Feb 28

CA AB: Half-truths blamed for fear

Half-truths blamed for fear

By Brenda Kossowan – Red Deer Advocate

A campaign of misinformation has put unwarranted fear in the hearts of Alberta’s rural landowners, says a man who hopes to become Alberta’s next premier.

Ted Morton, who resigned from cabinet to enter the leadership race, joined fellow MLAs Evan Berger and George Groeneveld in Red Deer on Friday to defend the Alberta Land Stewardship Act, which encompasses three contentious bills aimed at expropriation of property for creation of major roadways and utility corridors.

In his address to the Alberta Beef Industry Conference on Friday, Morton said a lawyer working for another Alberta political party has been spreading fear about the impact of Bills 19, 36 and 50.

He refused to identify the lawyer to the Advocate, saying that “everyone” knows who he means.

Among some “half-truths” Morton identified is that there will be no avenue of appeal for landowners whose property is needed to build roads or erect power lines.

“If politics is the art of the half truth, the lawyer that’s been used by this other political party to spread this around, I’d say he’s a real Picasso.”

The Land Stewardship Act is based on seven regional plans defined by Alberta’s seven watersheds, Morton and Berger said in their presentation.

People will still have the access to appeal that they have had in the past, said Morton. However, the regional plans cannot be challenged in court.

The reasoning behind that is similar to the workings of the Worker’s Compensation Board, in which approved claimants cannot sue their employers, said Morton.

The idea is that the money goes to the claimants, not to the lawyers representing them, he said.

Additionally, the compensation plan puts a fence around the rights of people who claim to be affected by a decision.

The act creates a package that allows landowners to negotiate compensation with neighbouring developments and projects that cross their property, he said.

At the same time, people from other areas of the province, including environmental groups like the Sierra Club, will no longer be able to claim that their rights are affected by development on property to which they have no attachment, said Morton.

He cited a situation in Montana, Idaho and Wyoming where a small number of wolves from Alberta were introduced to Yellowstone Park, but were much more successful than intended. Ranchers sought a limited cull on the wolves to reduce the number of livestock and wildlife being taken down.

However, the cull is being held up by an injunction filed by the groups who do not have a stake in the region, said Morton.

“That’s what we did not want to happen here. We think you want political accountability. If there are mistakes or problems, do you want to come and talk to us, or do you want to hire lawyers and go before a judge. This is about political accountability.”

In an question and answer period afterward, cattle producer Doug Fawcett from Consort said landowners expect the government to protect their rights and freedoms and not to remove or extinguish them in any way.

“To protect individual rights and freedoms of the people is the mandate that people have granted a democratic government,” said Fawcett.

“Any attempt for a government to do otherwise is not acceptable.”

Source

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Feb 28

SE: Predator tourism on the rise

Predator tourism on the rise

Roughly translated by TWIN Observer

Wolves does not just mean the costs, you can also make money from predators. In Finland, this is a growing sector, but in Sweden it is as yet small.

One of those who engaged in predator tourism is Lasse Gabrielsson. He arranges among other things wolf walks in Bergslagen.

“We meet around lunchtime, and I will discuss and inform as much as I can before we head out into the countryside. When the walk is over and the guests are settled, so I leave them,” he says.

“I try to inform them before that they are left overnight.”

Do they become afraid?

“No, they are not then. They are extremely excited the next morning,” he says.

“Yes, there is some drama in the sit alone, or with some friends, in a blind in the woods and listen to wild wolves howling in the distance, they might see the tracks, but almost never get to see the animals. It is so dramatic that people are prepared to pay quite a lot of money for it.”

“It is often older people in retirement who think this is really exciting,” says Lasse Gabrielsson.

Predator tourism big in Finland

It costs just under 3000 kr for this kind of experience but so far Lasse Gabrielsson and his companions can not live on wolf walks, which are combined with other types of outdoor experiences.

