Posts tagged: gray wolf
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.”
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.
ENDANGERED SPECIES — News that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is looking into the possibility of delisting gray wolves from endangered species protections ought to be good news.
Delisting is the goal of listing.
Delisting was applauded where' it's already happened — much later than federal scientists, elected officials, state wildlife managers, ranchers and hunters would have liked — in Montana and Washington.
But some western environmental groups are opposing the possibililty that's been circulating in the past few weeks.
On the other hand, 72 members of Congress have signed a petition urging delisting.
Click “continue reading” for the latest from the Associated Press.
ENDANGERED SPECIES — A new wolf pack has been confirmed in Washington by state wildlife officials, bringing the number of known packs to 10 with AT LEAST four other packs suspected of operating inside or on the state borders.
The photo with this post shows two wolves near an elk carcass in the Pitcher Creek drainage about six miles south of Wenatchee, as reported in the Wenatchee World.
In the story, state wildlife biologist Dave Volson doesn't hesitate to point out that this wolf pack could be “new” only in the sense thats it's just been confirmed.
Wolf reports — many are substantiated but many others are not — are coming in from a wide range of areas on the state's wolf reporting webpage. Even the more open spaces of the Palouse region is home to wolves.
See a good roundup of recent wolf-related activity and news — including how wolf management is factoring into the state Senate confirmation hearings for Washington Fish and Wildlife Commissioners and a Washington-collared wolf killed legally in British Columbia — in the latest Wolf Howler report by Andy Walgamott of Northwest Sportsman.
“We're making some progress,” said FWP Director Jeff Hagener. “Confirmed livestock loss has been on a general downward trend since 2009, and we have more tools now for affecting wolf populations. In some areas, where hunting, trapping and livestock-depredation removals have been effective, it looks like the wolf population's growth has been curbed this year. In other areas the population may be leveling off, but we have more work to do. There are still places where we need to manage for a better balance among other Montana wildlife and with Montana's livestock producers and their families.”
UPDATED at 3:20 p.m. with clarification on costs provided by WDFW.
ENDANGERED SPECIES — The cost of managing protected wolves in Washington is likely to increase by more than 200 percent from the past two years to about $2.3 million in 2013-14, a state wildlife official told legislators in Olympia this morning.
Dave Ware of the Department of Fish and Wildlife gave the figure for the biennium in his testimony during a public hearing on wolf-related legislation before the House Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee.
In November, Ware had estimated the state had spent $376,000 by that time in 2012 on wolf management, including $76,500 to eliminate the cattle-killing Wedge Pack in northern Stevens County.
But this morning, Ware said the full-year total from all wolf efforts for 2012 was $750,000.
With the population of wolves growing rapidly — doubling in a year under endangered species protections — the costs will increase as the state is obliged to work with livestock producers, investigate cases of domestic animals and livestock attacked or killed by wolves and dedicate more staff in the field to trapping, researching and monitoring wolf packs.
Lawmakers are considering two bills that would raise funds for wolf programs by creating a wolf-themed vehicle license plate or tapping a surcharge to all personalized license plates.
The agency hopes to avoid robbing money from other wildlife programs to manage the rivival of wolves, Ware said in an interview after his testimony.
“There’s not a lot of support from the hunting community for subsidizing wolf management, at least while wolves are still protected as an endangered species and not open to hunting,” Ware said.
Budgets for big-game programs are larger than the wolf management budget, but the agency is struggling to catch up with big-game monitoring that gives a clear picture of how much the growing wolf populations is impacting their prey base of deer, elk and moose.
The NW Sportsman post notes — as many of us have while we observe and report on the historic re-entry of wolves to the region— that conservation groups continue to oppose the killing of wolves. They continue to ignore wolf experts who say wolves must be killed in some situations to help ease the impact to rural people and the social tension, a necessary step that will work in favor of wolves in the long run.
PREDATORS – Here’s a lengthy update on gray wolf news, issues and activities in the region, including bills being considered this week:
Still alive in Olympia is a bill that could let landowners kill wolves caught in the act of attacking pets or livestock.
Senate Bill 5187, introduced by Sen. John Smith, R-Colville, is scheduled for a hearing Wednesday morning (March 20).
While some conservation groups oppose most measures that involve killing wolves, which are listed as endangered in Washington, state Fish and Wildlife officials tend to support the bill.
Wyoming, Montana and Idaho had similar laws in place between 1995 and 2003, and only three wolves were shot by landowners during those years, said Nate Pamplin, the state’s wildlife division director.
