Sep 30

CH: Protection of wolves could be downgraded

Protection of wolves could be downgraded

Wolves in Switzerland face a bleaker future after the House of Representatives voted on Thursday in favour of relaxing the law against shooting them.

After a heated debate, the House followed the Senate in approving a motion calling on the government to press for a modification to the Bern Convention, which covers the conservation of wildlife and natural habitats.

Current regulations permit the shooting of any wolf believed to have killed at least 35 sheep over a four-month period or 25 in a single month.

Sheep farmers have long been calling for a change in policy towards wolves because of the damage they cause to livestock, but wolf supporters say the farmers should have better protection for their animals. They point out that the proportion of sheep killed by wolves is small in comparison with those that die from disease or accident.

In 2006 Switzerland failed to persuade the standing committee of the Bern Convention to downgrade the wolf’s status from “strictly protected to “protected” to allow it to be culled.

The vote in parliament calls on the government to get the convention modified to allow states to opt-out from some of its provisions, even after they have ratified it.

Failing this, the government should leave the treaty and rejoin with reservations about the wolf. When Switzerland ratified it in 1980, there were no wolves in the country.

Environment Minister Moritz Leuenberger told the House that the government was willing to relax protection of the wolf, but only within the Convention guidelines.

swissinfo.ch and agencies

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Sep 30

MT: ID Appeals Wolf Ruling; MT Plans To Follow

ID Appeals Wolf Ruling; MT Plans To Follow

BILLINGS, Mont. (AP) — Idaho officials are asking the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals to reverse an August ruling that put gray wolves back onto the endangered species list in the Northern Rockies.

A second appeal was filed on Thursday by the Idaho Farm Bureau Federation and Montana Farm Bureau Federation.

Montana wildlife officials say they will file yet another appeal Friday.

Wolves were off the endangered list for about a year prior to the ruling from U.S. District Judge Donald Molloy in August.

Molloy said the federal government should not have lifted the animals’ endangered status in Montana and Idaho while they were still considered under threat in neighboring Wyoming.

There are at least 1,700 wolves in the region — more than five times the original recovery goal.

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Sep 30

MT: MSU Study Examines Wolf Populations

MSU Study Examines Wolf Populations

MSU Professors Study Impact Of Harvest On Animals

By KTVM Staff

BOZEMAN, Mont. — Over the past year, Professors Scott Creel and Jay Rotella examined data collected from multiple studies.

They determined wolf harvest has a larger impact on wolf populations than scientists previously thought.

Creel’s study was recently published in the Public Library of Science, a peer-reviewed scientific journal. In all, the professors looked at 21 North American wolf populations, including the greater Yellowstone region in Montana and surrounding states.

“Looking at statements of what level of populations would change for a given level of harvest,” Creel said.

Creel and Rotella concluded wolf harvests could have a larger impact on overall populations than previously thought. The study claims some wolves will be able to sustain at current harvest rates. But the Yellowstone region’s wolves would likely decline if harvest rates were kept where they are now.

Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks’ Commission Chair, Bob Ream calls the study “badly flawed.” He thinks the study inflates the number of wolves killed compared to the number of wolves that are actually living currently.

Creel said his study takes into account the number of pups born, and other changes in population, not affected by humans. He said no matter what, the end result is the same.

Since wolves are such a hot-button issue in Montana and the surrounding area, Creel said he hopes people at least take away one thing from the study.

“People need to recognize that people are the primary cause of death for wolves in the Northern Rockies,” he said.

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Sep 30

WY: Bill would exempt wolves from federal protection

Bill would exempt wolves from federal protection

By BEN NEARY (AP)

CHEYENNE, Wyo. — U.S. senators from Wyoming, Idaho and Utah proposed legislation Thursday that would strip federal endangered species protections from wolves in the northern Rockies.

The legislation is the latest in a series of recent bills generally aimed at short-circuiting lawsuits from environmental groups opposed to seeing an end to federal wolf protections.

Much of the environmentalists’ concern has centered on Wyoming, where the state has proposed classifying wolves as predators that could be shot on sight in most areas.

Wolves were reintroduced in the northern Rockies in the mid-1990s and more than 1,700 live in Idaho, Montana, Wyoming, and parts of Oregon and Washington state.

“Recovery numbers and science show that wolves no longer need to be on the endangered species list,” said Sen. Mike Enzi, R-Wyo., one of the sponsors.

