James Swan: the myth of the harmless wolf

James Swan, author of the book “In Defense of Hunting” [here] has written an excellent synopsis of wolf issues with emphasis on the dangers that uncontrolled wolves pose to wildlife and humans.

Selected excerpts:

Recent wolf attacks on humans raise calls for proper management

By James Swan, ESPNOutdoors.com, April 24, 2010 [here]

On March 9, 2010, Candice Berner, a 32 year-old special education teacher working in Chignik Lake, Alaska, went jogging at dusk on a road near town and was attacked and killed by wolves.

On October 28, 2009, Canadian folk singer Taylor Mitchell was hiking in a Provincial Park in Nova Scotia when she was attacked and killed by two coyotes, which were subsequently identified by park rangers as a wolf-coyote hybrid.

In November of 2005, college student Kenton Carnegie was hiking on a road near Points North Landing in northern Saskatchewan when he was attacked and killed by wolves. There was some dispute over whether Carnegie was killed by wolves or a bear, but a provincial inquest found that wolves were responsible.

The attacking wolves in these three incidents were not rabid.

Because more than 90 percent of the population lives in urban areas and relies heavily on electronic screens to get information, most people today form opinions based on books, films and what people say.

For decades we have been told and taught that wolves have never attacked people in North America. The Internet Movie Database lists over 150 film and TV titles with the words “wolf” or “wolves.” There was only one found about wolf attacks: “The Man-Eating Wolves of Gysinge” (2005), a TV drama based on the true story of a wolf that terrorized a rural Swedish community and kills 10 children.



We’ve also been told that children’s fairy tales about the “Big Bad Wolf” were created to keep children home at night, and do not paint a realistic portrait of wolves.

Some light on wolf-human encounters was shed in 2002 when Alaskan wildlife biologist Mark McNay published a report of a two-year study documenting 80 aggressive encounters between wolves and people in North America in the 20th century.

In only 12 of the attacks were the wolves rabid. Since McNay’s report came out there have been three fatal attacks by healthy wolves, and an unknown number of non-fatal aggressive encounters and attacks on people and their pets in the U.S. and Canada. So what’s up?

“In Wolves In Russia,” Will Graves reports on a long history of wolf attacks on people in Eurasia, especially Russia, Pakistan, India and Kazakhastan, including thousands of fatal ones. …

Not nearly as many people in Eurasia are armed. As Graves points out, in Russia the populace was kept unarmed to prevent revolutions and reports of wolf killings were also suppressed to keep people from demanding to be armed. Our perspective on wolves is based on our experience, which is different from people abroad. All three peopled recently killed by wolves were unarmed. …

There are at least 6,000 wolves in the Northern Rockies and Northern Great Lakes states, 40,000 to 50,000 wolves in Canada and 7,700 to 11,200 in Alaska — 65,000-70,000 wolves for all of North America.

Wolves live in wild places, where there are few people, at least until recently. In recent years, especially since Canadian wolves were released into the Northern Rockies in 1995, the North American wolf population has doubled. Elk and deer herds have been dramatically reduced in some areas.

In 1995, when wolves were first re-introduced to the Northern Rockies, there were 19,000 elk in the Northern Yellowstone herd. By 2008, the herd was reduced to 6,000. Current estimates place the herd at less than 5,000. The moose herd in that area has dropped below 1,000.

Similarly, in 1994 there were 9,729 elk in District 10 of the Lolo Basin in Idaho, and 3,832 in District 12. By 2010, the elk herd in District 10 had plummeted to 1,473, and in District 12 in 2010 there were 705.

Such dramatic declines have moved the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation to move from a position of what RMEF President David Allen describes was “sitting on the fence about wolves,” to its present stance, which favors “managing wolves like other predators, because their population numbers have soared way over the benchmark goals of the re-introduction as elk herds have declined by 80 percent or more in certain areas of the Northern Rockies.”

A recent study by Mark Collinge of the USDA APHIS Wildlife Services office in Boise, Idaho, finds “that individual wolves are much more likely to prey on livestock than are individuals of any other predator species in Idaho.”

As wild prey declines, wolves will look for food elsewhere. Noted Canadian wildlife biologist Dr. Valerius Geist finds that wolves (and coyotes, too) constantly test boundaries as they look for their next meal.

When normal prey is scarce, and they aren’t challenged by people, both wild canids progressively move closer and closer — preying on livestock, pets, garbage, etc. until they experiment with humans as food. “Habituation,” it’s called. It spells “trouble.” …

Wolves enjoy killing. It’s well-documented that on occasion they will run amok among herds of livestock, deer and elk, killing as many as they can, not eating their prey.

