Apr 28

ID: Meeting to discuss wolf management

Meeting to discuss wolf management

The Idaho Department of Fish and Game is hosting an Idaho Wolf Management and Ecology public meeting Wednesday, May 17, from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. at the Community Campus auditorium, 1050 Fox Acres Road, in Hailey.

Under an agreement by former U.S. Interior Secretary Gale Norton and Gov. Dirk Kempthorne, Idaho has primary responsibility for managing wolves within the state. This agreement was made effective Jan. 5.

The presentations, given by Steve Nadeau, Idaho Fish and Game wolf program coordinator, and Michael Lucid, Idaho Fish and Game wolf specialist for Southwest Idaho, will discuss current wolf management rules and the role IDFG is playing in wolf management.

Following the presentation, Nadeau and Lucid will open the meeting to questions.

For more information on the meeting, call 324-4359.

Source

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Apr 26

DNR receives permit for control of problem wolves

DNR receives permit for control of problem wolves

MADISON, Wis. – The Department of Natural Resources has received a permit for control of problem wolves from the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service. The permit allows both the lethal and non-lethal trapping of wolves that are killing livestock and domestic animals.

A preliminary count of Wisconsin’s gray wolf population for the winter of 2005-2006 shows that there are from 450 to 520 wolves in the state. “The wolf population apparently increased slightly from last year’s levels,” said Adrian Wydeven, mammalian ecologist for the Department of Natural Resources.

“The Natural Resources Board approved a Wolf Management Plan for Wisconsin in 1999,” said Signe Holtz, director of the DNR’s Bureau of Endangered Resources. “The goal of the plan is a healthy, sustainable gray wolf population. This permit is one of several tools we need to help us attain that goal.”

Wisconsin has had authority from the federal government to trap and translocate or use lethal control on depredating wolves in the past, say wildlife officials, but temporarily lost that authority while the status of wolves across North America was examined in the courts. The permit just issued by the USFWS limits Wisconsin to the taking of 43 wolves in 2006.

“The ability to remove depredating wolves is necessary in our efforts to address landowner problems,” said Holtz. “The state will use this authority to reduce damages caused to owners of hunting dogs and livestock from depredating wolves.”

Wolves currently are listed as a federally endangered species in Wisconsin. The Wisconsin Natural Resources Board reclassified wolves from endangered to threatened in 1999, and delisted wolves to protected wild animal status on August 1, 2004. The federal listing takes precedence.

The U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service has announced its intent to remove wolves in Minnesota, Wisconsin, Michigan and parts of neighboring states from the federal Endangered Species List. Once that occurs, management of the wolf in Wisconsin will be guided by the Wisconsin Wolf Management Plan.

“Delisting at the federal level is the next big step in wolf management in Wisconsin,” says Holtz. “Once that process is complete population management will occur at the state level allowing more flexibility and additional management options.”

Information about the proposed federal action is available from the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service (exit DNR).

The USFWS has scheduled the following public hearings on the delisting proposal:

  • Duluth, MN., May 8, 2006 at the Northern Lights Room, Inn on Lake Superior, 350 Canal Park Drive. Open house from 6y p.m. To 7:15 p.m. And formal hearing from 7:30 p.m. To 9 p.m.
  • Wausau, WI., May 10, 2006 at the Westwood Conference Room, Westwood Center, 1800 West Bridge Street. Open house from 6 p.m. To 7:15 p.m. And formal hearing from 7:30 p.m. To 9 p.m.
  • Marquette, MI., May 16, 2006 at the Michigan Room, Don H. Bottum University Center, Northern Michigan University, 540 W. Kaye Ave., Park Lot #8. Open house from 6 p.m. To 7:15 p.m. And formal hearing from 7:30 p.m. To 9 p.m.

    Source

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    Apr 26

    DNR: State wolf population estimated at 450 to 520

    DNR: State wolf population estimated at 450 to 520

    Associated Press

    MADISON, Wis. – The latest count shows Wisconsin’s gray wolf population may have grown to as many as 520 wolves, exceeding the goal set by state game managers, the Department of Natural Resources said Wednesday.

    Adrian Wydeven, DNR coordinator of the wolf program, said winter surveys put the population between 450 to 520 wolves, up slightly from a year ago.

    At 520 wolves, the population would be more than 100 over the DNR’s management goal for the species.

    Wydeven has said Wisconsin’s habitat can support more wolves but the public’s tolerance probably wouldn’t allow it.

