13 Nov 2008, 6:40pm
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Helicopter wolf control helps caribou calves

Survival rate soars after shooters thin a herd’s predators.

By Craig Medred, Anchorage Daily News, November 11th, 2008 [here]

[Humane and science-based culling of] wolves on the Alaska Peninsula appears to have had the desired effect — more caribou got a chance to live, according to biologists with the Alaska Department of Fish and Game.

As ugly and as politically incorrect as the wolf killing might seem to some [such as urbanites who have zero wildlife management experience], they said, the helicopter [culling] that took place earlier this year saved caribou, especially young caribou, from being eaten alive.

Fall surveys of the Southern Alaska Peninsula caribou herd completed in October found an average of 39 calves per 100 cows. That’s a dramatic improvement from fall counts of only 1 calf per 100 cows in 2006 and 2007.

The success of past wolf-control programs, and of some of those still under way elsewhere in the state, has varied significantly, depending on what predators were involved [no facts given to support this statement]. In some cases, bears, eagles and climate have proved to have more influence on calf survival than wolves [no facts given to support this statement, either, especially the climate part].

In this case, however, even some groups staunchly opposed to Alaska wolf-control efforts are conceding the removal of 28 wolves appears to have played a major role in caribou calf survival. …

The southern peninsula caribou has been in a free fall for several years.

Numbering almost 5,000 animals at the start of this decade, the southern herd had shrunk to about 600 caribou by last year. A joint state-federal management plans calls for maintaining a herd of 3,000 to 3,500 animals to provide for local subsistence needs and the general productivity of the ecosystem.

Researchers studying the caribou decline concluded that the range the caribou use in and around the Izembek National Wildlife Refuge has plenty of food, and the few bull caribou shot by hunters prior to a prohibition on all hunting last year weren’t an issue.

What was fueling the decline, researchers said, was the high ratio of predators — bears and wolves — to prey in the area. The predators were killing and eating caribou faster than the animals could reproduce, leaving the population nowhere to go but down.

Caribou populations need 20 to 25 percent of calves to survive each year just to sustain herd size, given significant annual losses to accidents, starvation and predation even in the best of times.

If calf survival falls below that, the herd begins to shrink, and the shrinkage accelerates as the population becomes increasingly dominated by older animals nearing the natural ends of their lives.

In some cases, research indicates, the only way to keep the population from falling to very low numbers and getting trapped in what biologists call a “predator pit” is to reduce the number of predators. … [more]

4 Nov 2008, 1:19pm
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Sarah Palin Exonerated — Cleared of All Troopergate Charges

By LISA DEMER, Anchorage Daily News, November 3rd, 2008 [here]

A new report just released — hours before the polls open on Election Day — exonerates Gov. Sarah Palin in the Troopergate controversy.

The state Personnel Board-sanctioned investigation is the second into whether Palin violated state ethics law in firing her public safety commissioner, and it contradicts the earlier findings by a special counsel hired by the state Legislature.

Both investigations found that Palin was within her rights to fire Public Safety Commissioner Walt Monegan.

But the new report says the Legislature’s investigator was wrong to conclude that Palin abused her power by allowing aides and her husband, Todd, to pressure Monegan and others to dismiss her ex-brother-in-law, Trooper Mike Wooten. Palin was accused of firing Monegan after Wooten stayed on the job.

The Palins have argued that Wooten was a loose cannon who had tasered his stepson, drank beer in his patrol car, and threatened Palin’s father, and that their complaints that he shouldn’t be on the force were justified.

The Troopergate matter became sharply politicized after Palin was announced as Republican presidential candidate John McCain’s running mate in Tuesday’s election.

The report, released at a Monday afternoon press conference at the Hotel Captain Cook, presents the findings and recommendations of Anchorage lawyer Timothy Petumenos, hired as independent counsel for the Personnel Board to examine several complaints against Palin.

Petumenos wrote the Legislature’s special counsel, former state prosecutor Steve Branchflower, used the wrong state law as the basis for his conclusions and also misconstrued the evidence.

