The Monthly Free E-Newsletter of South African Friends of Wolves
Volume 12, Issue 147, January 2017
From the Editor’s Desk
And so we have arrived in 2017. Whether this new year will bring some relief for wolves in the wild remains to be seen, but personally, I doubt it very much. With what’s taking the helm in the US next week, things are more likely to go from very bad to even worse for nature.
This month we bring you a small set of news snippets that adequately outline the present situation and they give me creeps just as they do every month. However, there is one exception from Norway. It shows that at least some governments take petitions seriously, especially if they expand to an international scale. Read them for yourselves and you will see what I mean.
It saddened me greatly to learn that the last member of the once-proud, world famous Druid Peak Pack in Yellowstone has now also succumbed to a hunter’s bullet. Not that it mattered much after all members of his family had been killed before him. The US have lost one of their major attractions, and the film industry can now safely shelve as history all the wonderful documentaries that hailed the success story of wolf reintroduction to the world’s largest national park. Well, it’s symptomatic of this sick, degraded country. See the Wolves and Wolfdogs section.
We also have a poem that is quite haunting if you contemplate it more thoroughly. Its last line also provides a fitting obituary to Big Brown and his family – if people only could have left him and them be…
News from the Wolf Front
Nothing to report
From Defenders of Wildlife (http://www.defenders.org)
1. USA: Keep up the fight for Lobos!
Here’s the heartbreaking truth:
Mexican gray wolves are the most endangered gray wolves in the world and unless more of them are released into the wild, they are doomed to go extinct.
At the end of 2015 there were an estimated 97 Mexican gray wolves remaining in the wild. And just this week, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) confirmed that 14 Mexican gray wolf deaths were documented last year, marking the most in any single year since the federal government began reintroducing them in New Mexico and Arizona in 1998.
It’s critical that we make it clear to the incoming administration that we’re not backing down from Mexican gray wolf recovery!
Please, take action today:
We must let the incoming administration know that Mexican gray wolf recovery is a top priority. That’s why we’ll deliver your comments to the new Secretary of the Interior, once they are appointed and take office.
Please, tell the incoming administration that more Mexican gray wolves MUST be released:
It’s been 40 years since the Mexican gray wolf, or “lobo,” was first listed under the Endangered Species Act. Since the lobo reintroduction program began in the late 1990s, FWS has never released enough wolves from captivity. In fact, from 2008 through 2015, only five new wolves were released into the wild.
These wolves are running out of time. It’s up to you and me to protect their future in the wild.
- USA: Your help needed to protect wolves from Congress
Here we go again.
Barely 10 days into the new Congress, and a bill has been introduced to delist wolves in Wyoming and the Great Lakes region.
If this legislation passes, wolves will die.
Tell your Representative to oppose Congressional attempts to delist wolves:
Even more despicable, the bill would prevent courts from reviewing the legitimacy of the law.
We’ve seen wolf management Wyoming-style before. In 2012 the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service delisted wolves in Wyoming. The state wildlife agency declared more than 80% of Wyoming a ‘predator zone,’ where anyone could kill as many wolves as they wanted any day of the year. Even wolves that wandered outside of the protection of Yellowstone National Park were at risk of being shot or trapped.
One of the early victims of Wyoming’s wolf killing was a magnificent collared Yellowstone wolf known only as “06.” The matriarch of the Lamar Canyon pack, ‘06’ drew wolf-watchers from around the world. Her death just a few miles outside the Yellowstone National Park boundary was a tragic loss for science, for wolf tourism, and for her pack.
Thanks to a lawsuit brought by Defenders and our allies, a federal court ordered Wyoming’s wolves back on the endangered species list in 2014. But since then there’s been a continued effort in Congress to undo that decision.
Protections under the Endangered Species Act are not supposed to be about politics. They’re supposed to be about science. And the science is abundantly clear: Wyoming’s plan is not acceptable for wolf recovery, and until Wyoming creates a science-based plan, these wolves continue to deserve federal protection.
