Woman Killed In Alaska. Possible Wolf Attack
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Thirty-two-year old Candice Berner had just moved from Pennsylvania to a small town on the Alaska peninsula about 475 southwest of Anchorage. Her dead body was discovered on a road by a passerby. It is believed but not confirmed that she was attacked and killed by a wolf or wolves. An autopsy is being performed.

Tom Remington

Twenty-Five States Seek "Nullification" Of Federal Gun Control Laws
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As of this writing, five states, Montana, Tennessee, Utah, Wyoming and South Dakota, have passed laws through their legislature effectively nullifying the Federal Government’s authority to regulated guns and gun accessories. Two states, Montana and Tennessee, their laws most commonly called Firearms Freedom Acts, have been signed by their governors. The other three are expected to follow suit. In addition to those five states, at least twenty more have introduced similar legislation and another half dozen intend to introduce it. By years end, there could feasibly be well over 30 states making an attempt to tell the Federal Government to butt out of their intrastate gun and gun accessory manufacturing.

The model for most of these bills came from Montana’s Firearms Freedom Act, a bill that basically states that any gun or gun accessory manufactured in Montana that is purchased and remains in Montana, cannot be regulated by the Federal Government of the United States. Montana is seeking “Declaratory Judgment” before suggesting that anyone proceed with the manufacturing of guns and accessories.

In reality what these Firearms Freedom Acts are doing is “nullifying” the authority of the Federal Government to regulate guns within the borders of each state when none of the guns or related products ever leave the state. The Federal Government has been very successful in the past in regulating all guns through the “Commerce Clause” of the Constitution. Montana’s bone of contention is that the Commerce Clause has regulated interstate commerce and has no authority over intrastate commerce.

One might ask if this is a full blown act of nullification. It’s not that Montana and other states are saying that any or a specific federal law is being declared unconstitutional in it’s entirety. In this case any law that the Federal Government thinks gives them authority to regulate intrastate gun manufacturing, is being challenged.

Gary Marbut, President of the Montana Shooting Sports Association and one of the sponsors of the MFFA, says this is a states’ rights issue.

This is a states’ rights effort, using firearms as the object of the exercise. The MFFA exempts Montana-made and retained firearms, firearm accessories and ammunition from federal power, saying that if these items do not cross state lines, they are strictly INTRAstate commerce, not INTERstate commerce, and not subject to federal authority.

Although nullification isn’t a term that is widely used these days, there are other examples of modern day nullification or challenges to certain federal laws. Two that come to mind are the REAL ID Act and marijuana laws. Some states have passed legislation challenging the constitutionality of forcing citizens to have to carry an identification card they believe infringes on their right to privacy and the Constitution. And, some states have passed their own laws authorizing marijuana for medical use where the Federal Government bans all uses and possession of the drug.

We may also be staring down the barrel of nullification depending on what happens with President Obama’s proposed National Health Care plan. If it is mandated that every American citizen have health insurance, many have asked where in the Constitution does the Federal Government have that kind of authority.

Probably the most recent case that expanded the power of the Federal Government to regulate commerce, came in 1942 in the Wickard v. Filburn case. This came at a time when President Roosevelt demanded the power to institute his programs he thought where going to get us on the road to recovery after the Depression. Scary isn’t it.

One of the more notable accounts of nullification was in 1832 in South Carolina. South Carolina’s “Ordinance of Nullification” declared the Tariff of 1828 and Tariff of 1832 unconstitutional. This put President Andrew Jackson in quite the predicament. While Jackson quietly assembled his army, ready to invade South Carolina, negotiations continued. Jackson’s fear was that if South Carolina were to be allowed nullification, many of the southern states would follow suit. Also many of the New England states apposed the tariffs. Jackson feared that secession would follow the nullification and this would lead to the demise of the Union. He also feared that an invasion of South Carolina could just as easily lead to civil war.

Other than President Jackson’s fear of the trouble in South Carolina, his bigger deterrent was coming from the fact that several other states, although never officially declaring nullification, were poised to do so.

Perhaps it is telling that so many states are seeking some form of nullification, some dealing with REAL ID, others medical marijuana and 25 states or more, opting to use gun rights as their tools to seek out a return of more state sovereignty, as is granted us in the Tenth Amendment. What does it tell us that so many states chose gun rights as their tool? And what does it tell us about the people’s attitudes toward the expansion of government.

Where will this go? First we should wait to see what the Court rules in the Montana Firearms Freedom Act case and watch to see how many other states pass and get signed their “nullification” bills. Soon, then, we can declare, “Balls in your court!

Tom Remington

Wolves Taking Only Sick And Weakly Not Historical Fact
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It is repeated like an incessant drum beat. Wolves and other large predators keep our ecosystems healthy because they cull out the old, sick and weakly of the prey species they kill. And nearly as often as the myth is perpetrated one asks, how that is substantiated? Certainly not by facts.

Clinging to the false indoctrination that wolves have an “eye” for which prey to destroy, is another allegorical fabrication that before man arrived our wilderness and all the species that dwelt within it was “balanced”, to represent or simulate some fanciful garden of Eden. Historical documents show a completely different picture.

