07 January 2011 Wolf Weekly Wrap-up Posted by: John Motsinger | 1 comment | Share: Wolves in Yellowstone have restored balance to the ecosystem. Riparian vegetation has recovered, beavers and songbirds have returned, foxes and pronghorn are thriving. “What Good are Wolves?” — Norm Bishop knows a thing or two about wolves. He spent 36 years working for the National Park Service, including 12 as a natural resources educator at Yellowstone Park leading up to the reintroduction of wolves. He’s been a strong advocate for science-based management ever since, recognizing the critical role that wolves have played in restoring balance to Yellowstone’s entire community of plants and animals. Bishop’s essay on New West is a compilation of decades worth of scientific study and personal observation, which makes plain why wolves are so valuable to the entire ecosystem. But first he traces the legacy of extermination that led frontiersman to wipe out the bison and Native Americans before turning their sights on wolves. It wasn’t until wolves were almost gone that people began to question their significance. If nothing else, as Bishop writes, “Wolves cause us to examine our values and attitudes.” Same as it ever was – Apparently, not everyone has been persuaded by Bishop’s compelling argument of the value of wolves. A lobbyist for a conservative think tank in Oregon is looking to pick a fight by comparing wolves to thieves waiting to break into people’s homes (see the column here). She argues that ranchers should have the right to shoot wolves whenever they see them on their property, regardless of whether or not the rancher has taken any action to protect his livestock. Never mind that Oregon has just two confirmed wolf packs and only about two dozen wolves. That’s why Defenders has been working with ranchers for years to prevent conflicts before they arise, using sound animal husbandry techniques and nonlethal deterrents. With a little effort, wolves and livestock have been able to coexist in other states, and they can do the same in Oregon if given a chance. A federal wildlife agent demonstrates how to set up fladry to protect a flock of sheep from hungry wolves. A shocking deterrent – Speaking of nonlethal deterrents, a recent study found that electrified “turbofladry” is up to 10 times more effective at deterring wolves than regular fladry. Fladry, the bright red flags strung on a line between poles, is one of the primary tools used to protect sheep and cattle. The study tested wolves both in a controlled captive setting and out in the field on pastures in Montana (n.b., zero livestock losses were reported during the study period). Key findings suggest that the extra cost for turbofladry may be worth the investment, especially where there has been a history of livestock losses to wolves. Results also demonstrated, not surprisingly, that wolves are more likely to test and then cross a fladry barrier the hungrier they are. Thus, having a sufficient natural prey base can go a long way in keeping livestock safe. Scapegoats for poachers — Concerned citizens like Ron Marquart in Boise may be right after all—wolves aren’t to blame. In an LTE to the Idaho Statesman, he cites an Oregon report that claims poachers kill just as many deer as permitted hunters. Meanwhile, 11 hunters over in Montana were convicted of poaching elk repeatedly from 2000 to 2009, resulting in fines totaling $37,300 and suspension of licenses for a total of 22 years. One Response to “Wolf Weekly Wrap-up” Post Your Comment Click here to cancel reply. Name (required) Mail (required) (will not be published) You May also be interested in Wolf Weekly Wrap-Up Recap of Pinetop Hearing; Celebrating Sucesses: 700,000 comments from wolf supports in to USFWS regarding wolf delisting proposal; this week USDA annouces they plan to audit Wildlife Services Predator Program. Also- another call to action for our supporters: Tell your Congressman to sign Grijalva and Fitzpatrick’s letter endorsing continued protection of gray wolves! Audit of Wildlife Services to be Conducted in 2014 United States Department of Agriculture’s Inspector General has confirmed that they will be undertaking an audit of Wildlife Services’ Predator Control program in 2014. A rare sighting at Skilak In a remote part of Kenai National Wildlife Refuge, our Alaska representative catches a rare glimpse of a majestic but elusive animal.