28 Nov 2009, 8:33pm
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Of wolves and worms

by DeLene, Wild Muse, 11/27/2009 [here]

If a Northern Rocky Mountain gray wolf has a daily to-do list, it may look like this:1.) Avoid hunters, 2.) Maintain territory, 3.) Find prey, 4.) Get de-wormed.

Yes, de-wormed.

According to a new study out in the October issue of the Journal of Wildlife Diseases, three-millimeter-long tapeworms known as Echinococcus granulosus, are documented for the first time in gray wolves in Idaho and Montana. And the authors didn’t just find a few tapeworms here and there… turns out that of 123 wolf intestines sampled, 62 percent of the Idaho gray wolves and 63 percent of the Montana gray wolves were positive. (Ew!) The researchers wrote: “The detection of thousands of tapeworms per wolf was a common finding.” (Again… Ew!!) This leads to the interpretation that the E. granulosus parasite rate is fairly widespread and established in the Northern Rocky Mountain wolves.

The tapeworms themselves are not new. Gray wolves in Canada and Alaska are known to be infected with them. In fact, previous studies indicate that a 14 to 72 percent infection rate is normal. But the study authors report that this is the first time that a specific biotype of E. granulosus has been detected in not only wolves of Idaho and Montana, but also wild herbivores. The parasite needs both types of animals to complete its life cycle. … [more]


Comments by Will Graves, the author of “Wolves in Russia” [here]

In the first paragraph in my letter to Mr. Bangs dated 3 October 1993 on the DEIS (Draft Environmental Impact Statement) which was titled “The Reintroduction of Gray Wolves to Yellowstone National Park and Central Idaho,” I warned about the damages and problems wolves would cause to Yellowstone and other areas by carrying and spreading parasites and diseases over larger areas. Some of these parasites are damaging not only to wild and domestic animals, but can also be dangerous to humans. One of these parasites is Echinococcous granulosus and Echinococcus m.

Since 1993 I have been working to tell people what I have learned from about 50 years of research on the characteristics, habits and behavior of Russian wolves. From that research I came to the conclusion that one of the most serious consequences of bring wolves into the US would be the wolves carrying and spreading around damaging/dangerous parasites and diseases. I did my best to explain this in my book titled, “Wolves in Russia – Anxiety Through the Ages” edited by Dr. Valerius Geist. Details about my book are at my web site: wolvesinrussia.com.

After several years effort, I finally recently obtained help from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Parasitic Research Center in Beltsville, MD. This research center will try to conduct research on the blood taken from wolves in our western states. One parasite they will be researching is Neospora Caninum. They hope to determine if wolves carry and spread the parasite around. It is established that coyotes and dogs carry this damaging parasite.

I remember that about two years ago there was a report about one wolf carrying Echinococcus granulosus in Montana.

Much more research is needed about the danger wolves bring to our environment. Some of the parasites carried by wolves are dangerous to humans.

25 Nov 2009, 10:05pm
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Grouse vs. Fences

by the Baker City Herald Editorial Board, November 11, 2009 [here]

The results of a scientific study released a couple weeks ago suggest that on the ornithological intelligence scale, sage grouse are closer to the dodo bird than to the parrot.

The sage grouse in Western Wyoming are, anyway.

This study would have really tickled us, except that it could inform a decision that would have a dramatic, and detrimental, effect on ranchers in Eastern Oregon and across much of the West.

The federal government, as it has been at various times over the past several years, is trying to decide whether the sage grouse, of which there are populations in several states, should be listed as a threatened or endangered species.

The feds’ decision is significant. If the chicken-size bird is given federal protection, then some ranchers could be forced to stop grazing cattle on public lands that biologists deem critical habitat for sage grouse.

Biologists from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and other agencies have laid most of the blame for the decline in sage grouse populations on the conversion of sagebrush habitat to such things as housing and agriculture.

That’s a logical explanation — the bird, as its name implies, depends almost entirely on sagebrush: for food, nesting habitat and protection from predators.

Which brings us to the Wyoming study, which was conducted in 2007.

Researchers concluded that during a seven-month period, as many as 146 sage grouse might have died because they flew into a 4.7-mile section of barbed-wire fence near Farson, Wyo.

