Keeping Wolves Alive in Montana (Part 1) by Rick Lamplugh

Some ranchers in the heart of Montana wolf country work to coexist with wolves, to prevent livestock loss by keeping wolves away. Do they keep wolves alive in the process? This is the first in a series of articles that will look in more depth at keeping wolves alive in Montana.

 

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UW study questions effectiveness of killing wolves to protect livestock

Chuck Quirmbach   Wisconsin Public Radio

http://www.superiortelegram.com/news/science-and-nature/4387058-uw-study-questions-effectiveness-killing-wolves-protect-livestock#.WluU_D9_tmI.facebook

Wisconsin researchers issued a paper Wednesday that questions whether governments should kill wolves that are attacking livestock.  Scientists at the Carnivore Coexistence Lab at the University of Wisconsin-Madison’s Nelson Institute for Environmental Studies looked at 230 verified wolf attacks on livestock in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan from 1998 through 2014.

 

The study concludes that in the 31 cases government wildlife specialists killed the so-called “problem wolves” that did not reduce the risk of attacks on livestock more than non-lethal means, such as hazing or scaring wolves, or trapping and relocating them.

Lead author Francisco Santiago-Avila said killing wolves may create an elevated risk of attacks on livestock at neighboring farms.

“And this risk is similar in magnitude to the reduced risk at the initial site. So, the effects offset each other to the point where you get no benefit of killing wolves,” Santiago-Avila said.

He adds that the scientists’ theory is that if a predator wolf is killed, others in the wolf pack disperse, “and when you break that family unit, those wolves may just go for easier prey, and that means livestock in a lot of ways.”

Santiago-Avila recommends governments help farmers make more use of guard dogs to protect livestock, or hang strips of colored fabric on a rope to deter wolves from crossing fences — a technique called fladry.

As long as the gray wolf in the western Great Lakes region is on the federal endangered species list, only government specialists can kill problem wolves.

Santiago-Avila and his graduate studies professor, Adrian Treves, say they regard their conclusions as preliminary. The Little River Band of Ottawa Indians in Michigan collaborated with UW-Madison on the study.

The paper is published in the peer-reviewed online journal PLOS ONE.

Mushed from Alaska to Chicago World’s Fair in 1932-33 w/ 7 wolfdogs plus 2 dogs.

Ray Bonnell, sketches of Alaska.  Daily News Miner

http://www.newsminer.com/features/sundays/sketches_of_alaska/slim-williams-alaska-s-mushing-highway-ambassador-to-the-lower/article_475d81d6-f8bc-11e7-a378-639b54767be8.html

Adventurer Clyde “Slim” Williams moved to Alaska in 1900. According to his biography, “Alaska Sourdough,” Slim lived in the Copper River Basin in the 1930s, and one fall, while buying supplies at Copper Center, heard rumors of a Nome musher’s plan to drive a dog team from Alaska to the 1933-34 Century of Progress Exposition in Chicago.

Slim responded that his team of wolf-dog hybrids was the only one with the stamina and strength to make that trip. After a little goading, He agreed to attempt it (probably thinking that nothing would come of his bluster).

Slim’s boast became newspaper headlines, and the Alaska Road Commission’s Donald MacDonald contacted him. MacDonald was an ardent supporter of building a road from Alaska to the contiguous U.S. He believed Slim’s journey would be great publicity for the project. With MacDonald’s encouragement, Slim agreed to make the trip.

On Nov. 21, 1932, Slim left Copper Center with a loaded sled and a team of seven wolf-dog hybrids and two dogs. One dog died in the Yukon, but the other was Slim’s leader, a MacKenzie huskie named Rembrandt, who guided the team all the way to Chicago and then Washington, D.C.

Slim’s first destination was Dawson. From there, he followed the old Dominion Government Telegraph route through Whitehorse, Atlin and Telegraph Creek on his way to Hazelton in central British Columbia to connect with the continental road system.

At Carcross, southeast of Whitehorse, Slim modified his sled. Twenty-two inches wide with runners, his sled was fine for packed trails. However, from Carcross onward, he would be mostly breaking his own trail, and a sled with runners would founder. Slim discarded the runners, narrowed the sled to 16 inches (the width of a pair of snowshoes) and fitted it with a toboggan bottom so it would float over deep snow.

Slim then set off for the settlement of Telegraph Creek, at the head of navigation on the Stikine River in British Columbia. As far as Carcross, Slim had shared the hospitality of Athabascan Indians and westerners living in the region. From Carcross to Telegraph Creek visits with people were less frequent, but from Telegraph Creek to Hazelton he was alone, breaking trail for hundreds of miles along what would later become the southern corridor of the Cassiar Highway.

