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Posts tagged: wolves

BLM confirms it’s rescinded permit for wolf, predator derby

The U.S. Bureau of Land Management has confirmed that it's rescinded permits it granted two weeks ago for a wolf derby on 3 million acres of public land in Idaho. Joe Kraayenbrink, Idaho Falls district manager for the BLM, said the derby sponsors contacted the BLM's Salmon field office last Thursday with “material and substantive” modifications to how the predator derby would be run. The BLM had spent five months on review before issuing the Nov. 13 permit; Kraayenbrink said at this point, “Ambiguity about details of the Derby operation make it difficult to conclusively determine whether an SRP (Special Recreation Permit) is appropriate under our regulations, and if so what terms and conditions would allow BLM to effectively manage and protect public lands and resources.” 

You can read the BLM's full announcement here. Derby organizers said the event will still take place on private land, as it did last year. No wolves were killed last year, but participants killed 21 coyotes.

Wolf derby permit reportedly rescinded in face of lawsuit

The permit for a controversial wolf derby in eastern Idaho reportedly has been rescinded by the U.S. Bureau of Land Management in the face of a lawsuit. “We have it in writing from their attorney that they’re withdrawing it, and they said they expected to have it withdrawn today and they expected to have an announcement,” said Laird Lucas, director of litigation for Advocates for the West. He said, “BLM’s first-ever approval of a wolf killing derby on public lands undermines wolf recovery in the Northern Rockies and was not in the public interest. So it’s good BLM lawyers realized they needed to yank the permit after we sued.”

BLM officials in Idaho said they couldn’t confirm or deny the news, but are planning a public announcement within the hour.

The derby, which was planned to operate every year for the next five years and target predators including wolves, coyotes, weasels and more, with prizes for those killing the most or top predators, had been initially approved for 3 million acres of public land in Idaho by the BLM. Advocates for the West and Defenders of Wildlife sued, and said the agency received more than 100,000 comments from people strongly opposed to the derby.

“The public spoke loud and clear against this wildlife killing competition and we are glad to see senior officials at the Department of the Interior ultimately respond to the public’s opposition by directing that the permit be withdrawn,” said Suzanne Stone, Defenders of Wildlife senior representative. “By denying the permit, BLM is supporting sound wildlife management practices as opposed to endorsing archaic killing competitions on our public lands that Americans so clearly oppose.”

Wolf hunt derby gets permit for 3 million acres of BLM lands, draws immediate court challenge

Yesterday, the U.S. Bureau of Land Management approved an expanded permit for a wolf- and coyote-hunting derby in east-central Idaho, authorizing the event on 3 million acres of public land over a three-day period in January, with the permit good for five years. Just two hours later, four environmental groups filed a lawsuit challenging the permit, the AP reports. The derby took place last year on private land; hunters killed 21 coyotes but no wolves. This year, organizers expect up to 150 hunters to take part; click below for a full report from AP reporter Keith Ridler.

Size of wolf, coyote derby proposed to double to 1,500 square miles

Here’s a news item from the Associated Press: BOISE, Idaho (AP) — A group that overcame a court challenge last winter to hold a wolf- and coyote-shooting derby is seeking a permit from the U.S. Bureau of Land Management to roughly double the area for a second event this winter. Steve Alder of Idaho for Wildlife says the tentative dates for the derby in the east-central part of the state are Jan. 2-3. The BLM plans to make public an environmental analysis Thursday and take public comments for 15 days. The agency says about 1,500 square miles are involved. Environmental groups say they will contest the permit. A federal judge last year ruled the hunting group didn't need a permit from the U.S. Forest Service after environmental groups sued. The December 2013 event drew 230 people who killed 21 coyotes but no wolves.

Wolf derby group seeks 5-year special permit

Here’s a news item from the Associated Press: KETCHUM, Idaho (AP) — Organizers of a disputed predator derby aimed at killing wolves in central Idaho are asking for a five-year permit to hold the contest. The Idaho Mountain Express reports (http://bit.ly/1nW7xbv) in a story on Thursday that the group called Idaho for Wildlife applied with the Bureau of Land Management for a special recreation permit. The hunt went ahead last year after a U.S. District Court ruled against an environmental group that filed a lawsuit to stop the event. Organizers say that last year more than 230 participants killed 21 coyotes but no wolves near Salmon. Organizers have said they're seeking to publicize wolves' impact on local elk herds and potential disease risks. The BLM is examining the application as part of a process that will include a public comment period.

