Latest from The Spokesman-Review
WILDLIFE WATCHING — It's time for this whitetail buck to peel off the velvet and get ready for action.
Montana outdoor photographer Jaime Johnson documented this late-summer stage of antler development last weekend with this photo.
PREDATORS — Idaho Fish and Game has accepted a $50,000 grant from the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation to assist with its wolf management plan.
The funds will increase IDFG's knowledge of interactions between wolves and elk, and expand the radio collar program to help managers gain a better understanding of pack and territory size, home range, and other biological traits and actions of the wolf in order to better implement effective management technique, according to an RMEF media release.
"To properly and effectively carry out science-based management practices, it is critical that state agencies recognize and understand predator-prey relationships and wolf populations," said David Allen, RMEF president and CEO.
"This grant will help IDFG gain a more thorough knowledge of wolves and wolf behavior so it can better implement its approved predator management plan." "This grant is another example of the outstanding support we've received from RMEF and elk hunters for nearly 30 years", said Brad Compton, IDFG assistant chief of wildlife. "This grant is particularly important because it comes at a time when federal funding is being incrementally eliminated, thus allowing us to continue to maintain our active wolf monitoring and management program. Idaho's program is designed to reduce conflict, including addressing unacceptable levels of predation on elk populations."
In keeping with the North American Model of Wildlife Conservation, RMEF supports state-regulated hunting and trapping as the preferred tools of wolf management. RMEF staunchly supports management to balance and control wolf populations.
"We maintain our longstanding commitment to and support of the goal of state management which is to sustain all wildlife species in balance with the available habitat and the local communities where so many of us live," Allen said.
Since 1989, RMEF officials say they have invested nearly $664,000 in research grants to advance scientific understanding of wolves, wolf interactions with other species, and overall wolf management. The total includes more than $200,000 in science grants in just the past five years. Most of the contributions paid for independent research by leading universities, state and federal wildlife conservation agencies and tribes.
"A key part of RMEF's mission is to ensure the future of elk and other wildlife," said Allen. "This grant helps Idaho managers do that by helping them determine how many wolves are out there, where they travel and what effect they have on elk, deer and other ungulates."
RMEF previously awarded 2013 grants to Montana and Wyoming to assist with wolf management in those states.
RMEF will allocate nearly $2.9 million for elk and wildlife-related conservation projects in 27 states with wild, free-ranging elk populations in 2013. Additionally $570,000 will also be allocated to hunting heritage programs in 49 states.
PREDATORS — More wolf-livestock issues are being reported on the same Idaho sheep ranching operation that recently lost 176 sheep in a single attack.
PREDATORS — A 16-year-old boy fought off a canine believed to be a wolf during an attack in northern Minnesota Saturday. If confirmed as a wolf, it could be the first reported physical attack by a wolf on a human in the lower 48 states.
Noah Graham of Solway was camping on Lake Winnibigoshish with friends last weekend, and was talking with his girlfriend just before the animal came out of nowhere and chomped the back of his head, according to the Associated Press.
Federal trappers on Monday trapped and killed a wolf they say could be the canine involved in the attack. That wolf had a jaw deformity that could have prompted rare bold behavior around humans, officials said.
Minnesota Department of Natural Resources officials say it could be the first documented serious-injury wolf attack on a human in Minnesota.
The youth’s shirt (a potential source of wolf saliva DNA) and wolf muscle tissue have been sent to a laboratory at the University of California – Davis for forensic analysis. The analysis expected to take several weeks. The DNR will release the results when they are available.
Many hunters get all excited about opening days — forest grouse and mourning doves open Sunday.
But the best and safest hunting for a bird dog is later in the seasons, when the field is cooler, damper and there's been more opportunity to get in tip-top shape after the dog days of summer.
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.
- See details of Idaho's wolf hunting and trapping seasons and rules.
Wolf hunting tags are available for $11.50 for Idaho residents and $31.75 for nonresidents.
WILDLIFE — My Sunday Outdoors story about the consequences of food-conditioning wildlife mentions the 2010 incident in which a hiker in Olympic National Park bled to death after being gored in the thigh by an aggressive mountain goat.
The horns on a mountain goat are sharp and they come in to foes at a deadly level.
The wound to the shoulder of the billy pictured above likely is a goring wound from another goat, experts surmise.
Hikers who saw the goat earlier this summer on North Idaho's Scotchman Peak said the wound was bloody and nasty looking at that time — and the goat had a bad attitude about it that forced them to throw a barrage of rocks to get it to leave them alone.
This month, the wound seems to be healing well … and the goat's demeanor was much more pleasant.
