The Monthly Free E-Newsletter of South African Friends of Wolves
Volume 12, Issue 151, May 2017
From the Editor’s Desk
Seemingly good news at last for Alaska’s wolves and wildlife in general: US environmental organizations are suing the US government over at least two issues, including the barbaric predator eradication and the totally irresponsible Arctic oil/gas drilling bills. Let’s hope that they will be successful. See the News sections for details and how you can add your support.
Denmark is not really a country anyone would immediately associate with wolves. However, some 200 years after the last wolf was killed there, they now have a tiny population of half a dozen or so in a remote corner of their country. And instantly, some backward farmers and hunters are bitching about them. However, Denmark is a country with an unusually swift-footed and working government and has come up with sensible solutions in practically no time. See the Wolves and Wolfdogs section for some interesting reading!
As usual, we have a wolf poem, this time even one that rhymes. And resourceful Erin also has something interesting on her pack again.
Till next month,
You are invited by the International Wolf Center (firstname.lastname@example.org)
to the 4th Howl at the Moon Gala
An Event to support the International Wolf Center’s Mission.
Thursday, May 18, 2017 from 5:30 PM to 9:00 PM CDT
Program: Social Hour, Silent Auction, Dinner, Program and Live Action
Midland Hills Country Club
2001 Fulham Street
Roseville, MN 55113, USA
International Wolf Center
763-560-7374 ext. 230
Say Yes to New Adventures!
International Wolf Center’s Adventure Programs
Turn your vacation into a one-of-a-kind wilderness experience. The International Wolf Center offers a variety of Adventure Programs led by informative and enthusiastic wolf experts for people of all ages. Visit our website for a complete list of adventure programs here.
Wolves After Dark
June 30 – July 1
Here’s your opportunity to participate in a “Citizen Science” project and document important behavioural data critical to understanding the Exhibit Pack dynamics.
Learn more here.
Webinar rate: $15 Non-members, $12 Members
News from the Wolf Front
Nothing to report
From Wolf Conservation Center (email@example.com)
- USA: Take Action To Protect Endangered Wolves
In order to fund the federal government beyond April 28, Congress must finalize a spending deal this week.
Annoyed by the fact that endangered species protection decisions are by federal law based on science rather than politics, some congressional leaders are trying to slip a legislative noose around some of the nation’s most imperiled species by loading the must-pass spending bill with dozens of deadly riders. Three riders target wolves specifically – they aim to eliminate Endangered Species Act (ESA) protections for gray wolves nationwide including critically endangered Mexican gray wolves.
There is a very serious threat that some of these anti-species riders could become law, unless leaders in Congress stand firm in rejecting them.
URGENT: Please urge your representatives to oppose all anti-wolf riders that undermine the ESA and its scientific process.
From ForceChange (TakeAction@ForceChange.com)
USA: Update: Help Protect Wolves in California!
We want to thank you for signing our petition to call on the California Fish and Game Commission (Commission) to ban lethal trapping and night-hunting in the gray wolf recovery zone to better protect wolves from deadly traps and bullets, and to institute specific regulations to protect wolves in the state from one of the greatest threats to their recovery: the accidental killing of gray wolves mistaken for other species, particularly coyotes, in night-time hunting and trapping currently permitted in occupied and potential wolf territory. We also want to provide you with an IMPORTANT UPDATE! We will be hand-delivering this petition to the Commission at their next meeting in Van Nuys, California, on April 26. We are doing a last push to get as many signatures as possible before then. Our petition has exceeded 43,500 signatures thanks to each of you! Please help us boost our numbers here to reach and exceed our current goal of 50,000 signatures by sharing this petition with friends, family and colleagues, and encouraging them to sign and share.
For those who live in California and are able to attend the commission meeting, your presence and voice are needed!
