In the Midwest, grey wolf populations are on the rise, leading some to believe that wildlife management practices are needed. (Photo courtesy of the National Park Service)
Some Midwest states are re-gaining permission to euthanize
gray wolves that are killing domesticated animals. The Great Lakes
Radio Consortium’s Chuck Quirmbach reports:
Some Midwest states are re-gaining permission to euthanize grey
wolves that are killing domesticated animals. The Great Lakes Radio
Consortium’s Chuck Quirmbach reports:
A federal court ruling in January halted agencies in Wisconsin and Michigan
from trapping and killing problem wolves. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife
Service has just given Wisconsin a new permit to euthanize up to 34
wolves this year, and a permit application from Michigan is being
Fish and Wildlife official Ron Refsnider says two years of data show
the killing of problem wolves is not harming the grey wolf
population in the upper Midwest states.
“So we don’t have to guess, we don’t have to speculate. We can see
flat out that what they’re asking for shouldn’t be a problem.”
A small number of grey wolves have traveled into other Midwest
states. But officials there still can only trap and relocate problem wolves.
Once hunted nearly to extinction, the gray wolf has recently rebounded under the protection of the Endangered Species Act. Now, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is proposing to take the wolf off of the Endangered Species List and hand wolf management back to the states. (Photo by Katherine Glover)
A captive wolf at the Wildlife Science Center in Minnesota. (Photo by Katherine Glover)
Peggy Callahan, Executive Director of
the Wildlife Science Center in Minnesota. Callahan works to minimize conflicts between wolves and people. (Photo by Katherine Glover)
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service wants to remove the eastern population of the gray wolf from the Endangered Species List and turn over wolf management to state control. But not everyone thinks the states are up for it. The Great Lakes Radio Consortium’s Katherine Glover has the story:
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service wants to remove the eastern population
of the gray wolf from the Endangered Species List and turn over wolf management
to state control. But not everyone thinks the states are up for it. The Great Lakes Radio
Consortium’s Katherine Glover has the story:
(sound of wolves howling)
The image of the wolf has always had a powerful effect on people. Wolves seem dangerous,
mysterious, romantic. They are a symbol of the untamed wilderness. Before Europeans came
to America, wolves roamed freely on every part of the continent. In 1630, the colony of
Massachussetts Bay started paying bounties to settlers for killing wolves. Over the next
300 years, wolf killing spread across the country, until all that was left was a few small
pockets of surviving wolf packs.
When the Endangered Species Act passed in 1973, the only wolves left to protect in the
Midwest were in Northern Minnesota. By some estimates, there were as few as 350 of them.
Today, Minnesota has a healthy wolf population of around 2400 animals, and smaller populations
are growing in Wisconsin and Michigan. Becaue of this success, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
has proposed removing the animals from the Endangered Species List. This would mean wolves would
no longer be federally protected – it would be up to the states.
(sound of gate opening)
Peggy Callagan works with captive wolves at the Wildlife Science Center in Minnesota. She’s the
Center’s co-founder and executive director. She and her staff research ways to minimize
conflicts between wolves and people. Callahan is looking forward to seeing the wolf taken off
the Endangered Species List.
“It’s a good thing for the Endangered Species Act, to take a wolf off or an eagle off or a
peregrine off when it has recovered. The act was not established to provide a permanent
hiding place. It was established to protect a species until such time that they could be
managed in a different way.”
Wisconsin and Michigan have wolves because young born in Minnesota have migrated east to start
their own packs. Callahan says how Minnesota manages its wolves will affect wolf numbers in the
Midwest. And she isn’t crazy about Minnesota’s current wolf management plan, which has different
rules for different parts of the state.
“Now, there’s a boundary; there’s a boundary called a wolf zone, and there’s a boundary that’s
called the ag zone. And nobody likes it. We went backward.”
In Northeastern Minnesota, where the majority of wolves are, landowners can only kill wolves
if they can demonstrate an immediate threat to pets or livestock. In the rest of the state, where
there is more agriculture and more people, the rules are more lenient. On their own property,
landowners can kill any wolf they feel is a danger, without having to prove anything to the state.
The Sierra Club is opposed to taking the wolf off the Endangered Species list, largely because
of Minnesota’s management plan. Ginny Yinling is the chair of the Wolf Task Force of the Sierra
Club in Minnesota.