In Sweden, the predator tourism in its infancy, but our neighbor, Finnland, it has grown and is now taking in a lot of money. Lassi Rautiainen is the entrepreneur who has done it the longest, and he says it’s fine to live in bear and wolf viewing.

“In the summer we have 75 employees and is forecast so you can say that there will be a few hundred who work year round with this in the future,” he says.


Rovdjursturismen på frammarsch

Varg behöver inte bara betyda kostnader, man kan också tjäna pengar på rovdjur. I Finland är detta en växande näring men i Sverige är den än så länge småskalig.

En av dem som bedriver rovdjursturism är Lasse Gabrielsson. Han anordnar bland annat vargvandringar i Bergslagen.

– Vi träffas runt lunchtid och diskuterar och jag informerar så mycket jag kan innan vi beger oss ut i markerna. När vandringen är över och gästerna är installerade så lämnar jag dem, säger han.

– Jag försöker informera dem innan om att de blir lämnade under natten.

Blir de rädda då?

– Nej, de blir inte det. De är enormt positiva morgonen efter, säger han.

Ja, det finns en viss dramatik i att sitta ensam, eller tillsammans med några vänner, i ett gömsle i skogen och lyssna på vilda vargar som ylar på avstånd, kanske se spåren, men nästan aldrig få se själva djuren. Så dramatiskt att folk är beredda att betala ganska mycket pengar för det.

– Ofta är det äldre människor i pensionsåldern som tycker att det här är jättespännande, säger Lasse Gabrielsson.

Rovdjursturismen stor i Finland

Knappt 3000 kronor kostar en sådan här upplevelse men än så länge kan inte Lasse Gabrielsson och hans kompanjoner leva på vargvandringar, som kombineras med andra typer av naturupplevelser.

I Sverige är rovdjursturism i sin linda, men i vårt grannland Finnland har den vuxit till sig och omsätter nu en hel del pengar. Lassi Rautiainen är den företagare som har hållit på längst och han säger att det går bra att leva på björn- och vargskådning.

– Vi har under sommaren 75 anställda och enligt prognosen så kan man säga att det kommer vara några hundra som jobbar året runt med det här i framtiden, säger han.

Joacim Lindwall

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Feb 28

PA: Food set out to lure escaped Mount Bethel wolf

Food set out to lure escaped Mount Bethel wolf

By Frank Warner, OF THE MORNING CALL

No one reported seeing Baby Martin on Monday, two days after the 13-year-old wolf escaped from a Mount Bethel wildlife rehabilitation center over a fallen tree.

Hope Anwyll Carpenter, the wolf’s owner, said Monday night she has set out food and hopes the silver-gray wolf is hungry enough to return overnight to his 1-acre enclosed home, between Bangor and the Delaware River.

Carpenter is concerned that someone will over-react if they see the wolf, which is one of two “senior citizen wolves” kept at the center. Baby Martin left behind a friend named Darwin, a fellow 13-year-old neutered male.

Source

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Feb 28

OR: Wolves may be in parts of area

Wolves may be in parts of area

  • Tracks have been found eight miles east of Milton-Freewater

    By ANDY PORTER
    Walla Walla Union-Bulletin

    WALLA WALLA – Are there wolves roaming the Bennington Lake area?

    While wildlife workers say they can’t confirm or deny a claim that a person encountered wolves while hiking in the area recently, they said they definitely want to urge anyone who thinks he or she saw a wolf to get in touch with them.

    “If people have sightings, we encourage them to contact us so we can investigate what’s there,” said Paul Wik of the Washington state Department of Fish and Wildlife. The department maintains a toll-free number in conjunction with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service for people to report sightings.

    While the WDFW has no definitive proof of wolves around Bennington Lake, “We have had credible sightings reported to us in the Mill Creek area of Oregon and Washington. We do think that it’s likely there are wolves in the foothills of the Blue Mountains to the east of Walla Walla. But we are unclear whether those are single animals or whether multiple animals are running together,” Wik said.