    The wolf was native to Wisconsin but the species was wiped out by the late 1950s after decades of bounty hunting. Since the animal was granted protection as an endangered species during the mid 1970s, wolves migrated into the state from Minnesota and their numbers have been growing ever since.

    Minnesota has the largest wolf population in the lower 48 states at around 2,400.

    According to Wydeven, the DNR received a federal permit allowing it to kill 43 wolves this year if they are causing problems for livestock and domestic animals. The permit allows both lethal and non-lethal trapping of problem wolves to address landowner concerns.

    The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has begun the process of removing the wolf from the federal endangered species list in Wisconsin. Once that is done, the state would have complete say in the management of the animals, Wydeven said.

    Source

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    Apr 25

    NM: Five wolves to be released in Gila forest area

    Five wolves to be released in Gila forest area

    By ASSOCIATED PRESS

    SANTA FE (AP) – Five endangered Mexican gray wolves will be released in the Gila National Forest over the next few months.

    The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service began releasing wolves into the wild on the Arizona-New Mexico border in 1998 to re-establish the species in part of its historic range.

    A male and a pregnant female are to be turned loose on the eastern side of the Blue Range Recovery Area in late April, just prior to the female giving birth. Program officials said that would increase the likelihood that the pair will remain in the area.

    The site was chosen because the owners of the closest private land and the grazing permit-holder said the release was acceptable. The area also is a considerable distance from the San Carlos Reservation. The wolves were removed from the reservation last year over boundary issues.

    Two females and one male will be released in June in one of four approved sites in the Gila Wilderness. The exact site will be determined after other wolf packs in the area have established dens, so the distance between the existing packs and the new wolves can be maximized.

    The female wolves were captured in the Gila National Forest in 2005 as pups when their pack was removed from the area because of livestock killings. The male was captured outside its boundary in 2005.

    The reintroduction program allows Mexican gray wolves to be released in New Mexico only if they previously were released in Arizona and have experience in the wild.

    “We are aware of the need for caution in releasing wolves that have been captured elsewhere,” said wolf biologist Saleen Richter. “It is important that we work to release wolves that will adapt to their new surroundings without conflict.”

    As of the end of 2005, there were an estimated 35 to 49 wolves in Arizona and New Mexico.

    Wolves outside New Mexico’s Gila National Forest and Arizona’s Apache National Forest can be removed at the request of landowners. Fish and Wildlife officials say that has resulted in a number of previously captured wolves that can be moved to the Gila Wilderness and surrounding areas.

    A five-year review of the reintroduction program recommended expanding the range in which the animals are allowed. The program is awaiting a response from the Fish and Wildlife Service.

    Ranchers have objected to wolf reintroduction, contending the animals threaten their livestock and that expanding the program could jeopardize more ranchers as well as population centers. A year ago, two New Mexico groups lost a federal lawsuit aimed at ending the program.

    Environmental organizations have argued that wolf reintroduction is hampered by people more than biological concerns and that ranchers who oppose the program never will be satisfied.

    Source

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    Apr 25

    ID: Eleven years with wolves – what we’ve learned

    Eleven years with wolves – what we’ve learned

    By Jim Lukens, Salmon Region Supervisor, IDFG

    Of all wild animals, wolves generate more emotions among people than any other species. Both folklore and human nature play into fearful emotions through legends such as werewolves, stories like Little Red Riding Hood, and our tendency to hate what we fear or do not understand. On the flip side, native cultures in North America and elsewhere credit wolves with almost mythical power. In reality, neither representation is true. Wolves are predatory animals, just like any other. In 1995, wolves were reintroduced in Idaho and have been intensively observed ever since. During that time we have learned a great deal about these animals, enough to be able to clear up some misunderstandings.

    Distribution, Number and Ancestry

    Any discussion of numbers must be prefaced by the fact that these are estimates. Wolves in Idaho continue to pioneer new territories with little known about wolves in wilderness areas. By the end of 2005, Idaho had 59 documented resident wolf packs with a total population estimate of 512 wolves. Additionally, 11 documented border packs have established territories along state boundaries between Idaho, Montana, and Wyoming. Forty packs produced an estimated 123 pups. In 2005, the Salmon Region had 13 documented resident, three documented border, and one suspected border packs. Nine packs reproduced and qualified as breeding pairs while the reproductive status of the remaining four resident packs was undetermined.

