Jul 31

WA: Wolf management plan review focus of special commission meeting ….

Wolf management plan review focus of special commission meeting Stevens County home to newest wolf pack in state

Staff report

The state Fish and Wildlife Commission will discuss a proposed wolf management plan during a special meeting Thursday.

The review of the Wolf Conservation and Management Plan prepared by Department of Fish and Wildlife staffers comes after last week’s announcement that a fifth wolf pack has been found in the state.

The plan outlines recovery objectives that would allow the state to eventually remove wolves from protection lists, along with strategies to deal with wolf-livestock and wolf-ungulate conflicts. Wolves are currently on the state’s endangered species list and wolves in Western Washington are on the federal endangered species list.

During Thursday’s meeting, the commission will receive a briefing and take public comment on the plan.

The plan can be found online at wdfw.wa.gov/ conservation/gray_wolf/. The website also contains information on the wolf plan development process, including past public input and the scientific peer review.

The commission has scheduled three more special meetings to discuss the plan and take public comment. Those meetings are tentatively scheduled for Aug. 29 in Ellensburg and Oct. 6 and Nov. 3 in Olympia. The commission is scheduled to take action on the plan during its Dec. 2-3 meeting in Olympia.

The commission will hold its regular meeting on Friday and Saturday.

Among the items on the agenda are setting the 2011-12 migratory waterfowl hunting seasons and changes to cougar hunting regulations.

With waterfowl numbers on par with last year, based on spring habitat assessments, the department has proposed hunting seasons would be similar to last year.

Also at that meeting, the commission is scheduled to take action on proposed changes to cougar hunting regulations in six counties in Eastern Washington.

Because a pilot project authorizing cougar hunting with the aid of dogs was not extended by the Legislature this year, the department is recommending an increase in cougar hunting opportunities without the aid of dogs. That would be done in Klickitat, Chelan, Okanogan, Ferry, Stevens and Pend Oreille counties to continue to meet management objectives in those areas.

wolf meeting

When: Thursday’s meeting will begin at 10 a.m. The regular meeting begins at 8:30 a.m. both days.

Where: All sessions will be held in Room 172 of the Natural Resources Building, 1111 Washington St. S.E., Olympia.

Information: Agendas for both meetings are available at wdfw.wa.gov/ commission/meetings.html. The state’s fifth gray wolf pack has been confirmed in northeast Stevens County.

Earlier this month, state Department of Fish and Wildlife biologists caught, marked with an ear tag and released a 2-month-old wolf pup from the pack. Biologists have since been trying to capture one of the pack’s breeding adult wolves to radio-collar it for monitoring. The effort to document the pack began after local ranchers reported observing three wolf pups and hearing howling in late June.

Other packs have been confirmed in Okanogan, Chelan, Pend Oreille and Kittitas counties.

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Jul 30

NM: Environmentalists renew pressure for trapping ban in Mexican gray wolf recovery area

Environmentalists renew pressure for trapping ban in Mexican gray wolf recovery area

SUSAN MONTOYA BRYAN
Associated Press

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Now that state game officials have cleared the way for furbearer trapping to resume in southwestern New Mexico, environmentalists want the federal government to do more to protect the Mexican gray wolf.

WildEarth Guardians this week asked forest and wildlife officials to reconsider a petition that seeks an end to trapping throughout the wolf’s range in southwestern New Mexico and southeastern Arizona.

The federal government has been trying to reintroduce the animals to the region since 1998.

Supporters of the program contend that trapping presents a threat to wolf recovery.

The Fish and Wildlife Service says that since 2002, there have been 14 incidents involving wolves caught in traps.

Regional spokesman Tom Buckley says the agency plans to monitor the situation now that New Mexico’s ban has been lifted.

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Jul 30

WY: Gov rebuffs wolf pleas

Gov rebuffs wolf pleas

By Kevin Huelsmann, Jackson Hole, Wyoming

In spite of protests from Teton County commissioners, Gov. Matt Mead is moving ahead with a wolf management agreement with federal officials that would allow the unregulated killing of wolves in part of Teton County for several months a year.

In a letter sent to Mead earlier this month, commissioners said allowing the unregulated killing of wolves ignores the values of county residents and could put Teton County’s image and reputation at risk.

Mead, however, has not ceded any ground on the issue.

