Tuesday, July 12, 2011

WolfBlog Entry #4 -- June 25, 2011

From the Oregon Wolf Conservation and Management Plan
My response to the plan:

There will not be an ongoing supply of wolves from Idaho and therefore the genetic diversity and fitness of the Oregon wolves will be reduced.  Occasionally a wolf will enter Oregon from Idaho, but it is not ongoing, but rather a chance crossing, probably over a bridge at a dam or possibly occasionally crossing the Snake River.

Infringement on the genetic rights of the wolf.  This plan does nothing for the subspecies of the wolf.  In fact, this management plan infringes on the rights of the individual wolves.  The plan is not for the wolf, but rather for the managers involved; managers want to prove they can develop and write up a plan.  Well they did, but did they ever stop to think this plan—no matter how well written it is and how much time and effort is put into it—should not actually be implemented?  I read most of the management plan and I thought as I was reading it this is very similar to a plan an undergraduate would propose but would not actually be implemented.  

There are sufficient numbers of this subspecies of the gray wolf in Canada, Alaska, Idaho, Montana, Wyoming, Yellowstone NP, and other locations they do not need to be in Oregon.  The state boundaries are artificial; therefore, only the subspecies needs to be considered.  And they should not be in Oregon for other reasons—genetic, economic.

Of great concern is inbreeding.  The new packs’ alpha male and female will be siblings.  Lone males from other locations such as Idaho or Yellowstone NP will need to be introduced to outbreed (or at least reduce the probability that inbreeding occurs).  The effects of inbreeding in wolves are probably not well understood; does inbreeding result in increased aggression, abnormal behavior, anatomical and physiological changes?  Each management area should have at least 2 breeding pairs before the next generation of alpha males and females (each of the 4 individuals from a different location, but similar environment).
As wolves in these states continue to increase in numbers and expand their range, wolf biologists predict they will disperse into Oregon from Idaho and establish breeding populations.
…wilderness areas are relatively small when compared with Idaho…

…permit establishment of a naturally reproducing wolf population in suitable habitat within Oregon, connected to a larger source population of wolves…

…allow wolves to establish packs in Oregon through dispersal from adjacent states and not through active reintroductions involving transport of wolves from outside the state.

One of the four major challenges to wolf conservation: population isolation.

Continued wolf movement into Oregon from adjacent states is likely given the current population of wolves in the state of Idaho (an estimated 835 wolves in 65 reproductive packs at the end of 2009 USFWS. 2009 Annual Report). The wolf population in Oregon will grow as wolves from other states enter Oregon through natural dispersal. The natural dispersal method, adopted by the Commission as a guiding principle,17 differs from wolf restoration efforts in the Rocky Mountain Recovery Area where wolves were captured elsewhere and released into secure and remote areas with abundant prey, no livestock and few humans (USFWS 1994).

The natural dispersal method provides an ongoing connection to a larger source population in Idaho.  The Idaho population is expected to continue to supply new dispersing wolves to Oregon, which will diversify the gene pool and fill in home ranges…

Oregon, on the other hand, was not selected as a recovery state primarily due to lack of large blocks of contiguous public land habitat.

The large source population of wolves in Idaho will provide a continuing source of dispersing wolves in Oregon. Eventually, the two populations could function as one large population, with the Oregon segment representing a wolf range expansion in North America. Oregon’s close proximity to a population that numbers more than 840 wolves provides certainty that dispersing wolves will continue to enter Oregon at an unknown rate.

The combination of high genetic variation among colonizers and ongoing natural dispersal to and from Canadian populations was adequate to ensure long-term population viability, provided that genetic exchange continued.

WolfBlog Entry #3 -- June 24, 2011

The Oregon wolves are in relatively pristine habitat but are effectively isolated from other populations due to the Snake River and its canyons.  If the Snake River were not there, these Oregon populations would not be isolated.  In addition, the habitat in northeastern Oregon, with its river and mountain systems, Wallowa Valley, and grassland/shrubland areas (a portion of the Columbia Plateau east of the Wallowa Valley), is too fragmented.

Of great concern is the lack of genetic diversity within new packs that form in each management area as the current packs grow in size, i.e. new alpha males and females will be siblings.  This brings up another issue--will siblings breed?  Does the gray wolf have the innate ability to not breed with close relatives?  The range of each Oregon pack is limited/isolated and therefore the new packs cannot add an alpha male or female from a different pack, e.g. a pack in northern Idaho.

What does the re-introduction of wolves in Oregon accomplish?  Nothing.  In fact, the situation is worse than neutral, it is negative.  Everyone involved with the re-introduction should be embarrassed and ashamed.  A lot of time and money is spent for nothing--a classic example of mismanagement and overmanagement.  There are hundreds of pages in the mis, over-management plan, but the problems and the correct analysis can be communicated in a few paragraphs.

Also of great concern is the presence of the wolves may affect the local economy, including recreation and tourism; people will be afraid to camp, hunt, fish, hike, backpack into the backcountry.

WolfBlog Entry #2 -- June 22, 2011

The wolves cannot be killed because there are too few in the pack.  The most recent estimate puts the Imnaha pack at 14+.  Killing 2 and leaving 12 is unacceptable.  The 2 killed could have possibly became an alpha male and female, or the largest wolves ever.  And the Imnaha unit can only have but a few territories based on the territory size of the gray wolf.
In contrast to the following scenario:
A large area with many territories and, for example, 200 or 300 wolves that is surrounded by farm and ranchland.  In this case, wolves would more than likely kill livestock on the outer fringes of the habitat area.  If, for example, 10 livestock are killed, killing 10 wolves is acceptable because 290 wolves remain.

That area should not have wolves because there are already cougars, bears, and coyotes.

WolfBlog Entry #1 -- June 21, 2011

Relocate the wolves to a more pristine environment, i.e. across the Snake River into northern Idaho and Montana so they can interact with other members of the species--and better from a genetic perspective.

What are they going to do next? Bring in moose and grizzly bears? Northeastern Oregon is not Yellowstone NP--and the wilderness areas are not large enough for the wolves--and they are too close to the Wallowa Valley. That area is referred to as "The Little Switzerland of America"--operative term is little.

The wolves in Oregon are like zoo animals--perhaps worse because zoos serve important purposes, such as breeding endangered species and educating the public about conservation.

Having such a small population and then killing some of them is an inhumane experiment, indeed. You re-introduce the wolves to then kill them when they kill livestock? The situation is too contrived and unnatural and violates the animals' rights. The only option is to return them to their natural habitat, which has changed since around the mid 1800's. If wolves are in their natural habitat and then kill livestock, killing wolves is then justified. Killing the wolves should be a last resort; there should be attempts to sedate them and then relocate them.

I read recently some seismologists are on trial for manslaughter for failing to predict an impending earthquake. Re-introducing the wolves is worse; perhaps those who are involved in bringing the wolves here will also stand trial.

What would Chief Joseph say about it? Let's have a seance to summon his spirit and ask him. He gets the final say. And even if we can't contact him, we already know what he would say.

There is no justification for having the wolves in Oregon.