His findings and recommendations include:

- There is no cause to believe Palin violated the state ethics law in deciding to dismiss Monegan as public safety commissioner.

- There is no cause to believe Palin violated the state ethics law in connection with Wooten.

- There is no cause to believe any other state official violated the ethics act.

- There’s no basis to conduct a hearing to “address reputational harm,” as requested by Monegan.

- The state needs to address the issue of using private e-mails for government work and to examine how records are kept in the governor’s office. Palin used her Yahoo e-mail account for state business until it was hacked.

31 Oct 2008, 10:58am
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Wildlife agency will seek landowner fee

by Mitch Lies, Capital Press, 10/30/2008 [here]

The Oregon Fish and Wildlife Commission rejected a proposal earlier this month to raise the number of acres a landowner must own to be eligible for the state’s landowner preference program. At the same time, the commission opted to charge program participants for administrative services.

The 26-year-old program gives special hunting privileges to landowners to compensate for losses from deer and elk depredation.

A task force recommended the commission change the minimum acreage in Eastern Oregon from the current 160 acres to 640 acres for antlered animals. The recommendation was not well received by Oregon’s farm and ranch community, and the commission at its October meeting opted to go against the recommendation.

“The wildlife of the state has not been taught to discriminate between the sizes of properties,” the Oregon Farm Bureau submitted in written testimony. “The small-acreage farm, ranch and woodlot have an equal problem with big-game depredation as the larger ones.”

At the same meeting, the commission decided to ask lawmakers permission to charge program participants $30 a year.

The fee would generate $230,000 a year, the department estimated.

“We’ve spending a lot of staff time and sportsmen’s dollars to administer the program for the landowners, and we want them to step up and pay a fee,” said Craig Ely of the ODFW. … [more]

27 Oct 2008, 9:54pm
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Churchill area: Fall aerial survey found a record high number of polar bears

Polar Bear Alley - 10/20/08 entry [here]

Manitoba Conservation does an annual aerial survey from the Churchill area to the Manitoba/Ontario border, roughly the inland range of the polar bears of western Hudson Bay. In late July (the 22nd I believe), they flew the range and counted around 34 bears. Most were still out on the bay feasting on seals. In fact, there were still two little bits of ice floe in southwestern Hudson Bay on August 22nd…! This means that many of the bears stayed out on the ice until mid-August, almost a month later than usual (or at least, earlier than usual for the last decade, but simply similar to the ‘glory days’ of the early eighties).

So, almost all of the bears visiting Churchill are in really good shape (around ten to twelve in buggyland right now). This seems to have translated through the larger population with 266 polar bears being counted on the fall aerial survey in September. This is the largest number of bears recorded in the history of this survey. Isn’t that crazy?!? Life is good for the bears!

Of course, this also leads to the cut in quota for Nunavut’s Inuit. Arviat, an economically challenged traditional Inuit town just north of Churchill (and when I say just north, I mean 250 miles) has had their quota wiped out. From 23 polar bears harvested last year, political pressure (not research) has led the government of Nunavut to cut it to three bears. All three bear ‘tags’ have now been used in self-defence kills (partially because we relocate bears north from Churchill… but that’s another story). So, no commercial hunt, no income, no community pride for Arviat… hmmm…

28 Sep 2008, 11:15am
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Analysis says more salmon coming into Klamath River

The Eureka Reporter, Sep 6 2008 [here]

Recent analysis of the salmon population in the Klamath River by the California Department of Fish and Game may be a positive indicator for the year to come.

In the weeks since Aug. 6, a crew operating six days per week on the lower Klamath has counted 274 adult fall chinook salmon harvested below the state Route 96 bridge in Weitchpec and 76 harvested below the U.S. Route 101 bridge.

The total Klamath basin quota for 2008 is 22,500 fish.

“The adult chinook are starting to come in,” said Sara Borok, associate fisheries biologist with the California Department of Fish and Game, who also runs the Klamath River Project, which has served as the creel census since 1978.