David Allen of RMEF, Don Peay of Sportsmen for Fish and Wildlife and Steve Alder from Idaho for Wildlife, all cite numerous examples of wolves attacking and killing large numbers of elk and livestock and not touching the carcasses as food. All three organizational leaders add that the elk killed by wolves are not just the sick, lame or aging, but very often healthy elk, especially calves and yearlings. …

Since wolves were introduced into the Northern Rockies in 1995, more than 1,000 have been killed by animal control. ….

David Mech recently has said that regulated hunting of wolves is not a threat to the species survival. Wolves no know political boundaries. They are here to stay.

Wolves are smart, prolific, and adapt quickly. Mech says that so long as there is adequate food and habitat it’s necessary to kill off between 28 and 53 percent in an area just to keep that wolf population stable. In 2009, hunters killed 22 percent of the wolves in Idaho and 14 percent of the wolves in Montana.

Cal Grown, Director of the Idaho Department of Fish and Game, says that declining elk populations in the state could lead to more liberal wolf hunting seasons in 2010. This will cause some people to howl, but will it threaten the survival of wolves?

“If the animal rights folks were truly just concerned about wildlife diversity they would leave the sportsmen and the states alone to manage the wildlife, including wolves. The U.S. has had the most successful wildlife model in the world for a century and it is due in large part to the American sportsmen. But I don’t believe that wildlife diversity is really their agenda or end goal; anti-hunting is their agenda,” says David Allen.

There are efforts afoot to return wolves in the Northern Rockies to the Endangered Species list. If you would like to voice your support to continue delisting wolves, a new website has been established, www.biggameforever.org, that will have an online petition. The goal is getting 100,000 signatures. … [more]

11 Mar 2010, 11:06am
Deer, Elk, Bison Wildlife Agencies Wolves
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Panel Roundtable: Canadian Gray Wolf Introduction into Yellowstone

by Tom Remington, Blackbear Blog, March 10, 2010 [here]

Following is no doubt the most candid discussion you will find anywhere in North America today about predators and their diseases. The discussion surrounds the introduction of the gray wolf to the Greater Yellowstone area and the impact this has had on not only the ecosystem but economically, socially and in the lives of private ranchers and citizens. This discussion not only covers the politics behind the introduction and the ongoing politics but also covers the diseases carried and transmitted by the wolf and the lack of comprehensive research to fully study the environmental, social and economic impacts to this region of the country. This discussion no doubt covers this topic to depths most Americans have never had the opportunity to experience and it is done by some of this continent’s most renowned scientists and researchers. This is a bit lengthy but is very much worth the time it takes to read it thoroughly. — Tom Remington

Republished by permission

Economic and physical dangers to Rural Americans and other unintended consequences

By Kelly Wood, All American Patriot, March 2010

There are significant economic, health and safety ramifications of the Gray Wolf Introduction Program in Yellowstone Park that have manifested themselves in the Western States along the Rocky Mountain Front. A distinguished panel joins The All American Patriot to discuss these critical issues. The guests assembled for this roundtable are:

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1 Mar 2010, 2:43pm
Homo sapiens
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EPA Sociologist Plays Race-Sex-Age Card

Sabrina McCormick, EPA Sociologist and IPCC committee member has suggested on her blog [here] that “old white men” scientists should be “passed up because there are new views on critical subjects.”

It’s a bigotry triple play: racism, sexism, and ageism!!!

Questions abound. For instance:

* Why does the EPA hire sociologists? Is sociology a discipline that provides useful environmental science? What do sociologists know about climate science? Is sociology a “science” at all?

* Why does the EPA hire racist, sexist, ageist sociologists in particular?

* Is self-avowed bigotry and prejudice a job requirement at the EPA?

* What percentage of EPA employees are flaming bigots?

* Are expressions of racism, sexism, and ageism now PC when spewed forth from the cake holes of idiot government functionaries?

* Is the entire Obama Administration racist, sexist, and ageist, or is the problem confined to the EPA?

* How much is self-avowed bigot Sabrina McCormick paid by taxpayers to promulgate racism, sexism, and ageism?

* Has this country gone to the dogs or what?

Hydatid Disease Medical Reports

Was it a conspiracy, a terrorist act or stupidity that introduced a diseased animal species to the Northwest?

By Harvey Neese, The Eagle & Boomerang, March 1, 2010 [here]

Was it some kind of a conspiracy involving various government agencies/organizations to introduce an animal species with potentially dangerous diseases to the Northwest area? After introduction of Canadian wolves to the Northwest area carrying the Hydatid disease, the government organizations and so-called expert biologists responsible for the introduction have kept very mum on the Hydatid malady introduced by them.

