New York Wolf Recovery: Garnering Community Input
by Nina Fascione - Defenders of Wildlife
The howl of the wild wolf has been missing from the northeastern United States for over 100 years. In the 1992 Recovery Plan for the Eastern Timber Wolf, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service identified the Adirondack Park in upstate New York and two areas in New England as possible recovery sites for the eastern wolf (Canis lupus lycaon). However numerous landscape barriers, such as the St. Lawrence Seaway and extensive urban and agricultural lands, and human-caused obstacles, such as legal hunting of wolves in southeastern Canada, create a situation where natural recolonization is unlikely, especially in New York.
In 1995, Defenders of Wildlife initiated a campaign to investigate the biological and social potential for restoring wolves to New York. In addition to conducting public education and outreach, one of the steps Defenders took was to offer to fund a scientific feasibility study on wolf restoration. Because there was some strong local resistance to the idea, Defenders worked with Paul Smith's College of the Adirondacks, a neutral third party, to create a Citizen's Advisory Committee (CAC) on wolf recovery. The CAC is a diverse group of Adirondack stakeholders who represent timber, hunting, and recreational industries, as well as landowners, environmentalists and biologists, among others. Committee members were asked to develop a list of concerns they feel their constituencies have about possible wolf recovery and from this list create a Request for Proposals (RFP) for the study. Once this was accomplished, Defenders mailed the RFP to over 200 universities and interested scientists.
Four proposals were received, and the CAC selected two contractors to begin studies. They hired the Conservation Biology Institute (CBI) in Corvallis, Oregon to conduct a biological feasibility study, and Cornell University to investigate the sociological implications of wolf restoration. In December of 1999, CBI released its long-awaited study. The complete results can be found at www.consbio.org . Through their study, the researchers determined that while the Adirondacks could hold a small population of wolves, there were questions about the long-term viability of a wolf population due to regional development. A second concern to the CBI researchers was the tendency of eastern wolves to hybridize with coyotes, a problem from which the red wolf program in North Carolina suffers at present.
Cornell completed and released their study in early 2000. Researchers polled 422 Adirondack residents and another 501 residents from throughout the state to ask questions about their attitudes and beliefs on wolf recovery. They surveyed issues such as views of potential impacts of wolf recovery and economic benefits. They found that Adirondack residents are fairly evenly split in their attitudes towards potential wolf restoration. And, while most statewide residents hold positive attitudes towards restoration, they believe that local residents should take much responsibility for wildlife management decisions affecting the Adirondacks. Cornell is quick to point out that the survey should not be taken as a vote for or against wolf restoration, but rather an indication of how people felt at the time they were polled. The results from this report can be obtained by calling Defenders.
At present, Defenders and other wolf groups are taking a broad, regional approach to Northeast wolf restoration. Restoration in the Adirondacks should be part of a larger wolf restoration effort. To this end, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is proposing the development of a recovery plan for the northeast region, and Defenders is supporting this effort. In July, 2000 Defenders worked with the U.S. FWS to organize a three and a half day workshop on wolf restoration in the northeast. The workshop brought together more than 50 scientists, educators, industry representatives, state and federal wildlife agency personnel and other stakeholders to discuss the myriad issues surrounding potential wolf restoration in the Northeast. It was hopefully the first of many such productive meetings.
To learn more about wolf recovery in the northeastern U.S., contact Defenders of Wildlife at (202) 682-9400 or visit our website at www.defenders.org .
That's very interesting... it reminds me of a story i read once.
Cougars in New York?
February 23, 2004
Stalking the Elusive Cougar...if There Is One to Stalk
By LISA W. FODERARO
TUPPER LAKE, N.Y. - Officially, the eastern cougar has not prowled the great piney woods of the Adirondacks for more than a hundred years. Though still listed as a federally endangered species, it is, in the minds of state environmental officials, a phantom - extinct, kaput.
Trouble is, people keep seeing them. And one man, Peter V. O'Shea Jr., a former New York City police sergeant turned self-taught naturalist, is on a campaign to make their presence known. He himself has never seen a cougar, also called a puma, mountain lion, panther or painter. But he has talked to scores of people who say they have, and he says he has seen cougar tracks four times in the past 20 years.
