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Oregon kills second of two targeted Imnaha wolves

 PREDATORS — A second wolf has been killed by northeastern Oregon authorities attempting to stop attacks on cattle, but not before another calf was found killed by wolves this week, the Associated Press reports.

The Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife says a young female from the Imnaha pack was shot on private land Wednesday night. The first wolf was trapped and killed on Tuesday.

The department says the second wolf was with four other wolves from the Imnaha pack, including one fitted with a radio-tracking collar, in an area that has seen wolf attacks on livestock.

It comes after another calf was found killed by a wolf this week.

Oregon has taken over management of wolves moving into the state since Congress lifted U.S. Endangered Species Act protections for packs introduced in Idaho starting in the 1990s.

Tolerance for wolves lacking at Fish-Game hearing

PREDATORS — Angry hunters pressed the Idaho Fish and Game Commission Wednesday to act boldly and swiftly to reduce the state’s wolf population, currently at more than 700, down to the 150-wolf minimum allowed by law.

“Collar 150 of them, keep track of them and kill every other one,” said Mike Popp, a hunting outfitter from Kooskia and spokesman for the Committee for a Safe and Wolf Free Idaho.

Read on for the rest of a report on the commission hearing by Eric Barker of the Lewiston Tribune.

Idaho spells out wolf management goals

WILDLIFE MANAGEMENT — The Idaho Fish and Game Commission today established a framework for state wolf management and directed the state Fish and Game Department to:

— Manage wolves in a manner that will ensure wolves remain under responsible state management in conjunction with the rest of Idaho’s wildlife.

—Manage wolves as big game animals consistent with the goals and objectives of the 2002 Idaho Wolf Conservation and Management plan approved by the Idaho Legislature and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to keep wolves off the Endangered Species List.

—Control wolves where they depredate on livestock and other domestic animals or threaten human safety.

—Control the population of wolves and other predators as needed to address areas where elk or other prey populations are below management objectives.

—Develop wolf hunting season recommendations for consideration at the Commission’s July 2011 meeting and develop trapping recommendations.

— Conduct additional species management planning as appropriate.

Commissioners also agreed to support Idaho’s legal defense of challenges to state management, such as those lawsuits challenging the 2011 congressional action for wolf delisting.

The commission will urge Congress to continue to provide funding for monitoring, control and depredation compensation related to the wolf population introduced by the federal government into Idaho.

Elk City wolf pack targeted by deputies

PREDATORS — Deputies deep in north-central Idaho’s forests are getting the go-ahead from state wildlife officials to take aim at wolves suspected in attacks on dogs and livestock in Elk City, the Associated Press reports.

The state Department of Fish and Game is authorizing Idaho County sheriff’s deputies to kill a pack of about seven wolves frequenting the tiny mountain town in the Nez Perce National Forest, according to The Lewiston Tribune.

Read on for details from the AP and Lewiston Tribune.

Fish & Game authorizes sheriff’s deputies to kill wolves in Elk City pack

Idaho Fish & Game has, for the first time, delegated authority to local law enforcement agents to kill wolves, to address a pack of about seven wolves that are suspected in attacks on dogs and livestock in Elk City, the Lewiston Tribune reports. Wolves are now under state management after having been removed from endangered species protections pursuant to a law passed by Congress; already, five wolves in the Lolo zone were shot from a helicopter as part of the state's new efforts to control wolf numbers. Click below for a full report from the Tribune and the Associated Press.

Oregon wolf kill lawsuit dropped; wolf killed

PREDATORS — Environmental groups have dropped a legal fight to keep state wildlife officials from killing two wolves in northeastern Oregon, according to a report on Northwest Public Radio. The wolves are blamed for recent livestock deaths in that area.

When wildlife managers first announced they would go after two wolves in the Imnaha Pack, four conservation groups went to court. But the NWPR story points out that at that point gray wolves were still on the federal endangered species list.

Things are different now, the story explains.

Meanwhile, Oregon wildlife biologists trapped and killed a gray wolf early Tuesday on an eastern Oregon ranch near Joseph, where wolves had killed livestock last month.