Please don’t let extremist politics crush sound science again. Take action today to protect our wolves:
From SOS Wolves
(https://www.facebook.com/SOS.Wolves/?hc_ref=NEWSFEED&fref=nf) through Change (http://change.org)
- USA: Urgent! Stop Wolf Hunting in Michigan
Urgent!! The Wolf hunt in Michigan may be on again even though the voters rejected it twice in 2014 and the courts upheld this vote. Please sign this petition urging Gov. Rick Snyder to VETO SB 1187, which allows wolf hunting and trapping in MI. Additionally, this bill transfers authority to an unelected body, The Natural Resources Commission, to choose all the animals to be hunted and the voters CANNOT overturn their decisions, as the NRC are appointees not legislators. This bill takes away our voting right to referendum. Please sign this Petition urging Gov. Snyder to VETO SB1187. Tell Gov. Snyder that NO means NO!
Wolves have tremendous value to the Great Lakes ecosystem and have posed no hazards to people. Livestock deaths rightly or wrongly attributed to wolves have been incredibly rare at 0.0005 in 2015.
Bill SB 1187 blatantly circumvents the voters of MI in favour of big lobbyists.
You will find the petition link on the SOS Wolves facebook page (see above).
- Norway: Great News!
The wolves in Norway today are a bit ‘safer, or almost. The Norwegian Minister of Climate and Environment, Vidar Helgesen, did an about-face with respect to the decision announced last September about cutting down 2/3 of the (already very low) wolf population of the northern European country. The four wolf packs in Letjenna, Slettås, Kynna Osdalen will continue to live.
The Ministry has, in fact, just announced that it had annulled the ruling by the regional management which would allow the planned hunt 24 wolves inside the wolf management area and 8 wolves out of the area. The hunting license will be limited to 15 copies out of the wolf management area, 6 of which have already been felled.
WWF has expressed his thanks through the words of the director of WWF Norway, Nina Jensen: “Today we express our heartfelt thanks to the Minister Helgesen for having saved the lives of 32 wolves so listening to the reasons of those who fight every day for the survival of wolves”. “Today we feel a great sense of relief and we can not wait to tell this first success to all our supporters: Thanks to their commitment and support for the life of these 32 wolves is finally saved.”
“We hope this is a first step towards the total abolition of wolf hunting in this country so advanced for so many other aspects – added the WWF Italy – The fact that Norway is still possible to break down the wolves holiday (if you are equipped license) is for us a source of great sadness. “
The wolf population in Norway has only 65-68 individuals, which means that the slaughter program, thankfully largely thwarted, would kill 70% of the entire population of the northern European country. The wolves in Norway are also listed as “critically endangered” national list of animals in danger of extinction in 2015.
WWF launched a campaign #saveourwolvessui company and was strongly committed to convince politicians and the authorities to stop the planned massacre of Norwegian wolves. The organization has been working closely with other NGOs in Norway and it was still ready to appeal against the felling plan.
From White Wolf Pack
USA: Obama bans sport hunting of wolves
The Obama administration is banning sport hunting of bears and wolves on federal lands in Alaska’s outback in an effort to stop what it calls the unethical practices of the state’s game board, practices that former Republican vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin has touted.
The Fish and Wildlife Service on Wednesday approved the regulations that ban hunting in Alaska’s national wildlife refuges without express permission from Washington and without proving it would serve a vital role in the conservation of the species.
“In the name of hunters and hunting, [the Alaska Board of Game] have approved shooting of brown and grizzly bears over bait; shooting mother bears with cubs, and even the cubs themselves; targeting bears and wolves from planes; and killing wolves and wolf pups in their dens,” said Fish and Wildlife Director Dan Ashe in a blog post.
The practices he is referring to are those that Palin, a former Alaska governor, has touted in support of maintaining the caribou and moose herds that rural Alaskans depend on as a food source. She was criticized by conservation groups and Democrats for supporting the hunting and shooting of wolves from helicopters.
“This is not sportsmanship,” Ashe said. “It is purportedly aimed at increasing populations of caribou and moose but defies modern science of predator-prey relationships. And finally, it is inconsistent with the laws guiding management of our National Wildlife Refuges in Alaska.”
He added that the practices are “wholly at odds with America’s long tradition of ethical, sportsmanlike, fair-chase hunting, in something they call ‘intensive predator management.'”
The regulations come in response to what Ashe called a persistent movement in the nation to give states ultimate authority over federal lands, alluding to a clause in the Republican Party’s national platform that was approved in Cleveland last month.
“Special interest groups are quietly working at the federal and state level to lay the groundwork for federally managed lands to be handed over wholesale to state or even private ownership,” he said. “Others have sought to erode federal management authority piecemeal, dealing death by a thousand cuts.
