Jun 30

ID: Old quarry, new tactic

Old quarry, new tactic

By NICK ROTUNNO/Staff writer

COEUR d’ALENE – Scattered across North Idaho’s rugged landscape, fleet-footed gray wolves are tough to track down.

Almost two years ago, Idaho Fish and Game conducted the state’s first regulated wolf season, and thousands of hunters carried wolf tags into the woods. But over the course of seven months (September-March), sportsmen in the Panhandle Region legally harvested just 27 wolves.

“Some of the people hunted very, very hard. In some cases over 70 days,” said Regional Wildlife Manager Jim Hayden. “So (shooting a wolf) is obviously a very difficult thing to accomplish. They’re a very wary animal.”

Recently removed from the federal endangered species list, wolves are once again under IDFG management, and the department is planning a wolf hunt this year.

Fish and Game will also propose a wolf trapping season for the fall and winter of 2011-12.

“The time frame on it right now is we’re still putting the pieces together,” Hayden said. “We need additional harvest beyond what we had in 2009.”

In parts of Alaska and Canada, he explained, trapping – in addition to conventional hunting – is an effective tool for controlling wolf populations.

IDFG plans to have a proposal ready by mid-July. Public comments will be accepted online, and an open house will most likely be scheduled. The Fish and Game Commission will set hunting and trapping seasons in late July.

Wildlife biologists are now working on the proposal, Hayden said. Season length, time of year, what type of traps will be allowed and the impact on wildlife are all under consideration.

“We have to take a lot of care in designing something like this,” Hayden said. “There’s a lot of homework being done right now. We want to do as good a job as we can.”

According to the latest IDFG figures, the statewide wolf population is around 1,000 animals. Hayden estimated between 100 and 200 wolves currently roam the Panhandle Region.

Idaho trappers are somewhat few and far between – roughly 800-1,000 throughout the entire state, Hayden said. They take fur-bearing game like beaver, coyote, pine marten and muskrat, using leg-hold traps or snares.

A wolf trapping season, some sporting goods retailers say, would be well-received by Panhandle sportsmen.

“In this area, yes,” said James Bailey, an outfitter at Cabela’s in Post Falls. “I think a lot of the hunters are feeling that anything to help get rid of the wolves is a good thing.”

Cabela’s does not carry trapping equipment, Bailey added.

Going after wolves, whether trapping or hunting, is never easy. To better understand wolves and where they range, IDFG biologists occasionally trap the predators and attach radio collars. The packs can then be tracked and studied.

Fish and Game uses non-lethal scent traps, Hayden said, which do not hurt the animals.

As the biologists traipse through mountainous country, hoping to find and eventually capture their cagey quarry, the going is often rough.

“Sometimes it’s even difficult to observe a pack that you’re confident are in the area,” Hayden said. “Trapping any member of the dog family is very difficult, whether it’s a dog, a coyote or a wolf.”

Brandon Kron, hunting manager at Wholesale Sports in Coeur d’Alene, said he thinks trapping wolves would be very popular in North Idaho.

“Probably the most effective way to get the wolves,” Kron said. “We used to carry a lot of (trapping equipment), and we’re going to be getting more of it in the fall.”

Finding wolves is always a challenge, he added.

“It’s really hard. They’re very elusive. I think trapping them would be a lot more effective (than hunting).”

Now that wolves are finally off the endangered species list, IDFG plans to keep them there. The trapping and hunting seasons will be carefully monitored, and the results will help guide the department’s future decisions.

“The one thing we want to do,” Hayden said, “is maintain a healthy wolf population across the state.”


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Jun 30

SE: The European Commission on a visit in order to inspect wolf hunt

The European Commission on a visit in order to inspect wolf hunt

Roughly translated by TWIN Observer

News P4 Värmland

Next week, representatives from the European Commission to Sweden to discuss the Swedish wolf management. The European Commission has strongly questioned the Swedish licensed hunting of wolves and threatened to take Sweden to court.

