Wednesday, April 3, 2024

New Bill Introduced to Protect Wolves in New York

gray wolf was one of the top 10 stories from 2022Senator Hoylman-Sigal and Assembly Member Carroll introduced legislation to require DEC to collect and analyze data about large canids in New York

New legislation (S.7927A/A.08295A), sponsored by Senator Brad Hoylman-Sigal and Assembly Member Robert Carroll, will direct the NYS Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) to collect data about canids that have specified characteristics that are killed by hunters and trappers in New York. The data collected will help DEC to identify areas of the state where wolves, a protected endangered species, may be present and will direct DEC to collect important genetic information on coyote and wolf populations in the state. The legislation does not reduce the hunting season or decrease bag limits for hunters and trappers lawfully killing coyotes or other game animals in New York State.

Senator Hoylman-Sigal said: “Wolves are protected as an endangered species under both New York State and Federal law. Despite that, hunters and trappers too often mistake wolves for coyotes, due to their similar appearance, and kill them anyway. In order to ensure these precious creatures do not go extinct, we need to strengthen the protections for wolves under New York State law. We can do that by passing our bill (S.7927A) to require the NYS Department of Environmental Conservation to collect genetic data about large canids killed by hunters and trappers in New York. The data collected will help the Department of Environmental Conservation identify areas of the state where wolves may be present and keep the department, and the public, informed about where more precautions and restrictions are needed to protect these endangered animals.”
“By putting in place measures to identify and account for wolves in New York State this bill, if enacted, will be essential in protecting this endangered species as well as fostering biodiversity and a healthy eco-system,” said Assemblymember Robert Carroll.
The legislation requires hunters and trappers to report to DEC coyotes killed, as required for numerous other species, to collect key information on the characteristics of animals killed, number of animals killed, and location data. Canids that weigh greater than 50 pounds will be subjected to DNA analysis by DEC to determine the genetic ancestry of the animal. If DNA analysis shows that the animal is a wolf, DEC may impose a temporary moratorium on the killing of wild canids in a specific area in order to protect any federally and state protected wolves in the area. DEC will have the discretion to determine the length of time and the location of the moratorium.
DEC will also be required to provide information on wild canids to the public including any DNA test results of wild canids. DEC will also be required to update its hunting and trapping educational materials to provide hunters and trappers with information on the legal status for wolves, and how to distinguish a wolf from a coyote in the field. DEC will also be required to submit a report on the status of wolves in New York State.
Wolves historically inhabited much of the lower 48 United States, but by the early 1900s were extirpated throughout most of their range, including in New York State, due to intentional eradication campaigns. Wolves are ecologically essential for healthy functioning ecosystems, can disperse hundreds of miles, and reestablish territories if sufficient legal protections are in place to allow them safe passage. Over the past few decades, wolves have periodically migrated into New York and neighboring northeastern states from Canada and the Great Lakes. However, due to the similarity in appearance between wolves and large eastern coyotes, these animals have been and will continue to be killed by hunters and trappers in New York. Since wolves are protected as endangered species according to both federal and New York State law, there is a need for specific on-the-ground actions to prevent future killings due to mistaken species identity.
“This legislation will provide improved protections to wolves in New York State and it will develop sound scientific information for the DEC, the public and the Legislature to guide policy and management into the future. This is common-sense legislation to gather important genetic data on wild canids in the State, and to afford wolves a stronger chance to survive and re-establish themselves in their former home territory within New York State,” said Claudia Braymer, Deputy Director, of Protect the Adirondacks.
“As apex predators, wolves help create balance in their ecosystems by eating old, sick, and weak prey. They help keep deer, moose, beaver, and other populations in check, subsequently affecting vegetation growth and diversity. For this reason, they are an important component in establishing and maintaining a biologically diverse ecosystem. Wolves are naturally returning to the Northeast, representing the beginning of a necessary healing of the ecosystem. Legislation aimed at establishing measures to account for wolves in the state, as well as expanding hunter education on canid identification, will be imperative in ensuring that wolves are protected as they return to the region,” said Elizabeth Ahearn, Conservation Associate, Sierra Club Atlantic Chapter.
“Wolves returning to New York could usher in the next great rewilding success story, but not if dispersing wolves are misidentified as coyotes and killed once they set foot within the state,” said Renee Seacor, Project Coyote’s Carnivore Conservation Director. “This bill provides a common sense approach to wolf recovery, by facilitating crucial genetic research to better understand New York’s wild canids, and laying the groundwork for sound science-based management.”
“DEC recognizes all the issues that this bill addresses: that wolves have migrated to New York, are protected under federal and state law, and have mixed genetically with coyotes. The steps that the agency and hunters would need to take are no different than with other wildlife species that require sound management—while also giving wolves a fighting chance for recovery in New York and across the Northeast,” said Nadia Steinzor, Northeast Carnivore Advocate, the Rewilding Institute.
“All canids, including wolves and coyotes, are valued members of healthy ecosystems. Every documented case of wolves in the Northeast since their extirpation is most likely only a fraction of the wolves actually present. By requiring the DNA testing of canids in New York, we’re laying a foundation to better understand and protect the wildlife that call our state home,” said Regan Downey, Director of Education, Wolf Conservation Center.
“This legislation strategically advances New York’s understanding and conservation of its wildlife, in particular its wild canids. The bill helps the NYS Department of Environmental Conservation carry out DEC’s stated goals of distinguishing coyotes from wolves and of advising conservationists and hunters of these distinguishing characteristics. It also materially assists NYS DEC in its legislated mandate to conserve all wild canids and to protect endangered species including wolves,” said Dave Gibson, managing partner, Adirondack Wild: Friends of the Forest Preserve.
“Wolves are already returning to New York and this bill will help ensure their homecoming is that much safer,” said Tala DiBenedetto, a staff attorney at the Center for Biological Diversity. “Protecting wolves by enacting this practical measure is a crucial step for New York but also an excellent model for other states in the Northeast. Wolves once ranged across the entire region and there’s still plenty of good habitat for them to reestablish here.”
Photo at top: Gray Wolf. Wikimedia Commons photo.