“We have a lot more jack salmon,” Borok said. Jack salmon are fish under 22 inches, while adult salmon extend more than 22 inches.

When there are a lot of jacks, the next year will result in third-year followed by fourth-year salmon, which are harvested, she said.

24 Sep 2008, 1:37pm
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PETA Urges Ben & Jerry’s To Use Human Milk

WNBC.com, September 23, 2008

VERMONT — People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals sent a letter to Ben Cohen and Jerry Greenfield, cofounders of Ben & Jerry’s Homemade Inc., urging them to replace cow’s milk they use in their ice cream products with human breast milk, according to a statement recently released by a PETA spokeswoman.

“PETA’s request comes in the wake of news reports that a Swiss restaurant owner will begin purchasing breast milk from nursing mothers and substituting breast milk for 75 percent of the cow’s milk in the food he serves,” the statement says.

PETA officials say a move to human breast milk would lessen the suffering of dairy cows and their babies on factory farms and benefit human health.

“The fact that human adults consume huge quantities of dairy products made from milk that was meant for a baby cow just doesn’t make sense,” says PETA Executive Vice President Tracy Reiman. “Everyone knows that ‘the breast is best,’ so Ben & Jerry’s could do consumers and cows a big favor by making the switch to breast milk.” … [more]

Senate panel approves federal pay for wolf kills

Great Falls Tribune, September 12, 2008 [here]

Sen. Jon Tester’s staff announced Thursday that two of the Montana senator’s bipartisan bills sailed through a Senate committee.

One of the bills would reimburse ranchers who lose animals to wolves, and the other would help fund groups which work together to protect Montana watersheds and the state’s fishing heritage.

His staff news release said Tester reached across party lines to write both the Gray Wolf Livestock Loss Mitigation Act and the Cooperative Watershed Management Act, which protects Montana’s water and fishing heritage.

Tester teamed up with Sen. John Barrasso, R-Wyo., to pass the Gray Wolf Livestock Loss Mitigation Act. The measure authorizes federal money for state trust funds to prevent livestock losses and reimburse livestock owners whose animals are killed by wolves.

In Montana, the federal money would boost a livestock loss fund which repays Montana ranchers the full market value of killed animals.

“The federal government did a lot of work putting wolves back in Montana,” Tester said. “Now it needs to step up to the plate and reimburse ranchers who can’t afford to lose any of their livestock to wolves.”

Sen. Mike Crapo, R-Idaho, cosponsored Tester’s Cooperative Watershed Management Act. The bill offers federal grants to small groups of people who agree to work with each other to manage their water resources.

Tester said the measure gives people like irrigators, ranchers, anglers, scientists and outdoorsmen an incentive to sit down together and figure out the best way to manage the streams and rivers they depend on.

“The best way to manage a resource as valuable as water is to bring everyone to the table and work together,” Tester said. “This measure will help protect Montana’s water and fishing heritage for generations to come.”

On Thursday, both measures passed the Energy and Natural Resources Committee, on which Tester serves. They will now go to the full Senate for a vote.

1 Sep 2008, 12:05am
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Palin By Comparison

by Hugh Hewitt, Townhall.com, August 31, 2008 [here]

Those who listen to my radio show know that I spend my mornings and some evenings practicing and teaching law. For the 20 years since I left Washington, D.C., I have been a land use and natural resources lawyer, guiding landowners –principally home builders but also churches and commercial developers—through the maze of federal, state and local regulatory permitting that blankets the use of land in the U.S. I have had clients throughout the west, and this has meant appearing hundreds of times before city councils, county boards and regional and state commissions and agencies. It has meant thousands of meetings with elected and appointed local government officials.

I provide this as background to a few comments on Sarah Palin’s decade as a city council member and mayor of a small town, Wasilla, Alaska. Don’t underestimate the enormous benefit this provides the governor in the campaign and beyond as she takes up the duties of a vice president. Local government experience means an immersion in the real problems of real people as well as with a myriad of issues from the details of budgets for road maintenance and police and fire forces, to the land use issues I mentioned above, to parks and recreation and school construction issue issues.

