The Monthly Free E-Newsletter of South African Friends of Wolves
Volume 11, Issue 145, November 2016
From the Editor’s Desk
I suppose you were as surprised as I when you learnt about the outcome of the US elections. I had followed the campaigning of the candidates with a particular keen eye on nature conservation issues and was stunned to see that the eventual winner was blunt enough to suggest going back on the Paris climate protocol. By that time I still thought that even Americans couldn’t really be dull enough to vote such a character into power, but, obviously, I was gravely mistaken. Now we shall see what all this means for US wildlife and the world in general. I for once hope that this new president will happily forget at least most of his election promises just as is common practice in politics …
That the situation for wolves living in the US is getting worse by the month is again shown by the snippets we have collected for you over the last month. Read them for yourself and form your own opinion.
A deeply shocking story involving fox cubs has also emerged from the UK – you find it in the International section below.
Against the background of a drama currently playing out in New York, we have a write-up on coyotes that is more detailed than usual. In principle, coyotes are another type of wolf, which have opted for an alternative social system. And they are by all means just as interesting to study.
We have another haunting wolf tale, and Erin tells of the Great Fluff Season that has started smothering her home. It is a story with a “twist”, though…
So much for this month,
News from the Wolf Front
Nothing to report
From Defenders of Wildlife (http://www.defenders.org)
1. USA: Living with Wolves
You care about wolves. And you and I will never give up on our quest to see wolf populations healthy and growing.
Majestic wolves must be free to run in the wild. But people pose the greatest threat to wolves today.
Wolf recovery is working. Wolves are now living in areas where they were once wiped out – places like Oregon, Washington, Arizona, New Mexico and California. They are helping restore the balance of nature once again. But more wolves on the land bring more people into close contact with wolves. And when conflicts occur, the wolves are blamed. But it’s not their fault. They’re just doing what they’ve always done…looking for food and raising their young.
Reducing conflicts between wolves and people is one of the best ways to advance wolf recovery for the long term. I hope you’ll take a moment to watch our video for a glimpse into what we’re doing to help people and wolves live together:
We must never accept a “shoot first and ask questions later” approach to living with wolves, or any wildlife. Too much hard work has gone into the decades of gray wolf recovery efforts that have brought these amazing creatures back from the brink in the lower 48 states.
There is still a lot of work to be done. And Defenders of Wildlife is here to do it:
We’re partnering with landowners, livestock producers, biologists, community leaders, other conservationists and state and tribal agencies to develop creative solutions…like flag fencing and range riders that reduce the chances that livestock will encounter wolves. Our smart solutions are aimed at creating important dialogues and finding solutions while always putting the wolves first.
Together, you and I can save more wildlife – from wolves to panthers, bears to black-footed ferrets.
Watch our video to learn more about how we’re making it happen:
I hope you feel good knowing you are part of the solution when you support Defenders of Wildlife. You are helping wildlife thrive in their natural habitats and helping people appreciate the wild world around them.
P.S. Watch our video now to learn how your support for Defenders of Wildlife is helping wildlife and people coexist:
- USA: You can save more Wolves
Whether it’s red wolves on the brink of extinction in the Southeast, gray wolves under attack in the Northern Rockies or the last 97 wild Mexican gray wolves in Arizona and New Mexico, wolves are threatened everywhere you turn.
The good news is there is something you can do to protect wolves – not just today, but for many years to come. Please donate now to support Defenders of Wildlife’s smart solutions for peaceful coexistence between wolves and people:
This is no time for business as usual.
To save wolves – and ensure they continue to survive and thrive – we need unique, innovative approaches to protecting habitat and reducing conflicts with people.
That’s what Defenders of Wildlife is known for. And today, we need your support to help bring these solutions to more communities:
Defenders works around the clock to reduce conflict between wolves and livestock. We’re working to implement nonlethal deterrents like fencing and encouraging the use of range riders and herders to reduce the chances that livestock will encounter wolves.
And we’re educating communities about the important role that wolves play in healthy landscapes.
Solutions like these help wolves and people share the land:
Defenders has spent decades bringing wolves back from the brink in the lower 48 states. We simply can’t afford to let conflicts with ranchers and communities set back the gains we’ve made.
Please DONATE NOW to support wolf coexistence efforts and protect other imperilled wildlife:
Wolves have come a long way since the early days of reintroduction, but we cannot let their fledgling success also be their demise. As wolves return to their historic ranges, we must ensure that people and wolves can coexist.
Together, we will save more wolves.
- USA: Disaster for Wolves in America?
The anti-wolf people are the minority, but they’re a powerful group.
Driven by old fears and hatred, they never rest in their pursuit to eliminate wolves from the U.S. Donate now to fight back against anti-wolf forces:
There’s a war raging against wolves in our country and, too often, wolves are losing.
- Earlier this year, the state of New Mexico blocked the planned release of captive-bred Mexican gray wolves into the wild. These wolves were ready to help rewrite the story of their species – and now they may never be free to run in the wild;
- In September, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced plans that would effectively abandon their obligation to protect and recover red wolves in the wild;
- And Alaska is considering a lawsuit to overturn a new federal rule that prohibits the state from applying its extreme predator control program on national wildlife refuge lands – a program that includes practices like aerial gunning, killing mother wolves and their young in their dens, using bait to attract bears and using traps and snares.
We need your help. Make a gift today to help us fight for wolves:
We must not falter in the face of these threats. We’ve come too far.
Your donation today will make a difference for wolves:
With you by our side, I promise we won’t stop until critically endangered wolves are finally on the road to full recovery.
Thank you for all you do for wildlife.