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54 Responses

  1. Diane Bentivegna says:

    The NYS Legislature and the New York State Dept. of Conservation need to join the 21st century. All canids play an important role in maintaining balanced eco-systems. You can’t be pro-wolf and anti-coyote. Call me when informed science guides decision-making.

    • Zachary Denton says:

      I agree that the NYS DEC is far behind on this topic, they usually are. But I would agree it’s hard to be pro coyote and pro wolf. Coyote prevalence is high because they filled the void when wolves left the landscape. Now that’s rhetorical, you can be pro both species of course. But, it will be interesting to see the population dynamics of each with wolves back. They tend to cohabitate well in the west, but coyote populations will drop dramatically. I worry about the fox populations though..

      • There are no coyotes in the entire northeast. All large canids are either coyote/wolf hybrids or wolves. Coyote/wolf hybrids did not fill the void left when wolves were exterminated. Are you aware of Great Lakes gray wolves? Do you know what type(s) of wolf occupied New York? The larger gray wolf would have fed largely on moose, caribou, deer and beaver. The smaller Eastern wolf is more of an omnivore and rarely takes down moose. Coyote/wolf hybrids and Eastern wolves readily mate when Eastern wolves are scarce. Documented Eastern wolf packs are within sixty miles of New York in Quebec. Google National Gray Wolf Recovery Plan.

    • Fisherking says:

      Are you implying that the Adirondacks is a balanced ecosystem? I suggest you ask the brook trout how that’s working out.
      Thanks for your input.

  2. Zachary Denton says:

    I personally believe wolves have a place on the landscape. But this article is misleading for three reasons.

    1) Wolves aren’t endangered according to many biologists in many states, but are added onto and then off again, of the federal ES list due to political reasons every election cycle. Claiming we need this legislation to avoid extinction is misleading. In fact, if wolves are coming back on their own, mixing DNA with coyotes, it would actually suggest they are thriving not dying off.

    2) I think the article is biased in highlighting that hunters are killing wolves on purpose. Up until the last few years, DEC claimed no resident population of wolves in NY. So the accidental killing of any coyotes with wolf DNA is entirely forgivable. Hunters are not out there just killing wolves on purpose, and in fact, only 1 known instance of an accidental killing has occurred in the last 50 years that I am aware of. And that “wolf” was mostly coyote. DEC also covered it up..

