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Recent Thoughts About Reintroduction. Red and Mexican Wolves Politics and Biology Guard Donkeys? Grizzlies Lynx Whooping Cranes Western and Eastern Efforts California Condors Bald Eagle Update. Red Wolves. 1970’s few wolves left in Texas and Louisiana

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Recent Thoughts About Reintroduction

  • Red and Mexican Wolves

    • Politics and Biology

    • Guard Donkeys?

  • Grizzlies

  • Lynx

  • Whooping Cranes

    • Western and Eastern Efforts

  • California Condors

  • Bald Eagle Update

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Red Wolves

  • 1970’s few wolves left in Texas and Louisiana

  • All that could be found (N = 17) were captured by late 1970’s and brought in for captive breeding (Point Defiance Zoo initially then 20+ zoos)

  • Bred wolves in captivity successfully (300 + were produced at 30+ facilities)

  • Began reintroduction in 1987

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Red Wolf Reintroduction Areas

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Red Wolf Reintroduction Stats

  • First releases at Alligator River National Wildlife Refuge (1992: 30 animals roam free)

  • 1988-90 marooned species on 3 islands

    • 10 on Bulls Island (2 survived through 1990)

      • Ended 2005

    • 9 on Horn Island (5 survived through 1990)

      • None currently

    • 4 on St. Vincent National Wildlife Refuge (all surviving)

      • Minimal efforts now, but captives at visitor facility

    • Goal was to produce wild-reared young wolves for reintroduction

  • 2006: 100 in wild (20 packs, 1.7 mil. Acres in NC), 184 in captivity

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Reintroduction Strategies

  • Pre-release training

    • minimum human contact

    • varied feeding regime (boom bust)

    • weaned from dog food to all meat

    • exposed to live prey

  • 10(j) status

    • hunting and trapping of game allowed in release area to get sportsmen behind the program

    • can kill if threatening humans, but not livestock or pets

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Reintroduction Success

  • ARNWR---1987-90--released 29 captive born wolves (19 adults, 10 pups) were released on 13 occasions

    • 6 pups born in the wild

    • mid Oct. 1990--->19 free-ranging

    • 17 animals recaptured on 29 occasions

      • 1 animal had to be returned to zoo

    • 15 died

      • 5 vehicle; 2 killed by other wolves; 2 infections; 1 choked on a coon kidney; 1 drowned in leghold; 4 drowned crossing river

    • This is now the center of the reintroduction efforts and an increasing wild population is distributed in 20 packs across 5 NC counties

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Why No Losses to Human Hatred?

  • Pre-release public education campaign

    • briefed enviros, congress, governor, local officials and local landowners

    • briefed navy and airforce which train next to refuge

    • focused on hunters and trappers at public meetings prior to release

  • 10(j) status

  • Post-release press

    • 22 mags, 24 newspapers, 5 national news broadcasts, 4 documentaries

  • New landowner agreements

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Humans Benefited From Release

  • Post-release press increased tourism

  • Portrayed the region as unaffected by increase in human population where natural resources are still thriving

    • helped attract recreation

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Other Spinoffs

  • Additional land for conservation

    • Conservation Fund bought 47,000 ha next to ARNWR

    • 33 private citizens donated 10,000 ha to the project

  • Civic groups got involved

    • Rotary Club gave conservation internships

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Not So Good in Smokies

  • 1990 reintroductions began in Great Smoky Mountains National Park

    • 500,000 acre park (NC and Tenn)

    • 1.5 mill acres of national forest adjoining with inholdings

    • 37 wolves released

      • many strayed from park and were recaptured

        • like beef--$7,900 paid for 24 cows killed

        • liked people (taking handouts from tourists)

        • 6 killed by cars, poison, shooting

    • 33 pups born

      • 4 survived through 1998

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Lack of Food Important

  • Movements out of park were apparently in response to lack of big game

  • Parvovirus also got some pups

  • 4 remaining animals (2 adults and 2 pups) were removed

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Mexican Wolf Reintroduction Sites

  • 5 release areas in Apache National Forest

  • Soft releases of family groups

  • Various degree of switch to natural prey

  • Vehicles are mortality source as is shooting

  • Ranch dogs and livestock have been injured or killed

    • Defenders paid full market value

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Mexican Wolves

  • Captive propagation for release

  • First releases March 29-30 1998 (New Mexico and Arizona) on NWR and USFS lands

    • Recent info from Arizona Game and Fish

  • Public not happy

    • New Mexico cattle growers have sued

    • Mortalities from autos and shooting

    • 5 of first 11 released were shot

    • 2005 Recovery Planning on hold, reintroductions continue

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Perseverance is the Key

  • Babbitt was committed

    • “release … is to send a message that this is public land…..Americans support this effort…I’ve got my instructions from the American people”

