Posts tagged: wolf hunting
PREDATORS — The latest livestock attack by Oregon’s Snake River wolf pack puts it one bite away from a potential state kill order, according to Jeff Barnard of the Associated Press.
An Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife report released Monday says the rancher who found a wounded cow Nov. 21 in the rugged country between the Imnaha and Snake rivers had taken required nonlethal steps to deter wolf attacks. Those steps included cleaning up old cow carcasses, putting out radio-activated alarm boxes and checking the cattle up to five times a day.
The report says bite marks on the cow’s hindquarters were characteristics of wolf attacks. The wounds were estimated to be a week or two old, and a GPS tracking collar put the pack in the area at that time.
New rules established under a legal settlement allow officials to consider a kill order after four qualifying attacks by a wolf pack in six months, the AP reports. The most recent attack makes three for the Snake River pack since October.
Unlike other states trying to control wolves in cattle country, Oregon has adopted specific rules requiring ranchers to take nonlethal steps to deter wolf attacks before the state can shoot a wolf for attacking livestock. The rules were the result of a legal settlement of a lawsuit from conservation groups.
Steve Pedery of Oregon Wild, one of plaintiffs, says the department is faithfully carrying out the new rules. He noted that the number of attacks by the Imnaha pack has gone down as nonlethal efforts have gone up. The Imnaha pack was Oregon’s first and had the most livestock kills last year when a decision to shoot two of its members was blocked by court order.
“I think the agency deserves a lot of credit for following the letter of the plan, putting out reports and making them public, which is a big change over where we were a couple years ago,” Pedery said.
Russ Morgan, wolf coordinator for the department, said more ranchers have bought into nonlethal control in the range of the Imnaha pack, where they have been dealing with wolves for a longer time. However, it is still uncertain whether the nonlethal controls are responsible, he said.
Morgan added that the Imnaha pack is made up of different wolves, except for the breeding pair, than when the pack was more actively attacking livestock. Young adults have moved on, and the pack has at least seven new pups.
Rancher Rod Childers, who negotiated the rules on behalf of the Oregon Cattlemen’s Association, said ranchers are still frustrated with the slow pace of the process, which can take a week or more to confirm a kill and determine whether it qualifies under the rules.
“People are learning it’s here and we’ve got to deal with it,” he said of the seven confirmed wolf packs in northeastern Oregon. “We just want it dealt with in a more timely manner than what it is.”
WILDLIFE WATCHING — Some smart asses had a lot of fun this week spreading rumors that wolves had attacked three horses near La Crosse, Wash.
A Whitman County Gazette reporter tried to track down the word-of-mouth reports and so did several Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife police and biologists.
“We tracked down the source and can verify there's no substance whatsoever to the rumors,” Steve Pozzanghera, WDFW regional manager in Spokane, said this morning.
He said the rumors were not even a case of mistaken identity, such as stray dogs attacking livestock or anything like that. “It's just purely a rumor,” he said.
While we're putting that issue to bed, let's also dismiss the rumor going around that WDFW staff has been releasing wolves in Whitman County. For God's sake, get a clue out there.
“Somebody is saying they actually saw the department releasing four wolves and that's pure rumor,” Pozzanghera said. “The department is not relocating wolves, and we have not had a capture or any hands-on activity with wolves in recent months.”
Turnbull elk rumor
One more rumor that needs to be squashed is the persistent rant that WDFW uses a helicopter to herd elk away from hunters and onto Turnbull National Wildlife Refuge each fall. Indeed, the hunting seasons enacted on the refuge a few years ago were designed specifically to help move elk OFF the refuge to reduce damage on Turnbull and increase hunter harvests outside the refuge boundaries.
A two-day helicopter survey is run at the end of September each year to monitor Turnbull-area elk, but the elk are not herded.
Farmers who've had depredation problems with elk can verify that nobody could chase a herd of elk to a patch of ground on one weekend and expect them to stay there throughout the fall hunting seasons. Nobody with a hint of knowledge about elk would believe that, and nobody with a brain would repeat the rumor.
