Time for change!
The video concisely reflects the relationships we have had with wolves and brings you current to the wolf management plans and actions being taken in some states that should concern you. Wolves, as well as other predators, are integral to healthy ecosystems. As we face many environmental challenges, we need to acknowledge that nature has a balance, one that we need to respect and learn to work with versus against.
Colorado has first litter of gray wolf pups in 80 years
“Colorado is now home to our first wolf litter since the 1940s,” said Gov. Jared Polis (D).
ByJenna Romaine | June 10, 2021
Story at a glance
- Colorado has reported its first gray wolf pups in 80 years.
- A litter of at least three wolf pups along with their parents were spotted last weekend by both a state biologist and a district wildlife manager.
- Last year, Colorado voters approved a measure requiring the state to reintroduce gray wolves to public lands by the end of 2023.
Colorado has reported its first gray wolf pups in 80 years, state wildlife officials announced on Wednesday.
A litter of at least three pups along with their parents were spotted last weekend by both a state biologist and a district wildlife manager. Wolf litters tend to contain between four to six pups, so it remains possible there could be more.
“Colorado is now home to our first wolf litter since the 1940s. We welcome this historic den and the new wolf family to Colorado,” said Gov. Jared Polis (D).
Last year, Colorado voters approved a measure requiring the state to reintroduce gray wolves to public lands by the end of 2023.
“With voter passage last year of the initiative to require re-introduction of the wolf by the end of 2023, these pups will have plenty of potential mates when they grow up to start their own families,” said Polis.
In the 1940s, Colorado’s gray wolves were eradicated via hunting, trapping and poisoning, some for game hunting and some by angry residents losing livestock to the wolves, which viewed them as prey.
Around the time Colorado approved the reintroduction of the gray wolf, President Trump’s U.S. Department of the Interior removed it from protection under the Endangered Species Act, garnering widespread condemnation from wildlife advocates.
“The Trump administration shut the door to wolf recovery, even as the science shows that wolves are too imperiled and ecologically important to abandon,” Colette Adkins, carnivore conservation director at the Center for Biological Diversity, said in a statement at the time. “We’re taking the fight to the courts, and I’m confident we can restore the Endangered Species Act’s lifesaving protections for gray wolves across the nation.”
Despite their removal, gray wolves remain protected in Colorado on a state level. The hunting of gray wolves is illegal and punishable by fines, loss of one’s hunting license, and jail time.
As to not jeopardize the survival of the state’s new wolf residents, wildlife workers are monitoring the progress from afar.
“We are continuing to actively monitor this den site while exercising extreme caution so as not to inadvertently jeopardize the potential survival of these pups,” said Libbie Miller, a Colorado Parks and Wildlife biologist. “Our hope is that we will eventually have photos to document this momentous occasion in Colorado’s incredible and diverse wildlife history, but not bothering them remains a paramount concern.”
US wildlife managers tout wolf cross-fostering efforts
U.S. wildlife managers say they have placed a record 22 captive-born Mexican gray wolf pups into dens in the wild to be raised by surrogate packs
By SUSAN MONTOYA BRYAN Associated PressJune 7, 2021, 12:20 PM
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — A record 22 captive-born Mexican gray wolf pups have been placed into dens in the wild in the southwestern U.S. to be raised by surrogate packs, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced Monday.
The agency called this year’s cross-fostering season a success, saying the endangered predators that have been part of the fostering program over the last six years have helped to boost genetic diversity among the wild population in New Mexico and Arizona.
Officials said that over the last two months, nine pups were fostered into three different packs in eastern Arizona and 13 were placed with five packs in western New Mexico. Last year, 20 pups were placed into dens in the wild.
Jim deVos, the Mexican wolf coordinator with the Arizona Game and Fish Department, said in a statement that the fostering program is built on partnerships with private organizations that are part of a nationwide captive breeding effort.
The captive-born pups came from litters at facilities in New Mexico, Texas and Missouri.
“Without this important partnership, genetic recovery would be essentially impossible,” he said. “Importantly, we are now seeing Mexican wolves that have been fostered producing litters themselves.”
Cross-fostering involves placing pups less than 14 days old from captive breeding populations into wild dens with similarly aged pups to be raised as wild wolves. Officials said cross-fostered pups have the same survival rate — about 50% — as wild-born pups in their first year of life.
According to the wolf recovery team, at least 12 of the wolves fostered over the years are still alive and surviving in the wild. Seven of these wolves have reached breeding age and four have subsequently produced pups in the wild.