One of the organizations that the Commission will speak with the Swedish Hunters Association, where Gunnar Glöersen is the predators resident expert:

“We will report the Hunters Association’s views on how wolf management should look like and the work we have done in the anchoring process for the wolf translocation and answer some questions that the Commission has had in its reasoned opinion, which also Jägareförbundet mentioned,” says Gunnar Glöersen.

The European Commission has been strongly critical of the Swedish way of managing the wolf with the help of licensed hunting but Gunnar Glöersen hopes they will contribute to a better understanding of hunting and the population ceiling of about 210 wolves.

“I think it would be devastating for the Swedish predator management if the EU got into this. There’s a broad consensus in parliament that we should have licensed hunting and that we should have the wolf in Sweden and that one can solve this by genetic enhancement.

Despite the licensed hunting of wolves in the last two winters, the number of wolves in the land much higher now than the parliamentary decision on a maximum 210 wolves. But to increase the number of wolves now, says Gunnar Glöersen is not an option because there is a parliamentary decision about the ceiling will apply to next year when a reassessment should be done.

“If you say one thing, but as soon as the wolf population increases they change their minds and raise the ceiling, so it’s nothing that will facilitate the wolf management or the credibility of the predator policy. In a first step you should stick to the figures that we have promised to abide. Next year a new inquiry be made.


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Jun 30

ID: OR Wolf Bill Eyed in Idaho

OR Wolf Bill Eyed in Idaho

Public News Service – ID

BOISE, Idaho – Those “pro-wolf” and those “anti-wolf” have come to an agreement in Oregon. The “Livestock Compensation and Wolf Co-Existence Act” (HB 3560) headed to the governor’s desk is being called a “first of its kind in the country.”

The legislation is also being held up as an example for Idaho and other wolf states. It includes county-led programs to decide compensation for livestock losses connected to wolves, as well as funding and guidance on how to manage wolves in a non-lethal manner around livestock.

Oregon Cattlemen’s Association representative Bill Hoyt helped negotiate the deal.

“It was apparent to me, as president of the organization, that if we did not figure a way to get along with folks, or figure a way that was livable, we were going to have nothing.”

Hoyt says he really likes the compensation portion because it is decided locally and, in areas of known wolf activity, it allows payments without having to go through the process of proving a wolf kill, which sometimes cannot be done because of decomposition or other factors.

Wolf specialist Suzanne Stone with Defenders of Wildlife also was involved in the negotiations. She says it was important to make sure that everyone’s views were respected, science was followed, and there was local involvement. She wants Idaho to take a close look at the legislation, too.

“The best thing about this is it allows people to sit down face-to-face, talk about the issues and take responsibility for resolving this issue within their state. It brings everybody to the table.”

Stone says many tenets of the legislation are based on a similar law in Mongolia.

Deb Courson Smith, Public News Service – ID


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Jun 30

ID: Idaho to offer looser wolf hunt rules

Idaho to offer looser wolf hunt rules

JOHN MILLER, Associated Press, MATTHEW BROWN, Associated Press

BOISE, Idaho (AP) — Idaho wildlife managers will propose a wolf hunt without quotas in much of the state, but hunters so far have purchased only a fraction of the tags needed to kill the rangy predators, compared with the first hunt in 2009.

Having no limits on how many wolves can be killed in many hunting areas could be alarming for wildlife advocates who fear Idaho will manage wolves back into federal protection. There would still be quotas on parts of the Montana-Idaho border, where Department of Fish and Game managers seek to preserve a corridor where wolves from both states can wander back and forth and breed.

But with only about 3,100 tags sold through Thursday — compared with some 30,000 in 2009 — hunters are likely to fall well short of Idaho Department of Fish and Game’s hopes of keeping predator numbers in check.

“We’re not getting near the response this year in term of tag purchases that we did that first year,” Idaho Fish and Game Deputy Director Jim Unsworth told The Associated Press.