Most who perpetuate these myths, point all blame for anything bad that happens to our environment, whether real or fabricated, on man. The truth is, much of the wildlife that Americans love to see and claim as theirs, was very scarce until man arrived and brought with him agriculture and soon followed by an understanding of the need to control predators, particularly those that where destroying the game herds man needed for survival.

We can look through many historical documents to learn that what is being indoctrinated into our children as fact concerning wildlife and the impact predators have on it, just does not agree with history. If we take, for example, many accounts published in Alaska Wildlife Digest in 1975, there’s no denying that wolves kill for food, for sport and from lust and more times than not the methods they employ in bringing down their prey are brutally cruel.

Many believe Alaska has always been a mecca for wildlife. In 1885, a Lt. Allen led the first exploration into the interior of Alaska right after the state was purchased. His journal describes the route and what was seen.

His party traveled the Copper River from salt water to the head, floated the Tanana River from near the head to the confluence with the Yukon, traveled overland from that point 100 miles to about the location of Hughes on the Koyukuk, floated down the Koyukuk and back into the Yukon, floated the Yukon to its mouth without seeing a single big game animal alive.

The expedition learned that the natives lived off rabbits and salmon as finding moose was rare. Over time, as man began moving into the Alaska wilderness, their mere presence began to create a better habitat. Combine that with efforts to control large predators and soon large game animals like moose began to flourish. It soon became a constant battle between three entities – the men who wanted to control predators to allow game animals to prosper to feed the natives and themselves; wildlife management and the environmentalist who wanted to promote Alaska as their “Disneyland” of wilderness, at the expense of human starvation and the destruction of game herds.

What was taking place on the ground in places of Alaska and what was being told in cities in the lower 48 were very conflicting stories.

Below are documented accounts in Alaska that show clearly that wolves are not discriminate hunters, culling the sick and weak animals all for the purpose of making our ecosystems healthier. It is much to the contrary.

When a blowing storm came he [wolf] did not take the sick and the lame but cut out 40 to 100 from a herd and would slaughter nearly all he took and did not even touch any for feed. If he did take time, all he cut out was the tongue…………………….
One day one of my reindeer herders and myself watched a large caribou herd stalked by 14 wolves. The herd was uneasy. When the time was ready, four wolves appeared from behind the herd and a stampede started which would head this herd straight toward a bluff which would be impossible for any game to descend. As the momentum grew more wolves appeared and as the herd approached the bluff the attack started from both sides. There were dead caribou, also many that could hardly move due to the leg sinews having been cut.

This account came from Sam O. White, known as Alaska’s first flying game warden.

One time over on the Nation River in the upper Yukon-I was up there with a mounted policeman-Clarence Rhodes was with us too-we were watching caribou in the winter. There was a bunch of nine wolves, they weren’t all pups either. There were some big ones and they were chasing a caribou. They caught up with him and we watched what happened. Well, they hit that caribou and knocked it down and they all started eating on it right then. They got their mouths full and you could see them bolting it down, right from the air.
It was a big bull. He got up and ran-took off. They let him go. They didn’t pay any attention to him till they got their meat swallowed and then they took after him again. They had the caribou down five times before he stayed down and each time they got a meal, got a feed off him. Boy, was the blood flying all over the snow, squirting out on both sides! Caribou are awful tough to kill you know-tougher than moose.

Glen Gregory – Alaska Air-Taxi operator:

I have seen nature at it’s cruelest. During the deep snow winters three and four years ago I had occasion to witness sights that made me sick. The route from Tanana to Ruby is over the Yukon River all the way. At that time there was a good moose population that congregated on the willow covered islands of the river in the winter. On several occasions I spotted moose standing in the deep snow with chunks eaten out of them, bleeding to death. The snow would be red all around them. There was no pattern to where the wolves bit first, although the rump seemed to be the favorite location. Probably because it is less protected.

This observation came from someone who used to be a gunner on aircraft that shot wolves to reduce the population.

A couple years ago, my gunner and I saw a moose kill, the moose was, at most, 1/4 eaten. The next weekend we flew by and there were three more dead moose laying within a square block of the first. These three were less eaten than the first.
We watched these kills the remainder of the year, and all that fed there were crows and fox. To me, this is a tremendous waste of good meat, just to satisfy the killing lust of the wolf.

And then there’s the accounts of Mike Stultz, who served for a few years as a Protection Officer for the Alaska Department of Fish and Game. His is an incredible story that perhaps best epitomizes much of what’s wrong with wildlife management as it becomes more and more deeply influenced by politics and wildlife biologists being indoctrinated about the myths of predators through our education system.

Stultz bore witness to the complete destruction of a very large moose herd. Regardless of the countless number of times he contacted the Fish and Game Department, they refused, for whatever the reasons, to heed his words or even visit the area that was being systematically wiped out by wolves. He describes it this way:

Little did I realize that I would personally witness the destruction of one of the great moose populations in Alaska through the forces of nature and the blind stupidity of the Department of Fish and Game, and this experience would leave me with a feeling of frustration so great I can never work for the Department again.

Stultz also tells us he arrived at his job as a believer that wolves could not and would not kill moose.

