Court Victory for Red Wolves

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Court Victory for Red Wolves

Post by Isela » Tue Nov 06, 2018 7:21 pm

Abstract from southernenvironment.org:
CHAPEL HILL, N.C. – The U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of North Carolina today issued an order declaring that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service violated the Endangered Species Act and the National Environmental Policy Act in its rollback of protections for the world’s only wild population of red wolves living in eastern North Carolina. On behalf of Defenders of Wildlife, the Animal Welfare Institute and the Red Wolf Coalition, the Southern Environmental Law Center initiated the lawsuit in 2015.

Examining the agency’s decisions to allow private landowners to shoot and kill non-problem red wolves, to end releases of red wolves, and to end active management of coyotes, the court found that “taken together, these actions go beyond the agency’s discretion and operate to violate [the Service’s] mandate to recover this species in the wild.” The court also made permanent its September 29, 2016, order stopping the service from capturing and killing, and authorizing private landowners to capture and kill wild red wolves.
Read the full article here - https://www.southernenvironment.org/new ... t-survival
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Re: Court Victory for Red Wolves

Post by DaniBeez » Tue Nov 06, 2018 7:50 pm

Someone can correct me if I'm wrong here, but if coyotes and these red wolves occupy the same ecological niche in the areas they both occupy, then I don't mind if protection is being ended at this time for red wolves. No matter how much hybridization is going on between the two groups; sure we might lose some genetic diversity moving forward, but coyotes and their functional role are faring well in these areas, I assume. There will still be a canine predator in these regions. Species turnover is a normal part of biodiversity, human-induced or otherwise.

From a policy perspective, I wonder if the red wolf is nothing more to these protection groups than a charismatic pawn used to nudge laws in a direction that is favourable to their interests. If these groups convey to the average person that the red wolf needs protection or else, the gut reaction is likely in favour of protection. The red wolf is probably a useful symbol and champion for protection of primarily their habitats and secondly the other species in those areas. The latter two are arguably more important than the red wolf, but the wolf if a useful tool for these groups motives. At a glance, I don't think current science is the leading drive of the groups mentioned at the bottom of the article.
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Re: Court Victory for Red Wolves

Post by LamarWolf » Thu Nov 15, 2018 6:57 am

DaniBeez wrote:Someone can correct me if I'm wrong here, but if coyotes and these red wolves occupy the same ecological niche in the areas they both occupy, then I don't mind if protection is being ended at this time for red wolves. No matter how much hybridization is going on between the two groups; sure we might lose some genetic diversity moving forward, but coyotes and their functional role are faring well in these areas, I assume. There will still be a canine predator in these regions. Species turnover is a normal part of biodiversity, human-induced or otherwise.

From a policy perspective, I wonder if the red wolf is nothing more to these protection groups than a charismatic pawn used to nudge laws in a direction that is favourable to their interests. If these groups convey to the average person that the red wolf needs protection or else, the gut reaction is likely in favour of protection. The red wolf is probably a useful symbol and champion for protection of primarily their habitats and secondly the other species in those areas. The latter two are arguably more important than the red wolf, but the wolf if a useful tool for these groups motives. At a glance, I don't think current science is the leading drive of the groups mentioned at the bottom of the article.
The coyote is an invasive species that started that came to the east coast due to man-made causes. When the wolf was shot and killed the coyote came over and without wolves to drive them off they settled where the wolves used to live. The eastern coyote may be larger than its western cousin but it does not fill up the wolf's niche completely. Coyotes are mainly rodent hunters when wolves are deer hunters so the problem is that coyotes aren't really eating the deer and filling the wolf's niche. Another factor is that Fish and Game Service by giving people the right to shoot red wolves a species that was not fully recovered violated the endangered species act. The organization might be using the red wolf to get policy they want but it really is also about protecting the species and I think it is possible that they are using this example to get it across that Fish and Game Service can't violate the endangered species act.
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Re: Court Victory for Red Wolves

Post by Koa » Thu Nov 15, 2018 5:08 pm

LamarWolf wrote:The coyote is an invasive species that started that came to the east coast due to man-made causes. When the wolf was shot and killed the coyote came over and without wolves to drive them off they settled where the wolves used to live. The eastern coyote may be larger than its western cousin but it does not fill up the wolf's niche completely. Coyotes are mainly rodent hunters when wolves are deer hunters so the problem is that coyotes aren't really eating the deer and filling the wolf's niche. Another factor is that Fish and Game Service by giving people the right to shoot red wolves a species that was not fully recovered violated the endangered species act. The organization might be using the red wolf to get policy they want but it really is also about protecting the species and I think it is possible that they are using this example to get it across that Fish and Game Service can't violate the endangered species act.
Firstly, I do not think your claim that the coyotes is an "invasive species" is true. See the yellow triangle down by Virginia.
http://exhibits.museum.state.il.us/exhi ... canis.html
Those of us who live outside the proposed original range for coyotes tend to think of them as a Western species that came into the East, but the truth is we have fossil evidence of Pleistocene coyotes in the East, including in West Virginia. ... Further, the entire genus Canis has its origins in this continent. The earliest forms of the genus was Canis evolved in North America 6 million years ago, though they were restricted to the Southwest and Northern Mexico, but coyotes and coyote-like canids were found throughout what became the United States during the Pleistocene.
https://retrieverman.net/2018/03/07/sho ... e-species/

Futhermore--
[Note: In this particular article, the article uses coywolf and eastern coyote interchangeably.]
Most eastern coyotes are genetically about 66 percent coyote, 24 percent wolf and about 10 percent of DNA originating from domestic dogs. The genetic contribution from dogs is relatively low because dogs may go into heat and become pregnant at any time, while wolves and coyotes have a reproductive cycle closely timed to the annual calendar. (Pups born in the late summer or fall will probably not survive in the wild through winter.) A 2009 study showed that all black wolves and coyotes in North America owe that gene to hybridization with European dogs. Virginia’s coywolves are often black, demonstrating their ancestry.

