Jul 30

ID: 3 wolves killed in Sawtooth Valley

Animals deemed responsible for calf kills

By GREG MOORE
Express Staff Writer

Three wolves were killed this month by a government trapper due to a depredation incident on a ranch in the Sawtooth Valley, and trapping may continue as the result of additional incidents that have occurred since then.

Todd Grimm, Idaho director for Wildlife Services, an agency of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, said wolves killed a calf on a ranch near Fisher Creek on June 29, and the wolves were killed between July 1 and July 11. He said the first and third wolves killed were caught in traps and the second was shot.

Grimm said the traps were removed Friday for the time being, but may be replaced due to two additional depredation incidents on two other nearby ranches that occurred on July 18 and July 23.

“There’s still an open control action,” he said.

Two of the wolves killed were wearing radio collars installed by the Idaho Department of Fish and Game. Jason Husseman, the department’s Salmon Region biologist, said the department had requested that those wolves be released, and department spokesman Mike Keckler said the department’s general policy is “to keep as many collars out there as possible.”

However, Grimm said the wolves killed near Fisher Creek were deemed too great a threat to livestock to be allowed to go free.

“The traps were set near the depredation sites,” he said. “The wolves were returning to the sites when they were killed.”

Grimm acknowledged that the two wolves were probably too badly injured by the traps to have survived if they had been released. He said Wildlife Services trappers generally check their traps every day, partly to reduce the chance of anyone tampering with them, but acknowledged that there’s always a chance that an animal caught in a foothold trap will sustain serious injuries shortly after it’s caught.

Grimm said the agency always puts up warning signs for hikers and pet owners in areas where trapping is being conducted stating that animal capture devices are in the vicinity.

“We put signs up at all access points,” he said. “If someone goes down a path that’s going to allow them to interact with our traps, they’re going to be warned beforehand.”

Grimm said suspected wolf attacks are confirmed by a necropsy focused on evidence of subcutaneous hemorrhaging and canine-tooth bite marks. He said the existence of hemorrhaging indicates that an animal was killed while it was still alive, rather than scavenged upon. He said the tooth marks of bears and mountain lions have about the same spacing as those of wolves, but bear and lion attacks usually leave claw marks and evidence of damage to different parts of the body.

Grimm said that since wolves were reintroduced into Idaho in 1995, there have been 1,717 incidents of depredation on livestock and domestic animals reported statewide by 318 livestock producers. He said Wildlife Services has confirmed 1,100 of those cases, which involved 2,700 sheep, 538 calves, 86 adult cattle, 70 dogs and eight horses or mules.

He said that since wolves were removed from the endangered species list in May 2011, 325 confirmed depredation incidents have been blamed on wolves, 34 on mountain lions and 20 on bears.

Local pro-wolf activists have advocated that Sawtooth Valley ranchers undertake non-lethal deterrents to better protect their livestock from wolf attacks. Various methods have been used successfully to guard sheep in the Wood River Valley, though ranchers say the more widely dispersed cattle are more difficult to protect.

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Jul 30

AZ: Wildlife managers declare effort to cross-foster Mexican gray wolf pups a success

THE ASSOCIATED PRESS

PHOENIX — Wildlife managers say two Mexican gray wolf pups from an Arizona pack are thriving with their new family in New Mexico.

Biologists in May transplanted a pair of 2-week old pups born in a large litter to another pack of wolves with a smaller litter and more rearing experience.

Wildlife managers have been troubled by the survival rates of wild-born pups. The goal with cross-fostering is to improve the genetic health of the endangered predators as they are reintroduced to the American Southwest.

The technique has worked with red wolves on the East Coast. This marks the first time it has been tried with Mexican gray wolves.

The Arizona Game and Fish Department said this week that a trail camera photo shows that the pups are alive and doing well.

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Jul 29

OR: Workshop on non-lethal wolf management

The East Oregonian

PENDLETON — Local ranchers are invited to learn more about non-lethal wolf management techniques and research at a workshop scheduled for Thursday, Aug. 21, at Blue Mountain Community College in Pendleton.