“There are some positive aspects of this bill,” he told the Seattle Times. While the impact to wolf populations would be negligible, “It can help reduce animosity between ranchers and the government because people will feel like they can protect their property.”
Senate Bill 5193, also introduced by Smith and supported by WDFW, would designate up to $50,000 a year in department funding to compensate ranchers for livestock losses from wolves and tap special license plates receipts for some of the funds.
A bill that could tap a sportsman-funded Idaho Fish and Game Department account and raise money to compensate ranchers and help control wolf damage has been sent to the House floor with a “do-pass” recommendation from the Agricultural Affairs Committee.
House Bill 278 was introduced by Rep. Judy Boyle, a Republican rancher from Midvale.
Among the many wolf sightings reported in the region, some are more credible than others, including the black wolf wearing a collar and running with another wolf west of St. John, Wash., in recent months. The collar was not attached in Washington. It could be from Idaho, but the collar apparently is no longer transmitting so there’s been no confirmation.
The responses I received from Washington and Idaho wildlife biologists offer a little insight into the vaguery of research tools.
“The wolf could be from either Idaho or Montana (or even B.C. I guess),” said Jim Hayden, Idaho Fish and Game Panhandle Regional wildlife manager.
“All of us have plenty of collars that have gone off the air, or dispersed.”
Wolves get around, he said, noting a collared wolf seen in Washington could have originated from Idaho, Oregon, Montana or even British Columbia.
“I did get a call several weeks ago now from a Washington bio about this wolf. We have not collared any black wolves in this region, but a couple days prior we had reports of two wolf tracks near Windy Bay, on the west side of Lake CDA, so that lends credence to the theory that those two wolves came from/through Idaho.
“We have four collars active in the Panhandle, three south of I90 and one north of the corridor.”
Glen Hickey, Idaho Fish and Game in Lewiston, emphasized Hayden’s point about wolves getting around.
“One wolf collared in a study in Unit 10 north of Orofino and was killed by a hunter in unit 39 south of Lowman – third of the wat acorss the state, he said. “Another one collared in the same study area was harvested in Montana near Helena. Given that backdrop, it’s anyone’s guess where that wolf in Washington came from.”
Wolf OR7 came back to Oregon on March 12. The wolf, born and fixed with a GPS collar in Oregon, crossed into California on Dec. 28, 2011. It was a rock star as the only known wolf in the state. Back home after more than 14 months, it joins at least 53 other wolves documented in Oregon.
The potential impact of wolves on northeastern Washington game species such as deer and elk will be discussed in a public meeting set by the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife on Wednesday (March 27) in Colville.
The meeting is scheduled from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. at the Colville Ag Trade Center, 317 West Astor Ave.
The Idaho Clearwater Region’s last wolf trapper education course of the season will be held March 30 in Lewiston.
PREDATORS — With Montana's wolf season coming to a close this evening, hunters and trappers have reported killing 223 wolves during the state’s third season and the first that allowed trapping.
That's an increase of 53 over last season's total.
The general rifle wolf season began Oct. 20; trapping opened Dec. 15. Both seasons will be closed Friday.
IDAHO, which allows hunters to shoot up to five wolves and trap up to five wolves, is in the middle of its second annual hunting season. Hunters and trappers have taken a combined 245 wolves so far in the 2012-2013 seasons (169 by hunters, 76 by trappers). The current season closes March 31.
ENDANGERED SPECIES — Two of several gray wolf-related bills being considered in the 2013 Washington Legislature have passed out of committee and could be considred by the Senate.
Andy Walgamott of Northwest Sportsman has this update on the status of the bills.
ENDANGERED SPECIES — Although Idaho won't be releasing its 2012 year-end gray wolf surveys report until March, the Washington Fish and Wildlife Department released its federally required report last week, as we reported.
The details are posted on the agency's gray wolf webpage, but Andy Walgamott of Northwest Sportsman Magazine has compiled this easy-to-read rundown of all the known wolf packs in Washington with updated info.
Here are some of the past week's top outdoors stories in The Spokesman-Review:
ENDANGERED SPECIES — An outdoorsman who knew how to use a good camera captured sharp images of a tagged gray wolf on Feb. 11 that had wandered into Chelan County.
Craig Monette of Chelan the photos to Washington Fish and Wildlife biologists who were able to read the number on the ear tags and ID the wolf as originating from Kittitas County. He also presented the photos to the Wenatchee World, saying, “I think people should know wolves are out there.”
