WDR Presents: A Wolf Called Romeo

WolfDog Radio was proud to have on our show author and friend – Nick Jans.  This is the man who knew and loved Romeo.  I could go on and on..but here him read from his book “A Wolf Called Romeo” and here the story from his own mouth.


I would like share with you an excerpt from a letter Nick Jans wrote to us:
“”I’m currently up in Ambler, my Arctic Eskimo village home of many years, and still my heart. Saw a wild black wolf trotting up a riverbank ablaze with yellow willow, and watched him a long time. Of course it was him. Always is.”



Romeo is on exhibit now….here are some photos from the exhibit:

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Pictures of Romeo:

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Hunting Moose in Canada to Save Caribou Reduces Wolf numbers naturally.


This over 10 year study in Canada should open a few eyes around the world that the culling of wolves is NOT the answer to increasing Moose, Elk and Deer populations.  One needs to look at the environmental root caused before condemning Wolves to be slaughtered as the cause of herd reduction.

Scientists spent a decade monitoring wolf, moose and endangered mountain caribou populations in the remote rain forests of southern British Columbia. In a study published Tuesday in the journal PeerJ, they found that if you let people hunt more moose, you get fewer wolves and more caribou. While this approach may only be part of the solution for preserving the caribou, it illustrates the complexity of conservation in natural environments.

“The band-aid solution is killing wolves, but that’s been treating the symptom,” said Robert Serrouya, a biologist at The University of Alberta who led the study. “We’re trying to deal with the cause.”

That cause is part of a counterintuitive narrative that goes like this: when a nonnative species wanders into a new place, its predators follow. The nonnative species knows how to fight or avoid its predators, and is good at reproducing. But for native species that evolved without worrying about the new predators, and are less fecund, it’s a big problem.

That’s what happened in the Channel Islands off California when pigs brought by humans attracted eagles that started preying on native foxes. The Canadian caribou tale is more indirect: Climate change, extensive wolf control in other areas and logging in British Columbian rain forests — which left decades worth of shrubby moose food in place of ancient trees — encouraged the moose to expand its territory. They traveled from their flat boreal forests homes to the rugged rain forests in southern British Columbia and Idaho where mountain caribou live. Wolves followed and started preying on the native caribou.

First Nations people in Canada who are native to the mountains where this study took place don’t even have a word for moose, said Dr. Serrouya. The animals may have never lived there. But today moose outnumber white-tailed deer (which are also invading) around 16 to one — and both outnumber mountain caribou.

To reduce moose numbers, the government of British Columbia increased hunting permits in 2003 by tenfold in a 2,500-square-mile area in the Columbia mountain range. The researchers compared what happened there with a nearby area to the west separated by mountains. It had a similar climate and ecology but no increased hunting. The scientists asked: Could sport hunting alone reduce the moose population to its historical level of few to none? Would that reduce wolves as well, relieving pressure on the mountain caribou? And would that help restore the caribou populations from near extinction to something sustainable?

Over ten years of monitoring the movements, survival and reproduction of the animals, the scientists found that extra moose hunting, even in this remote area, was enough to reduce the moose from around 1700 to just 300 or 400. It also reduced the wolves, which dispersed from the area and had fewer babies. The survival rate of the largest caribou subpopulation increased enough to stabilize in the hunting area, but continued to plummet in the area where hunting was not allowed to increase.

A similar approach was used in California to save those Channel Island foxes: killing feral pigs had an effect on the golden eagles that were hunting the foxes.

But moose control may not by itself be enough to save caribou in some circumstances. In one small group of caribou with fewer than 50 animals, the population did not stabilize. This suggested to Dr. Serrouya that without the social benefits of big group living (like extra eyes to watch for predators), the mountain caribou were vulnerable to additional pressures like random catastrophes, inadequate food or predation by cougars and bears. He thinks to truly restore mountain caribou populations, a more nuanced, multifaceted approach is necessary.

“It’s not up to me to decide what goes extinct or not,” said Dr. Serrouya. “But personally, if we can prevent extinction, and if we caused or are contributing to that, then sure — it’s a good thing to do.”