If the biologists in the various agencies responsible for importing this disease to the Northwest had strange sounding foreign names and long beards and taking into account the potential long term financial and health costs to livestock, wildlife and humans in a large sector of the U.S., this might be dubbed a “Terrorist Act” and U.S. security agencies would be actively involved.

It has been reported that a wildlife biologist with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, who was previously employed in Alaska where the Hydatid disease had been known for many years, was transferred to this wolf dumping project in the Northwest. Really now, we are to believe he did not realize the potential undesirable ramifications of introducing this disease to the Northwest area with some 15 times more population than in prevalent areas in Alaska? Either he’s from another planet or this has to be stupidity at its height! Trying to cover up for this incompetence, the Idaho Fish and Game Dept. is now saying the disease was in the area several decades ago, so it is now okay to reintroduce it or a different strain to the Northwest. How much more idiotic thinking will this project lead to?

What are the ramifications of introducing a disease carrying animal species, as Canadian wolves infested with Hydatid tapeworm disease, to large public land areas, numerous farms and ranches with livestock and families throughout the area alongside some larger cities? This is an area that is inhabited by a high percentage of people who hunt, fish and recreate in the forest areas where wolves are now multiplying.

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9 Feb 2010, 3:11pm
Deer, Elk, Bison Wildlife Agencies Wolves
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Negligent or Naive About Wolves?

by Kelton Larson

Read the article below where Commissioner Randy Budge comes clean on what has really happened to our big game populations in Idaho.

Although the reality is not pleasant, it is certainly positive that the commission is coming clean by telling us the facts about Idaho big game populations. Hopefully this will bring positive changes for Idaho’s wildlife and sportsmen.

The real question is: why did the IDFG and Commission sit back and let our let our big game populations crash? Why wasn’t the 10j Rule used 5 to 7 years ago?

The 10j Rule was the rule that was used to introduce the Nonessential Experimental Population of wolves into central Idaho and YNP in January of 1995. It was rewritten in 2005 to allow Montana — and subsequently Idaho after the MOU was signed by Kempthorne in Jan 2006 — to allow both states to kill wolves that were having an unacceptable impact on ungulate populations. Although IDFG described it as “having to jump through a bunch of hoops,” IDFG only had to document a 25% decline in an ungulate population in five years and get a peer review of their wolf kill plan to be able to remove the wolves.

Instead the IDFG implemented the cow/calf collaring study that initially reported wrong numbers and failed to report the actual elk population decline. But even after the losses became evident in the Lolo and Sawtooth Zones, and Dr. Geist and other experts reviewed the IDFG plan, IDFG still has not controlled very many wolves to date.

I remember when Governor Kempthorne signed the 10j rule. We were all excited that IDFG could start controlling wolves. There is no excuse for what has happened to our big game populations. The IDFG and the commission have had their hands in their pockets for a long time. The IDFG and the Commission and many legislators have bought into this delisting myth. As Commissioner Budge points out in the article below, the 200 wolf hunt quota will not be enough to halt elk population decline.

The bottom line is the whole introduction of wolves has been a disaster for Idaho. The impact will be felt for many years to come. Outfitters have been put out of business. Revenue to Idaho’s economy and small business’s has been greatly reduced. Wolves have been a plague on Idaho’s ranchers and farmers. Now we find out that these wolves were probably introduced with diseases. And of course the IDFG will probably want residents to pick up the bill for nonresident hunters not coming to Idaho anymore.

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7 Feb 2010, 6:59pm
Deer, Elk, Bison Homo sapiens Wolves
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Synopsis of Wolf-Borne Hydatid Disease

by Dr. Valerius Geist, PhD., Professional Biologist, Professor Emeritus of Environmental Science

Dear friends,

We can summarize matters pertaining to the presence of hydatid disease as follows. As expected, following some time after the spread of wolves, there was the entry of sylvatic hydatid Echinococcus granulosus disease into said wolf populations and associated prey. Earlier on fox tape worm, E. multilocularis had spread into the NW United States and I understand that it is still spreading. This dreaded parasite has been reported from foxes and coyotes. Since E. multilocularis has been reported from wolves in Europe, and since wolves may be avid “mousers”, opportunity permitting, it is likely that E. multulocularis will be reported in American wolves as well. As you are aware, E. multilocularis cycles primarily between canids and rodents (mainly voles). Moreover, since the pastoral type of E. granulosus is found cycling between domestic sheep and dogs further south, it is likely that, in time, stray wolves will pick up this variant of hydatid disease. Consequently, we expect wolves, eventually, to be carriers of sylvatic, pastoral and alveolar hydatid disease.