“It’s too late to include that,” Mead’s spokesman, Renny Mackay, said Friday. “It’s nothing that the governor or [U.S.] Fish and Wildlife Service have ever talked about.”

Mead is “very close” to wrapping up the terms of the deal with federal officials and needed to keep moving to ensure the negotiations end successfully, Mackay said.

Commissioners objected to unregulated killing, or predator status, that would allow wolves to be killed at any time by any means.

“If we don’t get this issue resolved as part of this settlement, I think it will be a terrible stain on the reputation and image of the county,” commissioner Hank Phibbs said Friday.

Phibbs spoke with the governor Thursday and commissioners sent a letter to him earlier this month, both times pushing to have the predator line moved.

Earlier this month, Mead and Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar outlined a pending plan in which wolves would be designated as predators in the county south of Highway 22 for parts of the year. Predator status would allow unregulated killing of the animals.

In the rest of the county, save national parks and refuges where they would be protected, wolves would be considered trophy game and hunted only according to state seasons.

Under the pending plan, the trophy zone would expand south of Highway 22 to the Snake River during winter, allowing wolves to migrate to Idaho without the pressure of predator hunters.

In earlier interviews, the governor said he hoped to wrap up the terms of the deal by the end of July. It would allow Wyoming to gain control of wolves and see them removed from Endangered Species Act protection.

The deal would require 100 wolves in 10 packs living outside Yellowstone National Park.

While Mackay said the governor still is trying to close the deal as soon as possible, he doubted it would be complete by July 31.

Commissioners argue there should not be any deadline. Instead, state and federal officials should not stop working until they come up with the best management plan possible, they say.

“This has been going on for 10 years,” Phibbs said. “There’s no deadline. The date that was chosen is totally arbitrary. My board feels very strongly that we want to get this done right.”

In response to county commissioners’ contention that the line be changed, Mackay said they had their chance to raise their concerns. Staff from the governor’s office met with Teton County representatives in April to solicit their input for the wolf management issue and did not hear any objections related to the predator boundary, Mackay said.

“We did raise concerns then,” Jackson Hole Conservation Alliance Public Lands Director Louise Lasley said.

Lasley added one of the primary concerns of conservation representatives who were at the meeting in April was that a moving boundary would be confusing for everyone involved.

“What the alliance would like to see is the return of this process to Wyoming Game and Fish with standard public input to determine how they are going to reach the numbers that have been determined,” Lasley said.

In addition, county commissioners said the management plan directly conflicts with residents’ highest priorities.

“There have been efforts to establish the future economic base of this community as wildlife,” Phibbs said. “By sending a message that wolves are considered to be varmints, we’re contradicting that pretty fundamentally.”

Others questioned what effect moving the predator boundary would have on wolves in Teton County.

Bob Wharf, director of Sportsmen for Fish and Wildlife, said that wolves moving outside of protected areas are no longer contributing to the recovery effort. Wharf also questioned whether visitors to the area even try to see wolves outside of protected areas such as the national parks.

One factor that should be considered, Wharf said, is what kind of effects hunters have on the local economy and how those contributions would be affected if hunting were limited.

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Jul 29

Two Bear Hounds Killed By Wolves This Week

Two Bear Hounds Killed By Wolves This Week

Incidents occurred in Bayfield County

Gray wolf packs in Bayfield County have killed two dogs in the past week.

On July 23, the U.S. Department of Agriculture – Wildlife Services confirmed that wolves from the Delta Pack in Bayfield County depredated a bear training hound on the Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest in the Town of Delta. The incident killed a three-year-old female redtick.

Last winter, the Delta Pack was comprised of two wolves and had pups this spring. Wolves in the pack are currently using rendezvous sites and are are highly defensive of both pups and rendezvous sites, according to the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources.

The DNR set up a caution area that follows Beck, W. Delta, and Muskie Lake Roads on the west, County H on the north, Pike River Road and Delta Drummond Road to the east, and FR 392 (Reynard Lake and Jann’s Road) on the south. Hunters and dog trainers should be aware of the potential conflict and should be careful within the caution area.

On July 25, USDA-Wildlife Services confirmed that wolves killed a second bear training hound in the Town of Port Wing. This inicident occurred on private lands in Bayfield County and involved a 1 1/2 year old male Australian heeler.

The attack was probably due to the Orienta Pack that consisted of two wolves last winter, says the DNR. Since the depredation occurred on private property no caution area was created.