When it comes to finding a trainer for Fido, beware of dog … trainer

https://www.nytimes.com/2017/09/21/smarter-living/how-to-find-a-qualified-dog-trainer.html.   Ann Wessel / St. Cloud Times via Associated Press.

The world of dog training can be a bit like the “wild west of professions,” where anyone can advertise being a trainer without necessarily having gone through proper education or licensing, said Jean Donaldson, director of California’s Academy for Dog Trainers.

“It’s kind of like if there were kidney specialists but there was no need to go to medical school or get a medical license,” she said. “That’s not O.K.”

Beyond wasting time and money, unqualified trainers can cause psychological harm to your pet, possibly leading to permanent damage. “The dog can suffer,” said Marc Bekoff, an animal behaviorist in Colorado who has written extensively on canine psyche. “You can be using techniques that won’t work or using techniques that increase fear and stress.”

Mr. Bekoff added: “All you have to do is put up a sign that says you’re a dog trainer.”  So how do dog owners, when seeking a trainer, make sure that they get the real deal?

Look for Certifications

Owners should look out for the handful of reputable certifications dog trainers can earn.

“It’s kind of like doing a background check,” Mr. Bekoff said. Certified Pet Dog Trainer, International Association of Animal Behavior Consultants and Certified Dog Behavior Consultants are three that experts point to. Accolades from the American Veterinary Society of Animal Behavior and the American Animal Hospital Association are also promising signs.

Certifications, however, are not a guarantee, said Dr. Ian Dunbar, an animal behaviorist in California who runs seminars for dog trainers. It is not unheard of that such credentials might be faked. Moreover, these programs tend to focus more on theory than practice.

To verify such certifications, “check with the body the trainer claims certifications from,” Ms. Donaldson said.

Trainers Should be People People

It is obvious that trainers should be good with dogs, but they should be equally competent with humans, too.

“If the owner comes away feeling, ‘Oh my god, the trainer is this natural genius with dogs, but I have no idea what to do at home,’ and they come away feeling inadequate, that’s a flag,” Ms. Donaldson said.

“The trainer has to be someone who’s good with people, who understands people psychology and motivation,” Dr. Dunbar said. “In addition to being able to tell people what to do, they have to motivate people to do it.” You want a trainer that “you click with,” he said.

Person-to-person communication is key with trainers, but words matter only so far as they can be translated into action. “Any kind of woo-woo language, about ‘energy,’ ‘packs,’ ‘leadership;’ anything that sounds very non-concrete, where you come away thinking, ‘O.K., but what’s actually going to physically happen with my dog here?’; any attempt to obfuscate — that is a huge red flag,” Ms. Donaldson said.

Experts suggest, too, for owners to preview trainers before signing up. Attend a session to observe. “If they don’t allow that, then I wouldn’t go,” Dr. Dunbar said. At the very least, he adds, insist on “a trial session.”

Expect Personal Questions

The best dog trainers will want to know about the bond you have with your dog, Mr. Bekoff said.

“Look at the relationship you have with your dog, because that’s what it’s all about,” he said. Paramount, then, to correcting a behavioral issue is figuring out how a given issue relates to the relationship between dog and guardian. A good trainer, advises Mr. Bekoff, will say to you: “Tell me about you and your relationship with your dog: Do you work at home? Are you home a lot? How many people are in your house?”

Personal trainers should also be willing to operate remotely, adds Dr. Dunbar, and venture into the real world to an area where a dog is misbehaving: adog park, for instance, or along a regular walking route.

Avoid Heavy-Handed Tactics

A rewards-based approach is always better than fear-based, and across breeds, too.

“If they’re eschewing the use of positive reinforcement, saying, ‘We don’t want to use food or toys,’ that’s just not going to get the job done. That’s been amply disproved by research, Ms. Donaldson said. “Anyone making that claim is on very flimsy ground.”

Mr. Bekoff agreed. “You can get a dog to do whatever you want him to do in a heavy-handed way, but then you’ve got a miserable dog and a terrible relationship between you and your dog,” he said. “Positive reinforcement is definitely the move.”

Dr. Dunbar said research backs up this idea. “It’s a scientific fact that reward-training is quicker and more effective than punishment-training,” he said. “Why? There’s only one thing to teach: what’s right.” By contrast, with the harsher training, you have to “punish each and every mistake.”

