Wolves aren't the only animals that get tossed salmon!

Young people contributing to salmon recovery

Young people contributing to salmon recovery

In the Pacific Northwest, there are 137 different species that use salmon, or the marine derived nutrients they bring with them (a special isotope of Nitrogen that is otherwise not available to terrestrial organisms), when they come upstream to spawn. Bears, eagles,

Salmon on riverbank

Salmon on riverbank feeds wildlife

freshwater invertebrates, the vegetation around a stream, and even salmon fry (the point in the salmon life cycle when it has lost its egg sack, but is not ready to migrate to the ocean), to name a few, feed on salmon carcasses or the nutrients they leave behind.  Wolves also feed upon salmon in coastal British Columbia and Alaska.  Wolves provide food for other scavengers by leaving salmon carcasses partially consumed. The first confirmed pack of wolves in Washington in over 70 years were related to these coastal wolves, and so given the opportunity, we would also have fisher-wolves in our state!

Chinook Salmon

Chinook Salmon

Salmon are anadramous, meaning they can live in saltwater and freshwater by changing their body chemistry, and most salmon are semalparous, meaning they only mate once and then they die. Because of this, salmon have a unique life cycle. Salmon are born in freshwater, where they imprint on the specific chemical smell of their stream, grow for a few months and migrate to saltwater to live for a couple of years, then migrate back to their stream when they are ready to reproduce.

Every year, the Nisqually Clear Creek Hatchery raises thousands of Chinook Salmon (also known as King Salmon, Oncorhynchus tshawytscha) fry to be released into the Nisqually, where they imprint on the river’s chemistry, and migrate out to sea. When they come back, as adults to spawn, fishermen can take the hatchery fish, and the rest get caught again by Nisqually Clear Creek Hatchery in nets that stretch across the whole river. The hatchery cuts these fish open to take the eggs and sperm, so they can raise the next year’s salmon.

Chinook salmon carcasses are a food source for several animals, including other salmon.

Chinook salmon carcasses are a food source for several animals, including other salmon.

Chinook are endangered in the wild, which means that people are not allowed to kill them. Fishermen and the hatchery can tell the difference between hatchery and wild fish by looking to see if the fish has its adipose fin. The adipose fin, a fleshy fin between the dorsal fin and the tail on the back of salmon, is cut off of Chinook fry in the hatchery, so the wild fish still have this fin. If a caught fish has an adipose fin, it must be put back in the river. The hatchery raises Chinook to be used by the tribe, fishermen, military families and other groups, and to take strain off of the wild population.

Anne gives her frozen salmon the heave-ho..

Anne gives her frozen salmon the heave-ho.

If all these fish are caught before they spawn and die, then the riparian ecosystems are missing out on an important source of nutrients. To solve this problem, the Nisqually Clear Creek Hatchery takes hundreds of salmon that are not fit for human consumption, freezes them to -11°F to kill any diseases, and saves them to be thrown back into rivers. (Unless salmon is frozen to this extreme temperature, it can cause illness in your dog!) The hatchery partners with schools to bring students on fish flinging field trips and they host one public volunteer fish throwing day each year.

Wolf Haven group

Wolf Haven group

On Saturday, December 14th, a crew from Wolf Haven joined forces with other volunteers to throw salmon.

Nano Perez of Nisqually Tribe restoration crew

Nano Perez of Nisqually Tribe restoration crew

We followed Nisqually Clear Creek’s Emiliano Perez (Nano) to different sites around Eatonville and the Nisqually River to throw the fish. When we got to each location, the fish were thrown out of huge containers on the back of the hatchery’s trucks.

Removing tail from frozen salmon

Removing tail from frozen salmon

Next, each fish had to have its tail cut off with bolt cutters, so that Fish and Wildlife scientists doing fish count surveys later in winter can tell the difference between the skeletal remains of wild Chinook and hatchery Chinook. Then the throwing began! We all aimed to get the fish into the water, but any fish that missed the mark were OK, because they could be more easily accessed by raccoons, bears, eagles, and other terrestrial animals who would love to eat a dead salmon. The weather was great, with the only cold part being the fish we were holding, and it didn’t even get that smelly until the fish began to thaw throughout the morning.

If you live in the Olympia area, and want to see Chinook salmon yourself, in mid-August, a different run of Chinook salmon start to line up at the 5th Avenue bridge in downtown Olympia, to be let past the dam, into Capitol Lake and up the Deschutes River. By mid-September, the fish are going up the fish ladder at Tumwater Falls Park and into Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife’s holding tanks, which can be seen by the public at the park. Once a week, Fish and Wildlife will come to the park to cut open Chinook and gather sperm and eggs. In the spring you can come to Tumwater Falls Park to watch the Chinook fry be released back into the Deschutes.