The young uncollared male wolf was part of the Imnaha pack, which has killed at least four domestic animals so far this year on private grazing land near Wallowa Lake, the Oregonian reports. Numbering about 14 now, the pack killed domestic livestock in the same area in May 2010

Party’s Over For Idaho County Wolves

The Idaho Department of Fish and Game will authorize Idaho County sheriff's deputies to kill wolves causing problems and fraying nerves at Elk City. Dave Cadwallader, supervisor of the department's Clearwater Region, said a pack of about seven wolves frequenting the remote mountain town for months has killed dogs, attacked livestock and become habituated to people. “They are just hanging in and around town and they are there frequently,” he said. “It's just getting too close for comfort and I am going to go ahead and issue kill permits and the agents are going to be two deputies that live there and a couple of Fish and Game officers.” It is believed to be the first time the department has given local law enforcement agents the permission to kill wolves/Eric Barker, Lewiston Tribune. More here. (AP file photo)

Question: Is this a reasonable (only) way to handle troublesome wolves?

Washington biologists ahead of feds in concern for wolves

 PREDATORS — Although the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service recently announced it will review the status of Pacific Northwest wolves, Washington biologists already are trying to get a handle on what's happened to the state's first documented breeding pack

The Lookout Pack in the Methow Valley has been decimated in the past year, apparently by poachers,  state and federal biologists say.
Since the wolves were discovered in 2008, the pack has gone from as many as 10 animals to only a couple of wolves.
“I’m guessing two… based on some of the photos we’ve gotten” from motion-sensor cameras, John Rohrer, a biologist with the U.S. Forest Service, told the Methow Valley News last week.
One of the survivors is the pack’s alpha male, Rohrer said, but biologists don’t know whether the other wolf is a female who might be able to breed and keep the pack alive.
Conservation Northwest is offering a $7,500 reward for information that leads to a conviction of wolf poaching in Washington.

Montana ups wolf quota to make up for lost season

PREDATORS — Hunters would be able to remove up to 220 gray wolves from Montana’s landscape this fall under a tentative quota and seasons adopted Thursday by the state Fish, Wildlife and Parks Commission and reported in the Helena Independent Record.

The proposed quota is nearly triple the state’s only previous hunting season allowed in 2009, but models used by the state indicated the overall reduction of wolves would be modest. Biologists say the hunt likely would decrease wolf numbers from the current known 566 wolves in 108 verified packs to between 425 to 526 wolves.

The modeling takes into account wolves removed for livestock depredation and other causes, as well as the pups born this year, according to Ken McDonald, FWP fish and wildlife bureau chief.

Read on for more details from the IR report.

Idaho wastes no time with wolf management

PREDATORS — Since resuming wolf management earlier this month, Idaho Fish and Game already has initiated several actions across the state, including aerial wolf hunting to help take pressure off a struggling elk herd in the Lolo Zone.

Six control actions have been authorized in response to livestock depredations.

Read on for the details from the agency's press release.

Hucks Poll: More Wolves, Or Less

  • Tuesday Poll: In a strange vote, as many Hucksters voted to reduce the state's wolf population to 150 or less as they did to increase the population to 1000 or more — 39 of 112 (34.82%). The rest of the votes were divide among these options for number of wolves to be allowed in Idaho: 10 (8.93%) wanted 500 to 750 wolves; 9 each (8.04%) wanted 150 to 300 and 300 to 500 wolves; and 6 (5.36%) wanted the approximate current number of 750 to 1000 wolves.
  • Today's Poll: What should be done to the girls who stripped their softball teammate on a school bus?

How Many Wolves For Idaho?

Idaho’s Republican lawmakers know what they want to do now that the state has regained control of wolves. “We need to put as much pressure as we can on those wolves, pin them down and drive them back into the wilderness,” said Republican Sen. Monty Pearce, chairman of the Senate Resources and Environment Committee. “I think we need to thin them down rapidly.” Officials at the Idaho Department of Fish and Game believe about 1,000 wolves are in Idaho, though the official number is 705. The agency will begin work to establish a new population goal this month, with a new hunting season for wolves expected this fall. Pearce and other lawmakers don’t want the agency to wait. The New Plymouth rancher wants the season opened immediately and the state to adopt the minimum set in its 2002 Wolf Management Plan: 150 wolves/Rocky Barker, Idaho Statesman. More here. (AP file photo)

Question: How many wolves do you want in Idaho, if the current number is around 1000?