That winter, flying with Dick Nicholes and Terry Holliday of Gulf Air Taxi based in Yakutat, I begin to see things I found very difficult to believe. Everywhere we went south of Yakutat Bay I observed large numbers of moose kills by wolves. Like most people I was of the belief wolves did not or could not kill healthy moose. I was worried and upset that the moose in the area were suffering from a serious food shortage or ailment that made them so weak they fell prey to wolves.

Even after witnessing first hand the destruction being caused by these wolves, Stultz continued hard to convince himself there had to be something else that was making it too easy for the wolves to kill so many moose and moose that from what he could tell were perfectly healthy. His cries for help from the office of fish and game fell on deaf ears and insistence that he was imagining things.

He continued his observations along with gathering facts and witnessing right before his eyes what was happening; events that would change his life forever.

The wolves just took so many fist size bites of meat out of the rump, side, and shoulders of the cow that within fifteen minutes the snow was red in a thirty foot radius around her, and in twenty minutes she was dead……………………………………..
I landed and examined the dead cow. I took a tooth, looked at the heart, lungs, and liver, cracked the leg bone to look at the bone marrow, but I couldn’t see anything wrong with her except she was dead from wolf bites. She appeared a fine, fat, healthy moose that was in the wrong place at the right time.

Still believing he was going to find some other explanation for what he was witnessing, Stultz traveled around to the hunting camps in his region to hear what they were saying.

I flew hundreds of hours during that moose season visiting all the hunters and their camps. Almost everywhere I went the questions and statements were the same: “I have been hunting this area for five years and never failed to get my moose within a half mile of camp the first or second day out. I haven’t even seen a moose this trip, and I have been here a week,” “What are all those big dog tracks doing on all the river bars?” “If things get much worse I will have to have to go to the Interior to hunt next year.” “If there aren’t many more moose around here anymore, why do you guys have a three month either sex hunting season on them?” “I don’t see how hunting can get much worse.”

But it did get worse and yet fish and game still refused to investigate or heed what Stultz was trying to tell them. He was told repeatedly that if moose numbers where being depleted wolves would have nothing at all to do with it. But Stultz continued his work and recording his observations.

Flying my personal airplane that winter, moose because [sic] almost as hard to spot as wolves. I would fly hours and maybe see a dozen moose. Wolf trails and dead moose invariably intersected. The moose herds on the Italio and East Rivers-two of the largest winter herds around-were all but wiped out in a three month span by wolves that were no longer bothered by aerial hunting. As winter progressed moose became so scarce that even the wolves couldn’t find them. They then started to look for other food sources. For the first time in memory wolves were spotted in town eating out of garbage cans. stray dogs running loose disappeared. People with dogs chained outside woke up to find nothing left but blood and tufts of hair. The era of the moose in Yakutat was short lived. They were for all practical purposes gone.

This observation is very important as it falls in line with the seven steps of when wolves become a danger to man as spelled out clearly by Dr. Valerius Geist.

Out of disgust, Stultz left his job and became a teacher. It wasn’t until long after his warnings and cries for help that the fish and game department realized there was a problem, a realization that came too late. From a time when a man, freshly educated with a college degree, enters the Alaska outdoors, it took a short period of time for reality to set in about what wolves are capable of. Stultz clearly became a tainted man as he makes this comment.

The winter of 1973 saw the Department finally put away their comic book entitled “Never Cry Wolf” and admit that wolves were indeed as responsible as hunters for eliminating the Yakutat herds a
peculiar statement since wolves hunt twelve months of the year without regard to season, limit or sex-but it was a definite improvement over their past utterances. Realizing at this late date that predator control was necessary they organized a Department wolf hunt in Yakutat.

So can we now assume that in 1973 biologists learned a very valuable lesson? Can we assume that biologists learned that wolves are a vicious predator, that does NOT subsist mostly on mice and small rodents? Can we now conclude that biologists have finally come to realize that wolves are not selective in their savagery, to weed out the sick and dying? Not at all!

Twenty-three years later in Alaska, biologists talked of an unexplained “die off” of moose on the North Slope. Fish and Game tossed out many theories as to what caused the “die off”; copper deficiencies, brucellosis, insects, range and habitat deterioration, and oh, yes, predation. This is what fish and game said about predators possibly having a role in the moose “die off”.

Both the bear and wolf populations appear quite high and both species are efficient predators, particularly on moose calves. The deaths of half to three-quarters of the calves born on the North Slope each year could be due to predators that thrive on the old, the weak and, most of all, the young (emphasis added).

I believe the cause was blamed on Brucellosis although I can’t find that it was ever proven.

This might shed some light on how deeply ingrained into our wildlife education system certain beliefs have become. While facts and accounts far outnumber any “studies” to show otherwise, the idea that large predators have a measurable impact on our game herds remains the perpetuated theory.

Tom Remington

Alaska Gov. Parnell Feeling Squeeze From Feds, Evokes Abuse Of ESA
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Photo from fOTOGLIF

Seeming to follow a pattern that is emerging in this country, Alaska Gov. Sean Parnell told his fellow citizen’s in his State of the State Address that the Federal Government is prohibiting Alaska from developing and growing and using its resources according to the needs of her people. Parnell cited history stating that Alaskans believed when they joined the Union that they would be free to develop resources.

