Posts Tagged ‘California’

Sep11

Female wolf is Northwest descendant: Trail cameras first spotted OR-7’s black female companion in May (an Excerpt)

By Lacey Jarrell
Klamath Falls Herald and News
September 6, 2014 
 
The mysterious female wolf that mated with OR-7 is a confirmed descendant of Northwest wolves.Potential OR-7 mate
 
According to a press release, the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife has received the results of scat samples sent to the University of Idaho for analysis. The samples, collected in Southwest Oregon in May and July, identified OR-7’s mate and two of the pair’s pups as wolves.
 
************
Cascadia Wildlands Executive Director Bob Ferris dubbed OR-7’s female companion “Wandering Wanda,” or just Wanda for short, in a June blog post for his organization.
 
“We got tired of calling her the uncollared wolf that came from nowhere,” Ferris said. “Wanda probably wandered as far as OR-7 and her story is probably just as remarkable as his.”
 
Ferris said although Wanda is just a nickname, he believes it’s a reasonable solution to talking about a well-known animal that doesn’t have anything to call it by. ODFW spokeswoman Michelle Dennehy said biologists don’t name wolves; however, as a function of being collared, wolves are given an identification, such as OR-7’s. Dennehy said “OR” represents the state — Oregon — and “7” indicates he was the seventh wolf collared in Oregon.
 
 
 

Jul28

Cruising Through a Three Dog (Pup) Night

By Bob Ferris
 
In conservation there are always turning points. Yo-YoFor instance, I remember working on a swan project in the 1990s that involved ultra-light aircraft and imprinting young Trumpeters to teach them a migration route.  My boss at the time, Rodger Schlickeisen (below left at left), turned to me the morning of the first leg of the trial migration and said: Do you think this is going to work? 
 
In the time leading up to that point I had not given failure much thought, but I did then.  We had invested more than two hundred thousand dollars in the project and I was getting more and more nervous as the ultra-light cruised back and forth and none of the swans rose to follow.  All our months of efforts selling the Atlantic Flyway Council on the idea, getting the permits, and training the swans came down to this one moment in time. 
 
And then Yo-Yo the swan (at right above) took flight and the others followed.  I was ecstatic.  The project had pivoted on the wing beats of a young and improbably named swan who simply did what swans had done for hundreds of thousands of years—took off after the “leading parent” and started its first long flight. 
 
Rodger and swans
My wife and I were getting ready to return from a family trip to California, when I got the news that Wanda and Journey had at least three pups rather than the two that we had originally thought (see one of the pups below right and more photos on our facebook page).  This welcome news put the frosting on an already delicious cake and reminded me of that feeling so many years ago sitting by that frosty field when Yo-Yo took off. 
 
We hit Dunsmuir, California about 10PM and for some reason we just started to Wolf Puphowl.  Perhaps it was the glow off Mount Shasta or the acknowledgement of what was happening wolf-wise to the north of us. 
 
Or maybe it was just the joy of turning this important corner in western wolf conservation.  We were hoarse but happy when we reached Oregon and we came within legitimate howling range of Journey, Wanda and crew, but I am not sure that mattered to us in the least.
 
 
 
 
 

Jun24

The Hopes in a Howl and Science

By Bob Ferris0462_wenaha_male_wolf
 
One of the distinct advantages for me of working in a small organization versus a large one in DC with security doors and receptionists, is that I get to talk with people and see how they are impacted by our work.  Yesterday was a prime example. 
 
About mid-day yesterday an animated woman came into our office semi-out-of-breath and beaming. She had a story to tell.  She had just come back from camping in rural part of Cascadia about 150 miles from where a certain very famous wolf couple (i.e., Journey and Wanda) is currently thought to be tending to their pups.
 
“We heard them,” she said. 
 
OR-7And what followed was a discussion about wolves and wolf howls—how they sound and how they differ from coyotes or dogs.  We talked about the deceptiveness of distance and a little wolf biology and then I asked her, “Did this enhance your camping experience?“
 
Of course I knew what her answer would be even before it came bubbling out because I’d had this conversation hundreds of times before.   I did not have to listen to words because excitement was written all over her face and in the tone of her talk.  I cannot say for certain what she heard and whether or not it was a wolf, wolves or “the wolves” and it really does not matter.  She—like so many before her and many to follow—was excited simply by the hope of wolves.  

