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Montana to consider trapping for wolf control

PREDATORS — Adding trapping and eliminating quotas will be on the table as Montana's wildlife regulators meet Thursday to consider proposed ways to to reduce the number of wolves in the state.

In 2011, despited a lengthy wolf hunting seasons, the gray wolf population rose 15 percent to at least 653 animals. Ranchers and hunters concerned about livestock and big-game kills complained that number is too high.

Last fall and winter, 166 wolves were killed in Montana’s first hunt since Congress removed the gray wolf from the federal endangered species list in May 2011.

Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks commissioners will hear a proposal to remove the statewide quota. The agency instead would shut down the hunt where officials determine enough wolves have been killed.

The proposed changes also include allowing trapping and ending the season on Feb. 28.

Trib: Wolf Trapping Photo Told Tale

As required, he placed his traps away from prohibited areas - such as campgrounds - to minimize conflicts. He used the appropriate traps. Bransford heeded a requirement that he check his traps at least every 72 hours. He attended Idaho Fish and Game's prerequisite wolf trapping class - which spells out how a trapper is obligated to dispatch his prey and what he should do if a non-targeted animal, such as a domestic dog, is caught. Bransford, an employee of Nez Perce National Forest, next trapped a wolf on March 18 along the Red River where wolf trapping is sanctioned. Then he did one more thing. It's unclear how long he waited to put the animal out of its misery. Before he did so, Bransford stopped long enough to be photographed with his prey caught in the trap, still alive and leaving a circle of blood-soaked snow. He was grinning. The snapshot went viral. Bransford crossed all kinds of fault lines/Marty Trillhaase, Lewiston Tribune. More here.

Question: Should trapping wolves be outlawed in Idaho?

Wolf issues conjure up hysteria on both extremes

PREDATORS — Hunters and trappers can be their own worst enemies.

The World Wide Web saw red this weekend as animal rights groups took great pleasure in spreading photos of hunters and trappers posing in bloody scenes with their wolves.

The most offensive features a man keeling and smiling. In the background, in a circle of snow tinted with blood, is a wolf, its tongue hanging out, its foot clamped in a leg-hold trap. Men posing with dead wolves is sufferable. In this case, the guy is mugging for the camera while the wolf suffers in the background.

Then the idiot posted the photo on the Internet.

Here's a Reuters story on the outrage, which of course is being spread by animal rights group giddy with the opportunity.

Read on for a few terse thoughts about the extremes in the wolf issue.

Idaho panel to consider big-game hunting, salmon fishing seasons

WILDLIFE MANAGEMENT — The Idaho Fish and Game Commission will be setting big game and chinook salmon seasons during a meeting Wednesday and Thursday at Fish and Game Department headquarters in Boise.

According to the meeting agenda, the commission will set seasons for this fall’s deer, elk, pronghorn, black bear, gray wolf and mountain lion hunts and a spring season on chinook salmon in the Clearwater, Snake, lower Salmon and Little Salmon rivers.

Read on for the recommedatons the commisisoners will consider:

Elk Foundation offers to pay trappers to kill more wolves

PREDATORS — The Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation wants wolves to be more aggressively managed in Montana and they’re offering state wildlife officials at least $50,000 to contract with federal trappers to kill more of the predators.

RMEF President David Allen tells the Missoulian the state isn’t using remedies allowed under the wolf management plan to the fullest.

Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks spokesman Ron Aasheim says the agency is still considering the offer, according to the Associated Press.

Mike Leahy with Defenders of Wildlife argues that assistance from conservation organizations should further conservation, not undermine it.

Despite months of open public wolf hunting and some Wildlife Services action to kill wolves causing livestock losses, biologists estimate Montana’s wolf population grew by at least 15 percent last year compared to 2010 levels.

The state had at least 643 wolves at the end of 2011. FWP Director Joe Maurier has said the goal in Montana is about 425 wolves.

Wolves increase across Northern Rockies despite controls, report says

PREDATORS — Today the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service released its 2011 annual report on gray wolf populations in the Northern Rockies.

Going into 2011, wolves had increased by more than 120 across Wyoming, Montana, Idaho and portions of Eastern Washington and Oregon and a small portion of northcentral Utah.

The wolves increased despite extended seasons for hunting in Montana, plus hunting and trapping in Idaho.

The increase is despite 166 wolves killed by officials in relation to livestock predation.

