Latest from The Spokesman-Review
WILDLIFE LAWS — The Washington Legislature is considering numerous bills that relate to hunters, anglers and wildlife.
Andy Walgamott of Northwest Sportsman Magazine posted this update on last week's activity.
PREDATORS — Hunters across Montana have shot 145 wolves since the season opened in early September.
The state has set a statewide quota of 220 wolves for the season that started in early September. If that quota is reached, it would reduce the state's wolf population to roughly 425 animals before the spring pupping season.
The Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks Commission recently extended the wolf hunt through Feb. 15, unless quotas are met for individual districts.
Several hunting units have met quotas and hunting has been closed.
Unlike Idaho, Montana does not allow public wolf trapping.
IDAHO: See details here on Idaho's toll of at least 269 wolves killed by hunters and trappers since August.
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 Fish & Game Director Virgil Moore told JFAC this morning that as of yesterday, Idaho hunters had killed 206 wolves during the state's wolf hunting season, and trappers had taken 60. "That's a total of 266 wolves taken so far in this hunting season," Moore said. In addition, about 60 more were killed in depredation actions, either through landowner action or or wildlife services efforts; that brings the total wolves to date in the past year to 326 "that have been harvested or taken for various purposes," Moore said. "We think we're beginning to put some important pressure on those animals."
This year's was only the state's second-ever wolf hunting season; the first was in 2009, but then wolves were returned to the endangered species list. "I feel real proud of the work that the department has done, and the help that we got from Congressman Simpson in getting the congressional authority to get out from underneath the judicial trap that we'd been in for so many years relative to wolf management.."
Wolves are coming to the big screen today in “The Grey,” a man-versus-beast thriller starring Liam Neeson. When their plane crashes in Alaska’s frozen wilderness, a bunch of oil-field roughnecks fight for survival. Not only do the men combat cold and hunger, they’re stalked by a wolf pack. Film previews feature eerie howls and shots of feral eyes glinting in the darkness. When carnage ensues in this R-rated film, the wolves are usually the winners. But the movie’s portrayal of wolves as man-eaters dismays Gary Wiles. “My first reaction was, ‘Oh, no!’ ” said Wiles, a wildlife biologist for the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife. “It looks totally like a Hollywood-contrived movie: something to strike at people’s basic fears”/Becky Kramer, SR. More here.
Question: Will this movie affect the wolf debate?
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.
Let's kill every wolf in Montana. Sounds like a popular idea these days among hunters. While we're at it, let's kill every grizzly bear, every black bear and every mountain lion. Throw in golden eagles, bald eagles, rattlesnakes and coyotes. We'd be left with a hunter's paradise - a state teeming with game animals and hunting opportunity, right? That's the sentiment I heard recently at a meeting on the hunting season setting proposals in Butte, where an oft-angry group of sportsmen called for large-scale killing of predators to increase the number of deer, elk and other game species. The suggestions ranged from having government trappers shoot wolves from helicopters to creating a season on eagles so they don't kill mountain goats/Nick Gevock, Montana Standard. More here.
Question: Who's more hysterical — certain hunters who want to kill all wolves or certain conservationists who want to spare all wolves?
ENDANGERED SPECIES — Washington lawmakers last week began consideration of a pair of bills that deal with wolves.
Senate Bill 6139, which was requested by the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlfie, would set a cap of $50,000 per year on the compensation the agency could pay from its wildlife account for claims related to wolf attacks on livestock.
Dave Ware, WDFW Game Division manager, said the bill seeks to balance the needs of humans and wildlife. It would also add the gray wolf to the state's definition of big game.
Senate Bill 6137 would provide an affirmative defense for killing a wolf caught in the act of attacking livestock. The defense would be allowed only where wolves have been taken off the federal endangered species list — the eastern third of the state — and only if the WDFW was notified within 72 hours.
Both bills have been discussed by the Senate Committee on Energy, Natural Resources and Marine Waters.
See details in this story by the Capital Press.
See details in a blog post by Rocky Barker of the Idaho Statesman.
WILDLIFE — The snow that piled up all over the region today caused trouble for a lot of humans, but wolves are in their element — grizzly bears, too, even the ones that aren't hibernating.
Washington photographers captured these photos of a wolf and a grizzly bear during today's storm.
Can you guess where each of the photos was made?
