The Monthly Free E-Newsletter of South African Friends of Wolves
Volume 11, Issue 144, October 2016
From the Editor’s Desk
Spring has arrived in our part of the world. It took only a few days for day temperatures to rise from a measly 20 or less to 30 and above, and that’s degrees Celsius. Night temperatures were hesitant to follow suit at first, but have also recovered by now, hovering around 12-14 degrees.
This month’s newsletter is unusual insofar that it does not start with bad news for wolves in the US for once. Instead it starts with bad news for wolves in Norway and Canada, and both instances cannot be termed anything else but outrageous and scandalous. Read the excerpts for yourself, form your own opinion, and take the minute or so to sign the petition via the link provided. Of course, the US wolves are not at all off the hook, as is demonstrated by the snippet on Idaho wolves, but news from there are difficult to come by at the moment, with nearly everybody being focused on their presidential elections – speaking of scandals. We help disseminate another one in the International section.
That not all Americans are evil is shown by our snippet on an Arkansas man in the
Wolves and Wolfdogs section. I urge you to read it.
This month’s newsletter ends with a wolf tale, as Erin has been too busy otherwise.
So much for this month,
News from the Wolf Front
Nothing to report
Norway’s wolf cull pits sheep farmers against conservationists
Norway’s recent decision to destroy 70% of its tiny endangered population of wolves shocked conservationists worldwide and saw 35,000 sign a local petition. But in a region dominated by sheep farming, support for the cull runs deep
Conservation groups worldwide were astonished to hear of the recent, unprecedented decision to destroy 70% of the Norway’s tiny and endangered population of 68 wolves, the biggest cull for almost a century:
But not everyone in Norway is behind the plan. The wildlife protection group Predator Alliance Norway, for example, has campaign posters that talk of wolves as essential for nature, and a tourist attraction for Norway.
Nothing unusual about that, given it’s a wildlife group, except that the group is based in Trysil, the heartland of the territory where most of the wolf culling announced by Norwegian authorities last week will take place.
Predator Alliance Norway is an anomaly in this area, a land inhabited by the most fervent advocates of culling – many of them farmers and hunters. Here, you pass cars with large stickers pronouncing “Real Men Shoot Wolves” to show support for six local poachers who were imprisoned for illegal hunting last year:
Lars-Erik Lie, a 46-year-old mental health worker who founded the group in 2010, told the Guardian: “I got so upset and saddened by the locals’ thirst for wolf blood, and wanted to show that not all villagers are in favour of wiping out this beautiful animal.
“Many locals think there should be room for both predators and livestock, but they have kept their mouths shut out of fear for repercussions.” Lie has himself been the target of threats.
At the heart of the matter is the conflict between sheep farmers and conservationists. Norway is a large sheep farming nation, unique in letting most of its 2 million sheep roam free all summer without herding, fencing and with little supervision.
As a result, 120,000 sheep are lost each year, and 20,000 of these deaths are attributed to predators, judging by state compensation payouts, which are based on documentation and assessment by the authorities. Beyond that, 900 cadavers found annually are confirmed to have been killed by predators. The wolf accounts for 8% of kills.
Wolves, bears, lynx, wolverines and golden eagles are Norway’s native top predators.
In 1846, the authorities issued bounties to hunt them down, resulting in all species being virtually extinct by the mid-20th century, The wolf was given protected status in 1973, a watershed in wildlife management for the acknowledgement of its part in Norwegian fauna and in need of protection. The first wolf returned in 1980, though the first breeding entirely on Norwegian soil did not take place until 1997.
In the meantime, a new breed of sheep had invaded the land. “The breed of sheep vastly favoured by Norwegian farmers is unsuited to roam around the rugged terrain of the country,” said Silje Ask Lundberg, from Friends of the Earth Norway.
The sheep is favoured for its size and large proportion of meat, but is a bad climber and has poor herding and flight instincts, unlike the old short-tail land race, considered the original Norwegian sheep race, prevalent on the west coast, where ironically there are no wolves.
Just across the mountain from Lie’s house in Trysil, is the territory of the Slettåsen pack, which has been marked out for a complete cull even though the wolves live within a designated wolf zone.
The framework for predator management has been set by parliament, with local predator management boards setting hunting and culling quotas when population targets have been achieved.
“The lack of a scientific and professional approach is obvious,” said Lie. In January his organisation filed a complaint that the board votes in representatives with vested interests, such as farmers, whereas green party members have been excluded.
At his office in Oslo, Sverre Lundemo of WWF Norway is also puzzled. “It seems strange that we should punish the wolf for following its natural instincts, particularly within specially designated zones where the wolf supposedly has priority over livestock,” he says.