The workshop — coordinated by Oregon State University Extension Service and the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service — will cover topics including the science and practical applications of non-lethal wolf deterrents to protect livestock.

Presenters with APHIS Wildlife Services will provide an overview of their research into larger, more assertive breeds of guard dogs and their effectiveness warding off predators such as wolves and bears. This project was recently expanded to include three sheep operations in Umatilla County.

Other sessions will focus on wolf damage identification, and the role of county wolf depredation advisory committees in assisting producers with compensation for losses caused by confirmed wolf attacks. Those funds are administered by the Oregon Department of Agriculture through the state Wolf Depredation and Compensation Financial Assistance County Block Grant Program.

The workshop will run from 8:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. in the Science and Technology building, room 200. Space is limited to the first 100 people who register, with a $10 registration fee paid at the door. Lunch will be provided.

For more information or to register, call OSU Extension Service at 541-278-5403.

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Jul 29

ID: Idaho Suspends Wilderness Wolf-killing Plan in Face of Court Challenge

POCATELLO, Idaho— Faced with a legal challenge by conservationists and an imminent hearing before a federal appeals court, the Idaho Department of Fish and Game has abandoned its plan to resume a professional wolf-killing program in the Frank Church-River of No Return Wilderness during the coming winter.

In a sworn statement submitted to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit on July 24, 2014, IDFG Wildlife Bureau Chief Jeff Gould stated that IDFG “will not conduct any agency control actions for wolves within the Frank Church River of No Return Wilderness before November 1, 2015.” IDFG had previously advised the court that the program could resume as early as Dec. 1, 2014.

A professional hunter-trapper hired by IDFG killed nine wolves in the Frank Church Wilderness last winter, and state officials in February announced plans to kill 60 percent of the wolves in the Middle Fork section of the wilderness over a period of several years in an effort to inflate wilderness elk populations for the benefit of commercial outfitters and recreational hunters.

“As we mark the 50th anniversary of the Wilderness Act this September, we are relieved that the Frank Church Wilderness will be managed as a wild place, rather than an elk farm, for at least the coming year,” said Earthjustice attorney Timothy Preso, who is representing conservationists challenging the wilderness wolf-killing program. “Now we must make sure that wilderness values prevail for the long term.”

Earthjustice is representing long-time Idaho conservationist and wilderness advocate Ralph Maughan along with four conservation groups — Defenders of Wildlife, Western Watersheds Project, Wilderness Watch and the Center for Biological Diversity — in the lawsuit challenging the wolf-killing program. The conservationists argue that the U.S. Forest Service, which is charged by Congress with managing and protecting the Frank Church Wilderness, violated the Wilderness Act and other laws by allowing and assisting the state wolf-killing program in the largest forest wilderness in the lower-48 states.

In a separate sworn statement filed with the 9th Circuit on July 24, the Forest Service committed to providing the conservationists with notice by Aug. 5, 2015 of any plans by IDFG to resume professional wolf-killing in the Frank Church Wilderness during the 2015-16 winter, as well as “a final determination by the Forest Service as to whether it concurs with or objects to such plans.”

“IDFG’s announcement now gives the Forest Service the chance to play out its mission — its obligation to protect our irreplaceable Frank Church Wilderness for the American people and for all its wildlife against an effort to turn it into a mere elk farming operation on infertile soil,” said Maughan, a retired Idaho State University professor who was a member of the citizens’ group that drew up the boundaries of the Frank Church Wilderness 35 years ago.

“We are pleased to see this truce in Idaho’s wolf reduction efforts in the Frank Church for a full year,” said Suzanne Stone, Defenders’ regional representative who has worked nearly three decades to restore wolves in Idaho. “The Frank Church is both the largest forested wilderness area and a core habitat for gray wolves in the western United States. Wolves belong here as they have made the ‘Frank’ truly wild again. Ensuring healthy wolf populations here is critical for the recovery of wolves throughout the entire northwestern region.”