- USA: Red Wolf, Red Herring
While the FWS tried to claim that they are still committed to recovery of the red wolf, the agency’s proposed actions speak much louder than their rhetoric:
From Endangered Species Coalition
- USA: Wolves in Wisconsin
Despite being protected under the Endangered Species Act, wolves in Wisconsin are chased, harassed, and sometimes wounded or even killed by packs of hunting dogs that run the state’s landscape for more than six months of the year. Bear “hounders” face few regulations and little to no enforcement when turning packs of dogs loose to pursue native wildlife.
Please make a $25 donation today to help fight bear hounding and baiting in Wisconsin to protect wolves and other endangered species:
These hounds are most frequently released at bear “baiting” sites. These are areas where hunters have dumped hundreds of gallons of stale pastries, syrup, or other foods with the intent of habituating bears to feed there. At last count, there were more than 82,000 baiting sites in the state! Not only is this practice disastrous for bears, and destructive to public lands–imagine dumping hundreds of gallons of syrup and rotting pastries in your favourite park–but it puts Wisconsin’s wolves in frequent conflict with packs of hunting dogs.
Help us fight the entrenched political interests that further this dangerous and unsporting hunting practice:
With more than 82,000 bait stations covering Wisconsin’s wild spaces, it is difficult for wolf packs to establish rendezvous sites that do not intersect with these pastry dump sites. Wolves are territorial, protective animals–it’s how they have survived for centuries. This same defensive behaviour leads them to defend their packs and their pups from these hoards of bear hunting dogs running the state half of the calendar year. In protecting their rendezvous sites, these wolves are often wounded or killed, and often kill or wound dogs from the hunter’s pack. Hunters in the state are disincentivized to change their ways by a state program that pays them up to $2,500 for dogs lost to wolves safeguarding their pups, packs, and rendezvous sites. This has led to wolves and hunting hounds being killed and wounded at an unprecedented and alarming rate.
This is no way to protect Wisconsin’s wolves or any of its wildlife. Anyone who loves wolves, anyone who loves dogs, should want to see an end to these practices. We are working on the ground in Wisconsin to stop bear hounding and the virtually-unregulated dumping of bait across the state. We need your help. Please make a 100% tax-deductible donation today to help us fight to end bear baiting and hounding to protect the state’s wolves.
Thank you for your commitment to wildlife and wild places.
From Earthjustice Newsletter
- Will Congress bring back a “kill-on-sight” wolf policy?
The most anti-wildlife Congress (http://earthjustice.org/blog/2016-april/congress-just-unleashed-its-100th-attack-on-endangered-species) in U.S. history is entering its final stretch and quietly working to pass members’ last pet pieces of legislation. Much of the proposed legislation would have damaging and lasting impacts on America’s wildlife and wild lands. These include measures that could prove devastating to a variety of wolf populations.
Last week, Earthjustice went to court to defend a 2014 victory that ended the state of Wyoming’s extreme anti-wolf management plan. Wyoming had instituted a “kill-on-sight” policy for wolves in more than 80 percent of the state and allowed one wolf-killing loophole after another in the rest. Among the victims of this policy was of one of Yellowstone’s most famous animal celebrities, 832F, the alpha female of the Lamar Canyon pack. The wolf had been hailed as a heroine in the dramatic success story of gray wolves’ return to Yellowstone. She was the subject of podcasts and was featured in a National Geographic TV documentary.
When she was killed, The New York Times wrote what amounted to an obituary for the wolf:
Earthjustice took the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to court over the agency’s decision to hand over wolf management to a state with a history of extreme anti-wolf policies—and we won. We expect a decision in Wyoming’s appeal of our victory in the next three to six months. But while the judges deliberate, some members of Congress are trying to bypass the legal process by using legislative edict to remove wolves in Wyoming and three western Great Lakes states from the list of species protected under the Endangered Species Act.
Measures like the Wyoming-western Great Lakes wolf delisting threat are appearing as legislative “riders” tacked onto must-pass government spending bills and other large pieces of legislation. Another rider would block the act’s protections for Mexican gray wolves, despite the fact that there are fewer than 100 of these highly imperiled animals left in the United States. And yet another rider would delist all gray wolves in the entire lower 48 states—despite the fact that wolves currently occupy just a small portion of their former U.S. range. These and other anti-environmental riders will be considered as part of negotiations between both political parties and the White House over how to keep the federal government funded beyond early December.
Earthjustice continues our fight in the courtroom on behalf of wolves, and you can help give this incredible species the chance it deserves by urging President Obama to reject any legislation that includes deadly provisions for wolves.
Take Action! Protect Wolves and the Endangered Species Act:
From Change (http://change.org)
- Germany: Death sentence for the Goldenstedt she-wolf! – Update on the petition
Jan Olsen has just published an update of the above petition, which you will hopefully have signed.
4 Nov. 2016 — Dear supporters and Wolf lovers,
It’s been a while since you have heard from me, but now we must become active and react immediately, otherwise it will be too late. This she-wolf needs your help!
The Minister of Environmental Affairs, Stefan Wenzel, has ordered the Goldenstedt she-wolf to be fitted with a radio collar. This will be her death sentence!
The only two collared wolves in Lower Saxony – MT6 (“Kurti”) and his sister, FT10, as well as her cubs – are already dead.
The Goldenstedt she-wolf is the alpha female and mother of the young of her pack. There is no valid reason for her to be collared.
This is not a scientific study, they just want to know where she is so that they can find her and possibly chase her away or even kill her undetected. She is a strictly protected animal! She has never endangered or threatened a human being!
Please share this update on Twitter and/or Facebook
From California Wolfcenter
- Mexican Wolf Reintroduction Project Monthly Update
Endangered Species Updates September 1-30, 2016
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), San Carlos Apache Reservation (SCAR), 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.
This update is a public document and information in it can be used for any purpose. The 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).
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.
Overall Mexican Wolf Recovery Program Monthly Update
On September 1, The Mexican Wolf/Livestock Council met to approve payments for Mexican wolf presence for calendar year 2015. Checks from the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation will be sent out to livestock producers who qualified for the payments within the next few weeks.