Answer will be posted later on the S-R Facebook page.
Or click below on "continue reading" and I'll spill the beans.
ENDANGERED SPECIES — People interested in the far-flung wanderings of Oregon’s celebrity wolf, OR-7, can keep up with his progress into other states on a new website.
The California Department of Fish and Game put up a map Friday showing the wolf’s path since leaving Oregon and heading into the Cascade Range of Northern California.
In the interests of the wolf’s safety, the department is delaying posting locations on the map by about a week.
The most recent one puts OR-7 about 35 miles south of Alturas, Calif., heading northeast toward Nevada.
The 2-year-old wolf was born in northeastern Oregon, and last September left his pack to seek out a mate and a new territory.
He crossed into California at the end of December and is the first wolf in California in more than 80 years.
WILDLIFE ENCOUNTERS — A state wildlife official says an investigation has failed to find clear evidence that a dog died in an attack by wolves last week in northern Idaho, according to wire reports.
Idaho Fish and Game official Josh Stanley says he could find no evidence of wolf tracks in the snow where the domestic dog was killed Wednesday about a mile north of Wallace. Another dog suffered wounds to the face in the skirmish.
Stanley told the Shoshone News Press he tracked a 100-yard radius around the home where the attack took place and found tracks more closely resembling dogs or coyotes.
After the attack, local authorities placed blame on four wolves.
Idaho rules allow citizens to shoot wolves only if they have a hunting tag or to protect domestic animals and livestock.
WILDLIFE MANAGEMENT — The Idaho Fish and Game Commission will hear an annual report from Fish and Game Director Virgil Moore and meet with state lawmakers when the commisson meets Jan. 25-26 in Boise.
Routine items on the Fish and Game Commission's agenda include setting seasons for upland game, furbearers and turkey, a legislative budget preview and a big game briefing.
Also on the agenda are:
- A Shikar-Safari award presentation.
- An update on spring and summer Chinook salmon forecast and the potential for sport fisheries this year.
- A wolf harvest update.
- Deer and elk status updates.
- The Director’s Annual Report to the Commission.
- A motorized hunting rule scoping update.
- A legislative update.
- A report on land acquisitions and a summary of land acquisition policy implementation.
WILDLIFE ENCOUNTERS — The Shoshone County sheriff says two dogs were attacked by four wolves near Wallace.
Sheriff Mitch Alexander told The Shoshone News Press that one dog died and another sustained a facial bite in the attack Wednesday evening, and that there were many wolf tracks in the area.
The newspaper reported that Idaho Fish and Game officials told residents in the area that it is legal to shoot the wolf pack. Idaho Fish and Game official Josh Stanley didn’t return a call for comment.
IN SPOKANE COUNTY, unconfirmed wolf sightings have been coming in to Fish and Wildlife officials — and to me — for more than a year. I've heard of several reports in the Tower Mountain to Turnbull region in the past four months.
Report possible wolf sightings in Washington to the Fish and Wildlife Department wildlife reporting line: (877) 933-9847.
Online reporting is possible on this WDFW Dangerous Wildlife Incident web page, where you also can see where wolf, cougar and grizzly bear encounters have been reported.
More wolf news from the AP:
Colville tribe to manage wolves on reservation
NESPELEM — Officials with the Confederated Tribes of the Colville Reservation are making plans to manage a growing population of wolves in northeast Washington.
Remote cameras have photographed at least three wolves, and officials think as many as nine may be living on the reservation.
Tribal wildlife manager Randy Friedlander says the reports of wolf tracks, wolf kills and howling have become more frequent.
Tribal Fish and Wildlife Director Joe Peone told The Wenatchee World the management plan could include removing animals, if the population exceeds more than tribal members want.
Wolves haven’t lived on the reservation for about 80 years. The tribe plans to trap and radio collar wolves this spring to develop the management plan.
Correction: Wild dogs attack Rottweiler in Wallace/Mike Perry, KHQ
Domestic dogs were attacked by four wolves around 6 p.m. Wednesday night on the 600 block of Burke Road, just outside Wallace. One dog died and another sustained a facial bite, said Shoshone County Sheriff Mitch Alexander, and there were many wolf tracks in the area. A neighbor reported the dog that died was a Rottweiler. Idaho Fish and Game notified residents in the area and informed them that it is legal to shoot the wolf pack. Calls made to Idaho Fish and Game official Josh Stanley about the attack weren't returned. Mullan resident Barry Sadler didn't just have his dogs attacked by wolves a few years ago - they chased his daughter into the front door and came right up on his porch. Sadler shot and killed one of the offending wolves/Kelsey Saintz, Hagadone News Network. More here.