"My feeling is that in the Adirondacks, they were never quite extirpated," Mr. O'Shea said over lunch at the Lumberjack Inn here, as snow swirled outside. "Of any place they could have survived, it's here."
At six million acres, the Adirondack Park is larger than the five largest national parks put together, and though it includes towns and villages tucked among its vast wilderness, in many places one can walk for miles in any direction without hitting a private dirt road.
What Mr. O'Shea finds compelling is the credible nature of many of the cougar sightings, including several by staff members of the state's Department of Environmental Conservation.
"Hate to admit it," reads one such report made to the agency in 1997 by Kenneth Kogut, its own wildlife manager for the region that covers most of the Adirondacks. "Landed in road in front of me, looked at me and in three bounds was off into shrubs on south side of road."
Mr. O'Shea believes the reason the agency does not want to admit that cougars are living in the Adirondacks has to do with time and money. Because of the cat's endangered status, official acknowledgement would likely trigger a management plan. It could also pit environmentalists against land owners already chafing under government regulation.
But state officials maintain that there is simply no sustainable, or breeding, cougar population. Yes, there are sightings, though the overwhelming majority, they say, are misidentifications. People who glimpse the real thing - a large tawny cat weighing from 80 to 125 pounds, with a black-tipped tail - are seeing pets that either escaped or were released, officials say.
It is illegal for private citizens to keep cougars as pets in New York, but a senior wildlife biologist with the agency, Al Hicks, says people do anyway. "I'm sure a good many, after buying a cute little cougar kitten and watching it get up to 70 pounds, say, 'Wow, I can't handle this,' " Mr. Hicks said.
In a point-counterpoint essay published in 2000 in the periodical Adirondack Explorer, Mr. Hicks and Mr. O'Shea dueled over the cougar question.
Mr. Hicks noted that only two cougars had been shot in the previous 30 years. One had clearly been a captive animal, and the other appeared to be one as well. Furthermore, Mr. Hicks argued, there is no record of cougars taken by sportsmen before the 1970's, when it was legal to hunt them. "It would take many, many animals surviving over decades to have a population, and it's just not there," he said.
The agency receives a dozen or so reports of cougar sightings each year from across the state. But Mr. O'Shea said he knew of more than 40 sightings in just the past year in the Adirondacks and surrounding area. He does not try to argue that there is a sizable population of cougars in the park, maybe two dozen at most. And he does agree that a good number are escapes or releases.
But all of them? "I think you'd have to be blind to say there's nothing there," Mr. O'Shea said.
With tousled white hair and a preference for plaid flannel, Mr. O'Shea, 66, has become a one-man clearinghouse for cougar sightings in the Adirondacks. Some troopers even give excited callers Mr. O'Shea's name and phone number, rather than the state environmental agency's.
While some scientists may titter at Mr. O'Shea's passion for cougars, others show him respect. "He's a good naturalist," said Heidi Kretser, the program coordinator of the Wildlife Conservation Society's Adirondack Communities and Conservation Program in Saranac Lake. "He definitely has some great ideas about wildlife in the Adirondacks."
Mr. O'Shea, an author of nature and hiking guides, is a guest naturalist at the New York State Adirondack Park Agency Visitor Interpretive Center in Newcomb. He is also on the board of the Residents' Committee to Protect the Adirondacks, a nonprofit group, and the conservation chairman of the St. Lawrence Adirondack Audubon Society.
Mr. O'Shea suspects that many who see cougars do not bother to notify the state. His lunch companion, Sue Collins, a registered nurse, said she did not make a report, for instance, after she spotted one crossing Route 11 last summer while driving outside Potsdam. "I just gasped and the person I was driving with said, 'Did you see that?' " she recalled.
Hearing that, a couple at the next table, Dave and Patty McMahon, volunteered that they spotted a cougar in early 2002 bounding across Saranac Lake Road. "I've lived in this area for 50 years, and there's a distinct difference between a bobcat, a lynx and a mountain lion," said Mr. McMahon, a veteran hunter and trapper. "I saw a mountain lion."
Mr. McMahon said he did report the sighting to the Environmental Conservation agency. "They told me I was crazy," he said.
To be sure, there is nothing like a personal sighting to give even a skeptical wildlife expert pause. In the fall of 2001, while driving back from his country house in the Adirondacks, Bill Weber, director of the North America program at the Wildlife Conservation Society, which operates the Bronx Zoo, saw a cougar crossing the Taconic Parkway in Columbia County.
