Posts tagged: wildlife
ENDANGERED SPECIES — The Seattle Bureau of the Associated Press copied a line from a Defenders of Wildlife news release into the lead of a Saturday story that robbed the public of balanced reporting on wolf recovery — a hot topic — in Washington.
Shortly after Washington Fish and Wildlife Department officials announced on Saturday that they'd confirmed “four new wolf packs” and “steady growth” of the state's wolf population, the Defenders of Wildlife issued a press release referring to the WDFW announcement. The Defenders twisted the state's survey and called Washington's wolf population “stable.”
The animal rights group correctly pointed out that the wildlife officials had CONFIRMED 52 individual wolves in the state.
But then the Defenders invented the phrase, “an increase of one individual wolf,” which the WDFW officials did not say, but the Associated Press used in the story lead as though it were a fact from the state.
What wildlife officials DID say is that they cannot count every wolf in the wild so they're no longer going to try, as they did last year when they estimated the population at 50-100 wolves.
The number 52 is a minimum figure they could confirm at the end of 2013. But to say 52 is “an increase of one” from last year's estimate is fabricated by the Defenders, an organization that benefits politically and financially from convincing the public that wolf recovery is slow or not happening.
AP Seattle Bureau writer Phuong Le further confuses the issue later in the story by pointing out CORRECTLY that WDFW in 2013 had estimated the wolf population at 50-100 individuals.
So why did she say this year's estimate is an increase of 1? Because Defenders did.
God only knows why the reporter used the material from a special interest group in her lead rather than the information from the WDFW. There was PLENTY of information the state biologists released regarding the status of wolves in Washington to make an good story — which The Spokesman-Review published, but the AP ignored.
Perhaps the worst part about the story is that it goes on to quote reactions from two out-of-state-based pro-wolf groups — Defenders and the Center for Biological Diversity — without a single mention of in-state livestock or sportsmen's groups that might have balanced the story a bit.
The reason: The two pro-wolf groups sent press releases (I got them, too).
In my view, the reporter of a news story on the event at hand either should have sought more than one side of the wolf recovery story, or she should have stuck with the info coming from the scientists and worked to get the broader reaction later.
Groups that weigh in heavily regarding the impacts of wolf management did not send out press releases and thus were left out — as if they're not there. That's a poor service to the readers of the many news outlets throughout the Pacific Northwest that had access to that story on the AP wire.
Read on for the full AP story.
WILDLIFE WATCHING — The map graphic above shows how some Washington wolves range far while others keep fairly small home ranges.
I detailed the the relevance of Ruby Creek Wolf 47, which was captured in Pend Oreille County and fitted with a GPS collar last year by Washington Fish and Wildlife Department biologists to monitor its movements.
The wolf was one of 11 wolves with active transmitters that were followed by state researchers in 2013 and provided the travel information summarized in the map graphic above.
The collared wolves, among other things, helped the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife confirm four new wolf packs in the state, bringing the total number to at least 13.
Wolves are protected in Washington by state endangered species rules. But several of the wolves that have taken off from Washington to range widely into Canada have been legally shot during hunting seasons authorized in British Columbia.
Field Reports: Dog that survived wolf attack mauled by cougar… Neighbors discuss South Hill Bluff…Montana eye's bucket biologists…Idaho researchers collar 50 elk…
Out & About: Weather change kicks birds into another gear… Festival greets tundra swans… Go 24 Hours at Schweitzer… UI course goes wild .. Outdoor programs this week…
Field Reports: Chapman Lake public access proposed… Norther pike seminar… Spokanite on salmon panel… Invassive mussels on Idaho's front door… Liberty Lake prime for brown trout fishing…
PREDATORS — If you've ever wondered what it looks like when a wolf decides somebody's pet dog is going to be dinner, here you go.
Warning: While its not gory, the video is unsettling.
Question: Are you comfortable with the modern world of videoing, posting and “sharing” tragedies rather than picking up a rock and trying to help the world's underdogs?
WILDLIFE WATCHING — If you need more reassurance that spring has sprung, Yellowstone National Park officials have reported that grizzly bears are beginning to emerge from their dens.
