12 Mar 2008, 12:55pm
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Idaho wolf management plan approved

If wolves are delisted as expected on March 28, F&G would set hunting seasons in May.

BY ROGER PHILLIPS, Idaho Statesman

Idaho Fish and Game commissioners unanimously approved a five-year management plan for wolves that calls for fall hunts and maintaining anywhere from 512 to 732 wolves throughout the state, but they will wait until May to approve hunting season details.

The commissioners came to those numbers because they want to maintain between the number of wolves counted in 2005 (512) and 2007 (732).

The wolf management plan provides an overview of population goals and outlines ways to meet population objectives but does not set specific seasons or hunting rules.

The plan is the first for the agency, which will assume control of wolves March 28 unless lawsuits stop the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service from removing wolves from Endangered Species Act protection.

F&G Chairman Cam Wheeler of Ririe said he is confident wolves will be delisted and added that developing the management plan was “probably the most emotional and controversial issue to ever face the department.”

Aside from population goals, the plan calls for a long-term viable wolf population with crossover between neighboring states, and at least 15 to 20 breeding pairs.

The plan also calls for a balance between wolf populations and prey populations, mainly elk and deer. This means more wolves could be killed in areas where elk and deer populations aren’t meeting F&G goals. … [more]

11 Mar 2008, 11:31am
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Hunters team up for bear control

One goal is to increase the moose numbers across Cook Inlet

By JAMES HALPIN, The Anchorage Daily News [here]

Apparently for the first time in Alaska, a private hunting group plans to give a state predator control program a big shot in the arm with a concerted effort to help hundreds of hunters indiscriminately, and legally, kill as many black bears as possible in a game unit west of Anchorage.

The Alaska chapter of Sportsmen for Fish and Wildlife, a nonprofit founded here last year, hopes to rotate hunters through about a dozen camps and baiting stations in Game Management Unit 16B, where state biologists estimate there are only about two moose to every black bear.

Ralph Seekins, a founding SFW board member and former state senator, said the group’s mission is “management-for-abundance oriented” rather than pro-predator control. However, predator control often fits within the mission of the group, which is entirely funded by donations and has chapters in about a half-dozen Western states, he said.

“In a lot of situations, when you have a declining or depleted prey population, oftentimes the quickest turnaround is to apply some targeted predator management,” said Corey Rossi, a board member of sister organization Sportsmen for Habitat, which works with SFW. “That doesn’t mean a war on bears any more than it would mean a war on wolves or any other predator.” … [more]

2 Mar 2008, 12:10am
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Wind Farms May Threaten Whooping Cranes

STAFFORD, Kan. (AP) - Whooping cranes have waged a valiant fight against extinction, but federal officials warn of a new potential threat to the endangered birds: wind farms.

Down to about 15 in 1941, the gargantuan birds that migrate each fall from Canada to Texas now number 266, thanks to conservation efforts.

But because wind energy has gained such traction, whooping cranes could again be at risk - either from crashing into the towering wind turbines and transmission lines or because of habitat lost to the wind farms.

“Basically you can overlay the strongest, best areas for wind turbine development with the whooping crane migration corridor,” said Tom Stehn, whooping crane coordinator for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

The service estimates as many as 40,000 turbines will be erected in the U.S. section of the whooping cranes’ 200-mile wide migration corridor.

“Even if they avoid killing the cranes, the wind farms would be taking hundreds of square miles of migration stopover habitat away from the cranes,” Stehn said. … [more]

1 Mar 2008, 11:07pm
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Season set for Montana wolf hunting

By EVE BYRON - Independent Record - 02/21/08 [here]

For the first time ever, Montana has a wolf hunting season.

The season’s commencement is contingent on wolves being taken off of the list of endangered species, which is expected to be announced by the federal government today.

That decision to delist also is expected to be litigated, which could tie up the matter in court, meaning that wolves might not actually be hunted for years.

