Everything tagged

Latest from The Spokesman-Review

Video captures wolf pup howling, pack responding

WILDLIFE — The Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife has captured video of a wolf pup howling with other members of its pack in northeastern Oregon.

The department posted the video, which is an excellent example of how wolves communicate.

It shows a pup by itself in a forested area. Its howls are answered by other wolves in the distance.

Department spokeswoman Michelle Dennehy says the video was captured by a biologist on July 25.

The pup is a member of the Snake River pack, which was first observed in October in the Snake River wildlife management unit, which borders Idaho and includes the Hells Canyon National Recreation Area and Wilderness.

Dennehy says biologists on Thursday successfully fitted the first member of the pack with a radio-tracking collar.

Wolves, eagles poisoned in Bob Marshall Wilderness

WILDLIFE — The deaths of four wolves and six eagles in the Bob Marshall Wilderness Area in Montana are being investigagted by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, in conjunction with the US Forest Service and Montana Department of Fish, Wildlife and Parks. 

Although officials just announced the investigation, the wolves and eagles were found in the vicinity of the Big Prairie Ranger Station in early May.

Recent lab results have confirmed that the wolves and eagles died as a result of poisoning. 

The US Fish and Wildlife Service is offering a $2,500 reward for information that leads to the conviction of the person(s) responsible for the death of the wolves and eagles.

Contact: Rick Branzell, (406) 329-3000.

Wolves attack more Stevens County livestock; Wedge Pack may pay

ENDANGERED SPECIES — A calf injured in a wolf attack in northern Stevens County – the fourth injured or killed in one cattle herd in four weeks – has left the Washington Fish and Wildlife Department contemplating a response, including killing one or more wolves in the Wedge Pack.

“All options are on the table,” Madonna Luers, agency spokeswoman in Spokane, said Monday.

The incident, which apparently occurred on Thursday, is the latest of several confirmed wolf attacks on the Diamond M Ranch herd near Laurier. The ranch has a Colville National Forest grazing lease in the “wedge” of land just south of Canada between the Columbia and Kettle Rivers.

  • See my recent column for background on wolf attacks and management in Washington.
  • Click on the video above to see and hear a wolf pack howling.

In mid-July, officials confirmed that wolves had injured a cow and calf and killed another calf from the northern Stevens County ranch.

The Diamond M Ranch is owned by the McIrvin family. In 2007, the ranch also suffered Washington’s first documented wolf livestock depredation in roughly 70 years.

Last year, state officials adopted a wolf management plan to deal with expanding wolf packs, which remain protected by state endangered species laws.

“This latest attack is a continuation of a pattern of wolf-livestock problems in the wedge,” Luers said. “The wolf plan allows several possible responses, including lethal removal, in cases of repeated depredation after other methods have been tried.”

 The response likely will be decided todayTuesday, she said.

Steve Pozzanghera, director of WDFW's eastern regional office in Spokane, was not available for comment.

Following the last attacks on the Diamond M Ranch cattle, a Fish and Wildlife Department trapper caught an adult male wolf and released it after attaching a collar with a radio transmitter.

A pup also was caught and released, confirming the pack had reproduced this year.

A range rider also was assigned part-time to the leased area to help keep wolves away from the stock, Luers said.

She could not confirm that the radio-collared wolf – thought to be the Wedge Pack’s alpha male – was near the recent attack on a calf. She also did not know whether the range rider had confronted the wolves.

After the July attacks, the Fish and Wildlife Department issued the ranchers a special permit to kill wolves caught threatening their cattle, but it has not been used, Luers said.

Wolf experts confront the myth about native vs. re-introduced wolves

WILDLIFE — After a letter to the editor on Sunday made claims about gray wolves that don't seem to be substantiated published wildlife science, I asked for a reaction from several wolf experts.  Some of that information appears today in my weekly Outdoors column.

Washington Department of Fish and Wildlfie biologist Gary Wiles, principal author of the state's wolf plan, offered this explanation dealing directly with the claim that re-introduced wolves from Canada are “super wolves” compared with the wolves that were in this region before they were extirpated in the 1940s.