"It was just chewing up the road," he said in a telephone interview from Rwanda. "This wasn't just sauntering across the road like something used to hanging around people. It was remarkable."
Yet Mr. Weber is not sure what to make of the encounter. "If this truly is a relic population, and that's an interesting possibility, rest assured these were cougars who learned how to stay away from people and their vehicles," he said.
"But why aren't people finding kills?" he wondered. "Cat kills look different from other kills. There's a little bit of a Loch Ness problem. I saw a big cat run across a highway on a Sunday afternoon. I'm certain that it was a cougar, but it doesn't tell me there's a population out there."
In the Eastern United States, only the state of Florida acknowledges wild cougars, known there as Florida panthers. Despite extensive efforts to boost the population, fewer than 100 exist there today, according to federal officials.
Mountain lions are well established in most states west of the Mississippi River, and have recently entered Iowa, Arkansas and Missouri, according to Roland Kays, the mammal curator at the New York State Museum and the co-author of "Mammals of North America" (Princeton University Press, 2002).
In Mr. Kays's view, the sporadic sightings in the Northeast do not add up to a wild cougar presence. Ms. Kretser tends to agree. "There hasn't been a carcass or good tracks," she said. "No one has found a den per se. In places where there are cougars, these things happen. You see this stuff."
Still, Ms. Kretser finds the continuous sightings intriguing. "There is something out there,'' she said. "People are definitely seeing something."
A Wildlife Conservation Society book to be published this spring, "The Atlas of the Adirondacks," by Jerry Jenkins with Andy Keal, includes a map of puma sightings reported to the state over four decades. Those reports have risen steadily, to 89 in the 1990's from 5 in the 1960's. The atlas ranks the sightings according to plausibility, but state officials stress that none were confirmed.
Despite the skepticism, Mr. O'Shea presses on. He has interviewed state troopers, members of the clergy, schoolteachers, journalists and wildlife officials who claim to have seen cougars. He has scoured used-book stores for literature relating to the eastern cougar. His prize: yellowing articles from the 1950's and 60's about cougar sightings in the state environmental agency's own magazine, the New York State Conservationist.
He is also in touch with the Eastern Puma Research Network, a group in West Virginia that, since its founding in 1983, has recorded 5,800 sightings in the Eastern states, including 625 in New York.
Mr. O'Shea makes the case that New York State would not need to protect the cougar's habitat since whatever is roaming the state is likely a hybrid. "If there were escapes, there has been interbreeding - so we don't have an Eastern cougar anymore," he said.
Still, he would like the state to acknowledge what he regards as the probability that wild cougars are here, and the possibility that they never left. "I can't prove there's a self-sustaining population," he said. "But it's beyond sense that people would be letting pets go for 50 years, and what's more that they would be surviving."
Copyright 2004 The New York Times Company
Cougar Reports on the Rise in Eastern U.S.
In Austin and Houston, there are sometimes sighings of cougars and deers. I have seen wild rabbits, racoons, and opossums in my own neighborhood.
March 14, 2004
Wolf 'Control' in Alaska
In Alaska, the wolf wars have taken a sobering turn for the worse. For 30 years hunting lobbyists have campaigned for what is euphemistically called wolf "control." Thanks to the compliance of Gov. Frank Murkowski and the state's official game board, the legal protections for Alaska's 7,000 to 9,000 wolves have been seriously eroded. In nearly 20,000 square miles of the state it is now legal for private citizens to shoot wolves from airplanes and helicopters. In one district the limit has been increased from 10 wolves a year to 10 wolves a day.
In these districts, the new regulations call for an 80 percent "temporary" reduction in the wolf population. But a reduction on that scale is merely likely to be the first step towards the total elimination of wolves. This isn't sport hunting — there's nothing sporting about deploying an air force to hunt animals. The real spirit of hunting has always been about working within the balance of nature. But not in Alaska.
There is already a hunting and trapping season for Alaskan wolves, and some 7,500 wolves have been legally killed in the past five years. But hunters want more moose meat on the table, and the state has promised them unnaturally high numbers. Instead of setting sustainable limits for the moose hunt, the game board has decided simply to kill the animals that prey on moose — wolves and bears. According to the game board, "moose are important for providing high levels of harvest for human consumptive use." In other words, moose are important, wolves are not.