Here are some of the numbers from the 2011 report, compiled by cooperating federal, state and tribal agencies:

  • The NRM population increased to 1,774 wolves and 109 breeding pairs, up from 1,651 wolves in 244 packs, and 111 breeding pairs reported after 2010.
  • Private and state agencies paid $309,553 in compensation for wolf-damage to livestock.
  • Confirmed cattle depredations were essentially the same in 2011 with 193 cattle losses compared to 199 cattle killed by wolves in 2010.
  • Confirmed sheep depredations declined from 245 sheep killed in 2010 to 162 sheep killed by wolves.
  • 166 “problem” wolves were lethally removed by agency control, which includes legal take in defense of property by private citizens.
  • Montana's toll included 64 wolves killed by agency control, 121 wolves killed by hunters.
  • Idaho's toll: 63 wolves killed by agency control, 200 wolves by hunters.
  • Wyoming's toll: 36 wolves killed by agency control.
  • Oregon's toll:, 2 wolves by agency control.
  • No wolves were removed in Washington or Utah.

"The Northern Rocky Mountain wolf population is biologically recovered, having exceeded recovery goals for 101 consecutive years. In addition, the population fully occupies nearly all suitable habitat," federal officials said in the report.

Idaho Fish and Game proposing reduction in elk harvest

HUNTING — Idaho Fish and Game wildlife managers have posted their proposals for Panhandle big-game hunting and will be taking comment public meetings starting Saturday.

Of special interest to most hunters are the proposals to reduce elk harvest in some areas.

Click continue reading to see the proposals and the explanation from Jim Hayden, Panhandle Region wildlife manager.

Idaho hunting proposals would up wolf bag limit to 5

HUNTING – The numbers resemble the parameters for wild turkey hunts — but it’s the 2012 Idaho Panhandle wolf hunting and trapping proposals that have just been released by Jim Hayden, Idaho Fish and Game Department regional wildlife manager in Coeur d’Alene:

Hunting

  • Bag limit, five wolves (up from two last year).
  • Season on public land, Aug. 30 – March 31 (same as last year).
  • Season on private land, July 1 – March 31.

Trapping

  • Bag limit, five wolves (up from three last year).
  • Season, Nov. 15 – March 31 (same as last year).
  • No trapping in Units 2 and 3 (same as last year).

The proposals will be discussed at public meetings starting this weekend to discuss a range of big game hunting proposals, including proposals for elk.

The new proposals would focus more pressure on wolves that are moving in near people on private lands, Hayden said.

The increase in bag limit will remove restrictions of some of the more successful wolf hunters and trappers.

”While relatively few reach the current bag limit regardless, this change will keep our most successful hunters and trappers afield, Hayden said. 

Read on for the schedule of public meetings in the Panhandle.

Wolf verified roaming through Kalispell

WILDLIFE ENCOUNTERS — A wolf was caught on tape by a police cruiser's dash cam roaming through northwest Kalispell.  The video and tracks were confirmed as a radio collared wolf by Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks biologists.

Tough neighborhood.

Read the story in the Daily Interlake.

Washington to hire wolf trappers for research

OUTDOOR JOBS — A few good physically fit, personable men or women with biology degrees and outdoor skills are being sought for the newest job openings in the Washington Fish and Wildlife Department.

The agency plans to hire two wolf trappers and three assistants with job duties that include trapping, radio collaring and monitoring wolves in the North Cascades and Eastern Washington, plus mitigating conflicts and speaking to the public on wolf issues.

See the complete list of the agency's job openings.

Specifics of the gray wolf research positions are detailed here.

Applications are due by Feb. 14.

Andy Walgamott of Northwest Sportsman has more details.

Idaho Fish and Game’s annual report online

WILDLIFE MANAGEMENT — Idaho Fish and Game Department Director Virgil Moore delivered the state of the agency report to the Fish and Wildlife Commission last week. 

The annual report, available online, details the agency's funding sources and how officials spent the money.

The report also includes overviews of each bureau.

Idaho’s latest toll on wolves

PREDATORS — As January ends, Idaho’s first wolf trapping season has harvested 60 wolves statewide in the TRAPPING season that opened Nov. 15.

That compares with 204 wolves taken by sportsmen in the HUNTING season that opened Aug. 30.

Idaho's total wolf kill by hunters AND trappers since Aug. 30 is 264 wolves. The hunting and trapping seasons will continue to March 31 or until management unit quotas are reached.

In 2011, Idaho sold 32,273 wolf hunting tags.  Idaho requires sportsmen to purchase new hunting and fishing licenses each year on Jan. 1. 

So far, 7,057 wolf tags have been sold for wolf hunting in 2012.

The Idaho Fish and Game Department has sold 416 wolf trapping tags for the 2011-2012 trapping season.

Idaho expands wolf trapping near Dworshak

PREDATORS — The Idaho Fish and Game Commission on Thursday expanded the wolf trapping season to include Unit 10A in the Dworshak-Elk City wolf management zone starting Feb. 1.