Idaho wolf tags not such a hot item this time

HUNTINGWhen Idaho offered tags in August 2009 for the state's first-ever wolf hunt, about 1,200 were sold the first half hour, a pace not repeated last week, when tags went on sale for the state's second-ever wolf hunt.

About 275 Idaho wolf tags were sold on Thursday and Friday.  Of course, there's still plenty of time before the fall seasons, which haven't yet been set.

See the Twin Falls Times story.

Wolves still protected in Washington

ENDANGERED SPECIES — All the recent headlines about delisting gray wolves and Idaho's planning for a fall hunting season and even aerial hunting in the Lolo zone have prompted the Washington Fish and Wildlife Department to issue a press release with a warning that wolves are still protected in Washington.

Indeed, wolves still have protections everywhere in the Lower 48.  Idaho has started selling wolf tags this week, but the season hasn't started, and even when it does it will be controlled.

Read on for wolf details and updates spelled out in the WDFW release.

Also, check out this Seattle Times story on how delisting technically affects the status of some wolves in Washington.

Idaho wolf tags now on sale

The Idaho Department of Fish & Game has started selling wolf tags for a fall hunt, at a cost of $11.50 for Idaho resident hunters and $186 for non-residents, including vendor fees. A valid 2011 Idaho hunting license is required to buy a tag; they're available at Fish & Game offices and hunting license vendors.

Seasons, rules and limits haven't yet been set for Idaho's planned wolf hunt; the Fish & Game Commission will set those this summer. In Idaho's first state-sanctioned wolf hunt in 2009-2010, more than 31,000 tags were sold and 188 animals taken by hunters; the harvest limit was 220. A federal rule published today officially removed wolves in Idaho from endangered species protections, allowing the hunt plan to move forward.

Lawsuit challenges federal budget bill wolf delisting rider

WILDLIFE IN THE COURTS — Environmental groups are challenging as unconstitutional Congressional legislation that took gray wolves off the endangered species list, according to the Associated Press.

Two lawsuits were filed in U.S. District Court on Thursday, as control over more than 1,300 wolves was turned over to state authorities in Montana, Idaho, Oregon, Washington and Utah.

A federal budget bill rider in April mandated the lifting of wolf protections.

Western lawmakers said they wanted to go around a federal judge who blocked prior efforts to hunt the animals.

But environmentalists say that violated the separation of powers required under the Constitution.

Plaintiffs in the lawsuits are the Center for Biological Diversity, and the Alliance for the Wild Rockies, Friends of the Clearwater and WildEarth Guardians.

Montana and Idaho are planning to resume regulated wolf hunting seasons this fall.

Idaho begins selling wolf tags

HUNTING — Idaho Fish and Game has started selling wolf tags – $11.50 for resident hunters and $186 for nonresidents, vendor fees included.

Tags are available at license vendors and Fish and Game offices. A valid 2011 Idaho hunting license is required to buy a tag.

Today, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service published the rule that removed wolves in Idaho from the endangered species list. The rule took effect upon publishing.

Gray wolves are now under state management and considered a big game animal.

The Idaho Fish and Game Commission will set seasons, rules and limits later in the summer.

Idaho aims to act quickly on its plan to kill up to 60 wolves in a northcentral Idaho hunting area after the Obama Administration moved to delist the predators from Endangered Species Act protections. Aerial shooting likely will be employed.

Although official estimates put Idaho’s wolf population at 705, Idaho Fish and Game officials say the number after this year’s crop of pups emerges may exceed 1,000.