Stating opposition to a plan that would set aside an area of land the size of California to protect polar bears, Parnell said the federal government and others have abused the Endangered Species Act to exert governmental power and take away state sovereignty.

With statehood, the strong assumption prevailed that, as a fledgling state, we would be allowed to develop our own resources without constant federal interference.

Today, however, the federal government’s actions often seem at war with Alaskan interests.

The federal government has misused the Endangered Species Act as a regulatory weapon to delay development of Alaska’s resources. Now, they have proposed setting aside an area larger than the state of California as critical habitat for polar bears. I strongly oppose such overreactive ESA listings and critical habitat designations. These are job killers and beyond the feds authority.

Additionally, when they tried to deny access to lands, I told the Interior secretary how this harms Alaska’s economy and intrudes on the culture and way of life of many Alaskans.

With the Tongass National Forest, I have strongly urged the secretary of agriculture to maintain the current exemption from the national roadless policy. And if that is not enough, my administration will not hesitate to take the issue to court.

And now, the federal government hyperextends its reach by proposing to zone the oceans. They call it “marine spatial planning.” But the wild and shifting seas were never meant to be defined by little square boxes of regulated activity. Fish do not check their maps and get their passports stamped as they swim from zone to zone.

National oceans policy should be rational, should recognize the important role of coastal states, and should strike a balance between our ocean protection and commercial activities, like our fisheries and oil and gas production.

But beyond escalating federal agency intrusion, Alaskans have another fight on our hands – and this time, it is with Congress.

I have expressed great concern to congressional leadership over legislation that would disregard our people’s cultural and economic needs. We can manage our own predator and prey species.

Besides trying to manage our wildlife, they are now trying to manage us.

Citizens of this country are growing weary of the big hand of government overreaching anything that closely resembles the authority given them within the Constitution. Many states are lining up to do as much as they can to reclaim their state’s rights, their sovereignty. Alaska is no different. They all intend to send a message and get back their rights.

Polar bears are not endangered and now we have all learned that the fear mongering over man-made global warming was nothing more than man-made lies. Alaska knows its people and needs far better than some slick dude in Washington with an agenda.

Government has overstepped and the people are now beginning to react. They don’t want that kind of intrusion into their lives.

Tom Remington

"Snoozin" Alaska Moose
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We have a whole house fan just up over the moose’s head. I caught him snoozin’ under the warmth of it and reluctant to leave his spot. They do that, snooze in town, during the day. I think they feel safer that way.

Photo by Al Remington

Photo by Al Remington

Two-Thirds of Idaho Wolf Carcasses Examined Have Thousands of Hydatid Disease Tapeworms
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Editor’s Note: This article is republished with permission from its author. It first appeared in “The Outdoorsman” December 2009 Edition, Bulletin 36. In the below article is referenced an article I wrote that appeared in the Black Bear Blog and other places. Here’s links to two articles, here and here.

By George Dovel

The top photo to the left is Hydatid cysts infect lungs, liver, and other internal organs of big game animals. Michigan DNR Wildlife Disease Lab photo.
The photo just under it is Hydatid cysts infecting moose or caribou lungs. Photo courtesy of NW Territories Department of Environment and Natural Resources.

My first Outdoorsman article on hydatid disease caused by the tiny Echinococcosis granulosus tapeworm was published nearly 40 years ago. Back then we had many readers in Alaska and northern Canada where the cysts were present in moose and caribou and my article included statistics on the number of reported human deaths from these cysts over a 50-year period, and the decline in deaths once outdoorsmen learned what precautions were necessary to prevent humans from being infected.

In Alaska alone, over 300 cases of hydatid disease in humans had been reported since 1950 as a result of canids (dog family), primarily wolves, contaminating the landscape with billions of E. granulosus eggs in their feces (called “scat” by biologists). These invisible eggs are ingested by grazing animals, both wild and domestic, and occasionally by humans who release clouds of the eggs into the air by kicking the scat or picking it up to see what the wolf had been eating.

As with many other parasites, the eggs are very hardy and reportedly exist in extremes of weather for long periods, virtually blanketing patches of habitat where some are swallowed or inhaled. As Dr. Valerius Geist explained in his Feb-Mar 2006 Outdoorsman article entitled Information for Outdoorsmen in Areas Where Wolves Have Become Common, “(once they are ingested by animals or humans) the larvae move into major capillary beds – liver, lung, brain – where they develop into large cysts full of tiny tapeworm heads.”

He continued, “These cysts can kill infected persons unless they are diagnosed and removed surgically. It consequently behooves us (a) to insure that this disease does not become widespread, and (b) that hunters and other outdoorsmen know that wolf scats and coyote scats should never be touched or kicked.”

Dr. Geist’s article also warned, “If we generate dense wolf populations it is inevitable that such lethal diseases as Hydatid disease become established.” Because wolves and other canines perpetuate the disease by eating the organs of animals containing the cysts, and the tapeworms live and lay millions of eggs in their lower intestines, the logical way to insure the disease did not develop was not to import Canadian wolves that were already infected with the parasites.