“The idea that native wolves were ‘much smaller’ and ‘do not engage in lust killing’ is not substantiated by any scientific proof. 

“The name Canis lupus irremotus is dated and no longer considered scientifically valid.  It is now considered part of the subspecies Canis lupus nubilus, which includes wolves formerly present in the U.S. Great Plains and most of the western U.S. and currently still present in northeastern Canada.  This subspecies is variable in size, but is not substantially smaller than Canis lupus occidentalis of western Canada, Alaska, Idaho, Montana, and Wyoming.  Current subspecies designations are based primarily on genetics and skull morphology. 

A complete explanation is in the WDFW's  answers to Wolf FAQs (frequently asked questions).

Wildlife scientist’s family slams Elk Foundation for wolf stance

WILDLIFE ISSUES — The Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation has removed all references to its Olaus Murie conservation award after the researcher’s family objected to the group’s policy on wolves.

The Missoulian has the full story.

In a letter to RMEF President David Allen, Olaus Murie’s son, Donald Murie, said the organization’s “all-out war against wolves” is “anathema to the entire Murie family.”

RMEF started giving the Olaus Murie Award in 1999 and has presented it five or six times since then to standouts in the field of wildlife science. The Murie family has no involvement with funding or chosing the award.

Murie, who died in 1963, “was a renowned biologist and one of the country’s great champions of wildlife and wilderness,” according the website of the Wilderness Society, where he served as director.

Murie published pioneering research on the elk herd in Jackson Hole, Wyo., and became “an early, staunch defender of predators and their crucial role in ecosystems,” the site says.

Incidentally: Montana just authorized a 2012-2013 wolf trapping season to help beef up the hunting season that failed to take the quota of wolves sought by wildlife managers last year.

This week, within 24 hours of opening registration for the state's first wolf trapping certification course — a prerequisite to getting a wolf-trapping license — 110 people had signed up.

East Side shoulders weight of Washington wolf recovery

ENDANGERED SPECIES — Today's Outdoors column rounding up the recently elevated profile of gray wolves in Washington ends with a hint to another irony of Washington's East-West dichotomy.

Washington's wolf management plan requires 15 breeding pairs of wolves to be established for three years in all regions of the state before they could be removed from endangered status and their populations could be controlled.

But while wolves are moving in naturally from Idaho and Canada and establishing packs naturally in Eastern Washington, wolves would have to be trapped and relocated into the Western Washington and especially the Olympic Peninsula to complete the delisting requirements within a reasonable time frame.

The catch is that a lengthy environmental and public outreach process would be required before wolves could be translocated — even to the Mount St. Helens area where elk are starving from overpopulation. It's not clear whether Western Washington residents would welcome wolf releases, especially in the Olympics.

The East Side is getting wolves without management authority whether they like them or not. West Side residents get to have a say in whether they want wolves in their woods.

East Side wildlife will take the brunt of wolf recovery until West Siders make their decision.

With eight packs confirmed in Eastern Washington and more unconfirmed packs almost surely formed in the area, it seems like NOW is the time to begin the environmental reviews and public outreach required to get the ball rolling toward delisting wolves.

Why wait until wolves wear out their tentative welcome in Eastern Washington and give more East Siders a reason to hate them?

— See map graphics and details on Washington's eight confirmed wolf packs.

— See  KING 5 News video report on Monday's capture and release of a 94 pound adult male and a pup from the Wedge Pack.  The trapping effort confirmed the presence of a breeding pack between the Columbia and Kettle rivers near the Canada border.

— See five wolf pups in a short video clip from a remote trail cam that confirmed the presence of the Huckleberry Pack, a breeding pack in northern Spokane and southern Stevens counties.

Idaho wolf hunting season ends, Panhandle private-lands season begins

Idaho's wolf hunting season ended Saturday, but a summer season with wolf hunting allowed on private lands in the northern Panhandle region opened the same day. It's the first phase of the 2012-2013 season; wolf hunting in the rest of the state doesn't open until Aug. 30. Anyone wanting to hunt wolves during the summer season must have a permit and landowner permission in advance; click below for a full report from the AP and the Missoulian.