You may have noticed that there is some discrepancy in the accounts of hydatid disease emanating from wildlife agencies as opposed to accounts by clinicians. My understanding of hydatid disease, which I have carried with me ever since my student days over 40 years ago, matches that of the clinicians. It is a silent disease, difficult to diagnose, with little specificity in symptoms, gradually developing worse over 10-20 years, and, depending on the location and number of cysts, ranging in effects from benign to lethal. It is particularly dangerous to anyone engaged in an active, sporting lifestyle, since blows to the body can lead to rupture of cysts with dreadful consequences, and prolonged, costly treatment. Alveolar hydatid disease in particular is likely to be lethal.

It is well known that domestic dogs play a very large risk factor in hydatid disease. Unlike in Northern Canada or Alaska, in the West one is dealing with much greater densities of people, dogs and carrier species such as deer or elk. High incidents of the parasite in wolves and coyotes and a high infestation rate with cysts in lungs and liver of deer and elk, put at risk the ranching, farming and rural communities. In winter time deer and elk will frequently be found on ranches close to communities. Dogs from ranches, farms and hamlets will have access to winter killed carcasses of deer and elk as well as to offal left in the field during the hunting season. Once infected with dog tape worm, the ranch and house dogs will contaminate the yard, porches, living rooms etc with hydatid eggs. There is no escape from this! Ten to twenty years down the road, hydatid disease will raise its head, in particular in persons who as toddlers crawled over floors walked over by people and dogs carrying in hydatid eggs from the outside. Please inform yourself what this is likely to mean in terms of prognosis, suffering and costs!

We know that in the past there were attempts in Finland and in Russia to eliminate, or at least control hydatid disease. In Finland the eradication of hydatid disease was accomplished by diminishing wolf numbers and treating domestic dogs with anti-helmithic drugs. In Russia, controlling wolf density in spring and summer led to significant declines in the disease in the prey (see p. 83 of Will Graves 2007, Wolves in Russia. Detselig, Calgary [here, here]). I am suggesting that eliminating hydatid disease be discussed, and suggest the following approach.

1.) Assuming the number of wolf packs can be reduced so as to retain a vibrant, abundant prey base, that developmental studies proceed on how to create bait stations that are accepted by wolves, with bait containing anti-helminthic drugs that are readily eaten by wolves. I am aware that this will not be a quick project. Rather I expect that wolves will accept bait stations, let alone the bait, only very gradually. It will take time, experimentation and sophisticated know how to make bait stations operational. However, once accepted by wolves, the bait stations will break the hydatid cycle between wolves and ungulates. Over time, this will lead to diminished infections of deer and elk, and this with re-infection with the parasite by wolves and coyotes.

2.) Unfortunately, under moist and cold conditions hydatid eggs remain viable for months and may even infect after three and a half years. Under dry, hot conditions the eggs die quickly. Burning the understory in forests will not eliminate the dangers from hydatid eggs, but will certainly reduce such. It’s a policy worth looking at.

3.) Simultaneously, a thorough campaign must be initiated to regularly de-worm dogs in danger areas as well as encourage specific hygienic measures. Here it means winning the ears and the trust of the rural communities.

Finally we have to look to history. Wolves have been exterminated from lived in landscapes universally because they, or their diseases, posed a serious threat to affected people, livestock and wild life. The lessons from history are that we can at best live with wolves if such are relatively few, the abundance of natural prey is high, and the risk from diseases non existent. We have the means and intelligence to achieve such.

18 Jan 2010, 10:59pm
Homo sapiens Wolves
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Wolf Tapeworms Are a Serious Threat to Wildlife, Pets, and People

by Dr. Valerius Geist, Ph.D.

Professor Emeritus of Environmental Science, University of Calgary
Vancouver Island, British Columbia, Canada

Dear Friends,

When the news broke that hydatid disease had established itself in the NW of the United States, I quickly responded, stating some of the precautions hunters should take in the field. As a Canadian field biologist I was well instructed about hydatid disease in my training, which reinforced what I knew since childhood, because a relative of mine died of hydatid disease. Friendships during my career with medical people experienced with that disease reinforced what I knew. It’s nothing to fool around with!

I am consequently a bit concerned about recent statements that take a rather cavalier attitude towards the disease. The pro- and contra- machinations pertaining to wolves are of little concern here. What is important is that people living or recreating in areas with hydatid disease take precautions, and steps have to be undertaken to eradicate the disease.

