Posts tagged: elk
ENDANGERED SPECIES — It's instructive to notice the spin the Defenders of Wildlife is putting on the report on gray wolf recovery status in Washington, released today by state wildlife officials.
The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife just reported that gray wolves established four new packs and expanded their territory in the state over the past year. The headline on the media release said, ”State's wolf population kept expanding last year, according to a WDFW survey.”
Defenders of Wildlife responded within two hours to its constituents with its own media release, headlined: “Washington's gray wolf population remains stable.”
Who are the experts on this report and who has their hands out for donations?
Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife carnivore specialist Donny Martorello said the state confirmed the presence of 13 wolf packs, five successful breeding pairs and at least 52 individual wolves in 2013. “While we can't count every wolf in the state, the formation of four new packs is clear evidence of steady growth in Washington's wolf population. More packs mean more breeding females, which produce more pups.”
Defenders said: “This year’s count tallied 52 wolves, an increase of one individual from the 2012 year-end population.”
Clarification: Last year's report estimated the wolf population in the state as ranging from a minimum of 51 wolves up to about 100 wolves. So for Defenders to say this year's estimate is “an increase of one individual” is propaganda.
I asked Martorello personally why the agency did not give a population range this year as it has in the past. He repeated that there's no way to accurately estimate the high end of population “so we're not even going to try.” Wildlife managers also emphasize that while 52 is what they can document, there are surely more.
Good cases can be made for the populations of wolves in Washington at any one time could be more than 100.
And surely the number will be considerably higher after mid-April when this year's crop of pups emerges from their dens.
Wolves are a cash cow for animal rights-type groups as long as the species is threatened or endangered.
While I take in all sides of the debate on wolf reintroduction, it's important to realize that for some interests there's no money in declaring a species recovered.
ENDANGERED SPECIES — Gray wolves established four new packs and expanded their territory in Washington over the past year, state wildlife managers told the state Fish and Wildlife Commission at a public meeting in Moses Lake today.
Meanwhile, here is today's media release from the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife:
That assessment was based on an annual survey by the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) that confirmed the presence of 13 wolf packs, five successful breeding pairs and at least 52 individual wolves in 2013.
Donny Martorello, WDFW carnivore specialist, said the latest findings point to continued growth in the state's wolf population under state and federal recovery plans.
“While we can't count every wolf in the state, the formation of four new packs is clear evidence of steady growth in Washington's wolf population,” he said. “More packs mean more breeding females, which produce more pups.”
All but eliminated from western states in the last century, wolves are now protected under Washington law throughout the state and under federal law in the western two-thirds of the state.
The commission, an appointed panel that sets policy for WDFW, approved the plan in 2011 that guides state management and recovery of wolves in Washington.
In developing its annual update, WDFW used a combination of aerial surveys, trackers and signals from 11 wolves fitted with active radio-collars, Martorello said.
Three of the new packs - Ruby Creek, Dirty Shirt and Carpenter Ridge - were formed by wolves that split off from the existing Smackout Pack in northeast Washington, he said.
A fourth new pack, the Wenatchee Pack, appears to be made up of two female wolves from the Teanaway Pack, whose territory stretches between Ellensburg and Wenatchee.
Read on for more details from the release.
PREDATORS — Idaho Fish and Game estimates that last month’s wolf control action in the Lolo elk zone cost approximately $30,000 resulting in the taking of 23 wolves in an effort to bring back the struggling elk herd.
The entire cost will be paid using license dollars paid by sportsmen and women. Fish and Game receives no state general tax dollars.
I have a problem with much of the news coverage of this event, including the story moved by the Associated Press out of Boise. A longer version of the story that ran in the S-R ran in the Missoulian. You'll notice that the story goes right from saying 23 wolves were killed to quoting the Defenders of Wildlife saying they are disappointed. OK. But where's the quote from sportsmen and outfitters who are saying thanks for trying to bring some balance? No such quote. No balance there, either.
Here's the explanation from IFG:
Fish and Game announced late last week that the agency, working in cooperation with the USDA Wildlife Services, had completed another wolf control action in northern Idaho’s Lolo elk zone near the Idaho/Montana border to improve poor elk survival in the area.
