Posts tagged: endangered species
PREDATORS — Gov. Jay Inslee today signed legislation that will provide state wildlife managers more resources to prevent wolf-livestock conflict and expand criteria for compensation to livestock owners for wolf-related losses.
PREDATORS — Federal wildlife officials are postponing a much-anticipated decision on whether to lift protections for gray wolves across the Lower 48 states.
In a court filing Monday in Billings, Mont., government attorneys say “a recent unexpected delay” is indefinitely holding up action on the predators. No further explanation was offered.
Gray wolves are under protection as an endangered species and have recovered dramatically from widespread extermination in recent decades.
More than 6,000 of the animals now roam the continental U.S. Most live in the Northern Rockies and western Great Lakes, where protections already have been lifted.
The protections are still in effect for most of Washington.
A draft proposal to lift protections elsewhere drew strong objections when it was revealed last month.
Wildlife advocates and some members of Congress argue that the wolf's recovery is incomplete because the animal occupies just a fraction of its historical range.
State and federal wildlife biologists and groups respresenting agriculture and hunting interests say wolves have recovered dramatically fast and must be managed to control the impact they have on livestock and big game herds in certain areas.
PREDATORS — There's a little less love for wolves in central Idaho this week.
Idaho issues 2 kill permits on wolves near Carey after 31 sheep killed
Between May 10 and May 12, John Peavey, the owner of the Flat Top Ranch near Carey, Idaho, lost 13 ewes and 18 lambs to wolves. Idaho Wildlife Services has issued a kill permit for up to two wolves.
—Idaho Mountain Express (Sun Valley)
WILDLIFE — Elk numbers in Montana's Bitterroot Valley are up this year mostly because of better calf survival, according to reseachers.
This year’s aerial spring count found 7,373 elk in the five hunting districts that encircle the Bitterroot Valley. That's the fourth highest number of elk spotted by biologists in the 48-year history of the annual spring survey.
Range conditions and more emphasis on controlling wolves, cougars and bears played a roll in the increase, biologists say.
NATURE — Franklin County is considering legal action into the federal government's steps to apply endangered species protections to rare wildflowers found in areas such as the Hanford Reach of the Columbia River.
Franklin County commissioners voted 3-0 Tuesday to hire outside lawyers to look into suing the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service over its pending endangered classification of the yellow-flowering White Bluffs bladderpod, which grows only in a small area along the Columbia River in the county.
The plan calls for designating 2,861 acres of land in Franklin County as critical habitat for the colorful plant that’s part of the cabbage family. Most of that is federal land managed by the Hanford Reach National Monument, but 419 acres is on private land owned by people who say they are concerned.
ENDANGERED SPECIES — Some pro-wolf groups say hanging red ribbons on fences around pastures will protect cattle from wolf attacks.
The theory is getting another test this spring in the Wenatchee area, site of the most recently documented new wolf pack in Washington.
Question: Does this mean the end of the open range?
Let's just say there could possibly mean a BIG MARKET for red ribbon in the West.
See the KING 5 TV report and video.
ENDANGERED SPECIES — While 25 environmental groups quickly applauded a federal proposal to protect wolverines under the Endangered Species Act last week, officials from Idaho, Montana and Wyoming have declared the effort unnecessary.
“There is no evidence suggesting that wolverines will not adapt sufficiently to diminished late spring snow pack (assuming there is any) to maintain viability,” Wyoming Gov. Matt Mead wrote in a letter sent Monday to federal officials.
Read on for the story from the Associated Press.
In February, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service proposed to list the wolverine as a “threatened” species under the ESA primarily because of habitat fragmentation and losses from climate change. Wolverines, the rarest carnivore in the lower 48 states, depend on late spring snow for travel and protection of denning sites.
A list of the environmental groups and their common comments are posted here.
Additional threats to the species include an exceptionally small and vulnerable population size in the Lower 48 – where the entire population is no more than 250-300 individuals – and mortality from trapping, which is legal on a limited basis in states such as Montana.
Today the Western Environmental Law Center organize and presented the comments for the groups. “We are supportive of the Service’s long-overdue proposal to protect wolverine under the ESA,” said Matthew Bishop, attorney and lead author of the comments. Bishop is in the Helena field office of the WELC, wich is based in Eugene.
Calling it “a huge step in the right direction, Bishop said, “the proposed rule does not go far enough to ensure the long-term survival and recovery of the species. The groups say the wolverine should be given the more protective “endangered” status.
ENDANGERED SPECIES - The Los Angeles Times reports today that the feds are getting ready to announce their proposal to remove gray wolves from Endangered species protections.
Mike Jimenez, who manages wolves in the northern Rockies for the Fish and Wildlife Service, said delisting in that region underscored a “huge success story.”
The sweeping rule by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service would eliminate protection for wolves 18 years after the government reestablished the predators in the West, where they had been hunted to extinction. Their reintroduction was a success, with the population growing to the thousands.