    According to the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife, the latest evidence was found on Jan. 20 when wolf tracks were seen in the Cottonwood Creek area about eight miles east of Milton-Freewater. Russ Morgan, ODFW wolf coordinator, reported that ODFW and the U.S. Forest Service workers confirmed three distinct sets of tracks while a fourth track was “observed but unconfirmed.”

    The Bennington Lake sighting was reported in a letter to the editor published last week in the Union-Bulletin. The writer, Walla Walla resident Carl Nuthak, said the incident occurred about a week ago when a friend of his said four wolves “kept circling him and running alongside” as the friend was hiking in the area.

    But park rangers who work daily in the Mill Creek project have seen no sign of wolves, said Gina Baltrusch, public affairs specialist for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. Unleashed dogs are allowed in the area and it’s possible the person may have seen a group of those or even some wolf-dog hybrids.

    Nuthak, however, dismissed that idea. Both he and his friend have lived in Alaska and know what wolves look like, he said. “They (park rangers) wouldn’t see them (wolves) if they were standing on top of them.”

    He also insisted wolves are well established in this area.

    “It’s no surprise, I’ve found elk killed by wolves five years ago up in the Coppei Creek area,” Nuthak said.

    Source

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    Feb 28

    OR: Electrified, flagged fencing installed to deter wolves

    Electrified, flagged fencing installed to deter wolves

    By Katy Nesbitt
    The (La Grande) Observer

    ENTERPRISE — As the conditions in which we live constantly change, so must our vocabulary. Fladry, a non-lethal wolf-deterring fence, is quickly becoming a common part of the Wallowa County rancher’s lexicon.

    According to the Keystone Conservation website, fladry is a Polish word that means a line of flags on a rope. For local ranchers it is another tool to protect their livestock from wolf predation.

    A combined effort among Defenders of Wildlife, Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and Wallowa Resources is on the ground this week at Wallowa Valley ranches. The main focus is private land along the Imnaha wolf pack’s regular route from the forest to the Zumwalt Prairie.

    John Stephenson of USFW talked with ranchers and Mark Porter of Wallowa Resources nearly three weeks ago about getting the fladry installed, expecting that they were ahead of the curve of seasonal wolf depredation.

    Unfortunately, the ways of wolves is unpredictable. Last week, wolves killed two of Karl and Karen Pattons’ bred cows, just three weeks before they were due to calve. The Pattons are now on the list to have fladry fencing encircle their calving area.

    “We’ll keep trying stuff and hope it works,” Karl Patton said. “Hopefully I’m not too late.”

    ODFW installed a radio-activated guard — or RAG — box on the Pattons’ ranch in hopes to scare away wolves. However, the RAG boxes only work when a collared wolf is present.

    Patton said he’s been informed that the wolves are several miles from his ranch now, but until a couple of days ago, he found signs of wolves on the back of his property where the cows were killed. He even found a coyote near the site that appeared to have been killed by wolves.

    Marlyn Riggs, USDA Wildlife Services agent, and Stephenson agreed that the Pattons’ cows were killed by wolves, but USFW said not enough non-lethal work had been used to justify using lethal control. Now the rush is on to get radio-activated guard boxes and fladry installed to protect producers from losing any more calves — and cows for that matter.

    Stephenson said he is targeting calving pastures in particular with the fladry.

    “We are putting it up in pretty small areas, about one mile in perimeter. Some are a little bigger,” he said.

    The fladry used is electrified and runs on solar panels. The solar panels charge batteries to keep the fencing live overnight, when wolves are most likely to encroach on calving areas.

    “We are focused mostly where wolves have been active,” Stephenson said.

    Stephenson called the electrified, flagged fencing “turbo” fladry.

    “It’s fairly effective as a double deterrent,” he said. “The flagging flutters in the breeze and wolves don’t like to cross it. When they start to test it, they’ll get a shock.”