Still, Wednesday’s decision by the Fish, Wildlife and Parks Commission to set the dates for the 2008 hunting season — Oct. 26 through Dec. 31 — is momentous.

The backcountry hunting season opener of Sept. 15 also will coincide with wolf hunting in those areas.

The 2009 season is similar, although opening day is Oct. 29. The seasons will be revisited in two years as part of the commission’s biannual setting of seasons.

Hunters will not be allowed to use dogs to hunt wolves, bait the animals or use artificial scents or lures.

Aerial spotting and hunting won’t be allowed, along with spotlights and other artificial lights, two-way communications devices, electronic calls or night-vision equipment.

Although trapping wolves was included in the two-season authorization, no permits will be issued. So in effect, trapping wolves won’t be allowed for at least the next two years. … [more]

1 Mar 2008, 11:06pm
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Wolves kill pet dog near Idaho City

BY KATY MOELLER - Idaho Statesman, 02/26/08 [here]

Idaho Fish and Game officials confirmed Monday that wolves fatally mauled a dog last week in a rural Boise County subdivision northwest of Idaho City.

The family pet was a 104-pound German Shepherd mix named Dawg. The attack occurred sometime between 7 and 7:30 a.m. Wednesday near Centerville, and the dog died the next morning.

No one witnessed the attack. It is unclear how many wolves attacked the dog, though tracks in the snow indicate it was probably three or four, said Steve Wilkins, one of Dawg’s owners.

“He was a good neighborhood protector. He turned out everybody who didn’t belong,” said Wilkins, whose family took in the dog when it showed up about four years ago. “But there was more of them than him.”

In 2007, there were eight confirmed killings of dogs by wolves in Idaho, and another six probable killings, said Steve Nadeau, large carnivore manager for Idaho Fish & Game.

“It’s primarily herding or guarding animals or hunting hounds,” Nadeau said. “This is kind of a rarity.”

The federal government recently approved a plan to remove Endangered Species Act protection from wolves in Idaho, Montana, Wyoming and parts of nearby states.

Wolves are territorial, particularly at this time of year, when they are breeding. Garbage left outside will attract the animals as well.

Nadeau said there are four to five wolf packs that live between Boise and Lowman - around 28 to 40 wolves. … [more]

26 Feb 2008, 9:52pm
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Idaho ag hails wolf delisting

by Patricia R. McCoy, Capital Press [here]

The removal of the Rocky Mountain gray wolf from the Endangered Species Act is being hailed by Idaho agricultural interests.

“Wolves have been a major, major fundraiser for the environmentalists over the years. They hate to let it go. They want to keep the issue alive,” said Stan Boyd, executive director of the Idaho Wool Growers Association. “Idaho met the 10 breeding pair standard many, many years ago, and so did our neighboring states. Technically, this delisting could have come three or four years ago.”

Livestock producers recognize the wolf is back and here to stay, Boyd said.

“It’s time for us to start managing it on the state level,” he said. “Those wolves are about half tame right now. They’re not afraid of people. if we start hunting them, they’ll become a lot more elusive and wily.”

Boyd is lobbying for state legislation, Senate Bill 1374, which would officially recognize wolves as predators so producers who lose livestock or domestic animals to them can receive depredation compensation for such losses, he said.

S1374 passed the Idaho Senate by 31-0 with four absent or excused on Feb. 15. It is currently before the House Resources and Conservation Committee, where it will receive another hearing before either being sent to the House floor or held in committee. … [more]

21 Feb 2008, 12:59pm
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Interior Department Removes Northern Rocky Mountain Wolves from Endangered Species List

U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service News Release [here]

The gray wolf population in the Northern Rocky Mountains is thriving and no longer requires the protection of the Endangered Species Act, Deputy Secretary of the Interior Lynn Scarlett announced today. As a result, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service will remove the species from the federal list of threatened and endangered species.

“The wolf population in the Northern Rockies has far exceeded its recovery goal and continues to expand its size and range. States, tribes, conservation groups, federal agencies and citizens of both regions can be proud of their roles in this remarkable conservation success story,” said Scarlett, noting that there are currently more than 1,500 wolves and at least 100 breeding pairs in Montana, Idaho, and Wyoming.