More details here:
What: California Fish and Game Commission meeting
When: Wednesday, April 26th, 2017 (mtg. starts @ 9:00 a.m. but petitions before the Commission will be considered during agenda item #17C so we don’t know when this will come up that day; it is best to be there early)
Where: Airtel Plaza Hotel, 7277 Valjean Avenue, Van Nuys, CA 91406
To view Project Coyote’s Action Alert, which includes links to the petitions themselves, the Agenda for the Commission meeting, and more, please enter this link in your browser: http://salsa4.salsalabs.com/o/51198/t/0/blastContent.jsp?email_blast_KEY=1345860
Thanks so much and if you’re not already a member of Project Coyote’s E-Team to receive updates on issues like this, you can join here:
From California Wolfcenter (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Mexican Wolf Reintroduction Project
Monthly Update – March 1-31, 2017
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: the Alpine wolf office (928) 339-4329, Pinetop wolf office (928-532-2391) 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
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service posted the 2017 Mexican Wolf Initial Release and Translocation Plan (Plan) on the Mexican Wolf Recovery Program Website and requested comments for 20 days. The USFWS provided all comments received in applications to New Mexico Department of Game and Fish for importation and release permits consistent with the Plan.
The USFWS hosted the Canid and Hyaneid Taxon Advisory Group meeting in Albuquerque March 27 and 28, 2017. This meeting was part of the larger Association of Zoos and Aquarium’s mid-year meeting hosted by the Albuquerque Biological Park.
The Division of Genomic Resources (DGR) of the Museum of South-western Biology at the University of New Mexico serves as the repository for Mexican wolf specimens including carcasses, pelts, and blood. On March 30, 2017, DGR celebrated migrating from maintaining specimens in -80oC freezers to new, more secure cryogenic nitrogen-vapour (-190oC).
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 update denote wolves with functioning radio collars. The Interagency Field Team (IFT) recognizes that wolves without radio telemetry collars may also form packs. If the IFT confirms that wolves are associating with each other and are resident within the same home range, they will be referenced as a pack.
CURRENT POPULATION STATUS
The IFT completed the annual year-end population survey which started in November 2016 and concluded with helicopter count and capture operations conducted in late January through early February 2017. The IFT documented a minimum of 113 Mexican wolves in the wild in Arizona and New Mexico at the end of 2016. At the end of March, there were 61 wolves with functioning radio collars that the IFT was actively monitoring. Wolves with functioning radio collars are listed by studbook number in the pack updates below.
Annual surveys are conducted in the winter as this is when the population experiences the least amount of natural fluctuation (i.e. in the spring the population increases dramatically with the birth of new pups and declines throughout the summer and fall as mortality is particularly high on young pups). Thus, the IFT summarizes the total number of wolves in the winter at a fairly static or consistent time of year. This allows for comparable year-to-year trends at a time of year that accounts for most mortality and survival of young pups.
Bear Wallow Pack (collared AM1338 and AF1335)
In March, the Bear Wallow Pack was located within their traditional territory in the east central portion of the Apache-Sitgreaves National Forest (ASNF).
Bluestem Pack (collared M1382, F1488, fp1562, fp1563 and mp1574)
In March, the Bluestem Pack continued to use their traditional territory in the east central portion of the ASNF. F1488 continued to travel separate from the Bluestem Pack with another wolf near Alpine. During March, M1382 continued to be documented travelling with AF1339 of the Panther Creek Pack. Genetic analysis from the male pup initially thought to be Panther Creek mp148X revealed that it was a Bluestem pup and has been assigned the studbook number mp1574.
Elk Horn Pack (collared AF1294, mp1471, mp1474 and fp1473)
In March, the Elk Horn Pack was located within their traditional territory in the north eastern portion of the ASNF. The female pup assigned the temporary studbook number, fp147X, was identified as fp1473 through genetic analysis. This confirmed that the wolf was a wild born of the Elk Horn Pack and not a cross-fostered pup from 2016.
Frieborn Pack (collared F1443 and m1447)
In March, F1443 and m1447 received pack status and were named the Frieborn Pack. They have been holding a territory in the east central portion of the ASNF in Arizona and into New Mexico.
Hawks Nest Pack (collared AM1038)
The Hawks Nest Pack consists of one collared wolf, AM1038. AM1038 previously made wide dispersal movements within the north central portion of the ASNF, but during March was consistently located in the northern portion of the ASNF in the territory of the Diamond Pack. By the end of March, AM1038 was documented travelling primarily with f1557 of the Diamond Pack.
Hoodoo Pack (collared AM1290, AF1333, m1441, fp1550 and f1567)
In March, the Hoodoo Pack was located within their traditional territory in the north central portion of the ASNF. Sub-adult wolves m1441 and f1567 continued to travel together and apart from the Hoodoo Pack. The IFT concluded the prey carcass investigations that began in February looking at the kill rates of both the Hoodoo Pack and the new pair: m1441 and f1567. In March, fp1549 was located dead in Arizona. The incident is under investigation.