Despite Warnings From Experts. FWS and IDFG Ignored Diseases, Parasites Spread by Wolves

This was common knowledge among wildlife biologists in northern Canada and in Alaska where FWS biologist Ed Bangs was stationed prior to being assigned to head the Northern Rocky Mountain Wolf Recovery Team. Yet in the July 1993 Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) provided to the public, Bangs chose not to evaluate the impact of wolf recovery on diseases and parasites (1993 DEIS page 1-17).

This alarmed a number of experts on pathogens and parasites, including Will Graves who began his career working to eradicate foot and mouth disease in Mexico. As an interpreter who conducted research of Russian wolf impacts on wildlife, livestock and humans for several decades, Graves provided Bangs with information that wolves in Russia carry 50 types of worms and parasites, including Echinococcosis and others with various degrees of danger to both animals and humans.

In his Oct. 3, 1993 written testimony to Bangs, Graves also cited the results of a 10-year Russian control study in which failure to kill almost all of the wolves by each spring resulted in up to 100% parasite infection rate of moose and wild boar with an infection incidence of up to 30-40 per animal. This compared to a 31% infection rate with an incidence of only 3-5 per animal where wolves were nearly eliminated each winter.

Graves’ letter emphasized that despite the existence of foxes, raccoons and domestic dogs, wolves were always the basic source of parasite infections in moose and boar. He also emphasized the toll this would take on livestock producers and, along with other expert respondents, requested a detailed study on the potential impact wolves would have in regard to carrying, harboring and spreading disease.

In the final 414-page Gray Wolf EIS (FEIS) dated April 14, 1994, only a third of a page addresses “Diseases and Parasites to and from Wolves” (Chapter 5 Page 55). It states: “Most respondents who commented on this issue expressed concern about diseases and parasites introduced wolves could transfer to other animals in recovery areas.”

Bangs’ response states, “Wolves will be given vaccinations when they are handled to reduce the chances of them catching diseases from coyotes and other canids. Then Bangs stated, “Wolves will not significantly increase the transmission of rabies and other diseases,” yet offered nothing to substantiate his false claim.

FWS Implies Graves’ Facts are Only His Opinion

In “Appendices” Page 59, Bangs included a letter from FWS NRM Wolf Recovery Coordinator Steve Fritts to a Russian biology professor (also a member of the IUCN Wolf Specialist Group) asking him whether he thought the information in Mr. Graves’ letter is correct. On Page 60, that professor and another “IUCN Wolf Specialist” responded that Graves’ information “represents the opinion of only one side in (a) long and highly speculative discussion of (the) wolf role in Russia.”

The two Russian wolf advocates failed to refute anything in Will Graves’ testimony yet the inference that his research was speculative rather than factual was apparently the only excuse Bangs used for his failure to heed Graves’ warnings. A dozen years earlier Bangs was the lead author of a Kenai Peninsula research report in which he similarly denied the impact of wolf predation on Alaska moose populations.

As Dr. Geist has pointed out, the existence of hydatid disease (and other unique parasites and diseases in wild mammals and fish that some of us are not used to) is a fact of life that you learn to live with in the north country – or in many other places you choose to live or visit. The wildlife management agencies in Alaska and many of the Canadian provinces provide field guides explaining how to protect yourself and your animals from unique wildlife diseases and parasites you may encounter.

But although Idaho has the most wilderness in the lower 48 states, it has 15 times as many people per square mile as Alaska, countless more pets and domestic animals and 150 times as many cattle. Any of these creatures found in areas where wolves traveled at some time of the year are at risk of becoming infected with the cysts – or if dogs – becoming carriers of the worms and distributors of the eggs which infect other animals and humans with hydatid disease.

The highly touted testing of blood and fecal samples from live-trapped deer, elk, etc. does not reveal the existence of hydatid cysts, yet that was the only reported testing performed for 10-1/2 years after the first wolves were released in central Idaho and Yellowstone Park. In a January 2005 Outdoorsman article, I provided a photo of hydatid cysts in moose lungs, described the disease, and suggested legislators would benefit from the type of information provided by Alaska and Canada.

IDFG Officially Discovered Hydatid Disease in 2005-06

In mid 2005, state wildlife health officials in Idaho began conducting necropcies (post mortem examinations) of many wildlife species. As in Minnesota, Michigan and Wisconsin, they found a number of the primary big game species they tested were infected with hydatid cysts – but only the Great Lakes wildlife agencies reported that fact to the public.

As a matter of fact, by the time Dr. Geist’s warning about hydatid cysts appeared in the Feb-Mar 2006 Outdoorsman, I also published Minnesota’s finding that wolves were infecting livestock pastures and moose habitat with Neospora caninum, the parasite that causes abortions in cattle and moose and other members of the deer family. The upper left photo of hydatid cysts on the first page of this article was copied from information provided to its citizens by the Michigan DNR.

It is reasonable to assume that Michigan DNR’s publication of warnings to use protective gear when handling wolf scat and wolf carcasses and not let your dog eat internal organs from deer, moose, etc. may have saved a significant number of hunters and/or their children from becoming infected with hydatid disease.

It is also reasonable to assume that Idaho Fish and Game’s failure to publish similar warnings during the four hunting seasons that have come and gone since the disease was officially discovered in Idaho may have allowed a significant number of Idaho hunters and/or their children to become infected with hydatid disease.