    Fladry has been used for centuries in Europe, originally to hunt for wolves. Stephenson said it is effective, yet its use is limited and works best in small areas for short amounts of time. Non-electrified fladry can work up to 60 days, and electrified fladry can be effective from 90 to 120 days.

    Stephenson said they used fladry to protect Curt Jacobs’ sheep in Keating in 2009 after wolves killed two dozen of the rancher’s lambs.

    “There were no attacks while the fladry was up,” Stephenson said.

    Besides a short time line for its effectiveness, Stephenson said, another impediment is vegetation entangling the fencing.

    “You need to keep the weeds cut low,” he said.

    ODFW and USFW are footing the bill, Defenders donated some of the fladry and Wallowa Resources has hired contractors to get the work done. The Pattons’ loss was nearly three months earlier than wolf-caused depredations last year and it took most everyone by surprise.

    Justin Nedrow, who leases pasture from the Buckhorn Ranch, Duwayne Voss, the Pattons, Jeanie Lathrop, Scott Sheer of the Triple Creek Ranch and the Schaafsmas all have ranch land along the wolf pack’s path. Stephenson and Rock Botham, hired through Wallowa Resources, are trying to get the fencing up at these ranches as quickly as possible.

    Mark Porter said Wallowa Resources’ role is to help expedite the fencing work.

    “We are simply helping landowners accomplish what they can to prevent depredation,” Porter said.

    Part of Wallowa Resources role in the community is to help landowners manage their land and maintain profitability, Porter said.

    “We want them to be able to function well. They provide hugely to conservation,” he said.

    Porter said he sees two main benefits to non-lethal, wolf-deterring measures.

    “There are two benefits to using fladry,” Porter said. “The first is to prevent calf losses. The second is it’s a requirement under the Endangered Species Act.”

    Rod Childers, Oregon Cattlemen’s Association wolf committee chairman, said to encircle each of these rancher’s calving pens it might take 12 miles of fladry.

    “If people want this they need to contact John Stephenson at 541-962-8584,” Childers said.

    Source

    Posted in Uncategorized
    Feb 28

    Gray wolf population strong in central Wisconsin

    Gray wolf population strong in central Wisconsin

    By B.C. Kowalski
    For the Wausau Daily Herald

    Wisconsin gray wolf populations are strong, according to a recent Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources report.

    According to the Wisconsin Endangered Resources Report No. 140, 72 wolves were found dead in the state in 2010, including three found in Portage County, two in Wood County and one in Marathon County.

    All the wolves were killed either in car crashes or were shot illegally, according to the report.

    In 2010, there were 13 wolves sighted in Marathon County, with 10 in Wood and eight in Portage County.

    Tom Meier, DNR biologist at the Mead Wildlife Area in Milladore, said the population in the area has been steadily increasing.

    “It’s hard to say how many animals there are at any given time,” Meier said.

    The report lists active packs in all three counties. Mead, located on the border of Wood and Portage counties, has a pack of about 10. Other wolves will wander in and out of the area, since wolves have large territories.

    Though wolves are becoming more common in the area, they also tend to stay away from people, Meier said.

    In Portage County, University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point Wildlife Program Chairman Tim Ginnett said there have been wolves in the area for several years. For example, he saw one wolf on a trail camera in Custer about five years ago.

    Meier said there also have been reports of wolves in Nine Mile Forest Recreation Area in Rib Mountain.

    People tend to see evidence of wolves more often than seeing the animals themselves, Meier said.

    “There’s a certain allure to wolves,” Meier said. “The fact that we still have areas in the state wild enough and big enough to hold animals like that — we’re lucky.”

    Source

    Posted in Uncategorized
    Feb 27

    SE: Wolf spotted in Stockholm back garden

    Wolf spotted in Stockholm back garden

    A wild wolf walked within metres of a house in Rimbo on the Roslagen area of Stockholm County, just 20 minutes north as the crow flies, from the capital.