Maverick Pack (collared AF1291)
In March, the Maverick Pack was located within their traditional territory both on the FAIR and east central portion of the ASNF.
Panther Creek Pack (collared AF1339, mp1483, fp1484 and mp1486)
In March, the Panther Creek Pack was located in the east central portion of the ASNF. Bluestem M1382 continued to be located travelling with AF1339. Pups mp1483, fp1484, and mp1486 have been travelling separately from the rest of the pack. Male pup 1486 has been documented travelling in the Gila National Forest (GNF) in New Mexico. Male pup 1483 was documented travelling between Arizona and New Mexico. The male pup assigned the temporary studbook number, mp148X, was identified through genetic analysis as a Bluestem animal, and has been given a new studbook number of mp1574.
ON THE FAIR:
Diamond Pack (collared f1557, mp1559, fp1560, fp1570, mp1571 and mp1572)
In March, the Diamond Pack was located in the northern portion of the ASNF and on state lands north of the ASNF. Near the beginning of the month, mp1572 was located lame and removed for veterinary care. Male pup 1572 has tested negative for diseases and has been transferred to the Sevilleta National Wildlife Refuge in New Mexico where it continues to receive rehabilitative care. Near the end of March, AM1038 of the Hawks Nest Pack and f1557 were documented travelling together and apart from the Diamond Pack.
Tsay-O-Ah Pack (collared AM1343 and AF1283)
In March, the Tsay-o-Ah Pack was located within their traditional territory on the FAIR.
Baldy Pack (collared M1347 and f1445)
The Baldy Pack was not located during the month of March.
IN NEW MEXICO:
Iron Creek Pack (collared AM1240, AF1278 and mp1556)
During March, the Iron Creek Pack continued to utilize their territory in the northern portion of the Gila Wilderness and the southern portion of the Gila National Forest (GNF).
Lava Pack (collared F1405 and AM1285)
During March, the Lava Pack was located within their traditional territory in the south eastern portion of the GNF.
Leopold Pack (collared AM1293, AF1346 and mp1561)
During March, the IFT documented the Leopold Pack within their territory in the northern portion of the Gila Wilderness.
Luna Pack (collared AM1158 and AF1487)
During March, the Luna Pack remained in their traditional territory in the north central portion of the Gila National Forest. The IFT set up a diversionary food cache to reduce potential for livestock depredations.
Mangas Pack (collared M1296 and F1439)
During March, the Mangas Pack was located within their territory in the north western portion of the GNF.
New Pair (collared F1444 and M1386)
During March, F1444 and M1386 were documented travelling together within the west central portions of the GNF.
New Pair (collared F1456 and M1354)
During March, F1456 and M1354 were documented travelling together within the west central portions of the GNF.
Prieto Pack (collared AF1251, M1398 and fp1565)
During March, the Prieto Pack was located within their traditional territory in the north central portion of the GNF. M1386, m1455, f1456, M1552, and mp1569 have all displayed dispersal behaviour for 3 months and are now considered single wolves or part of a “new pair”.
San Mateo Pack (collared AF1399)
During March, the San Mateo Pack continued to utilize their territory in the north central portion of the GNF.
Sheepherders Baseball Park (SBP) Pack (collared AM1284 and f1553)
During March, the SBP Pack continued to use their traditional territory in the north central portion of the GNF.
Willow Springs Pack (collared F1397)
During March, the IFT documented the Willow Springs Pack within their traditional territory in the north central portion of the GNF.
Single collared AM1155
During March, AM1155 was documented traveling within New Mexico.
Single collared m1455
During March, m1455 travelled throughout east-central portions of the GNF and southern portions of the Cibola National Forest (CNF).
Single collared M1552
During March, M1552 travelled throughout north-eastern portions of the GNF and central portions of the CNF.
Single collared mp1569
During March, mp1569 travelled throughout northern and central portions of the CNF and other areas west of I-25.
During March, fp1549 of the Hoodoo Pack was located dead in Arizona. The incident is under investigation.
During March, mp1573 of the Bluestem Pack was captured by the IFT for medical evaluation and attention. It died overnight under veterinary care. Disease testing confirmed mp1573 tested positive for canine distemper.
