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.

High Country News Classifieds
  • CHAPTER DIRECTOR - IDAHO SIERRA CLUB
    Idaho could lead the nation in the transition to clean energy, and the Idaho Sierra Club is committed to making that happen. We seek to...
  • SEASONAL SAN JUAN RANGERS
    Seeking experienced crew members to patrol Colorado's most iconic mountain wilderness.
  • ENDANGERED SPECIES STAFF SCIENTIST
    The Center for Biological Diversity seeks a staff scientist to advocate for the conservation of endangered species. General position overview: The position will involve working...
  • STAFF ATTORNEY - ENVIRONMENTAL HEALTH PROGRAM
    The Center for Biological Diversity - a national nonprofit organization dedicated to the protection of imperiled plants, animals and wild places - seeks a dynamic...
  • STAFF ATTORNEY
    The Center for Biological Diversity seeks a Staff Attorney to join our team of attorneys, scientists, campaigners who are working to protect America's public lands...
  • SOUTHWEST CONSERVATION ADVOCATE
    The Center for Biological Diversity seeks a Southwest Conservation Advocate to join our team of attorneys, scientists and campaigners who are working to protect America's...
  • OCEANS PROGRAM CAMPAIGNER
    The Center for Biological Diversity seeks an experienced campaigner for its oceans program. The aim of the position is to campaign for the protection of...
  • CLIMATE LAW INSTITUTE ATTORNEY
    The Center for Biological Diversity's Climate Law Institute is looking to add an attorney to its team and will consider applicants at both staff attorney...
  • FULL-TIME CAMPAIGN DIRECTOR
    The Center for Biological Diversity seeks a full-time Campaign Director in our Climate Law Institute to join our campaign for progressive, urgent government action to...
  • WESTERN WATER PROJECT MANAGER
    National Wildlife Federation is hiring NM-based position focused on riparian corridors, watershed health. Learn more and apply online: https://www.nwf.org/about-us/careers
  • ASSOCIATE PROGRAM DIRECTOR
    Position Title: Associate Program Director Location: New Mexico; flexible in state Position reports to: Senior Program Director Position Closes: March 13, 2020 GENERAL DESCRIPTION: The...
  • DEAN, W. A. FRANKE COLLEGE OF FORESTRY AND CONSERVATION, UNIVERSITY OF MONTANA
    Dean, W. A. Franke College of Forestry and Conservation, apply http://bit.ly/2548umjobs. AA/EEO/ADA/Veterans Preference Employer
  • GRAPHIC DESIGNER
    Western Resource Advocates (WRA) seeks a creative and driven graphic design professional to design high quality print and digital collateral. The Graphic Designer will bring...
  • STEWARDSHIP SPECIALIST
    San Isabel Land Protection Trust seeks experienced person to manage its 133 conservation easements in south-central Colorado.
  • CAMPAIGN REPRESENTATIVE
    Sierra Club's Beyond Dirty Fuels Campaign is hiring an experienced campaigner to lead our work challenging the oil and fracked gas industry on the Gulf...
  • AG LANDS PROGRAM DIRECTOR
    Oregon Agricultural Trust (OAT) seeks passionate relationship builder experienced in coordinating agricultural conservation easement transactions.
  • REMOTE SITKA ALASKA FLOAT HOUSE VACATION RENTAL
    Vacation rental located in calm protected waters 8 miles from Sitka, AK via boat with opportunities to fish and view wildlife. Skiff rental also available.
  • FINANCE DIRECTOR
    Mountain Studies Inst (MSI) is hiring 4+ positions: Finance Director; Coms/Engagmnt Mngr; Dev/Engagmnt Dir; Americorps vol
  • COMMUNICATIONS AND ENGAGEMENT MANAGER
    Mountain Studies Inst (MSI) is hiring 4+ positions: Finance Director; Dev/Engagement Dir; Coms/Engagement Mngr; & Americorps volunteer
  • SEASONAL TRAIL CREW LEADERS
    Lead the nation's premier volunteer-based trail crew programs on the spectacular Pacific Crest National Scenic Trail. This is a great career-building opportunity for rising professionals....