What do you think about media personalities and "experts" who suggest to the public that they have a special touch with wildlife that makes it OK for them to befriend and feed wild animals.
WILDLIFE ENCOUNTERS — As young mountain lions are displaced from their mothers this time of year, they must learn to fend for themselves. It's a tough lesson that often brings them into suburban and even urban settings as they explore food sources, like they did last week moving into neighborhoods of Butte and Bozeman.
Newman Lake and Spokane-area homeowners also have reported cougars in neighborhoods this month.
Most areas surrounding cities and towns also have healthy white-tailed deer populations that may attract lions.
Most mountain lions are so stealthy they're never seen, and if they are, it's usually a fleeting chance.
But Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks officials offer these tips should you encounter a mountain lion that lingers to size you up:
FWP says propert owners should avoid wildlife feeding, which – in addition to being dangerous to those animals – may bring unwanted predators into the neighborhood.
WILDLIFE — Apparently picnic baskets are no longer big enough for this bear in Colorado Springs… or maybe she just ordered takeout.
Either way, she's no stranger to food from human sources. Enjoy this.
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.
PREDATORS — A southeastern Idaho ranch lost 176 sheep as the animals ran in fear from two wolves that chased through a herd of about 2,400 animals south of Victor, the Associated Press reports.
Idaho Wildlife Services State Director Todd Grimm says it’s the greatest loss by wolves ever recorded in one instance in the state. About nine years ago, wolves killed 105 sheep on one night.
In a similar attack in Montana in August of 2009, wolves killed 122 buck sheep in a pasture south of Dillon, surpassing the number of sheep killed by wolves in the entire state in 2008, state wolf managers said.
Sheepherders for the Siddoway Sheep Co. heard the wolves at about 1 a.m. Saturday, but didn’t know the extent of the damage until they saw the sheep piled up on each other at daybreak.
J.C. Siddoway of Terreton says almost all of the sheep died from asphyxiation. About 10 died of bite wounds and one was partially consumed.
Grimm says a dozen wolves have been removed from the Pine Creek area this year.
WILDLIFE — Mountain goats normally are found in the highest rocky mountain areas during summer.
But a Sunnyslope woman documented a mountain goat in her yard on Wednesday, and the photo was confirmed as a mountain goat by a state biologist.
See the photo and story from the Wenatchee World.
WILDLIFE — Idaho Fish and Game biologists will present a proposed 10-year elk management plan for approval at the Fish and Game Commission meeting Monday, Aug.19, at the Upper Snake Region office, 4279 Commerce Circle, Idaho Falls.
If approved, Fish and Game will release the proposed plan or a 30-day public review and comment period.
A live, online chat would be held 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. PDT, Aug. 29, to discuss and answer questions about the plan.
Also on the agenda is a proposed 2013-2014 waterfowl season of 105 days and a two-day youth hunt, along with some changes in goose seasons and limits.
The proposed seasons would separate Canada geese and white-fronted geese seasons with two options to accommodate white-fronted goose hunting opportunities for the 2013-2014 season in the southwest part of the state.
Commissioners also will consider a proposed sage-grouse season, with the opening day on September 21. The seven-day sage-grouse season would run through September 27, with a one bird daily bag limit and a two-bird possession limit.
Other agenda items include approval of the fiscal 2015 budget request.
No public hearing will be held during this one-day meeting.
WILDLIFE — An aerial survey of the Elk Fire Complex on Thursday showed a number of animals and birds were killed by the wildfire burning east of Boise, Idaho Fish and Game Department officials say.
After a two-hour overflight, a U.S. Forest Service wildlife biologist Scott Bodle reported seeing a total of 14 elk, 31 mule deer, one bear, one osprey, one coyote and one raccoon killed by the fire.
A number of birds were found on the ground, apparently dead of asphyxiation.
- Several other major fires are burning, including blazes that are threatening Hailey and Sun Valley.
Bodle estimated that most of the animals died in the initial 48 hours of the fire when fire conditions resulted in extremely rapid growth. Winds of about 30 mph carried burning embers that started spot fires up to half a mile ahead of main fire.
Witnesses describe it as a fire tornado, Bodle told Idaho Fish and Game. In the first three days the fire grew to more than 100,000 acres.
Most of the animals were seen in small groups at the upper ends of drainages where they were unable to escape when fire conditions turned extreme. About half of the fire area where the extreme fire conditions occurred was surveyed. The flight crew also observed many, estimated in the hundreds, live deer and elk in burned areas and in live vegetation.
The fire was started by lightning in the evening of Thursday, August 8, about 10 miles southwest of Pine. As of Friday afternoon, August 16, the fire perimeter enclosed about 125,000 acres.
