Volume 10, Issue 126, April 2015

SAFHOWL

The Monthly Free E-Newsletter of South African Friends of Wolves

Volume 10, Issue 126, April 2015

From the Editor’s Desk

I am actually happy that we managed to get this newsletter out in spite of the massive load shedding stints that we are currently experiencing just about every day. For our non-South African readers: “load shedding” is, as far as I know, a uniquely South African term for rotational power cuts that last from one to three hours plus in an attempt to save the national electricity grid from a complete breakdown. It is evidently a result of two decades of mismanagement and incompetence. Not being able to rely on an uninterrupted electricity supply obviously has vast destructive effects on just about every aspect of life, and the situation has become so bad that even the proverbial “light at the end of the tunnel” can be seen only sporadically.

We apologise for not having been able to find good news on wolves in the wild. In the US, killing them wherever and whenever by whatever means goes on unabated, fuelled by the interests of the lead-brained hunting industry and all-too-trigger-happy gunslingers. The really bad thing is that they find more and more support by senators who think that natural wealth ranks far below personal wealth, fun and pseudo-happiness. It is therefore little surprising that state office personnel are available for hire to help eradicate natural predators so that more live targets are left to be shot for pleasure. Disgusting.

Our poem this month is also on the dark side, even though it ends with a defiantly positive outlook.

Finally, Erin reports that her pack is still full of nonsense; fortunately she’s got an understanding tenant.

Till next month,
Ed.

News from the Wolf Front

National

International

From Defenders of Wildlife (http://www.defenders.org)

  1. USA: Idaho: Wolves shot from the air

The 19 wolves that were recently shot in Idaho were killed at the request of the state and carried out by federal sharpshooters, flying over national forest land.

The goal: to artificially boost elk numbers for sport hunters and outfitters.

The deeply disturbing actions by the Department of Agriculture’s Wildlife Services agency working on behalf of the state of Idaho must stop.

Tell Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack to order his employees to stop killing wolves on U.S. Forest Service lands just to inflate elk numbers:
http://action.defenders.org/site/R?i=5aIcsFQCGRYzCf2VqUEvNQ

Wildlife Services has received hundreds of thousands of dollars from Idaho Governor Butch Otter’s Wolf Depredation Control Board to help carry out the state’s relentless wolf killing program.

Aerial gunning of wildlife for sport is wrong on many levels, which is why it has been banned by statute in the United States for decades. And while government agents may be exempted from the provisions of that law, shooting wolves from the air is terribly offensive and wrong, regardless of who is pulling the trigger.

It is simply shocking for Secretary Vilsack to allow his employees to contract themselves out as sharpshooters to kill wolves from the air, especially on Forest Service lands. It is equally shocking for the Forest Service, which is also under the control of Secretary Vilsack, to stand by and allow their Wildlife Service colleagues to kill wolves on our national forest lands.

Defenders is the only national organization with staff on the ground in Idaho who not only worked to help restore wolves, but who are actively working at the statehouse and state wildlife commission to protect the fragile wolf recovery in the Northern Rockies.

Tell Secretary Vilsack: Healthy national forest landscapes need healthy populations of wolves. No more aerial gunning of wolves in our national forests:
http://action.defenders.org/site/R?i=JNBRG8cE4eHCD773sZeBMQ

Thanks for standing with us to protect wolves and other imperilled wildlife.

  1. USA: Congress declares war on wildlife

If you think this Congress has lost its mind, you’re not alone.

And the wolves, bears and other imperilled wildlife you love could be among the latest victims of the madness.

Since the 114th Congress was sworn in, anti-wildlife Senators have unleashed a torrent of proposals that could cripple endangered species efforts for years to come.

We’re fighting tooth and nail for the wildlife you love. But we need your help:
http://action.defenders.org/site/R?i=sj86a3tWN5zYZ143jV67tQ

Proposals ranged from the forced delisting of wolves and other species to bans on listing other endangered wildlife, to restricting access to the courts to enforce the Endangered Species Act (ESA).

One proposal would even relax restrictions on trade in elephant ivory – in the midst of the worst poaching crisis in years!

Make no mistake. The only federal law that stands between life and death for our nation’s threatened and endangered wildlife – the ESA – is in danger of crumbling under special economic interest attacks.