We have no reason to question those statistics.

What worries us, though, is the prospect of federal officials citing the Wyoming study as evidence that sage grouse need the powerful protection of the Endangered Species Act.

The source of our skepticism is this: Barbed-wire fences have been widespread in the West for close to a century, yet even experts from the Western Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies wrote in an assessment that sage grouse populations have been relatively stable since dropping substantially from about 1960 through the mid-1980s.

The obvious question, then, is why, if barbed-wire fences are such deadly obstacles for sage grouse, the birds have managed to not only survive, but for periods thrive, in a region where tens of thousands of miles of such fence have been in place for many decades?

Perhaps the federal government’s bird experts can answer that question.

If they cite barbed-wire fences as justification for listing sage grouse, we hope that answer is backed with convincing evidence.

16 Nov 2009, 12:50pm
Wildlife Agencies Wolves
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Montana wolf hunt to close Nov. 16, half-hour after sunset

by Joleen Tadej, The Clark Fork Chronicle, November 16 2009 [here]

Wolf hunting in Montana will close statewide Monday, November 16, 2009 at one half-hour after sunset.

The order halting the hunt came after Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks officials received word that the pre-established harvest quota for wolves in WMU 2 had been met and was expected to be met in WMU 1. WMU 3 was closed on October 26, 2009. Montana’s statewide quota was 75 wolves.

For more information, visit FWP’s web site [here]

10 Nov 2009, 7:08pm
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Wolves Will Thrive Despite Recent Hunts

Note: this excellent article should be widely read:

Wolves Will Thrive Despite Recent Hunts

by William F. Jasper, The New American, 10 November 2009 [here]

In 1995 the federal government began transplanting Canadian gray wolves into Idaho, Montana, and Wyoming. That program touched off a fierce range war that continues to rage, pitting farmers, ranchers, hunters, conservationists, outdoor recreationists, and rural folk against the major environmentalist lobbying organizations, government bureaucrats, the big-city media, and urban politicians.

After being protected for 14 years, limited hunting seasons have finally been allowed for wolves this fall, and around 150 wolves have been taken thus far. Wolf advocates are howling that the permitted hunts are “barbaric” and that those who kill wolves are “murderers.” A coalition of radical environmental groups has challenged, and continues to challenge, the hunts with lawsuits in federal court. (See the list of coalition members at the end of this article.)

Those opposed to the wolf “recovery program” rejoiced when the hunting season finally was announced, but many believe it will barely begin to address the exploding wolf population that is decimating deer, elk, and moose populations, as well as causing havoc with cattle and sheep herds. They point out that wolf population estimates by fish and wildlife officials are notorious for undercounting (i.e., there actually are far more wolves than officially admitted), and even if hunters fill all of the tag quotas, wolf populations will continue to soar. … [more]

10 Nov 2009, 12:20pm
Homo sapiens Wolves
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Humans, as predators, have duty to control coyotes

By Dick Dekker, PhD, Edmonton wildlife ecologist, The Edmonton Journal, November 9, 2009 [here]

“Coyotes Kill Young Singer Hiking on Nova Scotia Trail” was a headline in The Edmonton Journal of October 29.

This shocking news story was followed by an almost equally shocking headline, but then in a very different sense: Victim Wouldn’t Want Coyotes Killed

The bereaved mother was quoted to say: “We take a calculated risk when spending time in nature’s fold … in the coyote’s space.” By this, she probably meant that the coyote was here first, and its rights should take precedence over those of humans.

Unfortunately, her soft-hearted reaction appears to be based on the fallacious belief that Nova Scotia is the coyote’s original habitat. This is not the case at all — quite the opposite. The coyote arrived after humans exterminated its natural control, the wolf.

Prior to European settlement in North America, the original range of the coyote was restricted to the arid southwest, whereas all lands to the east and north were the domain of its bigger cousin. However, after wolves were shot and poisoned in most of the continent, the coyote took advantage of the opportunity by expanding its range.

This adaptable canid is now common from coast to coast and in all suitable habitats, as far north as Alaska.

According to various experts commenting on the Nova Scotia tragedy, coyotes rarely attack people, and the pair of animals involved in killing the 19-year old woman may not have been pure coyotes, but hybrids of coyotes and dogs (The Journal, October 29).