Research belies wolf management by the numbers
Through 43 years of studying wolves primarily in Alaska, wildlife biologist Gordon Haber says his research found that wolves are the most “social of all nonhuman vertebrates.” Trying to manage them by the numbers simply won't work, he says in this column by Marybeth Holleman, a contributor to Writers on the Range, a service of High Country News.
PREDATORS — Am I shocked that a wolf hunter has shot someone's pet near a popular Montana-Idaho winter recreation area? Yes.
Am I surprised? No.
And the Missoula County sheriff’s office is just throwing up its hands, saying there's nothing it can do as it ends its investigation into the fatal shooting of a malamute on Lolo Pass by a hunter who apparently mistook it for a wolf.
According to the story moved by the Associated Press, Layne Spence of Missoula said he was skiing with his three dogs on a quiet logging road near Lee Creek Campground Sunday afternoon when he heard a shot and saw his dog, Little Dave, fall down with a leg injury.
About 15 to 20 yards away, Spence said he saw a man wearing camouflage and carrying a gun.
“I started screaming ‘Stop, stop,’ and the man kept shooting,” Spence, 48, said. The dog was struck in the neck and died.
“My dog is lying there, dead and I shouted ‘What are you doing?’ and the guy said, ‘I thought it was a wolf.’ ”
Spence said the hunter asked if there was anything he could do, but Spence said he was so distraught he told the man to leave.
When Spence returned to town he filed a complaint with the sheriff’s office.
The Missoulian reports the agency passed the case over to the Department of Fish, Wildlife and Parks and the U.S. Forest Service.
“There is no criminal activity here, and this is out of our jurisdiction,” Sheriff’s spokeswoman Paige Pavalone said on Monday. “We don’t have any witnesses and we’re not investigating the situation any further.”
Spokespersons for both FWP and the Forest Service had said Monday morning that they believed the case would be a criminal matter.
“This doesn’t have to happen,” Spence said. “Not every big dog is a wolf. These are pets, they all had their collars and lights on, they were all with me the entire time.”
He wondered what would have happened if he had a child on a sled or if a bullet ricocheted.
“There are other people who use the woods besides hunters this time of year,” Spence said.
The U.S. Forest Service maintains the Lee Creek campground for non-motorized winter use. Lolo National Forest recreation manager Al Hilshey said the area is popular with cross-country skiers who like to bring their dogs.
LESSONS FROM THE TRAGEDY
- Hunters must be extra alert when hunting in areas such as Lolo Pass, where other people routinely recreate, and they should be accountable for their actions.
- Dog owners must be aware that hunters can legally target wolves in Montana and Idaho. Dogs — especially malamutes and other dogs that resemble wolves in any color ranging from white to black — should be wearing large fluorescent orange collars and even vests when recreating in areas where hunters could be out.
Wolf management a factor in updating Idaho's elk plan
Among the 1,203 people who reviewed Idaho's proposal to update its 1999 elk management plan, 442 people commented and 150 of those people urged more aggressive wolf management to help protect elk populations.
Craig White, the plan coordinator, said while aggressive wolf management would be part of the plan in some areas of the state, in others where elk numbers are so high that crop damage is a problem, management of the predators would be limited to keeping them away from cows and sheep.
—Twin Falls Times-News
PREDATORS — Idaho's wolf trapping season opens Friday, Nov. 15, in the wolf management zones in northern and eastern parts of the state.
The trapping seasons runs through March 31 in the Panhandle zone, except in parts of units 2 and 3, and in the Lolo, Selway, Middle Fork zone; Salmon and Island Park zones.
Here's a warning from Idaho Fish and Game officials:
While trapping has been part of the landscape in Idaho, Fish and Game reminds hound hunters, hunters with bird dogs, and people with pets that trappers have an increased interest to be in the woods because of the wolf trapping season. People with pets should know how to release a pet that is caught in a foothold trap or neck snare.