“Unfortunately, without the protections of federal law and the public engagement it ensures, this heritage is incredibly vulnerable,” he said.
Please join me in telling eBay that selling wolf pelts online is unacceptable.
The wolf (only recently removed from protections in the US) has only just started to recover in areas where they were wiped out. Hunting has started again in places like Idaho, Montana and Wisconsin, including such obscenities as hunting with hounds, trapping and bow hunting. Collared research wolves have also been targeted and killed, rendering years of valuable and costly research void. The ‘harvest’ rate for wolves is not based on any environmental science. Instead, it is being dictated to Government Departments by pressure from various groups lobbying for the demise (and extinction) of this apex predator.
eBay – by allowing the sale of such pelts, you are part of the problem! Please – for the love of the wolf, stop.
This petition will be delivered to:
Mr John Donahoe, CEO of eBay
From Wolf Conservation Center (https://www.facebook.com/nywolforg/?hc_ref=NEWSFEED)
All proceeds help support the Center’s work to protect and preserve wolf populations in North America.
From SanWild Wildlife Trust (email@example.com)
We are in urgent need of funding to continue our on-going drought relief program. Our most recent appeal and mailer resulted in almost no response and our funding to feed the SanWild animals has been depleted.
To help raise funds we are offering you the first opportunity to grab 3 Discounted Accommodation Vouchers @ R10 000 each (or $800) on a first come first serves basis.
Vouchers may be redeemed within the periods given below that fall within the South African School Holidays or any other dates of your choice subject to availability.
Voucher 1 – 31st March – 18th April 2017 (SA Easter Weekend)
Voucher 2 30th June – 24th July 2017 (SA School Holidays)
Voucher 3 29th September – 9 October 2017 (SA School Holidays)
About Bukisa Camp:
Bukisa Private Bush Camp, dwarfed by Spitzkop is situated in the heart of the SanWild Wildlife Sanctuary and looks out over the vast vista of the Drakensberg Mountains.
At the waterhole just below the camp you are almost guaranteed a visit by Bukisa’s herd. This small group of African elephants was rescued from an imminent culling operation in the Thukela Biosphere Reserve in 2006 and was relocated to the safety of the SanWild Wildlife Sanctuary where they have built a new life for themselves.
To read more about them and to view the Operation Jumbo Journey video, please click here to be directed to our website.
You can view a wide variety of animals such as impala, kudu, blue wildebeest, zebra, waterbuck, red hartebeest and giraffe amongst others are observed during game drives. You may even be fortunate to spot an elusive aardvark, pangolin, caracal or even a leopard in the late afternoon.
Bukisa Camp consists of 4 Safari-styled tents, each with an on-suite bathroom and electricity. The Central Facility consists of a lounge, dining room, a pub area with a fireplace and a rock pool. The kitchen is fully equipped for self-catering. Under cover parking is provided.
Game drives depart from Bukisa Camp daily and cycle tours can replace a regular game drive by prior arrangement.
The discounted accommodation voucher includes:
- 3 nights for up to 8 guests on a self-catering basis
- A daily game drive is included and additional drives can be arranged at R150 per person.
- A daily accompanied cycle tour can be arranged upon request. Cyclists need to provide their own bikes.
- Firewood can be purchased on site.
From Care2 Action Alerts (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Keep trophy-hunting out of Botswana!
The Minister of Natural Resources and Environment in Botswana is sounding the alarm about trophy hunting in his country. That might sound strange since Botswana banned trophy hunting in 2014 and has taken the lead on wildlife conservation in Africa. But over the past few years, the country has come under immense pressure from the pro-hunting lobby in Europe and neighbouring countries to reverse the ban.
Sign Christina’s petition urging the European Union to state its unequivocal support for Botswana’s ban on trophy hunting:
Botswana’s policy to fight wildlife hunting is working, and there’s plenty of proof. Ecotourism, such as wildlife safaris, has become a booming part of the economy as tourists enjoy the chance to observe wild animals in their natural environment. Wildlife that used to live in neighbouring countries is relocating to Botswana to seek refuge. Roughly 130,000 elephants now live in Botswana, which is the most in any country.
But now that animals are moving into Botswana in such large numbers, European hunters want access. In other nearby countries where hunting is legal, including Namibia, Zambia and Zimbabwe, the “game” has become scarce because of overhunting and poaching.