“States are completely capable of managing wolves on their own without the federal government micromanaging them at every turn. This bill would finally free our state, ranchers and wildlife from the shackles of federal mismanagement,” Enzi said.

Wyoming Gov. Dave Freudenthal’s administration has sued the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service repeatedly, and so far unsuccessfully, to try to force the federal agency to turn wolf management over to the state.

The federal wildlife agency briefly turned wolf management over to Wyoming, Idaho and Montana a couple of years ago but reinstated federal protections after a federal judge in Montana expressed concerns over Wyoming’s plan. The same judge more recently shot down the agency’s effort to remove federal protections in Idaho and Montana while leaving them in place in Wyoming.

Wyoming Rep. Pat Childers, R-Cody, who chairs a legislative committee that deals with wildlife issues, said he would welcome an end to federal protections for the wolf that would allow states to set hunting seasons.

“I think by going to the hunting issue, we’ll be able to reduce a number of impacts to the land owners and the ranchers,” the state legislator said. “I’m still a firm believer that if they’re hunted, they’re going to avoid people.”

The bill’s other sponsors are Sen. John Barrasso, R-Wyo.; Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah; Sen. Mike Crapo, R-Idaho.; and Sen. James Risch, R-Idaho.

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Sep 29

MT: Study: Hunt Would Halve Mont. Wolf Population

Study: Hunt Would Halve Mont. Wolf Population

MATTHEW BROWN, Associated Press Writer

BILLINGS, Mont. (AP) — A scientific study released Wednesday said a proposed hunt for gray wolves in the Northern Rockies would cut the endangered species’ population in Montana by roughly half during a single season.

The study from two Montana State University ecologists raised questions about claims that the wolves could easily withstand hunts proposed this fall in Montana and Idaho. The peer-reviewed report was published online by the Public Library of Science.

Wolves in the Northern Rockies were returned to the endangered species list last month under a federal court order, but state officials still want permission to hold the public hunts.

The MSU study found that Montana stands to lose approximately 50 percent of its wolves under a proposal submitted in mid-September to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

“The data suggest that a sustainable harvest can be developed. But the thresholds identified (in Montana) appear to be above a sustainable level,” said MSU ecologist Scott Creel, one of the study’s authors.

Wildlife officials in Montana and Idaho said they were not swayed by the MSU study and characterized it as speculative. They added that even if wolf populations get into trouble, they could simply adjust future quota levels to compensate.

State and federal wildlife managers have said repeatedly that about 30 percent of a wolf population can be killed and it still will bounce back the following year.

After analyzing 21 studies of North American wolf populations by government and academic researchers, Creel and colleague Jay Rotella estimated the figure for the Northern Rockies would be much lower, at 22 percent. The study reached the new estimate by using a computer model that compared Montana’s proposed hunting season to how wolf populations have responded to human-caused killings in the past.

The lower estimate means wildlife managers using the old number could inadvertently set wolf quotas too high, threatening the species’ recovery after two decades and more than $30 million spent on restoration efforts.

Montana wants a hunting quota of 186 wolves, on top of 145 wolves that the state expects to be killed this year by wildlife agents responding to attacks on livestock.

Idaho also is seeking a hunt, but its proposed quota has not been released so the potential impact was not measured in the study.

Idaho and Montana had a combined minimum population of 1,367 wolves at the end of 2009. Montana wants to pare back its wolf population by 15 percent this year, while Idaho has a long-term objective of 41 percent fewer wolves.

About 340 wolves live in neighboring states, primarily in Wyoming, but also in Oregon and Washington. No hunts are proposed in those states.

“We understand that if we tried to reduce the population at the same rate for years, it wouldn’t work,” said Jim Unsworth with the Idaho Fish and Game Department. “But that’s not what any of us have proposed.”

“If we’re too heavy with harvest, we can back off,” he added.

Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks wolf biologist Carolyn Sime said the MSU study was flawed because it failed to account for wolf pups born in the spring. She said that failure overestimated the impacts of hunting.

Creel responded that his model used an established method to measure population changes between the same day from one year and the next, rendering irrelevant any interim spikes caused by spring births.

A Canadian wolf researcher with a newly published study on the same topic said Wednesday that he reached a conclusion similar to Creel: past research apparently underestimated the impacts human-caused mortality can have on wolves in the Northern Rockies.

Prior assumptions of hunting impacts were based largely on work done in the deep wilderness of Alaska and Canada, said Dennis Murray, a biologist with Trent University in Peterborough and that study’s lead author. Many wolf packs in the Northern Rockies live in proximity to inhabited areas — where they are more likely to be shot for attacking livestock or run over when crossing a highway.