You and I can’t let that happen.

Your donation helps us stand strong against those who will harm the wildlife you love:
http://action.defenders.org/site/R?i=a7izs–7W5ejdhq1gch7mA

With your help, our legislative team is working overtime to make the case for protecting imperilled wildlife – and for protecting the laws that govern wildlife conservation.

With your help, we are generating public outrage by exposing the special economic interest agenda that is endangering our wildlife.

If you love wildlife like I do, I know you’ll want to do your part.

Please donate generously today:
http://action.defenders.org/site/R?i=dFFYMaaOj3NRUF7zJZ7fUQ

Thanks for all you do.

  1. USA: North Carolina: Abandoned and left to die?

No animal should have to endure this fate.

Red wolves are on the brink of extinction with fewer than 100 animals surviving in a small part of eastern North Carolina. Despite this, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS), the agency in charge of ensuring this wolf’s survival, appears to be quietly walking away from their red wolf recovery program, dooming these wolves to extinction in the wild.

Urgent: Tell FWS not to give up on red wolf recovery:
http://action.defenders.org/site/R?i=mTTsHp_xNP8MMO9zqhF3UA

After being hunted to the brink of extinction, FWS was entrusted to help save these shy wolves. Yet last year, 10 percent of the red wolf population was killed, and another five percent lay dead so far this year.

What’s worse, key staff vacancies are going unfilled at the FWS Red Wolf Recovery Program, critical field work is being skipped, and most telling of all – there has not been a single red wolf released into the wild in years.

Under pressure from North Carolina special interests, FWS appears to be walking away from this recovery program and all red wolf recovery efforts. You may recall Defenders went to court last year to successfully stop night hunting of coyotes in red wolf habitat. The two animals are strikingly similar in appearance which has led to dozens of “accidental” red wolf shootings.

Defenders will take whatever action is necessary to stop this tragedy.

We’ve simply come too far to give up on these magnificent creatures – there is no excuse for walking away now.

Please take action today:
http://action.defenders.org/site/R?i=XceY0xTP5CpBXSAuwRjk4A

From California Wolfcenter
(californiawolfcenter@yahoogroups.com)

Mexican Wolf Reintroduction Project Monthly Update

Endangered Species Updates March 1 – 31. 2015

The following is a summary of Mexican Wolf Reintroduction Project (Project) activities in the Mexican Wolf Experimental Population Area (MWEPA) in Arizona, including the Fort Apache Indian Reservation (FAIR), and New Mexico.   Additional Project information can be obtained by calling (928) 339-4329 or toll free at (888) 459-9653, or by visiting the Arizona Game and Fish Department website at www.azgfd.gov/wolf or by visiting the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service website at www.fws.gov/southwest/es/mexicanwolf. Past updates may be viewed on either website, or interested parties may sign up to receive this update electronically by visiting www.azgfd.gov/signup. This update is a public document and information in it can be used for any purpose. The Reintroduction Project is a multi-agency cooperative effort among the Arizona Game and Fish Department (AGFD), USDA Forest Service (USFS), USDA-Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, Wildlife Services (USDA-APHIS WS), U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) and the White Mountain Apache Tribe (WMAT).

To view weekly wolf telemetry flight location information or the 3-month wolf distribution map, please visit www.azgfd.gov/wolf. On the home page, go to the “Wolf Location Information” heading on the right side of the page near the top and scroll to the specific location information you seek.

Please report any wolf sightings or suspected livestock depredations to: (928) 339-4329 or toll free at (888) 459-9653. To report incidents of take or harassment of wolves, please call the AGFD 24-hour dispatch (Operation Game Thief) at (800) 352-0700.

Numbering System: Mexican wolves are given an identification number recorded in an official studbook that tracks their history. Capital letters (M = Male, F = Female) preceding the number indicate adult animals 24 months or older. Lower case letters (m = male, f = female) indicate wolves younger than 24 months or pups. The capital letter “A” preceding the letter and number indicate breeding wolves.

Definitions: A “wolf pack” is defined as two or more wolves that maintain an established territory. In the event that one of the two alpha (dominant) wolves dies, the remaining alpha wolf, regardless of pack size, retains the pack status. The packs referenced in this update contain at least one wolf with a radio telemetry collar attached to it. The Interagency Field Team (IFT) recognizes that wolves without radio telemetry collars may also form packs. If the IFT confirms that wolves are associating with each other and are resident within the same home range, they will be referenced as a pack.

