Wolf, © Richard Seeley / National Geographic Stock

Wolf Weekly Wrap-up

Final vote on Washington wolf plan

A wolf in the Teanaway pack in central Washington.

The Washington Fish and Wildlife Commission is expected to approve the state’s final wolf recovery plan this weekend. The plan has been in the works since 2007 and would provide for the recovery of at least 15 breeding pairs (an estimated 97-361 wolves) divided into three parts of the state, including the Cascade Mountains and even the Olympic Peninsula. If approved, the plan would usher in a new chapter in the successful return of wolves across the Northern Rockies. Read more at the Spokesman Review. Thanks to all Defenders supporters who weighed in on the recovery plan!

Wolves on Oprah?

It’s not every day that you get to see your picture in Oprah magazine. Still, Defenders’ own Susannah Woodruff tried to downplay her newfound celebrity status when her name and photo appeared in the December issue. Susannah took freelance writer Polly Brewster into the Wyoming backcountry in search of wolves when she was still working as a biologist for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. The adventure made such an impression that Brewster decided to include it in her feature story, along with a quote from Susannah. Here’s an excerpt from the story about Brewster’s love of wolf-watching:

The next morning I went out with Jimenez’s assistant, Susannah Woodruff, to track the Washakie pack, which lives on the eastern side of Shoshone National Forest. We bushwhacked through a thick grove of pine trees, and every time we heard something moving in the distance I grabbed at the bear spray on my right hip; grizzly scat was everywhere, mounds of it every 50 feet. Unlike wolves, grizzlies, which can weigh up to 1,500 pounds, are known to attack humans.As the forest thinned out we found elk and bear tracks that led to a meadow surrounding a crystal blue lake. This was a perfect rendezvous site—a place where pups are left to play while adults hunt. Woodruff stepped ahead of us, raised her hands to her mouth, and let out a low howl. It gave me goose bumps.”I feel like I should tell them or something,” says Woodruff. “Like, guys, you’re missing an awesome spot.” Her cell phone rang. It was Jimenez. She listened for a minute, then flipped the phone closed. “We’ve got to go scare off some wolves. They’re chasing cattle on a ranch near here.”

Susannah scanning for wolves in Wyoming in her days as a biologist with the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service.

Half an hour later, when we reached the ranch, there were no wolves in sight and, more importantly, no dead cows. Woodruff put an antenna up on top of the truck and pulled out a signal receiver to see if she could locate any radio collars. No such luck. She had a hunch that the wolves were due west, where a day earlier she’d seen some pups lazing in the sun.

We hiked across the pasture, then through aspen groves and clusters of pine trees. In a last-ditch effort she decided to check the woods below the main road we’d driven in on. Moments later she ran out of the woods. “Tracks,” she whispered. “Lots of them.”

We followed the prints, then lost them. I knew our mission was to scare off the wolves; I just wished we’d caught a glimpse of them. We’d been hiking for almost six hours straight. Woodruff called it quits. My legs ached, but my heart ached more. I wanted to tell her to just leave me out there—I would wait for them.

We hiked up to the truck, and right there on the dirt road was a big, fresh wolf track.

Visiting biologist films whirlwind western wolf tour

Brad Purcell is a bit of a jokester, but he also happens to be a brilliant emerging conservation biologist and one helluva amateur filmmaker. Brad studies dingoes in Australia and spent part of his summer volunteering with the Wood River Wolf Project to learn more about coexistence techniques. Dingoes are believed to have descended from gray wolves and share many characteristics with their ancient cousins. Brad’s hoping to learn how he can apply the nonlethal management strategies we use with gray wolves in the Northern Rockies to promote coexistence with dingoes down under. Check out his fast and furious highlight reel from his trip out West:

(CAUTION: loud music and bad dancing!)

Budget cuts may have silver lining

Federal agencies are all in a pinch with serious budget cuts looming, but the new era of belt-tightening may result in at least a few positive developments. Here’s an example: One of the agencies that has lost funding is Wildlife Services, the program that is responsible for killing hundreds of “problem wolves” every year. Cuts to their budget has meant less money for predator control in places like Idaho, where Wildlife Services guns wolves down from the air in response to livestock depredations. Now the Idaho Cattle Association is looking for new funding streams to pay for additional predator control. But as Rocky Barker pointed out on his blog over at the Idaho Statesman, this could be the perfect opportunity for the livestock industry to take a fresh look at nonlethal management techniques like the ones Defenders has been successfully promoting for years.


One Response to “Wolf Weekly Wrap-up”

  1. Peggy

    Enjoyed the video. I pray that the budget cuts will have a postive outcome for the wolves. It boggles the mind that men would hunt them down from helicopters. Use awful traps. The wolves are brave animals. Mankind are cowards to use such methods aganist defenseless animals. They are in the wild where they belong. Everything invades their territory. Where are they suspose to go?? Please leave wildlife alone!! We need wildlife.


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