Nov 30

MT: Montana Governor cautiously optimistic about new wolf management strategy

Montana Governor cautiously optimistic about new wolf management strategy

HELENA – It may take an “Act of Congress” to figure out how to sort out the mess in wolf management in the northern rockies.

That word following a meeting in Denver Monday between Interior Secretary Ken Salazar and the governors of Montana, Idaho and Wyoming.

Montana Governor Brian Schweitzer says the group agreed to three important principles. First that the wolf population in the three states is recovered. Second, based on that recovery, wolves should be delisted. And third, once the species is delisted, all three states should be granted the opporotunity and authority to manage those wolves.

But Schweitzer says given the timeframe on how long it might take to resolve the issue in court, Interior Secretary Salazar is now advocating that the three governors ask for an Act of Congress to return wolf management to the states. Schweitzer says he believes the three states are close to such an agreement, and with the help of their respective Congressional delegations could push Congress to act quickly.

“I’m cautiously optimistic,” explained Schweitzer. “To say that Congress can move faster than the courts is actually putting the bar pretty low,” Schweitzer said. “But if there is a resolve in Washington D.C., then I think we can get this done.”

Governor Schweitzer said he believes all three members of the Montana’s Congressional delegation can agree to push for an Act of Congress, along with the delegations from Wyoming and Idaho. “This can be bi-partisan. They can all reach out to their colleagues and potentially get this done,” said Schweitzer.

Monday’s meeting comes after the three states were denied permission to conduct public hunting of wolves, by both a federal judge and Salazar’s agency. All three states are anxious to reduce wolf numbers to protect other wildlife and reduce livestock attacks, but environmental groups have blocked the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service from turning wolf management over to the states.

Wyoming Governor Dave Freudenthal said after the meeting that everybody recognizes that the (wolf) population is not only recovered, but “it is robust.” “Why we can’t get to delisting, is very frustrating for all of the people sitting around the table,” said Freudenthal.

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Nov 29

WY: Wyo. Gov.: Wolf meeting seeks ‘roadmap’ on wolves

Wyo. Gov.: Wolf meeting seeks ‘roadmap’ on wolves

The Associated Press

CHEYENNE, Wyo. — Wyoming Gov. Dave Freudenthal says he, two other Western governors and Interior Secretary Ken Salazar are all frustrated at the lack of progress toward ending federal protections for wolves in the Northern Rockies.

Freudenthal, Salazar, Montana Gov. Brian Schweitzer and Idaho Gov. C.L. “Butch” Otter met Monday in Denver to talk about the wolf issue.

Freudenthal says much of the meeting focused on possible congressional action to recognize that the wolf population is fully recovered in the Northern Rockies.

All three states are anxious to reduce wolf numbers to protect other wildlife and reduce livestock attacks. Environmental groups have sued to block the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service from turning wolf management over to the states.

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Nov 29

WY: Western governors, Interior secretary talk wolves

Western governors, Interior secretary talk wolves

The Associated Press

CHEYENNE, Wyo. — The governors of Idaho, Montana and Wyoming are meeting with Interior Secretary Ken Salazar in Denver to talk about wolf management.

Monday’s meeting comes after the states have been denied permission to hunt gray wolves, by both a federal judge and Salazar’s agency. All three states are anxious to reduce wolf numbers to protect other wildlife and reduce livestock attacks.

But environmental groups have blocked the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service from turning wolf management over to the states.

A federal judge in Wyoming recently ruled that the federal wildlife agency was wrong to reject that state’s wolf management plan. Wyoming has proposed to classify wolves as predators that could be shot on sight in most of the state.

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Nov 28

WY: Western Governors to Meet With Salazar on Wolves

Western Governors to Meet With Salazar on Wolves

By Associated Press

CHEYENNE, Wyo. – The governors of Idaho, Montana and Wyoming plan to meet with Interior Secretary Ken Salazar in Denver on Monday to talk about wolf management.

Relations between the states and the federal government over wolf management have been prickly for years.

Wildlife managers and sportsmen in all three states are concerned growing numbers of wolves are taking a toll on wildlife. But environmental groups have succeeded so far in preventing the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service from ending federal protections for wolves.