Trapping regulations prohibit traps from the center and within 5 feet of center line of all maintained designated public trails and from the surface and right of way of all maintained designated public roads. Ground traps are prohibited within 300 feet of any designated public campground, picnic area and trailhead.
Wolf trapping season also runs through March 31 in the Palouse-Hells Canyon Zone units 13 and 18 on private lands only – closed in units 8, 8A, 11 and 11A; and in the Dworshak-Elk City zone, except Unit 10A, which opens February 1.
In the McCall-Weiser Zone, trapping runs through March 15 in units 19A and 25 and on private land only in unit 22. Units 23, 24, 31, 32 and 32A are closed.
All other zones are closed to trapping.
Trappers must complete a required wolf trapping class before they can buy wolf trapping tags.
Licensed trappers may buy up to five wolf trapping tags per trapping season for use in those zones with an open wolf trapping season. In addition, up to five wolf hunting tags may be purchased per calendar year for hunting. Unused wolf hunting tags may be used to tag trapped wolves in wolf zones with an open trapping and hunting season. Trappers should note that bag limits are not the same for all the wolf zones.
Only three wolf trapping tags may be used in the McCall-Weiser, Salmon and Island Park zones.
Wolf tags cost $11.50 for resident hunters, and $31.75 for nonresidents. Trapping tags are valid for the trapping season, but wolf hunting tags are valid only for the calendar year.
Click here fore additional details on wolf hunting and trapping seasons and rules.
WILDLIFE WATCHING — A reader called today wondering if the animals he saw west of Spokane recently were wolves or coyotes.
He didn't have a photo to help with the identification and he didn't measure tracks, so there's no way to tell for sure.
The chart above gives some distinguishing features to note when you see canines in the field.
Here's some elaboration from Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife biologists:
One of the greatest differences between the two species is size, which can be difficult to estimate determine at a distance. A gray wolf is much larger than a coyote. Wolves weigh 80 to 120 pounds, while coyotes weigh 20 to 50 pounds. Track size measures about four by five inches for wolves, compared to two by two and a half inches for coyotes.
Ear shape is also much different; wolves have somewhat rounded ears while coyotes have taller, pointed ears. Wolves have a broader, shorter snout, while coyotes have a narrow more pointed nose. A wolf’s howl is long and drawn out, while a coyote produces a shorter, yapping sound. Fur coloration can be quite similar between wolves and coyotes and therefore is not a good characteristic for separating the two species. For more visual comparisons, visit: Wolf Identification: Physical Appearance of Wolves.
Large dogs and wolf-dog hybrids can also be mistaken for wolves, although they usually act more familiar with people. Wolf-dog hybrids can be unpredictable and aggressive. Some hybrids have been released into the wild, living like feral dogs. Distinctions between these hybrids and wild wolves can sometimes be made only by DNA testing.
PREDATORS — In some cases, the Internet is incredibly predictable.
The Facebook caption says: “A little Wyoming justice by some folks that are fed up with wolves and the affect they are having on wildlife populations, livestock, and our way of life as hunters and Wyoming residents. The bunny huggers are having a conniption fit over this so let's show our support these guys.”
Hunters can buy a hunting license and wolf tag and legally harvest a wolf under Wyoming law.
So while this photo is distasteful to some people, it doesn't imply anything illegal, just an attitude that's still pervasive.
HUNTING — Wolf-watchers say they’re concerned that hunters participating in Wyoming’s second annual wolf hunt may have killed five members of the Lamar Canyon Pack, a well-known wolf pack whose territory includes part of Yellowstone National Park.
Officials with the Wyoming Game and Fish Department say it’s impossible to determine if the two male and three female wolves were members of the Lamar Canyon Pack. The five were killed in a hunt area northeast of Cody over three days in mid-October.
Recent counts put the number of wolves in the pack at 11, meaning almost half the pack might have been killed.
