A coalition of western wolf advocates on Thursday challenged the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s decision to strip wolves of federal protections in the contiguous 48 states, a move they claim is in violation of the Endangered Species Act.
The complaint can be found at bit.ly/3oMpEsn.
The most recent data from the USFWS and its state partners show an estimated 4,400 wolves inhabit the western Great Lakes states, but only 108 wolves in Washington state (with only 20 outside of Eastern Washington), 158 in Oregon and 15 in California.
Nevada, Utah and Colorado have had a few wolf sightings over the past three years, but wolves remain functionally absent from their historical habitat in these states, according to a news release.
“Wolves are a keystone species whose presence on landscapes regulates animal populations and improves ecosystem health – something the service has acknowledged for at least 44 years,” said Kelly Nokes, Western Environmental Law Center attorney.
In delisting wolves, the coalition believes the USFWS ignored the science showing they are not recovered in the West – rather it relied on the number of wolves in the Great Lakes region as justification for delisting.
Wolves are listed as endangered under state laws in Washington and California, and wolves only occupy a small portion of available, suitable habitat in Oregon.
Likewise, wolves have only just begun to recolonize their historical, wild, public lands habitat in much of the West, including in Colorado and the southern Rockies.
“From a scientific standpoint, wolves are nowhere near being recovered in the western United States,” said Erik Molvar, a wildlife biologist and executive director with Western Watersheds Project. “The federal government has the obligation to keep wolves protected until robust and secure populations are in place throughout the West, and we intend to ensure that wolves get the legal defense they need against premature delisting.”
The conservation groups have long been active on wolf recovery issues in the West, including working with western states to develop science-based wolf management plans, mounting cases to rein in federal government wolf-killing programs, promoting recovery efforts in the Southwest for critically imperiled Mexican gray wolves, and working with local governments and landowners to deploy nonlethal tools that prevent wolf-livestock conflicts.
Trespassing imperils conservation
Trespassing endangers land conservancy.
That’s the message from Dishman Hills Conservancy executive director Jeff Lambert following recent trespassing complaints from neighbors near Tower Mountain.
“Trespassing really sours the neighbors on whatever the public activity is nearby,” he said.
In a Facebook post, the land conservancy, which manages roughly 3,000 acres, asked recreationists to stay off private land.
“There are complaints from the Tower Mountain neighbors about trespassing and vandalism,” the post states. “Please do not trespass. Note that trail mapping apps such as AllTrails and TrailForks show trails crossing private property.”
Instead, Lambert urged would-be hikers to check out the Washington Trails Association’s website or the Dishman Hills Conservancy website for up-to-date trail maps.
‘Glacier Conversations’ featuring thru-hiker
Each month, the Glacier Conservancy hosts a curated, interactive conversation on Zoom with a guest who has a special connection to Glacier or the greater outdoors. The next virtual discussion group will feature special guest Sarah Williams.
Williams thru-hiked the Continental Divide Trail in 2020 during the pandemic. A Kalispell native, Sarah completed the 3,000-mile trek in five months, despite the route through Glacier National Park changing last year due to closures on the east side of the park.
The Zoom event will be held Jan. 27 at 5:30 p.m. Registration is limited at bit.ly/3qn2BEY.
Idaho mandatory harvest reports due
Big game hunters in Idaho have until Jan. 31 to submit mandatory harvest reports and fulfill a crucial role in the management of Idaho’s big game herds.
Hunters can submit their mandatory hunter report online at license.gooutdoorsidaho.com or by calling 1-877-268-9365.
Those who purchased a tag to hunt big game this year, whether they hunted and/or harvested or not, must fill out a mandatory harvest report by the Jan. 31 deadline The harvest data provided by hunters is an important component of the season-setting process that will take place in February and March of 2021.
WDFW seeks comment on ferruginous hawks
WDFW is seeking public input on its draft periodic status review for the ferruginous hawk. The department is recommending a change from threatened to endangered status for ferruginous hawks in Washington.
Breeding populations of ferruginous hawks have been in sustained decline in Washington since 1974, with a decreasing trend in adult pairs at nesting areas and decreased reproductive success.The ferruginous hawk, the largest hawk in North America, is an open-country species that inhabits grasslands and shrub-steppe in eastern Washington. Conversion and degradation of native grasslands and arid shrublands has resulted in the loss of nesting and foraging habitat for the species.
The draft periodic status review for the ferruginous hawk is available for review at WDFW’s publications webpage (wdfw.wa.gov/publications/02210). The public can provide comments on the drafts through April 12.
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