Question: Do you still think Br'er Wolf is harmless?
WILDLIFE MANAGEMENT — The continuing controversy over the appointment of Jay Kehne to the Washington Fish and Wildlife Commission indicates there's no tolerance for straying from the Republican reservation in the northeastern corner of the state.
The Okanogan County Republican Party has asked County Commissioner Andy Lampe to resign because he wrote a recommendation of Omak conservationist Jay Kehne to the state Fish and Wildlife Commission, according to a story in The Okanogan Chronicle.
Here's the Wenatchee World report on the controversy.
Kathy Stewart calls her green van the "Wolfmobile." She wears T-shirts and coats with pictures of wolves. She says the wolf is her guardian. So, the message she wanted to deliver to the Idaho Department of Fish and Game on Monday about wolves was not surprising. "Stop killing them." "Get education about the wolf. Don't go out and kill it because you can," she said before a candlelight vigil at Independence Point. Stewart, joined by husband Glen wearing his wolf T-shirt, was one of about 10 people who took part in the event organized by the Northern Idaho Wolf Alliance/Bill Buley, Coeur d'Alene Press. More here.
Question: Do you consider the small turnout an indication that wolves don't have much support in North Idaho?
From a press release: The Northern Idaho Wolf Alliance (NIWA) will conduct a candlelight vigil to honor 337 fallen Idaho and Montana wolves, and protest the war against wolves, this evening starting at 4:30 - the night of "The Full Wolf Moon." They will gather near the Independence Point parking lot in Coeur d'Alene and walk through downtown from there. NIWA is joining Howling for Justice and Wolf Warriors to make The Candlelight Vigil for Wolves under the Full Wolf Moon a "Howl Across America" event, encouraging wolf supporters to hold their own vigils across the country on this special night/Coeur d'Alene Press. More here.
Question: Is it proper for Northern Idaho Wolf Alliance to referred to wolves killed during wolf hunts in Idaho and Montana as "fallen"?
ENDANGERED SPECIES — The young male wolf that has been traipsing about Oregon has made its way into Northern California, the first wolf to do so since 1924.
Details in this Los Angeles Times report, Oregon wolf makes its way to N. California.
PREDATORS — A third sportsmen's organization has stepped up with incentives that encourage hunters to bag a wolf to help give relief to struggling elk herds before Montana's wolf hunting season ends in February, according to a story in the Ravalli Republic.
So far, the incentives have not made much of a difference.
Safari Club International's Western Montana Chapter announced recently it will raffle off the taxidermy of a wolf pelt to successful wolf hunters this year. The prize is worth an estimated $750.
That organization is the third that has offered a prize or a check to hunters bagging a wolf this season. The others are:
- The Ravalli County Fish and Wildlife Association started the incentives by starting a raffle for a rifle to wolf hunters successful in the southern reaches of the Bitterroot.
- The Montana Sportsmen for Fish and Wildlife followed with a photo contest that offered successful wolf hunters $100 and an annual membership for photographs of dead wolves.
All of the groups say the incentives are necessary to encourage hunters to take to the field and learn new techniques needed to bag a wolf.
WILDLIFE — Gov. Butch Otter cried wolf by declaring the predators a "disaster emergency" in Idaho last year, according to The Wildlife Society, the international organization of wildlife professionals.
The group's newsletter editors ranked that story No. 1 in their list of Top 10 Wildlife News Stories for 2011.
Other top stories include white-nose syndrome in bats plus stories on wolves, pronghorns and my column in The Spokesman-Review about a Wenatchee-area trail-cam that caught eight cougars in one photo. (Unfortunately, the Wildlife Society linked to a watered-down rewrite by somebody else.)
Read on to see the group's top wildlife stories.
WILDLIFE — The annual year-end survey of the Washington’s five confirmed wolf packs has documented three successful breeding pairs and a total of at least 27 wolves, the state Fish and Wildlife Department says in a media release posted today.
