Latest from The Spokesman-Review
ENDANGERED SPECIES — About 75 members of the public turned out for the special Fish and Wildlife Commission hearing on the proposed Washington wolf recovery plan in Ellensburg on Monday.
Click here to read the Associated Press report. It has a few strange errors, such as referring the commission vice chair Gary Douvia as Gary Donna. But the story presents a glimpse of the discussions the state is encountering.
Idaho's second-ever wolf hunting season opens tomorrow, running from Aug. 31 through Dec. 31 in the Island Park and Beaverhead wolf management zones, Aug. 30-June 30 in the Lolo and Selway zones, and Aug. 30-March 31 in the remaining nine zones. Click below for Idaho Fish & Game's full news release.
HUNTING — Idaho's second wolf season in history opens Tuesday, and it's a bargain for nonresidents.
Last month, the state Fish and Game Commission reduced the price of non-resident wolf tags to $31.75 to encourage more hunters to buy them.
Sales of resident and nonresident tags are down significantly from the first season, which was held two years ago.
There’s no quota on wolves this time around in most units controlled trapping will be allowed.
Idaho Fish and Game has all the details at its website here.
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.
The Associated Press reports that a federal appeals court in Helena, Mont. today rejected a request by environmental groups to halt wolf hunts that are scheduled to begin next week in Idaho and Montana. Click below for the full AP report.
ENDANGERED SPECIES — Planning that started in 2007 for dealing with the movement of gray wolves into Washington is inching closer to a conclusion.
The Washington Fish and Wildlife Commission has scheduled a special meeting to will hold a special meeting to continue its review of the the state's Final Environmental Impact Statement/Recommended Wolf Conservation and Management Plan, and the public is invited to comment.
According to the agenda released yesterday, the wolf briefing by Fish and Wildlife Department staffers will begin at 9 a.m., Aug. 29, at the Quality Inn & Conference Center, 1700 Canyon Rd. in Ellensburg on Monday, August 29, followed by a public input opportunity.
The public comment opportunity will come at the end of the afternoon portion of the meeting, which begins at 1 p.m.
The Commission plans to hold additional special meetings on Oct. 6 and Nov. 3 in Olympia to continue discussing the FEIS/Plan and hear public comment.
Commission meeting agendas, background materials and additional information will be available for viewing on the Commission’s web page.
Click here to see the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife website dedicated to the plan for dealing with wolves in Washington.
Quote of the week:
- Missoula Independent
ENDANGERED SPECIES — The Washington Fish and Wildlife Commission has scheduled three more special meetings to discuss the state's recommended Wolf Conservation and Management Plan and take public comment.
A meeting in Ellensburg is set for Aug. 29 while the others are set for Oct. 6 and Nov. 3 in Olympia.
The plan is intended to guide state wolf management while wolves naturally disperse and re-establish a sustainable breeding population in the state.
The plan contains controversial recovery objectives that would allow the state to eventually remove wolves from protection lists, along with management strategies to address wolf/livestock and wolf/ungulate conflicts.
The recommended plan was developed after a scientific peer review and public review of the 2009 draft plan. The public comment process, which concluded last year, included 19 public meetings and drew nearly 65,000 responses.
In addition, a 17-member citizen Wolf Working Group, which advised WDFW on the plan, met with WDFW staff 10 times from 2007-2011.
ENDANGERED SPECIES — While lots of eyes and camera lenses are out there trying to get a handle on the growth of northwest wolf packs, a remote camera in Oregon came up with at least one solid find: The Imnaha wolf pack in northeast Oregon was parading past the camera with at least one of this year's pups in tow.
A black-colored pups was photographed July 16 by an Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife camera. It's traveling with the Imnaha pack’s alpha female (its mother). So far, photographs and visual observations have turned up only one pup for the Imnaha pack this year, but more pups may be found.
Oregon Fish and Wildlife has made other photos of the pack available here.
At least three members of the Imnaha pack dispersed from the pack in the past few months, biologists say, including one collared female that moved into Washington last winter when she was 1.5 years old.
“Wolf packs are dynamic and rarely stay the same size over time,” noted Russ Morgan, ODFW wolf coordinator. “A pack can be healthy despite these natural fluctuations in numbers, as long as a breeding pair of wolves, the alpha male and female, is maintained.”
HUNTING — Montana's wolf-hunting licenses will go on sale Monday, Aug. 8.
Licenses will be valid within 14 specifically defined wolf management units. Hunters must obtain permission to hunt on private lands, Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks officials say.
Idaho's tags already are on sale, but interest is far lower than the first season two years ago.
Read on for Montana details.
Here's a news item from the Associated Press: HELENA, Mont. (AP) — A federal judge has reluctantly ruled to uphold a congressional budget provision that removed federal protections for the Northern Rockies gray wolf outside of Wyoming. U.S. District Judge Donald Molloy says that binding precedent by the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals requires him to rule against a constitutional challenge of the rider passed by Congress earlier this year. Molloy wrote in his order Wednesday that without that precedent, he would have ruled unconstitutional the provision that strips wolves of their endangered status in Montana, Idaho and parts of Washington, Oregon and Utah. Molloy says he believes the way Congress passed the provision undermines and disrespects the fundamental idea of the rule of law. Before Congress' action in April, Molloy had twice blocked attempts to lift protections for the predators.
