Mexican gray wolves could have wider impacts than we think

protect the wolves, save americas wolves

 

As Soon as Cattle are removed from the equation, great things can happen. The Sooner that all join as 1 Voice to begin making it come to pass, the healthier Our Children’s Resources will become.

What if I told you that this one simple trick could lead to more water, better grazing conditions for Ungulates and healthier, more diverse wildlife? The Public want to see change, then lets begin by getting Our Precedent setting Research into the Courts Today 😉

There is ample research that gray wolves are a keystone species – which means the entire ecosystem rides on their health. Without wolves, grazing species tend to over-eat because they aren’t constantly on guard for the apex predator.

That destroys the diversity of plants in watersheds, which can deplete stream flows (not to mention the quality of grasses and other foods for grazers). It also diminishes the populations and alters the behaviors of other animals, from beetles to eagles to coyotes.

Reintroducing wolves puts everything back in balance.

Cattle still drive the divide

We’ve seen it happen in Yellowstone National Park. And it’s possible we could see it in Arizona, if we could finally find a way to sustain the Mexican gray wolf population in this state.

But this trick is not at all simple.

Government programs intended to minimize cattle losses nearly decimated the Mexican gray wolf. And decades of efforts to stabilize the subspecies have little to show for them, other than two sides that only seem to dig in deeper as time goes on.

Cattle continue to drive the divide, and understandably so. Though ranchers can be reimbursed for livestock killed by wolves, the federal process is cumbersome. And it doesn’t make ranchers whole for every head of cattle lost – which makes it difficult to embrace in an industry that has so little margin for loss.

Some organizations continue to look for middle ground, urging ranchers to stun, not kill, the wolves that wander nearby, and to pay them for using certain management techniques.

Yet strong voices on both sides continue to argue that wolves and ranching simply cannot coexist.

If it’s not working, why not start over?

Three decades after reintroduction efforts began, 131 Mexican gray wolves live in the wild. Sixty-four were counted in Arizona as of January 2019, according to reporting by The Arizona Republic’s Debra Utacia Krol.

And while those numbers are up slightly since 2017, 21 wolves died in 2018.

We seem to take a step forward by mating and introducing new wolves, then take a step back when wolves are killed by humans or simply don’t survive, in large part because those in the wild are so horribly inbred.

More than 60 scientists and environmentalists believe the effort is so deeply flawed that they have asked the federal government to start over.

If Mexican gray wolves are indeed a keystone species – we don’t know for certain, though new research suggests they are not wolf-dog hybrids, as some have long contended – their successful reintroduction should have wide-ranging impacts. That includes healthier forests and grasslands, which could boost our water supply and lessen the risk of catastrophic wildfire.

But research also suggests that the wolf subspecies’ DNA is rapidly degrading. Which means if it is a keystone, it may not be one for long.

Given what we could gain from a genetically stable population in the wild, it seems like now is as good a time as any to follow the science and find out.

Source: Mexican gray wolves could have wider impacts on Arizona than we think https://protectthewolves.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/01/f3bf6452-6f70-4839-9cea-8d83b210bd51-AP19098656269179.jpg #EndangeredSpeciesList #GrayWolves #OpposeWelfareRanchingNotWolves #ProtectTheWolves #WolvesInTheNews

Dogs and wolves are both good at cooperating 

A team of researchers have found that dogs and wolves are equally good at cooperating with partners to obtain a reward. When tested in same-species pairs, dogs and wolves proved equally successful and efficient at solving a given problem. This finding suggests that basic cooperation abilities were present in a common ancestor of dogs and wolves, and have not been lost in the domestication process.

It is estimated that dogs were domesticated as much as 30,000 – 40,000 years ago, and over that span of time they have undergone many changes from their wild counterparts, wolves. In a study published in the Journal of Comparative Psychology, researchers tested dogs and wolves for the ability to coordinate their actions with a partner of the same species to obtain rewards. The wolves in the study were from Tierpark Petersberg and Wolfcenter Dörverden. The researchers from the Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History, the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology, and colleagues, found that dogs and wolves performed equally well on the task, suggesting that this ability was present prior to dogs’ domestication in a common ancestor. The researchers hypothesize that, since dogs have been specifically selected for their ability and willingness to cooperate with humans, they might have an even higher success rate when humans are the cooperation partner.