Since pups are too young to mark when fostered, officials said only those that are recaptured can be confirmed as being alive, so it’s likely more have survived.
Some environmentalists questioned those numbers and said cross-fostering doesn’t go far enough to put the species on track for recovery. The Center for Biological Diversity is among those pushing for wildlife managers to release breeding pairs along with their pups as bonded family packs.
Michael Robinson with the Center for Biological Diversity suggested that captive-born, well-bonded packs released into the wild have a lower mortality and disappearance rate than cross-fostered pups. He also raised concerns about illegal killings, noting that the fate of many of the 50 pups placed into wild dens between 2016 and 2020 is unknown.
“Aside from whatever is ailing cross-fostered pups in the short term, (the Fish and Wildlife Service’s) failure to address illegal killing casts a pall on genetic conservation of released wolves no matter what manner of release is employed,” Robinson said in an email.
The most recent survey of Mexican wolves determined there were at least 186 of the animals spread between New Mexico and Arizona. Over the last five years, the wild population has nearly doubled.
Meanwhile, ranchers in the recovery area have said they are continuing to see more livestock killed by the wolves despite efforts to scare the animals away. They have been vocal with their opposition to more wolf releases, including one planned at Ted Turner’s ranch in southwestern New Mexico.
The Future of Wolves in the American West
CounterPunch.org – Lindsay Larris – March 24, 2021
A series of recent events in multiple states makes far too clear that gray wolves need our help. Despite abundant scientific data indicating that this keystone species remains largely absent from much of its historic range in the American West, gray wolves were removed from the list of species protected under the Endangered Species Act in January. In place of federal ESA protection, states have already begun enacting new policies and, with them, swift and deeply disturbing reminders of how vulnerable gray wolves remain.
In Wisconsin, just weeks after gray wolves were delisted from the ESA, an ill-conceived hunt during the wolves’ mating season left 216 gray wolves dead — approximately 20% of the entire wolf population in the state — during a three-day slaughter.
Meanwhile, in Montana, a state in which wolves lost ESA protections in 2011, not by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, but by an undemocratic congressional rider, the federal delisting emboldened politicians to up unscientific efforts to eliminate wolves from the landscape. In the past month, the Montana Senate passed a bill allowing for private bounties for dead wolves and the Montana House passed bills expanding the wolf trapping season and allowing snares in an effort to further decimate wolves.
The traps and snares, which often prolong an animal’s death, are indiscriminate and dangerous not only to wolves but also to non-target species. In a recent six-year period in Montana, for example, at least 350 non-target animals, ranging from mountain lions to companion animals, were caught in traps. Montana’s pending laws to incentivize and further enable wolf killing are not simply inhumane, they severely threaten to undo gray wolf recovery efforts and destabilize ecosystems.
These recent activities follow on the heels of a similarly unsettling example of failed state-level wolf management in Idaho, where wolves have also been delisted since 2011. There, over a recent 12-month period, trappers, hunters, and state and federal agencies killed an astounding 570 wolves, including at least 35 wolf pups as young as four weeks old.
Taken together, the examples of Idaho, Montana, and Wisconsin give us all the evidence we need that state-led “management” does not ensure the protection and recovery of gray wolves.
This horrifying slaughter of wolves in just a few states is why WildEarth Guardians has joined a broad coalition to challenge the US Fish and Wildlife Service’s decision to delist wolves in court. Wolves have not recovered in the American West and the decision to delist them goes against the intent of the ESA, which not only mandates the federal government to forestall the extermination of gray wolves but also, crucially, to promote their full recovery across their entire historic range.
To let the work of gray wolf recovery go unfinished would be a tragedy. Being listed under the ESA has allowed gray wolves to begin to rebound in the upper Great Lakes region, yet their recovery there does nothing for the populations of gray wolves throughout the West, where the animals remain largely absent or underpopulated in their historic range. For example, Nevada, Utah, and Colorado have had a few wolf sightings over the past three years, but wolves remain essentially absent from their historical habitat in these states.
The example of success in the upper Great Lakes region should not be used to dismantle wolf protections, but rather to illustrate the continued need for those protections throughout the country where wolf populations remain extremely vulnerable. Only ongoing federal protections, based on scientific data absent from politics and fearmongering, will guarantee gray wolves a continued and healthy future in this country.
Lindsay Larris is the Wildlife Program Director for WildEarth Guardians.