September 5, 2014

Alpha Female of Huckleberry Pack Killed by Washington Wildlife Officials: Last week we updated you about a series of livestock-wolf conflicts occurring on a sheep grazing operation in Stevens County, Washington. In a premature move, two weeks ago Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) authorized a kill order for up to four members of the Huckleberry wolf pack, and killed one wolf from the pack. They had stated that they were not targeting the alpha wolves and instead were targeting younger wolves in order to not adversely affect pack structure. This week we learned that the wolf that was killed was the breeding, alpha female of the Huckleberry pack. Killing this wolf will have cascading, detrimental effects. Research from Denali National Park shows that wolf packs are 77 % more likely to break up after a breeding adult is killed. Killing this female throws a real wrench in the continued recovery of Washington’s wolf population, and strongly reinforces our position that this kill order never should have been issued and should be rescinded. Defenders and our conservation partners have been working on the ground to offer nonlethal solutions to this situation, and we are continually requesting immediate termination of the kill order. If you have not done so already, you can continue to help us by also telling WDFW that the kill order for the Huckleberry pack must be rescinded immediately. While this difficult situation is far from over, there is now additional distance between the grazing operation and the Huckleberry wolf pack. On Wednesday, the sheep grazer finally opted to move his sheep to an interim location on a fenced pasture 5 miles away, with a move to their winter grazing location planned later this month. Defenders is glad to see the grazing operation moved, since the sheep were originally placed right in the middle of the pack’s territory, making them highly vulnerable. Not only that, but the uneven terrain also meant that the sheep could not be adequately protected or managed – a factor that should have been considered much earlier on. We’ll keep you updated here next week as the situation continues to unfold.

Red wolf and pups, © Greg Kosh/USFWS

Service Reviews Red Wolf Recovery Program and Could Terminate Depending on Results: This week, the Service announced that it will evaluate its red wolf recovery program in North Carolina, and potentially end the program altogether depending on its results. This hasty and poorly-timed evaluation was announced on extremely short notice: public comment forums will be held on September 10th and 11th, less than a week from now, making it more difficult for citizens to speak up for our nation’s rarest wolf. The red wolf is already a species on the brink: coyote hunting, hybridization and loss of habitat have taken a serious toll on the population, which stands at about 100 in the wild today. This poorly-timed evaluation could extinguish the red wolf’s last glimmer of hope. Take this poll to share your opinion about the Red Wolf Recovery Program with the Wildlife Management Institute.

New Mexico Game Commission Votes to Table an Anti-Wolf Measure for Further Study! Last week, the New Mexico Game Commission met in Santa Fe to consider a proposal that would set the Commission up as a gatekeeper for Mexican gray wolf releases in the state. This egregious proposal would put a major roadblock in the Service’s attempt to recover imperiled lobos in New Mexico. However, because wolf supporters showed up and spoke up for wolves, we are happy to report that Commission did not pass the amendment! Instead, it was tabled for further study. We’ll keep you updated here when the Commission reconvenes for voting. At that time, we’ll need lots of support from our members to tell the Commission it does not have authority to deny wolf reintroduction in state!


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