For more information about living with wolves, visit the DNR website.

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Jul 29

ID: Idaho sets wolf hunting seasons

Idaho sets wolf hunting seasons

By Eric Barker
Lewiston Tribune

SALMON, Idaho — The Idaho Fish and Game Commission adopted a 10-month-long wolf hunting season in the upper Clearwater River basin Thursday and also increased the trapping season beyond what was recommended by Idaho Department of Fish and Game managers.

The commission, meeting in Salmon, lengthened the wolf season in the Lolo and Selway zones three months beyond what was proposed by wildlife biologists. Commissioner Fred Trevey of Lewiston recommended stretching the seasons in the two backcountry zones where biologists have documented wolves are the primary cause of elk mortality.

“We always have the option to truncate that if we need to,” he said.

A wolf hunting proposal from the department recommended the statewide season open Aug. 30 and run through March 31. Commissioners approved those dates in most of the state. But in the two zones in the upper Clearwater basin, the season will run through June 30 so it stays open during the spring black bear hunt.

The department recommended a season without a harvest quota in most of the state, but it did propose them in the Beaverhead and Island Park zones along the Idaho-Montana state line near Yellowstone National Park. The quotas were recommended to promote genetic diversity by ensuring some wolves can migrate between Idaho and the park to mate.

At the request of new commissioner Kenny Anderson of Rigby, who represents the Upper Snake Region, the quota was increased to 10 in the Beaverhead Zone and to 30 in the Island Park Zone.

“I want more for my area; a better hunt and to take out more wolves,” Anderson said.

The trapping season was lengthened by setting the opening date at Nov. 15, instead of Dec. 1, as recommended by the department. Commissioners also reduced the price of nonresident wolf hunting and trapping tags from $186 to $31.75, the same rate nonresidents are charged for mountain lion and black bear tags.

Hunters will be allowed to kill two wolves per year and trappers can take as many as five. Department Director Virgil Moore has said the state will manage the hunt to ensure the wolf population stays well above 150 — the number that could trigger relisting the animals under the Endangered Species Act. There are believed to be about 1,000 wolves in Idaho.

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Jul 29

MA: A story of wolves

A story of wolves

Children, adults meet Denahee, eye-to-eye

By Anne O’Connor, Correspondent

TOWNSEND — It was difficult to tell who was more enthralled by the 125 pound wolf, the children or the adults.

The kids had the best seats. Michael LeBlanc encouraged them to sit on the floor at the front of the room close to Denahee, the wolf.

“He loves kids to death,” the presenter said during the talk at the Townsend Public Library.

Before anyone could see the wolf, who was lurking in his cage, LeBlanc provided some background information.

“Believe it or not, wolves are terrified of humans,” he said. They cannot be housebroken and it is illegal to keep a wolf without special permits ,he said.

Socializing the wolf pups is a long process. He began holding Denahee when the pup was only 5 weeks old. Initially, the babies are scared and shaking and will urinate and defecate in fear. Over the course of weeks, the wolves begin to accept being held and touched by humans.

As he came out of his cage, Denahee was the star of the show. Oohs and aahs echoed across the meeting hall.

Using the animal to illustrate, LeBlanc showed the audience some of the differences between wolves and dogs. Wolves have toes and webbed feet with fur that sheds the snow so they will not get snowballs in their paws like dogs do.

Wolves can grow very large but they are narrower through the shoulders than dogs so they can cut through snow. LeBlanc’s largest wolf was 165 pounds

Their front legs touch when they are relaxed he said and when they “lope” the two rear legs make only one print. The easy gait allows them to run and hunt all day long.

Wolves mature more slowly than dogs. Denahee, at age 5, is just getting his final set of teeth.

LeBlanc continued his presentation as the children and wolf drew closer together.

Feeding the wolves is a big job. The pack will eat an entire animal, bones and all, leaving only the skull and pelt behind.

LeBlanc’s wolves do not hunt. He gets deer and moose from donations of road kill to his sanctuary in Gardner.

Huge turkeys and salmon from the local box store are also staples in the carnivores’ diet.

Soon, the wolf and children were seeing eye to eye. Denahee drew closer to the sitting humans, and let them pat his fur.

LeBlanc kept the wolf on a leash and moved around the front of the crowd so all could get a chance to pat him.