That means officially sanctioned kills, including kills by federal agents, will likely remain the most important tool for wildlife managers.

Idaho and Montana are holding wolf hunts again this year after Congress passed a law delisting them, a move that quashed a U.S. District Court ruling that had kept them among animals protected by the Endangered Species Act.

Montana State Fish, Wildlife and Parks commissioners aim to meet July 14 to adopt a quota of 220 wolves to be killed during fall rifle and archery hunts.

Details of Idaho wildlife managers’ hunt proposal are due next Tuesday, with the Idaho Fish and Game Commission’s approval necessary before a hunt starts, likely in September.

Adoption of season regulations will come at the commissioners’ meeting July 27-28 meeting in Salmon, Idaho.

Hunters killed 72 wolves in Montana in 2009 and 188 in Idaho.

Idaho’s season was extended to March 31, 2010 but hunters still fell short of reaching a 220 wolf quota.

Unsworth said this year, there will be no quotas in areas where wolves have successfully reproduced to the point that Fish and Game agents and local residents blame them for eating too many big game animals like elk and for conflicts with livestock and traditional ranching.

Those areas include the Lolo area in northcentral Idaho, where the agency wants to reduce the 75 to 100 wolves estimated in the Lolo region to just 20 to 30.

With as many as 1,000 wolves or more already in Idaho, Unsworth says there’s little worry the absence of quotas in some areas will result in hunters killing so many wolves that federal U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service officials in charge of managing endangered or threatened species would step in.

“We can always close seasons the next day,” he said. “If we’re getting concerned at all we can close the season. We’re not going to have a target. We are going to reduce them from where we’re at right now.”

However, Suzanne Stone, Northern Rocky Mountains representative of the Defenders of Wildlife in Boise, called the proposal reprehensible. She said wolves are a lightning rod species, even though coyotes kill more livestock and cougars more elk per animal than wolves.

“So, just open season?” Stone said. “They don’t manage any other kinds of wildlife that irresponsibly. I’m shocked to think that’s OK with wolves. This is clearly a political and knee jerk reaction, rather than a biological need.”

In corridors including on the Idaho-Montana border northwest of Yellowstone National Park, Unsworth says establishing quotas will provide reassurances that wolves are able to travel back and forth and successfully breed to exchange the genetic material scientists say is necessary to perpetuate a robust population.


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Jun 30

WA: Point Defiance Zoo welcomes more red wolves

Point Defiance Zoo welcomes more red wolves

By Dave Meyer

The population of the Red Wolf Woods exhibit at the Point Defiance Zoo and Aquarium just tripled in size. A new pair of wolves has arrived from the Fossil Rim Wildlife Center in Glen Rose, Texas.

The wolves, Wilson and Havana, are a non-breeding pair. They’re on display in an area separate from the exhibit’s other resident, Graham.

Red wolves are an endangered species – fewer than 300 remain in zoos and in the wild.

While that number seems small, it’s a vast improvement from 1980 when there were only 14 pure red wolves left. Those wolves were brought to Point Defiance as part of the Species Survival Plan managed by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums. More wolves were born at Point Defiance and distributed to other zoos. Some of the wolves have been introduced back into the wild.

The Zoo lost its previous female red wolf, Ocean Blue, in May. She died unexpectedly from a uterine infection. Zoo officials hope to pair her mate, Graham, with another breeding female. Leaders of the Species Survival Plan will choose Graham’s new mate in July.

The Red Wolf once ranged over much of the eastern United States, from as far north as Pennsylvania and New York to as far west as Texas. You can learn more about them at the Point Defiance Zoo’s Red Wolf Conservation page.


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Jun 30

SE: Wolf pup move goes beyond expectations

Wolf pup move goes beyond expectations

Roughly translated by TWIN Observer

Stockholm / TT

The controversial attempt to strengthen the Swedish wolf population by moving out wolf pups from the zoo is now in full swing. Until now, the puppies only moved between zoos, but the trials have exceeded expectations.