Service-approved state management plans will provide a secure future for the wolf population once Endangered Species Act protections are removed and the states assume full management of wolf populations within their borders. The northern Rocky Mountain DPS includes all of Montana, Idaho and Wyoming, as well as the eastern one-third of Washington and Oregon, and a small part of north-central Utah… [more]

20 Feb 2008, 8:09pm
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How to Handle an Invasive Species? Eat It

By TARAS GRESCOE, NY Times [here]

LATE last year, a flotilla of fluorescent jellyfish covering 10 square miles of ocean was borne by the tide into a small bay on the Irish Sea. These mauve stingers, venomous glow-in-the-dark plankton native to the Mediterranean, slipped through the mesh of aquaculture nets, stinging the 120,000 fish in Northern Ireland’s only salmon farm to death.

Closer to home, the Asian carp, which has been working its way north from the Mississippi Delta since the 1990s, is now on the verge of reaching the Great Lakes. This voracious invader, which weighs up to 100 pounds and eats half its body weight in food in a day, has gained notoriety for vaulting over boats and breaking the arms and noses of recreational anglers. Having outcompeted all native species, it now represents 95 percent of the biomass of fish in the Illinois River and has been sighted within 25 miles of Lake Michigan. The only thing preventing this cold-water-loving species from infesting the Great Lakes, the largest body of fresh water in the world, is an electric barrier on the Chicago Sanitary and Ship Canal…

In the absence of any concrete action by the shipping industry, I would like to make a modest proposal. To save our oceans and lakes from their apparently inexorable slide back to the Archaean Eon — when all that was moving on the face of the waters was primitive cyanobacteria — it is high time we developed a taste for invasive species.

Diners in Asia, where sesame-oil-drenched jellyfish salad has long been considered a delicious, wholesome dish, are way ahead of us…

… Returning from a fact-finding mission to China, a professor from Japan’s National Fisheries University offered up 10 different recipes for preparing Nomura’s jellyfish. “Making them a popular food,” he told a Japanese newspaper, “is the best way to solve the problem.”…

For years now, fisheries scientists have been telling us that, for our own health and the health of the oceans, we need to start eating down the food chain — closer to the level of oysters than tuna. So, next time you’re in the mood for seafood, ask the chef to whip you up a jambalaya (or a fricassee, or a ragout) of rapa whelks and Chinese mitten crabs, or maybe consider blackening up an entirely new species.

Asian carp, Cajun-style, anyone?

Taras Grescoe is the author of the forthcoming “Bottomfeeder: How to Eat Ethically in a World of Vanishing Seafood.”

15 Feb 2008, 4:35pm
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Reader, NDOW expert spar over reasons for declining deer numbers

The two most controversial subjects in the world of hunting in Nevada have got to be deer management and predator control.

Thinking back over my 30-year career with Nevada Department of Wildlife, I can’t recall any subjects that caused more people to call, write or attend Wildlife Commission meetings — and even contact their elected officials on a state and national level.

Most recently, I wrote two columns about why there aren’t more deer-hunting tags available and what NDOW is doing to increase deer numbers in Nevada. I expect that every longtime Nevada deer hunter would be willing to give his or her opinion on what is causing deer numbers to remain relatively low, much lower than record population levels in 1988. But I decided to go to the expert, NDOW big game staff specialist Mike Cox, who thinks the major problem with low deer numbers in many areas of the state is due to the poor condition of their habitat.

This did not set too well with a reader from Fallon, who wrote a lengthy e-mail, saying Cox was “…creating ’smoke and mirrors’ for NDOW.” Based on knowledge he obtained running the “…operational Predatory Animal Control program throughout the state for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Program,” the e-mailer thinks predators are totally responsible for the condition of state deer herds.