Montanans debate wolf controls, trapping

PREDATORS — Despite a long sport hunting seasons and lethal measures to control wolves bothering livestock, Montana's wolf population continued to grow in the past two years while big-game herds in many areas are taking a beating.

Fish, Wildlife and Parks officials are holding meetings around the state before moving ahead with wolf management.  One of the proposals includes trapping, which proved to be effective in Idaho when authorized last year.

Perhaps the most surprising development:  The meeting that brought a wide range of public opinion together in Kalispell — was civil.

Read the story and update on the situation from the Flathead Beacon.

Tests confirm Ketchum pup is full-blooded wolf

WILDLIFE — Results just received from a DNA test confirm a pup picked up outside Ketchum on May 25 is a wild wolf, Idaho Fish and Game officials say.

Out of town campers picked up what they thought was a lost domestic puppy outside Ketchum and took it to a vet clinic in town. Officials thought the male puppy looked like it might be a wolf.

Idaho Fish and Game looked for a wolf pack near where the pup was found, hoping to return the lost pup. But they could find no fresh sign of a pack in the area.

Zoo Boise agreed to take the pup temporarily and to help Fish and Game find it a permanent home. Zoo officials are compiling a list of facilities accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums that would be suitable for the pup.

The pup is gaining weight and his health is improving.

NEVERTHELESS, officials say it is best to leave young animals in the wild alone.

In the case of the pup, it is possible that the pack was moving with the pups – perhaps from a den to a rendezvous site – and may have been disturbed by traffic on the road.

Captive-raised wolf pups offer glimpse of den activity

ENDANGERED SPECIES — Here's a glimpse of what was going last month on in dens scattered around the country in a small portion of the wolf's historic range.

In this case, a newly born Mexican crop of wolf pups is being raised in captivity to help revive the species in the southwest.

In this May 6, 2012 photo provided by the Wolf Conservation Center, a newborn Mexican wolf pup is shown at the Center’s facility in South Salem, N.Y.

The eight pups born at the preserve on May 6 could aid the federal program that has reintroduced the endangered species to the wild.

In 2011 it was believed that there were 50 Mexican wolves living wild in the United Sates.

State focuses trapper on Methow wolves

ENDANGERED SPECIES – The Washington Fish and Wildlife Department has sped up plans to put radio collars on wolves in the Methow Valley after confirming last month the pack likely killed a calf – the first in the state to qualify for compensation.

Biologist Scott Becker has been stationed in Wenatchee and hired to work with wolves, according to the Wenatchee World. He’s begun efforts to trap the two known members of the Lookout Pack, said Eastern Region Director Steve Pozzanghera.

It’s the state’s first confirmed wolf pack in 70 years, and now deemed the first pack to have probably killed livestock in a May 19 attack on the Thurlow cattle ranch near Carlton.

Becker - formerly a wolf coordinator for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service - and another biologist stationed in Spokane will try to trap and radio collar animals from all five known packs in the state. That will allow biologists to follow the packs’ movements and track breeding.

The wolves will be released in the same location as captured, Pozzanghera said, adding the agency hopes to work with the Thurlows and other ranchers to prevent further problems.

Read on for more details from the Wenatchee World.

Cougars take bite out of Montana wolf research

PREDATORS — Why would a mountain lion want to mess with a wolf? 

That's what a Montana wildlife researcher is wondering as mountain lions take a toll on the radio-collared wolves she's trying to follow through the Bitterroot Mountains.

The risk of injury doesn't seem worth the benefit for an animal that can simply climb a tree and watch the wolf world pass buy. 

Here's the story from the Ravali Republic.

Wolf likely killed calf at Methow ranch

 ENDANGERED SPECIES — A Methow Valley rancher may get the distinction of receiving Washington's first compensation for livestock killed by wolves.

State and federal wildlife managers have determined that wolves likely caused injuries that resulted in a death of a calf on a Methow Valley ranch May 18 and that the landowner would qualify for compensation.