The fire growth has slowed significantly.
The Idaho Fish & Wildlife Foundation has established an emergency fund for wildlife habitat rehabilitation in response to the fires. To make a donation, go to https://www.ifwf.org/donate/.
HUNTING — Drought may be delivering another blow to deer herds in a portion of Montana, where disease and tough winters already have lowered deer numbers in recent years.
Dead white-tailed deer, possibly killed by epizootic hemorrhagic disease, or EHD, have been reported in north-central Montana, state wildlife officials said on Tuesday.
Dead and dying whitetails have been spotted from the Great Falls area to Simms on the Sun River north to the Marias River and even north of Chester. according to a story in the Billings Gazette. While the number of dead deer is not clear, it appears to be at least dozens, based on people calling about finding dead whitetails.
EHD has not been confirmed yet; Fish Wildlife and Parks officials are awaiting test results.
EHD is spread among deer, primarily whitetails, by biting midges. It is one of several hemorrhagic disease viruses found in wild and domestic ruminants.
A related disease, bluetongue virus, affects domestic livestock. While EHD can also infect livestock, it has not been proven to spread from deer to livestock or vice versa. The disease poses no threat to humans.
High-density deer herds may have higher mortality rates; however, the relationship of deer density to the severity of EHD is not clear cut.
Spread of the disease normally stops when the first frost of autumn kills the infecting midges.
- For more scientific information about EHD, go to www.uga.edu/scwds/HD.pdf and type EHD in the search bar.
ENDANGERED SPECIES — This is going to take some time…
USFWS to begin again on panel selection for wolf review
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced Tuesday that it will begin again on selection of an independent panel to review a proposal to remove federal protection for most wolves in the lower 48 states, a decision that may delay a final decision on the species' status due in June in 2014.
ENDANGERED SPECIEDS — A new wolf pack with pups has been confirmed in the Oregon portion of the Blue Mountains, according to the Oregon Fish and Wildlife Department.
The two wolves discovered earlier this year in the Mount Emily Unit have reproduced, department officials confirmed with photos from monitoring cameras that have documented at least three pups by this pair.
The pair was discovered in April in Union County northwest of Summerville, Ore.
Oregon wildlife officials have confirmed reproduction in seven known packs this year (Imnaha, Minam, Mount Emily, Snake River, Umatilla River, Walla Walla and Wenaha), though the exact number of pups is not yet known in all of the packs.
IN WASHINGTON, about half of the 10 confirmed wolf packs have been documented with pups so far this year.
No wolf packs have been confirmed in the Washington side of the Blue Mountains, although at least one of the Oregon packs in the Blues is known to roam into Washington
HUNTING — I marvel at my English setter, and all the various faithful breeds preferred by my friends. Here's one angle on why.
If you can…
- Start the day without caffeine.
- Always be cheerful, ignoring aches and pains.
- Resist complaining and boring people with your troubles.
- Eat the same food every day and be grateful for it.
- Understand when your loved ones are too busy to give you any time
- Overlook it when those you love take it out on you when through no fault of yours, something goes wrong.
- Take criticism and blame without resentment.
- Ignore a friend’s limited education and never correct him/her.
- Resist treating a rich friend better than a poor friend
- Face the world without lies and deceit.
- Conquer tension without medical help.
- Relax without liquor.
- Sleep without the aid of drugs.
- Honestly say deep in your heart that you have no prejudice against creed, color, religion or politics.
….Then, you are ALMOST as good as your dog.
Pullman police responded to a call of a baby bird that had fallen out of the nest Tuesday at about 11:20 a.m. on the 2500 block of NW Short Drive.
Police responded and placed the bird back into the nest, according to police logs.
WILDLIFE ENCOUNTERS — A relaxing evening floating the river with friends two weeks ago took a turn for the worse for Sydney Sainsbury, who was attacked by an otter about 200 yards east of the Madison River Bridge.
The otter, she said, was relentless as it attacked, leaving Sainsbury with a broken right hand, torn ligaments and tendons and many bites and scratches. She said the animal bit through joints and ligaments on her hand requiring pins to be surgically implanted in her hand joint.
Her legs, too, were bitten and scratched, as well as her stomach and arms plus a gash above her left eye.
See the story from the West Yellowstone News.
WILDLIFE — If you need a little levity in your day, check out this hillarious video of British commentary voiced over footage of critters doing their natural thing. Not even a sourpuss could watch this without laughing.
WILDLIFE WATCHING — Nevermind if you cannot go to Alaska — you can thrill at the sight of huge brown bears fishing for salmon at an iconic waterfall via a live feed from a Webcam in Katmai National Park.