Chris Boswell is chief of staff to Wyoming Gov. Dave Freudenthal. Boswell says Salazar asked to meet with the governors, but Boswell says Wyoming doesn’t expect a final settlement of wolf management issues from Monday’s meeting.

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Nov 27

ID: Idaho sheriff denies ‘SSS’ raffle aims for wolves

Idaho sheriff denies ‘SSS’ raffle aims for wolves

A northern Idaho sheriff says he is not advocating the illegal shooting of federally protected wolves by offering a hunting rifle and a shovel as the prize in a raffle called “.308 SSS Wolf Pack Raffle” in a region where SSS commonly stands for “shoot, shovel and shut up.”

Idaho County Sheriff Doug Giddings says the SSS in the raffle stands for “safety, security and survival.”

“We knew that this would stir up some interest,” Giddings told the Lewiston Tribune.

The newspaper reports that the SSS in the wolf-shooting context often appears in the area on bumper stickers.

Raffle tickets went on sale Friday for $1 each, or 11 for $10. The prize is a Winchester .308-caliber Model 70 Featherweight rifle and a shovel. The drawing is planned for March 8.

Giddings said money from the raffle will go to a food bank, alcohol and drug awareness programs, and local school equipment fundraisers.

“No, we’re not advocating shooting wolves,” Giddings said. “Safety, security and survival, that’s kind of an Idaho County thing. That’s who we are. It’s to get people’s attention. It means something to us up here.”

Dave Cadwallader, Clearwater Region manager for the Idaho Department of Fish and Game, said the raffle is an indication of how frustrated people are over wolves and the loss of state management of the animals.

A federal judge in Montana in August ruled it was improper of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to retain federal wolf management in Wyoming while turning wolf management over to state governments in Idaho and Montana. In response, the agency took back authority over wolf management in Idaho and Montana, angering state officials and blocking wolf hunts that had been scheduled for this fall.

Idaho Gov. C.L. “Butch” Otter pushed for an agreement with Fish and Wildlife to allow a wolf hunting season. When that failed, Otter in October ordered Idaho wildlife managers to relinquish their duty to arrest poachers or to even investigate when wolves are killed illegally.

Otter rejected the wolf management Idaho has conducted for years as the federal government’s “designated agent” after wolves were returned to Endangered Species Act protections.

The move means Idaho Department of Fish and Game managers no longer perform statewide monitoring for wolves, conduct investigations into illegal killings, provide law enforcement when wolves are poached or participate in a program that responds to livestock depredations.

Giddings told the newspaper he strongly supports Otter’s move.

Cadwallader said that evidence of wolf poaching in the region is turned over to federal authorities.

“We are a state of law abiding citizens,” Cadwallader said. “We are frustrated, beyond frustrated, but we have to follow the rule of law.”

More than 1,700 wolves now inhabit Wyoming, Idaho, Montana, Washington and Oregon.

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Nov 26

WY: Western Governors To Meet With Salazar On Wolves

Western Governors To Meet With Salazar On Wolves

CHEYENNE, Wyo. (AP) — The governors of Idaho, Montana and Wyoming plan to meet with Interior Secretary Ken Salazar in Denver on Monday to talk about wolf management.

Relations between the states and the federal government over wolf management have been prickly for years.

Wildlife managers and sportsmen in all three states are concerned growing numbers of wolves are taking a toll on wildlife. But environmental groups have succeeded so far in preventing the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service from ending federal protections for wolves.

Chris Boswell is chief of staff to Wyoming Gov. Dave Freudenthal. Boswell says Salazar asked to meet with the governors, but Boswell says Wyoming doesn’t expect a final settlement of wolf management issues from Monday’s meeting.

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Nov 25

MI: U.P. deer hunters aren’t crying wolf so often

U.P. deer hunters aren’t crying wolf so often

BY ERIC SHARP
FREE PRESS OUTDOORS WRITER

MARQUETTE — Wolf complaints in the western Upper Peninsula are down from 2009. To biologists, that means deer numbers are up and hunters are seeing and killing more deer.