Otter names wolf control board members

Idaho Gov. Butch Otter today announced the five members of the state's new wolf control board, for which the Legislature this year appropriated $400,000 to kill problem wolves. Otter named Richard Savage, a former Idaho Cattle Association president and a rancher from Hamer, as the livestock industry representative; Tony McDermott of Sagle, a former Fish & Game commissioner, to represent sportsmen; and Carl Rey of Meridian to represent the general public. The board is co-chaired by Idaho Fish & Game Director Virgil Moore and Idaho Department of Agriculture Director Celia Gould.

“Managing wolves is expensive, and federal funds to sustain the Idaho management plan approved by the Legislature in 2002 are drying up,” Otter said in a statement. “This solution was developed collaboratively by wildlife managers, sportsmen and ranchers to provide a reliable funding source from stakeholders for this important work.” In addition to the state funds, lawmakers approved fees of $110,000 from sportsmen and $110,000 from the livestock industry to support the board; click below for Otter's full announcement.

Poachers killing more Idaho game animals than wolves are, officials say

Poachers are likely killing far more game animals than wolves are, state wildlife officials in northern Idaho say. Officials tell the Lewiston Tribune (http://bit.ly/1jdj31p) in a story on Friday that last year in northern Idaho they confirmed poaching of 30 elk, four moose, 13 mule deer and 57 whitetail deer, according to an AP report from the Tribune. Officials say a realistic detection rate is 5 percent, meaning poachers are likely killing about 600 elk, 80 moose, 260 mule deer and 1,000 whitetail annually.

“It's real easy for people to blow a gasket about wolf predation,” said Idaho Fish and Game District Conservation Officer George Fischer. “They are very passionate about it, they are very irate about it and they are livid about it. Yet there is a two-legged wolf out there that is probably killing as many or more than wolves. Wolves are causing an impact, there is no doubt about it; I don't want to downplay that at all, but two-legged wolves are probably killing more or stealing more game than wolves. That is the shock-and-awe message.”

Idaho Fish and Game spokesman Mike Keckler says poachers strike throughout Idaho. “Poaching is an issue throughout the state,” he said. Click below for the full AP/Lewiston Trib report.

$2 million wolf control bill clears House committee on 14-4 vote

After two and a half hours of impassioned testimony on both sides, the House Resources Committee has voted 14-4 in favor of HB 470, the $2 million wolf control fund bill. Rep. Lenore Barrett, R-Challis, said she wasn’t so sure about setting up another board, as “the state has boards up the kabotch.” But, she said, “Right now I have deer in my background, the town of Challis is covered with deer. … They’re there because the wolves have driven them into town.” She said, “All in all, I think we’d better do this.”

Rep. Ilana Rubel, D-Boise, spoke against the bill. “We only have one pot of money that we pay for everything out of,” she said, noting the number of school districts “that can’t keep the lights on five days a week.” Rubel said she wondered “whether this is really a $2 million problem,” and noted that an advisory committee called for $400,000 in state funding next year. “When we asked why this bill was proposing five times that expenditure, the answer was, hey, we have a surplus this year, so let’s go for it,” Rubel said. “Is this the very best way we can spend that surplus? … The number of wolves has dropped every year since 2009. … Our taxpayer money could be spent much better in other areas.”

Rep JoAn Wood, R-Rigby, said the ranchers who want help with wolf depredation are part of the “bedrock economy in our state.” She said, “These people who are asking us for help here are the people who pay the taxes for our schools, and who are wanting to stay in business in our state. … I’m not thrilled about all parts of this legislation, but I don’t think I have anything better to offer.”

Rep. Ken Andrus, R-Lava Hot Springs, said, “I just don’t see an end to this. We have people who love the wolves and think nature should take its course. We have people whose private property is being impacted.” Andrus said, “I would rather see this money go toward starting to build a predator-type fence around Yellowstone National Park … and put the wolves in there and let the nature lovers and the people who love wolves, let ‘em do their thing, and I don’t care what happens.”

Rep. John Vander Woude, R-Nampa, said, “I would recommend that JFAC only fund the $400,000 every year instead of the $2 million this year, but I’m not on JFAC.” Vander Woude said after two and a half hours of hearing testimony on the bill, he was ready to support it. The bill, which now moves to the full House, drew opposition from just one Republican on the panel, Rep. Steven Miller, R-Fairfield, and all three of the committee’s minority Democrats; all other GOP members supported it.

F&G chief: Wilderness wolf hunt was called off because it was no longer being effective

Idaho Fish & Game Director Virgil Moore, who made his budget presentation to lawmakers this morning, said afterward that the department called off its professional hunt for wolves in the Frank Church-River of No Return Wilderness yesterday because “we had been ineffective in the last two weeks on taking any additional wolves.” The hunt had taken nine wolves in the area since the operation began in December. “The analysis the staff has done tells us we’re near where we want to be with take in there,” Moore said, between the department’s operation and sport hunting and trapping in the area, though “we went in there with the expectation of staying longer.”

