Feb 28

SE: Wolf safari in Värmland

Wolf safari in Värmland

Roughly translated by TWIN Observer

Now one can go on a wolf safari in Värmland and learm more about the wolf’s behavior. Alistair Mccann at Vildmarksguiden is arranging tracking in northern Värmland.

A wolf safari can be arranged up to 31 March. There is no guarantee that one gets to see a wolf but on the other hand it is a great nature experience. One must be out in nature at least two days or more. Alistair Mccann believes the customers mostly come from Holland and Germany and he sees wolves as a resource for tourism in Värmland.

Vargsafari i Värmland

Nu kan man åka på vargsafari Värmland och lära sig mer om vargens beteende. Alistair Mccann på Vildmarksguiden arrangerar spårning i norra Värmland.

Vargsafari arrangeras fram till 31 mars. Man kan inte garantera att man får se varg men däremot stora naturupplevelser. Minst två dagar måste man vara ute i naturen och helst någon dag till. Alistair Mccann tror att kunderna framför allt kommer från Holland och Tyskland och han ser vargar som en resurs inom turismen i Värmland.

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Feb 28

MT: Wolves kill 11 sheep at ranch

Wolves kill 11 sheep at ranch

By The Gazette Staff

Wolves killed 11 sheep and injured five more Thursday south of Two Dot, USDA Wildlife Services officials confirmed Friday.

“It’s quite gruesome,” said Tonya Martin, the sheep rancher whose stock was raided.

Wolves in the Lebo Peak Pack, which formed in 2008 in the Crazy Mountains in Meagher County, are believed responsible for the damage, according to a state Fish, Wildlife and Parks statement. The pack contains an adult male and female and four pups that were born last April.

A wolf killed five sheep and injured another five last March on the Martin ranch on Big Elk Creek. Efforts to capture the wolf were unsuccessful.

On Thursday, Wildlife Services was authorized to kill one wolf from the Lebo Peak Pack and capture and collar one wolf. The Martins were also given a permit to kill one wolf if it is seen on the property.

With new packs, biologists prefer to capture at least one wolf and release it with a radio-transmitter collar so they can track the movement, size and distribution of the pack. Biologists believe that the Lebo Peak Pack may have six wolves, none of which is fitted with a radio collar.

The Martins told officials that four wolves were seen in the area. An adjacent landowner also reported that their cattle had been run through a fence Thursday, but none were killed.

Last year, wolves in Montana killed eight sheep and injured two. Livestock owners were compensated for losses through a state program funded in part by the state and in part by the group Defenders of Wildlife.

Wolves in Montana are federally protected, but livestock owners are allowed to haze, harass or kill wolves seen chasing or attacking livestock or domestic dogs. Wolves also may be killed to protect human life.

Efforts to delist the Northern Rockies gray wolf from the federal Endangered Species Act are under review by the new administration. In early February, FWP formally requested an expedited review and recommended that delisting in Montana proceed as soon as possible.

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Feb 27

MN: Big issues take a giant toll in smaller towns

Big issues take a giant toll in smaller towns

By DENNIS ANDERSON, Star Tribune

If problems facing many residents in northwest Minnesota occurred in the Twin Cities, riots would break out. But because small towns such as Greenbush, Grygla and Lancaster are so far from the metro, and the Capitol, troubles besetting residents there generate little attention.

Consider:

• The region’s bovine tuberculosis outbreak in recent years has wiped out multiple herds of cattle and threatened the livelihoods of hundreds of people. By one estimate, 13,000 fewer cattle are on the land in the area, having been “depopulated” (killed) by the government in an attempt to control TB not only in livestock, but in deer.

• Federal sharpshooters again this week in the TB “hot zone” are trying to shoot as many deer as possible — perhaps as many as 600. Whether TB was first brought to the region by cattle or deer is widely debated. Either way, deer could convey the disease to nearby regions, and as a result are being targeted this winter in the hot zone, as they were last winter.

• Add to this challenges associated with the northwest’s growing elk herd. Some elk are eating ranchers’ and farmers’ stored winter livestock feed. Some are pawing and eating alfalfa, requiring replanting in spring. And some, in summer, eat sunflowers and other crops.

Already, five elk have been killed by farmers and ranchers, with permission of the Department of Natural Resources.

“Elk have become a hot-button issue in the northwest,” DNR wildlife section chief Dave Schad said.

Joe Burkel owns Burkel Grain Service in Greenbush. He sells feed from the North Dakota line to International Falls and into Canada. The TB outbreak — distant as it has been so far from Greenbush — has cost him a lot of money in feed sales, he said.