“It’s been very, very good here,” says Roy Thalin, zoo director at Orsa Grönklitt to Sveriges Radio Dalarna.

The results of these tests can become the government’s response to the latest wolf criticism from the European Commission.


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Jun 30

CA: BC Parks cautions visitors about wolf activity

BC Parks cautions visitors about wolf activity

By Julia Prinselaar, Westerly News

With the long weekend approaching, BC Parks staff are advising visitors a wolf advisory remains in effect for Vargas Island Provincial Park, northwest of Tofino.

“We just want to make sure that people are aware prior to going out there, and that they take all the precautions they can,” said Ron Quilter, section head for BC Parks for North Vancouver Island.

One of the most recent encounters was reported June 26. The advisory dates back to May 11, 2011.

Parks staff believes there may be up to six wolves currently on the island, but it is one black wolf that is showing indifferent behaviour to humans, says Quilter.

“This one in particular seems to be approaching campers,” he said.

So far the wolf has not displayed aggressive behaviour toward humans, but its indifference is causing concern. It has reportedly approached campers up to six metres ( 20 feet) away.

The beach areas on Vargas Island, both in and outside of the park, have had wolf sightings.

“We certainly don’t want this wolf to get habituated anymore,” said Quilter. Animals that are habituated to humans can be hazed or relocated, but if the problem repeats itself the animal is often destroyed.

BC Parks advises that campers can do their part to avoid further encounters by doing the following:

Keeping a clean and orderly campsite, cooking and storing food away from their tent and sleeping areas, tying food between trees out of the reach of wildlife, or using the food boxes located on the island.

Animals, especially small dogs, are discouraged from entering the park. If dogs are present, they must be kept on a leash.

Children should be supervised and close to adults at all times.

If a wolf appears and acts unafraid or aggressive, take the following actions as soon as you notice the animal:

Raise your arms and wave them in the air to make yourself appear larger.

When in a group, act in unison to send a clear message to the wolves they are not welcome.

Back away slowly, do not turn your back on the wolf.

Make noise, throw sticks, rocks and sand at the wolf.

Use pepper spray if you have it and know how to safely use it.

To report a sighting, call the toll-free 24 hour Conservation Officer hotline at 1-877-952-7277.



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Jun 29

AZ: Endangered species hit hard by historic Ariz. fire

Endangered species hit hard by historic Ariz. fire

The Associated Press

The largest wildfire in Arizona history left a charred landscape of blackened forest, burned-out vehicle hulks and charred fireplaces as it destroyed more than 30 homes. It also inflicted a serious toll on an ecosystem that’s home to numerous endangered species.

The flames spared three packs of endangered Mexican gray wolves but likely killed at least some threatened Mexican spotted owls as it roared through more than a half-million acres of a pristine forest on the New Mexico border.

Though some spots were untouched or had only undergrowth burn, the effect of the human-caused Wallow fire will last for decades because it burned so hot in many areas that it completely denuded the landscape, forest specialists said.

“The natural fires are good for a healthy forest, but these fires _ where the debris has been allowed to build up and it just hasn’t been addressed _ they come out very hot and just scorch everything. As soon as the monsoon shows up, there’s a potential for a lot of soil to move,” said Tom Buckley, a U.S. Fish and Wildlife spokesman.

Forest managers are warning homeowners in the White Mountains to get flood insurance immediately because summer storms will likely create severe runoff.

It’s part of the steep human cost from the 832-square-mile blaze that continues to churn through thousands of new acres per day in the Apache-Sitgreaves National Forest.

The fire destroyed 32 homes and four rental cabins. The charred skeletons of vacation homes are physical reminders of disrupted lives and bygone memories. For many Arizona desert dwellers, the mountains provided an escape from the heat for generations.

The Wallow fire was 67 percent contained by Thursday night but still slowly growing on the south and southeast flanks.