Pro wolf groups already are arguing that the move would cut short wolf recovery before the species has advanced anywhere near its former range, including Colorado and Utah.
But it's clear that state and federal wildlife manager are saying wolves have reestablished better than scientists had predicted and the headaches and social impact make delisting a prudent step in the wolf's best interest.
The presence of wolves has always drawn protests across the Intermountain West from state officials, hunters and ranchers who lost livestock to the wolves. They have lobbied to remove the gray wolf from the endangered list.
Jimenez said that while wolves are now legally hunted in Montana, Idaho and Wyoming, the federal agency continues to monitor pack populations and can reinstate protections should numbers reach levels that biologists consider to be dangerously low.
Federal authorities intend to remove endangered species protections for all gray wolves in the Lower 48 states, carving out an a exception for a small pocket of about 75 Mexican wolves in the wild in Arizona and New Mexico, according to a draft document obtained by The Times.
Once those protections end, the fate of wolves is left to individual states. The species is only beginning to recover in Northern California and the Pacific Northwest. California is considering imposing its own protections after the discovery of a lone male that wandered into the state's northern counties from Oregon two years ago.
The species has flourished elsewhere, however, and the government ended endangered status for the gray wolf in the northern Rockies and Great Lakes regions last year.
A new study led by U.S. Geological Survey biologist Steve Knick has confirmed that sage grouse need undisturbed habitat and solitude for successful reproduction.
Researchers found 99 percent of the active 3,000 leks studied in 355,000 square miles of historic sage grouse range in the West found were in areas where no more than 3 percent of the land had been disturbed by human activity. —Idaho Statesman
WILDLIFE — Could genetic manipulation allow species to adapt to climate change or control an invasive species?
Could we bring back the passenger pigeon and other extinct speces? Would we want to?
This is just a sense of the future of wildlife management through the door opened by genetic engineering. Scientists took a step through that door recently at Cambridge University to examine the question: “How will Synthetic Biology and Conservation Shape the Future of Nature?”
Revkin concludes with three thought-stimulating articles:
WILDLIFE — A reader submitted this photo snapped Wednesday off I-90 between Wallace and Mullan. She said the eyes appeared blue like those of a husky, but the animal ran away as though it were wild.
What's your guess? Wolf, wolf hybrid or husky?
Click “continue reading” for my opinion and the consensus from several Idaho Fish and Game Department wildlife biologists who work with wolves.
Click “continue reading” for my opinion and the consensus from several Idaho Fish and Game Department wildlife biologists who work with wolves.
PREDATORS — A wolf witnessed hunting a deer in a Wenatchee residential area Tuesday is a dose of reality a little too close to home for some people.
It's a reminder that urban deer need to be controlled, and that we need to have measures in place so we can control wolves.
We need to be aware of wolves — all of us. The landscape has changed.
Andy Walgamott of Northwest Sportsman magazine offers this reminder of the well reported developments in the past few years:
It’s a reminder that it’s not just ranchers who will need to adapt to living with the species, but mountain bikers, hikers, mushroom pickers and others who frequent the woods. They will also need to adjust their behavior and become more alert in the outdoors and better understand wolves’ proclivities to avoid the rare negative interactions.
PREDATORS — U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service biologists weighed in today, confirming that the Northern Rockies gray wolf population has remained sustainable two years after wolves lost their endangered species protections in most of the region.
The latest wolf status updates on 2012 wolf monitoring in Idaho, Montana and Wyoming found that aggressive hunting, and some trapping, in the three states lowered the overall number of wolves for the first time in years.
Overall, biologists tallied a minimum of 1,674 wolves across the five states at the end of 2012, a 6 percent decline.
However, the wolf population that burgeoned under protections for more than a decade are still FIVE TIMES higher than the federal government’s original recovery goal, set in the 1990s, of at least 300 wolves in the region.
That goal was achieved in 2002, but lawsuits stalled wolf management for years and the population soared.
Read on for a summary of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service 2012 Northern Rockies wolf status report.
WILDLIFE — Northern Rockies gray wolf packs are highly structured socially. Only the alpha male and alpha female breed.
Generally, according to Washington Fish and Wildlife biologists:
A pack is defined as a minimum of two wolves hanging out together.
A breeding pack must have a minimum of one male and one female wolf hanging out together during the winter breeding period.
PREDATORS — Idaho's 2012 wolf monitoring report released Tuesday indicates the state is struggling to get 14 years of burgeoning wolf populations into some sort of sustainable balance with prey and social acceptance.
The Idaho Department of Fish and Game reports 683 wolves at the end of 2012, down from 746 wolves in 2011 — an 11 percent decrease.
But the total number of packs has increased from 104 in 2011 to 117 in 2012. Wolves are moving in and out of the state, and a new crop of wolves is being born in dens across the state this month.