And, of course, snow removal, the bane of many mayors’ lives.

It also means appearing at thousands of the events that define small town life, from the Rotary to the start of the local fund-raising 5K, and the hiring and firing of staff that has to make the traffic lights work and oversee the trash collection.

And mostly it means being able to connect with people who look to the local government to get the big things in small towns right.

Sitting on a dais week after week and listening to public comments and presentations from staff is the least glamorous of all elected offices, but very central to the functioning of the republic. Hundreds of thousands of Americans serve in these all-but-voluntary jobs and do so out of a sense of public spiritedness. Of course there are knuckleheads among the local electeds, and I have encountered many of them.

But by a very large measure these mayors, council members and commissioners are genuine public servants –and they get very smart, very fast about the communities they serve and the real successes and failures that define American life, whether in Wasilla, Alaska or Dearborn, Michigan or Sharon, PA.
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Just the Ticket!

by Julie Kay Smithson, Property Rights Researcher [here], August 31, 2008

Fantasy Dateline: America, November 11, 2011 - President Sarah Louise Heath Palin, sworn in one year ago, after the death of President McCain due to a recurrence of skin cancer, has announced her selection of a running mate for the 2012 Presidential campaign: bowhunter rocker Ted Nugent.

President Palin is the only President in history to:

1. Bring Trig, her Down Syndrome child, to work with her, citing executive privilege and mother’s rights and stating, “No one can love him like I can love him.”

2. Carry her own firearm, eschewing the tradition of Secret Service, saying, “They just delay me on my daily runs and not a one of them can ride a snow machine worth a darn!”

3. Vacation in Alaska to cheer husband Todd, the First Gentleman, as he competes in and wins the Iron Dog snow machine race for the sixth time.

4. Redecorate the White House with an Alaskan flair, including programmed lighting that mimics the long Alaskan nights and short, long days of summer. “‘The Land of the Midnight Sun’ is preferable to the late-night carousing of the denizens of D.C.,” said she. “Decency has returned to D.C.!” The President addresses energy costs by providing fur robes and bedding to all White House residents and mukluks can be seen around the White House grounds during the winter months.

5. Serve state dinners with steamer clams for appetizers, salad made with smoked salmon, Dungeness Crab Bisque, and moose and caribou offered as twin main courses, served with an ice cream scoop each of twice baked Idaho potatoes and wild rice. Dessert is Alaskan blueberry pie. The vegan menu is nutritious, albeit more simple fare: Baked Idaho potatoes with no cheese or butter, wild rice and fresh blueberries (no whipped cream).

Since becoming President, Palin has been compared to the late U.S. Congresswoman, Helen Chenoweth-Hage, a distinction she is humbled by. “Other than the late John Bricker, former Ohio Governor and U.S. Senator, whose Bricker Amendment we finally got passed on September sixth, the anniversary of his birth [in 1893], I could scarce imagine being compared to anyone I’d like better!” President Palin said, describing the tear trickling down her cheek as a “… badge of joy.”

President Palin remains confident that running mate Nugent’s outdoorsmanly activities and patriotic ‘walking the walk,’ coupled with the similar length of their marriages — both would celebrate their 25th wedding anniversaries in the next term of office — will more than offset their few minor differences. Although fifteen years her senior, Nugent respects Palin as an equal in many fields. Todd Palin and Shemane Nugent are perfect first mates for this team that America cries out for to take the White House and not only finish cleaning it up, but keep it cleaned up.

A plethora of American patriots are considering their options, should they be chosen to help this possible American presidency corruption-free: A St. Louis who’s in Nevada, a boy named Sallee, a woman known by many as the heart and soul of the Klamath Basin, a storm-born miracle named Kimmi, a Tarheel named Henson, a Grau from State College, two South Dakota ranchers who’d bring Tubbs of patriotism (but no prairie dogs!) and a Clarkson who’s a daughter and grandmother, and more. The late Alaska Women In Timber founder, Helen Finney, would have jumped at the chance to serve in Sarah Heath Palin’s Cabinet. A Swedish-born naturalized American in Alaska will likely be standing at the ready, should the call come. Palin’s palette of potential appointees is a diverse cross-section of Americans, but all carry the same genetic markers that make them unshakable patriots.