Two other major fires are burning in the state. The 44-square-mile Monument fire near Sierra Vista, Ariz., has destroyed 57 homes. Authorities lifted an evacuation order for an estimated 200 to 300 homes Thursday, but about 300 remain evacuated. The 348-square-mile Horseshoe Two fire atop southeastern the Chiricahua mountains has destroyed nine homes in the world-renowned bird watching area.

The three wolf packs in the Apache-Sitgreaves all had pups and were in or near their dens when the fire that broke out on May 29 roared through, said Jim Paxon, a spokesman for the Arizona Game and Fish Department. Firefighters on the ground have seen two of the packs moving around with their pups. Radio collars on the three adults in the third pack show they are alive, but the status of their pups remains unknown because they are in an area still too hot for ground crews to enter.

“They’re there, and functioning, and able to persist and take care of their pups,” Paxon said. “We feel very confident that our wolves are out there and they’ve all got pups, and that’s a good thing.”

The Fish and Wildlife Service said Thursday it had not confirmed the pups survived.

The wolves were reintroduced into Arizona and New Mexico beginning in 1998. Managers had hoped to have more than 100 in the wild by 2006, but the count stood at 42 at the beginning of 2010.

The spotted owls are another matter.

Crown fires in overgrown forests have become the greatest cause of unusual losses for the birds, and 73 protected nesting areas were burned in the fire, said Beth Humphrey, Apache-Sitgreaves biologist. There are 145 protested nest sites in the entire 2.1 million acres forest.

Any nestlings or eggs caught in the fire were surely lost, although mortality among adults was likely limited, Humphrey said.

“We don’t know the severity of the impacts of those owl sites,” Buckley said. “Fires don’t burn evenly, so we have a lot of hope that some survived.”

Fish and Wildlife is looking to see if prey for the wolves and owls will return quickly enough to let the animals stay in their regular areas.

The burned forest supports more than a dozen other endangered or threatened species, including snails, frogs and fish. Dozens of other species live in the forest that aren’t rare, including bear, deer, antelope and a herd of elk that, at about 6,000, is among the state’s biggest.

Only two dead elk have been found, Paxon said. A yearling calf had to be euthanized because its hooves were badly burned.

“These ungulates, the elk and the deer and the antelope, they’re a whole lot smarter than people are when it comes to evacuations,” Paxon said.

“When they feel heat, they will move away from heat toward a cooler area, and generally that’s perpendicular to the way the fire’s going. If it’s not a huge fire, they often circle around and come back in. If it is a pretty widespread fire front, they simply get out in front of that and go over the hill into the next drainage.”

The next round of damage will come once summer rains hit. The National Weather Service is warning of major flash floods and debris flows even with a 15-minute-long moderate downpour.

A 23-square-mile fire outside Flagstaff, Ariz., last June led to severe flooding from summer rains that inundated more than 80 homes and led to the drowning death of a 12-year-old girl.

The flooding from the Wallow will kill fish, since it will carry major flows of ash and sediment and clog streams. Decades-long efforts to restore endangered Apache and Gila trout to the streams that flow from the mountain will be hurt.

Already, plans are being made to pull pure Apache trout from streams where it is expected they will die, to preserve the lineage, said Julie Meka Carter, native trout conservation coordinator for the Arizona Game and Fish Department. They could be put in other streams or placed in hatcheries for as long as three years, until the ash and sediment flows subside.

“The forest will be very changed, very, very different,” said Apache-Sitgreaves forest supervisor Chris Knopp.


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Jun 29

MI: What Potential Federal Delisting Of Wolves Means For Michigan

What Potential Federal Delisting Of Wolves Means For Michigan

A team of researchers from Michigan State University, the Michigan Department of Natural Resources and Michigan Technological University are looking into the potential removal of wolves from federal protection under the Endangered Species Act and what that removal means for Michigan’s residents – both people and wolves.