This concept of excitement over the existence of something that is not seen and often not experienced has been discussed and debated for the two decades that I have worked on this creature of myth and mystery.  The concept of existence value, though demonstrated repeatedly by hundreds of people lining the roads in Algonquin Provincial Park near the US-Canada border hoping to hear a wolf howl (you have to listen very, very closely) or thousands sending comments from New York City on wolf recovery, is a little like the wolf itself; either you get it or you don’t.  
 
The above operates on the emotional and my wife frequently ponders why we even bothered to hire a wedding photographer, because my expression is always the same. It is her way of saying I am a scientist and while I like the howls, I am excited on a deeper level by the ecological implications of the wolf and all that we are learning about this amazing critter. And I may not have been at that campground and heard that howl but I have been reading the literature and the last month or so has been pretty amazing with four papers of note.
 
The first one out of the chute is that paper about the BC coastal wolves and how diet and habitat might be creating genetic separation between fish-eating coastal wolves and their inland neighbors.  I am still digesting this but had a short conversation with one of the co-authors, Paul Paquet, about this when we were writing our piece on the ill-advised delisting proposal by the US Fish and Wildlife Service. This is an interesting and thought provoking development and it brings to mind long ago, rancorous arguments in the scientific community about the possibility of species living with or near each other diverging in a process called sympatric speciation.  Good stuff.
 
The second piece in this series has to do with a theme of much interest and debate: trophic cascades.  Thomas Newsome and William Ripple out of Oregon State are the authors of a study that looked at fur trapping records across a broad expanse of Canada to see how wolf populations impact coyote and fox populations.  This article puts the punctuation mark on the idea that trophic cascades—the trickle-down economics of the animal world (only this actually works)—need lots of apex predators across a broad area to work.  
 
Cristina Eisenberg and I have had discussions about this idea that there is a critical mass required for trophic cascades.  It seems key when we look at how broadly we have to recover wolf populations to get the benefits that we need to accrue.  
 
The third article is the one on cougars and wolves.  The research found that cougars tended to avoid areas occupied by wolves.  This makes sense and addresses, in part, the concern that wolves act as an additional predator on the landscape when the story is likely more complicated than that.  Here again, the functional outcome probably has a lot to do with density and distribution and argues against the notion that a few wolves in a few places is sufficient.  
 
The last piece is fun.  It looks at the speculative function of face design and eye prominence in the dog family or canids as it relates Sierra_Nevada_Red_Fox_Keith_Slausen_US_Forest_Service_2010to sociality.  Wolves are the hands down, look-me-in-the-eye champs in this followed by foxes (at right) where we see the eyes but not pupils and then solo wild dogs where it is even hard to see the eyes.  Who knew “gazing” could be so interesting and what are the possible implications here for the social function of face and eye make-up in humans?  All very interesting so enjoy!
 
Without your help, wolf recovery will remain a shrinking shadow of a promise.  We need your help to move beyond this concept of isolated wolf refuges surrounded by hostile territories.  So whether you gravitate towards wolves because of the howl or hopes of howls or the science grabs you or both, get engaged in the process and please get active.
 
 

Jun22

Looking Backwards, Forward and to You

IMG_1085

By Bob Ferris
 
Last weekend I stood on the rim of Crater Lake with my wife.  We were staring at the spectacular, Ty-D-Bol-colored water and contemplating strolling down the 700-foot drop to the shore and then back along the mile-long trail.  In walks like this there is always stunning beauty, but there is also a lot of looking forward to how much farther there is to go and looking back to appreciate how far you have come.  
 
In a little more than a weeks’ time all the staff at Cascadia Wildlands will be going through a similar process at a staff gathering.  I would call this a retreat, but it is anything but a retreat.  For us there is definitely a lot of breath taking while we look at the growing mountain of issues we have yet to climb.  There is also profound appreciation for the distances we have covered and the elevation we have gained on so many important fronts.  
 
With each victory—our big steps up the slope—we seem to gain reputation.  But success is its own curse as more look to us on an increasing number of issues in a broader geographic area.  We welcome this and strive to be worthy of the trust and deserving of the necessary support.  
 