On September 28, The Fish and Wildlife Service met with the Forest Service South-western Regional Office to discuss issues surrounding public communication, coordination on release sites, and data sharing.
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. Studbook numbers listed in the monthly updated denote wolves with functioning radio collars. The Interagency Field Team (IFT) recognizes that wolves without radio telemetry collars may also form packs.
CURRENT POPULATION STATUS
Population monitoring requires year round effort documenting births, deaths, survival, total numbers, and distribution all culminating in the end of the year population counts. Currently, there are 20 packs and 3 single wolves, which include 47 wolves with functioning radio collars that are used by the IFT to collect this data.
Bear Wallow Pack (collared AM1338 and AF1335)
In September, the Bear Wallow Pack was located within their traditional territory in the east central portion of the Apache-Sitgreaves National Forest (ASNF). The female pup, fp1548, captured in August in the Bear Wallow Pack slipped its collar in September, but is believed to be healthy and still with the Bear Wallow Pack.
Bluestem Pack (collared M1382, F1443 and f1488)
In September, the Bluestem Pack continued to use their traditional territory in the east central portion of the ASNF. The pack continued to display rendezvousing behaviour through the month.
Buckalou Pack (collared F1405)
In September, F1405 continued to travel between Arizona and New Mexico in both the Gila and Apache National Forests.
Elk Horn Pack (collared AF1294, AM1342, mp1474 and mp1471)
In September, the Elk Horn Pack was located within their traditional territory in the north eastern portion of the ASNF. A male pup, mp1471, with the Elk Horn Pack was captured, collared and released in the month of September. mp1471 is one of the two pups cross-fostered into the Elk Horn Pack in April 2016. The IFT documented rendezvous behaviour by this pack during the month of September. The Elk Horn Pack has periodically used a food cache set up by the IFT to supplement the pack due to the cross-foster of two pups this spring.
Hawks Nest Pack (collared AM1038)
In September, the Hawks Nest Pack was located within their traditional territory in the north central portion of the ASNF.
Hoodoo Pack (collared AM1290, AF1333, m1441, fp1549 and fp1550)
In September, the Hoodoo Pack remained in the north central portion of the ASNF. The IFT documented rendezvous behaviour by the Hoodoo Pack this month. The Hoodoo Pack has continued to utilize the food cache put in place for them to prevent potential depredation issues in the area.
Marble Pack (collared AM1330)
AM1330 was not heard or located during the month of September. The Marble Pack consists of one collared wolf.
Maverick Pack (collared AF1291)
In September, the Maverick Pack was located within their traditional territory both on the FAIR and ASNF.
Panther Creek Pack (collared F1339 and M1394)
In September, the Panther Creek Pack was been located in the east central portion of the ASNF. The Panther Creek Pack continued to show rendezvousing behaviour and utilize the food cache that the IFT has maintained for them to supplement the pack due to the two pups cross-fostered into the Panther Creek Pack in April. A male pup, mp1486, was captured, collared, and released in September. mp1486 is not one of the pups cross-fostered into the Panther Creek Pack.
Single collared M1398
During September, M1398 was located in Arizona and New Mexico. On September 16, M1398 was captured, processed and released.
ON THE FAIR:
Diamond Pack (collared m1447)
In September, the Diamond Pack was located within their traditional territory in the eastern portion of the FAIR and the northwest portion of the ASNF. Visual observations by the IFT confirmed AM1249 was travelling with the pack in September.
Tsay-o-Ah Pack (collared AM1343 and AF1283)
In September, the Tsay-o-Ah Pack was located within their traditional territory in the eastern portion of the FAIR.
Baldy Pack (collared M1347 and f1445)
In September, M1347 and f1445 were documented maintaining a territory together for at least three months – therefore they are considered a pack. f1445 is formerly from the Tsay-o-Ah Pack and M1347 is formerly from the Dark Canyon Pack in New Mexico. The pack was located in the eastern portion of the FAIR and northern portion of the ASNF.
IN NEW MEXICO:
Dark Canyon Pack (collared AM992 and f1444)
During September, the IFT located this pack within its traditional territory in the west central portion of the Gila National Forest (GNF). f1444 was documented on trail camera travelling alone.
Iron Creek Pack (collared AM1240, AF1278, mp1555 and mp1556)
During September, the Iron Creek Pack continued to utilize their territory in the northern portion of the Gila Wilderness and the southern portion of the GNF. A diversionary food cache is being maintained for the Iron Creek Pack to mitigate potential wolf-livestock conflicts. On September 29, an uncollared male pup was captured, collared and assigned studbook number 1555. On September 30, an uncollared male pup was captured, collared, and assigned studbook number 1556. AM1240 and AF1278 were also captured and recollared on September 30.
Luna Pack (collared AF1487 and mp1554)
During September, the Luna Pack remained in their traditional territory in the north central portion of the GNF. The IFT is maintaining a diversionary and supplemental food cache in efforts to reduce potential for further livestock depredations. On September 28, an uncollared male pup was captured, collared and assigned studbook number 1554.
Mangas Pack (collared M1296 and F1439)
During September, the Mangas Pack was located within their territory in north western portions of the GNF in New Mexico.
Prieto Pack (collared M1386, m1455, f1456, M1552 and f1553)
During September, the Prieto Pack was located within their traditional territory in the north central portion of the GNF. On September 14, an uncollared adult male was captured, collared and assigned studbook number 1552. On September 15, an uncollared yearling female was captured, collared and assigned studbook number 1553.
San Mateo Pack (collared AF1399)
During September, the IFT documented AM1345 and AF1399 travelling together within their territory in the north central portion of the GNF. A diversionary food cache is being maintained for the San Mateo Pack to reduce potential wolf-livestock conflicts. On September 3, an uncollared female pup was captured, collared and assigned studbook number 1551. Unfortunately, the pup slipped its collar a few weeks later. Trapping efforts will continue this fall.