    Lastly, wolves will devastate wildlife in the Adirondacks if fully repopulated in a human manipulated manner. Any reintroduction should be done naturally. The Adirondack forest, much to the dismay of the forever wild types, are actually ecologically unhealthy, lacking biodiversity and new growth. Many deer and moose populations are quite low in forested wilderness due to lack of managament, and subsequent poor forest age and health. Wolves would devastate these already lower populations, and put pressure on Red and Gray Fox, species already struggling due to wild coyote prevelance. Do you want Moose, or Wolves? Both would be difficult to achieve.

    I agree DEC should study wolves, but let’s do it for the right reasons. We should also consider, if permanent protection is really the right thing ecologically, without some type of predator management plan to accompany it? We should probably prescribe fire and selectively log non -wilderness state land to boost moose and deer if wolves are actually coming back as well.

  3. William says:

    Is the real goal of this bill to stop coyote hunting and trapping under the guise of protecting wolves?

  4. Joan Grabe says:

    Oh,dear God ! Not this again ! Wolf/Coyote, Coyote/Wolf, Wolf/ Wolf ………… I thought we beat this subject to death the last time. But now we can be assured that the DEC will get money from the state and those 2 folks will go back to their constituents and tell them that they have gotten something through the hard work of their elected representatives. Thank you !.

    • JohnL says:

      The only subject MH could bring back that would equal the controversy of this subject is the ‘Rails to Trails’ subject. Stay tuned. That will be next.

    • You haven’t seen anything yet. Wolves are back in the northeast. The issue is far more complex than you can even imagine. Google Maine Wolf Coalition on Facebook.

  5. David Pietkiewicz says:

    I couldn’t agree with Zachary Denton more. And, I don’t foresee any large migration of wolves entering New York any time soon. As Zachary accurately stated, the wolf that was the subject of the big cover-up was actually mostly coyote genetically. By the way, inter-breeding between the two species is exactly how the current variety of eastern coyote came about.

    If wolves do re-populate naturally, so be it, but if they do, we better keep a very close eye on the Moose and Deer populations. “Forever Wild” Habitat is not very sustainable habitat indeed.

    As I see it, wolves may continue their slow migration but will most-likely inter-breed with coyotes as they do rather than maintain a true strain wolf. Lastly, I don’t believe there should be any man-made reintroduction of pure-strain wolves into New York State..

    • It is amazing how wrong information can be passed from person to person. I guess people believe what they want to believe. We know of three documented and verified wolves killed in New York by people with guns. These animals were killed in 2001 in Day, New York, in 2005 in Sterling, New York and in 2021 in Cherry Valley, New York. NYSDEC has a lengthy history of lying to and misleading the public about New York’s dead wolves. We reported the 2001 wolf to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service several years after NYSDEC failed to do it.
      We had DNA of the 2021 wolf fully analyzed announced the results before NYSDEC announced their partial results in which they claimed the animal was a coyote. It was very definitely a wolf. Hopefully, NYSDEC’s actions and attitudes are now changing as the agency comes to realize that their days of stonewalling and burying their heads in the sand are over. FYI wolves live only sixty miles north of the NY border in Quebec and they can travel over 1,000 miles during dispersal. Look up Maine Wolf Coalition on Facebook.

      • David Pietkiewicz says:

        Hi John:

        I would sincerely appreciate it if you could provide me with the sources/proofs for what you wrote here about the additional NY Wolf incidents. I am very much aware of the Eastern Timber Wolves that populate both Ontario and Quebec but not of the NY incidents that you mentioned. You can send them to Thanks in advance.