Moore said, “I hope that allows us to continue to have a conversation about our management actions for elk.” Conservationists challenged the operation under the Wilderness Act, but their initial court challenge was unsuccessful. Moore called the wilderness operation “very similar” to past years’ efforts in the Lolo zone to reduce wolf numbers, though those relied mainly on aerial shooting and trapping. The operation in the Frank Church wilderness “differed because we put one of our folks back there,” he said.

“Evaluation of the cost-benefit is what led to the staff decision to pull folks out of there,” Moore said. Click below for last night's full AP report on the end of the operation.

Idaho Fish & Game pulls professional wolf hunter from Frank Church wilderness

Here's a news item from the Associated Press: BOISE, Idaho (AP) — Idaho wildlife managers called off a professional wolf hunter who has been killing predators inside a federal wilderness area. Department of Fish and Wildlife Monday said it was halting the hunt after nine wolves were killed since December, with none in the past two weeks. It had planned to keep hunter Gus Thoreson of Salmon in the Frank Church River of No Return Wilderness this winter as it sought reduce wolves and bolster low elk populations there. Wolf advocates initially lost their bid for a court order to force Thoreson to quit hunting wolves from his base on U.S. Forest Service territory. On Monday, however, they contended their continued pressure — they'd appealed to the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals — helped convince Fish and Game to end the hunt.

Click below for Fish & Game's full announcement.

Conservation groups sue Idaho over wolf-kill plan in Frank Church wilderness

Conservation groups are suing federal and state officials over Idaho's plan to track and kill wolves from two packs in the Frank Church-River of No Return Wilderness in central Idaho, the AP reports. The lawsuit, filed in U.S. District Court in Pocatello yesterday, contends the state's move to hire a professional hunter and trapper to target the two packs for elimination violates the 1964 Wilderness Act, because it threatens to change the character of the wilderness area. Click below for a full report from AP reporter Rebecca Boone.

Catching up on a holiday week’s news…

There’s not usually a lot of news over the holidays, but there was some last week while I was gone. Here’s a quick roundup:

Wolf derby: A federal judge on Friday declined to block a “Predator Derby” scheduled over the weekend in Salmon targeting wolves and coyotes, ruling organizers weren’t required to get a special permit from the U.S. Forest Service. Idaho For Wildlife, the sponsoring group, reported that by the end of the derby yesterday, no wolves had been shot but 21 coyotes were.

Idaho airman killed: Sandpoint Air Force Capt. David Lyon died Friday in Kabul, Afghanistan, after his vehicle was hit by an explosion. Lyon, 28, was about a month away from completing his year-long deployment to Afghanistan; he was an Air Force Academy graduate, a five-year Air Force veteran, and a renowned track star at Sandpoint High School. There’s a full report here at spokesman.com.

Gay marriage: Four couples challenging Idaho’s same-sex marriage ban asked a federal judge on Thursday to block the state from intervening in their lawsuit, which was filed against Idaho Gov. Butch Otter and Ada County Clerk Chris Rich. Attorney General Lawrence Wasden responded, “I have an obligation to defend the Constitution and the statutes of Idaho, and that's what we intend to do.” The Idaho case is developing as judges in New Mexico, Ohio and Utah have ruled in favor of same-sex marriage.

Megaload rolls: A giant shipment of oil field equipment bound for the Canadian oil sands drew spectators and a handful of protesters as it moved into Idaho, spending a week in the Marsing area due to weather delays. It traveled nearly 100 miles over the weekend, moving only at night, but will take a break over the New Year’s holiday.

Bowl loss: Oregon State beat Boise State 38-23 in the Hawaii Bowl on Christmas Eve, snapping a five-game losing streak for OSU. BSU played without starting quarterback Joe Southwick, who was sent home for a team rules violation, but then went public, saying he was wrongly accused of urinating off a hotel balcony and had taken a lie detector test to prove his innocence. It was an odd end to a tumultuous season for the Broncos, who just lost prized coach Chris Petersen to the University of Washington; new coach Bryan Harsin takes over after the bowl loss.

Duck politics: The A&E Network ended its suspension of Duck Dynasty reality show star Phil Robertson for his controversial remarks about homosexuality and race in a magazine interview, after the rest of the cast refused to go forward without him. Former Idaho House Speaker Lawerence Denney, who is running for Idaho Secretary of State, announced that his March fundraiser with Robertson will proceed as planned, saying, “Our family proudly stands in support of the Robertson family in its modeling and expression of our Christian family values and heritage.”