In February, Wildlife Services agents killed 23 wolves from a helicopter. The action is consistent with Idaho’s predation management plan for the Lolo elk zone, where predation is the major reason elk population numbers are considerably below management objectives.
The Lolo predation management plan is posted on the Fish and Game website:
This is the sixth agency control action taken in Lolo zone during the last four years. 25 wolves were taken in the previous five actions.
Fish and Game authorizes control actions where wolves are causing conflicts with people or domestic animals, or are a significant factor in prey population declines. Such control actions are consistent with Idaho’s 2002 Wolf Conservation and Management Plan approved by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the Idaho Legislature.
Fish and Game prefers to manage wolf populations using hunters and trappers and only authorizes control actions where harvest has been insufficient to meet management goals. The Lolo zone is steep, rugged country that is difficult to access, especially in winter.
In addition to the animals killed in this control action, 17 wolves have been taken by hunters and trappers in the Lolo zone during the 2013-14 season – 7 by hunting and 10 by trapping. The trapping season ends March 31, the hunting season ends June 30.
Fish and Game estimates there were 75 -100 wolves in the Lolo zone at the start of the 2013 hunting season with additional animals crossing back and forth between Idaho and Montana and from other Idaho elk zones. Fish and Game’s goal is to reduce that Lolo zone wolf population by 70 percent.
The Lolo elk population has declined drastically from 16,000 elk in 1989 to roughly 2,100 elk in 2010, when Fish and Game last surveyed the zone. Restoring the Lolo elk population will require liberal bear, mountain lion, and wolf harvest through hunting and trapping (in the case of wolves), and control actions in addition to improving elk habitat. The short-term goals in Fish and Game’s 2014 Elk Plan are to stabilize the elk population and begin to help it grow.
Here’s a link the new Elk Plan: http://fishandgame.idaho.gov/public/wildlife/?getpage=324
Helicopter crews are now capturing and placing radio collars on elk, moose, and wolves in the Lolo zone in order to continue monitoring to see whether prey populations increase in response to regulated wolf hunting, trapping and control actions.
WILDLIFE — Oregon is reporting significant growth in wolf packs in its annual status report on gray wolf recovery released Tuesday. The status reports from all the western recovery states are filed with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
At the end of 2013, Oregon officials say the state had at least 64 wolves in eight packs, up from 48 wolves in six packs estimated at the end of 2012. The number of livestock killed increased to 13 confirmed kills involving three packs.
In 2009, the first year of Oregon's reports on the endangered species' recovery in the state, officials listed two packs: the Imnaha pack with 10 wolves and the Wenaha Pack with four wolves.
Washington officials say they will present their annual wolf status report at the Fish and Wildlife Commission meeting March 7-8 in Moses Lake. At the end of 2012, Washington reported up to 100 wolves in the state in nine packs.
WILDLIFE RESEARCH — The region's wildlife researchers are flying high — and low — with this week's weather.
The big dump of snow followed by clear weather is perfect for using helicopters to locate and capture critters so transmitter collars can be attached for research. Fleeing animals bog down in the snow giving the pilot and gunner the best conditions for capture.
Methods used include shooting tranquilizer darts directly from the helicopter to the animal in a low-flying chase or shooting a net from the helicopter before landing and administering the drug after subduing the animal.
Washington Fish and Wildlife staffers took advantage of the weather Monday to recapture a female wolf near Ione to replace a faulty collar that had been attached after the wolf was trapped in July. On Tuesday they caught another female wolf in the same area and attached a collar. The staffers are working to put collars on other wolves in these prime conditions.
Idaho is scrambling to get more collars on elk in the Coeur d'Alene River drainage this week for a large-scale study.
WILDLIFE RESEARCH — More elk are likely to be wearing research “necklaces” in the Coeur d'Alene River drainage by the end of the week if Idaho Fish and Game researches get good weather for flying.
The agency worked with a private helicopter contractor on Jan. 14-15 to tranquilized and fit transmitting collars on 22 cow elk in the Cataldo area (north and south of I-90) and in the North Fork of the Coeur d’Alene River.
The project design calls for a total of 45 elk to be collared in the study so that IDFG can monitor survival rates, habitat use and seasonal movements. If weather is suitable for flying, additional elk will be collared on Friday, Feb. 28, and Saturday, March 1.
