April 19, 2010

Wolf tracking trip with Sun Valley Trekking by Jesse Timberlake

Last Saturday I headed up to Sun Valley, Idaho for a wolf tracking trip with Sun Valley Trekking, a local backcountry guide. We had a full house, with participants coming from as far as Malibu, California. Defenders sponsored this trip with the Western Wolf Coalition, to get people outside and interested in the native wildlife. After leaving the coffee shop at dawn we headed over to Greenhorn Valley, where we set up scopes and watched about 100 elk graze on the hillside. All of a sudden, one of the group spotted a dog-like animal on the side of the hill, not 50 yards from Gray Wolf-Credit- Anne Jeffery the elk. A quick glance by Jon Rachael, Big Game manager for Idaho Fish and Game confirmed that this was indeed a wolf.


For those who are lucky enough to go to Yellowstone to see wolves know the thrill of seeing them in their natural environment. This beautiful gray wolf slowly walked up the slope, occasionally stopping and looking back at us. The elk did not seem to mind him much, but they kept an eye on him and every now and again decided it was time to move a little bit further up the slope. We were also lucky enough to find an elk carcass that had been eaten by a couple of wolves.Elk remains after a wolf's lunch There was not much left except a couple rids and some hide.


After watching the wolf for abut 45 minutes, we strapped on our snowshoes and headed up into the Sawtooth foothills to get to our yurt for lunch. Over lunch, Francie St. Onge of Sun Valley Trekking gave us a great presentation on the biology and ecology of wolves. We also had Jon from the Idaho Fish and Game to answer any questions about the local wolves. A great day out was Snowshoeing through the sawtooth Mountains had by all, especially as we got to see wolves, plenty of elk, and all in our own backyard!

March 22, 2010

Wolves and Wyoming...

A Casper Star Tribune article illustrating that a more balanced way of regarding wolves is *fingers crossed* starting to pervade in the Northern Rockies.

March 11, 2010

Defenders of Wildlife's new ad with Ashley Judd...

Ashley Judd has teamed up with Defenders again to ask the Obama administration to restore federal protections for the wolves in the Northern Rockies.  It will be running all this week in the DC metro area.

March 09, 2010

False information slowly falling to facts...

More and more we are seeing a growing core of people who are pushing back against the preachers of anti-wolf rhetoric that is based on myth and fear, and using facts and available research to formulate and express their opinions.  Also encouraging is that more papers are starting to print these opinions and hopefully both represent a pronounced shift in acceptance of wolves as a permanent fixture on America's landscape.  First is a compelling look at the term "vicious" as it is applied to wolves despite viciousness being a human quality.  Followed by published research based on a study of how many livestock depredations are caused by wild dog vs those of wolves. 

March 04, 2010

Wolf-tracking with Boise’s Timberline High School

This weekend I went up to central Idaho to go wolf-tracking with Boise’s Timberline High School. This high school is unique in the fact that they have a wolf pack named after them, the Timberline Pack. This pack spends much of its time up near the town of Lowman in the Boise National Forest, not far from where the original 15 wolves were reintroduced back into Idaho in 1995. We were not sure whether there were other packs in the area, or if the Timberline Pack had gone further up north to find elk, but we were sure going to try and find them. On the Friday evening we drove up to Lowman from Boise, and saw elk all over the mountain sides, and even in people’s front yards. When we arrived in Lowman, we sat down with Carter Niemeyer, Carter with catch pole the  former Wolf Recovery Coordinator for the US Fish and Wildlife Service and now summer wolf specialist with the Idaho Fish and Game department. We talked about wolf issues in Idaho, about wolf ecology and biology, and about how people in wolf country are learning to live with wolves. The students had great questions, and were interested in hearing about all sides of the issue.


The next morning we got a hearty breakfast at the local dinner, and the owner gave a talk on what it is like living in the wilds of Idaho, where wolf packs are abundant and healthy. We set off down the road with our telemetry equipment hanging out the window, trying to pick up signals from the local wolf packs. After a while we decided to stop driving and hike up to a ridge to get a better vantage point. No sooner had we started walking up the snow-covered forest trail, than expert biologist Carter spotted a set of Mountain Lion tracks. Lion tracks 2 Snow had fallen that night so the tracks must have been only be a few hours old. Carter explained the difference between these lion tracks and wolf tracks, these included the lack of nails on lion prints, and their asymmetrical toes. We had not walked another hundred feet when one of the students yelled out that he had found another set of tracks. These tracks were smaller than before, and went in an almost straight line. “Bobcat,” Carter said. They were too small for a lion, and as there were no nails showing, it was not a fox or coyote. Although we did also see fox tracks earlier that day, as well as a coyote playing by the road on the drive up.


We finally reached the top of the ridge and scanned the horizon with our binoculars looking for the local wolf packs. No wolves, but the students caught sight of three immature bald eagles riding the thermals above the mountain, and we also saw a herd of mule deer in the distance. We were still not having much luck with our wolf watch, and so we decided to try and howl at them to get a response. Carter led the group with a long, deep howl that seemed to go on forever. The students quickly followed with their more soprano howls. Soon we had over twenty howling ‘wolves’ in our pack, and if the wolves did hear us I do not know if they would have been intrigued, or scared off!


Hike down 3 As we hiked back down the steep trail, we talked about how exciting it was to be in a place that had such a diversity of carnivores, birds and ungulates. Although we did not see any wolves that day, we did see an abundance of sign showing that there were many animals in these mountains. The trip back to town included a stop off at one of Idaho’s famous hot springs to sooth our sore feet.


If you are interested in going on a wolf watching trip in central Idaho this spring, click here for more details.