Socializing wolves is a long process. The pups need to be pulled from their dens which are down a 6- to 7-foot incline in the ground, LeBlanc said. A mother wolf once bit his hand while he was pulling her babies from the den.

The cubs try their hardest to stay safe at home. “They lift their little snouts and growl at you,” he explained while pulling the adult’s mouth into a snarl.

It is unlikely anyone will see a roaming wolf in Townsend. There are no wild wolves in this area LeBlanc said. Some wolves and wolf/dog mixes held in captivity might have escaped and bred with coyotes, making a hybrid animal with traits of both parents. Last year he assisted Massachusetts Fish and Wildlife in capturing an 11-month-old wolf hybrid in West Boylston.

The wolf, eradicated by European settlers, is slowly making a comeback. A pack begun with three breeding pairs in the White Mountains of New Hampshire has survived seven years. Canadian wolves are coming across the border and living in northern New England with no human assistance.

LeBlanc’s sanctuary is closely monitored. Federal inspectors come in twice a year to spend a few hours to ensure the facility is up to code.

The program was sponsored by the Friends of the Townsend Public Library.

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Jul 28

ID: Idaho Fish And Game Meeting Draws Crowd Of Wolf Foes

Idaho Fish And Game Meeting Draws Crowd Of Wolf Foes

Jessica Robinson

SALMON, Idaho – The Idaho Fish and Game Commission will vote Thursday on a plan to allow wolf hunting this fall without a cap on the number of wolves being killed in the state. And for the first time in the lower 48, trapping of the gray wolf would also be allowed. Correspondent Jessica Robinson was at a public meeting the Idaho Fish and Game held Wednesday on the proposal.

When the parking lot outside the Fish and Game office in Salmon, Idaho filled up, people started parking on the grass. Inside, members of the public hurled some harsh words against Fish and Game commissioners. Most speakers felt the panel isn’t going far enough to rein in Idaho’s wolf population.

“Open ‘em year round. Hunt ‘em, trap ‘em, run ‘em over,” said Mike Popp, with a group called the Committee for a Safe and Wolf-Free Idaho. “Don’t make a collared wolf illegal to shoot. Shoot ‘em!”

Fish and Game estimates Idaho’s wolf population now tops 1,000. And state wildlife managers don’t expect hunters to make much of a dent in the population this year. Despite the ire the animal raises, the department isn’t selling as many wolf tags as anticipated.

Meanwhile, conservation groups are contesting the way Congress de-listed the wolf this spring. Earlier this week, they made their case before a federal judge in Montana.

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Jul 28

DNR says federal government erred in finding that two wolf species exist

DNR says federal government erred in finding that two wolf species exist

By Lee Bergquist of the Journal Sentinel

Natural Resources Secretary Cathy Stepp wants federal protections removed for the gray wolf, but said Thursday that a proposal by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service that recognized two wolf species would hamstring Wisconsin’s efforts to manage the animal’s burgeoning population.

The Fish and Wildlife Service is expected to issue new regulations this fall that would attempt, for the third time, to remove wolves from the list of species protected by the federal Endangered Species Act.

State officials have applauded this because it would give Wisconsin more authority to control a wolf population that is conservatively estimated to total 782 to 824, figures from a winter survey show.

The population zooms to nearly double that figure in the summer as pups are born. But with a low survival rate and the death of about 25% of adults, the population drops again by winter.

Wisconsin’s management goal for wolves is 350, and as numbers have grown, conflicts have arisen: Depredation of livestock, and more recently, pets in areas where wolf packs live. Adrian Wydeven, wolf biologist with the DNR, said that agency has paid more than $1 million in reimbursements to those who have had livestock and pets killed by wolves since 1985.

During a meeting in Minocqua, Stepp said the DNR is opposed to aspects of the proposed rule that recognized the presence of two distinct species of wolves in the Midwest: The gray wolf, or Canis lupus, the wolf species currently listed under the protection act, and the eastern wolf, or Canis lycaon, which has a historical range that includes portions of eastern Canada and the northeastern United States.

Stepp and others with the DNR said the agency would have great difficulty managing wolf populations, if the gray wolf was de-listed and the eastern wolf was protected because genetic testing has showed that Wisconsin’s wolf is mix of both species.

Tim Andryk, an attorney for the DNR, said the DNR has managed wolves as a single population since 1978. “They are physically indistinguishable,” he said.