Wildlife biologists disagree, and so do most Alaskans, who have voted against aerial shooting twice, in 1996 and 2000. But now the extremists have taken over. Any notion that wolves and moose are part of a functioning ecosystem has been abandoned. The hunting lobby demands that moose be managed as livestock destined for harvesting by hunters — the more the merrier, with anything that gets in the way destined for destruction. In Alaska, wolves are now merely competitors seizing valuable human resources.
Elsewhere in this country, biologists have devoted themselves to protecting and restoring wolf populations. Most Americans have welcomed wolves' return not only as symbols of wildness but as critical players in the pattern of nature, helping balance the population of deer and elk. Anyone who has visited Yellowstone since wolves were reintroduced has a vivid sense of their role in the ecosystem and in the human imagination. But in Alaska the age-old war on wolves has resumed with all its age-old savagery — the savagery of humans, that is.
Copyright 2004 The New York Times Company
March 16, 2004
Wolves Come Back (On Their Terms)
By JAMES GORMAN
Wisconsin's wolves, totaling nearly 350, are moving into its central forested area.
SIREN, Wis. — Phil Miller flies the single-engine plane in a tight circle at an altitude of about 300 feet, listening on his headset to beeping from a wolf's radio collar.
The animal is somewhere below, in a mix of patchy pine forest and low, sparse brush scattered over a snow-covered swamp. It is a gray day, drizzling and misty, and after the plane circles a line of pines several times, the wolf is still not visible.
Then Mr. Miller spots a pair — their coats a peppery mix of gray, black and cinnamon — standing casually under a pine tree, looking for all the world like they are trying to decide whether it's worth going out in the rain.
If they were really worried about the weather they might go to the vast Mall of America in Bloomington, Minn., only a two-hour drive away — or a 120-mile trot, no great challenge for a wolf. These wolves are not on Arctic tundra or in the precious confines of Yellowstone National Park. They are in Wisconsin, not exactly the suburbs, but not the wilderness either, and they fit a Midwestern stereotype — modest, hardworking, persistent.
In their quiet way they have shown that wolves do not need pristine wilderness to be successful, that they do not necessarily need a highly managed reintroduction program, as used in Yellowstone, and that they can increase their range without stirring conflict among wolf proponents and opponents.
"Once wolves were thought emblematic of wilderness," said Dr. Adrian Treves, a biologist with the Wildlife Conservation Society in New York who has just published an analysis of what conditions are most likely to bring wolves and people into conflict. But the nearly 350 wolves of Wisconsin, in 80 known packs, have shown that they can cope with people.
"The wolves," Dr. Treves said, "have managed to make dens and breed successfully for 25 years on a lot of private land, on county and state forest land, which is heavily, heavily used by recreationalists like snowmobilers, cross-country skiers and hunters. This is the classic case of the quiet recovery of wolves without a big fanfare, without big attention."
He added that because the wolves conducted their own repopulation, public reaction had been largely favorable. No decision was needed to bring them back. They just came back. This sort of resurgence cannot work everywhere, of course, but there are states, like Maine, that have large expanses of private forest land.
In the 1950's, northern Minnesota had a remnant population of a few hundred wolves, Dr. Treves said. (A tiny group also survived on Isle Royale, in Michigan's section of Lake Superior.) After the Endangered Species Act was passed in 1973, the protection it afforded, along with some forest regeneration and a change in attitudes, allowed the wolves to start growing in number, and the Minnesota population began spilling across state borders. There are now more than 3,000 wolves in Minnesota, Michigan and Wisconsin, with most in Minnesota.
In Wisconsin, they recently reached the central forest section of the state, said Dr. Treves, "the southernmost natural occurrence of the gray wolf in North America."
The northwestern corner of the state has a number of packs. Mr. Miller flies the wolves, as he puts it, about twice a week, taking off from a small airport here. He and other pilots here and at two other airports keep tabs on radio-collared wolves throughout the state. Their reports go to Adrian Wydeven, a mammalian ecologist who has been in charge of the wolf program for the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources for about 10 years.