“People are bringing in some nice deer” to check stations, said Terry McFadden, a wildlife biologist in the Marquette office of the Department of Natural Resources and Environment. “We’re about 8% ahead of last year.

“We’re seeing a lot of 2-1/2- and 3-1/2-year-old bucks. I don’t know that I’ve ever seen so many eight-points. There’s excellent antler development, with nice beam diameters.”

Tom Breedlove hunted federal forest land southwest of Marquette and “saw more deer in three days than I did the whole two years before that.”

“I was really happy to see does with fawns. That’s something that’s been missing around here for a while. We had two bad winters that just hammered the fawn numbers,” he said.

Breedlove saw two wolves run past his blind on the first two days of the deer season, “but guys I talked to said they haven’t heard as many as they did last year. What people are talking about is that they’re hearing a lot of ‘yipping.’ They think that must be coyotes.”

Breedlove is among many U.P. hunters who bought single tags this year rather than combo tags that allow them to take two bucks. Single tags are good only for a buck with at least three points on one side. A combo license lets hunters take a buck with at least three points on one side with one tag and a spike with the other.

“I decided I’m only going to kill one decent buck, if I see one,” Breedlove said. “I’m not going to shoot spikes. The three bucks I’ve seen were spikes and a fork horn, but I’m pretty hopeful.”

The wildest sounds I’ve heard in a lifetime of wandering fields and woodlands are the call of a loon, the howl of a wolf and a lion coughing in the darkness. Those last two are guaranteed to raise the hairs on the back of your neck, reminders of the days when people were not only predators on other animals but prey to some, as well.

I suspect that atavistic reaction is one reason many hunters tend to hate wolves. Deep down we think they’re not just competition for a food source: They want to make us food.

The DNRE estimates there are about 550 wolves in the Upper Peninsula, most at the western end. Estimates of how many deer are eaten by wolves each year are all over the board, depending on where they live. But Brian Roell, the DNRE’s wolf specialist, said in Michigan it’s probably 30-35 deer per wolf.

That works out to about 15,000-20,000 deer per year from a total U.P. population of more than 300,000. And as Roell points out, “That includes deer that are killed by cars (which wolves scavenge off the side of the road), and deer that were wounded by hunters.”

Roell agreed with McFadden’s observation about the relationship between deer numbers and wolf complaints. He said most of complaints this fall came from hunters who live below the bridge. They don’t spend as much time scouting deer as locals and are more likely to blame lack of success on wolf predation.

“Most of the complaints are from Gogebic and Baraga counties, but those are areas with a lot of wolves. I’ve had some hunters tell me that the wolves are making the deer nocturnal. When I ask them how they know that, they tell me they saw it on the National Geographic Channel,” Roell said.

“It never seems to occur to them that maybe the reason is that thousands of people have been hunting the deer since September, and that there have been a lot of dog hunters chasing grouse and woodcock and bear, and that the woods are full of bait piles.”

John Fahey, who lives in Westland, grew up near Baraga and has returned to hunt deer each fall for 23 years. He said there are still plenty of wolves around his family hunting camp, “but the deer numbers are up.”

“Last year I saw two deer the whole 10 days I was there. This year I saw a dozen in three days, including a nice buck I couldn’t get a shot at because of the trees,” he said. “I didn’t hear see any wolves this year, but I did hear some.

“I had some deer in front of me when wolves were howling. The deer looked up and listened for a minute, then went back to feeding. I guess they can tell if the wolves are heading toward them or not.”

McFadden said that last year’s mild winter resulted in a great survival rate for fawns, adding, “This summer I saw two does with triplets. I think I only saw two other does with triplets in the seven years before that.”

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Nov 25

AK: Anything you can do… incredible moment a wolf catches a salmon using fishing technique….

Anything you can do… incredible moment a wolf catches a salmon using fishing technique copied from a bear

Note: The reader should go to the source article to see the photos

By Daily Mail Reporter

His powerful jaws clamped around a huge salmon, this wolf looks mightily pleased with himself.