State wildlife officials attribute both the overall population downsizing and the increase in packs to continued pressure through hunting, trapping and agency control methods.
“Despite concerns expressed by some people that hunting and trapping would eliminate wolf packs, we haven’t found that to be the case,” said Jon Rachael, Fish and Game’s state big-game manager in Boise.
While the number of wolf packs increased, the average size of the packs decreased, Rachael said.
“That is exactly what we would expect to see with wolves being harvested by hunters and trappers,” he said. “Average pack size peaked in 2008 prior to our first hunting season, when we estimated an average of slightly more than eight wolves per pack, and has declined since then to about five wolves per pack now.”
Last year, the Idaho Fish and Game Commission increased bag limits, extended hunting seasons in some areas, allowed hunters to use electronic calls and certified more wolf trappers.
Idaho reports 418 wolves were killed by these means and the efforts of Wildlife Services to protect livestock
Yet the overall effort has barely made a dent in a wolf population that federal and state experts agree is too large for its own good.
For now, it’s the official policy of the Idaho Fish and Game Commission to continue reducing the number of wolves. Wildlife officials don't state a goal for Idaho's wolf population, noting only that the state legislature in 2002 committed to maintaining at least 150 wolves.
“Simply removing them one time doesn't mean they are gone,” Rachael said. “They will backfill suitable habitat fairly quickly. That is why you can have a pretty high harvest rate with wolves and you don't see the population plummeting as some folks were predicting early on.”
PREDATORS — Idaho's gray wolf population at the end of 2012 was at least 683, a decrease of 11 percent from 2011, according to the federally required annual state wolf monitoring report (http://fishandgame.idaho.gov/public/wildlife/wolves/) posted online today by the Idaho Fish and Game Department.
Humans killed 418 of the 425 wolves known to have died in the state last year by hunting, trapping and state and federal agency control efforts to protect livestock, the report says.
However, the number of documented packs had increased and wolves were occupying territories throughout the state.
Montana also has reported a decrease in wolves in its 2012 annual report, the first decrease since 2004.
In Washington, where wolves are still under Endangered Species protections, the number of wolves increased signficantly from 2011 to 2012, with the number pegged at around 100.
Idaho biologists documented 117 packs in the state at the end of 2012 — an increase of seven from 2011 — plus 23 border packs that overlap in Montana, Wyoming and Washington. But total numbers of wolves have gradually decreased because of hunting and other efforts since the population peaked at a minimum of 856 in 2009.
Of the 66 Idaho packs known to have reproduced, 35 packs qualified as breeding pairs at the end of the year, the report says. Those reproductive packs produced a minimum of 187 pups.
A new crop of pups will be born in dens across the state this month.
Wolves were confirmed to have killed 73 cattle, 312 sheep and two dogs in Idaho last year, the report says.
The Panhandle Zone was occupied by 15 documented resident packs in 2012 — up three from 2011 — plus five known resident border packs, three suspected packs and one other documented group during 2012, the report says. Three new resident packs were documented in 2012.
Wolf recovery and monitoring reports from Idaho, Montana, Wyoming and more recently from Washington and Oregon are posted on the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service's Northern Rockies Gray Wolf website.
PREDATORS — With wolves stacking up in northeastern Washington at an alarming rate, perhaps Washington ought to take a cue from Montana, which has announced plans to review the guidelines set in the state's wolf management plan.
Montana is rounding up the state's disbanded 12-member Wolf Management Advisory Council in Helena, April 12, for a meeting to review and discuss the wolf management plan they helped to create.
“A lot has transpired since the council last met in 2007,” said Jeff Hagener, Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks Department director. “Governor Steve Bullock and I have invited the members to gather in Helena for a one-day meeting to review the status of the wolf in Montana today and to discuss the effectiveness of the management plan.”
FISHING – Construction on a once-abandoned sockeye fish hatchery project in eastern Idaho intended to bolster Idaho’s breeding program is back on schedule, Idaho Fish and Game officials said.
The $13.5 million Springfield Fish Hatchery between Aberdeen and Blackfoot should be finished by November.
Hatchery manager Doug Engemann said the hatchery is intended to boost the number of endangered sockeye salmon returning to Redfish Lake near Stanley in central Idaho. The Bonneville Power Administration is paying for the hatchery that’s being built on a 73-acre site.
“We’re moving past the genetic conservation component of the program into a bonafide stock rebuilding, stock recovery program,” Engemann said.
HUNTING — The Idaho Fish and Game Commission today (March 28) voted to extend the current wolf hunting season in the Middle Fork and part of the Dworshak-Elk City wolf management zones.
The commission extended the wolf hunting season through June 30 in the Middle Fork units 20A, 26 and 27 and in the part of the Dworshak-Elk-City Zone's Unit 16 north of the Selway River.
These seasons were scheduled to end Sunday.