The season in Unit 10A opens Wednesday and runs through March 31.

Commissioner Fred Trevey, of the Clearwater Region, said the expanded trapping would reduce wolf numbers and help local rural residents, such as in the Elk City area, who have penned livestock or other domestic livestock.

The rest of the Dworshak-Elk City zone (units 14, 15, 16) already is open for wolf trapping through the end of March.

Rural residents, however, don’t need a license or wolf tag to shoot at wolves attacking their livestock. But they must report any wolves they kill to Idaho Fish and Game within 72 hours, and the wolf would remain the property of the state.

Trappers must have a valid trapping license and complete a mandatory wolf trapping course.

 See details on wolf trapping rules and seasons here.

Idaho plans Wildlife Summit in August

WILDLIFE MANAGEMENT — Idaho Fish and Game Department officials are organizing the “Idaho Wildlife Summit” Aug. 24-26 at the Riverside Hotel in Boise to discuss how wildlife is managed and whether the agency should engage a broader base of support.

“The Wildlife Summit is all about listening to our hunters, anglers, trappers and other wildlife conservationists," said Fish and Game Director Virgil Moore.

Legal mandates and public expectations have outgrown funding sources, Moore said.

It's time for all Idahoans to discuss how to meet those mandates and expectations without infringing on the agency’s core mission of stewardship of wildlife to provide opportunities for hunting, fishing and trapping, he said.

The agenda is still being worked out.

Deer harvest method banned in Washington

TRAPPING — I believe Washington's approval of a 1995 citizen's initiative that bans lethal traps would prohibit this method of filling your freezer with venison.  Just sayin'.

Hunters, trappers making dent in Panhandle wolf population

PREDATORS — Hunters and trappers are making a little progress in reducing the number of wolves in Idaho, with North Idaho hunters doing better than they did during the last wolf season in 2009-2010.

Here's this week's update from Jim Hayden, Idaho Fish and  Game Department regional wildlife manager in Coeur d'Alene.:

Wolf harvest in the Panhandle is at 25 to date, slightly higher than we had in all of the 2009/10 season. During 2009, we had 24 hunter kills by the end of March. (There were also 4 illegal kills in 2009, giving us the final tally of 28.)

The wolf trapping season has been open for 3 weeks. Only 1 wolf has been reported taken by trapping in the state so far (in the Clearwater), although many trappers may have still been deer hunting (season closed last Thursday).

Idaho wolf trapping season opens Nov. 15

PREDATORS — Hunters and their guns have not been particularly effective in controlling wolf numbers in Idaho in the two seasons that have been held over the past three years.

This month, wildlife managers will turn to trappers to do the job.

The first wolf trapping season in decades opens Nov. 15-March 31 in the Lolo zone; Selway zone; Middle Fork zone; Dworshak-Elk City zone, except Unit 10A; and the Panhandle zone, except for units 2 and 3. All other zones are closed to trapping, subject to an Idaho Fish and Game Commission review in January.

Trappers must complete a required wolf trapping class before they can buy wolf trapping tags, valid only in zones with an open wolf trapping season. Licensed trappers may buy three tags per trapping season. Wolf tags cost $11.50 for resident hunters, and $31.75 for nonresidents. Trappers also may buy an additional two hunting tags per calendar year.

See details of wolf hunting and trapping seasons and rules here.

Read on for more information for trappers — as well as for the public who might encounter wolf traps on their own or with their pets. 

Also, read this disturbing story from the Great Falls Tribune about a bird hunter whose dog had a near-death experience with a snare trap, which is legal under the Idaho rules.

Hunters take few wolves on Panhandle, so far

HUNTING — Hunters are taking a few more wolves this season than in the first season of wolf hunting in the Idaho Panhandle. Wildlife managers say that trend along with this year's new tool in wolf management — trapping — should help get the wolf numbers under control.

Hunters reported killing seven wolves in the Panhandle during the Oct. 1-24 period in 2009.

During the same period this year, hunters have taken nine wolves, reports Jim Hayden, Idaho Fish and Game Department regional wildlife manager in Coeur d'Alene.

"We also had an earlier opener this year (Aug. 30) with 6 wolves taken prior to Oct. 1.  If we follow the same pattern of harvest as 2009, we would have a final hunter harvest of about 40 wolves.  In general terms, this would take care of most, if not all of the expected reproductive increase.  Trapping should result in a decrease in the Panhandle’s wolf population."