“They were absolutely incredible photos,” said David Volson, a wildlife biologist for Fish and Wildlife in Wenatchee. Volson said a blowup of the photos allowed him to read the number on the tag in the wolf’s ear and positively identify it as a young female that was caught and tagged last fall in the Teanaway Valley.
Two packs have been documented along the east slopes of the Cascades, he said, the Teanaway Wolf Pack in northern Kittitas County and the Lookout Wolf Pack in western Okanogan County.
The wolf Monette photographed is probably about 2 years old and out looking for a new home, Volson told the Wenatchee World.
“We know wolves are dispersers,” he said. At about 2 years of age, some will travel 50 to 75 miles or more looking for new territory. Volson said biologists recently tracked one wolf from the Teanaway who was fitted with a remote collar all the way to Canada, nearly 300 miles. He thinks this wolf may be following a similar route.
ENDANGERED SPECIES — Although the unofficial estimates have been out for weeks, the Washington Fish and Wildlife today confirmed that the number of confirmed gray wolves and wolf packs in the state nearly doubled during the past year.
Based on field reports and aerial monitoring for the annual report, the 2012 survey confirms the presence of at least 51 wolves in nine wolf packs with a total of five successful breeding pairs. The previous year’s survey documented 27 wolves, five wolf packs and three breeding pairs.
A wolf pack is defined as two or more wolves traveling together. A successful breeding pair is defined as an adult male and female with at least two pups that survive until the end of the calendar year.
“The survey shows that our state’s wolf population is growing quickly,” said Nate Pamplin, WDFW wildlife program director. “That growth appears to be the result of both natural reproduction and the continuing in-migration of wolves from Canada and neighboring states.”
Pamplin said the actual number of wolves in Washington state is likely much higher than the number confirmed by the survey, noting that field biologists currently suspect the existence of two additional packs.
In addition, lone wolves often go uncounted and those that range into Washington but den in other states are not included in WDFW’s survey, he said.
Considering those factors, and applying an estimate of the average pack size in other western states, there could easily be as many as 100 wolves in Washington, Pamplin said.
“The survey is the baseline we use to monitor wolves’ progress toward recovery,” he said. “While we’ve stepped up our monitoring efforts significantly over the past year, we recognize that it does not account for every wolf within our state’s borders.”
One of the nine packs represented in the survey is the Wedge pack, which now has two confirmed members in northeastern Washington. Last summer, WDFW eliminated seven members of the pack to end a series of attacks on an area rancher’s cattle that left six calves dead and 10 other animals injured.
Pamplin said wildlife biologists do not know whether the two wolves living near the U.S.-Canada border in Stevens County are members of the original Wedge pack or whether they are new arrivals from inside or outside the state.
“Either way, we were confident that wolves would repopulate that area,” he said. “We really hope to prevent the kind of situation we faced with the Wedge pack last summer by working with ranchers to use non-lethal methods to protect their livestock.”
The gray wolf is currently listed by the state as an endangered species throughout Washington and is federally listed as endangered in the western two-thirds of the state. Once common, wolves were essentially eliminated in most western states during the past century because they preyed on livestock.
Under the state’s Wolf Conservation and Management Plan, wolves can be removed from the state’s endangered species list once 15 successful breeding pairs are documented for three consecutive years among three designated wolf-recovery regions. Four pairs are required in Eastern Washington, four pairs in the North Cascades, four pairs in South Cascades/Northwest Coast and three pairs in any recovery region.
Reports of possible wolf sightings can be made to WDFW’s wildlife reporting line, (877) 933-9847.
WILDLIFE — The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife has scheduled three public meetings in northeast Washington this month to discuss wolf-livestock conflict management.
The meetings will run from 6 to 8 p.m. as follows:
With calving season underway, the meetings will give livestock owners a chance to talk directly with WDFW wildlife managers about wolves and their impacts on ranching operations, said Stephanie Simek, WDFW wildlife-conflict manager.
“We plan to discuss the various types of landowner assistance that we have available and the specific needs of individual producers,” Simek said. “Producers will have time to ask questions and offer comments.”
The meetings will include a brief presentation on the current status of wolf packs in Washington.
Simek said the department has funding available to support cost-sharing agreements for preventative measures that can help minimize problems with wolves. Those practices include reducing attractants by disposing of livestock carcasses, installing special fencing, using protected areas for calving and lambing, and using range riders to haze wolves away from livestock.