“It is hard to imagine a decision more inconsistent with wilderness protection than to allow the hired killing of wolves,” added Travis Bruner, executive director of Western Watersheds Project. “Today, some relief for wild places flows from the news that IDFG will not continue that odious operation this year. Next we will see whether the Forest Service will take action to protect the Frank Church Wilderness from such atrocities in the future.”

“It’s time for the Forest Service to stand with the vast majority of the American people by taking the necessary steps to protect wolves in the Frank Church-River of No Return Wilderness for the long term, not just the next 15 months,” stated George Nickas, executive director of Wilderness Watch. “Wolves are the epitome of wildness. Their protection is key to preserving the area’s wilderness character.”

“We’re glad Idaho’s wolves are rightly getting a reprieve from the state’s ill-conceived predator-killing plan, at least for a year,” said Amy Atwood, senior attorney at the Center for Biological Diversity. “We’re also happy to see the Forest Service agree to be more transparent about any future decision to allow Idaho to kill wolves in the Frank Church.”

Background
The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals had scheduled an Aug. 25, 2014 court hearing to address the conservationists’ request for an injunction to prevent IDFG from resuming its program of professional wolf killing in the Frank Church Wilderness during the coming winter. IDFG commenced the program in December 2013 without public notice but abruptly suspended the program on Jan. 28, 2014 amidst emergency injunction proceedings before the 9th Circuit. Since then, the conservationists have continued to press their case for an injunction before the 9th Circuit, which led to the scheduled Aug. 25 court hearing.

Because IDFG has abandoned the 2014-15 professional wolf-killing program in the wilderness, the conservationists have agreed to forego the scheduled court hearing, but they renewed their call for the Forest Service to fulfill its legal duty to protect the Frank Church Wilderness.

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Jul 28

AZ: Expansion of Wolf Habitat in AZ, NM up for Public Comment

Story by AZPM Staff

The endangered Mexican gray wolf would have a far greater territory to roam under new rules proposed by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

The first proposed expansion since the agency began introducing wolves into the wild nearly a decade ago is open to public comment.

The designated habitat for Mexican wolves under a federal recovery plan is limited to national forest straddling Arizona and New Mexico.

The proposal released this month would expand that territory to the California and Texas borders and from Interstate 40 south to Mexico.

“We need more room, more geographic area for this population to grow,” said Tracy Melbihess, spokesperson for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

Agency officials said the current boundaries allow for little genetic variability among wolves. There are now 83 wolves living in the recovery area, most born in the wild. The public has until Sept. 23 to comment on the new plan.

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Jul 28

MI: Minimum wage, wolf hunt and other proposals bring in millions

By Kathleen Gray
Detroit Free Press
Lansing Bureau

LANSING — The organizations backing ballot proposals to raise the minimum wage to $10.10 per hour and stop wolf hunts in the Upper Peninsula raised more than $1.5 million to try to get their issues on the ballot.

But the petitions gathered by the Raise Michigan effort for the minimum wage, which raised $566,515 and spent most of its money, failed last week when the state Board of Canvassers ruled they fell nearly 4,000 signatures short of the 258,088 required to qualify for the ballot.

Most of the money for that effort — $363,000 — came from the Restaurant Opportunities Center, which was pushing for the $10.10 wage for all hourly workers, including tipped employees such as bartenders and waitresses.

But the People Protecting Michigan Jobs, funded by the Michigan Restaurant Association, was successful in its challenge of the petitions. It kicked in $25,178 to stop the petition drive before it could get on the ballot.

The Keep Michigan Wolves Protected organization has embarked on two petition drives to stop the wolf hunt in three targeted areas of the western Upper Peninsula. Its fight was fueled primarily by the Humane Society’s legislative fund, which kicked in $1,041,375 for the ballot proposals. The group still has $523,952 in available cash for the anti-wolf hunt campaign.

Both ballot proposals could end up being thwarted by the Legislature, however, which has passed two laws enabling the wolf hunt.

A third wolf hunt ballot proposal, sponsored by Citizens for Professional Wildlife Management that supports keeping the wolf hunt, was certified for the ballot last week and is meant to circumvent the second anti-wolf hunt proposal. Various chapters of Safari Club International across the U.S. funded most of that ballot proposal, kicking in $221,800 to gather the signatures needed to get the issue before the Legislature.

