Latest from The Spokesman-Review
POACHING — The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife is seeking the public's help to identify the person or persons responsible for shooting and killing a gray wolf last month in Stevens County.
A 2-year-old black female wolf from the Smackout Pack was found dead Feb. 9 near Cedar Lake in northeast Stevens County. The condition of the carcass indicated it had died between Feb. 5 and Feb. 7, and a veterinarian's examination confirmed it had been shot.
Wildlife managers had captured the wolf about a year ago and fitted it with a radio collar so they could track its movements and those of her pack members.
WDFW, with the help of three non-profit organizations, is offering a reward of up to $22,500 for information leading to an arrest and conviction in the case. Conservation Northwest, the Center for Biological Diversity, and The Humane Society of the United States, have each pledged $7,500 to create the reward.
Gray wolves are protected throughout the state. WDFW is responsible for management of wolves and enforcement of laws to protect them. The illegal killing of a wolf or other endangered fish or wildlife species is a gross misdemeanor, punishable by up to one year in jail and a fine of up to $5,000.
Sergeant Pam Taylor of the WDFW Northeast Washington Region is leading the investigation. She urged people with knowledge of the crime to report it confidentially by calling WDFW's poaching hotline, 877-933-9847, or by texting a tip to 847411.
ENDANGERED SPECIES — The saga of wolf recovery in Washington has taken a strange tryst.
A large domestic guard dog that took a month-long romp on the wild side in Pend Oreille County forced Washington Fish and Wildlife officials to capture and spay an endangered female gray wolf on Saturday.
“Our goal is restoration of a native wolf population not in producing a generation of hybrids we'd have to take care of in another way later,” said Donny Martorello, the department's carnivore manager in Olympia.
The wolf was one of two females in the new Ruby Creek Pack that biologists have been tracking with GPS collars since July.
The unusual action came after biologists learned that an Akbosh sheep dog climbed a 7-foot-tall fence from its yard near Ione and disappeared with the two female wolves for more than a month during February when wolves go into heat.
“If there had been a male wolf in the group, the dog would have been killed instantly,” Martorello said. But the two females tolerated him and breeding occurred, he said.
Biologists easily tracked the GPS signal and used a helicopter to shoot tranquilizers and capture the wolves. One female was pregnant; the other was not, he said. Both were released in the Pend Oreille River area.
“Spaying (the pregnant wolf) was a better alternative than trying to go out and kill all the pups after they're born,” he said.
The dog had run off with the wolves for about a week in early January, but biologists were able to monitor the wolves and tell the dog's owner when they were back near the home. The homeowner was able to call the dog in.
“We were already suspicious,” Martorello said. “Dogs and wolves usually don't mix.”
Wildlife officials advised the dog owner to restrain the dog for the rest of the winter. While dogs can come into heat throughout the year, wolves generally come into estrus only in January and February, Martorello said.
“But when those females came back in a few days, one must have been in estrus because that big, intact dog climbed a seven-foot orchard fence and took off with them from mid-January through February,” he said.
- Maybe this is the start of the new, more gentle guard dog: Keep the big bad wolves away from the sheep with a little love.
WILDLIFE WATCHING — A wolf trapper has answered the question on whether all of Montana's bears have snuggled in dens to hibernate through winter.
A steel leg-hold trap set for a wolf nabbed a 4-year-old male grizzly bear instead on a ranch west of Dupuyer on Tuesday, prompting Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks to help the trapper tranquilized and release the bear.
- The photo above indicates the glowing eyes in the spotlight beam were all the officers saw when they drove up in the dark to encounter the trapped grizzly.
If a bear has plenty of food available, it won't necessarily head into its den, even in mid-December, wildlife biologists said.
Read on for the story from the Great Falls Tribune.
TRAPPING — With wolf trappers and hunters crossing paths with recreationists on public lands, a Montana trapping group this week appealed to trappers to use common sense and keep traps away from popular recreation trails.
This action comes after:
- A wolf hunter shot a malamute that was running with its owner, who was cross-country skiing on a closed logging road near Lolo Pass.
- A Sandpoint woman appealed to trappers after her dog joined her for a ski on a National Forest road, was caught in a snare and nearly choked to death.
On Wednesday, the Montana Trappers Association announced it wants trappers to think twice about setting traps anywhere near the dog-friendly cross-country ski trails at Lake Como in Montana's Bitterroot Valley.
Read on for the story by Perry Backus of the Ravali Republic.
ENDANGERED SPECIES — DNA tests have confirmed a critter shot in Kentucky is a gray wolf, according to this Outdoor Life report.