Sixteen livestock producers have signed cooperative cost-share agreements to date, Simek said.
WDFW also provides direct technical assistance to ranchers, pays compensation for confirmed livestock losses – and under certain conditions – issues permits to kill predatory animals.
The gray wolf is listed and protected as state endangered throughout Washington and federally endangered in the western two-thirds of the state.
PREDATORS — A wolf management bill that was fast-tacked through the Montana Legislature was signed into law Wednesday by Gov. Steve Bullock.
Bullock said the law will allow hunters to purchase up to three wolf licenses and lowers the price of a nonresident wolf license from $350 to $50. He said the measure also will strengthen state wildlife officials’ efforts to manage Montana’s recovered and growing wolf population.
See the story in the Missoulian.
WILDLIFE — Helicopters are getting ready to fly for a wide-ranging wildlife research effort in Idaho's Clearwater region.
PREDATORS — A proposal to narrow wildlife management options and expand the state's wolf hunt is being fast-tracked through the Montana Legislature for the governor's, according to the Associated Press.
Here's more info from the AP:
House Bill 73 lets the Department of Fish, Wildlife and Parks increase the number of wolves one hunter can take, allows for electronic calls and removes a requirement to wear hunter orange outside general deer and elk season.
The department last month abandoned efforts to shut down gray wolf hunting and trapping in an area north of Yellowstone National Park after wolves popular with the park visitors and five radio-collared wolves important to wolf research were killed.
Lawmakers wanted to make sure such a regional closure doesn't come up again.
Gov. Steve Bullock has indicated support for the legislation, noting it had been backed by Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks.
“The department did support it, and at the end of the day we need to base these decisions on science, not on politics, and allowing more than one, three wolves to be taken, it fits in with the science,” he said.
Fish, Wildlife and Parks said it already has prepared rule changes that will allow the legislation to immediately impact what remains of the wolf hunting season ending Feb. 28.
Hunters and trappers so far this season have killed fewer than 200 wolves. Wildlife officials are hoping to reduce the animals' population from an estimated 650 wolves to around 450. The goal is to reduce wolf attacks on livestock and help some elk herds that have been in decline due to wolf attacks.
Wildlife advocates have argued the state is being too aggressive against a species only recently restored to the Northern Rockies after it was widely exterminated last century. But no one spoke against the expanded wolf hunt on the Senate floor.
“These creatures are hard to hunt, and we need to allow our wolf hunters the best chance of getting into them while the season is still ongoing,” said Sen.Larry Jent, D-Bozeman.
Sen. Fred Thomas, R-Stevensville, said the “big kumbaya” around the bill concerned him because he argued it doesn't go far enough to limit wolf numbers. He said the FWP is going to have to start allowing snare trapping of the wolves, a controversial practice the wildlife commission banned with its trapping regulations.
“While this bill will do some things, it is not the big answer,” Thomas said. “If you really want to get after this, you have to authorize snaring.”
HUNTING — Idaho Fish and Game Department officials met with state legislators today to let them know there's been no relief in the downturn of nonresident hunters buying hunting and fishing licenses.
That's significant because nonresidents pay most of the bills for the state's wildlife management, and they also contribute substantially to the local economy, especially in rural towns.
The reduction in nonresident hunting is hurting Montana, too.
I wrote about this issue in August, as Montana and Idaho wildlife officials looked at the grim numbers from the low sales non-resident licenses before the fall seasons.
A detailed update from today's hearing at the Idaho Legislature has been posted by S-R Boise Bureau reporter Betsy Russell.
WILDLIFE — A sudden spike in golden eagles being caught in snare traps in Montana this week is setting off alarm bells. The eagles feed often on road-killed and winter-killed deer this time of year and are susceptible to bait.
The Missoulian story linked below does not look into the potential for eagles to become victims of the increased emphasis on trapping wolves in Montana, but that's a possibilitly if the new surge of wolf trappers in Montana and Idaho isn't properly trained.
One of the golden eagles snared in Montana had been working for science, packing around a radio transmitter for nearly three years. Raptor View Research Center in Missoula had been tracking the eagle, learning the bird had summered in the Brooks Range of Alaska before heading south for Montana each winter.
While it's not uncommon for golden eagles to get caught in traps, the big birds usually get caught in leghold traps. However, in the past few days, biologists have been alarmed to find three golden eagles have been caught in snare traps in Montana, killing two of the birds and injuring the third. — Missoulian