Cow elk are being captured with either nets or tranquilizer darts depending upon the terrain and density of the forest canopy, said Phil Cooper, department spokesman. Once an elk is restrained or under anesthesia, a handler fits the animal with a GPS collar. Blood and fecal samples are taken for disease and pregnancy surveillance. An estimate of each animal’s age is made by a tooth examination and a measure of body condition is taken. The elk is then released at the capture site and the search for another elk begins.
Read on for more details from Cooper about the research and the status report of the initial 22 elk that were collared.
WILDLIFE — About 107,000 elk roam in Idaho today, a stark contrast to a century ago when elk numbers were so low officials had to declare a moratorium on elk hunting in parts of the state.
In 1909, concerned about the decline in elk, deer and game birds, Boise National Forest Supervisor Emile Grandjean asked the State Legislature to establish a 220,000-acre game preserve in the Payette River drainage west of the Sawtooth Mountains.
The Legislature approved the preserve on March 13, 1909, and it became the first of many game preserves especially designed to restore wildlife to Idaho.
It would be off-limits to hunting and trapping – except that cougars, lynx, wolves and coyotes could be killed by wardens. Forest rangers would act as deputy game wardens.
Read more about game preserves and fish and wildlife management efforts in the series of stories marking the Idaho Fish and Game Department's 75th anniversary.
WILDLIFE WATCHING — In December, Parks Canada posted this time-lapse video from a trail camera in Waterton Lakes National Park spanning over a four-month period when the area was closed to hikers as a result of flood damage.
See how the animals took advantage of a human-free trail and used it for an easy travel route.
How many species do you count?
CONSERVATION — A Spokane man who won a big lottery jackpot put wildlife on the top of his list of benefactors from the windfall.
Kelly Cruz, 53, a local carpenter, scored a win in the Lucky for Life scratch ticket and will receive $1,000 a week for life.
That's a bit short of the mega millions jackpots we hear about every few months, but still a nice security blanket for anyone to win and still enough to give a man a shot at opening his wallet to a worthy cause.
According to today's story in The Spokesman-Review:
“With the money, he plans to buy a lifetime membership in the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation and probably will give to more causes. But he doesn’t plan to move or make major changes in his life.
The Missoula-based RMEF, which has about 200,000 members, raises money and recruits volunteers to improve habitat for a wide range of wildlife, especially elk, across the country. A lifetime membership will set Cruz back for a week and a half of lottery winnings — a noble share to the cause.
Since it was founded in 1984, RMEF has:
The group also has organized more than 8,500 projects for permanent land protection, habitat stewardship, elk restoration, conservation education and hunting heritage.
Former USFWS biologist: Wyoming elk feedgrounds disaster in the making
Bruce Smith, a longtime biologist at the National Elk Refuge, gives Idaho credit for phasing out its elk feeding operations and said that Wyoming's persistence in continuing to feed elk during the winter will likely cause an epidemic of chronic wasting disease, which is always fatal, and could force the state to kill a large number of animals to stop the spread of the disease.
— Jackson Hole News & Guide
HUNTING — A friend sent a message of holidays woe that only a lifelong hunter, who knows the odds of bagging a trophy bull elk, can fully appreciate.
Read a Christmas letter today from a guy I hunted with a few times, back in the '80s. This year he shot a record-book bull elk at 11 yards in the first half-hour of the archery season. He took the head to a Thurston County taxidermist for mounting. On December 5, my friend, a lieutenant in the Olympia Fire Department, heard that the shop was on fire. Later, he drove out to take a look and noticed that there were few remains of any mounts in the ashes.
The fire since has been ruled an arson to cover a burglary, and the biggest trophy of Brian's life is gone.
HUNTING — I'm not big on contests that promote killing predators, but it's almost humorous to watch the reaction to the two-day wolf-coyote hunting derby being promoted for Dec. 28-29, out of Salmon, ID.
The controversy is like putting a spotlight on the extremist views of wolf reintroduction and the perpetuation of myths about wolves.
Sunday's story by the Associated Press did a decent job of pointing out the claims and the BS.
“This is a wolf massacre,” said Wayne Pacelle, the Washington, D.C.-based animal-rights group’s president, in a letter to members Thursday that was geared more to fundraising opportunity than to reality.
Shane McAfee, who guides clients on hunts around Salmon, Idaho, organized the derby mainly to boost local business and raise awareness about a parasite he believes could be transmitted from wolf feces to domestic dogs and possibly humans.