Click here for details on the packs and summaries of the 2011 survey.
The tally, conducted through field work and aerial monitoring, found two of the successful breeding pairs in the Eastern Washington wolf-recovery region and one in the North Cascades recovery region. A successful wolf breeding pair is defined as an adult male and female with at least two pups that survive until the end of the calendar year.
Evidence of unconfirmed packs was noted in the Blue Mountains of southeastern Washington and at Hozomeen in the North Cascades, as well as transient single wolves, according to Rocky Beach, WDFW’s wildlife diversity program manager.
“We will continue to follow up on all reports of possible wolf sightings,” Beach said. “We will be working again this spring and summer to confirm new packs and pups and to capture and fit additional wolves with radio
Under the recently adopted Washington wolf conservation and management plan, wolves will be removed from the state’s endangered species list once 15 successful breeding pairs are documented for three consecutive years among three wolf-recovery regions (four pairs in Eastern Washington, four pairs in North Cascades, four pairs in South Cascades/Northwest Coast, and three pairs in any recovery region).
The gray wolf (Canis lupus) currently is protected by the state as an endangered species throughout Washington and is federally listed as endangered in the western two-thirds of the state.
Read on for more details from the December wolf survey:
WILDLIFE — Many of the wolves in northeastern Washington moved in naturally from Idaho. But the Gem State is a dangerous place for the wolves to return.
A radio-collared wolf from the Diamond Pack in east-central Pend Oreille County was killed Dec. 20 by a trapper in North Idaho a few hundred yards east of the stateline.
Trappers have reported taking at least six wolves in the Idaho Panhandle during the state's first trapping season, which started Nov. 15 and runs through March 15. Hunters have reported taking 28 wolves so far this season in the Panhandle, counting the one checked in at Coeur d'Alene on Tuesday.
Statewide, hunters have tagged at least 173 wolves in Idaho so far this season and trappers have reported taking 24.
The wolf trapped Dec. 20 was one of four Washington wolves wearing radio collars to track the movements of the Diamond Pack, which wanders along the stateline, as well as the Salmo Pack that roams the boundary with Canada.
"We will get the radio collar back," said Madonna Luers, Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife Spokeswoman in Spokane in an interview with Andy Walgamott of Northwest Sportsman Magazine.
Meantime, here's the latest Idaho Panhandle wolf report posted Tuesday evening by Jim Hayden, Fish and Game regional wildlife manager.
Checked another wolf today, so we’re at 28 wolves taken in the Panhandle via hunting, and 6 via trapping. By this date two years ago, we had taken just 13 wolves. (In fact, the 14thwolf didn’t come until Feb. 2.) We ended up with 24 legal wolf kills two years ago (there were also 4 illegal kills added for a total of 28).
So, we’re taking more wolves than we did two years ago, even if just hunting is considered. Will we have more wolves at the end of the season than we did two years ago or less? There might be plenty of folks willing to say they know. I’m not one of them. There are just too many unknowns – did we take more wolves simply because there are more around? Are hunters more effective than they were two years ago? Both? Neither?
WILDLIFE — The Obama administration today declared more than 4,000 wolves in Michigan, Minnesota and Wisconsin have recovered from widespread extermination and will be removed from the endangered species list.
After devoting four decades and tens of millions of dollars to saving the gray wolf, the federal government wants to get out of the wolf-protection business, leaving it to individual states — and the wolves themselves — to determine the future of the legendary predator.
Read the details from the Associated Press.
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.
In his TGIF Cheers & Jeers column this week (full version here), Marty Trillhaase/Lewiston Tribune jeers state Rep. Phil Hart, R-Athol. "Not only is he a tax scofflaw and a timber bandit, he's now a certified blowhard. It will be a cold day in Athol before Hart's political grandstanding makes a difference in Boise, much less Washington, D.C. But that hasn't stopped him from trying. Hart claims Congress knuckled under and pulled wolves in Idaho and Montana from the federal Endangered Species Act protection because of his bill declaring a state emergency and authorizing the killing of wolves.
- Rule No. 1 - Idaho can pass all the bills it wants. It can't trump a federal law.
- Rule No. 2 - Get your facts straight, Phil. Two months earlier U.S. Rep Mike Simpson, R-Idaho, engineered a rider - and an alliance with Democratic Sen. Jon Tester of Montana - to end federal wolf protection. "
Question: Who would be a good candidate to challenge Rep. Phil Hart in the 2012 GOP primary?
