Washington Likely Has More Wolves Than Previously Believed

A University of Washington researcher, based on information from his trained scat-sniffing dogs, says Washington may have more wolves within its borders than previously believed.

Washington Likely Has More Wolves Than Previously Believed

A University of Washington researcher, based on information from his trained scat-sniffing dogs, says Washington may have more wolves within its borders than previously believed.

UW researcher Samuel Wasser’s dogs located scat from 95 different wolves in one area of Stevens and Pend Oreille counties during their 2016-17 surveys, according to The Associated Press. Those counties are in the northeast corner of Washington.

Officials with the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) in 2018 said it believed the state had about 122 wolves in at least 22 packs. Within those, officials believed at least 14 breeding pairs existed.

Now, though, Wasser’s trained hounds lead him to believe as many as or more than 200 wolves exist in the state. He discussed his findings with a Washington Senate committee, which heard from WDFW officials that it believes the state population has grown by about 30 percent annually.

State officials say the recovery efforts, habitat and available prey are contributing to the population growth. Wolves are protected in Washington. How many exist in the state, though, could impact that protection under state and federal law. If the state determines 15 successful breeding pairs for three consecutive years, or 18 breeding pairs in one year, the species could be delisted. 

Wasser leads the Conservation Canine program at the University of Washington’s Center for Conservation Biology. The program site says it combines “the precision and efficiency of detection dogs to readily locate wildlife scat (feces) samples with the ability to extract a wide variety of genetic, physiological, toxicological and dietary indicators from these samples. These indicators enable us to ascertain species abundance, distribution, resource use, and physiological health all in relation to the environmental pressure(s) the species is encountering.”

The wolves, according to Wasser, were feeding primarily on deer, moose and elk. 

Dozens of Dead Coyotes Found In Charlotte Neighborhood

North Carolina officials investigated a pile of dead coyotes, estimated to be more than 70, after they were discovered near a Charlotte subdivision last February.

Mark Liebner told WBTV a friend asked him to go see something “really crazy” and then took him to the pile of coyotes. Some had tags on them, Liebner said. The coyotes were near a wet-weather ditch.

“It was a really gnarly sight. Smelled really bad,” Liebner told the television station. “It was like, why would you bring a whole bunch of dead coyotes and dump them here?”

Wildlife officials investigated the scene and said proper disposal would be in a landfill, not dumped in a neighborhood. Multiple law enforcement and animal control agencies responded to document the scene and collect evidence. 

Missouri Declares War On Its Feral Hog Problem

Missouri has declared war on feral hogs, with a record number of porkers killed in 2018 via hunting, trapping and even snipers in helicopters.

Pockets of feral hogs are found here and there in the Midwest. It’s definitely not like in the Southeast and west to Texas and Oklahoma. In states where the porcine invaders haven’t taken an overwhelming foothold, wildlife officials are trying their darndest to keep them at bay.

The Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC) is doing just that. It documented the elimination of at least 9,365 feral hogs in 2018 by the department, agencies in partnership with MDC and private landowners.

That’s a sizable increase from 2017, when 6,561 hogs were killed, and 2016 when 5,358 were killed. 

Hunters contributed to the 2018 tally, but MDC placed restrictions on hunting to help with its broader trapping program. The intent was to limit scattering of sounders, thus increasing the chance of catching the group in a trap. All efforts contributed to the increase, though, including USDA Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service sharpshooters killing more than 100 last December from a helicopter.

The MDC’s latest strategy? Creating six zones to more intensely focus on trapping along with communication and partnership with landowners and other agencies. The agency said Zone 1, which is near Truman Reservoir and Stockton Lake, has seen a significant decline in the number of feral hogs.

“We’ve been very strategic in our efforts, focusing on removal of whole groups of feral hogs at a time, before moving on to another area,” said Mark McLain, MDC’s feral hog elimination team leader. “This strategic approach is important because if we leave even a few feral hogs behind in an area, they can reproduce quickly and put us back where we started.”

Bear Permits Reduced After Population Falls

Wisconsin bear hunters will have fewer permits for the 2019 season due to a decline in the state’s overall population.

Officials with the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) recommended to its Natural Resources Board an 11 percent reduction for the autumn hunting season. The board approved the recommendation, according to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, along with a 16 percent decrease in the 2019 harvest goal. Along with the DNR officials, input was obtained from the agency’s Bear Advisory Committee.

Wisconsin will issue 11,595 bear hunting permits for autumn 2019, down from 12,970 in 2018.  The quota level will be 3,835 compared with 4,550 in 2018.

Hunters killed a reported 3,685 bears in 2018, down 11 percent from 2017, and had a 28 percent success rate statewide. Wisconsin has four zones for bear hunting. Scott Walter, the DNR large carnivore specialist, said the new population model showed declines in Zones A, B and C, and an estimated statewide population of 24,055.

Zones A, B and D comprise the northern third of the state, with Zone C the southern two-thirds. Zone D has the largest population of bears, an estimated 8,759. Harvest quotas were reduced for all four zones; permit availability will decline in Zones A and C, but increase minimally in Zone B to 1,255 and Zone D to 2,440.

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