Wyoming and the U.S. Department of Interior have announced a deal for delisting wolves in that state, which previously had been excluded from delisting because of its shoot-on-sight policy declaring wolves predators; that still would be allowed in most of the state under the tentative agreement, the Associated Press reports today. Click below for a full report from reporter Ben Neary of the AP in Cheyenne, Wyo.
ENDANGERED SPECIES –Washington’s gray wolf conservation and management plan will take another step toward adoption Thursday when the nearly completed document – years in the making – is presented to the state Fish and Wildlife Commission.
State wildlife officials will start their presentation to the commission at 10 a.m. in the Natural Resources Building in Olympia.
The presentation will include a summary of comments received from public and scientific peer reviews and the 17-member Wolf Working Group.
Public comment will be allowed after the briefing, which is expected to carry on to late afternoon.
Here's the agenda is for this special meeting.
Public meetings across the state are possible, but have not been announced.
The commission may consider approval of a final plan later this year.
Following are links to documents from the Washington Fish and Wildlife Department's Wolf Management Website:
Wolf Working Group Review Draft: Wolf Conservation and Management Plan for Washington- This draft was discusssed by the Wolf Working Group at its June 8-9, 2011, meeting.
Other recent updates
For more information, see: Wolf Plan Development Process and Archive
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's Fish & Game Commission, meeting today in Salmon, has set the state's wolf hunting season for 2011-12. As planned, the season will lack limits in several zones, to encourage more taking of wolves. Commissioners today made a few tweaks to the original proposal from their staff, upping the limits in two zones that have them, extending the trapping season and extending the hunting season in the Lolo zone, and lowering the nonresident wolf tag price to $31.75 statewide retroactively - nonresident hunters who already bought tags would be eligible for a refund. Fish & Game is posting all the details at its website here.
New Commissioner Kenny Anderson, from the Upper Snake Region, participating in his first commission meeting, asked to increase the limits by five each in the Beaverhead and Island Park zones. “I want more for my area, a better hunt and to take out more wolves,” he said.
Even as Idaho's Fish & Game Commission prepares to set this year's wolf-hunting season at its meeting this Thursday in Salmon, the wolf issue is back in court in Montana. U.S. District Judge Donald Molloy held a two-hour hearing in Missoula today, the AP reports, on a bid by wildlife advocates to challenge Congress' move to strip endangered status from the gray wolf across five states in the Northern Rockies; Molloy now must decide whether Congress violated the separation of powers under the U.S. Constitution. Click below for a full report from AP reporter Matthew Brown in Montana.
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.
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.”
ENDANGERED SPECIES — Washington’s fifth gray wolf pack has been confirmed in northeastern Stevens County, the state Fish and Wildlife Department just announced.
Earlier this month, Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife biologists caught, marked with an ear tag and released a 2-month-old wolf pup from the pack. Biologists have since been trying to capture one of the pack’s breeding adult wolves to radio-collar it for monitoring.
The effort to document the pack began after local ranchers reported observing three wolf pups and hearing howling in late June.
The pack is believed to include a breeding-age male and female and at least three pups. The group has been named the Smackout Pack, in reference to geographic features in the area.
Read on for more information from the WDFW media release.
WILDLIFE — Ed Bangs worked on wolf recovery for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service from 1988, through the reintroduction in the mid-1990s, until he retired last month.
High Country News editor Ray Ring rounded up Bans for an interview and this perspective of the wildlife biologist's experiences in the field and as a manager of a controversial program.
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.
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.
PREDATORS — Idaho's proposed hunting-trapping plans for controlling wolves are detailed online.
The same website asks viewers to complete an online survey rearding the proposals.
Idaho Fish and Game officials say they will survey 1,000 randomly selected hunters and 2,000 members of the public about the proposed wolf season.
For anyone else interested, but not included in the survey, the questions will be posted on the website along with a place to offer comments. The results will be presented to the Idaho Fish and Game Commission at the July 27 and 28 meeting in Salmon.
The comment deadline is July 24. Written comments may be sent to: Wolf Comments, Idaho Fish and Game, P.O. Box 25, Boise ID 83707.
WILDLIFE MANAGEMENT — Idaho announced it's wolf management plans — including trapping — last week. Montana officials plan to address hunting and management proposals this week.
Wyoming continues to be a step out of sync, although that may be changing.
U.S. and state officials said Thursday they were close to reaching a deal over how to end federal protections for wolves in Wyoming.
Environmental groups criticized the proposal that would allow wolves to be shot on sight in most of the state, the Associated Press reports. They also said a pending congressional proposal to exempt the plan from court review promises to undermine the Endangered Species Act.
Wyoming is the last state in the Northern Rockies where the federal government still manages the wolf population.
Secretary of Interior Ken Salazar said the wolf population clearly has recovered in the region and he expects to publish a rule by the end of September detailing how to turn over management of Wyoming wolves to the state.