This wonderful photograph captures the rare moment that a wolf was caught on camera fishing after learning the technique from bears.

With a massive grizzly in the foreground the wolf can clearly be seen setting itself, leaping and then grabbing the huge fish from the water.

The amazing sequence – which some even dubbed a hoax or photoshopped – was captured in just minutes by wildlife photographer Paul Stinsa.

Along with a party of enthusiasts Mr Stinsa was on actually on an expedition to see bears not wolves in Katmai National Park, Alaska.

But it turned out some of the best shots of his life were waiting for him at a spot named Brooks Falls – when out of the blue a wolf appeared from the trees.

Just feet from the far more powerful grizzly bear the incredible moment unfolded before Mr Stinsa’s eyes as he watched from a viewing platform.

Paul and others had been standing on the platform looking at a large and a small male bear fishing, but when the action stopped some decided to leave.

The party were also surprised to see a wolf at the river earlier but it had been chased off by the bears.

He said: ‘Nothing was happening at the falls, and some of the viewers left the platform to head back to camp.

‘This would prove to be a mistake, as the wolf soon came trotting down the riverbank and into the water across from the viewing platform.

‘I stood on the platform, scrambling to set the camera properly to photograph a dark, moving subject against a black background on an overcast day.

‘I watched intently as the wolf slowly crept through the shallow water along the rock wall below the falls, sneaking up on the resting salmon from downstream.

‘As the wolf neared the base of the falls, it dove headfirst into the pool. In a flurry of splashing water, it pulled its head out of the river with a salmon, desperately flopping, clamped in its jaws.

‘The wolf then cautiously walked downriver and ran up the trail into the woods.’

Mr Stinsa and the rest of the group were left stunned – none of the rest of the group had been quick enough to get their camera out.

Mr Stinsa, 42, from Chicago, USA, said: ‘Nobody on the platform, including the park ranger, had ever heard of this behaviour from a wolf, much less witnessed it.

‘We all felt as though we had received a unique bonus on our bear- viewing trip.

‘Apart from a local paper in the US no one else has seen these pictures, but a lot of people have said they are a hoax on the internet.

‘When I think of the risk and difficulty for the wolf required to evade territorial brown bears to either feed pups or hide the dead fish in the woods without being attacked, I’m amazed at the intelligence shown by the wolf while fishing at Brooks Falls.

‘What appeared obvious to everyone watching that afternoon was that this wolf had fished like this before.

‘Its fishing skill was not an accident but rather a repeatable, successful process. The wolf had no intention of scavenging the leftovers from the bears.

‘It had managed to catch all 15 fish and take them into the woods, returning each time by the same trail, without coming into contact with the bears walking in the forest above the river.’

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Nov 24

WY: No agreement over conflicting wolf rulings

No agreement over conflicting wolf rulings

While one conservationist sees room to negotiate, two hunters disagree.

By Cory Hatch, Jackson Hole, Wyo.

Two seemingly contradictory wolf decisions from two U.S. District Court judges in Wyoming and Montana indicate that it is time to move the wolf debate out of the courts, the head of a regional conservation group said Tuesday.

The decisions also show that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service “has not done a very good job in terms of keeping up with its legal responsibilities,” Greater Yellowstone Coalition executive director Mike Clark said.

At issue are rulings from U.S. District Court judges Donald Molloy, of Missoula, Mont., and Alan B. Johnson, from Cheyenne.

Molloy said the government was wrong to remove federal protection from the wolf in Montana and Idaho but not from Wyoming.

Johnson then said the government’s rejection of Wyoming’s wolf plan — a foundation of the Malloy ruling — was improper and must be reconsidered.

“Both judges have said the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service needs to clean up their act,” Clark said. “They seem, on the one hand, to be politically different, but they are both saying ‘shape up.’ ”

“We’re still hopeful that all of us can step back from this and begin talking about what’s happening on the ground instead of having to use the courts,” Clark continued. “It’s time for all of us to … have some dialogue. The wolves are here to stay. The question is what number of wolves will people tolerate.”

Not everybody is amenable to talks outside the courtroom, however.