    Idaho’s wolves are often incorrectly called “Canadian” wolves. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service only recognizes the gray wolf (Canis lupus) for recovery purposes. In the book, Wolves: Behavior, Ecology and Conservation, edited by L. David Mech and Luigi Boitoni, Ronald M. Nowak provides evidence for two subspecies of wolves inhabiting the central and western portions of the United States, both of which moved freely across the Canadian border. Other taxonomists reject the subspecies theory, believing that the same wolf species lived in both the western U.S. and Canada. When selecting wolves for release into Idaho, biologists selected populations in Canada that were already utilizing elk prey and were living in habitat similar to that of Idaho. This increased the suitability of these wolves for life in Idaho. Some people say that wolves used to be smaller than the reintroduced ones, but little evidence supports this claim. However, animal body size tends to increase at the northern parts of their range and is related to staying warm.

    Wolf Predation

    While a fair amount of information regarding prey selection and non-winter food habits has been collected in places like Yellowstone, little information has been collected in Idaho. While it is often tempting to generalize, wolf predation data from one area does not necessarily represent predation characteristics from another. The same is true for data collected from one season being applied to another season. Factors like variations in wolf densities; interactions with other predators; number, distribution and species of prey; weather; and availability of alternate prey species prevent comparison. Despite this variation, one generalization that tends to hold true for most wolf-prey systems is the tendency for wolves to select prey that are disadvantaged such as the young, the old, the sick or injured, or weak individuals. These animals often fall to the rear of a herd where they become vulnerable to pursuing wolves.

    Jason Husseman, Salmon Region wolf biologist, conducted a winter wolf and mountain lion predation study in Unit 28 from 1999 – 2001 for his Master’s thesis. During that period, Husseman examined 120 wolf kills, comprised of elk (77%) and deer (23%). Wolves selected for elk calves (60%) but also killed cows (32%) and bulls (8%). Deer taken by wolves were mostly fawns (65%). The average age of adult elk killed by wolves was 12.6 years, significantly older than a sample of 31 cow elk (7.3 years) killed by hunters in the same unit. Husseman also determined that each wolf pack in his study area made a kill every 2 – 3 days. As mentioned above, this information cannot be generalized to other wolf packs in Idaho. In addition, observations from around the state show that kill rates declined once prey species adapted to the presence of wolves

    Wolves are often accused of killing for “fun” and wasting game. In his study, Husseman also examined carcass utilization and found that 80 percent of carcasses were more than three-fourths utilized and all kills were fed upon. While “surplus killing,” the killing of more prey than can be consumed, has been documented, these incidents usually occur under unusual circumstances such as extremely deep snow conditions that severely disadvantage prey. Furthermore, wolves usually return later to consume the “leftovers.”

    Another interesting aspect of Husseman’s work involved examining the health of each prey animal when killed by wolves or lions. Overall, the condition of wolf-killed elk was consistently poorer than that of elk taken by mountain lions. This was determined by measuring bone marrow fat content. Bone marrow fat is the last body fat reserve available to deer and elk during winter, indicating the level of malnutrition. Research has shown that when animals fall below a certain level of bone marrow fat content, they die. Husseman determined that 25 percent of the animals killed by wolves would have died of malnutrition anyway. This is supported by results from a long-term study of mule deer fawn survival across the state. Radio collared fawns are tracked and the causes of mortality determined. Of 285 deer fawns tracked by Salmon Region biologists, 141 died. Seventy-two fawns died directly of malnutrition while predation was the cause of death for 69 (24 percent) of the fawns. Predators included coyotes (44), mountain lions (9), wolves (7), bobcats (4) and unidentified predators (5).

    Status of Big Game Herds

    Wolves prey upon deer and elk as do other predators, but what has been the impact to our game herds? At the time wolves were released into Idaho, the elk herd in the Salmon Region numbered approximately 28,000 animals. The current estimate gained by aerial surveys and hunter harvest information is approximately 25,000. While this estimate is lower, it is important to note several facts: the estimate still exceeds the Elk Plan objective by about 1,000 animals; all elk zones in the Region have generally been meeting plan objectives; and some high population units have deliberately been reduced through cow harvest to reach objectives. In addition, data gathered from a new radio collaring study initiated in 2005 shows 85 percent deer survival and 82 percent elk survival in the Salmon Region and Units 50 and 60A in the Upper Snake Region. Biologists consider 80 percent doe survival and 85 percent cow elk survival normal and sustainable. Elk mortality factors included hunter harvest (52 percent), mountain lions (30 percent), wolves (7 percent), malnutrition (7percent), and unknown predation (4percent). Deer mortality resulted from lions (32 percent), hunter harvest (18 percent), accidents (14 percent), unknown causes (14 percent), wolves (9 percent), roadkill (9 percent), and malnutrition (4 percent). In addition, deer numbers are limited in the region by habitat condition and weather both of which can significantly impact deer populations.