First bears out of the hatch usually are males. Females with cubs born in the den during winter usually are last out, giving the cubs more chance to develop.
Grizzly bears are emerging from hibernation in the Greater Yellowstone Area, so hikers, skiers and snowshoers are advised to stay in groups of three of more, make noise on the trail and carry bear spray.
The first confirmed reports of grizzly bear activity in the Park were reported on March 4. Guides and visitors observed and photographed a grizzly bear along the road in the Hayden Valley area. The first black bear of the year was observed on February 11 near the south end of the park.
Bears begin looking for food soon after they emerge from their dens. They are attracted to elk and bison that have died during the winter. Carcasses are an important enough food source that bears will sometimes react aggressively when surprised while feeding on them.
Updated bear safety information is available on the Yellowstone bear safety Web page.
While firearms are allowed in the park, the discharge of a firearm is a violation of park regulations. The park’s law enforcement rangers who carry firearms on duty rely on bear spray, rather than their weapons, as the most effective means to deal with a bear encounter.
Visitors are also reminded to keep food, garbage, barbecue grills and other attractants stored in hard-sided vehicles or bear-proof food storage boxes. This helps keep bears from becoming conditioned to human foods, and helps keep park visitors and their property safe.
WILDLIFE WATCHING — How many species of critters will pass the lens of a trail camera positioned at one spot in Stevens County, Wash.?
You'll be surprised.
Keep your eye open for the bobcat.
WILDLIFE WATCHING — You think you had a bad night? How would you like to be tied to one of your rivals while coyotes chewed him up?
I've seen quite a few fascinating videos of hunters rescuing bucks or even bull elk after their antlers had been locked in a battle.
This one isn't the most exciting of those available on YouTube, but it just boggles your mind to think about what the buck went through during the night.
Check it out if you want to see a whitetail buck being rescued after it locked horns with another buck that wasn't nearly so lucky.
WILDLIFE WATCHING — The eyes of the great gray owl are haunting, as you can see in the photo made this week by Montana outdoor photographer Jaime Johnson, who reports, poetically:
We spent the day again today with the Great Grays near Great Falls – wonderful birds.They are very social birds, they actually fly and land near us when we are watching them.They sit low in trees and listen intently for mice moving under the snow (waste deep).When the time is right, they dive into the snow and grab the mice. They then crawl outOf the hole and sit on the snow while they eat their prize. Once it is gone, it’s back to theLow branch to do it all over again.
HUNTING/FISHING — Poaching is a live and well in the region's mountains and streams, and state fish and wildlife officers in Washington and Idaho are looking for help making cases. Two in particular include:
Entiat bucks: A $2,000 reward is being offered by the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife for substantial information leading to charges filed against the person(s) involved in poaching trophy class deer.
Two mule deer bucks were shot from Mud Creek Road in the Entiat Valley during the first two weeks of January 2014. The poacher(s) attempted to hide the deer, leaving the antlers and meat to waste (though they likely planned to return later to retrieve the antlers).
Clearwater steelhead: On Friday, Feb. 28, poachers left their mark at the Ahsahka boat ramp on the North Fork of the Clearwater River, according to Idaho Fish and Game oficials.
A call to the Citizens Against Poaching (CAP) hotline led an Idaho Fish and Game officer to the scene where six steelhead had been left to waste. Six female fish were all over the 28 inch length limit and one still had an adipose fin indicating it was most likely a wild fish. All fish had been gutted and thrown alongside the boat ramp near the water’s edge. The persons reporting the crime said they had been fishing earlier in the day at that same location and the fish were not there. They returned to go fishing in the afternoon and found the fish that had been left to waste.
One of the people reporting the crime stated, “Those fish could have feed my family for quite a while… but instead someone saw it fit to catch and kill illegal fish and then waste the meat.” Someone knows who did this. It was likely more than one person. Without the help of a responsible honest person, these dishonest violators will get away with stealing the wildlife resource that belongs to the people of Idaho.
