Canine Shot in Missouri Confirmed to be a Wolf: Although the state of Missouri is not often mentioned with regard to wolves, we thought you’d like to hear about an interesting new development. Earlier in December, a hunter killed an animal in Missouri’s woods that might have been a wolf, leading scientists with the Missouri Department of Conservation to conduct DNA tests to determine the animal’s correct species. This week, those tests determined that the animal killed was indeed a wolf.
In the past, wolves have been sighted in Missouri but have not established territories within the state. And while this wolf’s death is unfortunate, its presence in the state is an encouraging sign that wolves from northern packs are dispersing further south into their historic range. This incident also reminds us of why it is so critically important to maintain federal protection of wolves throughout most of the lower 48. In these circumstances, federal protection could make all the difference as we all work to ensure recovery of wolves in unoccupied yet suitable habitat.
Open Forum on Wednesday for Idahoans: The Idaho Department of Fish and Game Commission hosted a public meeting on Wednesday in Boise for Idahoans to comment on any wildlife issues on their minds. Defenders sent action alerts to local residents asking them to attend the hearing and speak out on the Commission’s series of increasingly brutal and aggressive tactics against wolves. About 150 people attended, 50 of whom spoke. Opposition to the Department’s recent efforts to exterminate two wolf packs in the Frank Church-River of No Return Wilderness was the primary issue mentioned by the public. One was Lynette McDermott, who said, “I stepped into this conversation about 10 years ago with an open mind, and based on scientific facts, I decided to defend the wolves with my voice.”
Status of Frank Church Lawsuit: Last week we told you that Defenders and four other environmental organizations filed suit against the U.S. Forest Service and Idaho Fish and Game for hiring and aiding a trapper to exterminate two wolf packs in the remote Frank Church-River of No Return Wilderness in Idaho. Defenders has not yet received a verdict back from the judge on the complaint or our request for a temporary restraining order – and every day counts. As of January 15th, the trapper had already killed nine wolves. We’ll keep you updated….
75 percent of world’s carnivores are in decline: A study published in Science last week finds 75 percent of the world’s large carnivore species are in decline; 17 percent of these animals now occupy less than half of their former range – staggering statistics, indeed. Authors attribute the precipitous decline to three primary factors: habitat loss, human persecution, and loss of prey. The study also shows that when apex predators are removed from their environments, this removal causes a cascade effect throughout the entire ecosystem. But it’s not all bad news: the study also cited the restoration of the gray wolf to Yellowstone National Park as a positive example of the value that predators provide to the landscape. Lead author William Ripple cited gray wolves’ reintroduction to Yellowstone as contributing to “renewed growth of woody plants, improving river shorelines and attracting songbirds and beavers, which have constructed dams that improved habitat for fish and amphibians.”