Canis lupus update


"People freak out, flat-out freak out, when a wolf shows up." That's Douglas Smith, leader of the Yellowstone wolf project, quoted in our story last year ("Prodigal Dogs") about the return of gray wolves to Colorado.

And some people freak out enough to kill roaming wolves, despite the penalty -- up to a $100,000 fine and a year in jail. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service just announced that a young female wolf found dead in northern Colorado in spring '09 was poisoned with Compound 1080, a substance banned in 1972 (a few states still use it for predator control under tight regulation). The wolf had wandered 3,000 miles after leaving her Yellowstone pack in September '08. Compound 1080, which causes an agonizing death, has been used in other illegal wolf poisonings, including 9 killed in Idaho in 2001.

Another dead wolf was recently found in Wyoming, southwest of Casper; it's unclear what killed it, though. And conservation groups and FWS are offering a $10,000 reward for information about a 2-year-old male wolf illegally killed this fall in northeast Oregon. In southwestern New Mexico, a female wolf was found shot to death Dec. 2 in Catron County; FWS says they think they know who did it, though. It was the 6th Mexican wolf killed last year under suspicious circumstances.

In 2009, more than 500 gray wolves were killed in the Northern Rockies, between hunting seasons and removals for livestock attacks; at the end of the year the population was  around 1,600 (2010 numbers aren't out yet). So far, wolves are proving more resilient to pressure than many had feared.

But one year of hunting does not a trend make, and it's still not clear that the Northern Rockies wolf population contains sufficient genetic diversity for long-term robustness. Nor does the original recovery goal of just 300 wolves across the Northern Rockies states seem scientifically defensible.

The constant see-sawing that tips the predators onto the endangered species list and back off again doesn't help matters either (in August, they were put back on the list). Idaho now refuses to monitor wolves or investigate illegal killings; Montana just filed a federal petition asking that wolves be delisted in the state. Even at the state level, the freak-outs continue.

Jodi Peterson is HCN's managing editor.

Anonymous says:
Jan 19, 2011 09:37 PM
wolves are predators. None of us grew up with wolves. Go back and read the wonderful stories about the harmless wolves and their murderous instincts. They kill just to kill, not just to eat. It is what they do. over 80 years ago, they were eradicated for a reason.
I so sick of these pro-animal nut jobs.
Anonymous says:
Jan 20, 2011 11:11 AM
There is a difference between fairy tales and peer-reviewed scientific research. They both use words, but that is no excuse to choose gullibilty and ignorance over rationality and reason.

Wolves kill to survive. There is no grocer to visit nor goods to exchange. There is no refridgerator nor pantry so secure as we know for which to store leftovers. "Kill to kill" can be much more broadly painted over the human species than any other. Millions of individuals within a species have been snuffed out by human hand - think passenger pigeon, that grim, killer bird! Bison nearly met the same fate as many others. Not to mention tribes of indigenous PEOPLE.

Wolves belong. There are layers upon layers in the depths of this word 'belong' that I fear some will never understand, to the detriment of us all (the inclusive yet non-humanocentric, all).
Anonymous says:
Jan 23, 2011 01:53 PM
So what differentiates us from the wolves? Do the people using 1080 eventually pick up the wolf carcasses and eat the poisoned meat? Or are they killing solely to reduce the population of a species? You sir, have no idea why a wolf kills when it does. You may be sick of pro-animal nut jobs, whereas I am sick of ignorant loud mouths who assume every other creature on the planet was put here to serve humans in some capacity.
Anonymous says:
Jan 27, 2011 08:33 AM
Comments on this thread were deleted due to the fact that they contained ad hominem attacks and hate language. Please refer to the HCN comments policy for more information

Thank you,

Stephanie Paige Ogburn, online editor.
Anonymous says:
Jan 31, 2011 09:56 AM
Those of us who live and deal with wolves in our backyards know the reasons why and how these predators kill. Trying to get the anti-hunting, pro-wolf folks to admit the facts is like trying to get a wolf to stop killing! The wolves are here in Idaho/MT/WY to clear the way for the Wildlands Project/Yellowstone to Yukon Corridor, to stop us from hunting to put food on our tables and to take away our 2nd Amendment rights. I have seen the damage wolves are doing here, have photos to prove it - and it's not just a matter of survival for the wolf. Our wildgame is suffering and so is our economy thanks to the introduction of this invasive species. Good luck to all the other states in the USA, because your state is next!
Anonymous says:
Jan 31, 2011 11:12 AM
The wolves are the worst ecological diaster in 100 years. Watch this you tube video see the truth for a change.
Yellowstone is Dead Theatrical Trailer
Anonymous says:
Feb 01, 2011 10:28 PM
  What do you know about "ecological disasters"? The wolves are worse than the "dust bowl"? You are just exaggerating to spread your extreme anti-wolf propaganda.
Anonymous says:
Feb 02, 2011 04:25 PM
Yellowstone is NOT dead. In this video, Bob Fanning reminisces about the old days when elk herds were so thick in Yellowstone that ANYONE could kill one, every year; "even Grandma and Junior!" WoW- how sporting! Wolves have HELPED to return elk to healthier numbers in Yellowstone, natural cycles of weather and habitat has also been a factor and we can't forget all the hunters and poachers...But God forbid there be room for some other animal to live,eh? Talk about "wolf worshippers!" you anti-wolfers worship elk, and at the same time take great joy in killing them!
Anonymous says:
Feb 02, 2011 11:29 PM
Hunting is not allowed in National Parks, so I guess that negates that statement. Also, have you been to Yellowstone recently? Many have and have not seen elk there for quite some time. Read the statistics, check out the number counts before telling stories about how well the elk are doing in Yellowstone, okay?
Anonymous says:
Feb 03, 2011 02:32 AM
You are right; hunting is not allowed in National Parks. That covers some of the poachers. Unfortunately whenever Yellowstone's elk step outside park boundaries, which they do every year, "Friends of the Yellowstone Elk Herd" members and others are waiting to gun them down. (With friends like that, who needs enemies?)
Yellowstone Insider reports that they counted approximately 4,635 elk, in Dec. 2010, down 24 percent from 6,070 last year.
Resident biologists cite "increased predation, ongoing drought, and hunting" as all taking their toll on the numbers -- and in the process caused a ripple effect that also took down the wolf and bear populations as well. The wolf population has been reduced by 2/3.
And yes, many people have been to Yellowstone lately; they had a record visitation year in 2010 of 3.6 million people; (many of them wolf watchers no doubt, who have boosted Yellowstone's economy). Hardly sounds like a dead place to me :)
Anonymous says:
Feb 03, 2011 02:34 AM
*the number 4635 applies only to the Northern Yellowstone herd, not all of Yellowstone.