To those supporting wolf conservation, let me make it clear: if wolves are going to survive in the NW, it will be wolves that are not infected with dog tapeworms. On this point, ludicrous as it may seem today to some, all parties can and should unite.

The more each party does its homework, the more likely this happy event will come to pass!

To reiterate briefly: because infected wolves, coyotes, dogs, and foxes (and also felines small and big, like house cats and mountain lions, and even raccoons) may carry dog tapeworm, or fox tapeworm or a number of related species of tapeworms, all of which are bad business, it is important that feces from carnivores is treated with great care –- as well as the handling of carcasses and skins of carnivores in affected areas.

Because the tiny eggs, liberated by the millions in carnivore feces, are dispersed even by tiny air currents, it is important for reasons of personal health not to poke or kick such feces. They will usually be dry. Disturbance can liberate clouds of tapeworm eggs, and these clouds of eggs will settle on your clothing, your exposed skin, in your sinuses and wind pipe, on your lips, and if you inhale through the mouth, in your oral cavity. If you lick your lips, the eggs will get into your oral cavity. When sinuses and windpipe clear themselves of inhaled particles with your sputum, the eggs will get into your mouth and be swallowed. If you touch the feces or even poke at them, chances are the cloud of tine eggs will also settle on your hands and may contaminate the food you handle or eat.

People with dogs are at risk because their dogs may feed (unbeknown to the owners) on carcasses or gut piles of big game infected with that disease, infecting themselves with dog tapeworm. These dogs will defecate in kennel and yards, spreading these tiny eggs. They will also lick their anus and fur, spreading the eggs into their fur. The eggs will cling to boots and and be carried indoors, where they float about until they settle down as dust. Now everybody is at risk of infection, especially toddlers crawling around on the floor. House cats can also be involved.

Hunters and ranching folks who keep or hunt with dogs in areas infected with hydatid disease are thus much more at risk than urban populations. The disease is silent, difficult to detect until very late, innocuous when the infection is light, provided the cysts that form are not interfering with vital functions, but lethal if they do, especially if cysts develop in the brain. Fox tapeworm infections are worse. Some new drugs can help contain the disease, but in many cases surgery is required. Unfortunately, the surgery can be very tricky.

To control the disease, we may have to undertake controlled burning of big game winter ranges to burn off the eggs. We should also consider targeting known wolf packs with medicated bait to purge them of tapeworms.

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15 Jan 2010, 5:00pm
Wildlife Agencies Wolves
by admin

Human-Habituated Wolves in Idaho

We have reported on the dangers of human-habituated wolves in numerous posts. A sampling:

* Predicting Predator Attacks on Humans by Dr. Valerius Geist [here]

* Yellowstone Staff Remove Human-Habituated Gray Wolf [here]

* The Hailey Wolf Rally [here]

* Report the Truth About Wolves for a Change by Laura Schneberger [here]

* Undue Burden: The real cost of living with wolves [here]

* Wolves Are Targeting Humans As Prey by Dr. Valerius Geist [here]

* Three Wolf Stories [here]

Human-habituated wolves are those which have lost their fear of humans. It is a common phenomenon, in this country and in Europe and Asia. As reported in Wolves in Russia: Anxiety Through the Ages by Will N. Graves [here], wolf behavior follows a general habituation-exploration model. The progressive 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 increases 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 shift to preying on pets and livestock, especially on dogs.

(e) Wolves stalk and kill livestock.

(f) Wolves commence deliberate, drawn-out exploration of humans on foot or on horseback.

(g) Followed by wolves confronting humans.

(h) Wolves attack humans.

Now human-habituated wolves have been observed in Stage (f) near Kamiah, Idaho. The following story is behind a paywall, so we cannot provide a link, but the introduction is:

Wolves reported near Kamiah bus stop

By Eric Barker, Lewiston Tribune, January 15th, 2010

A man who lives near Kamiah reported seeing three wolves near his children’s bus stop recently.

Mike Popp, a hunting outfitter who lives on Glenwood Road east of Kamiah, said he is worried the wolves are becoming too habituated to people and running out of a natural prey base. Seeing a wolf is not unusual for him or his family. Popp guides hunters and frequently runs across the animals. He has also had them on or near his property on a regular basis and has long worried about the effects on elk and moose. But seeing them near the bus stop was different.

“We see wolves. Wolves kill our dogs, they chase our horses,” Popp said. “It’s just a given in the last five years but I think gosh darn it when they walk up to the bus stop like that … the kids is what worries me.”