The Vice Presidential duo of Ted and wife Shemane, on equal footing with the Palin’s on most matters, make Washington, D.C. a family vacation destination: to see American History at its finest being made — for the first time in almost 250 years.

6 Aug 2008, 1:59pm
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Cattle ranchers still falling prey to Mexican wolf program

Guest opinion by LAURA SCHNEBERGER, Tucson Citizen, 08.06.2008 [here]

It is long past time to dispense with the party line that constantly dribbles from the Mexican wolf public relations machine.

But since the agency’s own public relations person will not do it, producers must. And 12 years in the program has to count for something as ranchers have been involved longer than any wolf program employees. That qualifies us to answer some questions:

- Are Mexican wolves removed from the wild genetically indispensable and leading to a second extinction in the wild?

No, they are all surplus animals well represented in the captive breeding program. The genetically indispensable animals are housed, bred, fed and well-protected.
Those wolves produce pups to replace any wolf removed from the wild. As long as populations of captive animals exist, wolves won’t be extinct in the wild and the captive population is larger than it has ever been.

Despite claims made in recent media reports, mere suspicions have never been and will never be the cause of removal of a Mexican wolf from the land. There must be three confirmed wolf kills of livestock. Then, and only then, will one wolf in a pack possibly be subjected to removal.

Even with numerous bite sizes on a bovine or equine victim, often only one wolf is assigned the strike, (now called, livestock depredation incident) even when the entire pack is confirmed to have been involved in the attack on the dead animal.

- Is that fair, is it truthful? Does the public know about this manipulation of policy designed to raise the bar to slow wolf removals?

No they don’t know. The PR machine doesn’t tell them. Agency personnel are allowed to manage on a case-by-case, wolf-by-wolf, basis.

- Does manipulation of policy cause more livestock deaths? Yes.

- Has it required more wolf removals? Yes.

- Does it cause damage to human victims who see livestock, working dogs horses and pets killed? Yes.

- Has it caused ranches to go bankrupt? Yes.

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3 Aug 2008, 11:34am
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Wolf Warp

By MIKE SATREN, Coeur d’Alene Press Newspaper 7/31/08

Missoula judge picked by Defenders of Wildlife, co-plaintiffs to decide defining issue in the West

POST FALLS - The mood was somber - and resentful - at the Fish and Game Commission’s public hearing in the conference room at Cabela’s last week, not unlike families of victims who just heard that their loved ones’ serial killer got off on a technicality.

In this case it was the unhindered growth of the “reintroduced” Canadian gray wolf that got off and the technicality - the judge determined - was that there was not enough natural long-term genetic exchange between the three state’s wolf populations to ensure a healthy gene pool far into the future.

“We’re five times over recovery,” said Fish and Game Director Cal Groen. “However, those numbers weren’t discussed, we got into a different discussion in genetics.

“We were deeply, deeply disappointed.”

Even though U.S. District Court Judge Donald Molloy, of Missoula, Mont., acknowledged that Idaho had a good wolf management plan, he decided to grant a preliminary injunction that reinstated Endangered Species Act protections for the gray wolf across all three states on July 18. That effectively stopped Wyoming, Montana and Idaho from holding special hunting seasons for wolves this year.

“It is not a final determination in court,” said Clive Strong, chief of the natural resource division of the Idaho Attorney General’s Office. “The defendant - the U.S. in this case - cannot go forward with delisting until there is a full hearing on the merits.”

By granting the injunction Judge Molloy is indicating that he believes the (final) case will prevail on its merits although he hasn’t seen much of the evidence.

Although wolf populations are five times higher than original agreements for ESA delisting, 12 groups including Defenders of Wildlife, the National Resources Defense Council and the Jackson Hole Conservation Alliance sued the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service for delisting wolves in March primarily using the genetic exchange issue as the reason.