February 26, 2010

Taking it to the streets...

We received the following email from a very dedicated Defenders' supporter who took it upon himself to raise awareness about Cabela's sponsorship of wolf killing derbies. It's amazing what one person such as Bob,  can accomplish. We always look forward to receiving information from our members about ways in which they are supporting the issues we all care about.

Wolf protest 
Hi Erin,
I want to issue a challenge to Defenders and all wolf friends around the US to follow my lead and take the initiative in organizing their own pro wolf rallies in front of their nearby Cabela's. I organized the rally myself, at the Cabela's in Scarborough, Maine, with only 3 days notice to the pro-wildlife organizations and community here in Maine. You do not need weeks to plan such a rally, but can build on the first one and then make it bigger each time.
It did help that I had handed out home-made fliers in front of the Cabela's entrance the Saturday before by myself. The wildlife and wolf lovers in Maine who I called and emailed within a couple of days to share what I had done were impressed with my intiative and wanted to join me, though I did not know even most of them. They wanted to take action after hearing what I had done and the enthusiasm that so many Cabela's shoppers expressed for the wolves safety and protection.
With only 3 days notice, I still managed to get 17 great wolf friends to show up with signs and fliers. For three hours, we expressed our love and respect for wolves for all to see. Both the NBC-TV affiliate here in Maine and Maine's National Public Radio covered the event and our message was heard far and wide. And it is only the first of many rallies we will hold for the wolves and against Cabela's and their awful wolf killing derby. The next one will be on Saturday, March 6 from 11AM to 2PM.
The sense of achievement, gratitude and empowerment that I felt in doing my solo protest and then organizing the pro wolf rally the next weekend, was such a wonderful antidote to the helplessness and sadness I have felt while reading about the killing of wolves out West this past year. As I told one of the Cabela's store managers who came out to see what I was up to when during my solo protest, I have had enough of feeling heartsick as the wolves of my country are killed once again and will not stand for it any longer.
Fellow Defenders and wolf friends are welcome to contact me if they are able to attend our next rally in Maine or for some tips on how to create a rally of their own, nearby to where they live.
If Defenders and wolf friends around the US do what I did and organize pro wolf rallies at every Cabela's in the country, we will shut down these wolf killing derbies and send a loud and clear message that Americans everywhere will no longer tolerate ever again the demonization and killing of the beautiful, intelligent and magnificent wolves who have returned to our country, this time to stay.
Bob G.
South Portland, Maine

February 19, 2010

Censorship And Cabela's

As many of you already know,  we have been asking people from all across America to sign our petition letting Cabela's know that their sponsorship  of "predator derbies" in Idaho was unsportsmanlike and irresponsible. We have received an overwhelming response and have over 200,000 signatures to date! 

Unfortunately, we've encountered some obstacles while trying get the attention of Cabela's in order to show them that the sponsorship of predator derbies (the proceeds of which went directly to support anti-wolf litigation) is irresponsible and wrong.

After the Sidney Sun-Telegraph (the local newspaper where Cabela’s headquarters is located) refused to run our ad, many of you suggested we take out an ad in Nebraska’s biggest paper, the Omaha World Herald (good idea, guys) – but they refused it, too.

And just minutes ago, the Kearney Hub (where one of Cabela’s biggest stores is located) told us that “after looking over the content of your ad, we will not be running this in our newspaper.”

We won’t stand for censorship when it comes to protecting wolves from slaughter. And we hope you’ll stand with us.

Many of you have taken matters into your own hands. - from phone calls, to emails , to returning merchandise to holding a rally. In fact, one of our supporters named Bob G. from Maine read about the derbies on the Defenders of Wildlife website is holding a rally outside of the Portland Cabela's store tomorrow at 11am.

Thanks to your support, we’re still intending to run our hard-hitting ad in the Kearney in the Lincoln Journal-Star on Wednesday, February 24th.

February 12, 2010

Valentine’s Day for Wolves?

For most of us Valentine’s Day represents cards, sweets and celebrations of love but did you know that February 14thalso marks a major festival in ancient Rome named in honor of wolves?  The festival Lupercalia was held during the peak breeding season for wolves.  Wolves only breed once a year and typically only the pack leaders produce the pack’s single litter of pups.  The breeding season extends over February with the breeding pair exhibiting courtship rites (e.g. playing, howling together, physical bonding, etc) throughout the process.  The alpha female gives birth about 63 days after she becomes pregnant.  Born blind and helpless, the whole pack cares for the youngsters until they’re old enough to hunt on their own at about 10 months of age.  So, perhaps do a little howling yourself this Valentines Day in honor of our wild friends.  Suzanne 075018small

The Centennial State Gets Some New Residents...

Great news!  According to an article in High Country News signs are pointing to the possiblility that since they were hunted to extinction in the state, wolves are finally returning to Colorado

Utah: Afraid of the Big Bad Wolf.

Recent legislation coming out of Utah smacks of fear mongering rooted in fairytales, Senator Allen Christenson makes wildly inaccurate claims about the impact wolves will have on the State and two major outdoors retailers sponsor senseless "predator derbies" in which contestants vy to rack up the most points (three points for a wolf).  

I discuss these recent threats to wolf recovery and attempt to dispel some of the more rampant myths in a High Country News blog "It's Time to Put Aside the Fairytales."

We need to tackle the Little Red Riding Hood mentality that frequently (and unfortunately) is part of any dialogue regarding wolves, with the facts.

** Be sure to join the more than 80,000 people who have signed this petition to urge Cabela's to end its unsportsmanlike sponsorship of predator derbies.

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