The landowner would be the first in the state to qualify for compensation under criteria established by the state’s Wolf Conservation and Management Plan adopted late last year.
 
Steve Pozzanghera, a regional director for the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife, said it was not possible to say for certain that wolves caused the injuries that resulted in the death of the calf, although evidence at the scene supports that conclusion.
 
Read on for details.

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.

Cameras, eyes on wolf pair in Methow Valley

ENDANGERED SPECIES — A trail-cam image of a pair of gray wolves in the Methow Valley is raising the possibility that the Lookout Pack may be regrouping — and possibly reproducing.

The wolves (above) were photographed in April by a motion-activated camera put out by the U.S. Forest Service southwest of Twisp. 

Several sightings of the pair have been reported to the Washington Fish and Wildlfie Department, offering the possibility the pair may have mated and the Lookout Pack is rebuilding.

Poaching and other possible causes reduced the Lookout Pack from 10 wolves in 2008 to two or possibly three animals.

Three members of a Twisp family, whose ranch borders the area inhabited by the Lookout Pack, pleaded guilty in April to charges related to killing endangered wolves and attempting to smuggle a wolf hide to Canada.

Their fines total more than $70,000

The the photographed pair are a breeding male and female, pups could be born in early May.

“Without radio-collared animals, our next best chance of finding out more will be when the pups are old enough to leave the den and start responding to howling solicitations – probably not until mid-June,” Scott Fitkin, Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife biologist, told the Methow Valley News.

Elsewhere in Washington

The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife is trying to document whether wolves confirmed in about five new areas of the state have formed new packs.

WDFW biologists currently are attempting to trap and fix radio collars on wolves in the “wedge” area between the Columbia and Kettle rivers in northeast Washington.

Officials say that operation likely will move next to the Hozomeen area in northwest WA.

Efforts to put collars on wolves in the Touchet River area of the Blue Mountains likely won't begin until later this spring or early summer, officials say.

$73,000 in fines for wolf poaching: a slap on the wrist?

ENDANGERED SPECIES — Three members of a Methow Valley family who raised havoc with the Lookout Pack, the first re-population of wolves discovered in Washington, were fined a total of more than $73,000 in plea agreements entered in Spokane federal court.

Some conservation groups are making headlines saying they think those penalties weren't enough, arguing the family members should get jail time.

Maybe, maybe not.

But perhaps the Seattle PI online gives us a perspective on how these issues are viewed on Western Washington. There's nothing particularly wrong with the story, but the headline caught my attention:

WOLF KILLERS IN METHOW GET OFF WITH PROBATION

 

What do you think? 

Is accurate to suggest a family that's had to pay $73,000 in fines and restitution is “getting off with probation?”

Younger Twisp ranchers also plead guilty in wolf case

ENDANGERED SPECIES — Tom D. White, 37, and his wife, Erin J. White, 37, of Twisp, Wash., have entered guilty pleas in plea agreements involving illegal conduct relating to endangered wolves.

Michael C. Ormsby, United States Attorney for the Eastern District of Washington, just announced the deal in Spokane.

On April 4, William D. White, 62, pleaded guilty in the same case to conspiring to kill a protected wolf and send its pelt to a friend in Canada in return for the friend's help in illegally killing a moose.

The older White admitted guilt to the charges of conspiracy to take an endangered species, conspiracy to transport endangered species and unlawful importation of wildlife. The importation charge stemmed from the moose, which White brought back to the Methow Valley from Canada, along with a whitetail deer.

As part of the overall agreement, William White was fined $38,500 and lost possession of a trap, two guns and any remaining wolf parts in his possession.

Today White's son, Tom White plead guilty to killing two endangered gray wolves in May and December of 2008.

Erin White pleaded guilty on two counts involving exporting an endangered species.

The younger Whites each face maximum penalties of up to one year in prison for each offense. But under the agreement, Tom White will pay fines and restitution totaling $30,000 and forfeit the firearm used to kill the wolves.

Erin White has agreed to pay $5,000 in fines.