  • As of Oct 12, 2006

    • 26 wolves in 9 packs reproducing in AZ and NM

    • ~300 in captivity (including wolf haven)

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Flexible Releases

  • Lightweight pens

    • take into backcountry

    • electrify soft mesh

    • soft releases will continue to be used

      • little room for error

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Reducing Wolf Encounters with Lifestock (M. Jimenez (PhD work)

  • Trials with Montana’s Ninemile Pack

    • Cracker shells

      • very short term deterrence

    • Country Music

      • music played at night by a crippled cow--kept wolves away

    • Flags

      • flags on fences keep wolves out

    • Guard Donkeys

      • burros with cattle--increase aggressiveness of the prey

        • worked with coyotes

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Grizzly Tales

  • New Concern for Yellowstone Griz (Kaiser 1999)

    • USFWS proposes delisting

  • Conflict over assessing the rate of population growth

    • Pease and Mattson 1999--1% per year increase

    • NPS 5% per year increase

  • 1800---100,000 bears; 1975--<1000; 2004---580

  • PVA to incorporate many factors including shooting of problem bears shows low increase

    • NPS and others dispute PVA!

    • Whitebark pine may be key--drop lately due to blister rust

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Grizzly Reintroduction?

  • USFWS proposes reintroduction into Northern Rockies

    • would use 10(j) status

  • Good support in Montana, not so in Idaho

    • “Bringing back bears is nothing but a polite form of genocide” L. Barrett, Idaho State Rep.

    • “I’m less scared of grizzlies than I am of the Endangered Species Act” D. Burtenshaw, Idaho State Senate

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Threatened Lynx?

  • Listed as threatened in 2004

  • As of 2006, recovery outline completed

    • Interim, no authority, guidelines

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Lynx Reintroduction Stats

  • Reintroduction occurring in Colorado

    • winter 1999--11 Lynx brought to San Juans from Canada

    • hard release

    • plan for 110 to be released over next 2 years

    • cost = $1.4 million (for first 3 years)

  • Initial Poor Success was questioned

    • 2 of first 5 died of starvation

  • Latest reintroductions went well

    • 2006: 42 females are surviving and 11 kittens were born in wild in 2005

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Whooping Cranes

  • Early efforts in western US

    • 1975--early 1990s whoopers cross fostered under Sandhill Cranes

    • Migrated and survived ok, but no breeding

    • 1992--cross fostered whooper bred with a female sandhill

    • 1993--cross fostered group down to 8 from high of 30 in 1980

    • Guide-bird program initiated

      • incubate and hatch in captivity

      • house chicks with cross fostered whoopers held in cages on breeding grounds

      • bond with whoopers to learn migration route

      • imprint on whoopers to learn sexual preference

    • 2005 efforts in west essentially halted

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Changing Focus to Eastern US

  • Use of ultralights and direct reintroduction to re-establish the eastern flyway population of Whooping Cranes

  • Population is growing

    • 5 young in 2002

    • 64 in 2006

  • 2005 saw first breeding

  • 2006 first migration on

    own by cranes initially

    led by ultralight

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Bringing Back Condors

  • Down to 27 in captivity with capture of last wild bird in 1987, but brought back to 289 in 2006 with 135 in the wild

    • Breeding in California and Arizona

    • Still issues with learning to live with people

      • Powerlines

      • Lead

      • Lack of fear in released birds

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Bald Eagle Recovery

  • Population increased

    • removal of limiting factor (DDE)

    • captive breeding and reintroduction

  • Costs in top 10 of all bird conservation efforts

References l.jpg


  • Phillips, M. K. 1990a. The red wolf: recovery of an endangered species. Endangered Species Update 8:79-81.

  • Phillips, M. K. 1990b. Measures of the value and success of a reintroduction project: red wolf reintroduction in Alligator River National Wildlife Refuge. Endangered Species Update 8:24-26.

  • Kaiser, J. 1999. Study sounds alarm on Yellowstone Grizzlies. Science 284:568.

  • Davis, T. 1997. Agencies dunk endangered songbird. High Country News Sept. 15, 1997

  • Drewien, R. C. 1993. Guide bird program holds promise for whoopers. Habitat.

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More References

  • Borenstein, S. 1999. The bald eagle to be taken off endangered list. Seattle Times. June 17, 1999.

  • Weller, R. 1999. Lynx reintroduced to Colorado. Seattle Times February 4, 1999.

  • London, J. 1996. Red Wolf Country. Penguin Books, New York.

  • Miller, E. 1997. Salmon says no bears, no way. High Country News. October 27, 1997

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