CURRENT POPULATION STATUS

At the end of March 2015 the wild Mexican Wolf population consisted of 58 wolves with functional radio collars dispersed among 18 packs and three single wolves.

IN ARIZONA:

Bluestem Pack (collared AF1042, AM1341, m1330, m1331, f1333, f1339, f1340 and mp1382)

In March, the Bluestem Pack continued to use their traditional territory in the central portion of the ASNF. Wolf f1339 continues to travel separate from the pack with single m1394 and has been located on the SCAR for all of March. Wolf f1340 remained separated from the Bluestem Pack for the month of March and travelled within the ASNF from Big Lake to Greens Peak. The pair was observed south of Greens Peak in Arizona. In March, the satellite collar on AM1341 dropped off, the design of this collar allows the collar to drop off the wolf, and be retrieved for re-programming as the collar nears the end of its battery life.   The IFT has concluded the predation study for winter 2015. The Bluestem Pack was monitored as part of that study.

Elk Horn Pack (collared AF1294 and M1342)

In March, AF1294 and M1342 were located within their traditional territory in the northeast portion of the ASNF in Arizona. At the end of March the collar on M1342 began to fail and is currently no longer functioning. The IFT has obtained photos of M1342 with the use of a trail camera indicating the wolf is still alive and travelling with AF1294.

Hawks Nest Pack (collared AM1038, AF1280 and mp1383)

In March, the Hawks Nest Pack was located within their traditional territory in the north central portion of the ASNF. The IFT concluded the winter 2015 predation study. The Hawks Nest Pack was monitored as part of that study.

Hoodoo Pack (collared M1290)

In March, M1290 was located throughout the month in the area northwest of Noble Mountain and west of Nutrioso in Arizona. The collar on wolf f1395 has not been functioning since February 11. The IFT has not obtained evidence that a second wolf is travelling with M1290 during the month.

Maverick Pack (collared AM1183, AF1291, and f1335)

During March, the Maverick Pack travelled within their traditional territory both on the FAIR and ASNF. Wolf f1335 began travelling separately from the Maverick Pack at the end of the month.

Single M1161 (Collared)

In March, M1161 was located in the east-central portion of the ASNF in Arizona and the western part of the GNF in New Mexico. At the beginning of March M1161 was confirmed in the killing of two livestock calves in New Mexico.   This wolf then returned to Arizona where it remained throughout the month.

Single m1394 (collared)

In March, m1394 was located travelling with f1339 from the Bluestem Pack.   Both wolves were located on the SCAR throughout March.

ON THE FAIR:

Tsay o Ah Pack (collared M1343 and AF1283)

During March, the Tsay o Ah Pack was located on the FAIR.

Tse ighan lige Pack (collared AM1249, fp1389 and f1388)

M1249 has not been located for two months. This is probably due to a malfunctioning radio collar. On March 17, f1388 was located dead. The incident is still under investigation. On March 24 fp1389 was located dead in Arizona. This incident is also under investigation.

IN NEW MEXICO:

Canyon Creek Pack (collared AM1252 and AF1246)

During March, AM1252 and AF1246 have not been located for three consecutive months and are now considered fate unknown.

Coronado Pack (collared AM1051)

In March, the IFT located AM1051 in south-central portions of the Gila Wilderness.

Dark Canyon Pack (collared AM992, AF923, M1293, mp1354 and mp1347)

Throughout March, the IFT located this pack within its traditional territory in the west-central portion of the GNF.

Fox Mountain Pack (collared AM1158, and mp1396)

On March 13, mp1384 was removed to captivity for multiple depredations per a USFWS removal order. In March the IFT documented the Fox Mountain Pack within their traditional territory in the northwest portion of the GNF. During March the collar on AM1158 failed but the IFT has obtained photos from a trail camera indicating AM1158 is still alive and travelling with mp1396.

Iron Creek Pack (collared AM1240 and AF1278)

In March, the Iron Creek Pack continued to utilize their territory in the northern portion of the Gila Wilderness and the southern portion of the Gila National Forest.