During our time together, we will look at our forest, critter, water and carbon work.  We will, for instance, put our minds towards figuring out how a small non-profit can go toe-to-toe with well-funded timber interests intent on clearcutting the three fractured off parts of the former Elliott State Forest they paid pennies on the dollar for.  They hope that their arrogance and wealth will prove too steep a slope for us to scurry up.  
 
!cid_B387826A-5533-417B-83E8-CFF2C3DD21DD@hsd1_or_comcast_netWe will also talk wolves and maybe howl once or twice.  Journey, Wanda and the pups need to be the start of something rather than the ending point.  The more we learn, the more we know that we must fulfill the promising idea of western wolf recovery offered decades and decades ago.  And while we cannot match other larger groups with stuffed wolves or glossy campaign materials (our highly desired wolf ears are handmade by staff–at left), we certainly match those groups in terms of organizational impact, experience and expertise.
 
Our expaned work on carnivores will be a topic.  Since our adoption of Big Wildlife last fadll, we have increased our efforts on other predators like coyotes, bears, cougars and bobcats.  A lot of this effort is directed at state wildlife commissions and agencies and getting them to take their roles as stewards of these species seriously and with sound science rather than looking at them as pests or not considering them at all.  But it is also about strategies to get federal agencies, mainly the USDA's Wildlife Services, out of the predator control business.  
 
Salmon and water too will be covered too.  The suction dredge influx spilling out of California and Oregon and heading towards Washington needs to be met with an appropriate response and as we’ve been there before in Oregon with our successful legislation, we best get after it in these salmon and steelhead waters too.
 
Then there is carbon.  Nearly all we stand to recover and save is made vulnerable by schemes to use or export fossil fuels.  We butted heads with big coal and are making progress there but LNG, tar sands and shale oil are waiting none too patiently in the wings.  We cannot allow the world to fry and dry or the oceans to become so acidic that they consume our aquatic life support systems.  The situation with salmon in California’s dust-filled waterways and the dissolving sea stars of coastal Washington are alarm bells calling for our action.   We have to figure it out.
 
Alaska, big, bold and vulnerable is there as well.  Defending the Tongass and Cooper River with our allies and getting people far from the majesty of these places engaged.  Alaska’s wild landscapes cannot be out of sight out of mind and be expected to survive in anything but coffee-table books.  Because we can assure you that energy, timber and mining interests certainly have this state’s resources in their sights.  And once it is gone it is gone and we forever lose a shining example of what wild truly is.  If we lose what we aspire to in terms of wildness, how can we show future generations what we mean by something that is truly wild?  
 
And then there is you.  How do we add all this above to our plates and still be the folks you love to visit and occasionally be “wild” with?  How do we engage our supporters in ways that short circuits Facebook’s non-profit punishing algorithm and get our issues in the newsfeeds of those who support wildness and need to know about our work?  What sorts of events do our members want and need and where?  And how do barely more than a handful of staff work most effectively with volunteer activists and continue to have this level of impact (and more) across four states?  
 
We suspect that we will come up with some of the above answers during our two days together, but we also hope that some of the answers come from our members and supporters who truly and totally get engaged.  Towards those ends Carolyn and Kaley will be sending out more interactive materials in our e-news and other outlets (beyond Kaley’s riddles and jokes) to hear more from our public.  
 
But you do not have to wait until then; ideas and other help are always welcome from our friends and allies.  Do you have an idea for an event?  Would your company like us to do a brown bag lunch presentation?  Do you want to sponsor a house party or program briefing? Are you a member of a band that could play at Pints Gone Wild?  All of these are ways to help as are inviting your friends to become fans on facebook or subscribe to our action and event filled e-newsletter.  
 
If you are reading this you are already a part of Cascadia Wildlands and we are grateful for that.  So while we are looking forward and back as well as thinking of you, this might also be a good time for you to think about what you can and are willing to do on all of these important issues (or others).  Many of the issues that we work on are critical, serious and often heart-wrenching, but acting on these fronts and being generous to the natural systems and critters that support and sustain us is always a joyous act. Get engaged.  

 

Jun04

OR-7 and Wanda are Parents!!

By Bob FerrisOR7+pups (1)
 
We are very, very pleased as new parents to announce that OR-7 (Journey) and Wanda actually do have pups this year.  This is so, so exciting and makes it even more important to contact the California Fish and Game Commission regarding state Endangered Species Act listing of gray wolves because now OR-7 and Wanda have young and so we have a group of wolves whose Alpha male has visited California three out of the last four years.  
 