Two lawsuits challenge wolf de-listing

The AP reports that two lawsuits have been filed today in U.S. District Court challenging the congressional legislation that de-listed wolves as unconstitutional. Here's the item from AP in Billings:  BILLINGS, Mont. (AP) — Environmental groups are challenging as unconstitutional Congressional legislation that took gray wolves off the endangered species list. Two lawsuits were filed in U.S. District Court on Thursday, as control over more than 1,300 wolves was turned over to state authorities in Montana, Idaho, Oregon, Washington and Utah. A federal budget bill rider in April mandated the lifting of wolf protections. Western lawmakers said they wanted to go around a federal judge who blocked prior efforts to hunt the animals. But environmentalists say that violated the separation of powers required under the Constitution. Plaintiffs in the lawsuits are the Center for Biological Diversity, and the Alliance for the Wild Rockies, Friends of the Clearwater and WildEarth Guardians. Hunts for hundreds of wolves are planned this fall in Montana and Idaho.

Idaho congressional delegation on wolves: ‘Consider it a victory’

In a joint statement, Idaho's congressional delegation praised the Interior Department's move today to delist wolves, as directed by legislation crafted in party by Idaho Rep. Mike Simpson. “No one can rationally argue that the Rocky Mountain gray wolf is still endangered,” Simpson said. “Wolf populations in the west are robust and far exceed recovery goals. If the Endangered Species Act is going to be effective at all, we need to remove recovered species from the list and consider it a victory.”

U.S. Sen. Mike Crapo said, “The wolf is recovered in the northern Rockies and the State of Idaho has proven that it can and will effectively and responsibly manage wolves.  Now that the federal government has taken this step, the State of Idaho can finally get to work.” Added Sen. Jim Risch, “Common sense has finally prevailed.” And Rep. Raul Labrador said, “The original purpose of the ESA has been perverted to do the bidding of activist environmentalists. This is the first step to ensuring these groups no longer misuse the ESA to permanently protect a species regardless of its recovery.” Click below for the delegation's full joint statement.

Defenders on wolves: ‘A terrible precedent’

Defenders of Wildlife has issued a statement in response to the de-listing of wolves in the Northern Rockies at congressional direction, calling it “a terrible precedent for side-stepping America's bedrock environmental laws whenever it's politically convenient to do so.” Suzanne Stone, Northern Rockies representative for the group, said, “We will be watching closely over the next several months as Idaho and Montana gear up to manage wolves once again. Even though the vast majority of Americans still continue to support wolf recovery, it will be up to dedicated conservationists and wildlife enthusiasts in Idaho and Montana to hold their elected officials accountable for how they manage wolves. We must stand up to the anti-wolf extremists who want to turn back the clock and eradicate wolves once again.” Click below for the group's full statement.

Otter on wolves: ‘We didn’t want them here at all’

Idaho Gov. Butch Otter, answering reporters' questions at a ceremonial bill-signing ceremony in Greenleaf today, said, “Not more than 20 minutes ago, I received word from Secretary Salazar that wolves will be delisted tomorrow. When we knew that Congressman Simpson and Congressman Rehberg from Montana and other folks that worked so hard to get that continuing resolution (wolf de-listing) amendment, I immediately got a hold of the Fish and Game Commission, and the new director, Virgil Moore, and asked them to start preparing, right now, a responsible management plan, not unlike what we did in ’09, so we have a good boiler plate. We have got a good primer on how to do it correctly and responsibly.”

He said, “You can probably expect within the next couple of weeks some announcements on the calendar of when the wolf hunt will begin, how many we will be taking. In ’09 our quota was 220. We successfully took 188 wolves and it will be that same kind of response and that same kind of responsible management plan.”

Otter added, “Actually we didn’t want them here at all. But they said ‘don’t worry about it, because you will only have a hundred wolves.' It is estimated we have over 1700. So we have far exceeded their expectations, and so  it is time to do the right thing. And Secretary Salazar, under the direction of the concurrent resolution, is doing the right thing.”

Idaho gears up for Lolo wolf kill, fall wolf-hunting season

Now that wolves are once again being removed from Endangered Species Act protections, Idaho Fish & Game Director Virgil Moore says the state is gearing up for a fall wolf hunting season and will move immediately to reduce wolf numbers in the Lolo zone. The state had been awaiting approval from federal authorities to kill wolves there under Section 10J of the ESA; that no longer applies, now that the state is taking over wolf management again, and the department can go ahead on its own. Aerial shooting, summer trapping and other measures are possible there, in what Moore characterized as a “multi-year operation.” “We're going to move expeditiously to get going with all that,” Moore said from his office at Idaho Fish & Game headquarters, where he answered reporters' questions today.