Sheepherders Baseball Park (SBP) Pack
In September, the SBP Pack continued to use their traditional territory in the north central portion of the GNF. AM1284 was not located during September. AF1392 was located dead in New Mexico in September; the incident is under investigation. The IFT is trying to secure good opportunities to re-collar AM1284 or any surviving pups.
Willow Springs Pack (collared F1397)
In September, the IFT documented the Willow Springs Pack within their traditional territory in the north central portion of the GNF.
Single collared M1293
During September, M1293 was located within the Gila Wilderness in New Mexico. A public sighting report suggests M1293 may be travelling with an uncollared wolf.
Single collared AM1155
During September, AM1155 was documented travelling within New Mexico.
In September, AF1392 of the SBP Pack was located dead in New Mexico. The incident is under investigation.
During September there were ten livestock depredation reports and one nuisance report. Six of the ten depredation reports were confirmed wolf kills.
On September 3, Wildlife Services investigated a dead calf in Navajo County, Arizona. The investigation determined the calf had been hit by a vehicle and died from related causes.
On September 5, Wildlife Services investigated two dead cows in Apache County, Arizona. The investigation determined both cows were confirmed wolf kills.
On September 6, Wildlife Services investigated a dead calf in Apache County, Arizona. The investigation determined the calf was a confirmed wolf kill.
On September 7, Wildlife Services investigated a dead cow in Apache County, Arizona. The investigation determined the cow had died from unknown cause.
On September 9, AGFD and Wildlife Services investigated a report of two wolves fighting with dogs and acting aggressive toward people near Young, AZ. The investigation determined domestic dogs were involved in the reported incident, not Mexican wolves.
On September 13, Wildlife Services investigated a dead calf in Apache County, Arizona. The investigation determined the calf was a confirmed wolf kill.
On September 15, Wildlife Services investigated a dead cow in Apache County, Arizona. The investigation determined the cow had been killed by coyotes.
On September 16, Wildlife Services investigated a dead cow in Apache County, Arizona. The investigation determined the cow died of unknown causes.
On September 25, Wildlife Services investigated a dead calf in Catron County, New Mexico. The investigation determined the calf was a confirmed wolf kill.
On September 26, Wildlife Services investigated a dead calf in Catron County, New Mexico. The investigation determined the calf was a confirmed wolf kill.
On September 29, Wildlife Services investigated a dead calf in Apache County, Arizona. The investigation determined the calf was a confirmed wolf kill.
COMMUNICATION AND COORDINATION
On September 15, WMAT presented at a community meeting in Cedar Creek, AZ.
On September 27, WMAT presented on KNNB radio in Whiteriver, AZ.
In September, Cyrenea Piper began her position in the IFT as a biologist with the USFWS. Welcome to the program Cyrenea!
In September, Rae Nickerson began as a volunteer/intern with the USFWS. Welcome to the program Rae!
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.
Nothing to report
From Johnny Rodrigues, Chairman for Zimbabwe Conservation Task Force (www.zctfofficialsite.org)
HYENAS DESTINED FOR CHINA – UPDATE 5th November 2016
The 8 hyenas that were captured on Hwange as per our last report were transported to Harare by 3 Chinese men and were trying to export them out of the country by having them loaded on an aeroplane at Harare International Airport on Thursday 3rd November 2016. The Chinese men were stopped by the Customs and Excise for trying to export the hyenas with fraudulent paperwork. The animals were in a poor state of health with cuts and grazes on their bodies from being transported in unsatisfactory cages. The hyenas have been impounded and were released at a sanctuary close to the airport. One of the hyenas has managed to escape which will cause a huge problem to the residents in that area.
We would like to take this opportunity to thank the Zimbabwean Customs and Excise for carrying out their duties and preventing these animals from being loaded.
About 2 weeks ago in Hwange, two of the captured baby elephants have died from starvation and thirst due to neglect. We are expecting these animals to be sent to their destination in the next week. We have had confirmation that the captured elephants are destined for Shanghai Wild Animal Park and they have submitted a permit for 17 elephants and the balance is to go to Yunnan Wildlife Park in China.
We believe that there is a delegation from the Zimbabwe National Parks and the ZNSPCA who will be travelling to China to inspect the holding pens for the captured animals.
We found that after investigations have been carried out, the poachers that are arrested or shot in the Zambezi area, the weapons are confiscated and handed over to the police. Mysteriously, these very same weapons are ending up back in the hands of the poachers once released.
We sadly have to report that Katanga the baby elephant from Imire Safari Park has recently died…our sincerest condolences to John and Judy Travers who lovingly cared and looked after him.
From Care2 Action Alerts (email@example.com)
- Great Britain: Fox cubs thrown to hounds
Fox cubs were thrown alive to hunting hounds at kennels in Herefordshire, U.K. this summer. This is illegal and those responsible must be held accountable: http://www.care2.com/go/z/e/AwWx9/zsSk/rSHT
Secret footage was released showing live fox cubs being delivered to the kennels of the South Herefordshire Hunt before being thrown to the pack of fox hounds. The lifeless body of a cub is then seen to be dumped into a wheelie bin, before another is taken to meet the same fate.
British police investigating the allegations have arrested five people and are examining the footage from anti-hunt activists. All five arrested people have been released on bail while officers continue their investigation.
Sign the petition demanding that those responsible for this illegal killing of fox cubs be prosecuted to the full extent of the law:
If enough people sign, it will put international pressure on the police and Crown Prosecution Service to ensure that justice is served, and others will be deterred from carrying out similar cruel practices.
Prosecute fox cub killers from South Herefordshire Hunt!