Washington panel to consider moving wolf meeting to Spokane

ENDANGERED SPECIES — The first agenda item for Friday morning's  Washington Fish and Wildlife Commission telephone conference call is to consider new locations for the last of four public meetings on the state's proposed wolf management plan.

The commission held the first meeting on the controversial plan in Ellensburg, followed by two meetings in Olympia.

The fourth meeting scheduled for Nov. 3 also is set to be held in Olympia.

But apparently the commission is at least considering the fact that one of the meetings ought to be in the region where most of the state's gray wolves roam.

Check the commission’s website for the answer.

Yellowstone officials kill wolf seeking handouts

PREDATORS — It looks as though someone has killed another wolf with food.

A ranger at Yellowstone National Park has killed a gray wolf that repeatedly had come close to people in recent months.

The first case of this sort occurred in 2009, when park officials carried out their new management plan to eliminate any wolf that showed aggressive behavior or even too much friendliness toward people.

Park spokesman Dan Hottle says the 110-pound male wolf had come within a few feet of visitors and park staff on several occasions since this summer. Efforts to haze the wolf away from populated areas had proved unsuccessful.

Hottle says a ranger killed the wolf with a rifle on Saturday. The wolf was estimated to be between two and four years old and Hottle says park staff were concerned it might demonstrate more aggressive behavior.

Hottle says the park staff never saw anyone feed the wolf but believed it was conditioned to human food because it was following people. Feeding animals is a violation of park regulations.

Passions run high at latest Washington wolf plan meeting

ENDANGERED SPECIES —  Passions continued to run high in Washington about the growing wolf population as the state Fish and Wildlife Commission held a special meeting on a proposed wolf management plan Thursday in Olympia.

The commission and state Fish and Wildlife Department officials held the  22nd public meeting about wolf management before a capacity crowd in the large meeting hall from morning until evening, according to a report by Tom Banse of the NW News Network.

The Commission is scheduled to adop a wolf plan in December, although groups called for delays in that decision during Thursday's meeting.

Wildlife biologists have confirmed five wolf packs and that total about 30 wolves in Washington. They are scattered from the North Cascades east to the Selkirk Mountains, with newpacks emerging in the Blue Moutains.

Wolf plan heads wildlife panel’s Oct. 6 agenda

ENDANGERED– Washington’s pending Wolf Conservation and Management Plan will be the focus of another special state Fish and Wildlife Commission meeting Oct. 6 in Olympia.

The discussion will center on the interaction of wolves with livestock and ungulates.  Public comment will be accepted.

The special session will be followed by an Oct. 7-8 meeting, when the commission will receive briefings on issues including the status of north coast steelhead stocks and population goals for deer, elk and other ungulates.

The special meeting is the second of three scheduled on the recommended Wolf Conservation and Management Plan. The first was held in Ellensburg. The third special meeting is set for Nov. 3 in Olympia.

The commission is expected to take action on the plan in December.

Click here to see agendas for the commission meetings.

Click here to see the proposed wolf plan, including recovery objectives that would allow the state to eventually remove wolves from protection lists.  

Fish and Game taking names for Panhandle wolf trapping class

PREDATORS — Idaho wolf trapping rules require trappers complete a wolf trapper class before they can buy a wolf trapping tag.

Idaho Fish and Game Department regional officies are making a list of people interested in taking the courses, which will be scheduled, probably in October. The wolf trapping season — Idaho's first — will start in November.

To register for the Idaho Panhandle class, contact the Fish and Game office in Coeur d'Alene, (409) 769-1414.

Classes are first-come, first-served and limited to 25 individuals. The $8 fee covers the cost of materials. All class times, unless noted, are from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. with a one-hour lunch break; lunch will not be provided.

For details please consult the Wolf Trapping page on the Fish and Game website: .

Here we go again: court asked to reverse Congress on Rockies wolves

PREDATORS — As hunters have begun shooting gray wolves in the first weeks of the wolf hunting seasons in Idaho and Montana, wildlife advocates are once again urging a federal appeals panel to restore endangered species protections for wolves.

The Alliance for the Wild Rockies, WildEarth Guardians and other groups argue the judicial branch needs to “zealously guard” against a move by Congress that lifted protections in defiance of earlier court rulings, according to the Associated Press.

They sued the government after Congress in April approved a budget rider taking wolves off the endangered list in five states.

The filing of their briefs in the case comes as wildlife agencies on Friday reported hunters have killed 11 of the predators since wolf seasons opened in Idaho and Montana last week.

Initial attempts to stop the hunts were denied last month by a three-judge panel of the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals. A November hearing in the case is expected.