Livestock producers vote to raise assessments to pay for wolf control

Idaho Farm Bureau Federation members have voted to raise the state brand renewal fee by $25 to increase funding for wolf-control efforts by Idaho Wildlife Services, the Capital Press reports. The agency has lost substantial federal funding since 2010 due to federal budget cuts; the brand fee increase would raise about $100,000 a year. Sheep growers also have increased their wool assessment fee by 2 cents per pound to raise about $25,000.

The newspaper reported that a sportsmen group has offered to match the increase from livestock producers and that Gov. Butch Otter is expected to seek up to $250,000 from the state's general fund. “We need $400,000; I think we'll be closer to $500,000 when all is said and done,” said Blackfoot rancher Chris Dalley; click below for a full report from the AP.

The divide over wolves…

Nearly 20 years after gray wolves were reintroduced to Yellowstone National Park and central Idaho, deep fault lines remain in public opinion over wolves’ presence and the appropriate limits of their range, reports S-R reporter Becky Kramer. The divide was spotlighted last month, when the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced it was ready to get out of the wolf business. Agency officials have proposed ending federal protections for the 6,100 wolves in the Lower 48 states by the end of the year, with the exception of the Southwest’s Mexican gray wolves. Read Kramer's stories herehere, here, and here from Sunday's Spokesman-Review.

Two legal challenges filed over Wyoming wolf de-listing decision

Here's a news item from the Associated Press: CHEYENNE, Wyo. (AP) ― Two environmental coalitions have filed notice that they intend to sue the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service over the agency's decision to end federal protections for wolves in Wyoming. Both coalitions filed notice Monday in U.S. District Court in Washington, DC, that they intend to sue the agency. The groups are concerned that the state of Wyoming has classified wolves in most of the state as unprotected predators that could be shot on sight. The state has scheduled a trophy wolf hunt in the area around Yellowstone National Park starting Oct. 1. Congress specified that there could be no legal challenges to the recent federal action ending protections for wolves in Montana and Idaho, but there has been no similar protection yet for Wyoming. Click below for a full report from AP reporter Ben Neary in Cheyenne.

Federal protections to be lifted for Wyoming wolves

The federal government will end protections for wolves in Wyoming, the Associated Press reports; today's  announcement from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service endorses a plan that allows the wolves to be shot on sight in most parts of the state, while retaining protections in certain areas. The move quickly sparked promises of legal challenges from environmental groups. Click below for a full report from AP reporter Bob Moen in Cheyenne. The state would take over management of wolves Sept. 30, and it already has scheduled wolf hunts to start Oct. 1.

Meanwhile, Idaho's wolf hunting season opened yesterday statewide, and runs through January, March or June, depending on the zone.

Idaho wolf hunting season ends, Panhandle private-lands season begins

Idaho's wolf hunting season ended Saturday, but a summer season with wolf hunting allowed on private lands in the northern Panhandle region opened the same day. It's the first phase of the 2012-2013 season; wolf hunting in the rest of the state doesn't open until Aug. 30. Anyone wanting to hunt wolves during the summer season must have a permit and landowner permission in advance; click below for a full report from the AP and the Missoulian.

Wolf killed in Hailey had parvo virus

A wolf killed by a Hailey homeowner on Jan. 22 has tested postive for parvo, a common and highly contagious canine virus that can be fatal. Idaho Fish & Game reported that the homeowner reported the wolf had been observed near his house for at least two days and was acting sick or injured; click below for the full news release from Idaho Fish & Game.

F&G chief: Hunting, trapping putting ‘important pressure’ on wolf population

Idaho Fish & Game Director Virgil Moore told JFAC this morning that as of yesterday, Idaho hunters had killed 206 wolves during the state's wolf hunting season, and trappers had taken 60. “That's a total of 266 wolves taken so far in this hunting season,” Moore said. In addition, about 60 more were killed in depredation actions, either through landowner action or or wildlife services efforts; that brings the total wolves to date in the past year to 326 “that have been harvested or taken for various purposes,” Moore said. “We think we're beginning to put some important pressure on those animals.”

This year's was only the state's second-ever wolf hunting season; the first was in 2009, but then wolves were returned to the endangered species list. “I feel real proud of the work that the department has done, and the help that we got from Congressman Simpson in getting the congressional authority to get out from underneath the judicial trap that we'd been in for so many years relative to wolf management..”

Lawyers spar over Idaho, Montana wolves in California courtroom

Attorneys for wolf advocates and government officials sparred in a Pasadena, Calif. courtroom today over ongoing wolf hunts in Idaho and Montana; a three-judge panel of the 9th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals heard the arguments. The conservation groups want an injunction to halt the hunts while the case proceeds, though two previous such requests have been denied; there was no immediate decision. Click below for a full report from the Associated Press.

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Betsy Z. Russell covers Idaho news from The Spokesman-Review's bureau in Boise.

Named best state-based political blog in Idaho for 2013 by The Fix

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