“The Slettåsen pack is very stable and of genetic importance. Scandinavian wolves are subject to inbreeding and poaching, and this makes the small population more vulnerable to random events. Culling these individuals can undermine the viability of the entire Norwegian wolf population.”
According to Lundemo, the decision for culling appears to be based on politics as much as on science. The WWF have examined the case document that formed the base of the decision. “This is a questionable decision on many levels. The case documents don’t substantiate why these three particular territories were singled out for culling,” said Lundemo.
Despite the population within the wolf zone having almost doubled since last year, attacks on livestock have almost halved. “Most of the injuries are inflicted by roaming young wolves from Swedish packs,” said Lundemo.
Sweden has stricter regulations for sheep farmers, refusing to compensate farmers who don’t protect livestock properly. As a member of the EU, Sweden had a planned licensed cull of 10 % of their wolf population of 400 in 2014 reduced following pressure.
Friends of the Earth advocate more suitable breeds of sheep, or cattle, and better fences and herding. WWF is exploring the option to challenge the decision legally before the wolf hunt sets in on 1 January 2017.
Back in Trysil, the Predator Alliance is gaining momentum. The group has submitted a 35,000-signature petition for protecting the wolf to the Prime Minister, Erna Solberg. “We humans have become greedy, behaving like nature is there for our taking,” said Lie. “When you have a population as small as the one we have in Norway now, you have to draw the line.”
From Care2 Action Alerts (email@example.com)
Stop the Slaughter of Endangered Wolves in Norway!
The wolves in Norway are in grave trouble. They’re already near-extinct, and last winter, researchers estimated that only 65 or 68 wolves still exist in the wild. Authorities even red-listed these animals as “critically endangered.”
But now, the Norwegian government has authorized the mass slaughter of 47 endangered wolves. When Tracey and Julie heard this news, they started a Care2 petition to save the wolves before it’s too late. Will you sign?
Why would the government decide to sacrifice these animals? Sport. Hunting is hugely popular in Norway. Last year, more than 11,000 people applied for special licenses to shoot and kill just 16 wolves. This slaughter would be even larger – in fact, it’s the biggest government-sanctioned wolf culling since 1911.
Norwegian authorities also claim this wolf-hunt will help local farmers protect their sheep from predators. But environmental groups say wolves account for only a small percentage of sheep deaths, and that the government is obviously not relying on sound scientific data.
If all 47 animals are shot, Norway will have lost more than two-thirds of its wolf population. Only about 20 wolves would be left in the wild. We cannot stand by and watch as hunters destroy the already-tiny wolf population in Norway.
Sign the petition demanding that Norway stop the slaughter now:
From Wolf Conservation Center
Canada: Ontario Opts to Allow Threatened Algonquin Wolves to Be Hunted/Trapped
Posted on September 15, 2016 by Maggie Howell
In June 2016, status assessments by the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada (COSEWIC) and by the Committee on the Status of Species at Risk in Ontario (COSSARO) resulted in a reclassification of and name change for the eastern wolf. Ontario’s remnant eastern wolves are now called “Algonquin wolves.” Moreover, the wolves are now listed as “threatened” under the province’s Endangered Species Act (ESA), granting the species an extra degree of protection from its previous listing of “special concern” issued in 2008. Under the ESA, all threatened and endangered species and their habitat are automatically protected.
But on September 15, 2016, the very day Ontario’s hunting and trapping seasons open, the Ontario government announced that despite the its “threatened” status, the province is limiting protection of Algonquin wolves to three small, disconnected ‘islands’, keeping all others areas open to hunting and trapping. These islands constitute less than 10% of the wolves’ habitat in Ontario. Thus, threatened Algonquin wolves will remain unprotected from hunting and trapping in the majority of their range.
Beyond undermining the intent of the province’s ESA, Ontario’s decision to allow hunters and trappers to kill Algonquin wolves across the majority of their extent of occurrence sends a message to the American people and your own constituents that species-at-risk recovery is not a priority. As the global stronghold for a threatened wolf species that researchers now know roamed much of the eastern side of North America, Ontario should let science, not political pressure, steer conservation policy.
From Take Action! at GreaterGood Network
USA: Protect Idaho Wolves from being slaughtered
Idaho wolves are being slaughtered by the state government in order to artificially inflate elk numbers for sport hunters and boost the sale of elk hunting licenses. These disturbing actions are not just inhumane — they are misguided. While the state of Idaho feels it needs to kill these carnivores to address elk population decline, there are many other natural factors such as weather, disease and human activities that cause population fluctuation.
Please sign our petition today to urge Secretary of Agriculture Vilsack to stop the aerial gunning of wolves. Since Congress prematurely forced Idaho’s wolves off of the endangered species list in 2011, more than 1,900 wolves have been killed in the state. Mass slaughter for profit is not an appropriate use of taxpayer resources.
