJoria rammedJohn Paul DeJoria rammed by angry fishermenCOIBA, PANAMA – June 29, 2017 – A Sea Shepherd vessel suffered minor damage on Wednesday when it was rammed by a fishing boat while patrolling in the Coiba marine reserve, off the Pacific coast of Panama.

While monitoring and documenting fishing boats engaged in long-line fishing inside the reserve, the anti-poaching group’s cutter, the M/V John Paul DeJoria, was surrounded by five fishing boats at around 3pm.

According to the crew, the fishermen threatened the non-profit marine protection group by throwing items at John Paul DeJoria, while gesturing and shouting aggressively.

Then, the 110-foot Island class patrol boat was rammed by one of the five boats and suffered minor damage.

The Sea Shepherd crew tried to contact a nearby Panamanian Aero naval vessel by radio for assistance but were unable to reach it. The crew stood its ground and refused to be intimidated, and reported the incident and boats to Coiba park rangers.

The entire incident lasted about 60 to 90 minutes and ended when the John Paul DeJoria departed the area to avoid the situation escalating. The Sea Shepherd crew showed total restraint and did not provoke or retaliate in any way.

“It’s high time the Panamanian authorities made this incredibly important marine area a reserve not only by name but also in practice,” said John Paul DeJoria Captain Jessie Treverton. “This area needs to be a zero take zone and properly policed.  Sea Shepherd is offering to provide the M/V John Paul Dejoria, resources, and crew to assist the rangers in their important work.”

Added Sea Shepherd Founder, President and CEO Captain Paul Watson: “Sea Shepherd crews are not intimidated by intimidation, threats of violence and assaults. I am proud of the crew of the John Paul DeJoria for standing strong in the face of these poachers in their defense of the Coiba Island marine reserve.”

Coiba National Park is a UNESCO World Heritage site that comprises of 430,825 acres. It is surrounded by one of the largest coral reef system on the Pacific Coast and is home to numerous species of sharks, whales, sea turtle and rays among numerous others. This makes the area a prized spot for tourists and scuba divers, while also attracting poachers and fishermen engaged in illegal fishing activity.

The John Paul DeJoria is currently stationed in the Eastern Tropical Pacific for its shark protection campaign, Operation Treasured Islands.

Operation Treasured Islands
Visit our 
Operation Treasured Islands
site for more information.

Why delisting of grizzly bears is premature

The Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) has decided to delist the Yellowstone grizzly bears, removing them from the protection afforded by the Endangered Species Act (ESA). And state wildlife agencies in Wyoming and Montana are anxious to start sport hunting the bears.

If you follow environmental politics, it is very clear why industries like the oil and gas industry, livestock industry and timber industry and the politicians they elect to represent their interests are anxious to see the bear delisted. Without ESA listing, environmentally destructive practices will have fewer restrictions, hence greater profits at the expense of the bear and its habitat.

Delisting is opposed by a number of environmental groups, including Center for Biodiversity, Western Watersheds, WildEarth Guardians, Alliance for Wild Rockies, Humane Society, as well as more than 100 tribal people. Conspicuously absent from the list of organizations opposing delisting is the Greater Yellowstone Coalition.

Proponents of delisting, including the FWS, argue that with as many as 700 grizzlies in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem, thus ensuring the bears are now safe from extinction. Seven hundred bears may sound like a big number. But this figure lacks context.

Consider that the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem is nearly 28 million acres in total area. That is nearly the same acreage as the state of New York. Now ask yourself if 700 bears spread over an area the size of New York sounds like a lot of bears?

Many population ecologists believe 700 bears is far too small a number of animals to ensure long-term population viability. Rather than hundreds, we need several thousand bears.

Keep in mind that the Yellowstone Grizzlies went through a genetic bottleneck when their population was reduced to an estimated 136 animals. Indeed, the Yellowstone grizzlies have the lowest genetic diversity of any bear population.

This lack of diversity is exacerbated because dominant male grizzlies tend to breed with multiple female partners, further reducing the genetic diversity in the population.