Popp took his children to their bus stop Monday morning and sat in his jeep while his 6- and 8-year-olds had a snowball fight. The bus pulled up, stopped and flashed its lights. The kids got on and the bus driver pulled into a driveway to turn around. When the driver backed up, the bus emitted warning beeps. After it pulled away, three wolves came out of the woods and walked down the road toward Popp.

He started his jeep and drove toward the animals. They left the road and Popp followed their tracks to see where they had come from. He said it was clear they were sitting in the woods about 30 feet away from the road prior to the arrival of the bus.

“While we were there at the bus stop and those kids were snowball-fighting I know they could hear, and they just sat there,” he said. “They are really becoming habituated to all the sights and sounds that are out there.” …

Major tragedies are brewing in Idaho, in addition to the decimation of elk herds and the increasing loss of livestock to wolves. Now they are stalking children.

The outcome is predictable if nothing is done to eliminate the human-habituated packs.

Idaho officials, including those who manage the Idaho Dept. of Fish and Game, need to undertake full predator control measures now, before tragedy strikes. There is no excuse for any delay. If there is any procrastination, and a child is attacked by known human-habituated wolves, the entire IDFG should be swept clean of all current employees and reconstituted with people who are cognizant of the dangers. Should it come to that, civil suits and criminal prosecutions of the dilatory officials will be as swift and brutal as a wolf attack.

10 Jan 2010, 2:19pm
Homo sapiens Wildlife Agencies Wolves
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Two-Thirds of Idaho Wolf Carcasses Examined Have Thousands of Hydatid Disease Tapeworms

By George Dovel, The Outdoorsman, No. 36, Dec. 2009 [full text here]

NOTE: see also [here]

Hydatid cysts infect lungs, liver, and other internal organs of big game animals. Michigan DNR Wildlife Disease Lab photo

Hydatid cysts infecting moose or caribou lungs. Photo courtesy of NW Territories Department of Environment and Natural Resources.

My first Outdoorsman article on hydatid disease caused by the tiny Echinococcosis granulosus tapeworm was published nearly 40 years ago. Back then we had many readers in Alaska and northern Canada where the cysts were present in moose and caribou and my article included statistics on the number of reported human deaths from these cysts over a 50-year period, and the decline in deaths once outdoorsmen learned what precautions were necessary to prevent humans from being infected.

In Alaska alone, over 300 cases of hydatid disease in humans had been reported since 1950 as a result of canids (dog family), primarily wolves, contaminating the landscape with billions of E. granulosus eggs in their feces (called “scat” by biologists). These invisible eggs are ingested by grazing animals, both wild and domestic, and occasionally by humans who release clouds of the eggs into the air by kicking the scat or picking it up to see what the wolf had been eating.

As with many other parasites, the eggs are very hardy and reportedly exist in extremes of weather for long periods, virtually blanketing patches of habitat where some are swallowed or inhaled. As Dr. Valerius Geist explained in his Feb-Mar 2006 Outdoorsman article entitled Information for Outdoorsmen in Areas Where Wolves Have Become Common, “(once they are ingested by animals or humans) the larvae move into major capillary beds – liver, lung, brain – where they develop into large cysts full of tiny tapeworm heads.”

He continued, “These cysts can kill infected persons unless they are diagnosed and removed surgically. It consequently behooves us (a) to insure that this disease does not become widespread, and (b) that hunters and other outdoorsmen know that wolf scats and coyote scats should never be touched or kicked.”

[NOTE: moisture around waterholes reportedly preserves the eggs in high temperatures that might otherwise destroy them. Ingestion of E. granulosus eggs by drinking the water is also possible. - ED]

Dr. Geist’s article also warned, “If we generate dense wolf populations it is inevitable that such lethal diseases as Hydatid disease become established.” Because wolves and other canines perpetuate the disease by eating the organs of animals containing the cysts, and the tapeworms live and lay millions of eggs in their lower intestines, the logical way to insure the disease did not develop was not to import Canadian wolves that were already infected with the parasites.

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New The Outdoorsman Is Excellent

The previous two posts were extracted (with generous permission) from articles appearing in the new issue of The Outdoorsman, No. 35, July-Nov 2009 [here]. The Outdoorsman is written and edited by Mr. George Dovel [here].

The new issue is excellent, as usual. Looking back, we have posted excerpts from six? previous issues [here, here, here, here, here, here] at least. We highly value and appreciate Mr. Dovel’s work and voice.

Another article (beside the two we posted) printed in the new The Outdoorsman is “When Biologists Stocked Alaska with Wolves” by Ned Rozell of the Geophysical Institute, University of Alaska Fairbanks.