 

May20

California Needs to Get Off the Dime on Wolves

By Bob FerrisOR7_odfw
 
Now that we have had time to get our elation at least a little under control, there are a lot of implications and questions that should come out of this situation with OR-7, Wanda (our name for the wandering wolf that has likely become OR-7’s mate) and the potential pups in the southern Cascades of Oregon.  We should first take some time to be grateful for this happenstance but also to think about what it means. 
 
 
What questions? For instance, we often characterize OR-7 as a wanderer, but what about Wanda?  Where did she come from? The likely options are Idaho, northeastern Oregon and the Northern Cascades—either from the Rockies or the coastal genetic units.  Any of these options are good as they show that OR-7 is not an anomaly and that our work to protect these important corridors yields results.  
 
As mentioned in the above CBC piece, her origins could be determined by genetic markers found in her scat.  I have to admit that part of me hopes that she came to the southern Cascades from some direct pathway originating in British Columbia or was the offspring of wolves that had migrated down from BC.  It would be nice to see a demonstration of how this mixing zone we have been speculating about works or does not work.  
 
Also given what we are learning about the importance of maintaining social structure in packs in reducing human/wolf conflicts, we should be glad that this pack—if it is to be—will be led by two wolves that have histories of staying out of trouble with livestock.  Perhaps also we can learn lessons from Oregon’s good example and Idaho’s bad one in terms of proactive livestock measures and enlightened wolf management leading to positive results versus a war on wolves leading to bad results for wolves and ranchers.  
 
Potential OR-7 mateThe simple presence of this squatting, narrow-nosed wolf should radically change agency thinking in California. The California Fish and Wildlife Department and the California Fish and Game Commission’s list or not-to-list fence-sitting has to end because there is a huge difference between the novelty that was the lone wolf Journey (OR-7) and the reality that we might have a pack whose alpha male claims dual state residency in Oregon and California.  
Oregon Wolf Use Map
Hopefully the linear, north-south configuration of OR-7s well documented home range, which likely holds clues for future use as well as future dispersal of any young wolves resulting from this pairing or others will be obvious to decision-makers in California.  If it is not I can almost picture a future cartoon with images of Journey and Wanda’s offspring flipping coins in a few years with Oregon on one side and California on the other.  Please join us in urging that California officials get off the dime (i.e., stop dancing around) and list this species under the California Endangered Species Act.  Even if you do not live in California, please speak up now!  
 
 
 

 

May14

Journey and Wandering Wanda—A love story two plus decades in the making

By Bob Ferris
 
June 1st marks my twentieth year as a professional advocate for wolf recovery and roughly thirty years as a professional wildlife biologist. This is not a big deal as nearly everyone eventually is somewhere for a long time, but it OR7_odfwdoes give me one very important advantage: Perspective.  In other words, I know where we started and therefore understand where we are with wolves and why.  
 
The experience had also yielded amazing memories from freezing in Fort Saint John, British Columbia (-45 degrees) during the second capture of wolves for Yellowstone and Idaho in 1996 and hearing the Crow and Sioux warriors (at left) singing the wolves back to their ancient lands in our first national park to speculating on when wolves would get to California and Crow warriors singing in wolvescelebrating the first wild wolf prints in my life time in both Oregon and California.  All good and glorious memories.
 
That is not to say that all the memories are good. Certainly not.  Getting grilled by ex-Senator Larry Craig and former Wyoming Senator Craig Thomas in a Senate sub-committee hearing on wolves was not as much fun as it could have been and watching this manufactured hysteria over wolves that is resulting in continued, unjustified killing of wolves is breaking my heart on multiple levels.  And then there are the constant insults and the veiled and not so veiled death threats.  But we did and are doing all that we can for the wolf and will continue those efforts whatever the outcome of this federal delisting exercise.  
 
But one of my favorite sets of memories was sitting in my office and being a fly-on-the-wall over the last two years watching and listening to Nick, Josh and advisory board member and former staffer Dan Kruse work with our partners (Oregon Wild and Center for Biological Diversity), agencies and the opposition on crafting legislation and rules that have led to Oregon having the best wolf management approach in the lower 48 states (see details on settlement here). 
 