On December 13, 2009 in Idaho Hunting Today and other Black Bear Blog websites, Tom Remington first revealed the results of the Washington laboratory checking Idaho and Montana wolf intestines for E. granulosus tapeworms. Mr. Remington was probably not aware of the 10-page September 2006 IDFG Wildlife Health Laboratory (WHL) Report which included only the following sentence about IDFG’s discovery of hydatid disease in mule deer, elk and a mountain goat during necropsy (post mortem) examinations of various species:

“In addition, 1 mountain goat and several mule deer and elk were found to have hydatid cysts in the lungs (Echinococcus granulosa), likely with wolves as the definitive host of this previously unrecognized parasite in the state.”

The report states: “Wolf necropsies indicated the presence of lice,” but makes no mention of finding E. granulosus eggs in the wolf feces or adult worms in the wolf intestines. It also mentions examining fecal samples from 10 live wolves that were captured but again there is no mention of the existence of the eggs which resulted in the deer, elk and a goat being infected with hydatid disease.

The report, published by IDFG Director Steve Huffaker, was signed by IDFG Veterinarians Mark Drew and Phil Mamer and approved by IDFG Wildlife Program Coordinator Dale Toweill and IDFG Wildlife Bureau Chief (now Deputy Director) Jim Unsworth.

Yet the September 2007 WHL Report published by new IDFG Director Cal Groen and signed by the same four IDFG officials states:

“Wolf necropsies indicated the continued presence of lice (Trichodectes canis) and tape worm (Echinococcus), previously detected last year in Idaho. Wolves are most likely the definitive host of this previously unrecognized parasite in the state”. (emphasis added)

In other words this 2007 Report admitted the worms were discovered in wolves in 2005-2006 but failed to mention the hydatid cysts that were also discovered in mule deer, elk and the mountain goat. The 2008 IDFG WHL Report contained exactly the same sentence about tapeworms in wolves as the 2007 report but again failed to mention the diseased deer and elk.

To most of us the announcement of one more tapeworm found in a canine, especially a tiny one whose name we can neither pronounce nor remember, hardly merits a second glance. But when that worm is a new biotype that has never been reported south of the U.S-Canadian border, is already infecting deer and elk with a disease known to range from benign to debilitating to occasionally fatal in humans, and is obviously being spread by wolves across thousands of square miles, that would raise red flags of concern in most intelligent people.

Most legislators and F&G Commissioners who received a copy of the September 2006 WHL Report that actually mentioned the hydatid cysts being found in deer and elk, did not find the word “disease” and had no clue what the presence of the cysts implied. It was the F&G Department’s responsibility to explain the parasite’s life cycle and provide the public with precautions that should be taken when skinning or handling wolves or their pelts.

Photo caption: I regularly receive emails with photos like this from successful wolf hunters in Idaho who are “hugging” (posing with) the animals without wearing disposable gloves and face masks to prevent the threat of infection from touching the pelt with bare hands.

Funding of the activities reported in the WHL Annual Reports discussed earlier is part hunter and fisherman license funds and part P-R and D-J federal excise taxes paid by those same hunters and fishermen. The projects are approved and the federal funds administered by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) – the same agency that shares responsibility with IDFG for introducing the non-native wolves and their non-native parasites and diseases.

If Fish and Game officials had told the media, Idaho citizens and their legislators the truth about the spread of hydatid disease by excessive numbers of wolves when they first knew of its existence, the public outcry would almost certainly have prevented managing for up to five times as many wolves as was agreed upon.

In 2008 when IDFG Director Groen and Idaho Fish and Game Commissioner Gary Power informed the Legislature of their intention not to reduce the number of wolves in Idaho, both had known about the rapid spread of E. granulosis in wolves and the resulting spread of hydatid disease in elk and deer for several years. In fact, in August of 2006, IDFG Veterinarian Mark Drew made a presentation to the Wildlife Disease Association Annual Meeting at the University of Connecticut titled “Possible introduction of parasites with wolves in Idaho.”

ID, MT F&G Ignored Responsibility to Warn Public

Instead of fulfilling their responsibility to see that hunters and ranchers in Idaho and Montana received instruction on how to protect themselves from becoming infected, from 2006-2008 Drew and two of his counterparts from Montana participated in the evaluation of the lower intestines of 123 more wolves from Idaho and Montana. This is the study reported by Tom Remington on Dec. 13, 2009, in which 62% of Idaho wolves and 63% of Montana wolves contained E. granulosis tapeworms, and 71% of all the wolves tested contained Taenia sp, also predicted by Will Graves.

The study report says: “The detection of thousands of tapeworms per wolf was a common finding,” and also said: “Based on our results, the parasite is now well established in wolves in these states and is documented in elk, mule deer, and a mountain goat as intermediate hosts.” Of the wolves that contained E. granulosis, more than half contained more than 1,000 worms per wolf.

To put that in perspective, if each tapeworm can produce up to 1,000 eggs every 10 days for two years as is reported, 1,000 wolves with 1,000 tapeworms each are capable of spreading up to 73 billion eggs over the landscape in two years! The study provided a map of wolf locations indicating that areas with the highest known wolf density also have the highest percent of infected wolves (exactly as predicted by Dr. Geist).

