From ANIMAL PEOPLE, April 1996:
More Yellowstone releases
Yellowstone––Following the release of 28
Canadian-captured grey wolves in Yellowstone National
Park and central Idaho last spring, 38 wolves are to be
released in the Yellowstone region this spring.
The second round of the high-profile reintroduction
of wolves––extirpated by the forerunner of the
Animal Damage Control program in 1922––began in
January with the apprehension of the wolves by British
Columbia bounty trappers. The B.C. wildlife branch has
contracted to supply up to 180 grey wolves to the U.S.
Fish and Wildlife Service over the next four years. The
wolves will be taken out of a region overlapping the area
where B.C. wildlife branch officers killed more than 700
wolves during the mid-1980s, to make more ungulates
available to trophy hunters. The present wolf population
of the region is estimated at 300.
Friends of the Wolf president Dennis Alvey
charged that the transfers “may be another form of wolf
kill,” and offered a reward of $5,000 to anyone who
could release the captured wolves from their holding
pens prior to removal to the U.S. Alvey suggested that
the wolves could have been taken from the Yukon
instead, where government snipers have killed about
100 wolves over the past three years, also to enhance
human hunting opportunities.
The wolves were flown out on schedule, however,
in late January. The only reported hitch came on
January 24, when a wolf who bit a biologist as she tried
to give him ice to lick was killed by lethal injection to
permit rabies testing.
Interior Secretary Bruce Babbit is to
announce soon if the scheduled restoration of Mexican
wolves to the southwest is to proceed. USFWS Mexican
wolf project director David Parsons said in January that
the long awaited reintroduction may be scrapped due to
opposition from hunters and ranchers––though polls
show that 70% to 90% of southwestern residents, like
the rest of the public, favor wolf reintroduction. Texas
has flatly refused to cooperate with the reintroduction,
while New Mexico and Arizona each favor releasing
wolves only in the other state.
A five-year-old ban on wolf-killing in
Kazakhstan gave way to wolf massacres this winter,
after local authorities allocated $46,000 to reinstate the
bounties of up to $75 a head formerly paid by the Soviet
government. The Kazakhstan Institute of Zoology
claims there are now 60,000 wolves in the central Asian
republic. The slaughter accelerated following reports
that wolves had attacked five people, including one man
said to have lost his nose and an eye to a wolf bite.
An estimated 100 wolves and jackals, 50
lynxes, and 10 to 20 leopards are among “more than
20 kinds of rare animals under state protection” which
“have re-emerged the the Beijing area since 1987,” the
Xinhua news agency said on March 12, dating the
beginning of the recovery to two years before the 1989
passage of an endangered species protection law.
The wolf population of Ille Royale National
P a r k, in Lake Superior, has recovered from just 13
individuals including only three females, all elderly, to
22, including seven pups from last year’s litters,
according to wildlife ecologist Rolf Peterson of
Michigan Technical University in Houghton, who took
over survellance of the pack from Durward Allen of
Purdue. Allen began studying the Ille Royale
wolf/moose relationship in 1958. No wolves have been
studied longer. Moose moved to the island circa 1900;
wolves in 1949. Each population has fluctuated ever
since; moose numbers, up in the early 1990s, are now
down through the combination of increased predation
and disease. The ongoing observation has established
that the Ille Royale wolves prey almost exclusively on
moose of more than 10 years of age.
The state of Alaska is no longer killing
w o l v e s to make more caribou and moose available to
trophy hunters, but trapping regulations encouraging
private wolf slaughter remain in place, while Fairbanks
fur buyers Joe Mattie of Alaska Raw Fur Inc. and Dean
Wilson, owner of Klondike Alaska Furs, are reportedly
paying a bounty of $400––twice the current market
value––for any wolf pelt taken from the Fortymile area,
the target zone for the wolf massacres promoted by former
governmor Walter Hickel.
Seeking a definitive identification, staff of
the Ulster Museum in Northern Ireland have shipped the
head of a wolf-like animal who was recently shot in the
act of attacking sheep near Fermanagh, Northern
Ireland, to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service forensic
laboratory in Oregon. Wolves have officially been
extinct in Ireland for hundreds of years, but may have
been “reintroduced” by the escape of wolf hybrid pets.
Convicted in October of illegally killing one
of the wolves released in Yellowstone in early 1995,
Chad McKittrick, 42, of Red Lodge, Montana, on
February 27 drew a six-month jail term. McKittrick was
brought to justice by a reward posted by the Sea
Shepherd Conservation Society.