Could it be true? A Northern Rockies gray wolf in Arizona!!? You read that correctly. There have been several sightings of a canine with a collar wandering the rim of the Grand Canyon for the past few weeks. Wildlife biologists are still looking for proof that this is a gray wolf, but we are hoping so! If it turns out that this is a gray wolf, that means this wolf dispersed from the Rockies through Utah or Colorado to occupy some of the best historic habitat available to the species. And, it’s an example of how we want gray wolf recovery to look. We want these animals to naturally disperse to their historic habitat. But, while a gray wolf in Arizona gladdens the hearts of every wolf advocate out there, it also reinforces how critical federal protections for gray wolves are right now. A national wolf delisting will remove federal protections for imperiled gray wolves across most of the continental United States, giving states the authority to manage them. With patchwork protections for the species implemented at the discretion of each state, wolves like this one would not be protected across the range they would need to cross. We’ll keep you updated here as soon as we learn more from wildlife biologist in Arizona about these sightings. In the meantime, let’s hope for the best!
Will BLM say “No” to Wolf Killing Contest? Next week, we’ll find out. According to news reports, BLM plans to issue a final verdict about whether or not they will allow a hunters’ rights group called Idaho for Wildlife to hold a multi-day predator killing contest on millions of acres of national public lands in the east-central part of Idaho this January. Before BLM can issue a final ruling, they are required to review the many thousands of public comments submitted on this proposal – 57,000 of those were from Defenders members requesting the agency to deny the proposal. Great work, everyone! We’ll let you know whether or not BLM issues the special permit for this derby next week.
An Update from the Field: A Summary of this Week’s Wolf Research Panel in Seattle: Leading wolf management researchers from state and federal agencies as well as from multiple universities gathered this week in Seattle. Sponsored by the Pacific Wolf Coalition (of which Defenders is an active member), this forum highlighted important new research by Dr. Rob Wielgus from Washington State University that showed that when wolves are killed to protect livestock, it can actually lead to an increase of livestock depredations by wolves the following year. The panel also included fascinating social science research by Dr. Jeremy Bruskotter from Ohio State University on the human aspects of conflicts regarding wolves. His research points to the importance of building trust among all groups and how demonizing one’s opponents can turn potential allies into foes.