Anne Schuster,
Center for Natural Lands Management AmeriCorps, Wolf Haven Outreach and Restoration Technician

Thanksgiving at Wolf Haven

An annual feast for wolves

Kim Young, Director of Communications (portions of this article were originally posted in the Winter 2012/2013 issue Wolf Tracks magazine; it has been updated to reflect this year’s feast also)

Lakota managed to eat the entire turkey (and fixin's) in six minutes.

Lakota managed to eat his entire turkey (and the fixin’s) in six minutes.

In keeping with tradition, Wolf Haven animal care staff carefully prepared a Thanksgiving turkey for our wolves. The raw birds were stuffed with the usual accoutrements: cranberry sauce, mashed potatoes and gravy, dressing, yams and a lone Brussels sprout.

Stuffed turkey

Stuffed turkey

Turkey assembly line

A row of buckets was lined up, each filled with one of the above-mentioned treats. Armed with ladles, staff members carefully poured a dollop from each bucket into the cavity of the turkey. Soon, the back of the flatbed truck was bulging with stuffed turkeys.

Rocco starts with the filling

Rocco starts with the filling

For a few wolves, this was their first Thanksgiving at Wolf Haven International. It is safe to assume that Samantha, Talulah and our newest resident, Lakota, never experienced a feast like this before. Each wolf approached the meal differently: Shiloh ate every bit of food – except the Brussels sprout. Siri carefully urinated all over her turkey (marinating it?) before eating. London raced to the back of his enclosure with turkey dangling from his mouth – but since he was holding it upside down, all of the goodies fell out during the trip. He left a trail of dressing, yams, cranberry sauce, etc. which his mate Kiawatha tried to scarf up as quickly as possible. Lakota is very food motivated, and he scarfed the entire turkey down in six minutes (you can see the video on YouTube) while his enclosure mate Sequra attempted to cache (bury) her turkey while he was distracted.

Ladyhawk appears refined even when eating a raw turkey.

Ladyhawk appears refined even when eating a raw turkey.

It’s hard to say who enjoys this annual tradition more – Animal Care staff or the wolves – but this special meal is one of the many ways that Wolf Haven celebrates the 41 wolves, seven wolfdogs and two coyotes who reside here. As an organization, we give thanks for having the opportunity and space to care for our residents and the Wolf Haven supporters whose generosity makes it all possible.

Everyone enjoys the holidays at Wolf Haven International!

Kim

Scarecrows – a nonlethal deterrent

Scarecrow that is lightweight, easy to move, and flaps in the wind.

Scarecrow that is lightweight, easy to move, and flaps in the wind.

How is a Scarecrow like Fladry?

Fladry - flapping pieces of bright fabric that can deter a wolf from crossing the line.

Fladry – flapping pieces of bright fabric can deter a wolf from crossing the line.

Much like fladry is recommended in some instances as a nonlethal management tool to prevent predators from attacking livestock, scarecrows serve a similar purpose – to prevent corvids from “predating” on prairie plant plugs.

For the past few years, the Center for Natural Lands Management (CNLM) has planted thousands of “plugs” – small seedlings grown in a tray of plants – on Wolf Haven’s prairie. For the past few years, however, almost none of the plant plugs have been able to establish themselves in the rich prairie soil. A few weeks after each planting, CNLM and Wolf Haven staff discover that most of the plugs have been pulled out of the cold ground. It seems that Wolf Haven’s resident ravens and crows go to work every fall, pulling out the plugs and scattering them across the planting sites. The corvids do not eat the plants; rather, they pull them out for fun, or out of curiosity.

Crows & ravens abound at Wolf Haven; photo c/o Rod Gilbert

Crows & ravens abound at Wolf Haven; photo c/o Rod Gilbert

Ravens and crows are extremely intelligent and curious creatures, and are notoriously difficult to completely scare away from a site. Wolf Haven is a sanctuary, and the CNLM is far from heartless, so non-lethal corvid deterrents are a must. Loud bird cannons would likely work to keep the birds at bay, but would also disturb Wolf Haven’s wolves. Such a large area of bird netting or a “Whacky Waving Inflatable Arm Flailing Tube Man” are both too expensive and unwieldy to be placed on the prairie.

Violet plugs ready for prairie planting

Violet plugs ready for the prairie

The purpose of the plant plugs is to create larval food and nectar sources for a future release of the rare Taylor’s Checkerspot Butterfly. Taylor’s Checkerspots are a newly listed endangered species, which have been in fast decline due to the degradation and fragmentation of its native prairie habitats.