Save Wolves: Sign Petition
From Focusing on Wildlife
Ethiopia: Vaccines may save Africa’s rarest wolves from extinction
During his 1991 field season, Claudio Sillero-Zubiri trekked through the rugged highlands of Ethiopia’s Bale Mountains for his PhD research, searching for the world’s rarest canid: the Ethiopian wolf (Canis simensis).
Fewer than 1,000 wolves remained, making conservation work on the species imperative. But even Sillero-Zubiri began having trouble finding them alive. Instead, he came across arid landscapes littered with their corpses.
After analyzing blood samples back at the University of Oxford, where he was studying, he soon identified the culprit: rabies.
In the years since, Sillero-Zubiri, now a professor at Oxford, and his team at the Ethiopian Wolf Project have identified four major rabies outbreaks among Ethiopian wolves in the Bale Mountains. Each time the virus hit—in 1991, 2003, 2008, and 2014—the wolf population declined by as much as 75 percent. Now, only around 500 Ethiopian wolves remain in the wild, thanks to habitat loss and the repeated outbreaks.
But there may be a straightforward solution to the wolves’ existential crisis: vaccination programs, which have helped control rabies in both wild and domestic animals across North America and Europe. In a new study in Vaccine, Sillero-Zubiri and colleagues show that immunizing Ethiopian wolves against rabies could help save the species.
“The big rabies outbreaks are catastrophic, but this vaccine could make a big difference,” he says.
Immunizing the Wolf
Rabies is unique among viruses, both for its ability to engender fear and its knack for infecting a broad range of mammals—190 species in all.
“It’s a horrible, gruesome way to die that can take many days,” says William Karesh, the executive vice president for health and policy at EcoHealth Alliance. He was not involved with the study.
Because the virus can infect so many different species, different parts of the world need different strategies for controlling the virus. In the U.S., vaccinating domestic dogs has made the largest impact, although the virus continues circulating at low levels in bats, skunks, raccoons, and foxes. Some parts of Europe have completely eradicated the virus by vaccinating both dogs and wildlife.
In the Bale Mountains, rabies circulates between a large population of domestic dogs and the Ethiopian wolf. Efforts to immunize local dogs were minimally successful at best, thanks to difficulties in reaching the sizeable feral dog population. Sillero-Zubiri had tried using injectable vaccines on the wolves, but capturing the animals to administer the vaccine was too expensive, time-consuming, and stressful on the animals.
The researchers then turned to an oral rabies vaccine that they could leave out for the wolves to find, but even that wasn’t a perfect solution. To get animals to ingest the drug, the vaccine packet came laced with a liver-flavored bait that many animals loved—but not the Ethiopian wolves.
So the scientists conducted field tests to determine how best to entice the wolves to eat the vaccine. Inserting the vaccine sachet into a dead rat—the wolves preferred food—was only partly successful. The wolves’ favorite flavors? Goat meat and intestines. (Find out how peanut butter and drones could help vaccinate the endangered black-footed ferret.)
Of the 21 wolves captured after vaccine administration, 14 tested positive for a harmless chemical that showed they had eaten the vaccine. Of these wolves, 86 percent were successfully immunized against rabies—enough for the vaccine to help the species, says Karesh.
“Even immunizing just half of the wolf population would make a huge difference for conservation purposes,” he adds. “These people did a good job, doing the rigorous work to prove that the approach would work for these wolves.”
Although the trial was a success, Sillero-Zubiri still has to convince the Ethiopian government to begin a proactive vaccination program for the wolves.
“Some people believe that if we have to start vaccinating the wolves, we’ll have to keep it up forever,” he says. “That’s not true, but it’s no reason we can’t get started.”
This article was first published by National Geographic on 05 Sep 2016
Nothing to report
From Johnny Rodrigues, Chairman for Zimbabwe Conservation Task Force (www.zctfofficialsite.org)
Our Beloved Tatenda is gone 4th October 2016
It is with great sadness that we have to report that our beloved Tatenda has passed away. John and Judy Travers had saved him after his parents were killed by poachers. He turned into a very handsome young man. I would drive to Johannesburg 4 times a year, when he was a baby, to buy him special milk powder, antibiotics and teats. This little guy was so close to my heart and my family’s. My daughter even made him a rhino birthday cake for his first birthday. I remember Judy would sleep in his pen with him and take him on daily mud baths, one of his favourite activities. I would like to take this opportunity to thank John and Judy Travers for everything that they have done for him and for all the other animals in their care. I have never seen such love and compassion shown or given to animals as these two give to all their animal family members…..
My dear friend Tatenda, rest in peace until we meet again….