“And when you screw up with treats, the dog loves you,” he added. “You screw up with a shock-collar, you’ve done a lot of damage, the dog doesn’t like you very much, and he doesn’t like training.”

Additional Helpful Resources

Dog Star Daily, a site started by Dr. Dunbar with a cornucopia of articles on dog training, including free e-books for download

Everything You Need to Know About Trainer Certifications, a comprehensive article by the Association of Professional Dog Trainers about training certificates

Dog Emotion and Cognition course, a free online class from Duke University taught by Dr. Brian Hare, an associate professor of evolutionary anthropology with a specialty in dogs.



County Board Bans Residents From Keeping ‘Wild and Exotic’ Animals as Pets


by Chris Teale September 20, 2017.  Arlington County, Virginia ARL News story.

Arlington County, Virginia residents are now prohibited from keeping various “wild and exotic” animals as pets, including alligators, squirrels and skunks, but can keep non-venomous snakes and hedgehogs.

Anyone who already owns a banned animal will be grandfathered in but must immediately contact the Animal Welfare League of Arlington to register their pet. Current owners will then be able to legally keep their pets through the registry.

The County Board voted unanimously on Tuesday for the new restrictions, which take effect immediately. Anyone found in violation of the new rules could be fined up to $500 a day.

The following animals are banned, according to Arlington County.

  • Non-human primates (monkeys, chimpanzees, etc.)
  • Raccoons
  • Skunks
  • Wolves or wolf hybrids
  • Coyotes
  • Squirrels
  • Foxes
  • Leopards
  • Panthers
  • Tigers
  • Lions
  • Bears
  • Wild cats including hybrids (like bobcats, lynx and caracals)
  • Ratites (flightless birds)
  • Crocodilians
  • Venomous snakes, venomous reptiles
  • Any other warm-blooded mammal that can normally be found in the wild state
  • Scorpions other than those in the Pandinus groupwhich are permitted
  • Centipedes of the Scolopendra group
  • The following spider groups: Latrodectus (widow spiders); Loxosceles (recluse spiders); Dipluridae (funnel-web spiders); Phoneutria  (banana spiders aka wandering spiders); Ctenizidae (trap-door spiders); Sicarius (sand spiders); and Theraphosidae (tarantulas), except for Theraphosids native to North and South America and Brachypelma smithi (Mexican redknee tarantula), which are not permitted

Non-venomous snakes are not banned, but the Board set standards for care, handling and enclosures for snakes that weigh more than 25 pounds. That is a change from the previous iteration of the ban in March, which had intended to ban ownership of non-venomous snakes weighing more than 10 pounds.

Each snake must have a microchip and have an enclosure that prevents escape but allows freedom of movement within it.

“What began as a seemingly straightforward effort to ban exotic pets in Arlington became much more complex and nuanced as the process evolved,” County Board chair Jay Fisette said in a statement. “Ultimately, through a lot of conversation with the community, we were able to adopt a Code amendment that reaches a practical balance of the input received from all sides and is enforceable.”

Rabbits, rats, mice, ferrets, hamsters, gerbils, chinchillas, hedgehogs, sugar gliders and guinea pigs bred in captivity are permitted as pets. Also allowed as pets are all domestically bred or legally imported birds — other than flightless ratites — plus non-venomous snakes, non-venomous reptiles, amphibians and fish.

County staff said the decision aligns county and state law, and now allows local animal control officers to take actions that previously could only have been taken by state officers.

Animal Tracks Is One Of L.A.’s Most Unique, Fun Experiences you MUST visit

https://www.forbes.com/sites/stevebaltin/2017/09/15/why-animal-tracks-is-one-of-l-a-s-most-unique-and-fun-experiences/#15e184a04062.  Steven Baltin – Contributor

Condensed from above URL.  Visit it to read the full story.

One of the many goals of Animal Tracks, (http://animaltracksinc.org/), run by former movie animal trainer Gunderson, and her husband, a current movie animal trainer, is to educate people about animals. It’s not a zoo, though she jokes, not without reason, the sanctuary, where she and her family live with the animals, is like the Cameron Crowe movie, We Bought A Zoo.