Lava Pack (collared M1285 and F1295)

Throughout March, M1285 and F1295 were located together travelling in the northwest portion of the Gila Wilderness.

Luna Pack (collared AM1155, AF1115, and mp1398)

In March, AM1155 and AF1115 of the Luna Pack remained in their traditional territory in the north-central portion of the GNF. In March, the IFT ended the investigation of GPS clusters associated with the Luna Pack for the winter 2015 predation study. Wolf m1337 has not been located for three months and is now considered fate unknown.

Mangas Pack (collared M1296)

In March, M1296 travelled within the northern portion of the GNF in New Mexico and east of the Gila National Forest boundary.

Prieto Pack (collared AM1387, AF1251, mp1386 and fp1392)

Throughout March, the Prieto Pack was located within their traditional territory in the north-central portion of the GNF. The collar on AF1251 failed during the month of March.

San Mateo Pack (collared AF903, M1345 and fp1399)

During March, the IFT located AF903 travelling with M1345 within the traditional territory of the San Mateo Pack. The collar on fp1399 failed during the month of March.

Willow Springs Pack (collared AM1185, AF1279, mp1385, and fp1390)

Throughout March, the IFT located the Willow Springs Pack in their traditional territory in the north central portion of the GNF.

M1284 (collared)

Throughout March, M1284 was located travelling the northern-central portion of the GNF.

M1338 (collared)

Throughout March, M1338 was located travelling in the central portion of the ASNF.

mp1350 (collared)

Throughout March, mp1350 has been located in the northern portion of the Gila Wilderness and the southern portion of the GNF in New Mexico.

MORTALITIES

In March, f1388 was located dead in Arizona. The incident is under investigation.

In March, fp1389 was located dead in Arizona. The incident is under investigation.

INCIDENTS

During March there were 10 livestock depredation reports involving wolves and one nuisance report involving a dog and a wolf resulting in injury to the dog.

On March 3, Wildlife Services investigated one dead cow near Spur Lake Basin in New Mexico. The investigation determined the cow was killed by wolves. A second calf was investigated the same day in the same area and was confirmed to have been killed by wolves. The depredation was assigned as one incident to M1161.

On March 6, Wildlife Services investigated a dead cow near Spur Lake Basin in New Mexico. The investigation determined the cow was killed by a wolf.

On March 8, Wildlife Services investigated a dead cow near Hardcastle in New Mexico. The investigation determined the cow had been killed a wolf.

On March 13, Wildlife Services investigated a dead cow near Aragon New Mexico. The investigation confirmed the cow had been killed by a wolf.

On March 19, Wildlife Services investigated a nuisance incident in which a dog was reported to have been attacked by a wolf near Collins Park in New Mexico. The injuries to the dog were confirmed as being caused by a wolf.

On March 24, Wildlife Services investigated a dead cow near Springerville Arizona. The investigation confirmed the cow had been killed by a wolf.

On March 27, Wildlife Services investigated a dead cow near Sand Flats New Mexico. The investigation confirmed the cow had been killed by a wolf.

On March 30, Wildlife Services investigated a dead cow near Centerfire Creek in New Mexico. The investigation confirmed the cow had been killed by a wolf.

On March 30, Wildlife Services investigated a dead cow near Strayhorse in Arizona. The investigation confirmed the cow had been killed by a wolf.

COMMUNICATION AND COORDINATION

On March 6, a member of the IFT gave an interview with KVSL radio in Lakeside Arizona.

On March 13, the IFT conducted a meeting at the Alpine community centre to collect public comment on proposed initial release and translocations of Mexican Gray Wolves for 2015.

On March 26, a member of the IFT gave a project update in Cottonwood Arizona.

On March 31, a member of the IFT gave a project update at the Arizona Game and Fish and Apache Sitgreaves Forest Service Coordination meeting.

PROJECT PERSONNEL

On March 31, Lauren Ross, and Kenneth Loonam started their internship with the USFWS. Thanks for your help!

REWARDS OFFERED

The USFWS is offering a reward of up to $10,000; the AGFD Operation Game Thief is offering a reward of up to $1,000; and the NMDGF is offering a reward of up to $1,000 for information leading to the conviction of the individual(s) responsible for the shooting deaths of Mexican wolves. A variety of non-governmental organizations and private individuals have pledged an additional $46,000 for a total reward amount of up to $58,000, depending on the information provided.