The Legislature could take up the proposal when lawmakers come back for one day of session on Aug. 13. If they approve the proposal, it would automatically become law. If they don’t, it would go the general election ballot, making it possible for voters to see three wolf hunt proposals on the November ballot.

The committee to Restore a Part-Time Legislature never turned in any ballot proposal petitions and failed to qualify for the ballot, raising only a total of $55,625, according to campaign finance reports filed last week with the Secretary of State. The biggest contribution — $12,000 — came from Patriots for a Better America, a conservative Super PAC started by Dearborn businessman Gary Leigh. The organization also lists debts of $27,000, including $25,000 from retired engineer Michael Kuras of Spring Lake and $2,000 from Republican National Committeeman Dave Agema.

Other PACs raising big bucks in this election cycle were the Republican Governor’s Association Michigan PAC, $4,681,646; Turnaround Detroit, a superPAC formed last year to support Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan, $3,166,770; the House Republican campaign committee, $2,460,213; the Senate Republican Campaign Committee, $2,123,759; the MI House Democratic Fund, $1,837,991, and the MI Senate Democratic Fund, $839,493.

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Jul 27

Biodiversity: Some progress for Mexican gray wolves?

by Bob Berwyn

Feds propose updates to management of Southwest wolves

By Summit Voice

FRISCO — Rare and beleaguered Mexican gray wolves may get a little more room to roam in the Southwest, as the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service proposes changes to a recovery plan from the species, including new releases of captive-bred wolves to bolster wild populations.

The new releases could happen in new areas of New Mexico and parts of Arizona where there are no wolf packs yet, and the federal agency’s proposed changes would also allow wolves to roam from the Mexican border to Interstate 40, a much broader region than currently permitted.

Only 83 Mexican wolves live in the wilds of the Southwest, including just five breeding pairs. Scientists have shown that inbreeding caused by a lack of wolf releases to the wild, coupled with too many killings and removals of wolves, is causing smaller litter sizes and lower pup-survival rates in the wild population. Expanding wolf releases to New Mexico’s Gila National Forest, in particular, would enable managers to diversify the population through new releases and diminish inbreeding.

But the proposed rule also broadens guidelines allowing ranchers and others to kill Mexican wolves, a persistent problem that has hindered wolf recovery, according to wildlife advocates.

“We’re glad Mexican wolves will be allowed to roam more widely and will be introduced directly into New Mexico,” said the Center’s Michael Robinson. “But increasing the authority to kill wolves is disappointing and will further imperil them.”

In its revised proposed rule on management of the Mexican wolf population, which was reintroduced in 1998, the Fish and Wildlife Service also proposes to grant broad authority to state agencies to kill wolves, including for “unacceptable impacts” to herds of elk, deer or other wild ungulates.

Mexican gray wolves have been managed as a nonessential, experimental population in the Southwest since 1998, with input from  cooperating state, federal and tribal agencies. The designation provides for increased management flexibility for populations that are reintroduced into a designated experimental area within their historical range.

“The Fish and Wildlife Service is more committed than ever to working with diverse partners to promote a successful Mexican wolf program,” USFWS Southwest Regional Director Ben Tuggle said. “Over the last 16 years, we have learned much about managing a wild population of Mexican wolves, and it is clear that the current rule does not provide the clarity or the flexibility needed to effectively manage the experimental population in a working landscape. We need to remedy that so we can continue wolf reintroductions while being responsive to the diverse needs of local communities.”

Specifically, the 1998 regulations limit managers’ ability to achieve the necessary population growth, distribution and recruitment, the agency acknowledged in a release. Expanding the areas within which Mexican wolves can be released and disperse could help keep the gray wolf gene pool refreshed and contribute to a self-sustaining population of Mexican wolves on the landscape.

The proposed changes will be subject to 60 days of public comment, including two public hearings next month in Arizona and New Mexico. The Fish and Wildlife Service must finalize a new rule by Jan. 12, 2015, according to a legal settlement with the Center for Biological Diversity.