Add to this biological limitation is the changing food structure for the bear. Major food resources from elk to whitebark pine to spawning trout in Yellowstone have all declined, challenging bears to find new food resources.

Plus, state wildlife management agencies are generally hostile to predators, seeing them hindering production of elk, deer, moose, and other animals desired by hunters.

Without the protection of the ESA, and the loosening of restrictions on the killing of bears, more grizzlies will be killed for livestock depredations, as well as potentially by trophy hunters.

Most predator biologists recognize that killing dominant animals, whether it is bears, wolves or cougars disrupts the social ecology of these animals, leading to more livestock depredation.

In ecology, there is the “precautionary principle” which admonishes all of us to err on the side of caution. Instead of using the minimum estimates of what constitutes a “recovered” population, we should be careful and not rush to eliminate protections for an animal whose biological potential is low and is slow to recover from any declines.

George Wuerthner is an ecologist who has authored 38 books, including “Wildfire: A Century of Failed Forest Policy.” He divides his time between Bend, Oregon, and Livingston, Montana.

To Be or Not to Be?: Commentary by Captain Paul Watson

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Commentary by Captain Paul Watson

For four decades I have been speaking about the sixth mass extinction and the threat that we have become to our own future and the future of most species on this planet.

Now at last the mainstream media is beginning to notice.

For decades my concerns have been ridiculed and criticized for being an alarmist and a doomsday prophet.

When it comes to ecological threats, humans always seem to do very little too late.

There are solutions but for the majority of humanity all the real solutions are unacceptable. They want solutions without sacrificing their life styles.

We have to understand that farmlands will nor survive if we kill the bacteria in the soil. We have to understand that 7.5 billion meat eating, fish eating primates are rapidly destroying entire eco-systems.

The life support systems of the Earth, our Ocean, our rainforests, the biosphere are all being rapidly diminished.

If humanity does not reject anthropocentrism and if we refuse to abide by the laws of ecology we will not survive as a species.

We will be the victims of our own ignorance and our own arrogance. Homo sapiens have devolved into Homo arrogantus ignoramus.

We have become trapped within a matrix of our own creation, living in a world of anthropocentric fantasies and ignoring ecological realities.

Diminishment is escalating much faster than we seem to realize. Fisheries have been collapsing for years, climate change is accelerating, species extinction is accelerating, plastic, noise, chemical and radiation pollutants are poisoning the sea.

And less that 3% of humanity understands that if bees and trees, worms and phytoplankton are diminished we are diminished and if these species go extinct so do we.

Since 1950 we have had a 40% diminishment of phytoplankton in the sea and phytoplankton supplies over 70% of the oxygen we breathe. No phytoplankton = no humanity.

And despite these facts, Norway and Japan are building fleets to mass harvest krill to provide a cheap protein source for livestock.

We slaughter 65 billion animals a year and remove tens of billions more animals from the sea creating more greenhouse gases in the process than produced by the entire transportation industry.

And yet most people choose to be unaware, to be willfully ignorant or they simply don’t care.

Why is it that the late wolf biologist Dr. Gordon Haber was fined $150,000 for freeing a wolf from a trap but a man from a prep school in Hawaii received only $1,000 fine and 45 days in jail for viciously killing 17 endangered Laysan albatross and causing $200,000 worth of damage to a conservation project?

Why is it that over a thousand conservationists and environmentalists have been murdered and rarely have the killers been brought to justice.

The human race is terrorizing the entire living world and blaming everything but ourselves. Why do we allow sick people like Walter Palmer to practice their perverted ‘sport’ and call it conservation? Big game hunters are simply sexually and emotionally inadequate people given a license to kill by governments that value profits over life.

A few years ago a ranger in Zimbabwe was severely criticized for killing a poacher who was about to kill a black rhino. Human rights groups were appalled asking how killing a man to protect an animal can ever be justified.

The ranger responded by saying that if a man ran out of Barclay’s bank in Harare with a bag of money and if he was a policeman and shot the man in the head, he would not have been criticized. They would have given him a medal for the deed.

“How is it,” he said, “that a bag of paper has more value than the future heritage of Zimbabwe?”