“We’re covering new ground here,” says Michelle Lute, a graduate student in MSU’s Department of Fisheries and Wildlife, whose doctoral work focuses on this issue. “The distribution and abundance of wolves are just the beginning; we would like to understand why people value – or don’t value – wolves and what management strategies they will support.”

The team is supported by a grant from the MDNR to improve the effectiveness of current and future wolf management in Michigan by increasing knowledge and understanding of the social factors influencing support for wolves and wolf management.

“Once wolves are removed from federal protection, it is up to Michigan to manage its own wolf population,” says Meredith Gore, assistant professor in the Department of Fisheries and Wildlife, and adviser to Lute. “Wolves can be considered an endangered species success story and are becoming the ‘poster species’ for delisting. We have a good idea of what current wolf management in Michigan looks like, yet we are trying to understand how people will coexist with wolves under potentially new management scenarios.”

The four-year project will feature surveys, focus groups and media analysis to:

• identify current risk perceptions, values, beliefs, attitudes, social and personal norms, and behaviors among stakeholder groups to help to predict public responses to potential policy changes;

• understand how risk perception and values affect willingness of stakeholder groups to support wolves and wolf management; and

• develop decision-support tools to help managers assess the ability of management strategies to balance stakeholder preferences, minimize wolf-related conflicts, maximize stakeholder benefits from wolves, foster positive interactions with wolves and manage relationships between people and wolves.

Other researchers involved in the project include Michael Nelson, associate professor in MSU’s Department of Fisheries and Wildlife; Pat Lederle, research section supervisor in the MDNR’s Wildlife Division; and John Vucetich, associate professor of animal ecology at MTU.


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Jun 28

WY: Salazar, Ashe to visit Wyoming to talk wolves

Salazar, Ashe to visit Wyoming to talk wolves

MEAD GRUVER, Associated Press

CHEYENNE, Wyo. (AP) — Interior Secretary Ken Salazar is headed to Wyoming to meet with Gov. Matt Mead and others to discuss removing wolves from the endangered species list in the state.

Daniel Ashe, President Barack Obama’s nominee to lead the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, also will visit Wyoming during the trip planned within the next month, Sen. John Barrasso, R-Wyo., announced Tuesday.

Mead’s office and Interior spokeswoman Kate Kelly confirmed the plans.

“Secretary Salazar and Dan Ashe look forward to continuing conversations about developing a sound, science-based wolf management plan for Wyoming that ensures the continuing health of this iconic species,” Kelly said.

Mead said he hoped the meeting results in a concrete and acceptable agreement for Wyoming.

“We’ve all spent too much time, too much money, in litigation and it’s time, considering the wolves have more than recovered in the Rocky Mountain region, to get this issue behind us and get a good deal for Wyoming,” he said.

The federal movement to “aggressively pursue” a resolution to the wolves’ status in Wyoming means Barrasso will lift his hold on Ashe’s nomination.

“I appreciate the secretary’s commitment to resolving this issue quickly,” Barrasso said.

Fish and Wildlife last month removed wolves from Endangered Species Act protection in five Western states — Idaho, Montana, Oregon, Utah and Washington — in response to a rider Western lawmakers inserted into the federal budget bill.

Whether wolves should be federally protected or managed by states and subject to hunting to control their numbers has been tied up in the court system for years. The legislation did an end-run around the courts while drawing new lawsuits from environmentalists.

Montana and Idaho, meanwhile, have begun preparing for wolf hunts this fall.

About 1,650 wolves live in Montana, Idaho, Wyoming, Oregon and Washington. Federal protections remain in place in Wyoming because Fish and Wildlife has not yet accepted the state’s wolf management plan.

That plan would allow wolves to be shot on sight in most of Wyoming outside Yellowstone National Park in the state’s northwestern corner.

Mead said last month he hoped an agreement could be reached this summer to turn wolf management over to Wyoming. He said the state could commit to keeping at least 100 wolves alive outside Yellowstone.


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