It's not yet clear how many wolf kills Idaho will authorize in the fall hunt; the Fish & Game Commission will decide that this summer. Last time, the state set a harvest limit of 220 animals and sold more than 31,000 tags. “It's probably going to look very similar to what we had in 2009 and 2010,” Moore said. “We saw a significant drop in the number of livestock wolf depredations after that hunting season.”

Current official estimates are that Idaho has a minimum of 705 wolves, but state game manager Jon Rachael said state Fish & Game wasn't involved in the monitoring in the last part of this year, and believes the number likely is closer to 1,000. As many as nine packs in remote areas may have been missed in the most recent survey, Rachael said.

Moore said Idaho's goal, as set by the state Legislature, will be to manage its wolf population in such a way that there's no risk of falling below the federal minimum of 150 wolves in the state at any time and risking federal sanctions or re-listing. “Wolves are here to stay, OK, they are part of the landscape,” he said. “Whether you agree with how they got here or why they got here, they are now wards of the state and we will manage them appropriately, in balance with the management goals we have for other species, and we will avoid any risk of ever getting these things back listed again in our management actions, just like we plan to do with all species that we have.”

Groups sue to stop Oregon wolf kill

PREDATORS — A plan announced Monday to kill two Oregon wolves from a pack that killed livestock near Joseph, Ore., was quickly challenged in court Tuesday by conservation groups.

U.S. Fish and Wildlife authorities want to capture and kill two young wolves from the Imnaha pack in northeastern Oregon after the latest in a series of livestock kills. The federal biologists say killing two wolves might preclude the need to kill more of the pack and disrupt their breeding and social network.

However, the conservation groups filed a lawsuit in in U.S. District Court in Portland to block the killings, saying the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service had not done the formal environmental review called for by law before making the decision.

Read on for more of the story from the Associated Press.

Wolves now officially de-listed

The U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service has announced it's reinstating its 2009 decision to remove the gray wolf in the Northern Rocky Mountains from the endangered species list - a decision that affects Idaho, Montana, and parts of Oregon, Washington and Utah, but excludes Wyoming, “although the Service is working closely with that state to develop a wolf management plan that would allow wolves in Wyoming to be removed from the list in the future,” according to a FWS news release.

U.S. Interior Secretary Ken Salazar said, “Like other iconic species such as the whooping crane, the brown pelican, and the bald eagle, the recovery of the gray wolf is another success story of the Endangered Species Act.” But it was recently passed congressional legislation that took the wolves back off the endangered list, reversing a federal court decision. A final rule published by the agency today reinstates the terms of its 2009 delisting, as directed by the legislation.

“We are implementing the recent legislation that directs the delisting of the gray wolf in most of the Northern Rocky Mountains,” said Interior Deputy Secretary David J. Hayes. “As with other delisted species, we will be applying the Endangered Species Act’s post-delisting monitoring requirements to ensure that wolf populations remain robust, while under state wildlife management.” That includes wolf hunts proposed in both Idaho and Montana. You can read the full FWS news release here, and click below for a full report from the Associated Press.

Wolves Delisted In Idaho, Montana

Wolves will be delisted in the Northern Rockies except Wyoming on Thursday, Interior Secretary Ken Salazar said. The rule would reinstate the 2009 decision by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to delist the gray wolf in Idaho and Montana, eastern Washington, eastern Oregon and northern Utah. Salazar said the US. Fish and Wildlife Service will continue to monitor wolf populations in the region for at least five years. But he is confident the states will protect the predator that has prompted wide controversy. “We don't expect any problems,” Salazar said/Rocky Barker, Idaho Statesman. More here. (AP file photo)

Question: Do you applaud/denounce this development?

