This week is National Wolf Awareness Week, according to the California Wolf Center. Check out the site, "Wolf Awareness Week Events Scheduled Throughout the United States." The week of October 14 through 20, 2013, marks the annual National Wolf Awareness Week, a time educate the public.
Also see, "National Wolf Awareness Week - Wildlife Science Center." It's time also to pet your plush toy wolf for comfort as well as to be aware of how wolves contribute to healthy ecosystems. Clear historical records from 1750 to 1850 indicate that wolves were once present in the Coastal Range from San Diego to Sacramento when Europeans first began exploring and settling these areas (Schmidt 1987, 1991).
From 1850-1900, wolves were seen in Shasta County and in the central Sierra Nevada (Schmidt 1987, 1991). These historical reports of wolves appear in divergent areas of the state; reports surfaced in different areas over time as Europeans shifted from coasts toward inland forests, mountains and plains.
According to California Wolf Recovery News, this state now is experiencing the beginning of the long-awaited homecoming of one of its native species, the gray wolf
Wolves have been absent from the state for nearly 90 years, after being eradicated in the early 20th century through an extermination campaign. After a 300+ mile trek across Oregon, with a few loping strides, wolf OR-7 crossed the border into California in December 2011, in a region of California that has excellent wolf habitat. Since he is the first confirmed wild wolf in California since 1924, it's an extraordinarily exciting moment in the natural history of this species and this state.
Wolves play a vital role in maintaining healthy ecosystems, and while OR-7 by himself won't fulfill that role, he inspires the hope that more wolves will eventually join him. Although wolves' return to any location may stir controversy, in part due to the myths and misinformation surrounding wolves, OR-7 brings with him the opportunity for Californians to learn about and appreciate a once-native species, and that's something to celebrate.
The wolf was known among many California tribes statewide, as demonstrated in language, artwork, ceremonial garb, and creation stories (Geddes-Osborne and Margolin 2001). For example, more than 80 distinct tribal languages were spoken in California when Europeans first arrived and most had clearly differentiated words for wolf, coyote, fox and dog. Some tribes revered the wolf as sacred, though representations of the wolf are diverse among California tribes. The same widespread extermination of wolves that happened in California also occurred across the rest of the United States during the early 20th century.
By the 1960s, the only gray wolves left in the lower 48 states were found in northern Minnesota and Isle Royale, Michigan
Just as the last wolves were disappearing from the landscape, however, early conservationists such as Aldo Leopold and Adolph Murie began sounding the call for conserving them, noting their important ecological role. The environmental movement of the 1960s and 1970s helped further increase public support for wolves, and in 1973 they received protections under the federal Endangered Species Act.
With the reintroduction of wolves into the northern Rockies in the mid-1990s, wolves began to make a comeback. As wolf recovery has progressed, scientists have learned more and more about the wolf's important role in restoring natural ecosystem dynamics (Berger et al. 2008; Beschta and Ripple 2010). You can learn more on the Wolves as Engineers of Biodiversity page.
You can have a direct impact on California wolf recovery by supporting our vital efforts.
Right now a fundraising goal is on to have $100,000 by December 31, 2013 to directly support California Wolf Recovery. This is a critical time for wolf recovery with the recent proposed loss of federal protection of gray wolves. In order for the California Wolf Center to continue is vital work towards ensuring the successful return and protection of wolves in California, you can help to meet that fundraising goal. The purpose of the fundraising effort is to restore this icon of wilderness to California. Learn more about what the California Wolf Center is doing for wolves in California. Please also consider donating to support this important work.
You can learn more from articles such as, "Man and Wolf," by Geddes-Osborne, A. and M. Margolin, Defenders Magazine 76(2): 36-41. 2001. Or see, " Recovering riparian plant communities with wolves in northern Yellowstone, U.S.A." Restoration Ecology, 18: 380-389, by Beschta, R.L. and W.J. Ripple. 2010. Or check out, "Historical records of wolves in California," by Schmidt, R.H. WOLF! 5(2): 31-35. 1987. You may wish to check out the site, "California Wolves - WolfWatcher.org | National WolfWatcher."