WILDLIFE — Canada is taking a bold step to protect Banff National Park wildlife from the most common killer of critters:
Parks Canada to implement overnight travel restriction in Banff NP
As first recommended in the two-year, $2-million Banff Bow Valley Study in 1997, Parks Canada has announced that it will implement seasonal travel restrictions on the Bow Valley Parkway in Banff National Park in Alberta that will close 10.5 miles of the nearly 30-mile highway from 8 p.m. to 8 a.m. between March 1 and June 25 to give wildlife undisturbed space in the spring.
Rocky Mountain Outlook;
PREDATORS — Idaho Fish and Game, in cooperation with the USDA Wildlife Services, killed 23 gray wolves from a helicopter near the Idaho-Montana border during February in an effort to relieve predation on the struggling elk herds in the remote Lolo Zone.
The agency said in a just-issued media release that the wolf-control effort has been completed.
“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 agency said in the release.
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, officials said.
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. Officials said their goal is to reduce that Lolo zone wolf population by 70 percent.
The Lolo elk population has declined from 16,000 elk in 1989 to roughly 2,100 elk in 2010, when Fish and Game last surveyed the zone.
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. A total of 25 wolves were taken in the previous five actions.
Fish and Game officials say they authorize 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, they say.
More from IFG:
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.
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.
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 — It's been a good week for Washington Fish and Wildlife researchers working with a helicopter to capture wolves so they can be fitted with tracking collars.
At least five wolves were captured and released from Monday through Thursday. Two were in the Ione area of northeastern Washington and three were captured Thursday on the east slopes of the Cascades.
Donny Martorello, WDFW carnivore manager, said the effort to collar more wolves so they can be monitored for wolf research will continue into next week.
WILDLIFE WATCHING — A Florida research project on endangered species in the hammocks of North Key Largo uncovered an unwanted cast of video stars: Cats perched atop man-made woodrat nests.
“The cats are doing the things that cats do when they hunt,” Jeremy Dixon, manager of the Crocodile Lake National Wildlife Refuge says in a story by KeysInfoNet.
“It's not the fault of the cats,” Dixon said. “It's the fault of owners who allow their cats to trespass into the refuge, or people who dump cats on North Key Largo.”
My stand on the issue of domestic cats that are let loose to kill birds and other critters:
Loose-running domestic cats kill for fun. These cats are not wildlife. They should be licensed and required to abide by seasons and quotas just as human hunters.
UPDATED: 3:15 p.m., Feb. 26 with info about increase in cougar permits.
WILDLIFE ENCOUNTERS — An 11-year-old girl shot a cougar that was following her 14-year-old brother to their home at Twisp, in north central Washington, the state Fish and Wildlife Department said.
You've got to admire Shelby White: Not only did she have a cougar tag, but she put it to good use.
And get this: Her 9-year-old brother shot a cougar threatening their livestock the previous week.
The female cougar killed last week was about 4 years old and weighed about 50 pounds — half of what it should weigh, said Officer Cal Treser.
It's the latest in a rash of cougar incidents in the Methow Valley this season.
Another sickly cougar was killed this month at a residence in Stehekin.
In response to an above-average number of cougar-related complaints in the Methow Valley, three hunters were issued special permits by the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife last week to hunt cougars with hounds in a designated area.
The cougar removal hunt opened Feb. 15 and will continue through March 31, or until it is closed by state wildlife officials, said Donny Martorello, WDFW carnivore section manager.
Looks like one straight-shooting girl did a little of the work for them.
Click “continue reading” for more news about this unusual season of cougar issues and kills in the Methow Valley, including the saga the White family has had.
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 WATCHING — I've had quite a few comments regarding my recent column, Timing is of the essences for wildlife, including several comments about premier wildlife watching opportunities great horned owls provide right here in River City.
For several years, from late December and for many weeks, we have heard (almost any hour of day or night) and rarely seen one or possibly two pair in our block near 46th, just east of Crestline. They favor a huge redtail hawk nest in a ponderosa, and are audible in a closed house with the t.v. going. Love it!
Elsewhere, Montana outdoor photographer Jaime Johnson said he and his wife Lisa have been closely watching three pairs of great horned owls already on nests despite the recent winter storms.
He describes the photo above:
This particular shot is a male sitting about a foot above the female (that’s on the nesting spot). Males are generally quite a bit smaller than the females.