The day after flying with Mr. Miller, I went with Mr. Wydeven as he drove slowly around on sandy roads looking for wolf tracks in the same forested areas I had seen from the air the day before.
Every wolf territory in Wisconsin, he said, is crossed by at least one road. As the wolves travel, he added, they cross the road sooner or later and leave tracks.
The wolves range from 50 to 100 pounds, smaller than those in Yellowstone and nowhere near the top of the wolf scale, 150 pounds.
The state's plan puts the ideal wolf population at 350. The known population is 327, with 8 more on Indian reservations, where state laws do not apply. Last year, the federal government downgraded Wisconsin's wolves to threatened rather than endangered.
The talking stopped when we saw tracks in the sand. These were wolf tracks, not the large dog tracks we had seen earlier.
"If you look at these tracks," he said, "they're more elongated than those other tracks."
He noted that the wolf was not trotting but running, so that both back feet set down at once and then both front feet — a gallop.
"If he's chasing after a deer, that would make sense," Mr. Wydeven said.
Stepping into the snow at the side of the road, he added, "It looks like the deer veers off a bit here." The tracks were fresh. "I would say less than a day. I would say a few hours. It could be this morning. There might just be a pair."
The road is a few miles from a major cattle operation that has claimed significant depredations from wolves each year. Those attacks on livestock are the central problem in any resurgence of predators, and it is those attacks that Dr. Treves has been studying.
Most of the problems arise with cattle, although wolves have also killed sheep, turkeys and chickens. The state compensates anyone who has suffered property loss because of endangered species, using money from a voluntary checkoff on income-tax returns and the sale of wolf license plates. The compensation for calves has been based on fall market value, at $602 in 2002.
Wolves have also killed "a large number of hunting dogs," Dr. Treves said, and that becomes expensive. In Wisconsin, hunters use highly valued purebred hounds — walker, blue tick and others — to hunt bear and other animals. Wolves tend to look on these dogs as intruders in their territory.
From 1976 to 1991, wolves killed two dogs. In 1998 alone, they killed 11 and injured 4. The payment for a hound has been a maximum of $2,500, although owners have asked for more. If a bear kills a dog that is hunting it, that is simply in the nature of the hunt. If, however, wolves attack the dog as territorial intruders, the hunters must be repaid, perhaps because they are not allowed to kill the wolves.
But in a twist, the largest payment so far has been $48,000 for deer that game-farm operators kept in an enclosure of a few hundred acres. The game farms charge hunters who want to kill trophy deer.
In a paper in the current issue of Conservation Biology, Dr. Treves and colleagues describe a method to analyze the circumstances most likely to lead to wolf depredation, and they predict where the risk of such events will be high. A predictive tool of this sort, he said, is applicable not only to friction between wolves and people, but also to conflicts with elephants, tigers, wild dogs — to any situation where the interests of people and animals clash.
The study looked at 25 years of information recorded on wolf predation in Wisconsin and Minnesota, a total of 975 incidents. In analyzing the information, Dr. Treves paired sites with a high incidence of depredation against others that were similar in most ways to pick out any significant differences that did exist.
The highest risk, he said, was "at the colonization front" — the wolves as the colonists for once — where an expanding wolf population brought the animals into contact with people who were unused to coping with wolves. In addition, he said, it is young, inexperienced wolves who colonize new territory, while the older, established packs hang onto the territories they have.
He found that density of deer, the primary prey, drew wolves to an area and that significant pasture, particularly the interweaving of pasture with wild forest, were also risk factors. The goal of his research, he said, is to enable officials charged with protecting wolves to know where best to put their efforts at control and education and to develop new ideas for control. For example, the less edge, where pasture and forest meet, the better.
His findings may also lead wildlife managers away from lethal control, which Dr. Treves said is inefficient at getting the wolves that are preying on livestock. The more refined the understanding of how wolves and people interact, the better the chances are for keeping the public on the side of the wolves.
The wolves are doing their part to keep their population growing. When Mr. Wydeven was inspecting the tracks in the sandy road, we came on a spot where the road was all scuffed up with tracks. "They're milling about here," he said.
I asked whether they might be playing.
"They might be, or they might be mating," he replied. "We're still in the breeding season."
Copyright 2004 The New York Times Company
I'm going to post all interesting state (minus NYC) wildlife stories here.