Individuals with information they believe may be helpful are urged to call one of the following agencies: USFWS special agents in Mesa, Arizona, at (480) 967-7900, in Alpine, Arizona, at (928) 339-4232, or in Albuquerque, New Mexico, at (505) 346-7828; the WMAT at (928) 338-1023 or (928) 338-4385; AGFD Operation Game Thief at (800) 352-0700; or NMDGF Operation Game Thief at(800) 432-4263. Killing a Mexican wolf is a violation of the Federal Endangered Species Act and can result in criminal penalties of up to $50,000, and/or not more than one year in jail, and/or a civil penalty of up to $25,000.

Other News

National

Nothing relevant to report

Next Door

From Johnny Rodrigues, Chairman for Zimbabwe Conservation Task Force (www.zctfofficialsite.org)

  1. ZCTF Report March 2015

BIG PARTY IN MAIN CAMP

Saviour Kasukuwere, the Minister of Environment held a big party in Main Camp in Hwange National Park last Friday. The party was held for the villagers who were bussed in to the area. Several buffalo were shot to feed the guests.

UPDATE ON THE EXPORT OF THE ELEPHANTS

As far as we know, the baby elephants have not yet been exported. There are apparently some being held in the boma in Hwange National Park and some more in Victoria Falls although it is said that some have been moved to Grace Mugabe’s new game reserve as well as 9 lions. We don’t know if the elephants moved to Grace’s game reserve are part of the captured group.

Some of the bigger elephants captured proved too difficult to handle so they were released back into the bush and some smaller ones were captured to make up the numbers.

We have heard that the export will begin by the end of March.

  1. ATTACK BY SAVIOUR KASUKUWERE

http://www.chronicle.co.zw/kasukuwere-attacks-animal-rights-activist/

The Zimbabwean Minister of Environment and Water, Saviour Kasukuwere has publicly attacked me for trying to stop the export of the baby elephants. The article can be seen on the website stated above but I have also scanned it for those people who can’t get into the internet and will be happy to mail it to them upon request.

He has accused me of fighting in the war. During the war, everybody had to fight – there was no option. He says that I must “shut up” so if I don’t shut up, will I disappear like the journalist Itayi Dzamara?

The blame game doesn’t work. There are other ways of sorting out Zimbabwe’s problems. By exporting the elephants, people who want to see them can go to their local zoos and safari parks instead of coming to spend their money in Zimbabwe. By keeping the elephants in Zimbabwe where they belong, there are many advantages:

It creates employment

Keeps the hotels, safari parks, taxis etc running.

Enables the locals to sell their curios

The locals can become shareholders of the wildlife areas and earn commissions from tourism

As a minister who is responsible for water, he can’t even provide the people with water. Many people in Zimbabwe haven’t had municipal water for several years. I live in a medium density suburb and I haven’t had water for 6 years.

As a minister responsible for the environment, 55 million hectares of trees have been deforested. All he can think about is selling Zimbabwe’s animals, our future generation’s heritage. He is obsessed with racialism and this has nothing to do with racialism.

Does the minister know how many animals there are in Zimbabwe, because every time the population figures are quoted, they are different? Can he supply audited figures of all the wildlife in Zimbabwe?

  1. ZCTF Report March 2015 update

TO WHOM IT MAY CONCERN

With regard to the baby elephants which have been captured in Hwange National Park for intended export to China, we would appeal to the Zimbabwean government to do the right thing and release these elephants into a rehabilitation sanctuary so that they can be released back into the wild. This would prove to the world that Zimbabwe is serious about conservation. We are asking this on behalf of thousands of animal lovers around the world.

In addition to this, Zimbabwe would earn a lot of respect if the stock pile of 72 tons of elephant tusks and 5 tons of rhino horn were incinerated in a public area in front of conservationists and wildlife enthusiasts. This is what Malawi, Kenya and Ethiopia have done. All the wildlife ambassadors around the world should be invited to watch this and that will have a huge impact on Zimbabwe’s reputation as true leaders in the conservation world.