Eastern coyotes are somewhat larger than the western kind, and the differences may involve more than just physical size. In the Maritime provinces, coyotes have, in fact, become wolflike and now prey on deer as well as mice and rabbits.

“Eastern Coyotes May Be More Aggressive, Expert Says.” (The Journal, October 30). This opinion, however, is contradicted by the facts. Based on the known record, attacks on humans by western coyotes are by no means rare. Several dozen serious and potentially lethal cases have been reported from western national parks — including Jasper, Banff and Yellowstone — as well as from provincial recreation sites in British Columbia.

Nor is coyote aggression toward people uncommon in large cities, including Vancouver, Los Angeles and Toronto. In all of these areas, there was no hunting. Coyotes lose their fear of people, scavenge on food scraps and are sometimes fed.

Most of the woundings have involved children, which were grabbed and dragged into bushes. Luckily, in nearly all of these horrifying incidents, the timely intervention of parents saved the screaming victims from certain death.

Some well-meaning defenders of wild predators argue that attacks on humans by coyotes are very few compared with those by dogs. This is indeed a very sad fact. Serious bites and even lethal maulings by “man’s best friend” average five million reported cases per year in North America.

The difference is that some coyotes consider humans as potential food, on par with deer or bighorn sheep. The coyote’s ferociousness in attacking animals larger than itself is not a pretty sight.

In cities, the fearless coyote is a growing problem, and what to do about it is locally under review. In the opinion of Edmonton park rangers, only proven culprits should be killed, because, for every coyote removed, another one will take its place.

This realistic management option shows a surprising level of tolerance for a potentially dangerous predator in a city where people think little of destroying other wildlife, such as magpies and squirrels, just because they are noisy or a nuisance.

In wilderness habitats, the opportunistic coyote is kept in its place by the wolf. I can speak from personal experience.

During my 30 years of mammal surveys in Jasper Park’s lower Athabasca valley, where wolves have been the apex predator, coyote sightings per day have gradually declined by a factor of 10 to one.

In large cities, in the absence of wolves, humans are now the dominant predator and should take the responsibility for keeping aggressive coyotes at bay.

Copyright 2009, The Edmonton Journal.

3 Nov 2009, 5:54pm
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Predicting Predator Attacks on Humans

by Val Geist

Note: Dr. Valerius Geist, Ph.D. is Professor Emeritus of Environmental Science, The University of Calgary, Calgary, Alberta, Canada.

In view of last week’s fatal attack on a 19-year-old woman by two coyotes in Cape Breton National Park [here], please allow me a commentary, which I ask you distribute to distribute to your affected colleagues.

1. Both coyotes and wolves have an identical manner of targeting alternative prey, and this process is drawn out and specific, so that one gets fair warning well ahead of the first attack by wolves or coyotes on people. This targeting process proceeds in steps (from Will Graves 2007 Russian Wolves. Anxiety through the Ages [here]):

Free-living wolves also follow the general habituation-exploration model… These circumstances are:

(a) Severe depletion of natural prey.

(b) Followed by wolves searching for alternative food sources among human habitations.

(c) The brazen behavior of wolves was due to the wolves being undeterred by and habituated to inefficiently armed humans (or ineffectual use of weapons or outright protection of wolves),

(d) Wolves shifted to preying on pets and livestock, especially on dogs. (In our neighborhood one or several wolves attacked dogs despite the physical intervention by their owners which the wolves more or less ignored).

(e) Wolves tested and killed livestock; the tests resulted in docked tails and ears of cattle.

(f) The wolves commenced deliberate, drawn-out exploration of humans be such on foot or on horseback, (this is not merely visual and olfactory, but included – weeks before these wolves attacked a human – the licking, nipping and tearing of clothing. Beatty 2000).

(g) This was followed by wolves confronting humans.

(h) Wolves attack humans.

According to interviews with hikers and Cape Breton National Park staff, coyotes in the park had reached stages f to h. In short, if you are aware of this targeting process you would have been highly alarmed by coyotes showing stage f behavior. The coyotes were, clearly, on the way to attacking humans. Also, the pattern of wounding as described by the press indicates that this attack was an exploratory one.

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