“The economic and psychological stress all of this puts on people up here is unbelievable,” he said.

The northwest has two basic elk herds. One is by Grygla — about 50 animals that generally haven’t caused problems this winter — and one is in nearby Kittson County, which is approximately double the size of the Grygla herd.

A subset of the Kittson County herd that hangs out near Lancaster has become especially troublesome.

Paul Telander, DNR regional wildlife manager stationed in Bemidji, said a hunting season last fall focused on the Lancaster herd in an attempt to reduce its size and change the behavior of remaining animals.

“Some animals in this herd were originally domestic elk,” Telander said. “We’ve been pretty aggressive in eliminating those, and we’ve hoped that over time the elk near Lancaster would become more wary of people and spend more time in the woods.”

That hasn’t worked yet, Burkel said.

“Some of the elk will lay right in the middle of a county road,” he said. “You can walk right up behind some of them. They’re domesticated.”

Minnesota doesn’t pay farmers for damage done by wildlife except for domestic livestock losses by wolves and crop damage by elk.

But the state fund from which farmers and ranchers receive crop and domestic livestock loss payments is broke, and will be until at least July 1, the beginning of the government’s fiscal year.

“The claims run from as low as $2,000 to as much as $20,000 or $30,000,” Burkel said. “No one is getting paid.”

The DNR has problems aplenty in the northwest without elk-human conflicts. In addition to bovine TB and the hardships it has caused for people, cattle and deer, long-simmering clashes over ATV use on wildlife management areas and other lands have caused deep rifts between the agency and many locals.

Schad, the DNR wildlife section chief, said the DNR will schedule meetings with area residents to help shape a new elk management plan.

“We need to agree on what the population is, what we want it to be, how to manage the herd and how to compensate people for damage,” he said.

Meanwhile, Telander and others in the DNR are working with county extension agents to help farmers and ranchers better protect their stored winter forage from elk and deer.

The help can’t come soon enough, Burkel said.

“The majority of people up here enjoy seeing the elk,” he said. “But they can’t afford to feed them.”

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Feb 27

AK: Alaska Board of Game meeting begins

Alaska Board of Game meeting begins

by Jason Moore

ANCHORAGE, Alaska — The Alaska Board of Game kicked off its two-week meeting in Anchorage Friday.

During the meeting, the board will consider nearly 250 proposals that would change wildlife management on issues such as predator control, wolverine trapping and hunting bears and wolves in national preserves.

The board is meeting at the Dena’ina Civic and Convention Center, and spent Thursday listening to speakers trying to influence their votes on practices such as wolverine trapping in Chugach State Park.

“Opening Chugach to wolverine trapping in 2007 was a mistake and the board now has the opportunity to reverse that mistake,” said Bill Sherwonit with the group Friends of the Chugach.

Since wolverine trapping was made legal, trappers have taken 10 animals.

The Department of Fish and Game thought there were only about 20 taken in the entire park, and the department also wants the trapping stopped. But trapping advocates disagree.

“If it’s a biological issue and we’re not sure that the data’s there that shows that, then we would say that restriction or a lessening of the season,” said Rod Arno with the Alaska Outdoor Council. “But we are vehemently opposed to just taking species out and saying you won’t be able to trap in state parks.”

For the next few days the board will hear public testimony, and will then begin deciding on the issues.

One issue includes a recent boost in harvest limits in national preserves to increase moose numbers.

“This manipulation of wildlife populations is fundamentally in conflict with National Park Service management policies,” said Jim Stratton with the National Parks Conservation Association.

But board members say while the allowable harvest increased, the actual harvest didn’t.

“When I looked at the harvest in those areas in most years there was no harvest,” board member Ted Spraker said. “Some years there was a wolf taken or a bear taken but there were absolutely no conservation concerns.”

“You don’t wait until there is an impact from doing something illegal until you take action, ’cause if that was the case you and I could go steal bubble gum from Carrs. It doesn’t impact their bottom line, does that make it not illegal? Well of course not,” Stratton said.

“Stratton’s just getting ready either to go to court or hope that the new Obama administration will give the anti’s a little more leg up to try to stop any type of predator-prey management,” Arno said.

The board remains dominated by advocates of aggressive predator management, and over the next two weeks it will consider adopting more aggressive means to kill wolves and bears, so moose can thrive.