Our values are dictated by anthropocentric desires without any recognition of the ultimate importance of bio-diversity.

The choice for us, if we are to survive is to embrace the laws of ecology and learn to live in harmony and with respect for all other species and to accept that we are part of and not dominant over nature.

Many scientists say it’s clear that Earth is entering its sixth mass-extinction, meaning three-quarters of all species could disappear in the coming centuries.

Sixth mass extinction: The era of ‘biological annihilation’

Story highlights

  • Scientists have said it’s clear that Earth is entering its sixth mass-extinction event
  • Study: A third of the 27,600 species are shrinking in terms of numbers and territorial range
  • “What is at stake is really the state of humanity,” study author says

John D. Sutter is a columnist for CNN who focuses on climate change and social justice. Follow him on SnapchatTwitter and Facebook or subscribe to his email newsletter.

(CNN)Many scientists say it’s abundantly clear that Earth is entering its sixth mass-extinction event, meaning three-quarters of all species could disappear in the coming centuries.

That’s terrifying, especially since humans are contributing to this shift.
But that’s not even the full picture of the “biological annihilation” people are inflicting on the natural world, according to a study published Monday in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. Gerardo Ceballos, an ecology professor at the Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México, and his co-authors, including well-known Stanford University biologist Paul Ehrlich, cite striking new evidence that populations of species we thought were common are suffering in unseen ways.
“What is at stake is really the state of humanity,” Ceballos told CNN.
Their key findings: Nearly one-third of the 27,600 land-based mammal, bird, amphibian and reptile species studied are shrinking in terms of their numbers and territorial range. The researchers called that an “extremely high degree of population decay.”
The scientists also looked at a well-studied group of 177 mammal species and found that all of them had lost at least 30% of their territory between 1900 and 2015; more than 40% of those species “experienced severe population declines,” meaning they lost at least 80% of their geographic range during that time.
Looking at the extinction crisis not only in terms of species that are on the brink but also those whose populations and ranges are shrinking helps show that “Earth’s sixth mass extinction is more severe” than previously thought, the authors write. They say a major extinction event is “ongoing.”
“It’s the most comprehensive study of this sort to date that I’m aware of,” said Anthony Barnosky, executive director of the Jasper Ridge Biological Preserve at Stanford University, who was not involved in the study. Its value, Barnosky said, is that it makes visible a phenomenon typically unseen by scientists and the public: that even populations of relatively common species are crashing.
“We’ve got this stuff going on that we can’t really see because we’re not constantly counting numbers of individuals,” he said. “But when you realize that we’ve wiped out 50% of the Earth’s wildlife in the last 40 years, it doesn’t take complicated math to figure out that, if we keep cutting by half every 40 years, pretty soon there’s going to be nothing left.”
Stuart Pimm, chair of conservation ecology at Duke University in North Carolina, summed up the the concept this way: “When I look out over the woods that constitute my view from my window here, I know we no longer have wolves or panthers or black bears wandering around. We have eliminated a lot of species from a lot of areas. So we no longer have a functional set of species across large parts of the planet.”
This is an important point to emphasize, Pimm said. But the new paper’s analysis risks overstating the degree to which extinction events already are occurring, he said, and the research methodology does not have the level of granularity needed to be particularly useful for conservationists.
“What good mapping does is to tell you where you need to act,” Pimm said. “The value of the Ceballos paper is a sense of the problem. But given there’s a problem, what the bloody hell are we going to do about it?”
Often, scientists who study crisis in the natural world focus on species that are at high and short-term risk for extinction. These plants and animals tend to be odd and unfamiliar, often restricted to one island or forest. You probably didn’t notice, for example, that the Catarina pupfish, native to Mexico, went extinct in 2014, according to the paper. Or that a bat called the Christmas Island pipistrelle is thought to have vanished in 2009.
Meanwhile, as this research shows, entire populationsof other plants and animals are crashing, even if they’re not yet on the brink of extinction. Some of these are well-known.
Consider the African elephant. “On the one hand, you can say, ‘All right, we still have around 400,000 elephants in Africa, and that seems like a really big number,’ ” Barnosky said. “But then, if you step back, that’s cut by more than half of what their populations were in the early part of last century. There were well over 1 million elephants (then).
“And if you look at what’s happened in the last decade, we have been culling their numbers so fast that if we kept up with that pace, there would be no more wild elephants in Africa in 20 years.”
Twenty years. No more African elephants. Think about that.
Barn swallows and jaguars are two other examples, according to Ceballos, the lead author of the paper. Both are somewhat common in terms of their total numbers, he said, but their decline is troubling in some places.
Such population crashes can, of course, lead to inevitable extinctions. And currently, scientists say that species are going extinct at roughly 100 times what would be considered normal — perhaps considerably more.
There has been some dispute lately about whether the Earth’s sixth mass extinction event already has begun or is simply on the horizon, but there is little disagreement among scientists that humans are driving an unprecedented ecological crisis.
And the causes are well-known. People are burning fossil fuels, contributing to climate change. They’re chopping down forests and other habitat for agriculture, to the point 37% of Earth’s land surface now is farmland or pasture, according to the World Bank. The global population of people continues to rise, along with our thirst for land and consumption. And finally, but not exclusively, poachers are driving numbers of elephantspangolins, rhinos, giraffes and other creatures with body parts valuable on the black market to worryingly low levels.
All of this is contributing to a rapid decline in wild creatures, both on land and in the ocean.
Ceballos’ paper highlights the urgency of this crisis — and the need for change.
“The good news is, we still have time,” he said. “These results show it is time to act. The window of opportunity is small, but we can still do something to save species and populations.”
Otherwise, “biological annihilation” continues.