  6. Alan West says:

    It is interesting to note that the introducers of this bill are from Manhattan and Brooklyn who have little to no knowledge of wolves in New York, but choose to make it a political issue.
    The determination of whether or not wolves are present or not should be left up to our professional DEC wildlife biologists, not some New York City politicians. This bill is nothing but a back door approach to possibly limit hunting and trapping in NY.
    As an Adirondack trapper for close to sixty years, but not a biologist, I can honestly
    state that a wolf population does not exist,not to say a stray animal might show up from time to time.
    I have trapped all over the eastern and central Adirondacks and have never seen a wolf, wolf tracks or scat, or a wolf kill. At all of the fur sales that I attended I have never seen a wolf.Eastern coyotes, however are quite numerous with thousands harvested annually. It is impractical to expect hunters and Trappers to weigh every
    animal they take and I for one refuse to do it.
    While some species are required to be pelt sealed and that requirement could be extended to coyotes, how could the submission for DNA tests be enforced?
    The truth is that the the eastern coyote is already the apex predator in NY.
    I am sure that DEC will oppose this bill and rightfully so, and these legislators would better spend their time elsewhere than trying to appease these off the wall environmentalists.

    This bill even suggests closing an area should a positive DNA animal be found.

    • Ethan says:

      Apparently, Dana, even more so. Nothing more than the usual, predictable fear-mongering. Let’s hope the general public doesn’t buy into it.
      Deer are not in short supply either in NY or most other states.

      • Zachary Denton says:

        Have you looked at population densities in the adirondacks? They are upwards of 10x lower than most of the state. And that’s where wolves would populate. We’re not talking about long Island here.

    • Ethan says:

      “ It is impractical to expect hunters and Trappers to weigh every
      animal they take and I for one refuse to do it.”

      Why “impractical”?

    • Wolves are protected by federal law and they have been killed in New York, Massachusetts, Vermont, Maine, New Brunswick and Quebec south of the St. Lawrence River. NYSDEC has neglected its responsibility and abused its authority for decades as far as wolves are concerned. The only way for you to know whether or not you have seen or killed a wolf is by having its DNA analyzed. The federal government and the northeast states have buried their collective heads in the sand for decades. It’s way past time to pull them out.

  7. Paul says:

    Out in Colorado where they are reintroducing wolves now they recently took several wolves that were captured in Oregon and released them in CO. These were wolves that were specifically killing livestock. That’s why Oregon got rid of them. So Colorado was releasing wolves that have learned that livestock is an easy target for them. I am sure the ranchers appreciate this mess..

    • Zachary Denton says:

      Agreed. The reintroduction was advised against by all of the biologists. So their animal rights activist governor put it to a voter referendum. All politics no Science. Science shouldn’t be a ballot box issue.

      Two hard winters, plus wolves. Say goodbye to deer, elk and moose.

      • Dana says:

        “Two hard winters, plus wolves. Say goodbye to deer, elk and moose.”

        Is THIS the science you are speaking of?? This statement is absurd. You have as much of an agenda as any politician out there.

        • Ethan says:

          Apparently, Dana, even more so. Nothing more than the usual, predictable fear-mongering. Let’s hope the general public doesn’t buy into it.
          Deer are not in short supply either in NY or most other states.

          • Zachary Denton says:

            Read the reports on what the biologists say. Don’t take it from me..

          • Paul says:

            This is true for southern NYS and false for the Adirondacks. There are just a few deer per square mile in the wilder parts of the Adirondacks, according to the data. That is why a hunter in the northern tier can only shoot one male deer per year. And, yes, there are too many deer in the southern part of the state. Twice the carrying capacity in some areas.

    • Wolves are already here. NO ONE is talking reintroduction. They are being killed legally in Ontario and Quebec and illegally in New York and other northeast states. The northeast wolf issue is 99% politics and 1% science because the anti-wolf folks and the government have made it so. The state and federal governments have a job to do. Thanks to a lawsuit and a judge who correctly interpreted the law, the governments may actually start doing their job and start working to recover wolves in the northeast.

  8. Tom Paine says:

    An animal being used by the NYS Environmental Lobby to eliminate the user groups from public and private lands they don’t like is the ultimate goal.

    • Dana says:

      Nonsense. Just more political rhetoric.

      • Zachary Denton says:

        I have no agenda by the way. I happen to have studied ecology and traveled to areas that do manage wildlife well, and NYS simply is about 20-30 years behind. I also and am avid outdoorsman and spend lots of time in the Adirondacks, in the woods. I speak based on anecdotal experience of my own and what science says about Forest health and population dynamics. I’m not anti wolf, it just appears that NY is really forcing the issue here and it seems very political, not scientific.