    Livestock Depredations

    Although not considered a normal prey item, wolves occasionally kill domestic livestock. A compensation fund was set up by Defenders of Wildlife for both documented wolf-caused losses and probable losses. From 1996 to 2005, Defenders has paid $135,933 to compensate statewide losses. Here in the Salmon Region, payments have totaled $42,013 for 22 sheep, two guard/herding dogs and 75 cattle. Documented loses not covered by Defenders or other funds are compensated by the Idaho Wolf Depredation Compensation Fund which was established as part of the Idaho Wolf Depredation Compensation Plan This fund uses federal monies to compensate producers for losses above documented historical levels and has averaged about $100,000 per year for the last three years.

    Wolf depredations are managed by Wildlife Services (WS), a branch of the U.S. Department of Agriculture. When a livestock depredation is reported, IDFG contacts WS and they attempt to reduce further depredations by controlling offending animals using either lethal or nonlethal measures. The 10(j) rule implemented in 2005 gives producers more flexibility for controlling wolves attacking, harassing, or injuring domestic livestock and dogs.

    Threat to Humans

    Recently reported human/wolf encounters have raised concerns regarding threat to human life. All wild animals can be dangerous to humans. Two behavioral changes affect animals and their likelihood of injuring humans. Wild animals that continually come into contact with humans can become “habituated,” losing their natural fear. This often occurs when the animal associates people with food and this can cause an animal to become aggressive toward humans. Habituation is thought to be the cause of the first probable human fatality attributed to wolves in North America since 1900. This fatality occurred in November, 2005 in northern Saskatchewan. Subsequent investigation by Paul Paquet, a University of Calgary wolf biologist and provincial authorities has determined that some wolves in the area had been attracted to a garbage dump; had possibly been fed and regularly photographed at a nearby mining camp, causing the animals to become habituated.

    Like your dog, wolves are curious animals, readily investigating something new in their environment. And the vast majority of wolf-human encounters are simple curiosity on the part of the wolf. Wolves are, however, very territorial and intolerant of the presence of another canine. Hikers with dogs have occasionally been followed, barked at, and growled at by resident wolves protecting their territory from a trespassing canine. Wolves have also been documented exhibiting these same behaviors when pups are present. A person in wolf country has a greater chance of being hit by lightning, dying of a bee sting or being killed in a vehicle collision with a deer than being injured by a wolf.

    Current and Future Management

    Although wolves are still protected under the Endangered Species Act, the Idaho Department of Fish and Game has assumed some wolf management authority under the 10(j) rule. As provided under this rule, Idaho now has a memorandum of agreement allowing Idaho to manage wolf populations in the state. Once the wolf is delisted, IDFG will assume full management responsibility with direction from the Idaho Wolf Conservation and Management Plan. The goal of this conservation and management plan is to ensure the long-term survival of wolves in Idaho while minimizing wolf-human conflicts. The management goal is to maintain more than 15 wolf packs statewide. In 2005, the Fish and Game Commission classified the wolf as a big game animal under authorization provided by the Plan, but wolves cannot be managed as such until they are delisted. For delisting to occur, Idaho, Montana, and Wyoming must have approved management plans in place. Thus far, Wyoming does not have such a plan and until it does, the delisting process cannot continue. Once delisting occurs, IDFG looks forward to being able to manage wolves as it does other big game species.

    Source

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    Apr 23

    WY: G&F chief says feds ignore wolf science

    G&F chief says feds ignore wolf science

    By The Associated Press

    CHEYENNE, Wyo. — In a letter to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Wyoming Game and Fish Director Terry Cleveland accuses the federal agency of putting politics before science in refusing to approve Wyoming’s wolf-management plan.

    The 21-page document released last week says federal wildlife managers are trying to pressure Wyoming “into altering its wolf-management plan for purely ideological purposes.”

    Cleveland said it is unreasonable for federal officials to prohibit Wyoming from classifying wolves as predators, which would allow unregulated killing of the animals in certain areas. And the state said it was irresponsible for the federal government to allow Idaho and Montana to go ahead with their wolf-management plans while Wyoming’s is held up.

    But federal wolf managers say Wyoming’s plan would continue to put the regional wolf population at risk of extinction.