Scientists recreate an extinct virus, triggering new warnings about controversial research

For years there have been warnings that advances in science could make it possible to cook up killer diseases in laboratories and unleash them on the world.

This week came news that scientists at the University of Alberta have put together from scratch a relative of the smallpox virus — and a reminder that the threat of deadly viruses created by humans is more than theoretical.

The smallpox virus, which triggered brutal disease for centuries, was declared eradicated in 1980 after a successful global effort to end its reign of terror. But some scientists fear that it could be revived through what’s known as synthetic biology — the ability to make a virus by putting together by the recipe outlined in its genetic code.

Still, the news that a team headed by David Evans, a professor of medical microbiology and immunology, had accomplished this feat — at a relatively low cost of about $100,000 plus labor — was a bit of a wakeup call. The news was first reported Thursday in Science Magazine.

“This is an example of what modern technologies can do,” noted Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.

The warnings about the implications of synthetic biology have echoed since Eckard Wimmer of the State University of New York at Stony Brook reported in 2002 that he and his team had made a poliovirus from scratch.

Polioviruses are small in comparison with poxviruses, and a far less complex task. But scientists watching this field feared it was only a matter of time before the obstacles to creating other viruses were surmounted.

Evans, who is a member of a World Health Organization advisory committee that reviews applications to do smallpox-related research, said he had warned the committee the science was there.

“Really, nobody in the field is surprised about that and we have been telling WHO that for years now,” he told STAT. “This technology is quite possible. And my sense is that we need to just accept that and move on.”

Evans wanted to prove the point. But he also had a bigger goal in mind. He is trying to develop cancer vaccines and wants to use a vaccinia virus — another relative of smallpox, often used in research — as a way to introduce cancer fighters to the immune system. Learning how to make vaccinia viruses synthetically would speed this work.

Meanwhile, a pharmaceutical company named Tonix was interested in making a newer, better smallpox vaccine, using the horsepox virus as its delivery mechanism. Evans and his team agreed to make horsepox — which seems to have disappeared in nature — for the company. Tonix funded the research.

Evans, who is vice dean of research at the University of Alberta, sought and received approval from the university to do the work.

Had he been in the United States, though, it is not clear if he could have performed this work. The proposal would have certainly gone through more approval processes, Fauci said, adding he did not know if the work would have received a green light.