Slim reached the road system in BC just before breakup, and as winter warmed into spring, was forced to again modify his sled. This time, with a blacksmith’s assistance, he attached axles and a set of Model T wheels.

With wheels in place, he and his team crossed into the U.S., and continued toward Chicago. As spring turned towards summer, he switched to traveling at night to keep his team cool. Slim worried about his rig being seen in the dark, but was assured by a passing motorist that the light from headlights reflected in 16 canine eyes gyrating along the side of the road was enough to force any driver to proceed cautiously.

Slim finally arrived in Chicago on Sept. 16, 1933, almost 10 months after leaving Copper Center. After a short stay, he drove his dogs on to Washington, D.C. to meet with government representatives, including President Roosevelt. He then returned to Chicago for the duration of the Century of Progress Exposition as part of the Alaska exhibit. Helen Hegener’s book, “Alaska Sled Dog Tales,” states that Slim’s dogteam traversed more than 5,600 miles during its odyssey.

Later, Slim toured the United States as a public speaker. In 1939, he repeated his Alaska-Lower 48 adventure — this time via motorcycle. His sled, minus its wheels, is now on exhibit at the Knik Museum, south of Wasilla.

Ray Bonnell is a freelance artist, writer and longtime Fairbanks resident.

Wolfdog Radio Presents – Introduction to the Saarloos Wolfdog with Gerrie Pols and Julie Miyax Bradshaw

Wolfdog Radio is pleased to present an “Introduction to the Saarloos” Wolfdog!  

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    Leendert Saarloos (1884-1969) born and raised in Dordrecht (the Netherlands) was a lover of the German Shepherd Dog.  In the 1930’s, he linked a German Sheppard to a she wolf to regain the natural characteristics in this breed. These wolf-dog crossings were called European Wolf dogs. At the end of the 1950s some of these dogs were trained as guidance for blind people. “

 

We are honored to be interviewing Gerrie Pols and Julie Miyax Bradshaw, both involved with Saarloos wolfdogs:   

Gerrie Pols is chairperson of the AVLS Dutch Breed Club of Saarloos Wolfdogs.

“It’s like Saarloos can put a spell on you, that makes you fall in love with them”

http://avls.nl/homepage/
https://silva-amica-saarlooswolfhonden.blogspot.nl/

Julie Miyax Bradshaw, founder and chair of the SWDC (Saarloos Wolfdog Club UK).
“At that time, I was a breeder of Lupine Dogs exclusively…a type of companion wolfdog which encompasses all ethically bred wolflike and wolfdogs. I fell in love with the Saarloos breed!”
http://www.miyax.co.uk/author/julie/

 

Both women continue down a path with an animal that is fiercely disputed, controversial and more rewarding when a bond is forged. Both women have allowed our Wolfdog Radio audience to join them briefly on their journey. 

and of course….the Saarloos…

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Join us Tuesday January 16, 2018 at 9:00 P.M. (EST). 

The Life of Beloved Wolf O-6, and the Politics Surrounding Her Life and Death

By in 40 Acres on January 1, 2018

http://alcalde.texasexes.org/2018/01/in-his-new-book-nate-blakeslee-chronicles-the-life-of-a-wolf-and-the-politics-surrounding-her/

She is charismatic and intelligent. Fierce but merciful, she’s both a fighter and a loving mother. The focus of Nate Blakeslee’s latest nonfiction book, she isn’t the typical protagonist though—she’s a wolf.

O-Six is an alpha female named after her birth year. She was called “the most famous wolf in the world” by The New York Times after she began attracting wolf-watchers to her home in Yellowstone National Park’s Lamar Valley. Wolves were reintroduced to the park in 1995, which sparked controversy among hunters, ranchers, and environmentalists alike. A journalist who typically writes about politics, Blakeslee was drawn to the debate, and in 2012, when a hunter legally shot and killed the beloved O-Six, he’d found his story. He would write about this political hotbed through the life of the wolf itself.

In American Wolf: A True Story of Survival and Obsession in the West, award-winning journalist Blakeslee, MA ’96, cinematically chronicles O-Six’s life, and gives voice to the hunters and conservationists on opposite sides of the debate. Leonardo DiCaprio’s production company Appian Way has already snatched up the film rights.

Can you explain the controversy surrounding wolves?

It’s been going on forever. The reason they were hunted out to begin with in the late 19th century is partly for their fur, but also because they were a threat to the ranching business, and the ranching business was so powerful there. It continues to be to this day. The descendants of those ranchers that hunted out the wolves in the 19th century are all still there. Also, elk hunting is big business in the northern Rockies, and wolves eat a lot of elk. People that make a living from guiding hunts or running motels that rely on hunters were very much against reintroduction.
But this has been going on so long in the West now that where you stand on wolves as a politician in the West has become kind of a litmus test. The rhetoric around the issue has gotten so divorced from the actual impact of wolves. You bash wolves and by extension you bash the federal government, which reintroduced wolves. That’s very popular in politics in the West now, to be against overreaching federal bureaucrats.