Rozell discusses the “predator pit” that resulted from the 1960 release of a mating pair of wolves onto Coronation Island, a remote 45-square-mile island exposed to the open Pacific. Prior to the release, Coronation Island had a high density of blacktailed deer and no wolves. By 1965 at least 13 wolves lived on the island and three litters of young had been born since the first wolves had arrived. Few deer remained. By 1966 only signs were found of 3 deer and one wolf. By 1983 researchers found no evidence of wolves, and the deer were once again plentiful.

Another article is “Let’s Get Real” by Dr. Valerius Geist, about the myth of the “harmless wolf”. Dr. Geist is the undisputed authority on North American big game species, and many of his essays have also been posted at Wildlife and People [here].

Another article is “The Rest of the Story” by George Dovel in which he discusses predator-prey relationships and the myth of the “balance of nature”.

… In his article “Vancouver Island Wolves,” (see April-May 2006 Outdoorsman) Dr. Geist described how, when wolves entered Vancouver Island during the 1970s, the annual deer kill by hunters plummeted from about 25,000 to less than 4,000. Are we to believe that Vancouver Island’s 12,076 square-mile area is, like Alaska’s Coronation Island, also supposedly “too small for both deer and wolves?”

In both cases, with an abundance of deer to kill and eat, the wolves multiplied much faster than the deer and soon depleted their numbers. When the wolves on Coronation Island killed off most of the black-tailed deer and exhausted the supply of other prey they starved and the deer eventually recovered.

But, as Dr. Geist explained in “Vancouver Island Wolves,” after the wolves killed off most of the black-tailed deer and smaller prey, they survived on alternate prey, including elk, livestock and domestic animals and pets. These wolves also continue to kill pockets of deer thereby preventing recovery of the deer population. …

In geographically “closed” ecosystems such as Coronation Island and Isle Royale, a single large carnivore species decimates its single wild ungulate prey and ultimately destroys itself, allowing the prey to repopulate over time. But in the vast majority of ecosystems such as Vancouver Island and Interior Alaska, where alternate prey species allow predators to survive after the primary prey is decimated, the primary prey may not recover without a dramatic reduction in predator numbers. …

That is the situation throughout much of Alaska today and it resulted from pandering to propagandists who were allowed to promote the myth that predators and their prey will seek and maintain a “natural” balance. …

In the lower 48 States, pretending to manage ecosystems rather than actively manage wildlife populations can only result in decades of starvation, disease and scarcity in between the occasional rare “balance” that may appear to exist briefly. At a time when our federal government is promoting sustainable communities and the use of renewable natural resources, promoting the wanton destruction of our renewable timber and wildlife resources is inexcusable.

Please read the (free online) newest issue of The Outdoorsman [here]. You may also wish to send George Dovel a donation for his important and valuable efforts (see the last page of The Outdoorsman).

5 Dec 2009, 6:56pm
Endangered Specious Wolves
by admin
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Wolf Recovery and the Corruption of Government Science

by George Dovel

From The Outdoorsman, No. 35, July-Nov 2009 [here]

In November 2007 when Evolutionary Biologists Jennifer Leonard and Robert Wayne announced that most of the several thousand “wolves” being protected in the Great Lakes region were actually wolf-coyote crosses, Utah Wildlife Ecologist Dr. Charles Kay commented, “What a mess!” During their two-year study of the genetic make-up of Great Lakes wolves that were delisted, the study did not find any purebred Eastern Timber Wolves, and only 31% of the wolves tested had any Eastern timber wolf “genes” in their genetic make-up.

When confronted with this information by the news media in November 2007, Eastern Gray Wolf Recovery Team Leader Rolph Peterson admitted they had known all along that the wolves were crossbreeding with coyotes. …

The wolfote or coywolf hybrid reportedly found in western New York, Pennsylvania and elsewhere. Image courtesy The Outdoorsman

Molecular genetics analysts concluded that the “red wolf” being bred and raised in captivity and then released into rural areas of the Southeastern US by the US Fish and Wildlife Service is in actuality a wolf-coyote hybrid. Image courtesy The Outdoorsman

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28 Nov 2009, 8:33pm
by admin

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.

3 Nov 2009, 5:54pm
by admin
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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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26 Aug 2009, 8:49pm
Deer, Elk, Bison Homo sapiens Wolves
by admin

Wolves — When Ignorance is Bliss

Wolves mustn’t be coddled if we hope to balance them with modern ecosystems — and to avoid becoming prey

by Valerius Geist

Nothing convinces like personal experience! And I too am slave to it. As an academic I confess to this with some distress, because by training, experience and attitude I should be above it. That I am not alone in this habit is of little comfort. And so it was with wolves.