WILDLIFE MANAGEMENT — Miranda Wecker of Naselle, who continues in her position as chair of the Washington Fish and Wildlife Commission, had another confirmation hearing in Olympia with the Senate Natural Resources and Parks Committee.
She answered questions highlighting some of her stands on commercial fishing and wolf recovery.
But despite the second appearance before the committee in a year, there's been no promise that Wecker will be officially confirmed.
So she continues to lead the commission at the pleasure of the current governor as well as former Gov. Gregoire, who appointed her to the panel in 2005.
I guess the lawmakers are just bringing her in to let her know they know she's there.
That's not all bad.
WILDLIFE WATCHING — The Wenatchee World story about a Stehekin homeowner who ended up having to shoot a sickly cougar acting aggressively on his porch has become the newspaper's most widely circulated story on social media.
A Facebook post that was originally put up by Robert C. Nielsen and reposted with permission by The Wenatchee World has been viewed more than 1.5 million times, with comments, likes and shares coming from around the world, the newspaper reports in a story picked up by the Associated Press.
Here's the rest of the AP version of the World story by Michelle McNiel explaining the incident and some of the reaction.
Nielsen, a resident of the remote community at the head of Lake Chelan, first posted pictures and a write-up about his encounter with the big cat last week. He said he got up to let his dog outside on the night of Feb. 10. Just after bringing his dog, Maya, back inside, he heard a thump at the door and saw a cougar jumping against the glass pane outside.
He wrote that the cougar was “all jumping up and down, snarling and growling and pawing to the very top of the glass . without exposed claws.”
He got a gun and a camera, and then went upstairs and dropped a coffee cup on the cat’s head. “It didn’t flinch,” he wrote.
He then fired two warning shots next to it. But it stayed. So he “switched weapons up a grade, in case it broke the window and came in,” he said.
The cougar then left the door step and headed to Nielsen’s shop. He said he fired four more shots but, “It didn’t even look back.”
Nielsen wrote that in his 34 years in Stehekin, he’s seen only four cougars - two sick ones and two healthy ones.
“It doesn’t take a loud noise to start a healthy cougar moving, most of the time,” he said. “More like, you’d be lucky to see a healthy cougar, so fast do they disappear if surprised.”
He didn’t see the cat anymore that night. But the next morning before heading to work, he went into his shop to get gloves.
“The shop door was left open to air out fumes,” he wrote. “I rounded in, noticed briefly a new layer of mess on the floor, and was met by Little Miss Snarly Puss! She was hunkered down part way under a cabinet.”
He continued that, “She did her best to eat through a tool bucket, destroying my knee pads, eating the rubber grip off a cordless tool, and generally not getting any satisfaction. Lots of growling and snarling going on in there while I backpedaled and slammed the door shut.”
As he continued to work, he met two other Stehekin residents, who offered to kill the cat for him. After the cat was shot, they discovered that it was severely underweight, had many broken and lost teeth, and was covered in open sores on its body.
Nielsen’s story and photos have gone viral in the world of social media. In addition to the 1.5 million-plus visits, the post on The World Facebook page had 76,896 likes and was shared by 13,424 people.
One of the shares was to the social news and entertainment website, Reddit, where it had been viewed several hundred thousand times by Wednesday afternoon.
Comments ranged from astonishment about a cougar being in close proximity to people, to sympathy for the dead animal.
“Where the hell do you people live for cats like this to just show up on your doorstep,” one person commented.
“As a New Zealander, this absolutely amazes me,” wrote another. “The best I get is the neighbour’s cat looking like it wants a pat, and then freaking out as soon as I open the door.”
One commenter wrote, “I live in Egypt. Worst I’ve ever seen is a cat-sized rat in Cairo.”
HUNTING — A proposal to allow hunters to use bait in luring wolves in the Idaho Panhandle is among numerous 2014 big-game season proposals geared to reviving elk populations statewide.
The Idaho Fish and Game Department will hold an open house meeting to explain and take comment on the package of proposals 4:30-7:30 p.m. on Thursday, Feb. 27, at an open house at the Best Western Coeur d’Alene Inn, 506 W. Appleway Ave.