Wild Canine


Results of lab analysis of scat collected from the Shasta Pack

June 2016

As an update to the earlier lab analysis (October 2015) of presumed wolf scat from the Shasta Pack, nine more potential genetic samples (collected scat and hair) were submitted to the University of Idaho in late October 2015. DNA was successfully isolated from one hair and four scat samples, which resulted in the genetic identification of three new individuals from the Shasta Pack. Six unique Shasta Pack individuals have now been identified, including the breeding male, breeding female, one female pup, and three male pups. Of particular interest is that the genetic analysis indicates the breeding male was also born into the Imnaha Pack of northeast Oregon. (Source: https://www.wildlife.ca.gov/Conservation/Mammals/Gray-Wolf/20151005)


Wolf News: Potential evidence of at least one additional wild wolf in northern California June 2016

Photographic evidence from trail cameras in western Lassen County suggests at least one additional gray wolf is roaming northern California. Based on coat color, this animal is not a member of the Shasta Pack, the breeding pair and pups detected in eastern Siskiyou County in 2015. And unlike OR-25, a transient wolf from Oregon that has recently visited California on several occasions, this animal is not wearing a tracking collar. (Source: https://www.wildlife.ca.gov/Conservation/Mammals/Gray-Wolf/20160601)


Wolf-dog-coyote hybrids taking over Eastern U.S.

The Eastern United States, long deprived of its native wolves, has a new large predator: a hybrid of wolves, coyotes, and domestic dogs, The Economist reports. These “coywolves,” which can be twice the size of coyotes, are thought to number in the millions, zoologist Roland Kays told The Economist. In some ways, they are a mix of wolf and coyote; for example, their howl starts deep and ends in coyotelike yips. But their flexible diet and nocturnal habits are unlike those of either wild ancestor. Such behaviors may help explain why coywolves are thriving in urban areas—even in cities like New York and Boston. (source AAAS Science News)

How did the dingo get to Australia?
By Leigh DaytonApr. 4, 2016

Although dingoes appear to have evolved from wolves before dogs did, much of their timing and evolution remains uncertain. But, based on the DNA of living wolves, dogs, and dingoes, there’s growing agreement that the animals originated in Asia—likely China—before spreading to Taiwan or to Southeast Asia, they found. (source AAAS Science News)Read Entire Article

Wild dogs have adapted to threats by hunting more like cheetahs By Elizabeth PennisiMar. 29, 2016

The current strategy for these wild dogs seems to be that rather than chasing down a few large prey by traveling long distances at low speeds, they go after a lot of different prey, using short bursts of speed to run them down. In these endeavors, they are successful less than 16% of the time, Wilson finds. But because impala are often too much for one wild dog to eat, food sharing helps make up for inefficient hunting, Wilson adds. So although they still live as packs, they don’t seem to cooperate in the hunting, only in the eating.

(source AAAS Science News) Read Entire Article

Legal culls don’t buy goodwill for wolves
By Virginia MorellMay. 10, 2016

It’s counterintuitive, but experts have long argued that one of the best ways to conserve carnivores, such as gray wolves, is to kill them in government-sanctioned culls. Keeping the predators in check is supposed to help persuade carnivore-haters to become more tolerant and deter poaching. But a new study of gray wolf culling in two U.S. states suggests that the opposite is true: The kills breed more intolerance and foster more illegal killings.To test the notion that legal culling conserves predators, Guillaume Chapron, a quantitative ecologist at the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences in Uppsala, and Adrian Treves, a predator-prey ecologist at the University of Wisconsin, Madison, analyzed wolf management policies in Wisconsin and Michigan. Because of government decisions that repeatedly took wolves off and placed them on the federal endangered species list from 1995 to 2012, gray wolves in the two states experienced six periods of legal culls and six periods of full protection in just 18 years. That gave the ecologists 12 “basically replicated data sets” to work with, Chapron says.The scientists focused on the population growth rate to see whether it changed in the years of legal culling. It did, dropping 4% in each state, even as the wolf populations continued to grow overall. That change might seem small—but the scientists also found that there was an 83% probability that the wolf population growth rate would fall whenever culling was allowed. The scientists got the same results—the high probability of a 4% drop in growth—when they substituted the culling policies with federal announcements delisting the wolves.The scientists believe the lower growth rates they observed could only be the result of a surge in illegal killings. (source AAAS Science News)Read Entire Article