Click here for the live view documenting the annual gathering of about 100 brown bears descending on a mile-long stretch of Brooks River to feast on the largest sockeye salmon run in the world.
If the link above does not work, paste this URL into your browser:
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.
- See their press release.
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?
- Anybody want to be a Washingtong wildlife manager this summer?
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
HIKING — The greeting party was there, as usual on top of Scotchman Peak on Thursday, rewarding my daughter and me for our steep 7-mile-round-trip hike from the northeast corner of Lake Pend Oreille.
Mountain goats that live on the Idaho peak towering above Clark Fork, Idaho, have become an attraction in themselves. They can almost make you overlook the killer view of Lake Pend Oreille, the Selkirk Mountains to the west, the Cabinet Mountains to the east and the expanse of backcountry to the north proposed for wilderness.
If you go:
— Expect a hike that's vigorous going up and punishing on the way down.
—Prepare for bugs on the summit if winds are calm.
—Urinate off the trail well before reaching the rocky summit area to avoid conditioning the goats to following people. Mountain goats crave the salt in urine and it's thought to make them aggressive, as in the case of the hiker who was gored to death in Olympic National Park.
—Heed the warning signs and please don't feed the goats — for their own good and yours. They've been fed before and they'll come looking for food and salt to lick. Guard your packs. They may try to nibble at your pack straps.
I fear for the mountain goats' future if they continue to be spoiled and set up to hurt somebody one day.
After posting the blog info above on Facebook, I received this reply to consider from FB friend Nick Delavan:
My friend Cody Evans and I made our yearly pilgrimage to the summit (of Scotchman Peak) a month ago. We were greeted by 7 goats one of which was extremely aggressive and at one point he charged, stopping only ten feet from us. We almost turned his white coat orange! Thankfully a well placed rock via fast pitch sent him on his way. I believe that particular goat was sick, injured or both. It was a good reminder that these animals are wild and have the potential to be dangerous. At no point should people forget that. Leave no trace applies even on a day hike!
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.
WILDLIFE WATCHING — Residents in the 22000 block of East Morris Road snapped this shot of a cougar in their backyard around 7 this morning and emailed the photo to the Spokane County Sheriff's Office.
Anyone out there up for a backyard campout sleepover tonight?
PREDATORS — Big game managers from Washington, Idaho and Montana will discuss their experiences managing game animals in areas populated by wolves during a live webcast, 6:30 p.m.-9:30 p.m., on July 18.
Questions can be emailed in advance or during the presentations to firstname.lastname@example.org .
Montana and Idaho have been managing wolves longer than Washington and their experience can provide context to inform the department and citizens on how to confront the challenges that lie ahead for Washington, said Phil Anderson, WDFW director.
"This will give the public an opportunity to hear directly from those who have been involved in wolf management in other areas of the west," he said.
Jon Rachel, Idaho Department of Fish and Game’s state wildlife manager, and Jim Williams, Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks’ northwest wildlife program manager, will discuss the impacts wolves have had on deer, elk and other big game animals in their states.
Successful big game hunting strategies in wolf country also will be presented.
Dave Ware, WDFW statewide game program manager, will describe the status of wolves and big game hunting in Washington.
Big Game Forever submitted a 120-page report that contained a lot of magazine articles and government statistics, but little details on how the group spent $300,000 from Utah to shift wolf-management from the federal government to the state.
—Salt Lake Tribune
ENDANGERED SPECIES — The Oregon Senate passed a bill on Thursday that puts into law provisions of a settlement allowing the state to resume killing wolves that make a habit of attacking livestock.
The vote was 30-0.
The House has passed it, and Gov. John Kitzhaber is expected to sign it once the Oregon Fish and Wildlife Commission approves other provisions of the settlement.
Oregon has been barred for the past year and a half from killing wolves while the Oregon Court of Appeals considered a lawsuit filed by conservationists.
A settlement was reached in May with the conservation groups, the Oregon Cattlemen’s Association and the governor’s office.
It creates a new rulebook that makes killing wolves a last resort, and gives ranchers wider rights to kill wolves they catch attacking their herds.
WILDLIFE — Why didn't I think of this? Roadkill gifts and fashions — they combine our love for wildlife with the applaudable theme of recycling.
Reid Peppard, an Ameican artist and fasion designer, working under the name RP/Encore, is creating taxidermy artworks and jewellery based on casts of teeth, bones, hides, feathers and organs of critters.
Reid claims that her work is entirely ethical, if not grotesque, as the animals she uses have already died of natural or unpreventable causes (they are often discovered and donated by friends).
Won't be long before women in high heels will be fighting wolves for elk carcasses.