Pressure to end federal wolf protections is high in Wyoming, where some ranchers and hunters are concerned about the animals feeding on livestock and wildlife.
Idaho is planning a fall wolf hunt with no overall limit - and no limits in four zones, the Panhandle, Lolo, Selway and Middle Fork zones - because of “documented impacts to elk and other prey species in those zones,” Idaho Fish and Game officials announced today. It's also planning a trapping season for wolves in the fall, in an effort to reduce the wolf population by more than the 188 animals taken in the state's first wolf hunt in 2009; you can read our full story here at spokesman.com, and read the full proposal here.
Virgil Moore, state Fish & Game director, said the plan is consistent with hunting regulations for other animals. “We don't have harvest limits on most of our other species,” he said, instead using a “general-season approach” for management. Said Jon Rachael, big game manager for F&G, “This is very consistent with the approach we take for black bears and mountain lions. We've done that for a long, long time.”
The proposal also would allow hunters to get two wolf tags per calendar year, rather than one.
Fish & Game is launching a survey of hunters and the public about the proposal, and it will be up for a vote by the Fish & Game Commission at its July 27-28 meeting in Salmon. Moore said under the plan, wolf harvests would have to be reported within 72 hours, and if the number killed becomes excessive, hunting can be cut off in a particular zone. However, he said he doesn't expect that to happen. “We learned in '09 that wolf hunting is extraordinarily challenging,” he said. Fewer than 1 percent of hunters with tags actually shot a wolf in that year's hunt, he said.
Idaho currently has 1,000 or more wolves, the two said, and the department's goal is to reduce that number, well staying well above the minimum federal recovery level of at least 150 wolves and 15 breeding pairs statewide, though the department's not setting a specific number for the reduction.
WILDLIFE MANAGEMENT — Idaho's new wolf management hunting and trapping plans announced this morning will generate discussion. To help people sort out the facts, Idaho Fish and Game's Panhandle region wildlife manager Jim Hayden has put together answers to questions he's being asked.
Read on for some solid background plus insights and updates on the latest plans.
PREDATORS — Idaho Fish and Game officials announced today there won’t be quotas in much of the state. That applies to four zones: Panhandle, Lolo, Selway and Middle Fork.
The S-R's Boise capitol reporter Betsy Russell filed this story roundup up the new wolf hunting rules announced this morning by the Idaho Department of Fish and Wildlife.
ENDANGERED SPECIES — A measure that would give Wyoming control over wolves and fend off lawsuits if a deal was struck to take the wolf off the federal endangered species list was attached by U.S. Rep. Cynthia Lummis to the 2012 Interior and Environment Appropriations bill.
The Jackson Hole Daily has this update.
The bill is laden with a number of other provisions that would direct the U.S. Forest Service to put more focus on logging beetle-killed forests, limit funding for endangered species and critical habitat, and protect grazing rights.
WILDLIFE MANAGEMENT — Gov. C.L. “Butch” Otter named a 60-year-old Rigby man to the seven-member Idaho Fish and Game Commission, the Associated Press reports
Kenny Anderson replaces Cameron Wheeler of Ririe, whose term expired June 30.
Among the issues Anderson will help decide is management of wolves during the upcoming hunting season.
Anderson is the owner of a cabinet and millwork business, as well as an avid sportsman and member of the National Rifle Association.
Otter says among numerous qualified candidates, Ken Anderson stood out as someone with a grasp of the issues and an even temperament.
ENDANGERED SPECIES — Washington’s fourth documented breeding wolf pack has been confirmed, this one in Kittitas County, the Washington Fish and Wildlife Depatment just announced.
Last month, agency biologists caught, attached a radio collar and released an adult female wolf that was lactating, indicating she was nursing pups. The biologists took tissue and hair samples and submitted them for DNA testing to determine whether the animal was a wild wolf or a wolf-dog hybrid.
Results of the DNA testing conducted at the University of California-Davis confirmed the animal is a wild gray wolf, the agency says in a prepared release.
WDFW biologists are monitoring the wolf’s location and activity through the radio telemetry tracking collar. They are referring to the new wolf pack as the Teanaway Pack.
The Lookout Pack, confirmed in Okanogan and Chelan counties in 2008, was Washington’s first documented resident pack since a breeding population of wolves was extirpated from the state in the 1930s.
A second pack, known as the Diamond Pack, was documented in 2009 in central Pend Oreille County.
A pup from a third pack, known as the Salmo Pack, was radio-collared in 2010 in northeast Pend Oreille County, where pack territory ranges into British Columbia.
Wolves from the Cutoff Peak Pack, with a den site in Idaho, range into Pend Oreille County in northeast Washington.
This announcement of a new wolf pack in the Cascades comes on the heels of reports that only two animals remain in the original Lookout Pack. Authorities believe the Lookout Pack's numbers were severely reduced by illegal killing.
“The discovery of another resident wolf pack clearly indicates that wolves are returning to Washington state naturally,” said WDFW Director Phil Anderson. “Their return highlights the need to continue efforts to finalize a state wolf conservation and management plan that will establish state recovery objectives and describe options for addressing wolf-livestock and wolf-ungulate management issues.”
Read on for more details.