In order to help create Taylor’s Checkerspot habitat on Wolf Haven prairie, it is critical this year to have

The rarely seen Checkerspot butterfly - photo c/o Rod Gilbert

The rarely seen Checkerspot butterfly – photo c/o Rod Gilbert

a successful planting. In September, the three planting areas, totaling about 2.5 acres, had been prepped with a controlled burn in July (to force the native plants into dormancy) and an herbicide treatment (to kill off any surviving invasives). On November 5th, CNLM volunteers teamed up with a few Wolf Haven volunteers and a crew from the Department of Corrections to plant over 12,600 plugs and build scarecrows. In addition to seven scarecrows, six Mylar party balloons were attached to branches and logs on the prairie, and many cassette tape reels, Mylar bird tape, and bright fabric flags were tied throughout the planting areas.

Boo!

Boo!

In order to keep the plugs safe, CNLM’s AmeriCorps member for Wolf Haven, Anne Schuster, moves the scarecrows and balloons every other day, pushing disturbed plugs back in the ground, and putting up more flags and reflective bird tape around the planting sites. Rather than being stuffed with leaves, the

Are you scared now?

Are you scared now?

scarecrows have clothes loosely hung on them, to create more movement in the wind. The bird tape and flags might scare off small birds, but will hopefully act more as a distraction for the ravens, who might prefer to pull at some shiny material than at plants in the ground.

Pretty scarey in pink

Pretty scarey in pink

As of one week after the planting, the scarecrows seem to be doing their job. Only three plugs have been disturbed and pushed halfway out of their holes. The three disturbed plugs are in a row, plus there is a tunnel beneath them and fresh mole hills nearby – so the culprit in this case is probably not a corvid, but a mole.

Anne Schuster,

Center for Natural Lands Management AmeriCorps, Wolf Haven Outreach and Restoration Technician

The Journey of the Chum Salmon: From wild fish to action double …to wolf treat

Mmm, fresh salmon!

Mmm, fresh salmon!

No, the wolves don't get this scary looking monkfish, but we had to take a picture!

No, the wolves don’t get this scary looking monkfish, but we had to take a picture!

The kind of salmon that is donated to us from Pike Place Fish Market has quite an interesting history behind it. We would like to dedicate this space to explore what it takes for the salmon to end up as part of our resident wolves’ diet.

The first –and most awesome- fact is the species’ biology itself. “Chum” or “keta” salmon (Oncorhynchus keta) is a species of anadromous fish, which means they migrate hundreds of kilometers upriver from the sea into fresh water to spawn. The journey of keta salmon begins when an average of 4,000 eggs, which are layed in a gravel bed in the upper reaches of a stream, hatch. Young salmon spend the first years in the river where they were born until they reach the age of three and then undergo a series of physiological changes that will allow them to survive the big shift from fresh to saltwater: their body chemistry has to adjust in order to cope with the higher salt levels they will encounter in the Pacific Ocean. At the ocean, they spend between two and three years.

The salmon that will eventually come to Wolf Haven face the end of their lives at this point: they get fished in the Pacific coasts anywhere from Alaska to California. But the ones that escape the fishermen have an amazing mission ahead. They will swim the ocean until they are sexually mature and then start traveling all the way back to spawn at the exact same place they were born. Scientific studies show it’s due to olfactory memory that they are able to find the precise location where they started their life (it’s like when a particular smell reminds us of the house we lived in when we were little …though a little more sophisticated). Once they find it, the female lays the eggs and the male sprays his sperm before she covers them with gravel. Mother and father protect the nest for some days, but soon their bodies start to deteriorate. Their metabolism –now adapted to saltwater- is not longer capable of thriving in the river’s environment, and they die.

Pam poses with salmon and Pike Place Market fishmonger.

Pam poses with salmon and Chris Bell, Pike Place Market fishmonger.

Some of the ones that get caught in the ocean go to Pike Place Fish Co., the iconic seafood vendor at Pike Place Market, in Seattle, Washington. Pike Place Fish Co. started back in 1965, when John Yokoyama purchased the little fish stand he worked at. He transformed a small, unnoticeable and almost broke fish business into THE seafood dealer. To stop at Pike Place Fish is a most do for every visitor at the Market, mainly due to the famous “Flying fish presentations” A crew of fishmongers throw the fish that is being sold in the air, while yelling funny things and having a good time with the costumers.

Proud fishmonger at Pike Place Fish Co. at Seattle's famous Pike Place Market gives Wolf Haven a thumbs up!

Proud fishmonger at Pike Place Fish Co. at Seattle’s famous Pike Place Market gives Wolf Haven a thumbs up!