Also attending the meeting was Bill Horn, legislative director of the United States Sportsmen’s Alliance. He said the agency’s conclusion that a newly new species exists in the Midwest is a “low hanging curve ball” that opponents will use as in new lawsuit to again challenge the law.

Groups that want to ensure the protection of wolves have said that wolves are still largely absent from their historical range, and the Fish and Wildlife Service should use its authority to protect the newly discovered species.

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Jul 28

State officials fret over federal provision that could halt wolf delisting

State officials fret over federal provision that could halt wolf delisting

RON SEELY

A federal plan to remove the gray wolf from endangered status is likely to fail because of confusion that would be created by a provision that separates wolf populations in Wisconsin and other Upper Great Lakes states into two species, officials with the state Department of Natural Resources warned Thursday.

Cathy Stepp, DNR secretary, and agency experts expressed their concerns during a panel session in Minocqua on Thursday.

Stepp said delisting the wolf is of crucial importance to the state because of a dramatic increase in the number of livestock and pets being killed by wolves in northern Wisconsin. Removing the wolf from the federal endangered species list would give the state more flexibility in killing or controlling problem wolves. Currently, the state has to rely on federal agencies to remove problem animals.

“The DNR completely understands the gravity of the circumstances around the state,” Stepp said. “This is something that is affecting people all across northern Wisconsin. There are livestock depredations and safety concerns.”

But Stepp and others said the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has included a provision in its proposal to delist that would separate wolves in Wisconsin and elsewhere into two species — gray wolves and eastern timber wolves. Adrian Wydeven, a wolf biologist with the DNR, said the state has always classified and managed wolves in the state as gray wolves, a single species. He added that it is nearly impossible to distinguish between the two types of wolves.

The threat to the proposed delisting comes from the possibility that states with recovering wolf populations would have to count the numbers of each species — a near impossibility, according to Wydeven — and that one of the two species could be classified as not being large enough to warrant removal of protection.

Wydeven is skeptical about the presence of two wolf species in the state. “They’re the same kind of wolf we’ve had in the state since 1978,” he added. “They look the same. They occupy the same range. And they’ve always been managed as one species.”

Bill Horn, legislative director of the United States Sportsman’s Alliance, who was also on Thursday’s panel, said separating the wolf population into two species would make it easier for opponents of delisting to sue and stop the process. Three previous efforts to delist have been halted by such lawsuits.

Because of the difficulty distinguishing between the two species, Horn said, opponents could more easily challenge whether a state has actually met population recovery goals for one or the other of the species.

“A lawsuit attacking delisting is likely to succeed,” Horn said. “It’s a hanging curve ball for anti-delisting opponents.”

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Jul 28

WY: Lummis clause preventing wolf lawsuits survives challenge

Lummis clause preventing wolf lawsuits survives challenge

By JEREMY PELZER
Casper Star-Tribune

CHEYENNE, Wyo. — A proposed ban on lawsuits against an impending Wyoming wolf management deal survived a legislative challenge in the U.S. House of Representatives on Wednesday.

House members voted 250-174 to keep a rider in a 2012 Interior appropriations bill that would prevent any litigation against a potentially imminent agreement between Wyoming and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service that would put the state’s roughly 340 wolves under state control.

Earlier this month, Gov. Matt Mead and Interior Secretary Ken Salazar said they hoped to reach an agreement by the end of July that would remove Wyoming wolves from the federal endangered-species list and allow unregulated killing of the animals in all but the northwestern part of the state.

Mead and other state officials have repeatedly said that a congressional “no-litigation” clause is vital to protect any agreement reached from lawsuits by environmental groups and others.

The rider, inserted by U.S. Rep. Cynthia Lummis, R-Wyo., would also put Wyoming wolves directly under state control as soon as a deal is reached.

Lummis’ budget rider was unsuccessfully challenged by an amendment from U.S. Rep. Norman Dicks, D-Wash., as 24 Democrats joined 226 Republicans in voting to keep the language in the bill.

Congressional observers have said that they expect Lummis’ wolf rider to pass the Republican-controlled House of Representatives. However, they’re uncertain how the proposal will fare in the Democratic-controlled Senate.

Salazar also spoke out against Lummis’ rider earlier this month.

In April, Montana’s two U.S. senators successfully passed a budget rider delisting wolves in five other Western states, along with a no-litigation clause.

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