Wolves and Wolfdogs
A Rikers’ Island Coyote family is not allowed to live
Because officials say that coyotes cannot be relocated after having been trapped, a whole coyote family that took up residence near LaGuardia Airport in Queens, New York, has been sentenced to death.
This statement from the state Department of Environmental Conservation was released after animal lovers had started a campaign to save the coyotes, including an online petition that drew over 800 signatures in a matter of just hours.
The agency announced that “The DEC does not support and will not permit coyotes to be live-trapped and released in another location”, and “When animals like coyotes become habituated to humans, relocation is not feasible as the animals will continue to cause problems once relocated.”
The grim fate of the coyote family could have been initiated by people feeding the animals’ food scraps at local cemeteries and the Rikers Island parking lot on Hazen Street, because according to the DEC a coexistence of humans and coyotes can only work if the animals maintain their natural fear of humans.
But Frank Vincenti of the Wild Dog Foundation believes that the coyotes could still be humanely conditioned to stay away from people and remain in the area. After monitoring the family for months he says that this is not a lost cause. He asks what is going to happen with the next coyote family, because there will certainly be a next one.
The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey plans to trap and euthanize the coyotes, because they have roamed too close to workers and a Little League field near the airport.
But maybe there is still hope – Philanthropist Jean Shafiroff has offered to fund the relocation of the coyotes. She is working with state Assemblywoman Rebecca Seawright who is asking DEC to consider the offer.
Urban coyotes are present in practically every city across the United States. For many cities, the appearance of coyotes has happened only within the last few decades, and residents are still trying to get used to their new neighbors. Though there is a rise in awareness that coyotes are around, there is still a great deal of misunderstanding among city residents about coyote behavior and their role in urban ecology. Here are ten facts about urban coyotes that will clear up common misconceptions and shed more light on this adaptable canid.
Urban coyotes can create territories out of a patchwork of parks and green spaces.
While many urban coyotes make their homes in large parks or forest preserves, this isn’t the case in all situations. Urban coyotes don’t need one cohesive piece of green space like a single park or a single golf course to call home. They manage to make due with surprisingly small patches of hunt-able land woven together as a whole territory.
Coyotes can thrive in a small territory if there is enough food and shelter, but if there isn’t — such as in sections of a city with only a handful of small parks, soccer fields, green spaces and the like — then they will expand the size of their territory to include enough places to hunt for food to sustain themselves. The size of an urban coyote’s range is dependent on the abundance of food and can be anywhere from two square miles to ten square miles or more. Urban coyotes tend to have smaller territory sizes than rural coyotes because there is so much more food packed into smaller areas, even if that area has only a few scattered parks.
Studies have shown that coyotes much prefer forested areas and large parks where they can steer clear of humans, and they try to avoid residential areas. But when that’s not available, they still figure out how to make due. In a large-scale study of urban coyotes by the Urban Coyote Research Program, it was discovered that “29 percent of collared coyotes have home ranges composed of less than 10 percent of natural land and 8 percent having no measurable patches of natural land within their home ranges.”
There is still a lot to learn about how coyotes use urban landscapes, which inevitably varies depending on the building density of different cities, the quality of green spaces, and many other factors. But one thing is for sure: the more researchers learn about urban coyote territories, the more it becomes apparent that coyotes make use of the most surprising places, even those that at first glance seem like an ecological desert.
Coyotes are masters of staying out of sight. Most urban residents don’t even realize coyotes are living among them. © Karine Aigner/The Natural History of the Urban Coyote
Urban coyote dens are surprisingly hard to find. Although coyotes may be denning in the middle of an urban park, in old storm drains, or even under sheds, it is still not likely you’ll stumble upon one while strolling down the street or hiking through a preserve. Coyotes do their best to hide their dens and will often have multiple dens and multiple entrances to a den to help conceal their activity. These dens are usually tucked away in shrubbery or the wooded patches of parks, washes, culverts, golf courses, preserves and similar spaces.
Coyotes avoid residential and commercial areas when they can, and instead seek out whatever remaining fragments of natural habitat are available, which usually is well away from the eyes of humans. Though this is where they prefer to be, they’ll use what they can get. Eastern Coyote Research notes that urban dens have been found “in culverts under heavily trafficked roads, basements of abandoned houses, and directly behind a drive-in movie screen” and according to National Geographic, “one GPS-collared coyote named 748 and his mate even raised a litter of five healthy pups inside a secret concrete den in the parking lot of Soldier Field Stadium, home of the Chicago Bears.”
However because coyote parents want to keep their pups protected and hidden from threats, once humans disturb a den the coyote likely will move pups to a new location. So even if you find a den one day, the family may not be there the next.
Urban coyotes may live in family packs or on their own at different points in their lives.
It’s common to see a single coyote hunting or traveling on its own, but that doesn’t necessarily mean it is alone. Coyotes are highly social animals and this didn’t change when they entered the urban ecosystem. Coyotes may live as part of a pack, which usually consists of an alpha male and female, perhaps one or two of their offspring from previous seasons (known as a “helper”) and their current litter of pups. The pack may also welcome in a solitary traveler if their territory can support another member. Packs living in sizable protected areas can have as many as five or six adults in addition to that season’s pups.
However, a coyote may also spend part of its life on its own, known as a solitary coyote. This is common when young coyotes disperse from their pack and go in search of their own territory, a new pack to join, or a mate with whom to start their own pack. A coyote may also spend a stretch of time as a loner if it was an alpha in a pack but lost its mate. According to Urban Coyote Research Program, between a third and half of coyotes under study are solitary coyotes, and they are usually youngsters between six months and two years old.
Because coyotes hunt and travel alone or in pairs, it is often thought that they don’t form packs. The study of urban coyotes has helped to correct this misconception and has revealed much about the social lives of coyotes.
Researchers were surprised to discover how faithful urban coyote pairs are. They mate for life and stay faithful the whole time. © Jaymi Heimbuch/The Natural History of the Urban Coyote
Urban coyotes mate for life and are monogamous.