“They picked and chose where they wanted to go to court … I think you might wonder, why Missoula, Montana,” said Commissioner Randall Budge of the Southeast Region. “Most likely because they wanted to be before a particular judge in Missoula.”

The genetic exchange issue picked by Judge Molloy as the primary reason to reinstate ESL status, would not have worked for nine out of 10 judges, Randall surmised.
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25 Jul 2008, 12:59pm
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Wolf pair confirmed in Okanogan County

News Release, WA Dept. Fish and Wildlife, July 23, 2008

OLYMPIA—Two adult animals located and radio-collared last Friday (July 18) in western Okanogan County are wild, gray wolves, genetic tests have confirmed.

One of those animals, an adult male, was later photographed by remote camera in a location where six pups also were photographed.

The finding marks the first documented, resident wolf pack in Washington since the 1930s.

“The re-appearance of a resident wolf pack in Washington is evidence of a functioning ecosystem and good news for those working to preserve the state’s biodiversity,” said WDFW Director Jeff Koenings, Ph.D.

“At the same time, we recognize some residents have concerns about the re-entry of wolves in Washington. This discovery demonstrates the need to continue our efforts to finalize a state wolf conservation and management plan,” Koenings said.

The two wolves, a male and female, were temporarily captured and radio-collared by wolf experts from Idaho Department of Fish and Game and the Nez Perce tribe, assisted by biologists with the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) and U.S. Forest Service. Tissue and hair samples were collected from the two animals and submitted for DNA testing to confirm that the animals were pure wolves.

Preliminary results from additional genetic testing indicate the two wolves likely originated from British Columbia-Alberta populations. More comprehensive testing is currently being conducted to determine more specific information.

Radio tracking collars placed on the wolves allow biologists to monitor the animals’ location and activity.

In a separate effort by Conservation Northwest, a private, non-governmental organization, the radio-collared male wolf was photographed by a remote camera at a location where six pups also were photographed. Conservation Northwest is conducting an on-going, volunteer effort to place remote cameras in various locations in the north Cascades to record wildlife.

The radio-collaring effort followed a July 8 howling survey that brought multiple responses from both adult and juvenile animals, indicating a pack was present in the area. The howling survey was initiated in response to reports of wolf sightings, reports of howling and remote-camera photos of possible wolves.

The gray wolf is federally protected as an endangered species under the Endangered Species Act (ESA). A U.S. District Court judge in Montana last Friday over-turned a recent federal action to remove Rocky Mountain gray wolves from the endangered-species list including in the eastern third of Washington state. The wolves found in the Okanogan are well within the remaining federal protection area, under the previous federal de-listing action. Gray wolves also are protected as a state endangered species throughout Washington.

It is illegal to harm or harass a federally protected endangered species. Killing an animal protected under the ESA is punishable by a fine of up to $100,000, one year in jail, or both.

Any wolf activity in Washington will be handled under existing joint federal-state Wolf Response Guidelines. For the response guidelines and more information on gray wolves visit the WDFW website at http://wdfw.wa.gov/wlm/diversty/soc/gray_wolf/ .

WDFW is working with a citizen group to develop a wolf conservation and management plan in anticipation of wolves re-entering Washington from other states or Canada. The draft plan will be subject to scientific peer review later this year and a 90-day public-review process next year. The final plan will be presented to the Washington Fish and Wildlife Commission for consideration in 2009.

Anyone wishing to report a possible wolf sighting or activity should call the toll-free wolf reporting hotline at 1-888-584-9038. Those with concerns about possible wolf-caused livestock depredation should call the USDA Wildlife Services in Olympia at (360) 753-9884 or the USFWS in Spokane at (509) 891-6839.

Calif. woman attacked by bear expected to recover

By Robert Jablon, AP

A woman mauled by a bear in rural Kern County underwent 10 hours of surgery and was expected to recover, her neighbor said Wednesday.

Allena Hansen, 57, was “lucid, active and probably pretty sore” after undergoing surgery Tuesday for serious cuts to her head and face, said August Dunning, who called her hospital room Tuesday night and spoke to her son. Dunning said he could hear his friend in the background.