Two Oregon wolves to be targeted after another livestock death

PREDATORS — The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced today that it has authorized the killing of two young wolves from the Imnaha pack in northeastern Oregon after another livestock kill was confirmed.

An investigation determined a calf carcass found Saturday near Joseph was the product of a wolf kill.

Nonlethal measures such as electric fences have not kept the pack from livestock, so lethal controls are in order, officials said.

The plan is to capture and kill two sub-adults from the pack, which numbers 10 to 14 wolves. That could be enough to discourage the pack from attacking livestock without affecting breeding.

Two wolves from the same pack were under a state kill order last summer, but that was lifted after conservation groups challenged it.

Read on for details from the just-issued press release from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

Idaho set out goals for managing wolves

WILDLIFE — Idaho Fish and Game Department biologists have wasted no time gearing up for their renewed chance to begin managing wolves on the state level, even though some federal guidelines still apply.

The federal budget bill passed by Congress included a rider that removes wolves from many endangered species protections and once again put the re-introduced species under state management under the provisions of the 2002 Idaho Wolf Management Plan. 

Read on for updates from Jim Hayden, Idaho Fish and Game's Panhandle Region wildlife manager:

Otter signs wolf disaster bill into law despite separation of powers concerns

Gov. Butch Otter has signed HB 343, the wolf disaster emergency bill, into law despite concerns he expressed in a two-page letter about the bill. “My concerns with the legislation are not whether it is an appropriate response to the devastation that wolves have caused,” Otter wrote in an official signing letter to Secretary of State Ben Ysursa. “I understand and share the frustration of Idahoans over the impact wolves have had across our state in the past 16 years. However, I am concerned that H343 is largely unnecessary, and it unintentionally infringes on the statutory authority of the governor to declare disasters.” You can read my full story here at spokesman.com.

Nevertheless, he signed it into law. Otter said in his letter that the Legislature “has agreed to work with me next session to fix the provisions that infringe on the authority vested in the governor to declare disasters,” and, he said, “portions of this bill may prove useful in the future if state management is revoked or the species is relisted under the Endangered Species Act.” Under congressional legislation authored in part by Idaho Rep. Mike Simpson and signed into law by President Barack Obama last week, wolves are being removed from endangered species protection in Idaho. Otter wrote, “I have asked the IDFG to focus on resuming state management of wolves pursuant to our state management plan.” You can read Otter's letter here; and click below for his news release.

Wolf ruling highlights success, not failure

ENDANGERED SPECIES — Much has been written since Friday when President Obama signed the federal budget which included a rider that removed Northern Rockies gray wolves from most endangered species protections.
Our story on the rider had a helpful Q&A.   I followed with a blog post that spelled out more details.
Rocky Barker of the Idaho Statesman commented that Environmental groups over-reached on wolves .
Personally, I believe we should be celebrating the amazing recovery wolves have made since being reintroduced in 1995. It's remarkable, and worth a toast.
Here's what the federal government's wolf recovery point man said:
“The bottom line is science is being followed. The heavy lifting is over, and that's cool. My upbringing was to complete your job; when we started there were 10 wolves near Glacier. Now there's 1,700 in six states and they're being delisted. That’s pretty rewarding.”
Ed Bangs, who is retiring as wolf recovery coordinator for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in June, about his 23 years working on wolf reintroduction.
- Helena Independent Record
Read on for a comment I requested for a Washington wildlife biologist, whose opinion I respect even though this biologist does not deal specifically with wolves.

Now that Obama’s signed bill, wolves could be off endangered list in 60 days

Here's a news item from the Associated Press:  BILLINGS, Mont. (AP) — Federal wildlife officials say they will take more than 1,300 gray wolves in the Northern Rockies off the endangered species list within 60 days. An attachment to the budget bill signed into law Friday by President Barack Obama strips protections from wolves in five Western states. It marks the first time Congress has taken a species off the endangered list. Idaho and Montana plan public wolf hunts this fall. Hunts last year were canceled after a judge ruled the predators remained at risk. Protections remain in place for wolves in Wyoming because of its shoot-on-sight law for the predators. There are no immediate plans to hunt the small wolf populations in Oregon and Washington. No packs have been established in Utah.