There's a fascinating article, "Indirect effects and traditional trophic cascades: A test involving wolves, coyotes, and pronghorn, by Berger, K.M., E.M. Gese, and J. Berger. 2008. It's published in the journal Ecology 89: 818-828. You also may want to take a look at, "Gray Wolves in California: their presence and absence, California Department of Fish and Game," 77(2):79-85. 1991, by Schmidt, R.H.. For more information about wolves and wildlife, explore the education pages and find excellent resources on the Links page. Or see, "Wolf Haven Comments on Gray Wolf In Pacific NW."
Speaking of health, it took a nuclear reactor accident to bring the animal, especially the thriving wolf population back to Chernobyl
Should the US take note of what happens to an area when that place is deserted by humans due to an accident? See the three-part video, Wolf Battlefield : What life is really like for the Wolf Pack in the wild. (Video).
What happens to nature after a nuclear accident? And how does wildlife deal with the world it inherits after human inhabitants have fled? People looking for healthier environments such as wildlife parks to explore, can take a lesson just by looking at how the animals reclaimed the city when the people left.
What happened is that back in 1986 the world witnessed a nuclear meltdown at the infamous Chernobyl power plant in present-day Ukraine. The accident left miles of land in radioactive ruins.
The first animals to take over were the bison herds and then the wolves....So that the land began to look as it did just after the end of the last ice age. Residents living in areas most contaminated by the disaster were evacuated and relocated by government order.
Today, there's a no-man’s land human making that is now left to its own devices. That land will be radioactive for thousands of years. But has it changed the animal life? Not in many measurable ways, so far, say scientists. The wolves are healthy, at least for now, and so are the other animals--eagles, bison, horses, beavers, various birds, moose, and other animals looking much as they did before humans plowed the land.
In the ensuing 25 years, forests, marshes, fields and rivers reclaimed the land, reversing the effects of hundreds of years of human development, according to the Radioactive Wolves blog page.
For the animals, this radiation-wracked exclusion zone, or “dead zone,” has become a kind of post-nuclear wolf Eden, populated by beaver and bison, horses and birds, fish and falcons – and ruled by wolves.
Looks like wolves are kings in that land, in spite of the cold winters between Belarus and the Ukraine. The Belarus side is where the no-radio zone lies and the Ukraine side is radioactive. The wolves cross back and forth between the rivers that separate the two nations.
Access to the radioactive zone is now permitted, at least on a limited basis. So scientists are monitoring the surviving wildlife in the area, trying to learn how the various species are coping with the invisible blight of radiation.
So what makes the wolves kings over the bison? They're the top predators in this new wilderness. According to scientists, wolves best reflect the condition of the entire ecosystem because if the wolves are doing well, the populations of their prey must also be doing well.
Scientists put collars on the wolves, monitor their travels, give physical exams to the newborn wolves, and monitor their health. Check out the key long-term study of the wolves. Scientists want to find out more about the wolves' health, range, and numbers.
In the PBS video, Radioactive Wolves discusses the state of wildlife populations in Chernobyl’s exclusion zone, an area that, to this day, remains too radioactive for human habitation. For those interest in health, it shows what happens when humans leave an area, the place becomes green with plant life, and the animals appear to thrive without intrusion from humans on their habitats.
You don't need a nuclear accident to restore living space for animals. There are parks, but space is tight. At least for the wolves, they seem to be getting back to their former glory as the area around Belarus and Ukraine formerly had one of the largest wolf populations in the world. Some villages still carry the name "howling wolf."
If you live near the wolf zones on the non-radioactive side, you may hear the howling all night. And since no humans are living on the radio-active side, the animals are free to make as much noise as they want. Apparently, there is no shortages of food, and the wolves have taken up residence in the houses formerly occupied by people. To their health, sometimes the wolves are toasted. Beaver plays a large part of the wolves' food sources.