PREDATORS — Last week, Idaho Fish and Game officials announced they will be using aerial gunning from helicopters to help reduce the number of wolves along the Idaho -Montana border in an effort to give a hurting elk herd some breathing room to recover.
The Los Angeles Times seized upon this story, not so much on the effort to keep the prey base healthy, but on the professionalism of the federal agents assigned to control wildlife.
The paper leads with concern raised by a 2006 photo of government gunners in a plane with more than 50 decals of wolf paw prints fixed to the fuselage much as WW II aces signified the number of enemy aircraft they downed.
But really: These guys have a job to do, and a very dangerous one at that. The goal is to reduce the number of wolves. Each wolf kill is logged and detailed in required reports.
It's no different than the goal to reduce the number of lake trout in Lake Pend Oreille to help bring back the kokanee.
Does it really make any difference that some of the wolves will be dispatched from an aircraft or that some of the shooters marked their efforts with decals on a plane years ago?
Read on for a report on the IFG announcement as published in the Lewiston Morning Tribune.
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
ENDANGERED SPECIES — After four years of development, public review and controversy, the Washington Fish and Wildlife Commission Saturday unanimously adopted a plan that will guide state conservation and management of gray wolves in the state.
The citizen commission approved the Gray Wolf Conservation and Management Plan at a public meeting in Olympia, according to a media release from Fish and Wildlife Department officials.
Read two detailed accounts of the commission's discussion and vote.
Read reaction to the plan adoption from a wide range of groups.
The plan establishes recovery objectives for gray wolves in three regions in Washington, along with procedures for addressing predation on livestock and impacts on ungulates such as deer, elk and caribou.
Before the final vote, the commission approved several changes to the draft plan, including one that modified the distribution of breeding wolf pairs needed to remove wolves from the state’s endangered species list.
During the past four years, the plan developed by WDFW in conjunction with a 17-member citizen Wolf Working Group has been the focus of 23 public meetings, 65,000 written comments and a blind scientific peer review.
The working group split over the key element of how many breeding packs would be allowed before wolf numbers would be controlled. The dissenting group wanted the number set at eight breeding pairs. But the commission adopted the higher number recommended by a majority of the panel.
Key elements of the plan approved by the commission include:
- Recovery goals: The plan establishes a recovery objective of 15 breeding pairs of wolves that are present in the state for at least three years. Before gray wolves can be removed from the state’s endangered species list, at least four of those breeding pairs must be verified in Eastern Washington, four in the northern Cascades, four in the southern Cascades/Northwest coastal area and three others anywhere in the state. The commission also allows WDFW to initiate action to delist gray wolves if 18 breeding pairs are documented during a single year.
- Livestock protection: The plan provides a variety of management measures – from technical assistance for landowners to lethal removal – to control wolves that prey on livestock. The plan also establishes conditions for compensating ranchers who lose livestock to wolf predation.
- Wildlife protection:The plan allows WDFW to use lethal and non-lethal measures to manage wolf predation on at-risk deer, elk and caribou populations if wolf numbers reach or exceed the recovery objective within a region where predation occurs. The commission modified the definition of “at-risk” populations to give WDFW more flexibility in responding to the effect of wolf predation on those animals.
WDFW is not allowed to import wolves from other states or seek to increase the wolf population to historic levels under the parameters set for the new wolf management plan by an associated environmental impact statement.
Read on for more details.
An Idaho Department of Fish and Game official said Thursday the state will use aerial gunning and professional and government trappers to kill wolves in the Lolo Zone, even as public hunting and trapping seasons continue. Dave Cadwallader, supervisor of the department's Clearwater Region, said he wants a multipronged approach to wolf control in the difficult-to-access area where elk herds are hurting. … Idaho's wolf hunting season opened in late August, but only six wolves have been harvested in the Lolo Zone … That is far fewer than the 50 to 60 wildlife managers want to remove from the area, where elk numbers have fallen from a high of about 16,000 in the late 1980s to about 2,000 today/Eric Barker, Lewiston Tribune. More here.
Question: Is the state of Idaho acting properly in targetting Lolo Zone wolves for trapping and aerial kill?