Those levels of approvals are the result of a protracted and at times heated debate in the U.S. about research that can be considered to pose security threats. Generally referred to as DURC — dual use research of concern — this is otherwise valid research that could be used by rogue agents to weaponize pathogens.

The debate was triggered when, in 2011, a Dutch scientist using U.S. government funding manipulated H7N9 bird flu viruses until they developed the ability to spread readily among ferrets. Ferrets are a stand-in for humans in flu research because viruses that can infect them can infect people.

Marc Lipsitch, a professor of epidemiology at Harvard University, was a vocal critic of the flu research and has been active in the debate since over restricting work that could be used for nefarious purposes.

Asked about Evans’s work, he expressed concern not so much about the work itself but about the fact the world now knows about it.

“Demonstrating this can be done — and then writing newspaper articles about it and Science magazine articles — will get the attention of people who might want to use it for the wrong reasons and they might have never known about that,” Lipsitch said.

The horsepox work hasn’t yet been published. In fact, it has been turned down by two journals so far. And Evans admits he’s struggling with how much detail to include in the manuscript when he next submits it.

“I don’t want to put in detailed instructions on how to do this. If you’re knowledgeable in the field, you’ll know enough to replicate it. And if you’re not knowledgeable in the field, you probably shouldn’t be doing it anyway, right?” he noted.

Lipsitch found Evans’s attitude reassuring, but was perhaps less sanguine about the fact that this research shows that as complicated science becomes easier to do, government control over it may lessen.

The rules the National Institutes of Health have put in place relate to work that is done with its funding. But Evans did the work outside the U.S. and with private money.

“As potentially dangerous work gets cheaper and easier, it becomes harder to control for all sorts of reasons — including the fact that the legal reach of government is greater for things that they finance than for things they don’t finance,” Lipsitch said.

Dutch Children Might Sue Sperm-Donor Father Simply for Causing Them to Exist in This Wretched Universe

Donor children at a court hearing related to the case of fertility clinic director Jan Karbaat in Rotterdam on Friday.

Remko de Waal/AFP/Getty Images

A court in the Netherlands ruled Friday that a group of Dutch families can conduct DNA tests to determine whether their children were fathered by the deceased director of a fertility clinic who’s suspected of substituting his own sperm for that of listed donors. Midway through the BBC’s write-up of this strange case is this doozy of a sentence:

Eventually, if the DNA profile matches, the children, most of them born in the 1980s, hope to sue the doctor, possibly on the grounds that they should not exist.

As the father of a child and a resident of the perverse plane of existence in which we all find ourselves, I must object to the potentially dangerous precedent that could be set here. If you can sue a lying sperm doctor simply for creating your existence, what’s to stop you from suing someone who “donated” the sperm required to create you in the more traditional way? (Humblebrag!) Are we really going to let some batty European socialist court put us all at risk of being sued when our kids find out that we had the option not to yank their consciousnesses out of ethereal nonexistence into a physical world in which Andy Borowitz articles exist?

As it happens, there’s a fertility doctor in Indiana who’s also been accused of improperly using his own sperm to impregnate patients. A sperm donor in Georgia who’d fathered at least 36 children, meanwhile, was recently found to have concealed a history of mental illness and frequent arrests. Like I said—this is a messed-up world, and we need to think carefully before we start making claims about which dads are liable for it.

Study suggests officials underestimate wolf poaching

Posted: Saturday, May 27, 2017 11:00 pm | Updated: 7:05 pm, Sun May 28, 2017.

In February, an adult male from the Dark Canyon Pack, a Mexican gray wolf troop that roams through the west-central countryside of the Gila National Forest, was found dead.

It had stalked an expanse of federal land that borders Catron County, where livestock frequently become prey, with roughly three cows killed each month and regular reports of wolves lurking near chicken coops or alpaca herds. Some residents there condemn the wolves as destructive, expensive and dangerous beasts. And they have a right to shoot one if the animal is directly threatening their property or life.

But roughly every other month, a Mexican wolf is found dead or disappears without an explanation.