“Other than the fact they all drink, they all eat, they all poop, they’re all different,” Gunderson says of the many species of animals at Animal Tracks. “I will say you would never treat a sugar glider the way you treat a chimpanzee and you would never treat a chimpanzee the way you treat an alligator.  Every single species, I have found, has that little something unique to know.”

Los Angeles native Michelle Cano is a devout animal lover who has lived a great deal of her life about 30 minutes from Animal Tracks, Inc., an animal sanctuary in Aqua Dulce, California.

Animal Tracks qualifies as both hidden and an absolute gem. For animal lovers it is one of the most enjoyable and unique days you can have in L.A. As we did the three-hour tour we looked at each other countless times and said, “I never thought I’d see this,” starting with the opening of the tour, where we watched two monkeys getting a bath, Baltin stated.

Whether it’s the kangaroo or armadillo Cano mentions, or the wolf hybrid, Scout, a serval named Monzo, the hedgehog Harley Quill, the giant frog Prince Charming, or the python, The Erminator, all the members of the group get to wrap around their shoulders, the animals clearly trust and love the staff members.

Gunderson explains that is the result of a lot of training. “You have to do 10,000 hours with each species,” she says. “It’s very regulated, through the USDA and they come out and inspect us. They set the rules and regulations. Then you have California Fish And Wildlife and they come out and this is all spot, they don’t tell you when they’re coming, they just show up whenever they like. And Fish And Game is the most in depth, it’s probably about 50 pages, and that’s just to renew your permits, it’s not to add new species. Before you can add new species you have to prove you have the caging and the credits, you have to say why you want it and then they determine if that’s okay.”

“The monkeys bathing was my favorite,” Cano says. “They were so adorable and to see them bathing themselves, they’re like people.”

Monkeys taking a bath, something you have to see to believe, a common refrain at Animal Tracks, is one of the many one-of-a-kind experiences you have at Animal Tracks. After the bathing experience, our group – their tours go up to 10 people – is escorted outside to a picnic table for the “Monkey Experience.”

There we spent an hour as the different monkeys are introduced to the group. We are instructed by trainer Stacy Gunderson and her staff to let the monkeys come to us, which they do in their time. Once they get comfortable, in between eating fruit and granola from a bowl in the middle of the picnic table, they climb on us, feel our faces, playfully take our stuff, like my sunglasses, and interact with the group.

Monkeys taking a bath, something you have to see to believe, a common refrain at Animal Tracks, is one of the many one-of-a-kind experiences you have at Animal Tracks. After the bathing experience, our group – their tours go up to 10 people – is escorted outside to a picnic table for the “Monkey Experience.”

There we spent an hour as the different monkeys are introduced to the group. We are instructed by trainer Stacy Gunderson and her staff to let the monkeys come to us, which they do in their time. Once they get comfortable, in between eating fruit and granola from a bowl in the middle of the picnic table, they climb on us, feel our faces, playfully take our stuff, like my sunglasses, and interact with the group.

Cano has been to many of the biggest L.A. animal sanctuaries and she has no problem calling Animal Tracks her favorite. “It’s the most hands on,” she says. “I always wanted to pet a kangaroo and I got to do that here. I got to pet an armadillo. I love how much you get to interact with the animals.”

Gunderson admits taking over Animal Tracks, which they did in 2008, was not easy. Now that they have one of the most unique spots in all of L.A., and arguably the best for animals, their goal is to expand greatly in the next few years.

“I would like to set up a place where people can come with strollers, with shade trees and kid-friendly animals, with bunny rabbits, and they can picnic. I’d love to have a hands-on area where people can hang out with flamingoes and monkeys and have that bucket list experience,” she says. “And I would love to have an area where we can do educational shows, where people can come to us and we can have school buses come and we can educate kids. We’ve really outgrown this facility, we’re looking for something bigger, better, faster, stronger.”

Animal Tracks deserves to grow and for everybody to know about it. After Cano and I posted our experiences there on social media, we both received numerous messages from friends wanting to know where this is and how to go and experience the tour. We only hope that as it grows it does not lose the intimacy that makes Animal Tracks so special.