“Given the Arizona and New Mexico game commissions’ close ties to the livestock and hunting industries, handing them more discretion to kill Mexican wolves is like handing them loaded guns,” said Robinson. “Their record of aggressive hostility to the presence of wolves doesn’t bode well for these vulnerable animals.”

The federal proposal would also authorize the Fish and Wildlife Service or state agencies to allow ranchers and their agents to kill wolves, even those that may not have attacked domestic animals, on specified private or state-owned lands. As a result the proposal in part privatizes the killing of wolves, thereby restricting public oversight of activities fraught with opportunities for abuses such as killing more wolves than authorized or baiting wolves to their deaths.

Public hearings will be held:

  • Aug. 11, 6 p.m. to 9 p.m., Fort Apache Indian Reservation near Pinetop, Ariz.
  • Aug. 13, 6 p.m. to 9 p.m., Truth or Consequences, N.M.

 Source

Jul 26

NY: Wolf Conservation Center (WCC) invites you to Walk for Wolves on August 13 at Ward Pound Ridge Reservation.

Written by Wolf Conservation Center

The Wolf Conservation Center’s second annual service-learning event, “WCC’s Family Walk to Protect America’s Wild Heritage,” invites children to celebrate the wildlife and wild lands of the largest park in the contiguous United States – New York State’s Adirondack State Park!

The FREE outdoor adventure will lead participants through a circuit of educational workshops about the array of NY’s native wildlife and give opportunities to earn free raffle tickets for exciting prizes. In addition to these experiences, Northeast Wolf Coalition Junior representative Tommy Whiteley will present a keynote address and Wolf Conservation Center Ambassador Wolf Atka will lead all in a group howl. Each child will receive Adirondack Council’s “Wild Characters of the Adirondacks” booklet along with a certificate that acknowledges their participation.

The event will be held three weeks from today on Wednesday, August 13th from 1:00 p.m. to 3:00 p.m. at the Ward Pound Ridge Reservation (Shelter 5) at 6 Reservation Road in Cross River, NY. Reservations are not required, but please let us know if you plan to attend by emailing  maggie@nywolf.org

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Jul 26

MI: Michigan businesses add $2.7M for Proposal 1 push; see who funded wolf hunt, minimum wage drives

By Jonathan Oosting

LANSING, MI — The Michigan business community has spent more than $8.3 million to promote a primary ballot proposal that would phase out personal property taxes for large industrial machinery and small business equipment.

The Michigan Citizens for Strong and Safe Communities ballot committee reported $2.7 million in contributions between April 21 and July 20, according to campaign finance documents filed Friday, building on $5.6 million in earlier donations.

The Michigan Manufacturers Association contributed more than $1 million during the latest reporting period and has now kicked in a total of $2.8 million, making it the largest backer of the proposal, ahead of Ford Motor Company and Dow.

General Motors contributed more than $500,000 for the period, and the Chrysler Corporation added $250,000. All told, Detroit’s “big three” automakers have spent a combined $2.75 million this year to support the ballot proposal.

Alticor, the parent company of Amway, also chipped in $250,000. The Kellogg Corporation contributed $200,000, and several other Michigan companies made smaller donations.

More campaign finance news: Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder has $2 million cash advantage over Democrat Mark Schauer

The ballot committee has reported a total of $6.9 million in expenditures this year, mostly related to advertising, with $5.3 million going to Joe Slade White Communications of New York for media buys and production.

Proposal 1 would allow for the continued phase-out of some personal property taxes, as approved by the Michigan Legislature, but provide replacement revenue for local governments that rely on the tax to provide services, including police and fire.

There is no organized opposition, and the proposal is supported by a broad and bipartisan coalition of officials and organizations, including the Small Business Association of Michigan, the Michigan Municipal League and even AARP Michigan.

MICHIGAN WOLF HUNTING

The fight over Michigan wolf hunting continues to be an expensive one, with committees on both sides of the issue reporting a combined total of more than $2.3 million in contributions since 2013.

Keep Michigan Wolves Protected reported $125,431 in new donations, along with $750,000 worth of goods and services provided by the Humane Society of the United States at no charge, between late April and late July.