...

Scientific research into Virginia’s coywolf population began in 2011. Dr. Marcella Kelly, professor of wildlife studies at Virginia Tech, has been contracted by Virginia’s Department of Game and Inland Fisheries to study the diets of coywolves. Complaints from deer hunters of dwindling prey in Bath and Rockingham counties prompted the agency to look into whether coywolves are responsible.

“We have the breakdown of their diet,” Dr. Kelly says. “It’s 45 percent deer. Deer is the primary thing in their diet; voles is the second-largest component. Believe it or not, the next two are mast (edible parts of woody plants, such as acorns and rose hips) and insects.
http://www.c-ville.com/coywolves-albema ... area-home/

The article does go on to concede that-- at least according Kelly-- that these particular coywolves aren't "necessarily filling the wolf niche" and that coyotes could be supplementing their diets with deer roadkill. I still think that its significant that, despite being mainly "rodent hunters" as you note, deer makes up the main portion of these coyotes' diets. Here's the thing-- while you may think coyotes are not large enough to impact the deer population and consequently not 'fill' that niche left by wolves, fawns are fair game because of their size, and are consequently targeted by coyotes.
Following extirpation of wolves in the eastern United States, coyotes expanded their range eastward (Hill et al. 1987; Gompper 2002; Laliberte and Ripple 2004). Coyotes are smaller and are thought to eat fewer large prey items (e.g., white-tailed deer and raccoons) than red wolves. Coyotes have a diverse diet that includes small and medium-sized mammals, vegetation, dump refuse, white-tailed deer, and domestic livestock (Hilton 1978; Gompper 2002; Schrecengost et al. 2008). Except in Florida and South Carolina, where vegetation was most abundant in scats, mammalian prey (e.g., rabbits and small rodents) have occurred most frequently in analyses of coyote diets in the southeastern United States (Gipson 1974; Hall 1979; Wooding 1984; Lee 1986; Blanton and Hill 1989; Schrecengost et al. 2008). In addition, Schrecengost et al. (2008) reported white-tailed deer fawns to be the most common component of coyote diets during the period of deer parturition and fawn rearing in South Carolina, and coyotes have apparently replaced gray wolves as an important predator of white-tailed deer in the northeastern United States (Gompper 2002; Kays et al. 2010). Thus, empirical evidence suggests that the diets of coyotes and red wolves may overlap and that coyotes may have filled a niche similar to that historically occupied by red wolves across the eastern and southern United States.
https://academic.oup.com/jmammal/articl ... 141/868915

You make the distinction that coyotes are "rodent hunters" whereas [red] wolves are "deer hunters"-- but, according to this study, rabbits made up 35 percent of the red wolf's diet, whereas deer only made up 31 percent of its diet. So, I do not think you can justify that distinction when talking about the red wolf, which itself has been previously reported as 75 percent coyote and 25 percent wolf. You can find this information (regarding diet, not DNA) in Table 1 of the first study.

The study concludes that their diets, while they may pursue prey in different ways and affect prey populations differently, ultimately overlap.
Several recent studies have suggested that coyotes may be suppressing white-tailed deer populations in the eastern United States through fawn, and possibly adult, mortality (Schrecengost et al. 2008; Kilgo et al. 2012). Our diet analyses showed that white-tailed deer was an important component of both red wolf and coyote diets year round. Although we did not differentiate adult deer from fawns, several scats contained small hooves, bones, and teeth of fawns. Coyote diet studies in other states suggested that deer carrion may make up a large proportion of the diet (Arjo and Pletscher 1999; Switalski 2003), but we were unable to determine the amount of deer consumed as carrion, nor were we able to determine the proportion of the diet containing fawns.

Our results show that the diets of red wolves and coyotes do not differ significantly in eastern North Carolina where their ranges overlap. Although food resources during our study may have been abundant (with relatively little ecological pressure for resource partitioning), we speculate that red wolves and coyotes coexist in eastern North Carolina through mechanisms other than prey partitioning. Additionally, the diet similarity between the 2 taxa suggests that red wolves and coyotes affect prey populations similarly and may, at least partially, be fulfilling the historic niche that canids once had in the southeastern United States.
***
DaniBeez wrote:Someone can correct me if I'm wrong here, but if coyotes and these red wolves occupy the same ecological niche in the areas they both occupy, then I don't mind if protection is being ended at this time for red wolves. No matter how much hybridization is going on between the two groups; sure we might lose some genetic diversity moving forward, but coyotes and their functional role are faring well in these areas, I assume. There will still be a canine predator in these regions. Species turnover is a normal part of biodiversity, human-induced or otherwise.

From a policy perspective, I wonder if the red wolf is nothing more to these protection groups than a charismatic pawn used to nudge laws in a direction that is favourable to their interests. If these groups convey to the average person that the red wolf needs protection or else, the gut reaction is likely in favour of protection. The red wolf is probably a useful symbol and champion for protection of primarily their habitats and secondly the other species in those areas. The latter two are arguably more important than the red wolf, but the wolf if a useful tool for these groups motives. At a glance, I don't think current science is the leading drive of the groups mentioned at the bottom of the article.
Anything with "wolf" in the name will always be a charismatic pawn, I think, so long as certain environmental groups are around (and honestly, Facebook)-- just take a look at what's happening right now in Isle Royale.
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