Among the methods included in some of the proposals are ways to trap black bears without snaring brown bears, and what are described as “carbon monoxide bombs” to be thrown into wolves’ dens to kill pups if the adults were killed in one of the control programs.

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Feb 27

CO: Lonely lady wolf looks for love

Lonely lady wolf looks for love

By BERNY MORSON, Scripps Howard News Service western news

Call it the power of love.

A female wolf has wandered more than 1,000 miles through five states in search of a mate and is in Colorado’s Eagle County, wildlife officials in Colorado and Montana said this week.

The wolf, known only as 314F, set off on her lonely quest in September when, for reasons unknown, she became unhappy with the male prospects among the pack of seven animals she was born into 20 months earlier.

Since then, 314F has followed her heart from the Paradise Valley north of Yellowstone National Park through Wyoming, Utah and Idaho. She has trotted past areas where other wolf packs are known to live toward a state that has not had a wolf population for 60 years.

Montana officials follow her progress with a global positioning device on a collar that was fitted to her neck in July.

“Basically, what she’s doing is, she’s wandering around looking to see if there’s other wolves around,” said Carolyn Sime, wolf-program coordinator for Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks.

Her prospects in Colorado are not good. The last confirmed wolf sighting in Colorado was a male who made his way from Yellowstone in 2004. But he was killed on Interstate 70 near Idaho Springs before anyone knew he was here.

Colorado Division of Wildlife biologist Shane Briggs said that when wolf packs get too large, some animals leave in search of a mate with whom to start a new pack in a different area, Briggs said. That’s how the species increases its range, he said.

Before the 2004 sighting, wolves were considered extinct in Colorado. The last confirmed one had been killed in 1943.

Wolves were reintroduced in Yellowstone National Park in 1995.

(Berny Morson wrote for the Rocky Mountain News in Denver.)

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Feb 27

MT: Kalispell protestors rally for wolf de-listing

Kalispell protestors rally for wolf de-listing

Waving signs called for the delisting of wolves, as dozens of hunters in Kalispell tried catching the public’s attention about wolf populations Friday.

Hundreds of people honked and waved as they drove by, in a show support to the dozens of people clad in orange hunting vests stationed outside of Kalispell’s Fish Wildlife and Parks Headquarters.

Event organizer Tom Welch said the loosely knit group of hunters and sportsman are trying to get something done about the wolf situation. Protesters pointed out the number of wolf packs in Northwest Montana doubled the minimum for the Endangered Species Act.

In December an entire wolf pack had to be killed by Fish Wildlife and Parks because it was killing livestock. Protestors said wildlife numbers are also declining at alarming rates.

“What’s going to happen is when the wildlife numbers decline, as they are now? These packs are going to move closer to town, closer to livestock and when they start preying on livestock then we’re going to really have an issue, you know that’s going to be even more than we have today,” commented Brad Borden.

“Denny Rehberg, Brian Schweitzer, we need your help, you’re our representatives, without your help, we’re in trouble, these are the people that elected you, and the people that you represent, and you need to do something,” Welch said. “Instead of telling the federal government that we want them delisted, we should be telling them we need them delisted.”

The rally will continue tomorrow across from the fairgrounds from 9 in the morning until 3 in the afternoon.

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Feb 27

ID: State hopes to target Lolo wolves

State hopes to target Lolo wolves

Officials will seek federal permission to kill wolves to protect Clearwater elk herd

by JASON KAUFFMAN

Within a week or two, the Idaho Department and Fish and Game will ask federal officials for permission to remove as many as 100 wolves from the remote Clearwater region to take pressure off its elk herds.

Fish and Game biologists have been gathering data to support the planned kill, the agency’s large carnivore manager, Steve Nadeau, said Thursday. Recent revisions to the federal 10(j) rule—which governs the management of gray wolves south of U.S. Interstate 90 in Idaho and Montana—provide for such control actions if the state can prove the predators are “a major cause” of declining ungulate numbers.

Since the reintroduction of wolves to Idaho in 1995, Fish and Game has expressed concerns about declining elk numbers in the agency’s Lolo elk zone—which covers big game units 10 and 12—in the north-central part of the state. Fish and Game blames wolves for the herds’ inability to rebound.

Up to 80 percent of the wolves in the Lolo zone could be killed under the plan.

Because new wolves would most likely re-occupy the resulting void after the plan was carried out, additional wolves would have to be targeted, Nadeau said.

“Wolves hate a void,” he said. “It would have to be a multiple-year type of effort.”