The study reported that the prevalence of E. granulosis tapeworms in wolves in Canada, Alaska and Minnesota varied from 14% to 72% and said the 63% rate found in Idaho and Montana was comparable. But if one subtracts the strip across southern Idaho where few wolves exist and only two that were tested had the parasite, the prevalence of tapeworms in the areas with higher wolf densities was almost 90 percent!

During the past 20 years, medical case histories suggest that the course of the northern (sylvatic) strain of Hydatid Disease where wolves infect wild cervids (deer, elk, moose, etc.) is normally less severe on most humans than the domestic (pastoral) strain where dogs infect domestic sheep and other ruminants. The authors of the wolf parasite study used this information to try to downplay the potential impact of hydatid disease transmitted by wolves to humans in Idaho and Montana.

They also included the following statement to create the false impression that there is limited chance of Idaho and Montana residents becoming infected: “Most human cases of hydatid disease have been detected in indigenous peoples who hunt wild cervids or are reindeer herders with dogs.” At least part of that statement is accurate because most of the people who live in isolated areas and are more exposed are either Indians or Eskimos.

But they neglect to mention that several hundred thousand people in Idaho and Montana also hunt wild cervids and thousands more work or recreate where wolves have contaminated the land and drinking water with the parasite eggs. Unless the cysts are formed in the brain, heart, spleen or kidneys, infected people may carry them undetected for years, while they slowly grow larger until they eventually create severe problems or death.

Because the death of most people from so-called natural causes is attributed to heart failure, etc., without an autopsy being performed, the actual number of deaths resulting from hydatid disease remains a matter of speculation. Case histories reveal that detection of hydatid disease in living humans often occurs as a result of a CT Scan or Ultrasound performed for another reason.

Dr. Geist’s reply to the lack of concern expressed for humans who will become infected was, “It’s nothing to fool around with. Getting an Echinococcus cyst of any kind is no laughing matter as it can grow not only on the liver or the lungs, but also in the brain. And then it’s fatal.”

He also asked if another parasite, E, multilocularis, found in Alberta wolves, also exists in the transplanted wolves in Idaho and Montana. “(It‘s) much more virulent than Echinococcus granulosus of any strain, we cannot encapsulate this cyst, and it grows and buds off like a cancer infecting different parts of the body incessantly.”

(NOTE: Three separate studies conducted over a 10-year period in Minnesota concluded that 87% of moose mortality is related to parasites and infectious diseases. The insanity of pretending to restore “healthy” ecosystems by allowing uncontrolled large carnivores to spread parasites and diseases is becoming painfully obvious – ED)

Winter Sunset Over Fire Island, Alaska
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Days are getting longer already in Alaska, as sunsets now happen at 4:30 instead of 3:30.

Photo by Al Remington

Photo by Al Remington

Got Watchdog?
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What does your watchdog look like? Yes, that’s the front entrance and I don’t think his name is Fido.

moose watchdog
Photo by Al Remington

A Warning To Outdoor Users About Echinococcus, From Worms
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This is a warning to outdoor users about a potentially deadly biological event that could result from one’s curiosity to poke at and kick through scat from wolves, coyotes and foxes. Of course not everyone knowingly does this but many hunters, trappers and simply the curious, want to know what these animals have been eating.

Back in the end of November I gave you a link to a story, “Of Wolves and Worms”. That story introduced many of us to the subject of worms being found in wolves in the Greater Yellowstone area.

According to a new study out in the October issue of the Journal of Wildlife Diseases, three-millimeter-long tapeworms known as Echinococcus granulosus, are documented for the first time in gray wolves in Idaho and Montana. And the authors didn’t just find a few tapeworms here and there… turns out that of 123 wolf intestines sampled, 62 percent of the Idaho gray wolves and 63 percent of the Montana gray wolves were positive. (Ew!) The researchers wrote: “The detection of thousands of tapeworms per wolf was a common finding.” (Again… Ew!!) This leads to the interpretation that the E. granulosus parasite rate is fairly widespread and established in the Northern Rocky Mountain wolves.

There is discussion about how some think the worms ended up in the wolves in this region but the article tends to downplay any serious concerns people should have from coming in contact with these tapeworms and the eggs they leave behind.

In the comments section of the article, Will Graves, author of the book “Wolves in Russia: Anxiety Through the Ages“, left his thoughts on his own research discoveries about the dangers to humans of these parasites.

In the first paragraph in my letter to Mr. Bangs dated 3 October 1993 on the DEIS (Draft Environmental Impact Statement) which was titled “The Reintroduction of Gray Wolves to Yellowstone National Park and Central Idaho,” I warned about the damages and problems wolves would cause to Yellowstone and other areas by carrying and spreading parasites and diseases over larger areas. Some of these parasites are damaging not only to wild and domestic animals, but can also be dangerous to humans. One of these parasites is Echinococcous Granulosus and Echinococcus M. Since 1993 I have been working to tell people what I have learned from about 50 years of research on the characteristics, habits and behavior of Russian wolves. From that research I came to the conclusion that one of the most serious consequences of bring wolves into the US would be the wolves carrying and spreading around damaging/dangerous parasites and diseases. I did my best to explain this in my book titled, “Wolves in Russia – Anxiety Through the Ages” edited by Dr. Valerius Geist. Details about my book are in my web site: wolvesinrussia.com.