“Those type of negotiations are out the window,” Kelly outfitter B.J. Hill said.

“They’ve lost their credibility with the folks,” Hill said of conservation groups. “You do not negotiate with an environmental greenie. If you want to play, you play hardball.”

The conflicting rulings could lead to even more legal wrangling, Bob Wharff, Wyoming executive director for Sportsmen for Fish and Wildlife, said. If Congress doesn’t intervene, he warned, the case will likely get bogged down in courts for years.

“Now you’ve got two different rulings from two different circuits, which means it’s probably going to go all the way to the Supreme Court,” he said. “We’ve been saying the only solution is a congressional one. The system has just flat not worked.”

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is likely to wait until Congress decides the fate of several pending bills that would put wolf management in control of the states before it takes steps to reconsider Wyoming’s wolf management plan, as ordered by the most recent court decision, Clark said. In the meantime, he continues to look at the existing situation.

Livestock depredation rates didn’t increase until 2007, when the wolf population was about 1,500 animals, Clark said.

“We know the system will support 1,200 to 1,500 wolves,” he said.

Hunting could be an option once Idaho, Montana and Wyoming agree on a comprehensive strategy that would remove wolves from Endangered Species Act protection while ensuring a healthy population into the future, Clark continued.

“If Wyoming would modify its [wolf management plan] so it’s not so onerous, then there would be some room for agreement.”

Conservationists have criticized Wyoming for forging a plan for minimal wolf numbers that would classify them as predators, which could be killed at any time and by any means, across more than 80 percent of the state.

Hill said the political baggage over wolves has tainted the issue.

“I have three boys,” he said. “I would have liked to see if they could have learned to like that animal.

“We’re not against predators,” he said. “We’re against the politics of the predators.”

The Johnson ruling is both a victory and a loss, Hill said.

“We ended up winning the lawsuit, but, having said that, we would have liked [U.S. District Court Judge from Wyoming] Alan Johnson to delist these wolves” and remove federal protection, he said.

“If I had a magic wand, I would turn it trophy [game] statewide,” Hill continued. “I’m in Pacific Creek — Wyoming wolf central — but I would not go against my allies to force the wolf on the state.”

Wharff said Judge Johnson’s decision is a vindication.

“It’s something we felt all along, that Wyoming’s plan was biologically and scientifically sound,” he said. “There is a burden that is borne by the sportsmen and the agricultural community.”

For now, Johnson’s decision doesn’t affect wolf management, Jenny Harbine, staff attorney for Earthjustice, an conservation law firm, said.

“Wolves on the ground are still subject to [Endangered Species Act] protections,” she said. “Not only in Wyoming, but in Montana and Idaho as well. The Wyoming court’s decision does not change that.”

Wyoming’s Governor-elect Matt Mead said he hasn’t had time to read the lawsuit, but he said Johnson’s decision is a good first step.

“I thought Wyoming’s plan was the right way to go. It was based upon science,” he said. “This plan that Wyoming has was originally signed off on by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service as an appropriate plan.”

State officials were also pleased by the ruling.

“We haven’t had a chance to review the entire ruling yet,” Wyoming Game and Fish spokesman Eric Keszler said. “However, we have been saying for a long time that Wyoming’s wolf management plan is sufficient to maintain a recovered population of wolves in northwest Wyoming. This decision would seem to support that.”

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service officials would not comment directly on the decision.

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Nov 24

CH: Campaigners petition for wolf protection

Campaigners petition for wolf protection

Animal rights activists have handed in a petition to the government and parliament calling for the protection of the wolf in Switzerland.

The Gruppe Wolf (Wolf Group), which is backed by environmental organisations, says it collected about 25,000 signatures in three months urging the authorities to reconsider a plan to withdraw from an international convention about the conservation of wildlife and natural habitats.

People from all ages and parts of the country supported the presence of wolves in Switzerland, campaigners said in a statement on Wednesday.

They added that they were prepared to challenge any change in the law aimed at lifting protection.

In September parliament approved a proposal relaxing the law against shooting wolves.

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 in mountain regions 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.

Urs Geiser, swissinfo.ch

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