The U.S. Attorney is recommending probation for both of the younger Whites.

A sentencing hearing has been set for July 11.

UI hosts panel discussion: ‘Wolves in the West’

PREDATORS — With wolf-related issues burning or smoldering all over the place, a high-level panel is coming together for a public discussion at the University of Idaho Thursday night (April 5).

The Environmental Law Society is focusing on wolves, one of the most politicized and difficult issues in environmental law.

  • Ed Bangs (former U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Wolf Recovery Coordinator) will provide the scientific background;
  • Professor Dale Goble (University of Idaho College of Law) will describe the law surrounding wolf de-listing;
  • Professor John Freemuth (Boise State Masters of Public Administration Program) will talk about what public policy makers consider when negotiating their way through divergent interests to a workable solution. 

The presentation is set for Thursday, 6:30 p.m.,  Room 104, Menard Law Building

Idaho wolf seasons closed in most zones

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.

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.

Wolf Hysteria Affects Both Extremes

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?

Idaho Wolf Number Cut In Half

Wolf hunting ended Saturday in most of Idaho. Hunters have bagged 372 animals since the season began in August,  cutting the state’s estimated wolf population roughly in half, according to the latest count. Idaho Fish and Game officials are pleased, while wolf advocates find the high total worrisome.  There was high interest in this year’s hunt. Idahoans and out-of-staters purchased more than 43,000 wolf tags. The individual success rate wasn’t great. But overall, Idaho wildlife manager Jon Rachael says the hunt met the state’s goals. … Idaho didn’t put a season limit on wolves killed except in select parts of the state. Conservationists worry about the effects of losing nearly 400 wolves to hunting/Jessica Robinson, Boise State Public Radio. More here. (US Fish & Wildlife photo)

Thoughts?

Yellowstone elk decline continues; wolves only partially responsible

WILDLIFE — A major elk herd that migrates between Yellowstone National Park and Montana suffered another steep decline last year due to a hard winter, predator attacks and hunting, state and federal scientists said Tuesday.

An Associated Press report says new data from wildlife agencies show the Northern Yellowstone elk herd is down to about 4,174 animals, a 10 percent drop from the prior year’s count. That follows a 24 percent drop in 2011.

Yellowstone biologist Doug Smith said the herd remains healthy despite its smaller size. The number is more in line with historic levels since wolves were reintroduced and grizzly bears and mountain lions returned naturally, he said.

The herd peaked at about 20,000 animals in 1992, a few years before wolves were brought back from Canada after being absent from the region for decades. Since then, the herd has declined about 80 percent.

Read on for details from the AP.

Idaho Hikes Bag Limit On Wolves

The Idaho Fish and Game Commission raised the bag limit on wolves and set spring chinook fishing seasons at its meeting in Boise Thursday. Commissioners approved a department proposal to raise the wolf hunting bag limit to five per calendar year, and the trapping limit to five per season in the Panhandle and Clearwater regions. But the commission also decided to extend the higher bag limits to hunters and trappers in the Middle Fork Zone. Jeff Gould, chief of the Idaho Fish and Game Department's wildlife bureau said earlier this week, the goal of the higher bag limits is to allow skilled hunters and trappers to help the state achieve its goal of shrinking wolf numbers, reducing predation on elk herds and lessen conflicts with livestock. He said allowing more wolves to be killed will reduce the population but not put it in jeopardy. … There were more than 1,000 wolves in Idaho prior to the start of the 2011 hunting season. A population survey compiled by the Nez Perce Tribe and IDFG estimated there were at least 746 wolves in the state at the end of the year/Eric Barker, Lewiston Tribune. More here.

Question: Are you comfortable that Idaho is managing its wolf population well?

New map plots up to 10 wolf packs in Washington

ENDANGERED SPECIES — Up to 10 wolf packs could be roaming in Washington, according to a new wolf recovery map (above) posted by the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife.

If the evidence leads to confirmation, that would be 100 percent increase in the state's verified wolf packs over the past year.

Most of the wolf activity is in northeastern Washington, but the pack activity is being found in the Blue Mountains and even the North Cascades.