    Idaho and Montana refused to classify wolves as predators, instead calling them “trophy game” and setting up a system of regulated wolf hunting seasons.

    Ed Bangs, the Fish and Wildlife Service’s gray wolf recovery coordinator, said classifying wolves as predators and allowing unregulated killing could be devastating.

    “Anybody can kill any wolf at any time by any means for any reason in unlimited numbers, and you can’t say, ‘Stop,’ ” Bangs said.

    On the other hand, the “trophy game” system that Idaho and Montana will use has helped keep wolf populations in check in certain parts of Canada without threatening the entire population, Bangs said.

    “What the issue boils down to is the Game and Fish is the wildlife managers for the state, so why shouldn’t they be the managers of wolves?” Bangs said.

    Cleveland counters that wolves were brought in by the federal government and that the official wolf recovery area reaches just beyond the borders of Yellowstone National Park. That, Cleveland said, should leave the states free to manage wolves outside that region in any way they choose — including declaring wolves to be predators.

    “The (Fish and Wildlife) Service has acknowledged that the areas of Wyoming outside currently occupied habitats are not suitable for wolves …,” Cleveland wrote.

    Idaho and Montana already have had their wolf-management plans approved by the federal government.

    Montana wildlife administrator Don Childress said he’s ready to move forward with or without Wyoming.

    “Whether we do it over the entire range or do it in those states that have got their regulatory mechanisms, that’s how we have to start approaching it,” Childress said.

    Idaho wolf managers did not return calls Friday by the Star-Tribune of Casper.

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    Apr 22

    Wyoming defends proposed predator status, blasts FWS wolf stance

    Wyoming defends proposed predator status, blasts FWS wolf stance

    CHEYENNE, Wyo. Wyoming’s top wildlife manager says the federal government is putting politics before science in refusing to accept Wyoming’s wolf management plan.

    Terry Cleveland is director of the Wyoming Game and Fish Department. In a 21-page letter last week to federal wildlife managers, Cleveland says there’s NO reason Wyoming shouldn’t be able to treat wolves as predators outside the Yellowstone National Park recovery area.

    But federal wildlife managers disagree. They have approved Idaho’s and Montana’s wolf management plans, which classify wolves as “trophy game” and call for a system of regulated wolf-hunting seasons.

    Ed Bangs is the gray wolf recovery coordinator for the U-S Fish and Wildlife Service. He says treating wolves as predators would allow their unregulated killing, and that could put the region’s population at risk.

    Don Childress is Montana’s wildlife administrator. He says he’s ready to move forward — with or without Wyoming.

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    Apr 20

    CO: Wildlife officer shoots two wolf hybrids

    Wildlife officer shoots two wolf hybrids

    Two wolf hybrids were shot and killed in the Valley last month by local Division of Wildlife officer Becky Manly.

    Manly received several calls over a 12-day period from locals reporting the animals were harassing livestock.

    The first call, on March 9, placed the hybrids eleven miles west of Westcliffe in a heavily timbered area.

    Manly was unable to locate the animals at that time.

    The second call came March 16. That sighting was three miles north of the original location.

    A local rancher called the DOW on the morning of March 20 reporting two animals were chasing calves. The caller, whose name was not released, tried to chase the hybrids off, but said they didnt seem to be afraid of her.

    On her way out to look for the animals on the 20th, Manly was flagged down by a local. That individual had chased the hybrids away from another ranchers calf.

    Manly was able to observe the two animals and determined, based on their behavior, they werent pure wolves.

    Wild wolves, according to DOW Public Information Officer Michael Seraphin of Denver, are afraid of people. They run off when theyre chased.

    According to Manlys report, these two animals did not do that.

    It was at that point Manly destroyed them.

    They were shot about one mile north of town, just west of Highway 69, Seraphin said.

    Full wolves are protected in Colorado. Hybrids are not.

    After they were shot, the DOW learned one of the hybrids was a neutered male. Manlys report did not indicate what the other animal was.

    Although the DOW doesnt know where these two animals came from, Seraphin said the Division often sees hybrids that have been dumped by their owners.

    People get these as pets. They suddenly realize theyve got way more than they can handle, so they take them out into the country and let them go, Seraphin explained.

    The DOW is not investigating the matter, as Colorado law stipulates that any wildlife or law enforcement officer can destroy dogs that harass livestock or wildlife.