A new study published earlier this month suggests the untimely death of endangered wolves throughout America may more frequently be the result of illegal poaching than federal agencies and wildlife biologists realize or are reporting — and might be contributing to stalled recovery efforts for the species.

The Journal of Mammalogy published the peer-reviewed study, a joint effort by authors at University of Wisconsin-Madison, Earth2Ocean Research Group, the University of Victoria in Canada and Albuquerque-based Project Coyote.

The study found that U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service officials who manage the Mexican wolf recovery program in New Mexico are underestimating the rate of poaching by up to 21 percent.

“It means that the government has been underestimating an illegal activity,” said Adrian Treves, a professor and researcher at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and the lead author on the study. Without accurate information about poaching, he said, “you don’t target your policy intervention or your management intervention accurately — the things you do to protect endangered species.”

Between 1998 and 2015, there were 155 deaths and disappearances in New Mexico and Arizona of radio-collared Mexican wolves. Of these wolves, 53 had “unknown fates.”

The wolves were first reintroduced in 1998.

John Oakleaf, a field projects coordinator for the Fish and Wildlife Service’s Mexican Wolf Recovery Program, said most wolf deaths are caused by humans. But, he said, many human-caused deaths are from hunting errors, such as mistaking a wolf for a coyote, or from car accidents, rather than malicious acts.

“It doesn’t have to be malicious for humans to be the primary cause of death for animals,” Oakleaf said. “… Sometimes people are out there and maliciously do stuff, but you’d have to know the specifics of every single case to figure that out.”

Treves said his research came to a different conclusion.

The study found that agencies in four endangered wolf management areas have been measuring mortality in a way that has significantly underestimated the role of poaching, and these false estimates “have obscured the magnitude of poaching as the major threat to endangered wolf populations.”

Treves was researching radio-collared gray wolves in Wisconsin in 2011 when he realized that almost half of the monitored wolves had disappeared and that their fates had been determined “unknown” by management agencies there. After further analysis, his research determined that the wolves disappeared long before their collars would have malfunctioned and well before the average life expectancy for a wolf.

He posited that illegal poaching was contributing to these disappearances, and his studies were backed up by similar findings by researchers in Sweden and in the greater Yellowstone area.

“The assumption was that the collared animals go off the air or the collar breaks, but they live their lives just like any other radio-collared animal,” he said, “but it turns out that assumption is false. That means … the government and the agencies and the scientists are making a systematic error.”

The study examined the deaths of Northern Rocky Mountain gray wolves, Wisconsin gray wolves, red wolves on the East Coast and the Mexican gray wolf in New Mexico and Arizona.

The Mexican wolf program in New Mexico and Arizona was found to have the lowest rate of error of all the wolf management programs, Treves said, but all the endangered wolf programs were making some systematic errors.

Research found “that poaching is the major cause of death for all the endangered U.S. wolf populations we studied,” he said.

Federal officials said the endangered species, as a whole, are still seeing growth.

“You can strip away complex stuff like mortality and the causes of mortality and just focus on what the numbers are,” said Oakleaf, who has been with the Mexican wolf recovery program since 2002. “We have been successful in growing the numbers since 2009.”

Between 2015 and 2016, the Mexican wolf population in New Mexico and Arizona is believed to have grown from 97 to about 113, according to the latest federal survey.

That success of the Mexican wolf recovery program is partly because of cross-fostering efforts — releasing newborn pups bred in captivity into wild litters — a practice that began last year and has continued this spring. The state of New Mexico, which opposes the releases, has filed a federal lawsuit against the Fish and Wildlife Service in an attempt to stop the practice.

Six Mexican wolves have died of unknown causes in New Mexico in the past year, each incident spurring an investigation by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Wildlife officials track wolves via monitoring collars. Each wolf is identified by a six-digit code. Their movements are watched to keep them from hunting livestock and to monitor their health and breeding activity.

Some animals go missing as a result of a collar failure or unrecorded death, Oakleaf said, adding that investigations into a wolf death can remain open for up to five years and still go unsolved.