    Anna-Lena Holmberg nearly choked on her morning coffee early this morning as she saw a wolf walk past the corner of her house.

    Anna-Lena couldn’t believe her eyes. “It was completely empty and silent when he appeared. I have also heard howling during the night and seen large footprints” she told a reporter at TT.

    Sweden’s wolf population is officially numbered at 210. A controversial cull took place earlier this year to keep the numbers down and to diversify the gene pool, with new wolves being imported from Russia and Finland.

    Last year a number of wolf cubs were born in Rialareviret which is close to the village of Rimbo. These were the first wolf cubs to be born out of captivity in the county of Stockholm for 170 years.

    TT/The Local/bk

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    Feb 27

    WA: Fate of state’s first gray-wolf pack unclear

    Fate of state’s first gray-wolf pack unclear

    By Craig Welch
    Seattle Times environment reporter

    It’s been just 2 ½ years since Canis lupus took up residence in the rolling hills above Eastern Washington’s Methow Valley.

    But the gray wolf’s return to Washington after a 70-year absence has not exactly gone as most expected. At this point, it’s not even clear if the state’s first pack, the Methow’s Lookout Pack, still exists.

    Since the wolves first returned, the pack’s breeding female disappeared under suspicious circumstances. The carcass of another dead gray wolf was found dumped near the highway in a neighboring county. And the pelt from a third wolf was found by a FedEx worker after an Okanogan County resident tried to ship a bloody, leaking box to Canada. Wildlife cops searching a suspect’s home in that case also found photographs of what may be a fourth dead canine.

    “We don’t know how many [Lookout Pack] wolves are left,” said Gary Wiles, a biologist with the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife. “The pack seemed to more or less break up after the female vanished.”

    Later this year, state officials expect to finish a detailed proposal on how they plan to manage the wolf’s recovery in Washington. There remains another breeding pack in the state’s northeast corner, in Pend Oreille County, and other wolves wander between Washington and British Columbia and Idaho.

    Meanwhile, along the state’s southeast border with Oregon, researchers will be tracking wolves this summer, hoping to find another pack there.

    But while federal agents already have killed two Oregon wolves after they seemed to develop a taste for livestock, actual conflicts in Washington remain rare.

    “We’ve had only one livestock issue, in Stevens County,” Wiles said. “Oregon has had quite a bit of trouble. They’ve had a number of depredations down there.”

    Washington ranchers remain wary.

    It is illegal to kill the federally protected species, but Jack Field, with the Washington Cattlemen’s Association, wants to ensure that ranchers can shoot wolves if they see the canines eating their animals.

    He fears ranchers in that situation will feel compelled to take matters into their own hands, and “if we’re not careful we’re going to make a lot of hardworking folks criminals.”

    Still, the state’s only direct conflict with wolves thus far seems to have come from humans.

    “We’re starting to see that we already have a pretty serious poaching problem,” said Jasmine Minbashian, with the environmental group Conservation Northwest. “It’s just such a tragic story. A few years ago we were filled with so much hope. Now we’re seeing this.”

    The most notorious incident came to light in 2009, when state and federal agents acknowledged they were investigating a father and son near Twisp, Okanogan County, after a FedEx worker discovered a bloody pelt in a package, according to a search-warrant affidavit. The son told investigators that he shot a wolf after it had gotten caught in a barbed-wire fence. It remains unclear whether one wolf died, or two.

    Neither man has been charged with the killing, but both were charged last year in Okanogan County Superior Court with poaching bear and other game, based on information obtained during a search of their computers. The wolf-poaching case is still under investigation.

    Late last month Mike Cenci, deputy chief of law enforcement for the Department of Fish and Wildlife, acknowledged yet another unrelated wolf-poaching case had been under investigation for about 18 months.