All told, the group has pulled in roughly $1.6 million for two separate petition drives designed to ban wolf hunting in Michigan after an inaugural season last year. Both measures are set to appear on the November ballot, but both could be undermined by a subsequent pro-hunt petition drive.

Citizens For Professional Wildlife Management raised close to $300,000 for the period and $763,000 overall as it worked to send initiated legislation to state lawmakers, who could approve the pro-hunt measure next month or allow it to go to the general election ballot for voters to decide.

The committee, funded largely by hunting and conservation groups, has paid more than $500,000 to National Petition Services in Brighton for signature collection this election cycle.

Keep Michigan Wolves Protected ended the reporting period with nearly $524,000 in cash on hand, while Citizens for Professional Wildlife Management has around $49,700 in the bank.

MINIMUM WAGE

A statewide petition drive seeking to raise Michigan’s minimum wage to $10.10 an hour cost backers more than half a million dollars but was kept off the November ballot this week by the Board of State Canvassers, which disqualified several signatures after a debate over duplicates and deadlines.

Raise Michigan reported raising roughly $360,000 for the quarter and $566,500 overall. The labor-affiliated Restaurant Opportunity Center of New York was the largest donor, contributing money to its Royal Oak affiliate.

The committee spent most of its money on signature collection and ended the reporting period with about $11,000 on hand as organizers consider legal options for trying to get the proposal on the statewide ballot.

The Michigan Restaurant Association provided about $22,660 in goods and services — reported as in-kind contributions — to a committee opposing the minimum wage proposal, which would have applied to tipped workers.

Even if it did make the ballot, it’s not clear whether the proposal would have any impact. Michigan lawmakers in May approved a new bill raising the state’s minimum wage from $7.40 to $9.25 per hour by 2018 for general workers, with tipped employees earning 38 percent of that rate.

The legislation, approved in a series of bipartisan votes and signed by Republican Gov. Rick Snyder, repealed the old minimum wage law that the ballot proposal sought to amend.

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Jul 25

NM: Fed proposal gives wolves wider range

By Journal Staff

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service laid out its plan for the future of the endangered Mexican gray wolf on Thursday, which includes allowing the reintroduced wolves to roam a much larger area.

But an environmental group says the plan also makes it too easy for ranchers and state agencies to kill the wolves – a problem the group’s director says has long hindered the recovery effort in New Mexico and Arizona.

“We’re glad Mexican wolves will be allowed to roam more widely and will be introduced directly into New Mexico,” said Michael Robinson with the Silver City-based Center for Biological Diversity. “But increasing the authority to kill wolves is disappointing and will further imperil them.”

c01_jd_25jul_wolves

Fish and Wildlife also released a draft environmental impact statement on its proposed revisions of the rules for managing the Mexican wolf population – which Robinson placed at about 83 wolves, including five breeding pairs.

In 1998, Mexican wolves were released to the wild for the first time in the Blue Range Wolf Recovery Area, which covers part of New Mexico and Arizona.

The public has 60 days to comment on the proposed rules and DEIS, and two public meetings on the proposed rules will be held next month. Those meetings are scheduled for:

  • Aug. 11, 6 to 9 p.m. at Fort Apache Indian Reservation’s Hon-Dah Conference Center, 777 Highway 260, Pinetop, Ariz.; and
  • Aug. 13, 6 to 9 p.m. at the Truth or Consequences Civic Center, 400 W. Fourth Street in T or C.

The comment period will remain open through Sept. 23.

The Fish and Wildlife Service “is more committed than ever to working with diverse partners to promote a successful Mexican wolf program,” the service’s Southwest Regional Director, Ben Tuggle, said in a news release. “Over the last 16 years, we have learned much about managing a wild population of Mexican wolves, and it is clear that the current rule does not provide the clarity or the flexibility needed to effectively manage,” the wolf population.

To learn more about the proposed rule revisions, the draft environmental impact statement or details of the public hearings – and for links to submit comments to the record – visitfws.gov/southwest/es/mexicanwolf.

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