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Entries in Wolves (3)

Wednesday
Oct192011

Wild Animals Loose in Ohio: Town Under Lockdown

Fred Polks, Jr.UPDATE: The only animal believed to still be at large is a monkey, Zanesville police said Wednesday.

(ZANESVILLE, Ohio) --  A grizzly bear, mountain lion and a monkey are still on the loose in Ohio after authorities hunted down as many as 51 ferocious animals that were set free by the owner of an animal preserve before he killed himself.

Muskingum County Sheriff Matt Lutz told reporters he can't be 100 percent sure that those three animals are the only ones unaccounted for.

Lutz and ABC News' wildlife expert Jack Hanna, who will take the living animals at the preserve to the Columbus Zoo, urged the public to remain cautious.

"If you see these animals you do not run," said Hanna, who added he is most concerned about the mountain lion, since those animals have "great leaping ability."

The sheriff said that when his men arrived at the animal preserve in Zanesville, they found bears, lions, Bengal tigers, black bears, and leopards roaming the area. Since it was about to get dark, he feared the animals would escape into the night.

He said his deputies had to kill animals at close range with their sidearms. One animal that got away was hit by a car on a highway some distance away, he said.

The animals' cages were opened up by Terry Thompson, who owned an animal preserve in Zanesville. Thompson killed himself after freeing his menagerie, Lutz said.

Hanna and his vets visited the farm Wednesday, calling conditions deplorable.

The man who is believed to have set the animals free, Thompson, 61, was recently released from prison after serving one year on federal weapons charges. According to investigators he has been cited in the past for animal abuse and neglect.

Lutz said at a news conference that residents should stay inside until the animals, which escaped around 6 p.m. Tuesday, are rounded up. Several schools across the area have cancelled classes for Wednesday.

Police, who have been ordered to shoot to kill, describe the loose animals as "mature, very big and aggressive."

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Saturday
Apr162011

Feds Delist the Gray Wolf

Paul Ooman / Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Congress has removed gray wolves from the protection of the Endangered Species Act after a rider attached to the federal budget signed by President Obama on Friday called for their removal from the list in five Western states.

Supporters of the provision say the government needed to intervene and control a rapidly growing gray wolf population that currently stands at around 1,650.

Opponents of the plan say the move could create a precedent for politicians making decisions on topics that have traditionally required the expertise of biologists.

According to the bill, wolves will be removed from the list in Utah, Oregon, Idaho, Montana and Washington.

This is the first time Congress has directly removed an animal from the Endangered Species Act.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Monday
Apr112011

Idaho Prepares for 'Wolf Disaster'

AbleStock.com/Thinkstock(BOISE, Idaho) -- The governor of Idaho is considering whether to declare a "wolf disaster," as lawyers in federal courts wrangle over the future of the state's wolves.

The Idaho legislature approved a bill last week that would give Gov. C.L. "Butch" Otter the power to declare a state of emergency because of the rising wolf population.  Otter has said he supports the bill, but his staff is reviewing legal issues before he signs it and invokes the power it gives him to enlist local law enforcement to cull the state's wolf packs.

Idaho, like neighboring Montana and Wyoming, has been battling the federal government and environmental groups since 1995, when wolves were reintroduced to the northern Rocky Mountains.

Ranchers and hunters blame wolves not only for attacks on livestock, but for declining populations of elk and other wildlife.

However, the bill awaiting Otter's signature also refers to a "clear and present danger to humans" created by the "imported wolves."

Karen Calisterio, who spoke in support of the bill at a public hearing at the statehouse in Boise last week, said four wolves recently trapped her in the driveway of her Benewah County home.

"I cannot convey to you the horror of that event," she said.  "The government's wolves have free rein of my property and I do not.  Until something is done about these wolves, I'm a prisoner in my own home," she said.

No human has been injured by a wolf since the animals were reintroduced to the Rockies 16 years ago, and wolf biologists say there has never been a documented attack on a human by a healthy wolf in North America.

"Wolves are less dangerous than most wildlife we've lived with for generations," Suzanne Stone of Defenders of Wildlife told lawmakers.

When the wolves were reintroduced by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, they were listed as endangered species, but in 2009 that protection was lifted in Idaho and Montana -- though not in Wyoming -- giving those states the right to develop a management plan for the animals.

State management has never happened, though, because of the ongoing legal battle over interpretation of the Endangered Species Act.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio







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