    “About a year and a half ago, we received a tip that a wolf had been poached on the east side of the mountains and that the carcass was dumped in eastern Skagit County,” Cenci said. “Part by hard work and part by miracle, officers were able to recover the carcass, which was skinned and had a bullet hole in it.”

    Lab work showed it was an adult gray wolf, but investigators have not yet determined through genetic tests from which pack it came.

    Most problematic for the Lookout Pack itself is the disappearance of the alpha female. She hasn’t been seen since last summer. And she had been wearing a radio collar that would alert biologists if she died.

    “Because it puts out a different signal if the animal is still for some time, there was speculation that something destroyed the radio collar — like a shotgun blast,” Wiles said.

    Without her, the pack’s social structure fractured and the animals appeared to go off on their own.

    “We never had a great handle on how many there were,” said John Rohrer, a biologist with the U.S. Forest Service in Methow Valley. “Now it’s even harder. We’re relying on a couple sightings, which suggests there are two or three animals left traveling together.”

    Minbashian, at least, is looking toward spring, hoping a Lookout wolf has found a new mate and that biologists stumble on newborns.

    “It’s really become a treasure hunt,” she said.

    Source

    Posted in Uncategorized
    Feb 27

    ID: Feds hunting livestock-killing wolves

    Feds hunting livestock-killing wolves

    by Associated Press

    IDAHO FALLS, Idaho — A federal official says authorities are running out of time to find and kill a single wolf or pair of wolves blamed for killing a cow in eastern Idaho.

    Todd Grimm of Idaho Wildlife Services says hunters have been searching since Jan. 21, and have until March 7 when a depredation permit runs out.

    Officials say one cow was killed and another injured during the January attack about seven miles east of Howe.

    Grimm tells the Post Register that tracks disappeared into an area without snow, and officials have since flown over the area several times without spotting wolves.

    Grimm says the wolf or wolves probably live outside the area.

    Near Mackay in central Idaho, Grimm says officials are also hunting a single wolf blamed for killing four calves.

    Source

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    Feb 27

    ID: As debate rages over wolves, Wood River Valley sees less of predators

    Wolves’ lower profile comes only in the wild

    As debate rages over wolves, Wood River Valley sees less of predators

    By Ariel Hansen – Times-News writer

    HAILEY — No species likely raises passions in residents of the West more than wolves. They are ravenous predators, a threat to the ranching way of life, victims of overhunting, a political football, or a biological success story, all depending on the viewer’s perspective.

    What they aren’t, in living rooms, courtrooms and hearing rooms across the region, is ignored. Wolves make headlines and cause arguments. And no one is quite sure what their future will be.

    As lawmakers and scientists negotiate that future, Idahoans’ concerns remain. Ranchers watch for threats to their livestock and livelihoods; hunters fear the predators’ impact on big game herds; and despite the statistics, people are scared that pets, children and backcountry recreationists will fall victim to wolves.

    From delisting to today

    By 2010, the 66 wolves reintroduced to the Intermountain West in the late 1990s had helped spawn a 1,700-wolf population in Idaho, Montana and Wyoming.

    The protected species’ population was biologically recovered by 2002, said Carter Niemeyer, a retired wolf recovery coordinator for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. But it was several more years until the wolves were removed from federal protection in Idaho and Montana — first in 2008, then another attempt in 2009.

    The two states’ plans to manage the predators — including the 2009 legal, public hunt in Idaho — were acceptable to the federal government. Wyoming’s wasn’t, which proved to be problematic.

    Just prior to their delisting, some Idaho wolves drew attention to themselves. Wood River Valley residents began to spot members of the Phantom Hill wolf pack from their back porches.

    Area elk, also lured by human efforts to feed them, drew closer to civilization to escape harsh high-elevation weather in winter 2008. Wolves followed, killing prey in view of some homes.

    This created a “full-on Ringling Bros. effect” in those neighborhoods in March 2008, as Lee Frost, retired Idaho Fish and Game conservation officer, said the following winter.