Speaking of mates, coyotes mate for life and are 100 percent faithful to that mate. A 2012 study published in the Journal of Mammalogy found that “among 18 litters comprising 96 offspring, [researchers] found no evidence of polygamy, and detected a single instance of a double litter (pups from different parents sharing the same den).”
“I was surprised we didn’t find any cheating going on,” study co-author Stan Gehrt, told Science Daily in an article. “Even with all the opportunities for the coyotes to philander, they really don’t. In contrast to studies of other presumably monogamous species that were later found to be cheating, such as arctic foxes and mountain bluebirds, we found incredible loyalty to partners in the study population.”
This loyalty holds even when there are other coyotes in adjacent territories and plenty of opportunity for cheating. But coyote pairs stay faithful and faithful for life. Some of the pairs followed by the research team were together for as long as 10 years, only moving on when one mate died.
The researchers believe that this monogamy plays an important role in the success of urban coyotes. Because a female can adjust her litter size based on the availability of food and other factors, she can have larger litters of pups in a city where there is a buffet of rodents, reptiles, fruits, vegetables and so much else in a relatively small area. She also has a dedicated mate to help her feed and raise the pups, so these large litters have a higher survival rate, resulting in more coyotes reaching an age to disperse to other areas of a city.
Even when food is less abundant or there is territory pressure from other coyotes, the couple stays together year after year. Coyotes may be opportunistic about matters of food and shelter, but not when it comes to love.
Urban coyotes do not feast on pets and garbage; they typically stick to a natural diet.
Due to sensationalistic reporting, many urban residents think all coyotes are out to eat their dog or cat at the first opportunity, or that they’re dumpster divers of the first degree. On the contrary, studies have shown that urban coyotes stick mainly to a natural diet.
Coyotes are opportunistic omnivores and will eat fruits and vegetables along with animal prey. A study by Urban Coyote Research Program analyzed over 1,400 scats and found that “the most common food items were small rodents (42%), fruit (23%), deer (22%), and rabbit (18%).” Only about 2 percent of the scats had human garbage and just 1.3 percent showed evidence of cats. “Apparently, the majority of coyotes in our study area do not, in fact, rely on pets or garbage for their diets,” say the researchers.
This aligns logically with urban coyotes’ preference of sticking to parks, preserves, cemeteries, and other out-of-the-way areas as much as possible. The food available in these locations is rodents, reptiles, fallen fruit and other food items that are part of a natural diet.
Coyotes of course take feral cats or the occasional domestic cat that has been left outdoors, and there is certainly evidence that coyotes that have become habituated and overly bold will go after small dogs. However pets are not primary prey for them, not by a long shot.
As it is with the presence of apex predators in any ecosystem, having coyotes living and thriving in an urban area is a positive sign of the health and biodiversity of urban areas. Their presence can be considered a thumbs-up for the quality of a city’s urban ecology.
Rodents make up the bulk of a coyote’s diet. Even when garbage is plentiful, coyotes prefer an all-natural menu. © Jaymi Heimbuch/The Natural History of the Urban Coyote
Voles, gophers, rats, mice and other rodents are all targeted by coyotes, a fact that makes parks maintenance workers very happy. However, it can also leave coyotes (as well as cats, hawks, owls and other predators) vulnerable to being slowly poisoned by rodenticides. © Jaymi Heimbuch/The Natural History of the Urban Coyote
Urban coyotes reduce the presence of feral and free-roaming cats in natural spaces, which helps protect songbirds in parks.
While the issue of cats and coyotes is a sensitive and controversial one, there are aspects of their interaction that may come as a happy surprise. In a 2013 study, urban coyote researchers collared 39 feral cats. They found that while urban coyotes tend to stick to parks, wilderness preserves and other fragments of green habitats, the cats steer clear of coyotes’ turf. The felines keep out of these small patches of wilderness and thus aren’t predating songbirds. Songbirds aren’t really on a coyote’s menu, so they have a better chance to thrive when coyotes are present and deterring mesopredators such as cats. Other studies in California showed that coyotes reducing cat activity in habitat fragments resulted in an increase in the nesting success of songbirds in those habitats.
Stan Gehrt, the study’s lead author, told Science Daily, “Free-roaming cats are basically partitioning their use of the urban landscape. They’re not using the natural areas in cities very much because of the coyote presence there. It reduces the cats’ vulnerability to coyotes, but at the same time, it means the coyotes are essentially protecting these natural areas from cat predation.”
Coyotes have a clear impact on how free-roaming cats use the urban landscape, but the exact scope of the ecological benefit still needs more study. Urban Coyote Research Program points out, “Within cities, domestic cats may be the most abundant mesocarnivore in some parts of the urban landscape. [F]ree-roaming cats have been reported to depredate native wildlife and, in some instances, appear to have reduced or even extirpated some populations. However, data on the population ecology of free-ranging cats, and especially aspects that relate to potential predation or disease risk are needed. This information gap is especially true for cats inhabiting urban landscapes, where their numbers can reach inordinately high levels and the systems are already stressed from other anthropogenic effects.”
Urban coyotes help control the populations of other sometimes problematic urban wildlife like rodents, deer and Canada geese.
It’s so easy to think of urban places as home to humans, pigeons, crows and raccoons, and that’s about it. But our cities are increasingly home to an ever more diverse array of wildlife species. Unfortunately, these species are not beneficial when they become overabundant. Canada geese can wreak havoc on baseball fields and golf courses, deer can easily become a nuisance in yards and gardens of residential housing and spread disease-carrying ticks, and rats have been an issue in cities ever since cities were invented. Coyotes play a role in limiting the populations of these species and more, helping to keep a balance and increase biodiversity in urban ecosystems.