But we cannot allow these hunters to sway Botswana. It’s time to show that our voices are louder than theirs.
Botswana doesn’t need more political issues to contend with in its mission to end trophy hunting. It needs support from the international community. Will you sign the petition asking the European Union to save endangered wildlife and stand with Botswana?
Thank you for all that you do,
From Defenders of Wildlife (http://www.defenders.org)
We are so grateful for you!
You are the reason why, even during these difficult times, I’m optimistic about the future.
Your tireless support is a big reason why we’ve made significant progress for wildlife in 2016.
As we continue to be unrelenting in our fight for wildlife, it’s important to remember that there are a number of accomplishments worth celebrating.
To thank you for all you’ve done for the wild this year, we’ve prepared this short video featuring some of the highlights of 2016:
Wildlife is depending on us – and we will not let them down. It’s going to be a challenging year ahead, but with you at our side, we’ll never give up! For now, just take a moment to savour the progress you helped make happen.
Happy Holidays and Thank You
The holidays are a period that we at the Endangered Species Coalition use to take stock of the year that’s behind us and that which is to come.
2016 has been a year of successes and some setbacks for the imperilled wildlife that we hold dear. Those successes were vital and we could not have achieved them without you.
Crucially, our community held the line on national wolf delisting and kept Great Lakes and Wyoming wolves protected. Thousands of you spoke out online, in person, by phone, and through social media to tell decision makers that our country’s wolves need protections. To date, these protections remain intact.
Together, we celebrated the 11th-annual Endangered Species Day:
This celebration of the Endangered Species Act is something that the Endangered Species Coalition launched in 2006 with the support of the U.S. Senate. Since then, it has become a species-saving-celebration like no other. Hundreds of events were held around the world and proclamations at the local level in cities including Madison, WI marked the date. The White House even tweeted about it for the first time ever:
We stopped a predator hunting competition before it began in Wisconsin, protecting endangered wolves in that state. We delivered comments from more than 17,000 of you that spoke out in support of introducing wolves to Isle Royale National Park to bolster the Park’s declining wolf population. We learned last week that the National Park Service heard you and is proposing adding 20 to 30 wolves to keep this population from vanishing.
Many of you in Colorado turned out in person and submitted comments online to demonstrate support for predators such as bears, mountain lions, and someday wolves in the state when the Parks and Wildlife Commission proposed studies that could threaten their population. The Commission did not heed our wishes to follow a science-based path but the movement to maintain healthy predator populations in Colorado is invigorated and we will be watching this state closely for ways we can take action to shape better, predator-friendly policies.
California’s long-awaited wolf plan was released. Thousands of you provided input in shaping that plan and assured that conservation came first.
2017 is filled with hope of victories to come and the knowledge that threats are just around the corner. We will be fighting a proposed delisting of grizzly bears that would turn management over to states intent on sport hunting, and proposed wolf delisting bills that Congress will likely take up as soon as they return from recess. I hope we can count on your support in these fights:
I want to personally thank you for standing with us this past year and I wish you and yours a most joyous holiday season.
Wolves and Wolfdogs
The end of Yellowstone’s famous Druid wolves
The most famous and celebrated Druid wolves of the Yellowstone National Park’s history have lost their last surviving member – 778M was legally killed in Montana by a hunter.
Wolf 778M, also known as “Big Brown”, spent most of the past couple of years north of the park boundary, and it was there that he was shot dead a few weeks ago.
Big Brown was born in spring 2007 into the mighty Druid Peak Pack, which ruled the heart of the Lamar Valley in north-eastern Yellowstone for years, and was well known by thousands of dedicated wolf-watchers. In fact, this pack was one of the biggest attractions of Yellowstone National Park.
A part of the mountain-walled, wildlife-rich steppe lands north of the Yellowstone Plateau, the Northern Range, is often revered to as “America’s Serengeti”, given its plentiful and varied mega fauna that includes bison, elk, pronghorn, mule deer, bighorn sheep and moose as well as a full roster of native Rocky Mountain carnivores. And the Druids were what one could call its “haughty top dogs” for most of their 14-year existence.
The pack was among the second cohort of wolves reintroduced to Yellowstone in the mid-1990s. The founding wolves of this pack came from northern British Columbia, and were released into the Lamar Valley in April 1996. They didn’t take long to assert themselves, and early in the 2000s their numbers had grown to nearly 40, which made them one of the biggest wolf packs ever recorded.
