Alaska’s native bears and wolves — at least those living in national wildlife refuges — may get a break from the federal predator control program, as the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service this week finalized new regulations that ban the controversial practice of culling carnivores through aerial gunning, baiting, trapping, and killing mother bears and cubs and wolves and pups in their dens.
Trapping and hunting near parks cuts has big impact
Many Americans travel thousands of miles for a chance to spot wolves in the wild, but a new study shows that their chance of spotting the predators decreases dramatically when hunting and trapping is allowed. In 2013, Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility first raised the alarm that dwindling wolf numbers near Denali National Park are affecting wildlife watching.
The new research, published in the journal PLOS ONE, suggests visitors to national parks were just half as likely to see wolves in their natural habitat when wolf hunting was permitted just outside Denali National Park’s boundaries during a period from 1997- 2013. Other important factors linked to wolf viewing rates include, the proximity of wolf dens to the Park Road and the regional wolf population.
Wolf advocates hope for more releases of captive-bred wolves
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service this week agreed to prepare a recovery plan for Mexican gray wolves by 2017. The court settlement will compel the federal agency to finally meet its legal obligation to ensure that the wolves can establish a healthy, sustainable population. The settlement may speed up the slow-going conservation and recovery effort.
The settlement came in response to a lawsuit filed by a coalition of wolf-conservation groups, environmental organizations and a retired federal wolf biologist. Less than 100 Mexican gray wolves exist in the wild, making it one of the most endangered mammals in North America. The settlement follows a September 2015 ruling by a federal judge in Tucson that rejected the government’s effort to dismiss the case.
Study suggests more protection needed for rare mountain predators
Biologists tracing the elusive Himalayan wolf say that new genetic studies show the species branched off from its relatives so long ago that they are divergent from the whole globally distributed wolf-dog clade. Based on that isolated genetic isolation, the Himalayan wolf should considered a species of particular conservation concern.
Annual report documents continued westward spread of wolves into Oregon and Washington
Notwithstanding the seemingly never-ending legal wrangles, wolves are holding their own biologically in the Northern Rockies, according to the latest annual report produced by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and various state and tribal partners.
As conservation advocates have long argued, policies governing the hunting of large carnivores are largely based on politics and not on science, according to a new study that examined how hunting affects populations of animals like wolves and lions.
The international research team said those politically driven policies do not always align with basic scientific data, which can undermine conservation efforts.
For example, theresearchers concluded that the current harvest levels for the recently de-listed population of gray wolves in the Northern Rocky Mountains of the United States have led to decreased survival and reproduction, smaller packs, social disruption and a reversal from population growth to decline. Continue reading “Study: Northern Rockies wolf hunting ‘not sustainable’”→