Rodents are the primary food source for coyotes in rural and urban areas alike, and studies have shown an increase in the rodent population in areas where coyotes are removed. Deer fawns are also a prey source for coyotes, and coyotes can take anywhere from 20 percent to 80 percent of fawns in various populations. Because coyotes rarely ever take adult deer, they don’t cause a reduction in populations, but they do help to stabilize or slow the growth of deer populations in urban and suburban areas.
The same goes for Canada geese; the presence of coyotes is highly beneficial to slow the growth of goose populations, which helps out managers of parks, golf courses, sporting fields and other grassy areas that geese graze in abundance. Urban Coyote Research Program writes, “By placing modified video cameras at the nests, this project was able to identify coyotes as the major predator on the nests. Thus, coyotes are serving as a biocontrol for urban geese. Because egg contents are not detected in coyote scat, the extent of coyote predation on goose nests could only be determined by placing cameras at nests. As with deer, coyotes do not take enough adult geese to reduce the population, but they can slow the population increase through egg predation.”
The predation of coyotes on deer and other species is often controversial, but it is important to remember that what we are witnessing is the return of an apex predator to an ecosystem. When apex predators are present, an ecosystem is more balanced and more diverse. Humans have cleared out other predators like wolves, cougars and bears from their historic territories but the coyote is now filling in this blank in the food web. What we are witnessing with coyotes taking up residence in urban and suburban areas is the return of an apex predator to an ecosystem, and watching what happens is a fascinating area of study for urban ecologists.
Coyotes are naturally diurnal or crepuscular. Urban coyotes’ switch to nocturnal activity is a survival strategy, allowing them to live among humans relatively undetected. © Jaymi Heimbuch/The Natural History of the Urban Coyote
Urban coyotes often switch from naturally diurnal and crepuscular activity to nocturnal activity.
When urban residents see coyotes “in broad daylight” it is often assumed that the coyote has grown overly bold or is ill in some way. Actually, it is perfectly normal for a coyote to be out during the day, as this is their natural time for hunting.
Urban coyotes have made a behavior change to avoid humans, switching from being active at dawn and dusk or during daylight hours, to being mostly active at night. This strategy lowers their risk of encountering a species of which they are naturally afraid while still hunting in an urban territory.
However, if a coyote needs to be out during the day to hunt or to get from one place to another, there isn’t necessarily anything wrong or odd about the coyote’s behavior. In fact, in the spring and summer when raising their pups, coyotes need to find more food and so may be more active during the day and thus spotted more often. Urban residents frequently misinterpret daytime sightings as a rise in the urban coyote population or that the coyote could be rabid, neither of which are usually true.
The easiest way for city residents to avoid negative interactions with coyotes is to avoid feeding them, either accidentally or on purpose, and otherwise habituating them to humans.
When coyotes become overly bold or aggressive, and in the rare instances when coyotes have bitten humans, it usually is discovered that they were being fed. Coyotes have a natural fear of humans, and like most wildlife, will start to lose that fear and even become aggressive if they are being fed. This is the reason wildlife managers warn people to never feed wildlife, and there is the saying, “A fed coyote is a dead coyote.” Once a coyote loses its fear, it is likely to become a problem animal and that means animal control will have little choice but to lethally remove it.
Feeding coyotes sometimes happens on purpose, but it can also be done accidentally when people leave pet food on their porches intending it for cats or dogs, when they leave scattered seeds under the bird feeder, or even when they leave fallen fruit or compost in their yards.
Educating the public on the importance of not feeding wildlife and removing any food sources, as well as educating them on safe and humane coyote hazing strategies to maintain coyotes’ fear of humans, is the best way a city can avoid negative interactions and instead enjoy quiet coexistence.
Though well-meaning, people who feed coyotes are ultimately causing the animal’s death. The kindest thing one can do for a coyote is to avoid habituating them to humans. © Jaymi Heimbuch/The Natural History of the Urban Coyote
Trapping and killing or relocating urban coyotes does not reduce the overall population of coyotes.
A common reaction from urban and suburban residents when they learn coyotes are living in their area is to ask for the removal of the coyotes, either through lethal means or by trapping and relocating them. However, animal control officers have learned through a lot of experience that this is not only a lot harder to do than it sounds, but it does nothing to reduce the number of coyotes living in an area. In fact, it has the opposite effect.
Coyotes are territorial and keep other coyotes out of their home range. The larger the territory of a coyote pack, the fewer coyotes are present overall. Removing coyotes from an area opens that location up for new coyotes to come in and claim it as their own (and there will always be more coyotes coming in to fill a void), often resulting in a short-term increase in coyotes as the territory lines are redrawn by the newcomers. Additionally, when there is less pressure from neighboring coyotes and more food available, female coyotes will have larger litters of pups, again creating a short-term increase in the number of coyotes in that area.
There are other problems with trapping coyotes. As the Humane Society points out, “The most common devices used to capture coyotes are leg-hold traps and neck snares. Both can cause severe injuries, pain, and suffering. Leg-hold traps are not only cruel and inhumane for coyotes, but may also injure other wildlife, pets, or even children. Non-target wild animals are also caught in traps, and many sustain injuries so severe that they die or must be killed.”
If a city wants to limit or reduce the number of urban coyotes living there, the easiest thing to do is allow existing coyotes to work out their own territories, naturally stabilizing the coyote population. There will never be more coyotes in an ecosystem than that ecosystem can support, so (despite what some may think) a city can never become “overpopulated” or “infested” with coyotes.
Citizens can take extra steps to make an area less appealing to coyotes by removing all extra food sources – from fallen fruit or ripe vegetables from backyard gardens to pet food left on back porches – and removing sources of water. The fewer resources available, the larger the territories need to be to support the resident coyotes, and the fewer coyotes there are overall.
