Thursday, October 25, 2012

Help protect the Gray Wolf

A large, tawny gray wolf (Canis lupus) that formerly occupied diverse habitats throughout northern North America and Eurasia but now lives in fewer, more limited areas because of human encroachment. Also called timber wolf.
Wolves are highly social animals that live in family groups called packs. At the top of the food chain, they have a very important role in the ecosystem. In the years since they were reintroduced to Yellowstone National Park and central Idaho, wolves have helped reduce an overpopulation of elk in the Park, and have kept elk from lingering undisturbed in Aspen groves and along streams. Biologists now believe this has led to the recovery of over-browsed trees and shrubs in these areas, which in turn, has helped birds, fish, beavers, moose and other wildlife find new places to call home. Gray wolves were deemed “recovered” in the N. Rockies and removed from federal protection in 2011. The restoration of this large carnivore has been one of the great success stories of the Endangered Species Act, and a remarkable example of wildlife restoration in America.

The gray wolf is the smallest subspecies and most edangered . In North America, the largest gray wolf is found in Alaska and western Canada and the smallest is found in Mexico. They weigh 50 to 90 pounds. The wolf is 4 ft. long and has a tail about 1ft. 3 inches long. Their coats can vary from black, gray, to white. The underparts and legs are a yellowish white.

Wolves can travel for hours and can run up to 20mph. The alpha wolves are dominant and generally the mother and father of the pack. The alpha wolves eat first, but the other members of the pack try to steal the food before their turn. The gray wolf is a predator of larger animals than itself, like deer, moose, and elk.

Gray wolves have strong family ties. They often mate for life. The female wolf has four to six cubs in April or May. The cubs are born after two months. We can only guess about the behavior of the wolf because humans destroy their habitat.

In 1973, the gray wolf was on the endangered species list in the U.S.A. The government said to kill the wolves. But, when the wolves went on the endangered species list the government had to change their plan.

Some reasons why the gray wolf is endangered is because they are misunderstood. A long time ago, people paid hunters to kill the wolves. This is called a bounty. The bounty lasted until 1967. 55,000 wolves killed each year between 1870 and 1877. Hunters shot them. They poisoned the wolves with strychnine and they also poisoned them with a poison compound 10 80 1080. The hunters trapped the wolves. The wolves were trapped and hunters infected them with mange which the wolf would bring back to destroy the pack later. The hunters would capture the wolves and put ropes around each of the wolves legs then pulled them off one at a time and watched them die a slow and painful death.

We can help the gray wolf by trying to understand them better. We can also help them by trying not to shoot them and not destroying their habitat. The wolves are part of the ecological system and what would happen if they weren't here?

No Reprieve in the Rockies

One year after feds strip protections, states go all-out against wolves

May marked a year since Congress made the unprecedented political move of stripping Endangered Species Act protections from wolves in the Northern Rockies—leaving Idaho and Montana in charge of managing wolves in their states. The result: Hundreds of wolves have been hunted, trapped and aerial-gunned in an aggressive attempt to undo one of conservation’s greatest success stories.

In just a year, Idaho cut its wolf population by about 40 percent, to 600 or fewer. Under the state’s plan, which was approved by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Idaho has permission to lower the number of wolves to fewer than 200.“It’s as though Idaho has been transported back to the 1890s—to a time when wolves were aggressively targeted for eradication,” says Suzanne Stone, Defenders’ Rocky Mountain representative. “These extreme wolf-killing policies have no place in modern-day wildlife management.” Idaho is now planning to more than double the number of wolves—to 12—that a single hunter can take in the upcoming 2012-2013 hunting season.


Defenders supporters sent more than 150,000 messages to Idaho Gov. Butch Otter, Congress and Interior Secretary Ken Salazar asking them to stop Idaho’s extreme anti-wolf policies. A big shout out to all those who spoke out on the wolf’s behalf.
Meanwhile, Montana lost more than a third of its wolf population since May, with Reuters reporting about 260 wolves killed. State officials are now moving toward an aggressive anti-wolf policy similar to Idaho’s. At press time, the Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks Commission approved a fall hunt that would eliminate quotas in nearly all hunting districts, extend the hunting season by two months into the breeding season, allow wolf trapping for the first time and permit the use of electronic calls—something that is generally not allowed for other game species.

“Caving to political pressure, Montana is basing its decision on anti-wolf rhetoric rather than science,” says Stone. “There is no justification for state officials to abandon what was once a more measured approach to wolf management. Livestock losses are at a five-year low and elk populations are above population objectives in the majority of the state.”

In Wyoming, home to about 328 wolves, federal protections have not yet been removed. But assuming they will be by fall, Wyoming officials have proposed allowing hunters to kill up to 52 wolves in a trophy game area adjacent to Yellowstone National Park. More than 30 wolves are in a zone where they can be shot on sight without a hunting license. That means about 30 percent of the wolves outside of Yellowstone are likely to be killed later this year if federal delisting of wolves in Wyoming moves forward. Their fate now rests in the hands of the Obama administration.
“Officials in these states are pursuing some of the same short-sighted, predator-control strategies that put wolves on the endangered species list in the first place,” says Jamie Rappaport Clark, Defenders’ president. “They’re treating wolves like vermin instead of managing them like valuable native wildlife. That’s not how these states manage other species like black bears and mountain lions, and it’s not a responsible way to manage wolves either.”

The wolf-kill mentality comes mostly from anti-predator residents who care more about protecting livestock and having easy hunting opportunities than safeguarding native species. But conservationists and biologists credit wolves, along with grizzlies, for helping to restore balance to an ecosystem that had been out of whack for decades because of artificially inflated elk herds, which overgrazed native vegetation.

In fact, the loss of major predators in forest ecosystems and the resulting explosion of large herbivores cripples the growth of young trees, causing stream bank erosion and reducing biodiversity by harming fisheries and other wildlife, according to a recently published Oregon State University report reviewing 42 scientific studies done over the last 50 years.

“Wolves are part of America’s wildlife heritage and play a vital role in maintaining a healthy environment,” says Clark. “States should be managing for robust, sustainable populations, not the absolute bare minimum to keep the species from going extinct. The American people made an investment in wolf recovery that continues to pay dividends in the form of tourism dollars and healthier landscapes. Studies have shown that wolf tourism brings in millions of dollars every year to the Yellowstone region. We should be building on that investment instead of undermining it.”

See personalized photos of hundreds of Defenders’ passionate and creative wolf supporters—and add your own—at

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