In my field research on mountain sheep, goats, moose etc. I also observed wolves, and my experience with North American wolves matches that of colleagues. Consequently, during my academic career and four years into retirement I thought of wolves as harmless, echoing the words of more experienced colleagues while considering the reports to the contrary from Russia as interesting, but not relevant to an understanding of North American wolves. I trusted my wolf-studying colleagues to have done their homework and I dismissed light-heartedly the experiences of others to the contrary. I was wrong!

I saw my first wolf in the wild early one morning in May 1959, on Pyramid Mountain in Wells Gray Provincial Park, British Columbia. I spotted an ash-gray wolf, with a motley coat, sitting and watching me from a quarter mile away with an eager, attentive look about his dark face. His red tongue was protruding, while golden morning light played on his fur. In the spotting scope his image was crisp and clear. I do not know if my heart skipped a beat, but it well might have. Whose wouldn’t?

Five months prior, in early January, I had had an informative brush with a wolf pack just a few miles from that spot. A friend and I were observing moose. We were in the midst of a migration and some two dozen, mostly bulls who had shed antlers, were dispersed over a huge burn. A few were feeding on the tall willows, but most were resting in the knee-deep snow. Suddenly we heard a low, drawn-out moan. When I glanced at the moose I saw that all were standing alert, facing down the valley. We were green then and perplexed about this unearthly sound.

As if to answer us, a high-pitched voice broke in, and then another and another. We realized we were hearing wolves. Within minutes a chorus was underway—and so were the moose. All were hastily moving up the valley and 10 minutes later the moose had vanished. I opted to stay at our lookout while my friend borrowed my rifle and went to search for the wolves. He saw them at dusk as they walked across a small lake, a pack of seven. Try as he may, the rifle would not fire; it had frozen in the great cold. This may have been kind fortune, for the first wolf I shot with that rifle instantly attacked me, but collapsed before reaching me. The second screamed, and that has triggered pack attacks in the past. Had the pack attacked, I would have been minus a friend in minutes. While a large man can subdue an attacking wolf, even strangle it, there is no defense against an attacking pack.

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New Revelations About Reintroduced Wolves

By George Dovel, The Outdoorsman, Bulletin 34, April-June 2009

Full text [here]

Selected excerpts:

In the early 1980s the 197-page unpublished research report, “Wolves of Central Idaho,” surfaced. In it, co-authors Timm Kaminski and Jerome Hansen estimated that elk and deer populations in six of the nine national forests in the proposed Central Idaho Wolf Recovery Area could support a total of 219 wolves without decreasing existing deer and elk populations in those forests.

They based this on an estimated 16.6 deer or elk killed by each wolf annually, and on estimated increases in elk and/or deer populations from 1981-1985 in the two-thirds of forests where they had increased.

But even if their estimated prey numbers and calculations were accurate, their report said only 17 wolves could be maintained in the Salmon National Forest, five in the Challis NF, and none in the Panhandle, Sawtooth and Bitterroot Forests. Yet the obvious question of what to do when the number of wolves in any National Forest or game management unit exceeded the ability of the prey base to support them was not adequately addressed.

Relocating “Problem” Wolves in Idaho Wilderness

Although there were increased reports of sightings of single wolves or pairs in Idaho during the late 1970s and early 80s and credible reports of at least two wolf packs with pups, no confirmed wolf depredation on livestock had been recorded for nearly half a century. Realizing that livestock killing would occur as wolf numbers increased, Kaminski and Hansen recommended relocating livestock-killing wolves into the central Idaho wilderness areas.

That was written more than 25 years ago …

[Tweny-five years later] Tribal, FWS and State biologists [have] all ignored wolf expert David Mech’s warning that relocating wolves that killed livestock did not stop their killing livestock. Transplanting even more wolves into areas like the Selway and Lolo Zones, with inadequate elk calf survival to support any wolves, guaranteed an accelerated decline in the elk population and the exploitation of alternate prey.

At a Predator-Prey Symposium in Boise, Idaho on Jan. 8, 1999, the featured speaker – North America’s top wild ungulate authority Dr. Valerius Geist – spent two hours explaining to federal, state and university wildlife biologists why wolf populations must be carefully controlled to maintain a healthy population of their prey species. Idaho biologists and members of the Idaho Wolf Oversight Committee appeared to listen carefully – but later invented excuses not to follow his expert advice. …

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