This is not to say that removal of problem coyotes isn’t necessary. If a coyote has become so bold that it begins targeting pets as prey or biting people and the coyote’s behavior is beyond being solved by hazing techniques, then removal is the only solution left to animal control officers. Unfortunately, this typically means lethal removal. Relocation is not an option because it doesn’t fix the problem behavior, and actually puts the coyote in danger as it can be hit by cars as it tries to return back to its home territory or can be injured in fights with the resident coyotes of territories it passes through. Targeted removal of a specific problem animal is a very different issue than the indiscriminate removal of any and all coyotes.
Coyotes are here to stay and removing them is not and will never be an option. Our one and only path forward is coexistence.
Coyotes have proven to us time and again that they are a permanent and beneficial part of the rural, suburban and urban landscapes. Our one and only option in dealing with them is to learn how to coexist. © Morgan Heim/The Natural History of the Urban Coyote
Wolf Myths and Legends, Part 132
I have a Myth
by Ronda Ebeling
The reason why wolves sing to the moon every night.
There once was a very, very beautiful daughter of their leader named Rose and, every night she would sing a song to wolves from her den.
“Wolves of the night”
“The day has passed”
“Sleep, sleep in the den”
“Wake at light then hunt”
“Run like wind”.
Then all would fall silent one cold and dark night when a nearby pack didn’t like Rose’ singing so they decided to kill her. So they snuck up and ambushed her while she slept and silently killed her. When the wolves awoke they found her dead; her throat slashed by teeth. When they buried her, the father sent a message with her spirit so that she may walk the moon every night. 100 years have past and the story has been passed on, so every night they sing the song to her loud and clear so that she may hear it. Now, the pack that killed her was never found and wolves today are not sure if it was another wolf. It might have been a jealous mountain lion or a bobcat or lynx, who knows, but all they know is the story of their elders who pass it on from pup to pup from pack to pack.
A Wolfdog Diary
Oh boy, moving all the stuff from the garage into the new workshop and store rooms has been quite a job, but luckily that’s done and dusted now.
Summer has arrived here with pretty high temperatures and luckily also more or less regular rainfalls so that the garden looks much better than last year around the same time. The pack is perfectly healthy, full of energy, and (unfortunately) the shedding season is also in full swing. Ascar II and Kajack II are not going through a complete coat change yet (Ascar II has just celebrated his second birthday with a sardine party for all and Kajack II’s is coming up in December), but Taima is looking like an old sheep coat after an encounter with a lawnmower. There are bunches of hair sticking out of her left, right and centre, and hair is falling out of her wherever she walks. Touch and pet her and you will be standing in a cloud of fluff. Have I ever told you about Ted and I collecting the hair of our pack? We started with that many years ago; I cannot even say why – maybe because it smells so nice and feels so soft to the touch – I don’t know, but whenever we brushed them, we collected the brushed-out hair in bags and stored them away when they were full. O.k., I can hear the question – what for? What do you do with it? Well, as I said, in the beginning we didn’t know either, but somehow Ted was convinced that one day he would have an idea, and that idea came to him while watching a TV documentary about a lady spinning wool from animal hair and either selling the wool or even knitting things from it for people who sent her their animals’ hair to spin it into wool. That’s when we remembered a friend saying once when he visited during shedding season, playing with a bunch of hair, that this might be good material to spin wool from it. But how do you spin wool without really knowing how it is done? We started looking around in our region for somebody spinning wool by hand to whom we could bring or send our hair collection, but we had no such luck. Next I checked out the Internet for spinning wheels, but I nearly keeled over when I saw the prices, because most offers for new or second hand ones were from people in overseas. Then Ted discovered a series of tutorial videos on YouTube that demonstrated in detail how to spin wool, which tools are needed, and how you can build some of these yourself. He fell head over heels in love with spinning, and after just a short time he had sourced suitable carding brushes and assembled flying cross-spindles and started to train himself in the art of spinning. Evening after evening he sat and span first half-yarn, which he later twisted into full-yarn (wool), from the seemingly inexhaustible stock that had accumulated from our 23 years of collecting. Surprisingly, the thread produced thus was so strong, I guess, you could tow a car with it. But then we had another problem – who was going to do the knitting? I’m not at all a good knitter, I’m lacking the patience for such things. And Ted himself was way too busy with spinning to take on this task on top of it. Luck was on our side, though, as a close friend who spends her holidays here with her hubby twice a year is passionate about knitting and was curious to find out what quality this strange kind of wool would be, what knitting it would be like, and what the final product would look like. Ted handed her a bag full of ready-to-knit balls of wool when they came here, and she spent every free minute knitting. She produced standardized squares from that wool so that we could decide what we wanted to make from them. The first project was a winter poncho for Ted that would be large enough to cover his legs when sitting and working at his desk on cold winter days. I put together the squares, and the result was stunning. O.k., you cannot wear it on naked skin because although it feels very soft to the touch it may become scratchy and itchy in direct body contact with time, but who will run around in winter with no other clothes on anyway? The next project was a “duvet” for winter; after stitching the squares together, I sewed this pretty heavy duvet into a fabric cover to prevent it from slipping around loosely. Ted could not stop talking about his perfect new “duvet”. It gets warm instantly when you slip under it, but then never gets too hot, and because it is so heavy, it will sort of mould around your body so perfectly that the weight is spread so evenly over your body that you hardly feel it. Now our friend is busy with the squares for another duvet (for me), and after that we have planned to make a jacket. I thought that after such a long time of spinning kilo after kilo of fluff Ted would get tired of it one day, but that’s not at all the case. It seems to be something that is rather relaxing to him, and he cannot get enough of it. When people come and visit and see him spinning they often give him that funny look first, then ask what he is doing and why, and when he starts to explain and show them the results, they cannot believe how beautiful it looks and how nice it feels. So, besides of the fact that shedding season means lots and lots of hair everywhere and an overworked vacuum cleaner and missus of the house, in some way, we are still looking forward to it.
Will be continued…