  9. Paul says:

    These places in Colorado where they are putting wolves is still a lot more wild than anything even in the Adirondacks. You are always just a few miles from a road even in the most wilderness parts of the Adirondacks. My guess if wolves come back in they will head south in NYS where there is a lot more food for them.

    They were tracking Coyote kills years ago. Had to seal the pelt with a tag and report it. Why did they stop? The weight thing seems totally arbitrary.

    Are there any additional funds for the DEC for all this work and testing they will need to do?

  10. Dan says:

    Whether they return naturally or are reintroduced, wolves will not stay in the Adirondacks. They will gravitate to where the food is which will be the ag-lands and other areas where deer are over-populated, including close to people. Along the way they’ll take care of stray pets, eliminate coyote and fox populations and prevent most moose calves from reaching maturity. Would the areas beyond the Adirondacks, including neighboring states, be ready for this?

    As for deer, many people feel that because they see them on roadsides and in the middle of Old Forge that the Adirondacks is loaded with them. Any of us who have hunted or trapped on the Forest Preserve can tell you otherwise. As previously stated above, there simply is only so much young forest left in the Adirondacks to support deer and moose populations. As the Forest Preserve grows, these species will become even more challenged. And some want to add wolves to that mix?

  11. Paul says:

    Why is this only an issue in NYS? In Colorado where they have some wolves, and lots of coyotes. They have few restrictions on killing coyotes. The season is open year round. On private land you don’t even need a license. As usual this is NYS putting out a solution looking for a problem.

  12. Paul says:

    “documented case of wolves in the Northeast since their extirpation is most likely only a fraction of the wolves actually present.”

    If this were true why don’t we see them on game cameras, and find their scat and tracks?

    I get lots of pictures of deer and moose and coyotes on my game cameras. I just never see wolves in these pictures. Are others seeing any signs of these animals if there are so many out there?

    • Look up Maine Wolf Coalition on Facebook and on YouTube. Most wolves you will see in the northeast are primarily Eastern wolves. They average only about 50 pounds. Females can be smaller and males typically run 60-65 pounds. They are not the wolves of Yellowstone.

  13. Ethan says:

    A timely, common sense bill. Anyone who truly cares about NY biodiversity will welcome it. It’s necessary because *certain* “outdoorsmen” can’t seem to monitor themselves very effectively. One case in point, the 2021 Adirondack “coyote” (wolf) killed by a hunter. Why not include wild canid differentiation in hunter training? Is that such a hardship? Natural migration is a relatively slow process but if wolves are met with hostility or lack of basic knowledge regarding proper identification we may never see their return. Keep in mind, this bill is intended for *all* of NY state not just the Adirondack region.
    There’s tons of “Oops, I thought it was a coyote” mistakes happening in virtually all states where wolves exist. We can do much better in New York.

    • Paul says:

      If it so necessary Ethan, then why is it not necessary in places like Colorado or other western states where they are actually reintroducing wolves, and have lots of coyotes?

  14. Zachary Denton says:

    There is no reason for them to be on the ES List. That issue alone is political. The only reason they are on it now is because the Biden Administration got pressure from animal rights activists. Wolves are alive and well federally speaking. Also, to say there are no coyotes in NY and that they are all wolf hybrids is misleading, only because that is how the eastern hybrid came to be. Remember the eastern red wolf? Read Dan Flores book Coyote America. Also, why do you want to reintroduce wolves? Are you suggesting to manually or naturally do this? I am opposed to the former personally. Lastly, I agree with studying wolves in NY, but this really doesn’t seem like an effective strategy.

  15. Zachary Denton says:

    When DEC claims there are no wolves in NY, you can’t blame a hunter. You also make the point here, that this is really about monitoring outdoorsman…. The vast majority can and do Monitor themselves very effectively. At the time of the 2021 killing, DEC had denied the presence of wolves. Blame the DEC not the hunter. Should we educate hunters, absolutely! But it’s not hunters that are the problem.

    I respectfully think you might be off in saying this is good for biodiversity as well. Most of the Adirondacks are fairly unhealthy from a forest ecology perspective, and support low population densities of deer and moose. Also, wolves will absolutely predate on moose calving… And the habitat outside the Adirondacks is not very suitable to wolves. That’s where the coyote actually thrives. So the Adirondacks is really what we are discussing. Adding one Apex predator to the ecosystem is not a “biodiversity” win. Especially when irrespective of the habitat conditions and cervid populations. By the way, the hunters you bash, are probably just as in tune with the ecosystem as half of the DEC biologists.