The Test Scenario: Hunting large prey

To test cooperation ability, the researchers created a test scenario that was designed to mimic a hunting situation, one in which multiple animals were trying to take down a larger herbivore, such as an elk or other horned prey. The concept was that, in the wild, one of the animals would need to draw the attention – and the dangerous horns – of the potential prey, so that the other could attack from the rear and bring the prey down. Thus the animal that took the most risk in the hunt also had to trust that it would be given a share of the reward in the end. The test apparatus involved a barrier separating the participants from a food reward, with two openings on opposite ends that were controlled by a researcher. When the first animal approached an opening, the door before it would shut while the opposite door remained open, allowing the partner to enter first and access the food. The door then remained open, so that other animal could then enter. Thus the animals had to cooperate in two ways – first by positioning themselves on opposite ends of the barrier and then by timing and coordinating their approaches towards the barrier.

The researchers found that the dogs and wolves were equally successful, succeeding in about three out of four trials on average. “Dogs were not outperformed by wolves in coordinating their actions, in the frequency of success or in how long the task took,” explains Juliane BrĂ€uer of the Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History, lead author of the study and head of the DogStudies group at the institute. “This is somewhat surprising, as it contradicts recent findings by other researchers related to more complex cooperation tasks performed by dogs and wolves.” The researchers hypothesize that this could be due to the simple nature of the task in the present study, which might require only basic cooperation skills.

Food sharing depends on the dynamics of the pair, not on species

After solving the test, the pairs generally shared the food reward, but sharing was more likely when the dominant member of the pair was the second to arrive at the reward. “The probability of co-feeding during successful trials was higher when dominants ‘took the risk,’ so to speak, in moving first and drawing the closed door, because their higher rank gave them a higher chance to nonetheless get their share even if they accessed the food reward a few seconds after the subordinate,” explains BrĂ€uer. So while the researchers set out to test cooperation, it turned out that competition within the pair was also a factor.

Interestingly, however, dogs and wolves seemed to differ in which animal in the pair was willing to move first, drawing the closed door and thus being second to the food. Dominant wolves seemed to be more willing to take on this task in general than dominant dogs, and did so more frequently the more times the pair shared food. Dominant dogs, on the other hand, apparently seem to prefer to wait for their partner to draw the closed door. As would be expected, the more times dogs shared food, the more likely the subordinate member of the pair was to move first and draw the closed door.

More complex cooperation remains to be investigated

The researchers point out that, although the kind of coordination shown in the present study may rely on more simple mechanisms than full, conscious cooperation, it can still inform us about how cooperative behavior might have changed – or not – during the domestication process. “Our results suggest that the abilities needed to coordinate actions were already present in the dog-wolf ancestor,” notes BrĂ€uer. “In future studies, it would be interesting to focus on the question of how exactly factors like social dynamics, living conditions, the type of task and maybe also breed differences influence the cooperative behavior of dogs and wolves.” https://protectthewolves.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/01/9965_web.jpg #EndangeredSpeciesList #GrayWolves #OpposeWelfareRanchingNotWolves #ProtectTheWolves #WolvesInTheNews

False Rancher Perspective: Forced wolf reintroduction in Colorado

Rachel Gabel editor for…. wait for it “The Fence Post” who’s email and phone number are listed below deserves a Phone Call to inquire why she glazed the Facts over.  Sadly as is usual from the Rancher perspective You have ignored the majority of the actual facts 😉 what you somehow refused to mention is that in Wyoming, Idaho, and Montana, The Total Hunter kill for Elk is over 26,000 in each State. Further it appears that you have also refused to mention that in Jackson Wyoming they opened the Elk Refuge to even more killing, to children, extremely sad that WFG has extended a slaughter fest to children!!! Oh wait not to mention the states that have extended Elk Hunting seasons, added more cow tags to further lower total population. I suggest if your going to write an article Rachel, at least make it a Factual Article!

The howl of a wolf in a moonlit forest carries far more romance than the economic blow the forced reintroduction would mean to Colorado taxpayers. Mark Holyoak, director of communication for the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation, said the economics aren’t being addressed by proponents.

If a ballot initiative were successful, the Colorado Parks and Wildlife department, which is already on record opposing the intentional release of wolves, would have a laundry list of items, all at the expense of the state’s taxpayers and, perhaps, reducing funding elsewhere to foot the bill. According to a fiscal note from the department secured through a public records request, the department would be tasked with developing a plan to restore and manage wolves; host statewide hearings to assist in developing the plan; take the steps necessary to reintroduce wolves by Dec. 31, 2023, on public lands west of the Continental Divide; oversee ongoing gray wolf restoration and management; and assist owners of livestock in preventing and resolving conflicts between gray wolves and livestock, as well as reimbursing owners of livestock for losses caused by gray wolves.

As the gray wolf is designated as endangered under the federal Endangered Species Act, the CPW will only be able to undertake management efforts related to gray wolves with approval from the federal government. Assuming CPW can work with federal agencies to gain the needed approval to implement this initiative, the fiscal note said there will be fiscal impacts to CPW. To meet the requirements of the initiative, CPW would undertake a two-year planning and public outreach period, followed by a five-year implementation process. CPW would then incur annual operating and research costs to manage the ongoing reintroduction program.