During the month of March, there were six confirmed wolf depredations on livestock and no nuisance reports.
On March 6, Wildlife Services investigated a dead calf in Catron County, NM. The investigation determined the calf was a confirmed wolf kill.
On March 18, Wildlife Services investigated a dead calf in Catron County, NM. The investigation determined the calf was a confirmed wolf kill.
On March 21, Wildlife Services investigated a dead calf in Catron County, NM. The investigation determined the calf was a confirmed wolf kill.
On March 21, Wildlife Services investigated a dead cow in Catron County, NM. The investigation determined the cow was killed by coyotes.
On March 21, Wildlife Services investigated a dead cow in Socorro County, NM. The investigation determined the cow was a confirmed wolf kill.
On March 24, Wildlife Services investigated a dead cow in Socorro County, NM. The investigation determined the cow had died from natural causes.
On March 24, Wildlife Services investigated a dead calf in Apache County, AZ. The investigation determined the calf had been killed by dogs.
On March 25, Wildlife Services investigated seven dead cows in Cochise County, AZ. The investigations determined one cow was a confirmed wolf kill, four cows died from natural causes and one cow died from an unknown cause. One of the seven dead cows was unable to be investigated due to its deteriorated condition.
On March 26, female pup 1530, originating from an ongoing reintroduction effort in Mexico, was captured on private ranch land in south-eastern Arizona by the IFT and relocated to the Sevilleta Wolf Management Facility in New Mexico, where it is in good health. Management agencies in the United States and Mexico will determine the most appropriate long-term management action for this wolf.
On March 27, Wildlife Services investigated a dead cow in Cochise County, AZ. The investigation determined the cow died from unknown cause.
On March 28, Wildlife Services investigated a dead cow in Catron County, NM. The investigation determined the cow was a confirmed wolf kill.
COMMUNICATION AND COORDINATION
On March 14, the USFWS met with the Santa Clara Pueblo to discuss the status of the Mexican Wolf Recovery Program and development of the revised draft recovery plan.
On March 29, the USFWS provided a presentation on the Mexican Wolf Recovery Program to the Inter-tribal, Fish and Wildlife Service Coordination meeting at Ak-Chin.
There are no project personnel updates for the month of March.
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.
USA: Alaska: Government sued for barbaric wildlife slaughter law
Washington D.C. — The Center for Biological Diversity (the Center) filed a lawsuit (http://www.biologicaldiversity.org/campaigns/carnivore_conservation/pdfs/Complaint_4_20_2017.pdf) in federal district court in Anchorage, Alaska, on April 20, 2017, against the U.S. Department of Interior (Interior) and Secretary Ryan Zinke, after President Donald Trump signed House Joint Resolution 69 (HJR 69; http://www.environews.tv/040517-done-trump-signs-hjr-69-law-allowing-slaughter-alaskan-bear-cubs-wolf-pups/) into law earlier this month, in a move that rescinds the Alaska National Wildlife Refuges Rule (Refuge Rule).
HJR 69 is a controversial bill, in part, because it rolled back Obama-era safeguards for Alaskan wildlife using an obscure law from the 90s called the Congressional Review Act (CRA) — a legislative loophole allowing a new Congress to overturn rules from the previous administration within its first 60 legislative days.
Nothing to report
From Defenders of Wildlife (http://www.defenders.org)
USA: We’re suing to stop more Arctic drilling
Last Friday, President Trump opened as many as 120 million acres of critical ocean habitat for exploitation by the oil and gas industry.
We refuse to let him play roulette with our nation’s wildlife and waters.
That’s why Defenders, joining with our partners in the conservation and Alaska Native communities, filed a lawsuit yesterday challenging the President’s actions. We’re calling upon the courts to reject his unlawful exercise of power – but we can’t do it without your support!
Please donate today to help us fight this in court and continue our work to protect imperilled wildlife and marine ecosystems: http://action.defenders.org/site/R?i=zfiA56E7sha3gN8fUFWPmg
In 2016, the Obama administration permanently banned offshore drilling in substantial portions of the Arctic and Atlantic oceans, using the power granted to the president by a 1953 law to protect these ecologically sensitive waters from the risks inherent in offshore oil drilling.
No president has ever attempted to undo a previous president’s determination that waters like these should be protected, and nothing in the law allows such a reversal, but President Trump’s latest Executive Order tries to do just that.