March 21, 2004
Unusual Herd of Deer Is at Center of Decision Over Uses for Army Land
By MICHELLE YORK
A herd of rare white deer, numbering 200 to 300, lives on the site of a former Army ammunitions depot in Romulus, N.Y.
ROMULUS, N.Y. - On thousands of acres that stretch across this town and a neighboring one, a creature exists so striking that decades ago military men decided to be, instead of its hunters, its protectors.
The creature is a deer, but not the kind most people associate with hunting season or a lightning-quick leap across a road. It is a deer with a white coat and wide, flat horns. And brown is usually confined to its eyes.
"I think they're beautiful," said Amanda Jensen as she gazed toward a cluster of the deer foraging for food, their coats bright amid the trees even at dusk.
So do many other people, including a group of poorly financed conservationists who hope to persuade local government officials that it would be worthwhile to turn a herd of the white deer into an ecotourism attraction instead of parceling out the land that such a venture would require to businesses - even though the region needs traditional, reliable jobs. "There's no place else like this in the world," said Dennis J. Money, a member of the conservationists' group, known as Seneca White Deer.
The herd began through happenstance. In 1941, the Army built a munitions depot on 10,600 acres of farmland parallel to Seneca Lake, in the towns of Romulus and Varick, and put up a security fence around the perimeter.
Inside the fence were hundreds of concrete munitions bunkers. But much of the land was left untouched, creating a refuge for wildlife, including several dozen white-tailed deer that carried a recessive gene allowing for white-coated offspring. In the mid-1950's, Army personnel first began seeing white fawns and decided to protect them even though the population had to be thinned every year to prevent collisions with military vehicles.
The herd of white deer grew, eventually becoming noticeable to passers-by on the two-lane road outside the depot. While some local residents joked that the deer were mutants resulting from nuclear weapons materials stored on the grounds, and others mistakenly thought they were albinos, a few, like the environmental photographer Leland Brun, recognized that they were a rare offshoot of the white-tailed species. "They look like they're made out of marble," he said.
The visibility of white deer makes them easy prey to hunters and natural enemies like coyotes. A few herds exist in North America and Europe, but none are as populated as the one here, which numbers 200 to 300, according to Mr. Money and Mr. Brun, who have studied it as part of the plan to turn the land into an ecotourism attraction.
After the first Persian Gulf war, the Army closed the depot and eventually transferred ownership of the mostly desolate property to Seneca County. The security fence remains, but is weathered and has been slit by poachers, Mr. Money said.
For the last several years, state and county officials have searched for uses for the land, hoping that its extensive infrastructure - including an airstrip, road system and rail line - will entice manufacturers. "The only way to make a living here is to work for the government or farming," said Barry O'Neill, a member of the Seneca County Board of Supervisors.
Some new uses have been found. The northern tip is home to a boot camp for troubled teenagers. A state prison was built on the eastern rim, near a company that has transformed some Army buildings into a warehouse for restaurant supplies sold on eBay. A county jail is planned, too.
But that still leaves most of the land untouched, including the meadows and woods that are home to the deer, osprey and other wildlife.
In 2002, the county rejected all plans for development of that section, including one for a junkyard for old railroad cars and another for a hotel and a high-end range for hunting the white deer.
The conservationists' plan, which has the approval of the state Audubon Society but little funding, was also rejected.
The plan calls for the group to manage, not buy, the land and turn the abandoned munitions bunkers into a cold war museum. Much of the open space would be used for bird- and deer-watching tours, and a fall hunt would be allowed to maintain the herd's overall health. The group estimates that about 100,000 people would visit each year, pumping $3 million into the local economy.
With the county preparing for a new round of proposals this year, the conservationists' group plans to try again and has been almost as visible in the community as the deer themselves. "They gave a talk to us the other night,'' Mr. O'Neill, the Board of Supervisors member, said. "I had never given two thoughts about the proposal, but all of a sudden, it took on a new life."
Meanwhile, travelers are stopping their cars along the shoulder of the highway to catch a glimpse of the herd. "From a distance you could see them," said Diane Starr, who was on her way home to Buffalo after visiting wineries with her friend, Aimee McCann. "I said, 'Oh my gosh, wow.' "
The women might have thought it was a wine-induced hallucination if not for a man taking pictures nearby. Ms. Starr jumped out to join him.