After several years effort, I finally recently obtained help from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Parasitic Research Center in Beltsville, MD. This research center will try to conduct research on the blood taken from wolves in our western states. One parasite they will be researching is to determine if wolves carry and spread the parasite Neospora Caninum around. It is established that coyotes and dogs carry this damaging parasite.

I remember that about two years ago there was a report about one wolf carrying Echinococcus Granulosus in Montana.

Much more research is needed about the danger wolves bring to our environment. Some of the parasites carried by wolves are dangerous to humans.(emphasis added)

Around this same time that Will Graves posted his comments, he contacted me by email and asked if I could somehow be of assistance to him in obtaining blood samples from wolves taken during the Idaho and Montana wolf hunts. The word went out quickly and hopefully Graves gets what he needs to help him in his research. This can become extremely valuable information for all of us.

In the meantime, Dr. Valerius Geist, professor emeritus University of Calgary and Dr. Charles Kay, of Utah State University, who holds degrees in wildlife ecology, environmental studies and wildlife biology, exchanged thoughts on the discovery of worms in Yellowstone wolves in emails I received.

Well, Charles? What else is new? What did we warn about, how we were censored as alarmists………………………
And yes, a colleague assured us that all that is not a problem for us, but for some native types. Nothing to worry about, really. Remember how, early on, we put out a warning – do not kick dry wolf feces or poke about in such looking for evidence of food habits. Do not handle wolf feces as it will disturb the tiny Echinococcus eggs that float up like little dust cloud to envelop you, and you are very likely to ingest some of that “dust”. This know-how, which we older Canadian types carried away from our parasitogy lessons was poo-hood by some American colleagues. Wolves are after all, harmless! Remember the question we posed: is it really such a great idea completing ecosystems when the progression is herbivores, carnivores, finally diseases and parasites?

It is not my intention nor that of Drs. Geist and Kay to attempt to instill unnecessary fear in people but to educate, as it was back in the day before wolf reintroduction. There are very important lessons and warnings that all should heed and take into consideration when in the woods or maybe even in your own back yard.

Dr. Geist emailed me the other day and asked me if I would be kind enough to post this information so that anyone and everyone will be aware of the potential for some very serious health issues.

Urgent: could you make a point of it that now, that we know that the majority of wolves are infected with Echinococcus, that all hunters control their curiosity and not poke about in wolf or coyote feces to find out what these predators ate. these feces are saturated with tiny, lightweight Echinococcus eggs that rise like dust plume from the disturbed feces and envelop the poking hunter. If the air-born eggs are ingested, the an infection is possible, and having Echinococcus cysts grow inside oneself is not a desirable condition. Trust me!

He followed that up with more information about the dangers.

As to the pathogenicity of Echinococcus granulosus: Yes, I noticed that Foayt, leaning on Raup’s research in Alaska, toned down the dangers from this northern form. My understanding based on what we learned from an old, experienced parasitologist at the University of British Columbia is that it’s nothing to fool around with. It’s serious! In my career as a biologist in touch with the north, I have heard nothing else. I have not, however, done a recent literature search. Foayte’s assessment may be on even though it conflicts with mine. Either way, getting an Echinococcus cyst of any kind is no laughing matter as it can grow not only on the liver or the lungs, but also in the brain. And then it’s fatal.

There is however, another much more alarming angle. Echinococcus multilocularis is a nightmare, and much more virulent than Echinococcus granulosus of any strain. We cannot encapsulate this cyst, and it grows and buds off like a cancer infecting different parts of the body incessantly. Were some of the wolves infected with multilocularis? Coyotes and foxes carry it and it has been spreading. Do canids in Idaho, Montana, etc. have it? It’s found in Alberta. Regardless, now is the time to send out an SOS to ALL outdoor users. Hold your curiosity in check, do not poke into the feces of wolves, coyotes and foxes. If you do you will release clouds of Echinococcus eggs which will envelop you, and you may ingest the eggs, bring the eggs home and endanger your family. This is nothing new to me and I have lived with this constraint on my curiosity for over 40 years. This is just a know how that maintains your personal and your family’s safety. Also, never feed uncooked offal to your dog as it may become infected with Echinococcus and infect you and your family. Echinococcus cysts love to be in lung and liver, and if consumed by dogs you have a health hazard on your hands. And such cysts now grow in deer and elk where you live. Somebody should take a second look searching out Echinococcus multilocularis.

You and I probably have no idea in the world whether these worms exist in the woods we hunt, trap, hike, etc. but good advice given by Dr. Geist should tell us it’s not something we should mess around with. Squelch the curiosity to dig in the poop and just assume there could be hidden danger.

I want to take a moment to thank Will Graves, Dr. Val Geist and Dr. Charles Kay for caring enough about the rest of us to be willing to share their findings and experiences.

Tom Remington

High Noon In Alaska
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High noon looks like a Florida sunset – all day; so it’s hoarfrost time in the north country at zero degrees.

hoarfrost in Alaska
Photo by Al Remington

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