The order threatens critical habitat for wildlife ranging from whales, to polar bears, to sea turtles. It exposes these amazing creatures to potentially catastrophic accidents – disastrous oil spills like those whose names are all too familiar – Deepwater Horizon and Exxon Valdez. Spills that are too big to clean up and have lasting impacts on marine life.
If oil and gas development is allowed to move forward in these regions, it won’t be a question of IF a spill will happen, but WHEN.
Please, donate today to help us hold the administration accountable and protect marine habitats from oil exploitation: http://action.defenders.org/site/R?i=MV6lGcHz7k356xFu48RDJA
The latest Executive Order is further evidence of this administration’s single-minded focus on fossil fuel extraction. The entire order is aimed at increasing the industrialization of our oceans and instructing federal departments to consider ways to remove remaining barriers to drilling!
It is just one more effort to benefit big polluters at the expense of wildlife, wild lands and waters, and even human health.
Won’t you donate today and help us stand with wildlife: http://action.defenders.org/site/R?i=MV6lGcHz7k356xFu48RDJA
Wolves and Wolfdogs
New Wolves discovered in Denmark
For almost 200 years no wolves had been seen in Denmark; as in so many other countries, severe persecution and hunting had driven the species to extinction. Denmark’s last wolf was killed in 1813. Then, in 2012, a male wolf was spotted within Danish territory, leading to hopes that more wolves might arrive from neighbouring Germany, and these hopes have now turned into reality. Scientists have confirmed that there are five or six wolves present in Denmark’s remote West Jutland region, making this the country’s first wolf pack in two centuries.
Denmark’s wolves have settled in a well-farmed area of heathland and small pine plantations where prey is plentiful in the shape of burgeoning populations of red and roe deer.
But, as is the case in so many other countries where wolves have started to settle down again, there are many people who celebrate the wolf’s return to Denmark as a symbol of environmental progress and returning biodiversity, and those who are not at all happy about the new situation. A number of Danish sheep farmers have blamed the wolves for the deaths of several sheep and are already pressurizing Danish government to control the newly discovered wolves’ numbers. One Danish politician has stated that the farmers should have “a right to put a bullet in a wolf’s head.”
Many Scandinavian countries where wolves are present currently use or have used culling as a means to control wolf populations, giving hunters permission to shoot or trap wolves. Allowing such culling in Denmark too, would be a certain death sentence for the few wolves now known to reside within its borders with no chance of even bearing their first litter of cubs.
But regardless of the demands by some farmers the Danish government has already established a wolf management plan that guaranties compensation for farmers and funding for livestock farmers to erect wolf-proof fencing. The management plan, drawn up in consultation with hunters as well as farmers and conservationists, also allows for wolves to be controlled that become “habituated” and live too close to humans.
Wolves are a crucial part of restoring healthy forest habitats and must be protected. The researchers who discovered the small pack believe that the alpha female, who has been named GW675f, has crossed the border into Jutland from Germany, covering a about 550 km, last summer. And they expect the pack to have cubs this year or next. Since they have probably not been established for more than 8 months by now they might postpone mating to next year.
From a technical point of view such a small wolf population can be managed relatively easily, but the real challenge is the psychology of humans; there are so many emotions and opinions about wolves in Denmark, as everywhere else, and the wolf debate is very much value-driven rather than related to concrete problems.
If you want to help to protect the lives of these newly discovered wolves in Denmark, please sign the ForceChange Petition at https://forcechange.com/233283/protect-newly-discovered-wolves-from-hunting/
Wolf Myths and Legends, Part 138
The Snow Wolf’s Eyes
by Drew Cooper
The full blue moon beams down on my face.
It lights the snow in florescent grace.
I never want to leave this place.
I’ll abandon the hassles of the human race.
It’s calm and quiet where I lay.
There’s not a word that I can say.
The fire’s died down,
there is no light,
to dim out the beauty of this night.
I’m in my sleeping bag trying to keep warm.
Feeling the fabric wrinkled and worn.
I stare out on the landscape in unspeakable wonder.
I stare out into the serene forest tundra.
The icicled limbs of the tree that I lean on,
glistens a gentle white and blue neon.
I gradually look down and I’m startled to see,
two golden eyes staring at me.
What is this creature?
I don’t really know.
But whatever it is blends in with the snow.