The state’s planned kill-off of wolves in the Lolo zone follows the release of a Fish and Game report that claims Idaho wolves are hurting the state’s economy. Statewide, Idaho could be losing as much as $24 million annually in hunting-related revenue due to wolves’ killing deer and elk, the report states.

The report relies heavily on a 1994 environmental impact statement related to the introduction of wolves to the northern Rocky Mountains, and then extrapolates from those numbers.

“This is a projection,” said Lance Hebdon, intergovernmental policy coordinator with Fish and Game. “Is it realistic to think we would have more elk hunters if we had more elk in some units? I think that is a reasonable assumption.”

The report released earlier this week was requested by Sen. Gary Schroeder, R-Moscow, who earlier this month sponsored a bill—approved 31-1 in the Senate—to offer Idaho’s wolves to surrounding states.

“I think this at least gives us some data with some science behind it,” Schroeder, chairman of the Senate Resources and Environment Committee, told the Lewiston Tribune. “The question is, as wolf numbers increase, are we going to have to curtail hunting opportunities? Anytime I see something that drives business away, that’s important to me.”

Hailey-based Western Watersheds Project blasted the report.

“They’re cooking the books on it,” said Brian Ertz, the conservation group’s media director. “It seems to me what Gary Schroeder is doing is political grandstanding.”

Ertz suggested that Schroeder should be considering other possible explanations for declining numbers of wildlife.

“If he’s really concerned about wildlife in Idaho, why is he not concerned about public lands ranching?”

The report said hunters are less likely to hunt if they don’t think game is available, and assigns a value of $127.40 for each day a hunter spends pursuing game. It’s called a hunter day. Hebdon said the dollar amount came from a 2002 report from the Wildlife Society, a professional organization of wildlife scientists.

The report estimates there could be more than 180,000 hunter days lost because of wolves, adding up to as much as $24 million. The report puts the low end of lost hunter days at 120,000, adding up to about $15 million.

The state sold 93,000 elk tags in 1998, a number that dropped to 80,000 in 2008. Sales of deer tags have increased in the last decade, going from 122,000 in 1998 to 127,000 last year. Nonresident tags are capped.

Officials said they have no way of determining whether big game tag sales would have increased if wolves were not in the state.

“This is a very simple analysis,” Hebdon said. “It’s simply providing the public and the Legislature with information that there are economic costs to these foregone hunter opportunities.”

The Fish and Game report also used a second method to estimate the state’s economic loss due to wolves. With that method, the report put an economic value on elk killed by wolves. The report estimated that 824 wolves in Idaho kill 9,517 elk a year.

The report estimated that 20 percent of those elk — 1,903 — would likely have instead been killed by hunters. The value of a harvested elk, the report said, was $8,000, giving an economic loss to the state of more than $15 million.

Hebdon said the agency didn’t feel pressured to put out a report reflecting any particular view about wolves.

The Associated Press contributed to this story.

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Feb 27

Wolf shot in Manitowoc Co.

Wolf shot in Manitowoc Co.

By JAMES A. CARLSON, Associated Press Writer

MILWAUKEE (AP) – A female gray wolf shot to death by hunters near Manitowoc had traveled from northern Wisconsin’s Oneida County and likely made its way through Door County on the way south, a state wolf expert says.

Two hunters said they mistook the wolf for a coyote when they shot it in the Manitowoc County town of Newton, a rural area southwest of the city of Manitowoc.

County conservation warden Bob Stroess of the state Department of Natural Resources told the Herald Times Reporter of Manitowoc it’s the first time he’s dealt with a wolf shot in his county, though he has received reports of wolf sightings.

The wolf shot last Friday had a radio-tracking collar from Oneida County, about 150 miles away.

DNR wolf expert Adrian Wydeven told The Associated Press it apparently was one of the “dispersing wolves” that leave their home territory trying to find a mate and often travel long distances.

The wolf had been captured in spring 2007 south of the Willow Flowage west of Rhinelander and was monitored with the tracking collar for a year and a half. It was last recorded Nov. 20 north of Lake Nokomis in western Oneida County.

“That’s the last we heard of her,” Wydeven said. “Three months later she ended up in Manitowoc County about 150 miles to the southeast.”

But the animal apparently left some signs of her most recent travels.

Wolf tracks were found near the Manitowoc River about 10 miles north of where the wolf died, and two days before that a sheriff’s deputy 25 miles to the north in Kewaunee County reported seeing a wolf and found urination marks indicating it was a female, Wydeven said.

Wildlife biologists are speculating the wolf wandered south and east from Oneida County, possibly to Upper Michigan, then made its way across Lake Michigan’s ice-covered Green Bay to Door County and turned south, he said.