  16. Balian the cat says:

    So, I will drop in and scream into the wind about this (again) as it appears to be my want: All of this is based upon an anthropcentic view of things. Everything we are saying here is based upon the human desire (need?) to shape the landscape to suit us. Wildlife/fisheries Management, Forest Management, hydrological management, etc are all human tools to alter the world such that it serve or resemble what we’ve decided we prefer. I am not, necessarily, against this, but couldnt we just once admit it and stop with the whole “nature will wither without our hand” nonsense?

  17. Larry G.Orvis says:

    What is so wrong with creating environmentally scientific forestry biodiversity for the majority of the wildlife species in the Northern Forest, creating better wildlife viewing, hunting, fishing(more insects in a managed forest) and creating forest products that will create jobs for the local economy? The prey species will repopulate and the predators will come on their own.

    • Balian the cat says:

      Not one single thing wrong with that suggestion, Larry. It’s a little pie-in-the-sky, but nothing wrong with it – as long as we all agree we’re doing it to establish conditions we prefer and not as some favor to otherwise incapable natural processes.

      Beavers are a lovely example of another species that “manages” their environment to suit their ideals and needs. Their management creates a wonderful and diverese local environment and it’s all good, – until they flood a road or plug a culvert or drown a valuable woodlot, etc.

      I just want to say the quiet part outloud – we want things to be the way we want things to be. As such we need to accept the consequences of altering the natural order rather than clutch pearls when what we want conflicts with what another species needs.

      I’ll leave it alone know.

      • Alan says:

        Well that is not a pie in the sky concept. I bird and fly fish in Northern Maine and New Hampshire and that is happening right now. Lynx have been moving back into areas of Vermont and other New England States as we speak. Still could move back into the Adirondacks. We certainly need to keep on working on our wild ways so that animals can move into new areas. Moose,Bears,Deer and predators oh my!

        • Larry Orvis says:

          Thank you for having an open mind and staying in tune to what’s happening in the Northern Forest.

      • Larry Orvis says:

        Then shut the Adirondack Park down to all human activity and let a true experiment begin and check back in a couple hundred years. I bet the wolves would return.

        • Paul says:

          Larry, as far as some of us are concerned, the human element that lives in the park is as important to what the place means as the woods and wildlife we live with. The Adirondack park is already a different kind of experiment.

          • Larry Orvis says:

            Paul, I just think that managing your forest in a sound ecological way, would make life better for all the locals and the wildlife but I respect your opinion. I guess the extreme of destroying the Adirondack Forest after the first settlers caused this mindset.

            • Paul says:

              “I just think that managing your forest in a sound ecological way, would make life better for all the locals and the wildlife”

              Larry, I totally agree. The great experiment of people trying to coexist with the wilds of the Adirondacks is just that.

              Wasn’t your suggestion to remove all management and just let her go wild? Doesn’t matter we are already here and I don’t expect are going anywhere soon.

              • Larry Orvis says:

                I know it doesn’t matter, just trying to keep individuals thinking, a little reversed psychology.

  18. JohnL says:

    Only 47 comments?? C’mon! Ya’ll can do better than that. If you don’t have any original thoughts, just look up that last time this subject came up and cut and paste. Oh wait, that’s what most of these comments are already. Anyway, let’s keep this thread going. The records within reach.

  19. Susan says:

    I don’t care what type of canid it is- wolf, coyote, hybrid, domesticated. If it shows up in my livestock pasture, and is “worrying” my livestock, it will be dead.

  20. Scott Bonno says:

    If the goal is to re-introduce wolves into the state, this is a ridiculous way to try to accomplish it. Though I’m not a professional biologist I do understand genetic traits, thanks to good old high school biology. The random capability of a breeding couple having enough wolf traits(DNA) to bring dominant wolf traits into the herd is staggering. People that don’t understand the impact that this will have on local communities, livestock and wildlife will be making the decisions, and I’m afraid they’ll make the wrong decisions while putting the hunting public and rural communities at a disadvantage.

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