The local people living around the National Parks and wildlife areas would benefit from this. They could be employed by National Parks to run anti-poaching patrols and they could receive a percentage of the money earned by tourism. This would greatly help the unemployment problem in Zimbabwe. If these people are earning money by keeping the animals alive, they would not be so keen to kill them. There would be massive benefits for a number of industries. The local people could sell their beautiful art works and sculptures and they could even start safari businesses, allowing foreign visitors to see how they live. The hotels, restaurants, transport companies and airlines would also benefit from an influx of tourists.

With regard to elephants destroying people’s crops, there are ways of preventing that. Chilli plants could be planted around the perimeter of the crops and that would discourage elephants from going in and eating the crops.

http://www.zbc.co.zw/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=54419:prof-moyo-hits-ground-running&catid=41:top-stories&Itemid=86

Zanu PF Secretary for Science and Technology, Professor Jonathan Moyo is working with the National Parks and Wildlife Management Authority to get a special hunting concession for 10 elephants as part of the fund-raising efforts for the construction of Tsholotsho Stadium.

Professor Moyo, who is also the Minister of Information, Media and Broadcasting Services said a hunting concession will enhance the appreciation of wildlife resources by communities who have been victims of the human wildlife conflict.

“This is an infrastructure which is important not just for Tsholotsho FC but for everyone including kids in the schools who don’t have facilities for field and track events. With this stadium, now they will have a first class facility. We are kick-starting the process of mobilising those resources through a hunting concession, that is how wildlife can contribute to the community,” he said.

Professor Moyo said Tsholotsho North has not had the representation it deserves at national level since the July 2013 harmonised elections, adding that time has now come for the people to get proper representation for the purposes of addressing national issues.

“Not this funny behaviour we saw of this expelled incumbent.  We don’t want a situation where one individual benefits, it is about the development of the community. We are going to do so in the context of

ZIMASSET, which seeks to provide a solution of food security and nutrition especially this time when there is drought whose consequences we are already dealing with,” he added.

Professor Moyo was on Sunday unanimously endorsed as the Zanu PF candidate for Tsholotsho North constituency by-elections to be held in June following the expulsion from parliament of MDC-T legislators.

Tsholotsho North constituency is faced with a number of challenges which include shortage of water, human-wildlife conflict and poor infrastructure development, among other things.

International

Nothing to report

Wolves and Wolfdogs

Wolves in Brandenburg, Germany

Brandenburg has meanwhile become home to about 17 wolf packs, most of them living in the south of the state. According to the State Office for the Environment, there are also a number of lone wolves in addition to the packs living there.

At first, the return of wolves to the forests around Berlin was met with excitement in the conservationist and scientific communities. But sheep and other livestock farmers are becoming increasingly agitated, because wolves have killed about 360 farm animals in this region since 2007.

Wolf packs, mainly from Russia and eastern Poland, but also from Switzerland, France and Italy, are finding their way to Germany, settling in the most instances in the state of Brandenburg. It is well known that wolves are listed as endangered and hunting them is outlawed in Germany, but the ban is being more and more often ignored by hunters. And although there is a compensation plan for farmers in place, Brandenburg farmers are not satisfied, since some of them complain that they had to wait for up to a year for reimbursement for lost livestock and subsidies to train sheep dogs.

According to research, there are now about 160 wolves roaming Brandenburg’s forest, and although many residents say they are not scared of the wolves and actually happy to have them back in their lives, hunters have a completely different opinion.

Again, a shot wolf was found in Brandenburg recently, which is now the third instance within just a few months. The corpse of the dead wolf was found by locals taking a walk through the forest at Schönewalde (Elbe-Elster). According to the police, this killing differs from the other two, because this wolf was also shot but not beheaded like in the other two cases. So far the investigation shows that the wolf was not shot dead where he was found.

The first killed wolf had been found in August at Lieberose (Dahme-Spreewald); he was first shot dead and then beheaded. The second one was discovered in December at Hirschberg at the border to Saxony, again first shot and then beheaded.

Meanwhile State Police (LKA) investigators think these are acts based on pure hatred. An investigation has been launched, and the officials hope to get to the bottom of these killings by forensically investigating ammunition remnants and pathology results.

Whether there is a connection between the first two cases and the latest one is not clear yet, but officials think it rather unlikely.

Meanwhile the investigations into the first two killings have been completed and handed over to the Proscecutor’s Office in Cottbus.