“Today, the Nevada landscape is filled up with coyotes, bobcats, and mountain lions with some prowling the alleys of towns and cities. Predators have a ‘free roll’ statewide,” he said… [more]


Ashes and carcasses are the aftermath of failed government policies and environmental lawsuits

by Judy Boyle, Range Magazine, Winter 2008

At over 650,000 acres, the Murphy Complex Fire of last summer was the largest range fire in Idaho’s recorded history. Judy Boyle and Range Magazine tell the story of dead livestock, murderous backburns, idle firefighting crews, unkempt Federal lands, crippling enviro lawsuits, and the incineration of overgrown allotments ungrazed due to those lawsuits.

A thousand square miles of sage grouse habitat was destroyed in the Murphy Fire and 75 of the area’s 102 known sage-grouse leks, or breeding areas, incinerated. Newspapers reported flaming jackrabbits dashing across roads and spreading the fire.

For a heartrending account, please read Wildfire-Ashes and Carcasses [here].

29 Jan 2008, 1:45pm
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Phony Polar Bear Photos Spur Algore, Greenies

How the Environmental Extremists Manipulate the Masses

by Carole “CJ” Williams, January 26, 2008, NewsWithViews.com

Last March, global warming fanatic Al Gore used a picture of two polar bears purportedly stranded on melting ice off the coast of Alaska as a visual aide to support his claim that man-made global warming is doing great harm to Mother Earth. The one he chose, but didn’t offer to pay for right away, turned out to be a photo of a polar bear and her cub out doing what healthy, happy polar bears do on a wave-eroded chunk of ice not all that far from shore in the Beaufort Sea north of Barstow, Alaska.

The picture, wrongly credited to Dan Crosbie, an ice observer specialist for the Canadian Ice Service, was actually taken by Amanda Byrd while she was on a university-related research cruise in August of 2004, a time of year when the fringe of the Arctic ice cap normally melts. Byrd, a marine biology grad student at the time, was gathering zooplankton for a multi-year study of the Arctic Ocean.

Crosbie, who was also on the trip, pilfered the polar bear photo from a shared computer onboard the Canadian icebreaker where Ms. Byrd downloaded her snapshots; he saved it in his personal file. Several months later, Crosbie, who is known as an avid photographer, gave the photo to the Canadian Ice Service, which then allowed Environment Canada to use it as an illustration for an online magazine.

Today that photo, with credit given to photographer Dan Crosbie and the Canadian Ice Service, can be found all over the Internet, generally with the caption “Two polar bears are stranded on a chunk of melting ice”.

It’s a hoax, folks. The bears, which can swim distances of 100 miles and more, weren’t stranded; they were merely taking a break and watching the boat go by when a lady snapped their picture … [more]

28 Jan 2008, 9:14pm
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Feds hold off on decision on whether to kill Discovery Park coyote

The Discovery Park coyote is free to roam for another week or so without fear of being shot or trapped after it touched off a battle among residents, park advocates, city officials and the U.S. Navy.

Ken Gruver, assistant state director of wildlife services for the U.S. Department of Agriculture, said Monday that his agency has agreed to hold off on any action until meeting with Seattle officials, maybe next week.

But Gruver said he is convinced the coyote is a real concern and that something will have to be done soon.

“He is getting real bold. He has killed a cat and injured a dog. He has less fear of humans than we like to see. It is at the point were it becomes a human health issue,” said Gruver.

Last week, the Agriculture Department approved the use of leg traps to catch the coyote. But worries about park visitors accidentally stepping in them, even though the traps were on private property, led to their removal. Over the weekend, Navy officials were talking about shooting the coyote, stirring city officials to action… [more]

25 Jan 2008, 12:55pm
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Radio-collared Gray Wolf Verified in Northeast Oregon

A female gray wolf from Idaho’s Timberline Pack has been positively located in Oregon, using radio signals from her tracking collar. The wolf, a two- to three-year-old female identified as B-300, has been wearing the collar since she was captured northeast of Boise by Idaho biologists in August 2006. She’s now traveling in the Wallowa-Whitman National Forest near the Eagle Cap Wilderness Area, between Medical Springs and Wallowa. Biologists have observed evidence of wolves in this area over the past six months.