When did you learn about O-Six’s story?

About 10 years ago I took a wolf watching class in Yellowstone. When I was up there, I didn’t see O-Six, but I met some of the people who would become characters in the book, like Rick McIntyre, who works for the park service. He’s like Yellowstone’s wolf guru, and I talked to him about maybe doing a magazine profile, but I could never really figure out the right way to tell the whole story about the reintroduction of wolves and what an amazing success it was, but at the same time, how politically controversial it was. By then, the fight was over whether or not wolves should be hunted in the northern Rockies. Then in The New York Times, I read the story of O-Six, the most famous wolf in Yellowstone and what had happened to her, and that seemed like the best way to tell the story: through the lens of one famous wolf’s life.

When did you realize the story would work best as a book?

It’s just such a rich story. I really wanted it to read like a true-life Jack London story in which the characters were animals. That was possible because O-Six was seen by probably more than a million people watching on the roadside in Yellowstone. But more importantly she was watched on a daily basis by this much smaller group of die-hard wolf aficionados. I met one of them. Her name is Laurie Lyman. She’s a retired school teacher from San Diego, and she gave me this treasure trove: 2,400 pages of notes she had taken on O-Six and her family. It was like the diary of a wolf pack, and it provided all the raw material you would need to reconstruct their life with the kind of detail and the kind of intimacy you would expect in a novel.

What made O-Six so special?

She was the wolf that was most visible in the park during a time when wolf watching had become very popular. She happened to come into her own at the time Facebook was really exploding, so her image and her story were informally passed around everywhere. She went viral.

Rick McIntyre is another figure in the book. Why did you choose him?

He is one of the most genuinely eccentric people I’ve ever met. He’s absolutely obsessed with wolves. He’s in his mid-60s. He’s unmarried. He basically lives in the park. He spent 15 years without missing a day of watching wolves. He essentially considers wolves to be his family. Any wolf that you spot at the roadside with Rick, he can tell you that wolf’s lineage. He can tell you its personality. He’s an interpretive ranger, so his job is to sort of help visitors understand what they’re seeing. He, more than anyone else, is the reason that there is this phenomenon of wolf watching in the park. He was the person who first helped visitors find wolves. More than just telling people what to eat or how old they are, he really loves to tell stories about them because that was what matters to him. It made it just a much more rich experience, watching wolves in the park, if Rick was there.

How is this book different from your last book, which discusses the police corruption scandal in the Texas Panhandle?

It’s still a book about the intersection of politics and policy. That’s what’s interesting to me. We think about wildlife management as a science, and in some ways it is, but it’s also very political. Wolves are extremely controversial. The rise of humans parallels the decline of wolves. They were once the most widely distributed land mammal on the planet, and now we are. Every gain that humans have made has come at the expense of wolves. I was really fascinated by that idea, that this was a lens through which you could look at the history of the northern hemisphere over the last 500 years or so, this battle between the two most dominant species.

You were able to talk with the hunter who killed O-Six. What was that like?

I wanted to have a wolf-hunter’s perspective because you want to know how both sides of this issue see the world. And they do see the world very differently. And so finding him was a real breakthrough. He’s kept his name out of the papers for obvious reasons. He wanted to avoid that backlash. It’s actually against the law in the state of Wyoming for a public official to identify someone who shot a wolf because they know that it could turn into a Cecil the Lion situation. But he agreed to participate. He wanted his side of the story to be in there. All he really wanted was for his story to be told properly and respectfully.

What do you hope your book contributes to the debate surrounding wolves?

I hope that it helps unpack the difference between the rhetoric and the reality. It takes a clear-eyed look at what the impact of wolves has been on the northern Rockies and tries to separate out this issue of people trying to score points politically on the issue versus people actually trying to find solutions to the problems that do arise with respect to wolves. Secondly, the reason I wanted the book to tell a story of a wolf’s life, is because a wolf’s life is this amazing story of overcoming hardship and these amazing moments of empathy at the den. If we really knew what every wolf’s life was like, would we be so cavalier about shooting any one wolf?

Super Bowl for Amateur Astronomers in January with Wolf Moon, Super Moons and Solar Eclipse coming.

There’s a LOT to like about Coyotes

Truth be told, I like coyotes as much as I like wolves. Especially after two days in Yellowstone one winter gave me the chance to observe coyotes in the wild. I found that coyotes have qualities that would benefit many people. Here’s what I saw and learned:

 

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