State law prohibits Game and Fish employees from disclosing details about wolves killed in Wyoming’s annual wolf hunt. That includes the specific locations where wolves are killed and the wolves’ age, coloration and breeding status, the Jackson Hole News & Guide reports.
Regardless, Game and Fish officials can’t determine the identity of the wolves killed for certain because the wolves weren’t among those in the region that are wearing radio collars, department spokesman Alan Dubberley said.
“There’s no way to know. We just don’t have that information,” Dubberley said.
Wolves of the Rockies President Marc Cooke said he sought the identity of the wolves killed from Game and Fish officials but didn’t get any answers.
“They might as well face the reality that there’s a good possibility that wolves killed were from Yellowstone,” Cooke said.
The hunt area had a limit of four wolves. The five killed exceeded that by one. Last year, hunters were allowed to kill up to eight wolves in the hunt area.
This year’s statewide wolf hunt limit is 26, down from 52 last year. The wolf hunting season began Oct. 1 and ends Dec. 31 with the exception of a hunt area south of Jackson where hunting began Oct. 15 and ends Dec. 31.
HUNTING — Although there's a year-round season for wolves on private lands in the Idaho Panhandle, the 2013-2014 wolf hunting season for the rest of the state opens on Friday (Aug. 30).
The season runs through March 31, except in the Lolo, Selway and Middle Fork zones and in that portion of Unit 16 in the Dworshak-Elk City Zone north of the Selway River where the season closes June 30.
An individual may buy up to five wolf hunting tags a calendar year, but hunters may use only two wolf tags in some parts of the state in a calendar year.
No more than two gray wolf hunting tags may be used in the Salmon, McCall Weiser, Sawtooth, Southern Mountains, Beaverhead, Island Park and Southern Idaho zone. No more than five tags may be used in the Panhandle, Palouse-Hells Canyon, Lolo, Dworshak-Elk City, Selway and Middle Fork zones.
Harvest limits have been set in five zones: 45 in the Salmon Zone, 60 in the Sawtooth Zone, 40 in the Southern Mountains, 10 in the Beaverhead and 30 in the Island Park Zone. There is no statewide harvest limit.
The wolf trapping season opens Nov. 15 in all but four wolf zones, and Unit 10A of the Dworshak-Elk City Zone opens to trapping Feb. 1.
Wolf hunting tags are available for $11.50 for Idaho residents and $31.75 for nonresidents.
PREDATORS — Wildlife Services say they had already removed 12 wolves from an area where 176 sheep died in a stampede during an attack by two wolves on Saturday. They've removed at least one more wolf since that incident.
Of the 13 trapped and euthanized wolves, four were adults or sub-adults, an official said. Nine of the wolves killed were pups.
According to the story in the Jackson Hole News and Guide:
The pack’s demise was already underway when two wolves thought to be Pine Creek members ventured into a 2,400-head sheep herd early Saturday morning. The herd, owned by the Siddoway Sheep Company of St. Anthony, Idaho, was bedding down on Caribou-Targhee National Forest land between Pole Canyon and Fogg Hill, about 5 miles south of Victor.
Running downhill in a panic, about 165 sheep from the Siddoway herd were killed, trampled and smothered in their terror. Two wolves, which were witnessed by a herder at the scene, killed about another dozen sheep. The final tally: 119 lambs and 57 ewes dead. Price tag: $20,000.
ENDANGERED SPECIES — As if to emphasize the first few paragraphs of my Thursday Outdoors column, seven groups with a pro-wolf agenda, including the Spokane-based Lands Council, petitioned the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife “to stop the indiscriminate killing” of wolves — even though the agency isn't.
If wildlife managers don't give them satisfaction, they plan to appeal to Gov. Jay Inslee.
I'm sure the Stevens County Cattlemen will be at the governor's desk, too.
Any sportmen's groups out there planning to rattle the guv's cage?
How about you county commissioners?