People concerned about the parasite should take appropriate precautions, she said: Treat their dogs and cats for tapeworm, practice good hygiene, avoid harvesting sick animals, and wear rubber gloves when field dressing wild game, among other things.
“Precautions for Echinococcus are really no different than for a host of other diseases that occur naturally in the environment and can infect humans.”
Marv Hoyt is set to retire from his position at the end of this month following and Idaho Fish and Game Department investigation that led to his admissions last month that he illegally killed and wasted two elk, coalition staff confirmed to the Journal.
PREDATORS — State wildlife officials have hired a hunter to eliminate two wolf packs in a federal wilderness area in central Idaho because officials say they are eating too many elk calves, according to the Associated Press.
Fish and Game Bureau Chief Jeff Gould tells the Idaho Statesman that hunters are having a difficult time getting into the Frank Church-River of No Return wilderness, so the agency hired hunter-trapper Gus Thoreson of Salmon to kill the wolves in the Golden and Monumental packs.
The U.S. Forest Service allowed the state agency to use an airstrip and cabin in the Payette National Forest as a base.
Fish and Game paid $22,500 for aerial killing of 14 wolves in the Lolo area in 2012. Gould said Monday he didn’t know how much the agency would end up paying for Thoreson’s salary and expenses.
HUNTING — A mess of elk were slaughtered or wounded in a youth elk hunt that was marred by greedy adults last week in the Bitterroot Valley south of Missoula
The story by the Ravali Republic is among the saddest reports on sport hunting I've read all year.
Click “continue reading” and check it out if you want to ruin your day.
POACHING — Rewards of up to $5,000 are being offered for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the person or persons responsible for illegally shooting a cow elk recently and leaving it to waste on private land between Moscow and Troy.
WILDLIFE WATCHING — I don't have a crystal ball, but this one was an easy call.
The spike elk featured toying dangerously with a photographer in a video that went viral this month has been euthanized by Great Smoky National Park officials. The elk had become too accustomed to people and was posing a danger.
My blog post called it like it was — a death sentence.
Here's the latest update, which ends with the photographer whining that he's tired of being blamed.
Idaho Fish, Game Commission hears complaints about wolves
The Idaho Fish and Game Commission began its quarterly meeting in Jerome Wednesday, and at a public forum that evening, about half of the dozen residents that spoke up said they blamed wolves for the lack of elk.
The meeting continues today with both the westslope cutthroat trout management plan and an update of the 1999 elk management plan on the agenda.
—Twin Falls Times-News
WILDLIFE WATCHING — Serious wildlife photographers are not amused by this latest viral video of a man who exposed himself to serious danger with a yearling “spike” elk in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.
One lunge and the man could have lost an eye or been killed. This is stupid, and the people who sat and watched are equally stupid.
The man made the initial error by getting too far from a vehicle and leaving himself exposed to the elk's advance.
The videographer who posted the video on YouTube apparently doesn't like the criticism going out on the internet and he/she deleted it from this post.
We already posted the news of the spike elk that Western Montana wildlife officials dispatched this fall after it became too aggressive around people who tried to treat it like a pet.
Comments from professional wildlife photographers include:
This is the kind of idiot that prompts excessive and overbearing rules for photographers in national parks, wildlife refuges, etc.The guy could have easily stood up, waved his hat and yelled at the bull, but no, he had to play with it. I'm sure he thought that such behavior was cute. What would not have been cute is when the bull lowered one of those antlers (or both) and impaled him through the chest…
- The guy is not a nature photographer; he is an idiot…
- Sadly if the guy had gotten killed or even seriously injured, the bull would have been killed…
- I seriously hope that the park where this took place look long and hard at prosecuting the guy in any way they can…
—Tim Christie, Coeur d'Alene, Idaho
HUNTING — There's sad news in this comment by Capt. Dan Rahn in the weekly Washington Fish and Wildlife police report for far-eastern Washington following the opening weekend of elk hunting season:
Every officer commented on the overall decline in hunter numbers combined with an apparent aging of the hunter population as a whole.
On the other hand, it's good news for the hunters who continue to pursue elk — less competition overall, and especially in the hard-hunting spots where many elk tend to hide during the season.