He said the federal agency has been working with Catron Country, where the majority of wolf recovery efforts occur, since 1996 to educate and communicate with the community about the program. A number of residents are critical of wolf releases there and have called the Fish and Wildlife program poorly managed. Rep. Steve Pearce, R-N.M., is one of these critics and has advocated returning wolf management to the oversight of the New Mexico Department of Game and Fish.

Oakleaf said the community’s objections to the program aren’t an indication that residents would illegally hunt wolves.

“People can argue the specifics of that without committing illegal acts,” he said.

Michael Robinson,a Silver City-based conservation advocate who focuses on wolf recovery for the Center for Biological Diversity, agreed with the new report’s findings.

“There is a lot of evidence that more wolves are dying from illegal causes than are reported by Fish and Wildlife services,” he said.

Robinson said he would like to see law enforcement efforts stepped up to stop the killings. He is also among advocates who want Fish and Wildlife to end a program that allows ranchers to track wolves that are being monitored. The program is intended to help protect livestock, but Robinson and others believe it also helps would-be poachers find wolves.

Robinson said Mexican wolf disappearances have been most common in the New Mexico’s Beaverhead range of wilderness, about 25 miles from where the Dark Canyon Pack wolf was found dead in February.

One such disappearance occurred in 2013, when a mating pair of Mexican wolves, whose den was in Beaverhead, went missing at the same time in early January. Robinson said the incident stuck in his memory because each member of the pair had a missing leg — one removed after a gunshot wound and the other from a trapping injury — but they still managed to survive in the wild for years.

Fish and Wildlife hunted for the pair for five months before pronouncing their fate unknown, saying their collars had likely stopped functioning.

“A lot of animals have gone missing there, but typically they are not counted as illegal mortalities. They are just disappeared wolves,” he said. “… Frankly, I’m worried.”

Only 43 Maui’s Dolphin left in the World!

Only 43 Maui's Dolphin left in the World!

Why this is important

“As citizens from around the world we are horrified that
Maui’s Dolphin could vanish from the face of the earth, we urge you to establish and enforce an immediate, permanent ban on deadly gillnet fishing in New Zealand. As there are only 43 Maui’s left, we call on you to do all you can to save this beautiful species from extinction before it’s too late.”

More information:

Maui’s are known as Hobbits of the sea, they are diminutive aquatic mammals that look like mini‐dolphins ‐‐ and there’s only 43 of them left! But if we act fast, we can still stop this beautiful species from vanishing forever.

They’re dying because they get trapped in “gillnets” and drown, also they are caught by Commercial fishers as by catch. But New Zealand government refuses to save these iconic dolphins.

Together, we can tip the decision in favour of the Maui’s. Let’s show these Ministers that the people of the world care. Sign this urgent petition and share it with everyone.

Midwest wolves may find themselves in the crosshairs again

MINNEAPOLIS — Gray wolves in Minnesota, Wisconsin, and Michigan could again find themselves in hunters’ crosshairs — possibly as soon as this fall if federal protections are removed for the predators.

A ruling is expected soon from an appeals court that recently lifted protections for wolves in Wyoming.

In Congress, wolf-hunting supporters aren’t giving up even though a Minnesota representative was instrumental in killing an effort that would have allowed the three western Great Lakes states to resume wolf hunting.

Gray wolves were once hunted to the brink of extinction in most of the country, but they recovered under Endangered Species Act protections and reintroduction programs. They now number more than 5,500 in the lower 48 states, including nearly 3,800 in Minnesota, Wisconsin, and Michigan.

The US Fish and Wildlife Service has repeatedly tried to remove wolves in Minnesota, Wisconsin, and Michigan from the endangered species list, but courts have stymied those efforts.

Now, a panel of the US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit is looking at the issue. The same appeals court in March took wolves off the list in Wyoming.

Wisconsin and Minnesota each held three wolf seasons before a federal judge put their wolves back on the list in December 2014. Michigan held one.

Backed by farm groups upset about depredation of livestock, and hunters who would like the chance to bag a wolf, lawmakers from the region have tried to attach riders to various bills in Congress that would ‘‘delist’’ wolves, return management responsibilities to the states, and bar further court challenges.