“She’s fine. She’s talking,” he told The Associated Press in a telephone interview.

At the family’s request, the hospital would not release the woman’s condition or other information, Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center spokeswoman Roxanne Moster said Wednesday.

Wildlife trackers using dogs hunted the bear on Wednesday. One tracking hound was slightly injured after midnight in what might have been an attack by the animal, Kevin Brennan, a wildlife biologist with the California Department of Fish and Game, said at a news conference in Ontario.

The attack took place in the Piute area, near the little community of Caliente, on scrubland south of Sequoia National Forest about 85 miles north of Los Angles.

The bear was believed to be still in the area because they are “creatures of habit,” Brennan said.

“Right now, there’s a trap set. And we’re just waiting,” Brennan said. “There’s a good chance he’ll come back.”

Capturing the animal could take anywhere from hours to a week, he speculated.

Clothing from the woman was taken for forensic testing to determine if there is fur or other DNA samples from the bear. Brennan said any bear caught in the trap will be killed and its DNA tested to determine if it was the attacker.

Hansen, who has a ranch in the tiny rural community of Twin Oaks, near Caliente, was walking in heavy underbrush on her property Tuesday morning with her dogs when she was attacked, Dunning said.

Her English mastiff may have tried to defend her, Dunning speculated, because it suffered some scratches. An Irish wolfhound was unhurt.

“She had to rely on her dogs and her wits,” Dunning said. “She’s one tough woman.”

Dunning said the attack took place very close to a recent wildfire and speculated that the vast burn area may have pushed the bear into new territory.

“We just had 30,000 acres burn out here and those animals are looking for habitat,” he said.

The bear may have attacked to defend that new territory, he said. … [more]

20 Jul 2008, 12:24pm
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Wildlife biologists kill 14 wolf pups on Alaska Peninsula

Predator Control: Controversial move meant to help caribou.

Anchorage Daily News, July 20th, 2008 [here]

FAIRBANKS — State wildlife biologists killed 14 wolf pups on the Alaska Peninsula as part of a predator control program to help a struggling caribou herd.

Biologists found the 4- to 5-week-old pups when they landed to collect carcasses of adult wolves shot from a helicopter two months ago near Cold Bay, about 600 miles southwest of Anchorage.

Biologists had killed 14 adult wolves, including mothers of the pups.

“As we got on the calving grounds, we took adults, and in the course of taking adults we found there were pups,” said Doug Larsen, director of the state Division of Wildlife Conservation, from Juneau.

“The issue then was do we leave the pups to fend for themselves and starve or do we dispatch them,” Larsen said. “Our feeling was that it was most humane to dispatch them.”

Each pup was shot in the head.

“It’s a quick, humane way to kill them,” said area management biologist Lem Butler of King Salmon.

Larsen justified the pup killings to halt a “precipitous decline” in the Southern Alaska Peninsula Caribou Herd. The herd has declined from an estimated 4,100 animals to 600 in six years, in large part because wolves prey heavily on newborn calves.

“Nobody likes to go out and kill critters, particularly when they’re young,” Larsen said. “But when you have a specific objective and that’s the way to achieve that objective, sometimes you have to do things that you don’t like.”
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18 Jul 2008, 7:46pm
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District judge restores protections for wolves in Northern Rockies ecosystem

By Matthew Brown, Great Falls Tribune, July 18, 2008 [here]

BILLINGS (AP) — A federal judge in Montana has ordered gray wolves in the Northern Rockies be returned to the endangered species list.

U.S. District Judge Donald Molloy granted a preliminary injunction Friday, restoring federal protections for the wolves.

The predator was removed from the endangered species list in March, following a decade-long restoration effort. Environmentalists sued to overturn the decision.

Officials in Montana, Wyoming and Idaho have been moving forward with plans for public hunts. Molloy’s ruling is expected to derail those plans.

The region has an estimated 2,000 wolves, a population that has been soaring and increasingly preying on livestock.

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