    However, there were no recorded attacks or direct threats to people or pets, and since the 2009 hunt, area wolves have kept a lower profile.

    “There have been sporadic reports of occasional wolf sightings in the (Wood River) valley, but we had those prior to that month-long episode in 2008 when they were pretty visible,” said Regan Berkley, regional wildlife biologist for the Idaho Department of Fish and Game.

    Some observers have attributed that lower profile to a newfound respect for how dangerous humans can be.

    Meanwhile, environmental group Defenders of Wildlife continued funding a program to compensate ranchers for loss of their livestock to wolf predation; that fund was recently replaced by a federal appropriation.

    Blaine County Commissioner Larry Schoen said he, like other commissioners in counties where wolves are active, continues to hear from constituents about the issue. He supports compensation for predation losses, at least in the short term, as well as provisions that allow for lethal control by wildlife managers and ranchers with threatened livestock.

    “Wolves have a place in a balanced ecosystem, and many people understand that,” Schoen said. “It would be nice if we developed a cultural ethic as recognizing predators a part of our heritage. It would be a significant shift that would ease a lot of the tension around this issue.”

    Legal and political wrangling

    Just months after hunters’ guns went cold from Idaho’s first wolf season, U.S. District Judge Donald Molloy put wolves in Idaho and Wyoming back on the endangered species list — not because the species hadn’t recovered, but because of Wyoming.

    “The fact that Wyoming doesn’t have an approved management plan has been more or less the big sticking point in all of this,” said FWS spokesman Chris Tollefson. The agency had left Wyoming’s wolves under ESA protection while delisting them in Idaho and Montana, but Molloy ruled that such political boundary distinctions couldn’t be made.

    Idaho lawmakers responded in strong opposition to Molloy’s decision. Gov. C.L. “Butch” Otter announced last October that the state would discontinue management of wolves as long as they were considered endangered; wolves in Idaho are currently under federal management.

    “Our position then and now is that we’re not going to continue to spend our limited sportsmen’s dollars on a process that can be turned upside down by a judge,” said Otter spokesman Jon Hanian. “If the courts are going to decide, it takes common sense and science of how we manage these animals.”

    And U.S. Rep. Mike Simpson, R-Idaho, has included provisions in several legislative measures that would put wolves back under state management, effectively bypassing the ESA.

    “It’s basically Congress reclaiming their authority; it was their intent to delist the wolves,” said Simpson spokeswoman Nikki Watts.

    Niemeyer said that while he agrees wolves should be off the endangered species list, Simpson’s path to get there is inadvisable. “It sets a terrible precedent to delist them outside the normal delisting procedures,” he said. He worries that if the ESA is bypassed, slow and cumbersome as it may be, the results could open a Pandora’s box.

    “Reasonable people need to prevail right now, otherwise we’re going to get a political fix that is going to be unacceptable.”

    What’s next for wolves

    Despite legal and political drama, FWS and Idaho lawmakers agree on at least one basic point.

    “Our goal is to make sure that the wolf’s recovery is maintained, and to return management to the states, where we feel it’s most appropriate,” Tollefson said.

    The federal agency may consider contracting wolf management back to the locals, effectively paying IDFG or the Nez Perce Tribe to monitor the species.

    And the animals themselves? Their population is plateauing. In part, this is because of the 2009 public hunt that killed 187 of the allowed 220 wolves. But it’s also because wolves are again finding their niche in a natural environment where they were absent for what, in ecological terms, was the blink of an eye.

    Many Idahoans — self-identified environmentalists or not — have seen the wolves’ return as positive, said Suzanne Stone, Northern Rockies representative for Defenders of Wildlife.

    “We’re lucky not to live in a sterile landscape, but along with the benefits come responsibilities, that they’re wild animals and have to be respected too,” she said.

    But that respect — for wolves as well as for parties on the other side of the political and legal tables — will continue to be hard to achieve with so much emotion involved.

    Source

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