Aerial searches for signals from wolf tracking collars, specifically those which have been reported as missing from Idaho, helped the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife locate the wolf. A signal was picked up January 17, but the location of the animal was not confirmed. A ground search the next day turned up tracks which appeared to be of a wolf. Another aerial search January 21 failed to pick up the signal, but on January 23 the signal was picked up and a single wolf was visually identified.

This is the fifth confirmed wolf to have been found in the state. In March 1999, a radio-collared female was captured near John Day and returned to Idaho. In 2000, a collared wolf was found dead along Interstate 84 south of Baker City, and a wolf without a radio collar was found shot between Ukiah and Pendleton. Most recently, a mature female wolf was found dead from a gunshot wound in Union County in July 2007. All four animals were confirmed to have been migrants from Idaho… [more]

25 Jan 2008, 12:53pm
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19 Bald Eagles Die After Eating Fish Waste in Alaska

KODIAK, Alaska — At least 19 bald eagles died Friday after gorging themselves on a truck full of fish waste outside a processing plant.

Fifty or more eagles swarmed into the truck, whose retractable fabric cover was open, after the truck was moved outside the plant, said Brandon Saito, a biologist with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service who coordinated the recovery operation.

The birds became too soiled to fly or clean themselves, and with temperatures in the mid-teens, began to succumb to the cold. Some birds became so weak they sank into the fish slime and were crushed.

The truck’s contents had to be dumped onto the floor of the Ocean Beauty Seafoods plant so the birds could be retrieved. Some tried to scatter, but since they couldn’t fly, wildlife officers soon retrieved them. The eagles were then cleaned with dish soap in tubs of warm water to remove the oily slime and warm them.

The survivors were taken to a heated fish and wildlife warehouse to recover, though some were in critical condition. Saito said they would be released as soon as they were dry and strong enough.

The dead birds will be shipped to a U.S. Department of Interior clearinghouse, where Native American groups could apply to be given the birds or their feathers for ceremonial purposes… [more]

22 Jan 2008, 2:32pm
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Reps. Young and Miller in Dog Fight Over Wolves

Conservative Rep. Don Young of Alaska and liberal California Rep. George Miller are going at it like wolves. Actually, like dogs and wolves. And the question, as Young sees it, comes down to: Who do you love more - dogs or wolves?

Young thinks Miller’s bill to protect wolves from aerial hunting is, well, a sheep in wolves’ clothing. What Miller calls the “Protect America’s Wildlife Act,” Young derides as the “Wolves Are Cute Act.” He says by protecting wolves, Miller’s bill would help predatory wolves continue killing pet dogs and other wildlife across his home state.

The Alaska congressman has been sending shockingly graphic e-mail letters to his colleagues with gory photos of dog carcasses, the victims of killer wolves, similar to the tactics of extreme anti-abortion literature. One of his “Dear Colleague” e-mails sent last month featured a photo too gruesome to share of a Chesapeake Bay retriever named Chesie who Young said was so viciously attacked by wolves that all that was left of her “was a couple chunks of collar sitting on top of three or four pieces of intestine.” (And that’s a dead-on description from the looks of the grotesque photo Young attached of the maimed dog, whose head and face was the only body part still intact.)

“These facts aren’t pretty, but they’re facts,” Young wrote, “and should Rep. Miller’s bill become law, more dogs will meet Chesie’s tragic fate.”

This week, another e-mailed letter from Young features Buddy, the beloved 10-year-old Nova Scotia duck-tolling retriever of one of his constituents who was ripped to shreds by wolves. This time Young spared his colleagues a graphic photo, choosing instead to include this cute picture of Buddy in happier times.

And in his letter Young proposed a solution to resolve the dog vs. wolves conflict: Let’s send Miller to the wolves… [more]

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