The agency posted last night’s Washington wolf webcast for those who didn’t get to see it live (it begins at the 14-minute mark, for some reason) but want to learn more about impacts to big game from experts in the Northern Rockies.
“We did get quite a few comments,” Ware says about the opportunity for hunters to email in questions for the webcast. “Most were fairly positive in terms of hearing what other states are doing.”
He added that a overall a variety of views were expressed.
Among the numerous questions from hunters and others posed by Wildlife Program chief and MC Nate Pamplin to Ware (as well as Montana and Idaho big game managers) was one by a Miles: “Is there going to be a Washington wolf hunting season?”
Ware says that the wolf plan says it’s a possibility, and that the agency feels like other states, that hunting is a good management tool that provides recreation and is mandated by the legislature to provide hunting opportunities.
“I can’t imagine why we we wouldn’t recommend it, to have wolves to be hunted as well,” he says near the 2:42:30 mark
ENDANGERED SPECIES — A gray wolf — this one black with a tiny bit of white on its chest — was captured in Pend Oreille County Monday morning by Washington Fish and Wildlife Department technicians so the animal could be fitted with a GPS collar and released.
Is the 68-pound yearling female still attached to an existing pack or is it a member of a suspected but unconfirmed new group that would be labeled the Ruby Creek pack?
No one knows. Time will tell.
I've been in contact with Wildlife Department personnel since mid May regarding wolf captures and just happened to be along for one of the few successful captures of the year involving trapping.
While there's more to come, Northwest sportsman editor Andy Walgamott has the initial details right about Monday's event in this just-posted blog report:
At least the 11th so far this year that’s been collared and released by state and tribal biologists, the 68-pound yearling female was caught in an area between the known Smackout Pack territory and a suspected pack in the Ruby Creek drainage.
“Only time will tell if it’s a Smackout or lead us to a new pack,” said Madonna Luers, a WDFW spokeswoman in Spokane.
A photo by Rich Landers of The Spokesman-Review, who was in on the capture with Scott Becker and broke the news, shows that it wears a black coat.
That could link it to the Smackouts of western Pend Oreille County and central Stevens County, or it could be a disperser. One of last year’s Huckleberry Pack of southern Stevens County was black.
GPS data should show its wanderings and pack affiliations.
WDFW previously reported 10 other wolves had been caught, collared and released between February and mid-June of this year — two in Diamond, also in Pend Oreille County, three in Smackout, three in Huckleberry, and three in Teanaway of Kittitas County.
One of the Teanaways, a 47-pound female, subsequently died. We’re still awaiting word from the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service on cause of death; the state preliminarily put it down as a mountain lion kill.
HUNTING — Idaho's 2013-2014 wolf hunting seasons begin July 1 in the Panhandle Zone, but only on private land.
Actually, wolf hunting season is open year-round on private lands in the Panhandle, but seasons in the rest of the state take a hiatus during summer.
The wolf hunting seasons that are still open throughout the rest of the state close on June 30 and reopen on Aug. 30.
See details and exceptins in the new wolf hunting and trapping seasons and rules posted on the Fish and Game website.
The wolf trapping season opens Nov. 15 in eight wolf zones and Feb. 1 in one additional zone.
Wolf hunters may use five tags, with no overall harvest limit.
Wolf tags are available for $11.50 for Idaho residents and $31.75 for nonresidents. Wolf hunting tags are valid for a calendar year; trapping tags are valid July 1 through June 30.
The 2012-2013 wolf hunting season closes June 30. As of June 24, hunters had taken 200 wolves, and trappers 120, for a total of 320 wolves.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
ENDANGERED SPECIES — No wolves have been killed yet in the first regulated wolf hunting season within the borders of Washington, the Colville Confederated Tribes report.
Although gray wolves are still protected by state endangered species regulations, the tribe opened a season two weeks ago to tribal members, with an overall quota of nine wolves in three sections of the 1.4 million acre reservation.
“Wolves are starting to have an impact,” a tribal spokesman told the Seattle Times in this report.