After a week of bad news from Wisconsin, that was nothing short of heartbreaking, it was good to see some small amount of positive feedback concerning wolves. Smithsonian Magazine has reported that, decades after eradication, a few wolves called the Lassen pack, are surviving and breeding in California.
Ranchers are dubious about any sort of new wolf wildlife program, like a state compensation package for wolf kill reimbursement; or using red fabric (called fladry–free from the state), to isolate cattle and deter wolves. It is thought not worth their time and money however, there are legislative deterrents in California. The California Endangered Species Act can result in heavy fines, as well as jail terms, when wolves — called vermin by ranchers — are killed.
The Lassen pack was started by a lone female who arrived in California in 2014. Between the original female wolf, and one of her daughters, over 10 pups have been counted this year. Previously, wolves were thought to be extinct in California after 1947.
The Wisconsin wolf hunt, in March 2021, resulted from that state issuing a quota of 119 wolf kills over a week’s time. The result, over 200 were killed in three days. The order was then rescinded four days early. The states of Montana, Wyoming, and Idaho also allow the slaughter of wolves.
Wolves are demonized
The human fear of wolves has existed for thousands of years. It is alive and well. Many scientists are known to believe that wolves only attack humans if they are rabid. It is also obvious that wolves have developed a healthy fear of humans, that biologists see when studying them. Kent Lauden, a wildlife biologist from the California Department of Fish and Wildlife, catches wolves and puts collars on them for scientific purposes. In the Smithsonian Magazine online, he is quoted as saying “people think that [wolves are] snarling and vicious, but they’re so afraid of people they look pitiful [when captured] like the boogeyman is coming to get them.”
Modern wolves are biologically dissimilar to dogs. In Europe, a common ancestor is thought to have lived 10,000 to 20,000 years ago, during the ‘Last Glacial Maximum’ period.
Wolves can grow to 40 kg (88 lbs), and their legs are approximately 85 cm (33 in) in height. In Canada, wolves in the arctic are white. Although the term gray wolf is not necessarily used by scientists, it does describe the color of wolves in the US, Mexico and southern Canada. The Canadian prairie provinces are an exception, where wolves are mostly black. Pup are weaned at 8 to 10 weeks old.
To prevent any further killing of wolves, The Center for Biodiversity Conservation is asking people to petition their state governors:
While on Twitter many are discussing the following petitions concerning the Biden Administration, and reinstatement of endangered species protection for US wolves:
The Wolf That Discovered California. Smithsonian Magazine. (March 2021). https://www.smithsonianmag.com/science-nature/wolf-discovered-california-conservation-ranchers-180977179/?utm_source=pocket-newtab
Wolf. Wikipedia. (March 11, 2021). https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wolf
Gray Wolf. California Department of Fish and Wildlife. (2021). https://wildlife.ca.gov/Conservation/Mammals/Gray-Wolf
Wisconsin Hunters Kill Over 200 Wolves in Less Than 3 Days. New York Times. (March 3, 2021). https://www.nytimes.com/2021/03/03/us/wisconsin-wolves-killings.html