(TakeAction=ForceChange.firstname.lastname@example.org); on behalf of; ForceChange (TakeAction@ForceChange.com)
Stop Trump Family’s Slaughter of Elephants and Leopards
Social Media Alert
Stop Donald Trump’s Sons From Killing Exotic Animals #StopTrumpTrophies.
In a series of sickening photos, Donald Trump’s two sons pose next to the bodies of murdered elephants, big cats, and other exotic animals they shot and killed. Trump himself supports his sons’ participation in cruel trophy hunting, bragging that “They love it.”
A wave of ForceChange members have spoken out against the Trump family’s sadistic and cruel treatment of wild animals. Help make Donald Trump renounce his support for trophy hunting by sharing this on social media.
Bring our wave of change by sharing this on Facebook and Twitter.
Wolves and Wolfdogs
James Gage being the nature lover that he is studied environmental science in college. He also loved wolves and it was at this time that he first got a wolf hybrid, named Bailey. In order to take care of her properly, he learned as much as he could about them and while doing that he also learned about the strife they go through as pets. It was at this point that he decided he wanted to do something to help.
He had learned that while there are less than 10,000 wild wolves left in the United States, there are more than a quarter million in captivity and that some of these were being kept as pets. He also discovered there was a need in Arkansas for wolf rescues since many people tend to abandon their wolf/hybrids when they realize that the novelty had worn off or that they were in over their heads.
He understands this because he has been there. “I know first hand it’s not a good idea to keep them as pets in captivity because I’ve done it,” Gage said. “They (pet-owners) put them in positions where they don’t have enough space to be healthy or they don’t know about their medical care, and then it compromises the health of the animal. Or they don’t meet the requirements of the state and then the animal gets confiscated and there’s nowhere for it to go except to be euthanized.”
It was at this point that he decided it was time to move out into the middle of nowhere and get a place to give these misunderstood wolves/hybrids somewhere to live and to rescue some of the wolves in captivity. Buying a property just north of Batesville, Arkansas, and hours away from his family and friends, Gage is now saving domestic wolves one at a time. He has seven wolves that come from all different situations, but all came from the pet trade. After working and studying with a wolf sanctuary in Colorado, Gage is now working to set up Wolf Hollow in Arkansas. He is applying for non-profit status and a USDA license, which will allow him to use the organization for education. “I hope to eventually have a non-profit organization set up that will rescue the animals and advocate for them in the wild,” Gage said. “And teach science and conservation, maybe, where I can have interns and volunteers and teach to classroom groups and things like that.”
His days start and end with his wolves. Until all of the licenses are approved though, he keeps the wolves as his own. He lives in a remote area, sacrificing cell or internet reception in order to have the room for the wolves to exercise. Gage is currently working as a bartender at night to pay for his day job caring for the wolves.
Gage sums it all up by saying, “In my eyes it’s worth it just to be able to fill that spot to give them what they need. If I’m going to do it I’ve got to do it right.”
Find the video at White Wolf Pack
Wolf Myths and Legends, Part 131
Fox Ears – The Father
People have tried to find the meaning of life for decades, but I have found it. Because I am not human it was very difficult, although I met my mate along the way. “Who am I?” you ask. I am Lilly Moon, a wolf; my mate is Lion Paw. We were the alphas of the pack. We were recently separated from the pack by an avalanche. As I walked around the cave, worried Lion Paw might not come back with food for our pups, I heard a long slow growl. I jumped to my left to see Lion Paw facing off with Fox Ears, the legendary black wolf.
I ran deeper in the caves to risk my life for the pups if needed. Even though I only had two pups they mean more to me than the world. Finally Lion Paw limped into the cave with his right shoulder torn, and a gash in his throat. I sensed he wouldn’t make it so I did my best to keep him alive. Three days later one of my pups died because I could not produce enough milk for both. Then I saw a dark figure at the entrance of the cave. It was Fox Ears; he was holding the remains of a half eaten moose. I jumped to my feet and growled a low deep growl, I never knew I had. Fox Ears just looked at me friendlily as if nothing had happened. So I relaxed, and as I did he trotted up to me, put the meat at my paws and began to lick my pup as though it were his own flesh and blood. There are many meanings to life, but the one I found was Fox Ears. He was my father, which was the reason he had been searching for me for years. It turned out that Lion Paw was a member from another pack set on killing my father. My son Fox Tail has left our pack in order to start his own. I have found another mate called Avalanche, a pure snow white wolf. After my father had died, I had a litter of pups of which all but one was pure white. That pup was black so I called him Fox Ears.
Look for the conclusion
Fox Ears – The Son
A Wolfdog Diary
Erin is busy moving storerooms, garage and workshops, and will be back with more news about her pack in the next issue.
Will be continued…