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Will cry of the wolf return to California?; Bee Asks: Wolves in California? Count on it; http://www.terimurrison.com/2011/12/bee-asks-wolves-in-california-count-on-it/#more-7303 ; Ore. wolf hits Klamath County, 280 miles from home; wolf also located in Jackson County; According to federal data, wolves killed 4,588 cattle and sheep across the Northern Rockies from 1995 through 2010. "The California Department of Fish and Game, for more than a year, has quietly worked on a plan to prepare for the eventual return of wolves. It expects to release the plan in January...Any wolves that enter California would be considered federally endangered, Stopher said."; Siskiyou County 2001 resolution regarding reintroduction of wolves


Will cry of the wolf return to California?


Published: Sunday, Dec. 11, 2011 - 12:00 am | Page 1A
Last Modified: Sunday, Dec. 11, 2011 - 9:44 am

A lone gray wolf in the prime of his life roams 730 miles to seek a mate and a new home, crossing nearly the entire state of Oregon in two months.

He skirts small towns, crosses numerous highways, surmounts the Cascade mountain range and pauses just 30 miles from California.

It sounds like the stuff of legend.

But this journey is very real, and it holds huge implications for California. If the wolf, known to Oregon officials as OR7, resumes its southbound trek it will make history as the first wild wolf confirmed in California in nearly 90 years.

The wanderings of OR7 are already stirring excitement, not to mention controversy.

"It's actually a reason to celebrate," said Suzanne Asha Stone, Northern Rockies representative for the group Defenders of Wildlife, which led the charge to reintroduce wolves to the West. "I didn't think I'd see it in my lifetime."

Cattle and sheep ranchers in the state's northern counties are not among the celebrants. Some are watching OR7's travels with dread.

"We definitely have concerns," said Jack Hanson, a cattle rancher near Susanville and treasurer of the California Cattlemen's Association. "I'm hesitant to say I see a clear road and things will go well."

The California Department of Fish and Game, for more than a year, has quietly worked on a plan to prepare for the eventual return of wolves. It expects to release the plan in January.

"There's a very high probability, in the next few years, that a wolf will enter California," said Mark Stopher, who oversees the plan as a special assistant to the Fish and Game director.

"The wanderings of OR7 bring the urgency to a higher level," Stopher said. "He could be in Yreka in two days if he wanted to be."

Perhaps no other wild animal carries as much baggage as the wolf.

Centuries of human storytelling have portrayed the wolf as a conniving predator that targets people, from "Little Red Riding Hood" to a new movie coming in January, "The Grey," in which wolves hunt plane crash survivors.

Biologists say such stories are a gross distortion. There are only two cases in the past century of wolves killing people in North America, and even these are disputed. Death by grizzly bear, mountain lion – even deer, elk and moose – is far more common.

"Unfortunately, with wolves it seems many people can't distinguish between mythology and fact," Stone said.


Reintroduced wolves thriving




Wolves were eradicated across the West in the early 1900s by hunters and trappers who saw them as a threat to livestock.


The last wild wolf documented in California was killed by a trapper in 1924 in Trinity County. It had only three legs, having escaped a previous trapping attempt.

More recent thinking has revealed the important place of the wolf in Western ecosystems. Because they tend to prey on the weakest member of a deer or elk herd, for instance, wolves help keep those species stronger. They are also known to harass coyotes, which have become a significant pest in some rural areas.

The 1995 reintroduction of wolves to the Northern Rockies, led by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, remains one of the most controversial undertakings in the history of the Endangered Species Act. The service transplanted 66 wolves from Canada to Yellowstone National Park and central Idaho wilderness areas.

Ranchers feared cattle and sheep losses. Hunters worried that populations of elk, important prey for wolves, would be suppressed.

Fifteen years later, the transplants have grown to a population estimated at 1,651 wolves across six states. The population is so strong that wolves were removed from the endangered species list in most of their western range in October.

Elk numbers have not been significantly harmed. Data from Idaho, Montana and Wyoming indicate larger herds overall than before the wolf returned. The distribution of some herds has changed, but the states report hunters have equal or greater success harvesting elk.

Mike Ford, Northern California representative of the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation, said the local situation is a bit different. California has one of the smallest elk populations in the West, and the species has been slow to recolonize much of its former habitat.

"Adding a predator is going to potentially slow us down," Ford said. "It's going to potentially extirpate elk from places in California again."

Livestock ranchers are similarly concerned.

According to federal data, wolves killed 4,588 cattle and sheep across the Northern Rockies from 1995 through 2010. Those losses are small relative to the livestock inventory in those states, which totals millions of animals.

Environmental groups agree that even small losses can harm a family livestock business. Stone's group created a fund to reimburse ranchers for their losses. Payments average $1,000 per animal and totaled $450,000 last year.

"It's probably a good part of the equation, but it wouldn't ease my mind, to be honest with you," Hanson said of such reimbursements. "There is obviously going to be some financial pain."

Through 2010 in the Northern Rockies, 1,517 wolves were killed because they made a habit of feeding on livestock; the killing is allowed under the wolf reintroduction program. Hanson said this option would be necessary in California.


Finding mate, food key issues




OR7 is a direct descendant of the reintroduction effort, and his origins hold both promise and peril to people watching his movements.


He was born two years ago in the Imnaha pack, which lives in Oregon's northeast corner. His mother is B-300, the first wolf to return to Oregon when she migrated from Idaho in 2008.