Wolf Myths and Legends, Part 114

The Black Alpha Wolf

by Sloane Jensesn

A big black Alpha wolf climes a hill in the fading light,
so he can sing and howl throughout the coming night.
The dwindling sunlight plays on his eyes and face,
as he stands there tall, a noble member of a dying race.
As the sun sets he lifts his head to sing,
and his voice causes the very air to ring.
Away in the forest the wolf pack picks up their Alpha’s song,
and they all begin to howl together – loud and long.
Suddenly a gunshot sounds out through the night,
and down goes the black wolf-leader without a fight.
Sprawled out on the hill, bleeding, life dims in his eyes,
he shudders and whimpers, and finally he dies.
Then the human walks up the hill, his gun held high,
looking down at the wolf with a satisfied sigh.
He kneels down, his heart swelling with pride,
wondering how much money he’ll get for the wolf’s hide.
Then he takes the wolf away, an animal he holds but does not love,
not noticing the Alpha-wolf’s spirit watching him from Above.
Now the night is quiet and silent and still,
and no more wolf-cries sound from the hill.
Then the wolf’s pack creeps from the trees,
their thick pelts rippling in the cool night breeze.
They run to the place where their Alpha was slain,
but all they find on the grass is a big, red bloodstain.
Then the Alpha’s mate, her belly full of pups, begins a new song,
about their loyal leader and of his that was so wrong.
All the wolves mournfully howl, then at last they go away,
sad that their leader will not see the next day.
Yet that day is happier, for six wolf pups are born,
and the Alpha-wolf’s mate ceases to mourn.
Two of the wolf pups are brown, and three are gray,
soon they are playing about in the warm spring day.
But the sixth pup, who is jet black, is at the centre of their play,
growling and bossing them around in a very Alpha-like way.
He has the same noble look his father had once worn,
and the wolf pack realises that a new leader has been born.
Now, years later, a new black Alpha stands atop the hill and cries,
while the old one watches proudly from the Heavenly skies.
The young wolf leader howls long, he boldly says:
no matter what happens, there will be wolves here…always!

Readers’ Contribution

A Wolfdog Diary

By Erin

Although the days are still quite nice and relatively warm, the nights make it clear that winter is approaching faster than we like it. Aqua, Ascar II, Kajack II and Taima have started to grow their thick winter coats, and they enjoy the cooler temperatures during the day, even though they come inside earlier now to cuddle up on their blankets.

Ascar II has somehow managed to break off half of one of this upper front teeth; I really wonder what he has been chewing on to make this happen. But otherwise they are all healthy and full of energy and nonsense.

A week ago our tenant had his big house-cleaning day and also washed a lot of clothes, blankets, and the bathroom rugs, everything hung up nice and clean and tidy on the washing line between his cottage and our house. At some stage in the afternoon, I looked out the kitchen window while washing my dishes when I saw bits and pieces of some light-coloured stuff scattered over the lawn in the back yard, and wondered what the kids had found this time to rip into pieces. When I went outside to investigate I realized it was something made of a yellow sort of fabric, sort of woven and with a rubber-like underside. In the first moment I thought it was one of my spare bathroom rugs, which I keep in a storage cupboard together with some spare blankets for the kids’ bedding. I had been busy taking out a fresh blanket earlier that day, and thought that Ascar II might have pinched the rug while the cupboard door was open. Well, it was an old one anyway, and since I had not seen him taking it, I decided to ignore the incident. I collected the bits and pieces from the grass and threw them into the rubbish container behind the house without giving it a second thought.

The next morning, we were just on our way out for some grocery shopping, our tenant stopped Ted and asked him whether we had seen his bathroom rug that had been hanging on the washing line, but now had miraculously disappeared. Ted had no clue what he was talking about, but when he told me I knew instantly. Oh boy, Ascar II must have jumped over the gate into the front yard of the cottage and picked the rug off the washing line, then jumped back into our backyard to share the fun with Taima and Kajack II.

All I could do was to give our tenant my spare rug after we had come back home and apologise profusely for “my kids”. Luckily our tenant, although still pretty scared of the pack without a fence between him and them, really loves them, and therefore he just smiled when I told him the story and thanked me for the “replacement”; it’s not new but at least of the same colour.

 … will be continued