“Flying fish” sounds like fun, but when it comes to expensive salmon, action scenes seem too risky… for the business.“Wild king salmon is worth so much money that we needed a cheaper and smaller salmon for stunt fish” shares Anders Miller, long time staff at Pike Place Fish Co. “People come here to buy good salmon and want to see the whole show, but we cannot risk damaging the nice stuff.” So this is where our friend, the chum salmon, re-enters the scene: it is big and good looking enough to be used as body-cover for the Wild King Salmon. (So if you thought stunt doubles were used only in movies and only for famous humans, you were wrong: fancy fish have doubles too!)

Between two to five chum salmons are used everyday. They get thrown in the air several times and get photographed by hundreds of people -pictures that will travel the world. As these fish cannot be sold they are donated to wildlife facilities, such as Wolf Haven International. “We feel very happy to know that all this fish is used for feeding rescued animals, instead of being tossed away,” states Anders.

Driver at Rainier Cold Storage carefully navigates a pallet full of frozen salmon over to the waiting Wolf Haven vehicle.

Driver at Rainier Cold Storage carefully navigates a pallet full of frozen salmon over to the waiting Wolf Haven vehicle.

Here is the tubful of frozen salmon in the back of Pam's car.

Here is the tubful of frozen salmon in the back of Pam’s car.

When the chum salmon conclude their stunt “flying” run, they are shipped to Rainier Cold Storage Inc., a warehouse located in south Seattle, where they are deeply frozen for several days. The extreme low temperatures (-5 Fahrenheit) kill any microorganisms that could represent a risk for the wolves, like Neorickettsia helminthoeca, the bacteria responsible for producing the famous “salmon poisoning disease” (a fatal gastrointestinal infection).

Once a good amount of fish has accumulated, they cSaturn full of 50 frozen salmonontact us to have it picked up. We drive up there with any vehicle we have available (we once squeezed 43 frozen whole salmon into our beloved Saturn’s trunk!) and bring them back to the wolves. You can imagine that the trip back to Wolf Haven is quite a stinky one, though totally worth it. The wolves seem to really enjoy the 7 pounds (avg.) of high quality protein, fat and minerals.

Whether they roll on it, pee on it, eat it, or all of the above, salmon is always a big success!

Spruce enjoys a fine salmon filet.

Spruce enjoys a fine salmon filet.

We sincerely thank our friends from Pike Place Fish Co. for their kind donation, and Rainier Cold Storage Inc. for making it safe for the wolves.

Pamela Maciel
Animal Care, Wolf Haven

Samantha on the alert

Samantha is a jumper!!
by Membership Coordinator Heather Hilf

Samantha on the alert

Samantha on the alert

One of our wonderful volunteers, Becky made us another delicious treat; this time it was pumpkin pie cake.  I was walking along the service road on my way to the gift shop, cake in hand for our Gift Shop manager, Sherry.  As I rounded the corner near Bart and Samantha’s enclosure,  I could see Bart watching me from the hilltop. Bart often watches staff and visitors that walk by but today I didn’t see Sam, one of our newer rescues.

Suddenly out of the brush inside her enclosure, I saw a bouncing, curious wolf.  Samantha jumped up and down, over and over.  Knowing how food motivated Samantha is and knowing what a keen sense of smell wolves have, I laughed out loud.  It was as if Sam was trying to convince me that she deserved that pumpkin treat for herself. Over and over, I saw this panting, excited head popping into view.  Man oh man, did she seem to want that cake!!

Samantha stretches

Samantha stretches

We’ve seen Sam jump up & down on other occasions too, though. She seems curious about any activity going on around her. If you want to “ADOPT” Samantha, you can check out her mini-biography here. With a basic adoption, you’ll get a beautiful 4×6 color photo of her, a full biography, and an adoption certificate. And like Sam, you too will be jumping for joy.

Pacific Wolf Coalition Press Release – Hold More Public Hearings!

pacwolf-letter-for-addl-hearings-sept26_page_1California Chapter, Sierra Club – California Wilderness Coalition – California Wolf Center – Cascadia Wildlands – Center for Biological Diversity – Conservation Northwest – Defenders of Wildlife – Earthjustice – Endangered Species Coalition – Environmental Protection Information Center – Gifford Pinchot Task Force -Greenfire Productions – Hells Canyon Preservation Council – Humane Society of the U.S. – Klamath-Siskiyou Wildlands Center – Living with Wolves – Northeast Oregon Ecosystems – National Parks Conservation Association – Natural Resources Defense Council – Northeast Oregon Ecosystems – Oregon Chapter, Sierra Club – Oregon Wild – Predator Defense – Project Coyote – Resource Media – The Larch Company – The Sierra Club – The Wilderness Society – Training Resources for the Environmental Community – Western Environmental Law Center – Western Watersheds Project – Western Wildlife Outreach  – Wolf Haven International