I can make out a figure.
Not ten yards away.
It’s a single grey wolf looking for prey.
He slowly creeps closer in a soft, cautious stroll.
As I stare through his eyes and into his soul.
In his mind I see the things that he’s done.
While roaming around in the dim winter’s sun.
I see where he’s going.
I see where he’s been.
The kills of his hunts.
And the cubs in his den.
As he starts to turn slowly away,
I start to wonder: “Did he do the same?”
Had he witnessed my joy and my pain?
Or maybe he just wanted to know why I came.
He’s now swiftly sprinting over the snow-covered field.
I notice him start to slowly yield.
He turns his head.
Looking one last time.
Savoring his brush with humankind.
When I see that he is finally gone,
I look up at the stars and wait until dawn.
A Wolfdog Diary
Summer has finally turned into autumn up here, the nights getting cooler and the hot days are over too. The trees have started to shed their leaves, and although the grass is still green thanks to the huge amounts of rain we had this summer, you can smell the typical fragrance of winter knocking on our doors. Our furry kids have built up a nice thick undercoat again, and the rather thin and flimsy summer tails have returned to their gorgeous dense and bushy appearance. We have really been lucky this summer with just a single tick on Ascar II and not one flea through the whole season.
Ascar II is still behaving nicely towards Kajack II, although he needs a little reminder from time to time that friendliness is the rule of this house. There had been just one problem with the two that had come up a while ago and needed some solution, and that was that after all the years eating nicely from their food bowls, Ascar II suddenly decided that he, as the leader of the pack, would be entitled not only to his own food portions but also Kajack’s. When I placed the food bowls in front of each of the three, only Taima could enjoy her food undisturbed; Ascar II first had to inspect his bowl, then move to Kajack’s to check whether he had the same food and amount as he got. That was still o.k., but after a while he started to then eat from Kajack’s bowl, so I took his bowl and gave it to Kajack. The next moment Ascar would then decide that his food tasted better and moved back to his bowl, and I gave Kajack his food back. Next step was that I had to hold Kajack’s bowl on my lap for him to be able to eat without Ascar interfering, but that also didn’t work out very long, because Ascar then became jealous of Kajack being allowed to eat “from my lap” and wanted the same preferential treatment. To cut a slightly lengthy story shorter, Ascar then decided that Kajack would only be allowed to eat with his permission, and well behaved and submissive as Kajack is, he obeyed and abandoned his food bowl until Ascar decided to leave him a few crumbs. While in Nature this behaviour is completely normal (if there are no cubs the alphas eat first, then the rest of the pack is allowed to join in, and the Omega has to live on the leftovers and may only eat when the alpha gives his permission), you cannot allow this in captivity.
We had to come up with a solution to the problem, which was easier said than done. Taima had already started to demand her food bowl being placed inside the house, because little madam didn’t like to be disturbed by ill-behaved flies during her meal, and she also didn’t like the permanent quarrelling between the two boys, so she decided to keep her distance. That led to the first try, which was to also separate the boys for their meals. It was a bit of a challenge because Kajack always follows Ascar, no matter where he goes, but with a bit of practice we managed. Now Taima and Kajack could eat in peace, but Ascar didn’t like it at all and instead of eating he had nothing better to do as to find a way to get to Kajack, and the moment Kajack heard Ascar trying to get into the house, he stopped eating. Obviously, this was not the best solution. Then I had an idea. It had been raining cats and dogs all day long one day, and I could not feed the pack outside as I usually would. I therefore put the three food portions into one big bowl, sat down in the living room holding it on my lap. The three had followed me hot on my heals, wondering where I was taking their food. Then I allowed Ascar to choose his first piece of meat out of the bowl, and while he was chewing I gave one piece to Kajack and one to Taima. While they were busy with their pieces Ascar came back for another piece and so it went on until the bowl was empty and all had gotten their fair shares of it. I tried that again the next day and it worked perfectly fine. The only time when Ascar now tries to stop Kajack from eating is when he gets too close to him; Ascar then chases Kajack back into a corner, telling him in very clear growls that he is infringing on his “eating space” and has to stay out of it. This method now also works when I feed them outside, and it looks as though if everyone is now happy with situation, including me and Ted. I still wonder why, after years eating from their bowls without any problems, it suddenly became such an issue, but who is able to read their minds?
Will be continued…