Ms. Jensen, who lives right in town, has not tired of the deer since her fiancé brought her to see the herd five years ago when they were dating. They have married, and now they bring their two young children to see them. Three-year-old Mikala, with eyes as big as a doe's, points to them, then covers her face shyly.
"She loves them," Ms. Jensen says.
Copyright 2004 The New York Times Company
I do not know if this is the correct forum but:
I was searching the internet for information on wolves when I discovered this forum. Two weeks ago I was on our 600 acre farm near Canadaigua Lake raking hay when a large reddish animal appeared looking for moles under the windrows of hay. At first I thought it was a deer lying on the hay because of the size and color, but as I got closer I saw what I think was a wolf (rather than a coyote). He (I am assuming male due to his large size) was sleek, solid red with white markings on the tufts of hair surrounding his face and looked very much like a very big dog...but was clearly not a dog. I have a dog that weighs 74lbs and this animal was easily three times the size of my dog. (Actually, I was quite surprised when I got back to the house and saw how small my dog was by comparison of what I had just seen.) This animal was not timid and rather than running into the hedgerow when I turned the corner on my tractor, he stood there and smelled the air as I came closer and closer. He did not move away, until I was within 30 feet of him, when he sauntered slowly into the weeds of the hedgerow. He reappeared at the lower end of the field about 100 feet away from where I was raking, and he nosed about in the outside windrow for a few minutes and then sauntered off again into the woods. He was intimidating enough that I decided, since I was on a small tractor and alone, to go back out to the road, to wait for someone to be with me to finish the raking. While I was waiting there, the same animal crossed the road and went up the hill into the field and so I continued raking feeling better that he was no longer watching me. When I got back to the house and told everyone what I had seen, we got into a discussion about whether what I had seen was a coyote or a wolf. I know we have coyotes and that they are larger in NY than in the west, but to me this animal clearly was not a coyote, as I would guess he weighed somewhere around 120lbs.
I was wondering if anyone else has seen animals such as this, size and the beautiful reddish, not bushy but sleek coloring anywhere in New York State (or elsewhere). Our neighbor, who is a hunter, has also seen, presumably, this same animal along with a smaller sized, same colored mate. And as well, he has seen 3 silver colored wolves (as he called them...and are similar sized). And another question I have, is whether it is legal to hunt them, as my neighbor hunter said the open season on wolf hunting is from October 1 to March 1. I have mixed feelings about this as we raise draft horses and as my encounter with this large animal was to me intimidating. If anyone has any experiences similar to mine or information that would help us to figure out what we really have living in our community, I would appreciate it. Thanks, Deb
It is impossible to identify the animals without at least photos. In any case, wolves in the 48 states are protected by the federal Endangered Species Act, with a very stiff fine and jail term for killing one.
If wolves are returning to New York State, that is a good thing for deer hunters. Wolves will help stop the spread of Chronis Wasting Disease within the deer and other ungulate populations of the northeast. CWD is is similar to Mad Cow Disease.
An excerpt from the web page:
According to Kenneth Kogut, regional wildlife manager for the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, genetics work on that animal has proven that it was not a timber wolf, also known as a gray wolf. This canid specimen is more closely aligned genetically with the Algonquin wolf, or red wolf. “What we may have had in the Adirondacks and in the eastern United States was an animal that may no longer exist,” explains Kogut.
James Strittholt, executive director of the Conservation Biology Institute, a nonprofit conservation research organization based in Oregon, also expresses this speculation. “A lot of people think that they [gray wolves] were transients; they would move through this area but not stay around, and that the real native wolf was a red wolf like the Algonquin wolf.”
In 1999, the Conservation Biology Institute studied the plausibility of wolf reintroduction in the Adirondacks. Strittholt notes that there was a lot of confusion about which wolf would be reintroduced during the course of the study. “We had a group in Montreal do some genetic work on what people thought were coyotes that were shot and killed in the region. They were finding that the animals they were thinking were coyotes had more red wolf genes than coyote genes,” says Strittholt.
This coyote-red wolf hybrid is also roaming the Adirondacks and is known as the eastern coyote.
Kogut explains that these canids are twice as big as the western coyote and a little smaller than red wolves. These “super coyotes” are filling the niche that was once occupied by the original wolf Adirondack habitat.