His father is OR4, a wolf the state planned to kill this year because it was preying on livestock. That action has been stayed following a lawsuit by environmental groups.

OR7 is believed to have participated in livestock killings but was not considered an instigator, said Michelle Dennehy, a spokeswoman for the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife, which manages a wolf population in the state that now stands at 24.

OR7 wears a GPS collar that records his location daily. After his long journey, he has lingered for the past three weeks in the Siskiyou National Forest east of Medford.

"This is the farthest a wolf has ever dispersed in Oregon," Dennehy said. "Like everyone, we're watching and interested to see what this wolf does, because there's just no telling what could happen."

Even if this wolf does cross into California, it would likely be more a media event than an ecological shift.

OR7 will still need to find a mate. To settle down, he'll want to know there is enough food around. Deer are ample, but California's northern counties have fewer elk than Oregon. And he will want to avoid people and roads, which is tougher in California.

Any wolves that enter California would be considered federally endangered, Stopher said. The forthcoming planning document, he said, aims to collect information about wolves, habitat, prey and other issues unique to California. It is not a species management plan.

That will come later, he said, if there is a species to manage. In reality, it could be years until California has its own wolf pack.

Stopher hunts deer in Idaho every year, which started him thinking that California needs to get ready for wolves of its own.

"It's pretty cool to come across wolf tracks in the snow," he said. "It adds an element of wildness that I didn't know was missing before. But it changes everything.

Read more: http://www.sacbee.com/2011/12/11/4114710/will-cry-of-the-wolf-return-to.html#ixzz1gIw7W2ES




Hot on the heels of my post last week about Big Game Forever’s video about the “out of control” federal wolf reintroduction program in Idaho, Montana, and Wyoming, here comes a propaganda piece in the Sunday Sacramento Bee about a lone gray wolf resolutely making his way toward California.

He’ll make it. And he’ll find a mate that’s been planted here -- legally or otherwise.

Today’s story in the Sacramento Bee was predictable. Stories like these don’t just happen. They are planted to shape public opinion.

Remember last year’s Bee editorial on grazing and water quality in the Sierra? It followed a visit to the Bee Editorial Board by a man who dislikes cows in the forests and who wants to turn all California’s US Forests into National Parks to protect Sierra rivers and streams from contamination. That article was reprinted by other media outlets around the nation.

This one may too, as well. Read it by clicking on the Wolf on the Move graphic below:

First, note the placement of the wolf article: it’s in the new SAC PAWS (“where pets and people connect“) section. Note too,  the use of personification by the author. This is no rogue menace to society: he’s alone, looking for food and a mate, homeless. His mother, B-300, is a pioneer. His father, OR7, is on death row.

The article goes to great lengths to paint a picture and influence the way you think about its content. Did it succeed?

What’s next? School kids will start following his travels and will write impassioned pleas to the Governors of California and Oregon respectively to bring him a wife and pardon his dad. [What do you think Jerry will do?]Someone will make a documentary about him.

As to his need to roam unimpeded by man, he’s going to need some help from state and local governments. California’s got a lot of public land and has already designated quite a bit of open space for wildlife corridors and habitat. But it’s not enough. Not yet.

Click here to refresh your memory on California’s Essential Wildlife Connectivity Corridors efforts.

No, the spread of wolves into California was foreseeable (in fact, we talked about it here over a year ago). That’s what happens when territorial animals are crowded and their food supply is exhausted or shrinking. A few days ago I wrote:

“Big Game Forever cites an early, carefully negotiated agreement with USFWS and others over the wolves’ recovery number threshold: 300. That number was surpassed about ten years ago. As you look at the maps, realize that the proliferation of wolves beyond the agreed upon recovery number has done what activist groups haven’t been able to do under the ESA (yet): distribute wolves into new areas and states.

That likely motivates at least some resistance to managing wolf populations. As I noted in a previous blog, groups have filed petitions that, if successful, would reintroduce wolves into states, including California. Read about that at “Dot-catalyst: Bob’s inquiring mind wants to know“.”

Although I am not aware that US Fish and Wildlife Service has made a decision, California Department of Fish and Game has already been working on a Wolf Plan in response to the Center for Biological Diversity’s petition to reintroduce the wolf. It’s like the article said, only a matter of time.

That said, perhaps damages will be confined to the livestock industry? As they say in England, “not bloody likely”.

Wolves do like elk, but guess what? They like cows, horses, sheep, llamas, deer, dogs, and cats too.  And absent elk or any of the foregoing, wolves will still not go hungry.

So if their return is inevitable, what can be done? Here’s a start:

  1. Make sure you tell your elected representatives your opinions and if they don’t listen and begin to act, elect representatives who listen and reflect your values.

  2. Insist that a California population must be well-managed by the State to avoid conflicts with domestic livestock, protect other wildlife species, and that wolf populations are held to numbers which ensure that.

  3. Insist that mitigation for wolf impacts to livestock reflects full market value and doesn’t go away like the Defenders of Wildlife compensation program did.

  4. Insist that your county supervisors put a public lands and resources land use plan in place, that it contains policies on the reintroduction of wolves and other predatory animals. Require that they insist that all wildlife reintroduction efforts are coordinated with them.

And finally, take what you learn here and apply it to grizzly bear reintroduction. They too are coming to California. Count on it.


Siskiyou County Resolution on predators 11/13/01

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