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
September 26, 2013

CONTACT:
Amaroq Weiss, Center for Biological Diversity, 707-779-9613
Josh Laughlin, Cascadia Wildlands, 541-844-8182
Joseph Vaile, Klamath-Siskiyou Wildlands Center, 541-488-5789
Lauren Richie, California Wolf Center, 443-797-2280
Pamela Flick, Defenders of Wildlife, 916-203-6927
Rob Klavins, Oregon Wild, 503-551-1717

Conservation Groups Call on U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Align to Hold Additional Public Hearings on Gray Wolf Delisting

Pacific Wolf Coalition members seek hearings in Washington, Oregon and California

SEATTLE, Wash.— The Pacific Wolf Coalition today called on the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to hold multiple public hearings in the three West Coast states on the agency’s proposal to remove gray wolves (Canis lupus) from the endangered species list. Combined, the coalition represents more than 1 million members and supporters in Washington, Oregon and California. The coalition’s appeal comes in response to Fish and Wildlife Service’s announcement earlier this month that it would hold only three public hearings nationwide, including just one in the West Coast (in Sacramento, Oct. 2).

“It is unthinkable that the Obama administration is proposing to strip critical protections for gray wolves in places where wolves don’t currently exist,” said Josh Laughlin, campaign director with Cascadia Wildlands. “It is even more inconceivable that the administration wants to do this without an adequate public process. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service must stop and listen to people who live in states where wolves are just starting to recover after being exterminated from the landscape.”

Currently, the Fish and Wildlife Service is scheduled to host hearings only in Sacramento, Calif., Albuquerque, N.M., and Washington, D.C. Wolf recovery in the states of Washington and Oregon is in its infancy, and California had its first wolf in nearly 90 years confirmed a little more than a year ago. Wolf recovery in all three of these states would be severely stifled if federal protections are stripped. The Pacific Wolf Coalition is requesting that the agency provide West Coast residents adequate opportunity to be heard on this subject by holding additional hearings in Portland and Ashland, Ore.; Seattle, Wash.; and Los Angeles, Calif.

According to peer-reviewed research, the three West Coast states contain more than 145,000 square miles of unoccupied, prime habitat for wolves. During the past decade, wolves have been naturally dispersing into the Pacific West from populations in the northern Rockies and British Columbia. Federal protections for wolves have already been removed in the eastern third of Oregon and Washington because the area is part of the Northern Rockies “distinct population segment,” which was delisted in 2011 by Congressional action. The federal government’s current proposal would strip federal protections from the rest of those states and from all of California, removing critical safeguards for recovery of wolves across the entire region.

“Beyond their role as a living symbol of our natural landscape, the wolf is a keystone species. Wolves are critical to maintaining the structure and integrity of native ecosystems,” said Pamela Flick, California representative with Defenders of Wildlife. “Federal protections for wolves are essential to help this species recover and expand into still-suitable parts of its former range, just as the bald eagle was allowed to do before having its federal protections removed.”

Recent regional polling conducted by Tulchin Research shows that more than two of three survey respondents in the West Coast states support wolf recovery. In fact, more than two-thirds of respondents in each state:

  • Agree that wolves are a vital part of the America’s wilderness and natural heritage and should be protected in their state (Oregon – 68 percent; Washington – 75 percent; California – 83 percent);
  • Agree that wolves play an important role in maintaining deer and elk populations, bringing a healthier balance to ecosystems (Oregon – 69 percent; Washington – 74 percent; California – 73 percent);
  • Support restoring wolves to suitable habitat in their states (Oregon – 66 percent; Washington – 71 percent; California – 69 percent);
  • And, agree that wolves should continue to be protected under the Endangered Species Act until they are fully recovered (Oregon – 63 percent; Washington – 72 percent; California – 80 percent).

“The science overwhelmingly says that for wolves to fully recover, we need more wolves in more places, and the public overwhelmingly says we need more wolves and less politics,” said Amaroq Weiss, West Coast wolf organizer at the Center for Biological Diversity. “So what does Fish and Wildlife do? It ignores the science and restricts the public’s opportunity to comment. Wolves deserve better, and so does the American public.”

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The Pacific Wolf Coalition represents 34 wildlife conservation, education and protection organizations (including Wolf Haven International) in California, Oregon and Washington committed to recovering wolves across the region.