Posts tagged: wildlife research
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.
USFWS again extends comment period on protection of wolverines
A dispute on the reliability of conflicting research on wolverines was cited by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service for its decision to extend by six months the public comment period on a proposal to put the elusive species under federal protection.
ENDANGERED SPECIES — An organization of wildlife officials for Western states is asking the federal government to delay a possible listing for wolverines as a threatened species, which could mean an end to trapping outside Alaska for the animal’s fur.
According to the Salt Lake Tribune, the Western Association of Fish and Wildlife objects to any listing based solely on fears climate change could shrink the wolverine’s wintry terrain along the spine of the Rocky Mountains and other Western ranges.
“Climate change models are not a reason to list species under the Endangered Species Act,” Bill Bates, a representative from the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources, told The Tribune.
Bates said the population of wolverines has actually increased since the time of European settlement, even though it’s estimated fewer than 300 of the elusive, snow-loving carnivores roam the mountain ranges of the Lower 48 states.
“We can wait and see what happens with climate change in the next 20 to 30 years,” Bates said.
Federal officials say they aren’t trying to use the wolverine as a means to regulate greenhouse gases, but they say it’s a fact climate change threatens the wolverine as much as it does the polar bear. The Interior Department listed polar bears as threatened five years ago because of loss of their primary habitat, sea ice, due to climate warming.
In January, the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service proposed protections for the wolverine throughout the continental U.S. It opened a public comment period that’s set to end on Monday.
Read on for more of the story moved by the Associated Press.
WILDLIFE — Volunteers are needed once again to monitor wolverine bait stations in the Idaho Panhandle in a state Fish and Game research project organized by the Friends of the Scotchman Peaks Wilderness.
Kristen Nowicki, the group's new field projects director, has set up a new online registration form volunteers can use to get on the list for group treks on snowshoes or skis to set up and monitor bait stations that collect photos and hair samples from any furry visitor.
Being the first to see the images captured on the motion-triggered trail cams is worth the effort alone. A large variety of wildlife visits the sites.
Follow this link to the form to register and participate.
WILDLIFE WATCHING — A male harlequin duck, known to be at least 17 years old, was recently identified in Glacier National Park by University of Montana researchers and Glacier National Park scientists.
“Prior to these findings, harlequin ducks were reported to live up to only 10 years of age, which makes this finding a positive indicator of the health and longevity of harlequin breeding populations in Glacier National Park,” said Lisa Bate, Glacier Park biological science technician. “Research indicates harlequin ducks mate for life unless something happens to one member of the pair. This old male has returned the last three years with the same female.”
Researchers launched the study in 2011, using radio-telemetry and banding to learn more about the location of harlequin nests and factors affecting offspring survival.
Upper McDonald Creek is considered an important breeding stream for harlequin ducks, comprising 25 percent of known broods produced in Montana. The area also has the highest density of breeding harlequins in the lower 48 states.
About 40 pairs of harlequins in the park are known to be in Glacier Park.
Read on for more detals about the harlequins.
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.
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.
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
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.
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 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.”
WILDLIFE — Research underway in Washington, Oregon and Idaho seeks to understand more about a wilderness icon, North America's reclusive carnivore — the wolverine.
Last weekend we took a glimpse at how citizen scientists are helping Idaho Fish and Game monitor a range of carnivores including wolverines in the Idaho Panhandle.
KING 5 TV this week has an excellent update (above) on wolverine research in the North Cascades, including footage of a a fiesty critter trapped, collared and released.
WILDLIFE — This male golden eagle has worn a GPS “backpack” for eight years to provide information about home range size and habitat use in Eastern Washington, according to the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife Facebook page.
Now at least 13 years old, he was recently recaptured by the agency's raptor researcher who removed the equipment to let him spend the rest of his life flying “free.”
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.
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 — 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.”