The animal would have been unlikely to go through the more populated Green Bay and Appleton areas to get to Manitowoc County, Wydeven said.

“It’s all speculation because we know these animals do have tremendous traveling capacity,” he said in a telephone interview Thursday night.

The DNR estimates Wisconsin’s wolf population at about 550 animals. Most are in established packs in northern and central regions, but individual wolves have wandered far to the south.

Last December, a wolf mistaken for a coyote was shot in southern Lafayette County, which is along the Illinois border southwest of Madison. Another wolf was killed last fall at Yellowstone Lake State Park, also in Lafayette County.

Wolves are listed as an endangered species in Wisconsin and killing them can bring fines, other penalties and jail time.

Stroess told the Herald Times Reporter the wolf shooting hadn’t yet been forwarded to the county district attorney for review, so he declined to identify the hunters.

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Feb 26

ID: Weeds, wolves and big game will highlight IDFG meeting

Weeds, wolves and big game will highlight IDFG meeting

Outdoor enthusiasts are invited to the March 3 “Coffee at Fish and Game” meeting to be held at the Idaho Fish and Game Office, 3316 16th Street in Lewiston beginning at 6:30 a.m.

IDFG personnel will present information on a number of topics, including Craig Mountain noxious weed control and Chimney Complex fire restoration efforts, recent wolf/big game research, Big Game aerial survey results, and the 2009 season proposals. Reports will also be given on the steelhead season and upcoming salmon season.

“We’ll buy the coffee and donuts, and we hope local hunters and anglers bring their questions and comments,” said Dave Cadwallader, Clearwater Region Supervisor.

The morning meeting is open to anyone and is designed to stimulate informal discussion about wildlife issues in the Clearwater Region. The meeting will conclude by 8:30 a.m.

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Feb 26

ID: Western Legacy Alliance Supports USDA?s Wildlife Services

Western Legacy Alliance Supports USDA?s Wildlife Services

MORELAND, Idaho – February 26, 2009 — The Western Legacy Alliance (WLA), a newly formed coalition, today announced its support for the US Department of Agriculture’s Wildlife Services (WS). Recently a group of environmental organizations sent a letter urging U.S. Secretary of Agriculture, Tom Vilsack, to abolish Wildlife Services to save animals’ lives and as a cost-cutting measure for the nation. WLA asserts that eliminating WS is a short-sighted maneuver that would result in economic losses far greater than Wildlife Service’s annual budget.

Formed to reeducate the American people about the forgotten role of the West’s public lands and natural resources in sustaining local – and ultimately the nation’s – economy, the WLA is grateful for Wildlife Services. The valuable protection of herds and game animals, disease prevention and protection of agricultural commodities that WS provides should not be ignored.

“Apparently the same folks who want to do away with WS expect me to stay out day and night trying to protect my baby calves from the same reintroduced wolves that they claimed would do me no harm. Have these people ever been awakened in the middle of the night by the terrified bawling of a cow protecting her calf from being torn to pieces? Without WS to help me with the problem wolves, I am out of business, plain and simple,” said 86-year old Dick Baker, a Clayton, Idaho rancher.

The WS program helps solve the problems that crop up when human activity and wildlife are in conflict with one another. Among their many responsibilities, WS is responsible for guarding against bird strikes at airports across the nation as well as controlling predators that threaten livestock operations. WS provides Federal leadership and expertise to protect agriculture, wildlife and other natural resources, property, and human health and safety. As our population grows, the need for WS will grow, now is not the time to eliminate the program.

“Frankly, sportsmen are grateful for an agency that not only protects livestock, but also assists in the protection of game populations.” said Nate Helm, the Executive Director of Sportsmen for Fish and Wildlife – Idaho, Inc.

While Federally funded, cost sharing is a key part of WS, making it one of the more cost-effective government programs. When ranchers, counties or states request help from WS, they become cooperators and contribute money to carry out the work that needs to be done. In some states, specific WS activities are completely funded by cooperators.

The bottom line is that WS helps maintain the natural predator-prey checks and balances that a growing human population has eliminated in nature. WS benefits human health by managing animals that harbor diseases like the bubonic plague or rabies that can spread to humans, they protect endangered and threatened species from predators, they work to reduce bird strikes at airports, they protect game populations and they protect farmers and ranchers from livestock predation. Taxpayers should celebrate that they get all of these services, and more, nationwide for WS’s $117 million annual budget.

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