     Meredith ONeil

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    Apr 20

    ID: Wasting time, paper and votes

    Wasting time, paper and votes

    By J. Robb Brady

    NORTH FORK — Asking Idaho voters to give wolf recovery a thumbs down is more than a futile gesture  it could be counter-productive.

    But Ron Gillette will not be deterred. Gillette, president of the Idaho Anti-Wolf Coalition, is trying to get the issue on the Nov. 7 general election ballot. Hes going to have to scramble. He needs 43,000 signatures from registered voters by May 1  and recent reports suggest hes got a long way to go.

    Launched more than 10 years ago, wolf recovery is hardly popular with groups such as Sportsmen for Fish and Wildlife, the Idaho Farm Bureau, the Idaho Outfitters and Guides Association and the Idaho Cattle Association. Yet all are opposed to Gillettes approach.

    Why?

    Gillettes initiative wont get rid of the wolves. It could, however, undermine recent efforts to give Idahoans more control over managing the species.

    Like it or not, the federal Endangered Species Act protecting wolves is the law of the land. So the wolves, reintroduced in 1995, are here to stay. The question is who should manage them pending formally removing the animals from the endangered species list. In January, the feds gave Idaho increased management prerogatives over the wolves.

    Gillettes initiative would rescind the states wolf management plan, put the feds back in charge and shut down the states Office of Species Conservation.

    Much as they dislike the wolves, groups such as the Farm Bureau detest the feds even more.

    Besides, Gillette doesnt have a case.

    Youll hear, for instance, that wolves are devastating elk and deer. Not true. The Idaho Department of Fish and Games own surveys show that deer have increased in the state from 44,900 in 2003 to 54,080 in 2005. During the same period, elk have increased from 18,900 to 21,520.

    Even where Fish and Game agrees with the argument that wolves are responsible for declining elk numbers  the agency wants to kill 43 wolves in the Lolo Pass area  critics say habitat problems may be more to blame. Habitat is a critical issue for all wildlife, hunted or not. Every year, habitat is lost somewhere as human activity invades. Yet the Bush administration has undermined habitat protection as it systematically curtails the nations environmental laws.

    Anti-wolf initiative backers argue wolves are a major problem for the livestock industry. Wheres the proof? State and national wildlife agencies report exceedingly small livestock losses. Fish and Game says the state has lost only 190 head of cattle and about 600 sheep in the past 10 years. Within the three-state region of Idaho, Montana and Wyoming, the numbers are similar  528 head of cattle and 1,318 sheep since 1996.

    The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service says wolf threats to livestock in Idaho led to only 116 wolves being killed since 1995.

    It also appears that natural selection is keeping wolf numbers under control. Yellowstone National Park officials report 40 percent of the northern wolf population died last summer from a virus disease that wolves originally contracted from dogs. So disease may play a significant factor in controlling wolf populations of the future.

    Gillette and his crew resort to bumper stickers declaring I like my wolves fried. But one catchy bumper sticker doesnt plug all the holes in this idea. If someone asks you to sign Gillettes initiative, refuse. If it gets on the ballot, vote against it.

    This isnt about wolves. Its about common sense.

    Source

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    Apr 20

    MT: Sheep killings continue on

    Sheep killings continue on

    The most recent in a series of domestic sheep depredations in northeast Montana took place April 15 when two sheep were reported killed, state wildlife officials said this week.

    We understand the urgency of the situation and everyone is working together, said Carolyn Sime, Fish Wildlife & Parks statewide wolf program coordinator. Regardless of whether it is a wolf, a dog, or a wolf-dog hybrid, the depredations have become chronic and FWP is doing everything it can to respond to peoples concerns and address the situation.

    FWP officials authorized USDA Wildlife Services, McCone County Predator Control Specialists, its own staff, and permitted the affected livestock producers to remove up to two wolves or wolf-like canids in the area. Charles M. Russell National Wildlife Refuge is assisting in the effort by providing access to work on refuge lands adjacent to the private lands of the affected producers.

    More than 100 sheep in seven different incidents have been injured or killed by a suspected wolf or wolf-dog hybrid in Garfield and McCone counties since Dec. 31.

    FWP has also met with livestock producers in the area and shared information about regulations that allow livestock owners to non-injuriously harass wolves that are too close to livestock and to shoot a wolf caught in the act of attacking livestock.

    To report wolves or wolf sign, go to www.fwp.mt.gov/wildthings/wolf, mail a pre-printed postcard available at all FWP offices, or call the nearest FWP regional office or Carolyn Sime, at (406) 444-3242.

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