A good update on the Washington wolf situation, summarizing the presentation state wildlife officials made at the Washington Fish and Wildlife Commisison earlier this month, has been posted by Andy Walgamott of Northwest Sportsman Magazine.

The Washington Fish and Wildlfie Department recently introduced an online wolf-reporting tool that enables the public to help alert wolf researchers to expanding wolf activity.

Click here to listen to the audio transcript of the March 9 wolf presentation.

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.

Federal court OKs wolf hunts, rejects appeal

HUNTING — A federal appeals court today rejected a lawsuit from conservation groups that want to block wolf hunts that have killed more than 500 of the predators across the Northern Rockies in recent months, according to a just-filed Associated Press report

The ruling from a three-judge panel of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals said Congress had the right to intervene when it stripped protections from wolves last spring.

Lawmakers stepped in after court rulings kept wolves on the endangered list for years after they reached recovery goals.

Michael Robinson with the Center for Biological Diversity, one of the groups that sued to restore protections, said an appeal was under consideration but no decision had been made.

Read on for more details from the Associated Press.

Idaho posts 2011 wolf report; 169 killed so far in 2012

PREDATORS — Idaho has posted its 2011 annual summary of wolf monitoring.

Although much of this was reported last week, here are some compilations and updates:

  • Idaho wolf numbers are down for the second consecutive year.
  • At the end of 2011, 746 wolves were documented in 101 Idaho wolf packs, down from a high of 856 wolves at the end of 2009. At the end of 2010, the population estimate was 777 wolves.
  • 24 documented border packs were counted for Montana, Wyoming and Washington that established territories overlapping the Idaho state boundary and spent some time in Idaho.
  • Of the 63 packs known to have reproduced in Idaho, 40 packs qualified as breeding pairs by the end of the year.
  • 10 previously unknown packs were documented during 2011, but the overall net increase was only six packs in the state, with four other packs removed during the year.
  • 296 wolves were confirmed killed in Idaho during 2011. Of known wolf mortalities, hunter and trapper harvest accounted for 200 deaths, and agency control and legal landowner take in response to wolf-livestock depredation accounted for 63 deaths.
  • 18 wolf deaths were attributed to other human causes, including illegal take. The cause of 12 wolf mortalities could not be determined and were listed as unknown, and 3 wolves were known to have died of natural causes.
  • Livestock losses to wolves included 71 cattle, 121 sheep, three horses, six dogs and two domestic bison. Probably wolf kills included 19 cattle, 26 sheep, one horse and one dog.

In addition, since the beginning of this year, 145 wolves have been killed in Idaho by hunters and trappers, 14 were killed in a Lolo Zone aerial control action, nine have been taken in other Wildlife Service control actions around the state and one died of parvovirus.

That brings the 2012 toll on Idaho wolves to 169 as of Monday.

  • Idaho's 2011-2012 hunting and trapping seasons in MOST remaining open areas including the Panhandle end March 31.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s Northern Rocky Mountain wolf progress report includes reports from Idaho, Montana and Wyoming.

Wolf numbers stabilize in Yellowstone; elk dramatically reduced

WILDLIFE — Yellowstone National Park officials say the park’s wolf population has stabilized at about 100 wolves over the last two years.

The Billings Gazette reports that represents about a 60 percent reduction from 2007 wolf numbers as elk populations have also declined.

In December, Yellowstone officials said the herd numbered just more than 4,600, a drop from their peak of 19,000 decades.   Most people agree that 19,000 elk was too many for the area.  The current elk population, however, is cause for concern to many hunting groups outside the park.

The largest Yellowstone wolf pack last year was the 19-member Molly Pack that usually stays in the Pelican Valley in the park’s interior.

But officials say a lack of snowfall made it harder to kill bison so the pack migrated to the Lamar Valley.

That forced competition with wolf packs already in the area, and officials say six wolves with radio collars have been killed in pack rivalries.

Officials estimate about 25,000 visitors to the park last year saw wolves, mainly in the Slough Creek and Lamar Valley regions.