ENDANGERED SPECIES — I was out on a successful catch and release wolf trapping mission today.
More to come…
PREDATORS — For the second year, wolves will be join furbearers as targets during Idaho’s winter trapping season.
Although trappers must take a course in safe techniques before they can purchase a wolf-trapping license, bird hunters and other people who let their dogs run freely in the wilds of the Idaho Panhandle should familiarize themselves with techniques for releasing a pet from a foothold trap or neck snare.
The wolf trapping season is set for Nov. 15-March 31 in most of Idaho's Panhandle zone. The exception is that wolf trapping is prohibited in hunting units 2 and 3, which generally includes the region from Priest River and the west shore of Lake Pend Oreille south to the Coeur d’Alene area.
- See details on Idaho's wolf hunting and trapping seasons and rules.
The rules are fairly liberal for wolf trappers:
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.
Idaho’s point of view is that hound hunters, hunters with bird dogs and other pet owners have a responsibility to keep track of and maintain control of their pets. Perhaps a good pair of wire cutters should be on your belt, too.
Releasing a pet from a snare trap can be tricky. Dog owners should bone up for the possibility.
This website has the best information I've found.
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.
PREDATORS — Idaho's wolf trapping seasons closed March 31 in all wolf management zones, and hunting seasons have closed in all but the Lolo and Selway zones where hunting seasons remain open through June 30.
As of April 2, hunters had killed 252 wolves, and trappers 123, for a total of 375 wolves, the Idaho Fish and Game Department reports. The agency says it sold about 43,300 wolf tags for the 2011-2012 season.
For the remainder of the 2011-2012 season, hunters may use two 2012 tags, and they may take only one wolf per tag. Wolf seasons are any-weapon seasons, electronic calls may be used, and wolves may be taken incidentally during fall bear baiting.
Hunters must report killing a wolf within 72 hours, and they must present the skull and hide to an Idaho Fish and Game office within 10 days.
Wolf trapping seasons opened November 15 in the Panhandle zone, except for units 2 and 3; in the Lolo zone; in the Dworshak-Elk City zone, except Unit 10A; in the Selway zone; and the Middle Fork zone. Unit 10 A was opened to trapping on February 1.
All trapping seasons ran through March 31 and are now closed.
The 2012-2013 wolf hunting season will open throughout the state on August 30, and the trapping season will open November 15 in some wolf zones.
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.
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/Rich Landers, SR Outdoors. More here.
Question: How is it possible to find accurate information about wolves, given the hysteria promoted by both extremes?
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.
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.
PREDATORS — Wolf culling has ended for the season in the Lolo Zone as aerial gunners, trappers and sport hunters have killed a total of 42 wolves since spring 2011, Idaho Fish and Game Department officials reported this afternoon.
With moose and elk populations at critical low levels, Idaho went to the extraordinary measures of enlisting aerial shooters from the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Wildlfie Services to kill 14 of the wolves from a helicopter in early February.
State officials say the Lolo Zone wolf numbers have been reduced by about half but as may as 50 or so still remain in the zone bordering Montana.
As of today, Feb. 22, hunters and trappers have taken a total of 318 wolves across the state since seasons opened last fall.
Read on for more details.
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.
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.
PREDATORS — Idaho is using trappers and helicopter gunners to try to get wolf numbers down.
In Montana, with wolf-harvest goals looking as though they could go unmet, a hunting group is offering a legal version of a bounty as an incentive to get hunters out to fill more wolf tags.
The Montana Sportsmen for Fish and Wildlife is offering $100 and an annual membership for photographs of wolves killed in any open wolf hunting district between Dec. 19 and the Feb. 15 end of the season, or until a quota is filled.
Read the story from the Ravali Republic.
PREDATORS — Idaho Fish and Game Department plans to use helicopter gunners and government trappers to kill wolves roaming the Lolo Zone, a remote, rugged area in the north-central part of the state once populated by some of Idaho's biggest elk herds.
Trapping efforts will begin later this month, coinciding with the current hunting and trapping season for wolves, said Dave Cadwallader, the agency's regional supervisor in Lewiston. Helicopter gunning will begin later this winter.
See more details from the AP report.
Montana wildlife commission extends wolf hunt season to Feb. 15
At its meeting on Thursday, the Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks Commission voted to extend the state's wolf hunt season from Dec. 31 to Feb. 15, since only 106 of the state's quota of 220 wolves have been killed thus far.
Montana FWP OKs plan to let ranchers use hunters to remove wolves
The Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks Commission approved a policy that will allow ranchers to use hunters, as well as federal wildlife agents, to remove problem wolves.
— Helena Independent Record