“Based on (the MSU) analysis and our analysis, the high rates of mortality that have occurred so far are probably not sustainable over the long term. That could curtail population growth and, in fact, might cause populations to decline substantially,” Murray said.

The study was based on 22 years of data from more than 700 wolves in the Northern Rockies, appears in the November issue of Biological Conservation. Co-authors included four government wolf biologists from Idaho, Yellowstone National Park and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

They did not offer a sustainable harvest figure comparable to Creel’s 22 percent.

David Mech, a U.S. Geological Survey wolf biologist based in Minnesota, said both studies underscore that some hunter harvest of wolves is possible without hurting the population.

Those quotas can be set higher, Mech said, if hunters can successfully target wolves that have been attacking livestock. Many of those animals would be shot anyway by government wildlife agents.

___

Online:

Wolf mortality study: http://www.plosone.org

Montana wolf program: http://fwp.mt.gov/wildthings/wolf/default.html

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Sep 29

ID: Idaho seeks permission to kill Lolo wolves

Idaho seeks permission to kill Lolo wolves

Plan calls for killing 40 to 50 wolves

By KATHERINE WUTZ
Express Staff Writer

After a month-long public comment period, the Idaho Department of Fish and Game submitted a proposal to reduce wolves in the Lolo region by 50 to 80 percent over the next year.

If approved by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the management plan would allow the killing of “an initial minimum removal of 40 to 50 wolves” during the first year. The Lolo Zone in northern Idaho is home to at least 75 wolves, which, according to an ongoing Fish and Game study, is reducing elk populations in the region.

This proposal is the first to outline a plan for wolf management under the Endangered Species Act’s 10j provision, which gives states with federally approved wolf management plans, such as Idaho’s, authority to request wolf killings to protect threatened ungulates such as elk and deer. Though wolves have once again been deemed an endangered species as of an August ruling by U.S. District Judge Donald Molloy, wolves in most of Idaho are classified as a “non-essential” or “experimental” population. That classification gives states some flexibility regarding management.

The proposal was in development in early 2009, but Idaho wolves were delisted from the act, rendering the proposal unnecessary. It was updated and resubmitted after Molloy’s August decision.

Department spokesman Ed Mitchell denied that the plan, if approved, would set a precedent for other regions.

“It may be that this is the only place this will work,” Mitchell said. “I wouldn’t go so far as to call it a precedent for other actions … but it certainly has potential.”

The plan sets elk objectives at 7,400 to 11,000 for the region, well below the 1989 peak of more than 16,000 animals. The objective is above the estimated 4,691 elk in the region in 2002, just prior to wolves becoming a significant predator in the area, and well above the current estimate of 2,100.

Wolf advocate Garrick Dutcher, program manager for Ketchum-based Living with Wolves, said the region’s elk are in a “natural decline,” and that the Lolo plan is a “misguided assault” on wolves.

“This is wildlife mismanagement designed to artificially boost an elk population,” Dutcher said. “Wolves are good for a balanced ecosystem, [but] not for a game farm.”

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service must approve the plan before it goes into effect. Mitchell said service officials had not set a definite timeline, but that he expected a decision “sooner rather than later.”

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Sep 28

SE: Demand for controlled hunting of wolves

Demand for controlled hunting of wolves

Roughly translated by TWIN Observer

The news P4 Värmland

Three property owners in Östmark want hunting of a wolf in Gräsmark’s territory. In an application to the County Board property owners write that the wolf killed the sheep in this area.

According to the property owners the wolf has has killed eight sheep in the last two weeks around Östmark, Velen and Svenneby. The application writes that the wolves for many years have caused many injuries and that people are concerned about their dogs and domestic animals.


Kräver skyddsjakt på varg

Nyheterna P4 Värmland

Tre fastighetsägare i Östmark vill ha skyddsjakt på en varg i Gräsmarksreviret. I en ansökan till Länsstyrelsen skriver fastighetsägarna att vargen dödat får i området.

Enligt fasttighetsägarna har vargen de senaste två veckorna dödat åtta får kring Östmark, Velen och Svenneby. I ansökan skriver de att vargen i många år har ställt till med många skador och att folk känner oro för sina hundar och tamdjur.

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Sep 28

WY: GYC sees wolf solution

GYC sees wolf solution

By Angus M. Thuermer Jr., Jackson Hole, Wyo.