Like a spent royal family dynasty, the wolves of Isle Royale, Michigan, have reached a genetic dead end. The two wolves remaining on the Lake Superior island, a male and female, are more inbred than any known wild wolves—and more inbred than some infamous human families; their relationship is so close that “we don’t have a word to describe [it],” says wildlife ecologist Rolf Peterson of Michigan Technological University in Houghton. “There is no reason to expect this pair will flourish. “

(source AAAS Science News) Read Entire Article


Yosemite red fox spotted for first time in a century

Though it may represent the mental image most people conjure up when they think of a fox, the Sierra Nevada red fox is actually quite rare—only about 50 of the animals are believed to be living in all of North America. Accordingly, conservationists were enthusiastic to learn that the animal had been spotted by motion-sensitive cameras in northern Yosemite National Park in California. The fox hadn’t been observed in the park in more than 100 years prior to these images, and The Huffington Post reports that park scientists hope to set up “hair snares” to collect fur samples from the animal to be used for genetic testing. (source AAAS Science News)

How ice age extinctions downsized the coyote

The coyote has been around for a while. During the last ice age, it used to romp around alongside sabercats and dire wolves in North America, but back then coyote was a bit different—mainly bigger. After analyzing coyote jawbones from the past 29,000 years, scientists have discovered that the animal has slowly been shrinking and becoming more omnivorous. National Geographic’s Laelaps blog suggests that the slim down may have occurred as other large predators began to go extinct. (RIP Smilodon.) Decreased competition along with a lower abundance of prey may have favored a more economically built coyote. (source AAAS Science News)

Hunter accidentally kills historic gray wolf returned to Grand Canyon

Last month, a lone gray wolf finally returned to the Grand Canyon after a 70-year hiatus for the species. The Independent now reports that a hunter has shot and killed a gray wolf in the same area after mistaking it for a coyote. Whether it is in fact the same wolf—named Echo in an earlier contest—will be determined by genetic testing, but so far it looks like it. Like Echo, the wolf was a young female, and its radio collar showed that it had emigrated from the northern Rocky Mountains. (source AAAS Science News)

Gray wolves back on the protected list in Wyoming

The resurgence of gray wolves, especially in Yellowstone National Park, is often held up as a great success in conservation. Indeed, so successful was the effort that in 2012 the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service declared the wolf population to be stable enough for the species to be delisted. However, since that time, 219 wolves have been killed out of an estimated 1600 in the state of Wyoming, The Dodo reports, thanks to a state-enacted “kill-on-sight approach to wolf management.” In response, a U.S. district judge ruled this week that the endangered species protections for gray wolves would be reinstated—a decision praised by conservationists. (source AAAS Science News)

Fate of red wolves, endangered in the United States, remains uncertain

By Eric Stokstad 30 June 2015 4:30 pm 5

Can the red wolf survive outside of zoos? Is it really a distinct species? These are some of the questions that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) says it needs to answer before it can decide whether to continue managing the only population left in the wild. The agency that it would spend the rest of the year evaluating its recovery efforts and conducting research on the controversial species, and won’t release any more animals into the wild for the time being. Advocates are concerned that the agency is winding down its efforts to protect the wolf. “The emphasis and tone have moved far away from the conservation and recovery of an endangered species and seems to be preparing the public for its eventual extinction in the wild,” says Sierra Weaver, an attorney with the Southern Environmental Law Center in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. Red wolves were nearly hunted to extinction in the 20th century. Biologists established a captive breeding population in zoos, some of which FWS released back into the wild starting in 1987. Between 50 and 75 red wolves (Canis rufus) remain on a peninsula in North Carolina. (source AAAS Science News)Read Entire Article