This whole history—past and recent—is on my mind because this coming Saturday May 17, 2014 marks the third full year that Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife (ODFW) has not killed a single wolf for livestock depredation. (It should be noted that the animals not killed include the previously condemned to die OR-4 who remains the alpha male of the Imnaha pack and is the father of OR-7 or Journey.) We are so proud of that.  
 
So as we look at this potentiality or eventuality of OR-7 having a mate and pups in the southern Cascades of Oregon we have to understand that we would not be celebrating and anticipating this happy outcome if some dedicated and effective groups like Cascadia Wildlands had not stepped forward now and over the past decades since Aldo Leopold and others suggested the need to protect and restore wolves.  (Folks in the Eugene area will get a little bit of a chance to kick the tires on that plan when ODFW’s wolf guy Russ Morgan speaks on May 20, 2014.)
 
Potential OR-7 mateWhatever the results observed this June or the next, when biologists go to look for a den and pups in southern Cascadia’s wild reaches, and see if a pairing between OR-7 (pictured above at right) and his “Wandering Wanda” (pictured at right) have produced pups, we know the work is not done.   We still have to be vigilant in Oregon.  We need to move the process forward in Washington State.  We need to keep federal and get state endangered species protections in California.  And we need to simultaneously maintain federal gray wolf protections in the West and continue our work to educate and erase wolf myths and hatred wherever we find them.  
 
And to do all of this we need your continued support both as wolf activists and as engaged donors.  Yes we have wolf all-stars on staff, but they are on staff because our donors keep them there.  When you go looking for wolf heroes and the figurative grandparents of OR-7 and Wanda’s offspring you might just being seeing one in the mirror.  Please help us continue this work.
 
 

May05

Coyote Derby Letter

800px-Coyote_portrait
We were so happy to sign on to the following letter and join the effort to stop coyote derbies in California and elsewhere.  
 
 
 

Sep09

The wolf known as “OR-7” appears to have found a home

OR-7

By Geoff Norcross
OPB
September 9, 2013
 

The Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife says the wandering gray wolf (click on wolf picture to hear audio report) has spent the summer in Southeast Jackson County and Southwest Klamath County.

 
“What that tells you is, I think, he’s found some good habitat,” says Michelle Dennehy, Wildlife Communications Coordinator for ODFW.
 
It’s a rare bit of stability for a wolf whose travels have caught the imagination of at least two states. In September of 2011, OR-7 left the Imnaha Pack in Northeast Oregon and wandered hundreds of miles across the Cascades, becoming the first confirmed wolf sighted west of the mountains since 1937. He’s been roaming around Southern Oregon and Northern California ever since.
 
Officials believe OR-7 came to the region to find a mate. There’s no evidence he’s been successful. But he’s young – nearly 3.5 years old – and he may not be alone.
 
Dennehy says, “Where there’s one wolf, there’s another.”
“Of course, everyone would like to see OR-7 mate,” she says. “And you know what? It could happen.”
 
 
 

Aug15

On Becoming a Wolf Activist—Do the wolf waltz

By Bob Ferris

“Silence in the face of injustice is complicity with the oppressor.” Ginetta Sagan
 
The title of a recent opinion piece in a Utah paper nailed it: Making War on Wolves.  Because what we are seeing out there is truly a war waged on a wildlife species. And like with most wars there is a parallel public relations campaign making outlandish and unsupported claims against the “enemy” to justify and encourage actions that would normally be considered unethical or inhumane.  
 
Poll after poll shows that anti-wolf forces are in the minority, but their myth and fear-based campaigns can only be countered by a loud and resounding voice of compassion and rationality.  We, who believe that wild places are better off wild, need to speak up and urge others to do the same.  And we need to do that before October 28, 2013. 
 
So what do we need you to do?
 
1—Send a personal letter to Interior Secretary Sally Jewell (click here for draft language and addresses)
 
2—Add you name to petitions (click here) and share those petitions widely through all your social networks (please use the share this buttons at the bottom of this post).  
 
 
3—Share the following tweet (below) as Sally Jewell is active on Twitter and her staff are monitoring hash marks (simply click on the link and Twitter does the rest).
 

 
4—Support your favorite wolf advocacy organization.  (We hope it is Cascadia Wildlands but others need support for what will be a protracted campaign)
 
 
 
Follow these four easy steps—almost like a wolf waltz—and we will put these incredible creatures on a solid pathway to recovery.
 

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