“They’ve pretty much given carte blanche to landowners, or their agents, to kill wolves
pretty much at any time in the southern and western two thirds of the state; they don’t even
have to have an excuse, if a wolf’s on their property they can kill it. Instead of this being
what should have been a victory in terms of wolf recovery and the success of the Endangered
Species Act, instead we’re afraid it’s going to turn into something of a disaster.”
Yinling is also concerned with the protection of wolf habitat, such as den sites, rendezvous
sites, and migration corridors.
“The current management plan protects none of those areas; it leaves it entirely up to the
discretion of the land managers.”
But wildlife managers say these are not critical for a large wolf population
like Minnesota’s. Mike DonCarlos is the wildlife program manager for the Minnesota
Department of Natural Resources.
“As you look at the range of species that are threatened by habitat change, ironically the wolf
in Minnesota is not one of them. As long as there’s a prey base that continues, wolves should
do just fine. The key is mortality rates and availability of food.”
In Wisconsin and Michigan, where there are fewer wolves, state laws will continue to protect
wolf habitat. Peggy Callahan says she has faith that the wolves will be fine, even if the
Minnesota state plan is not perfect. But at the Sierra Club, Ginny Yinling says they have
plans to challenge wolf delisting in court.
For the Great Lakes Radio Consortium, I’m Katherine Glover.
Wolf populations are on the rise. Conservation officials say that’s a victory for wildlife. But more wolves mean more encounters with farms and livestock. Now, a group of researchers has developed maps to predict where wolves might attack. The Great Lakes Radio Consortium’s Corbin Sullivan has more:
Wolf populations are on the rise. Conservation officials say that’s a victory for wildlife. But more
wolves means more encounters with farms and livestock. Now, a group of researchers has developed
maps to predict where wolves might attack. The Great Lakes Radio Consortium’s Corbin Sullivan has
In a study published in the journal Conservation
Biology, the researchers mapped wolf attacks on
livestock in Wisconsin and Minnesota. They compared
the areas with the most attacks to those with the least.
The maps show that farms with the largest pastures and
the largest herds are at high risk for wolf attacks.
Nearby deer populations also put farms at higher risk.
Adrian Treves helped develop the maps. He says they
can help farmers and state officials focus their efforts to
prevent wolf attacks.
“Instead of diverting time and staff and resources across
the entire range of the wolves, they can choose to invest
their efforts in areas that are moderate to high risk.”
Treves says farmers can choose to use guard animals or
improved fencing to ward off wolf attacks. He says loud
recorded sounds, such as helicopters and gunfire, also
For the Great Lakes Radio Consortium, I’m Corbin
Researcher Rolf Peterson has spent more than 30 years studying moose and wolves on a remote wilderness island in Lake Superior. Peterson says moose on Isle Royale are suffering from warmer-than-usual weather in recent years. The Great Lakes Radio Consortium’s Stephanie Hemphill reports:
Researcher Rolf Peterson has spent more than 30 years studying moose and wolves on a remote
wilderness island in Lake Superior. Peterson says moose on Isle Royale are suffering from
warmer-than-usual weather in recent years. The Great Lakes Radio Consortium’s Stephanie
There are 750 moose on Isle Royale. That’s down from 900 last year.
Isle Royale has had hot summers and warm, snowless winters most years since the 1998 El Nino.
Peterson says when summers are hot, the moose don’t eat enough. And they have to fight off
They spend a lot of time grooming when they should be feeding, and they lose a lot of blood,
potentially. It could be in the winter when they’re not in very good condition, they have to
replace their entire blood supply over a period of a few short weeks.
Meanwhile, wolves on the island are taking advantage of the weakness of the moose. Last year
there were 19 wolves; this year, 29. But Peterson says the wolf population will eventually
decline, as there are fewer moose to eat.
For the Great Lakes Radio Consortium, I’m Stephanie Hemphill.