The director of the Greater Yellowstone Coalition predicted Friday a solution to the wolf management stalemate in Montana, Idaho and Wyoming.

Speaking at the annual gathering of members of the Bozeman, Montana, -based conservation organization at Snow King Resort, Mike Clark reflected on his group’s recent victory in federal court that saw endangered species protection reinstated for wolves in Montana and Idaho.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service had given those states authority to manage and hunt wolves, but didn’t accept a Wyoming plan, which it saw as detrimental to wolf survival.

Judge Donald W. Molloy determined a state-by-state approach wasn’t allowed under the Endangered Species Act, and so put federal wildlife managers back in charge of the species in all three states.

Since Wyoming has said it would not change its plan to control wolves outside of the national parks, the ruling presents a roadblock to the effort to turn management of the restored species back to state wildlife agencies.

But Clark said he saw some light.

“The lawsuit we won gives us some leverage,” he said. “I think over the next few months we will see a resolution.”

He also said he hopes to see “Wyoming joining the federal government and the other two states” in any new management scheme. He said his group sought a “fair and viable [plan] so the people who live here and the people who visit can find common ground.”

Clark did not specifically say the coalition was negotiating with federal and state officials about a new wolf management framework, or that any of the four entities had agreed to work on one. His comments, nevertheless, offer a perspective from a key player who is deeply engaged in the issue.

Clark also sought to dismiss the widespread Western notion that environmentalists are quick to sue.

“Where we have to, we will use litigation to make sure we have a voice,” he said. Education is a better tool, he said.

“Every time we have to file a lawsuit, it’s an admission of political failure,” he said. “The message did not get across.”

Although Clark said he hoped Wyoming would accept a new proposal, state reaction to the lawsuit ruling has not been positive. Earlier this summer, Gov. Dave Freudenthal said if the federal government wants to dictate wolf management terms, it can foot the bill.

Time may help soothe emotions, as may the passing of an election season, Clark said.

“As peoples’ tempers cool, there is a new ensuing dialog that goes on,” Clark said. “The political system is such in election season that things get heated. We don’t mind the heated debate.”

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service restored wolves to Yellowstone National Park and central Idaho in 1995 with the goal of letting states manage the species — except in national parks — once they reached viable numbers. Some ranchers and outfitters, along with the Wyoming Legislature, contend that threshold has been reached.

Today, federal wildlife agents in Wyoming regularly respond to repeated wolf livestock killings by shooting wolves. They also have killed mothers and pups that have denned in areas where a pack appears to be destined to cause trouble with livestock.

Outfitters in Wyoming are increasingly vocal about what they say is the impact wolves are having on elk calves; however, the state’s overall censused elk population is 34 percent above objective according to latest Wyoming Game and Fish numbers.

Lawsuits, among other factors, have stymied efforts to turn authority over to states. Those suits have contended either that state plans won’t ensure that a viable population of wolves will persist, or that authority was transferred improperly and not in accordance with the Endangered Species Act.

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Sep 28

Idaho, Montana propose wolf hunts

Idaho, Montana propose wolf hunts

The Spokesman-Review

BILLINGS – Documents released Monday show that Montana is seeking federal approval to kill 186 endangered gray wolves in a special “conservation hunt,” and neighboring Idaho wants permission to remove up to 50 of the predators that officials say are eating too many elk in the Lolo area.

The proposals to kill the wolves come despite a court ruling that restored the animals’ endangered species status.

In separate applications filed with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Idaho and Montana said their new plans to kill wolves were permissible under the Endangered Species Act. Wildlife managers contend the Aug. 5 ruling did not account for the growing impact of wolves on livestock and big game herds across the Northern Rockies.

The proposals have drawn criticism from wildlife advocates who accuse the states of making an end-run around the courts.

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Sep 27

Montana, Idaho send wolf hunting plans to feds

Montana, Idaho send wolf hunting plans to feds

By MATTHEW BROWN

Montana officials are seeking federal approval to kill 186 endangered gray wolves in a special “conservation hunt,” while neighboring Idaho wants permission to kill up to 50 of the predators that officials say are eating too many elk.

Documents released Monday detailed the states’ new plans to kill wolves despite a court ruling that restored their endangered species status.

Wildlife managers say the Aug. 5 ruling from U.S. District Judge Donald Molloy did not account for the growing impact of wolves on livestock and big game herds across the Northern Rockies.

In separate applications filed over the last two weeks with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Idaho and Montana said their plans to kill wolves were permissible under the Endangered Species Act.

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