Their primary den, and one of their preferred rendezvous sites, were close to the Lamar’s Northeast Entrance Road, where the growing pups, after leaving the den, could be closely observed playing and interacting with the adults by anyone with a binocular or spotting scope, and so the Druid Pack became the best known and most watched wolf pack in Yellowstone and the rest of the world.
A total of 100,000 visitors watched and observed the Druids in their wild, wide open arena of the Lamar Valley. They saw them dragging down elk, mobbing grizzlies, rumbling with other packs and performing downright Sopranos-worthy internecine dramas. In 2000, the pack’s alpha female, 40F, was killed in fight with other Druid she-wolves, amongst them also her sister, 42F, who then took over the leadership role.
The Druids were the flashy face of an exciting new chapter for the oldest national park in the US, as its ecology rapidly readjusted to the return of an apex predator to the stage.
But in 2010, the Druid Peak Pack was in shambles; ravaged by a terrible pack-wide mange infestation, beset by rivals, and dwindled by natural dispersal and deaths.
But 778M, the grandson of the Druids’ celebrity alpha male 21M, a magnificent black wolf from the first litter of one of Yellowstone’s original reintroduced groups, had left his natal pack well before its sorry unravelling. One year after his birth, in 2008, he and several other pack members left the pack and founded the Blacktail Deer Plateau Pack to the west. Big Brown became its alpha male by late 2009.
When Yellowstone’s head wolf biologist, Doug Smith, fitted him with a radio-collar in 2011, Big Brown tipped the scale at a solid 55 kg. It was his classic confidence and quiet self-assurance that made him a born alpha.
778M and his female alpha, 693F, were leading a pack of impressive 15 wolves in early 2010, but this number soon declined, and 693F died in 2013, most likely killed by other wolves. At this point 778M was the last surviving Druid. He remained in the Blacktail territory and even managed to find a few companions, but the pack never really reformed. Eventually, he drifted north of the park into the Gallatin National Forest, changing from one of the main wolves in the park into a peripheral one and then into a wolf nobody was keeping track of anymore.
In 2009 Montana held its first “modern wolf hunt”. There was none in 2010, but since 2011 these hunts became an annual regular, when the federal government removed wolves in the region from its endangered species list. Over 200 wolves were killed during the 2015 season alone. Conservationists have been pushing for buffer zones around Yellowstone where wolf hunting is prohibited, but the efforts have been unsuccessful thus far.
Despite of the fact that 778M’s death marks the end of the Druid wolves, their bloodline lives on in other Yellowstone packs. In fact, the old Druid kingdom has been home to a confederation partly composed of Druid descendants for several years – the Lamar Canyon Pack. These wolves have denned in the same grove that saw generations of Druid pups whelped, and in some seasons they have been visible enough to summon throwback visions of the Druids’ royal heyday. The most famous and celebrated alpha female of the Lamar Canyon Pack, known as “06 Female”, was also killed outside the park in late 2012, sharing the fate of about a dozen Yellowstone-ranging wolves having been shot outside the boundaries of the park during that winter’s hunting season.
The death of 778M is certainly a sad affair; he lived a long but difficult life. But even now that he’s gone, there are still descendants of the Druid wolves roaming Yellowstone.
There are only a few places on earth were wolf societies and wolf geopolitics are so scrutinised as in Yellowstone, and therefore the death of a long-lived, long-tracked individual like Big Brown causes a powerful resonance amongst scientists and wolf-watchers alike. And in his passing, the glories and tragedies of the Druids truly become the stuff legends are made of.
Original story by Ethan Shaw (19 December 2016) at
Wolf Myths and Legends, Part 134
by Megan Wilson
I want to know…..
How it feels to be one of them.
Who is my friend and who is my foe.
Howling for the night while the light grows dim.
Chasing my prey.
Feeling the wind blow through my hair.
Wondering what will happen the next day.
Knowing I have a pack that shows their care.
They are wolves and I wish I was one.
They are a magnificent creature.
They seem so fun.
With their usual grey fur.
I would lead such and exciting life.
Oh how wonderful that would be.
My fangs like a knife.
If only I could be…..
A Wolfdog Diary
Erin is still in holiday mode, taking a break from the Festive Season stress, and will be back next month.
Will be continued…