Court rejects appeal to put Idaho, Montana wolf hunts on hold

ENDANGERED SPECIES — A federal appeals court on Thursday denied a request by environmental groups to halt wolf hunts that are scheduled to begin next week in Idaho and Montana, the Associated Press reports.

The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals denied the request by the Alliance for the Wild Rockies and other groups. The groups were seeking to cancel the hunts while the court considers a challenge to congressional action in April that stripped wolves of federal protections in Montana and Idaho, and in parts of Washington, Oregon and Utah.

Earlier this month, U.S. District Judge Donald Molloy in Missoula reluctantly upheld a budget rider that was inserted by Rep. Mike Simpson, R-Idaho, and Sen. Jon Tester, D-Mont. It marked the first time since the passage of the Endangered Species Act in 1973 that Congress forcibly removed protections from a plant or animal.

Read on for more details.

Idaho wolf seasons set, but drama builds in federal courtroom

ENDANGERED SPECIES — Idaho set its fall gray wolf hunting and trapping seasons last week just two days after a federal judge heard arguments in a lawsuit that once again could undo the planning Idaho and Montana have done to begin taking control over burgeoning wolf numbers that are having a big impact on big-game herds.

 As reporter Rob Chaney put in in a Missoulian story, "The battle over Rocky Mountain gray wolves has become a constitutional clash between the U.S. Congress and the nation's judicial system."

The judge promised to make a decision quickly.

Idaho-Montana wolf issues head back to court on Tuesday

PREDATORS — The battle over the status of gray wolves in Idaho and Montana returns to court Tuesday, where environmental groups will argue Congress overstepped its authority when it stripped the animals of federal protection last May, according to a report by Eric Barker of the Lewiston Tribune.

Two legal scholars who specialize in environmental and constitutional law say the greens face long odds in their effort to reinstate Endangered Species Act protections for wolves.

Read on for the rest of Barker's story.

Montana targets 220 wolves; Idaho to decide this week

PREDATORS– Hunters will be able to shoot up to 220 gray wolves in Montana this fall under rules adopted recently.

The hunt is scheduled to begin in early September and is expected to reduce the predator’s Montana population by about 25 percent to 425 wolves.

Idaho’s Fish and Game Commission will consider wolf hunting and trapping seasons during its July 27-28 meeting in Salmon.

Government biologists declared the species recovered from near-extermination in the Northern Rockies a decade ago. Yet they were kept on the endangered list by a series of lawsuits from environmental groups and animal rights activists, leading western lawmakers to insert a provision in the budget bill that forced the animals off the list — the first time that had happened since the Endangered Species Act was enacted in 1973.

Montana Fish Wildlife and Parks Commission Chairman Bob Ream told the Associated Press that he expected the state’s quota decision to draw criticism. However, he added that there was no chance of the population being decimated as some fear.

“We are making the best, science-based decision that we can,” said Ream, a retired biologist who studied wolves as a University of Montana professor. “Wolves are here to stay.”

Idaho presents wolf hunting-trapping rules Thursday in CdA

FISHING — The Idaho Fish and Game Department will present its proposals for the 2011 wolf hunting-trapping season during an open house meeting Thursday at the agency's Panhandle Region office, 2885 W. Kathleen Ave. in Coeur d’Alene. See map.

Regional staff will be on hand to answer questions and to solicit input on the 2011 wolf season proposals from noon to 6 p.m.

Wolves were hunted during 2009 in Idaho, with 27 wolves legally taken during the hunting season.  This harvest likely slowed the growth of the Panhandle’s wolf population for that year, but wolf numbers increased during 2010, a year in which no wolf season was held. 

Proposals call for:

  • Starting the Panhandle hunting season a month earlier than in 2009,
  • Allowing trapping during a portion of the season,
  • Allowing hunters and trappers to take more than 1 wolf a year

Agency biologists say the number of wolves must be reduced to preserve adequate numbers of big-game animals and reduce conflicts with humans and livestock.  Meantine, they said reducing wolf numbers can be done while ensuring the long-term viability of wolves.

Click here for further information and a public opinion survey on wolves in Idaho. 

The Idaho Fish and Game Commission will review public comments before making a decision on wolf season proposals at its July 27-28 meeting in Salmon.

Montana sets quota of 220 wolves for fall hunt

PREDATORS — Hunters will be able to shoot as many as 220 gray wolves in Montana this fall under rules adopted today by state wildlife commissioners.

The hunt is scheduled to begin in early September and is expected to reduce the predator’s Montana population by about 25 percent to 425 wolves, according to an Associated Press report.

Idaho's proposed hunting-trapping plans last week for controlling wolves — proposals are detailed online — but decisions won't be made until later this month.

Read on for more Montana details and background from the Associated Press.