In the fiscal note, the CPW projects planning period costs during years one and two to total $790,660; implementation period costs during years three to seven to total $4,115,135; recurring and ongoing costs in year eight and beyond totaling $792,927; with an estimated cost to the CPW over eight years to total $5,698,722.

Holyoak said wolf reintroduction in the Northern Rockies came with the price tag of about $10 million to get wolves on the ground. On top of that, he said, meeting the requirements of the initiative could be impossible since wolves are still federally protected.

Another biological aspect not being discussed, Holyoak said, is the Mexican wolf population in New Mexico and Arizona that has been restored at a high cost to taxpayers. Holyoak said wolves in Montana have spread to surrounding states and will do the same in Colorado. The larger gray wolves would push the Mexican wolves out of the territory they populate currently and also into genetic extinction.

Hunting, recreation

The potential impact on hunting and recreation is likely to mirror those seen in the northern Rockies with reduced populations of deer, elk and moose herds.

“If you look at central Idaho, the Lolo Zone, in 1992 there were approximately 10,000 elk there, one of the great established herds at that time,” Holyoak said. “By 2017, the size of that herd was less than 1,900. That’s not solely wolves but that’s adding wolves to a predator mix that’s almost a full menu of predators plus some habitat issues as well. It certainly didn’t help the situation.”

In another area of central Idaho, the North Fork of the Clearwater, 16,000 elk were established in the 1980s, wolves were reintroduced in 1995, and the 2010 herd was 2,000. Where elk numbers are reduced, there is less hunting, fewer licenses sold, and less revenue both for conservation and for the small businesses that count on in- and out-of-state hunters to support their businesses.

“Restoring Colorado’s Natural Balance” the aim and motto of the Rocky Mountain Wolf Project is misguided, Holyoak said, as Colorado has changed over the past 150 years with a growing population encroaching on what was previously open land.

“It’s our responsibility to manage our forests and it’s also our responsibility to look after the wildlife populations as well,” he said. “There’s not much of an emphasis put on the fact that man lives here today. You have almost 6 million people who live in Colorado, that’s a lot different than up here in the Northern Rockies. So, to release wolves down there and have them spread across a region of the country where there’s a more dense human population, there will be impacts. It’s a matter of math.”

As it stands, an ongoing study in southwestern Colorado is trying to determine why elk recruitment is not as successful as hoped in the area. It is also noteworthy that of the 64 units in Colorado where deer and elk populations are below objective, 54 of those combined units are in western or southwestern Colorado.

Given the state’s population, he said game, livestock and pet depredation as well as forced human interaction are realities of reintroduction. Whether it is unfair to the wolf, he said, he can’t say but it is certainly unnecessary in his mind.

Proponents of reintroduction are primarily backed by out-of-state donors including the California-based Tides Center; Washington, D.C.-based Defenders of Wildlife; Center for Biological Diversity, Sierra Club and others.

The proponents include 15 members of a science advisory team from out of state, the effort’s lead spokesman Mike Phillips, a politician who is from Montana, the firm hired to gather signatures is from out of state.

The Colorado Secretary of State is currently reviewing signatures to determine if the question of forced reintroduction will appear on the 2020 ballot. Trade organizations opposed to the initiative include the Colorado Farm Bureau, Colorado Cattleman’s Association, Rocky Mountain Farmers Union, Outdoor Channel, Colorado Mule Deer Society, Hunter Nation, Big Game Forever, Colorado Traditional Archers Society, Colorado Bowhunters Association, Four Corners Chapter of SCI, Colorado Outfitters Association, Bull Basin Guides and Outfitters, Code of the West Outfitters, Hunt 360, Colorado Wool Growers Association, Colorado Independent CattleGrowers, Southwestern Colorado Livestock Association, La Plata-Archuleta Cattleman’s Association, Gunnison, Eagle, Garfield, and La Plata Colorado Farm Bureau boards, as well as Alamosa, Archuleta, Crowley, Douglas, Fremont, Garfield, Hinsdale, Jackson, Lincoln, Mesa, Moffat, Montezuma, Montrose, Otero, Rio Blanco, Rio Grande, and Routt counties.

Gabel is an assistant editor and reporter for The Fence Post. She can be reached at rgabel@thefencepost.com or 970-392-4410.

 

Source: The price of ballot box biology: Forced wolf reintroduction in Colorado | SteamboatToday.com https://protectthewolves.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/01/101611_outdoors1-1240×824.jpg #EndangeredSpeciesList #GrayWolves #OpposeWelfareRanchingNotWolves #ProtectTheWolves #WolvesInTheNews