Conservation officers are worried that an increase in illegal shootings could hamper the gray wolf’s recovery in the northwest Great Lakes region. The Great Lakes Radio Consortium’s Sarah Hulett explains:
Conservation officers are worried that an increase in illegal shootings could hamper the
gray wolf’s recovery in the northwest Great Lakes region. The Great Lakes Radio
Consortium’s Sarah Hulett reports:
Michigan and Wisconsin would like to upgrade their gray wolf populations from
“endangered” to “threatened.” Minnesota’s herd is already classified as “threatened.”
That means the wolf is no longer on the brink of extinction. Pat Lederle is the
endangered species coordinator for the Michigan Department of Natural Resources. He
says although the number of illegal killings is on the rise, that should not affect federal
plans to upgrade the gray wolf’s status. But Lederle says moving the gray wolf off the
endangered list altogether will require a closer look at poaching numbers:
“They’ll take into consideration things like the level of illegal takings that are occuring, if
there’s any disease issues in the population, is the population still expanding.”
Six collared wolves have been shot and killed already this year in Michigan. And at least
eight have been shot in Wisconsin, although that number could climb to ten, once
autopsies of two more wolves are complete.
For the Great Lakes Radio Consortium, I’m
The gray wolf is making a comeback in the upper Midwest, and for some young wolves the area may be getting a little too crowded. It’s not unusual for young wolves to travel long distances to stake out a territory of their own, but as the Great Lakes Radio Consortium’s Mark Brush reports… one wolf’s trip has surprised everyone:
The gray wolf is making a comeback in the upper Midwest. And for some young wolves the area may be getting a little too crowded. It’s not unusual for young wolves to travel long distances to stake out a territory of their own, but as the Great Lakes Radio Consortium’s Mark Brush reports… one wolf’s trip has surprised everyone:
The wolf was first seen two and half years ago as a young pup in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. At that time he was caught in a trap, and wildlife officials tagged him as “Wolf No. 18.” They fitted him with a radio collar and followed his movements for nine months before they lost track of him.
About a year and a half… and over 450 miles later, the wolf’s luck came to an end. A bow hunter from central Missouri saw the wolf snooping around his sheep pen. The hunter shot and killed the wolf – apparently mistaking it for a coyote. He realized his mistake when he noticed the radio collar.
Typically, young wolves travel west or northwest from Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, so when Michigan Wildlife Division Supervisor Jim Hammill heard the news that one of their wolves had turned up in Missouri… he could only think of one explanation:
“My first reaction was that somebody possibly killed the wolf in Michigan and transported it to Missouri and they found the carcass of the animal down there… but that was not what happened… and you know this animal was seen alive in Missouri before it was killed, so you know, it’s obvious that this was a natural movement and, uh, really sort of a stunning thing to have happened.”
Stunning because Hammill has never heard of a wolf traveling this far south before. They’ve seen wolves travel as far west… and northwest, but typically those wolves have an easier trip. Wolf Number 18 would have had to overcome huge obstacles, such as a number of major highways, a number of rivers including the Mississippi, and large open spaces like farms.
Hammill says this wolf’s trip will likely shed some light on the gray wolf’s behavior. And that may be especially helpful to biologists in the northeast – a region that hasn’t heard the howl of a wolf for some time:
“A lot of folks up there feel that there’s no way that wolves could re-populate the area without a trap and translocation program. But, you know, I wonder about that because of the kinds of movements that we’ve been seeing here in the Midwest.”
Wolf 18’s body has been shipped back to a Michigan Department of Natural Resources lab. There – they’ll try to piece together just what this wolf encountered on his historic trip south. For the Great Lakes Radio Consortium, I’m Mark Brush.
A timber wolf has been shot by a federal officer in Wisconsin. For the
past twenty-five years the wolf has been listed on the federal
endangered species list. But now the wolf’s status is being changed from
endangered to threatened making it easier to use lethal force on problem
wolves. The Great Lakes Radio Consortium’s Nick Van Der Puy has more:
Since being placed on the endangered species list in 1974, wolves hve
made a healthy recovery in the upper Midwest. Now, Wisconsin, Minnesota,
and Michigan are all preparing for the expected delisting of wolves from
that list. The Great Lakes Radio Consortium’s Stephanie Hemphill
Wolves have made a spectacular recovery the past twenty years through
protection by the federal endangered species act. But now the
State of Minnesota is debating a public hunting and trapping season. The
Great Lakes Radio Consortium’s Nick Van Der Puy reports.