27 Feb 2010, 12:09pm
Deer, Elk, Bison Wildlife Agencies Wolves
by admin

Lolo Elk Decline

The Idaho Department of Fish and Game has released the aerial elk counts for the Lolo Wildlife Management Zones 10 and 12 in the Clearwater River watershed in Idaho. The counts along with counts of prior years are graphed below:

Lolo Zone 10 aerial elk counts 1989-2010.

Lolo Zone 12 aerial elk counts 1989-2010.


All aerial elk counts were made in January or February, although not in every year. The data I received did not include any estimates of the uncertainty (statistical error) associated with the counting method.

Total count and counts of cows and calves by year are displayed. The count of cows is particularly important. This is because in ungulates the number of cows, that is the number of females capable of bearing young, are critical to population dynamics. One bull can impregnate many cows, so the number of bulls can vary greatly and not affect the birth rate or population change trends. That is not true for cows, which can bear only one or two calves (twins are rare) per year. On average most cows will have their first calf at 3 years of age. The gestation for elk cows is 250 days, which means calves are generally born in May and June. Calves counted in winter are those which have survived for six to nine months.

Also included in the graphs are linear trend lines for the cow count. In Zone 10 the number of cows has declined from 7,692 in 1989 to 824 in 2010, or 89 percent. In Zone 12 the number of cows has declined from 3,059 in 1986 to 534 in 2010, or 83 percent.

In Zone 10 the number of calves has declined from 2,298 in 1989 to 144 in 2010, or 94 percent. In Zone 12 the number of calves has declined from 856 in 1985 to 38 in 2010, or 96 percent.

Clearly, the elk populations have crashed in these zones.

The reason is not a lack of fecundity: calf/cow ratios have varied from 6 per 100 to 30 per 100 and were reported to be 17 per 100 in Zone 10 and 7 per 100 in Zone 12 in 2010. A calf/cow ratio of 15-20 per 100 is considered to be sufficient to replace the population under normal circumstances, and no trend in calf/cow ratio was detected over the counting period. As recently as 2006 the calf/cow ratios were 29 per 100 in Zone 10 and 20 per 100 in Zone 12.

The reason for the elk population crash is not hunting. All the animals taken are bulls, and that does not affect population dynamics as explained above. Furthermore, Lolo zone elk harvest has also decline precipitously, from over 1,500 in 1989 to less than 150 in 2008 in Zone 10 and from nearly 600 in 1992 to less than 100 in 2008 in Zone 12. I do not have the exact harvest numbers at this time.

The principal reason for the crashing elk populations is undoubtedly the introduction of wolves in 1995, and the subsequent explosion of the wolf population.

Wildlife and People has reported on the wolf problem in the Lolo Wildlife Management zones many times [here, here, here, here, here]. These are just the posts that mention wolves in the Lolo zones. The posts regarding wolves and elk in the Northern Rockies are too numerous to list.

Upcoming IDFG Meetings

The IDFG is holding public meetings next week from 5 to 7 p.m. at the IDFG Clearwater Regional Office in Lewiston on Tuesday and at the Clearwater Hatchery in Orofino on Wednesday. I invite you to print out the graphs above and present them, and ask the IDFG experts why they think the Lolo elk populations have crashed.

26 Feb 2010, 7:47pm
Deer, Elk, Bison Wolves
by admin
1 comment

Elk Foundation Calls Out Motives of Wolf Groups

Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation, February 26, 2010 [here]

MISSOULA, Mont. — In letters to legislators and newspapers across the West, the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation is calling out groups like Defenders of Wildlife, Western Wildlife Conservancy and others for their disingenuous use of data on wolves and elk.

The RMEF action was prompted by each group’s recent op-ed articles in the media, as well as testimony before Utah lawmakers by Western Wildlife Conservancy Executive Director Kirk Robinson. All cited RMEF statistics to argue that restored wolf populations have somehow translated to growing elk herds in the northern Rockies.

“The theory that wolves haven’t had a significant adverse impact on some elk populations is not accurate. We’ve become all too familiar with these groups’ tactic of cherry-picking select pieces of information to support their own agenda, even when it is misleading,” said David Allen, RMEF president and CEO. “We will not allow that claim to go unchallenged.”

RMEF population data, which come from state wildlife agencies, show that elk populations are expanding the most in areas of the northern Rockies where wolves are not present. However, where elk share habitat with wolves, such as the greater Yellowstone area, some elk populations are declining fast. In fact, since the mid-1990s introduction of gray wolves, the northern Yellowstone elk herd has dropped from about 17,000 to 7,100 animals—a 58 percent decline. Other localities in Idaho, Montana and Wyoming also are documenting precipitous downward trends.

Additionally, some research shows that elk remaining in areas of concentrated wolf populations are suffering nutrition loss, lower body weights and decreasing birth rates.

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No Balancing of Hardship in ESA Cases

Note: the following article is from Ag Alert, a news service of the California Farm Bureau Federation. The article quotes a U.S. District Court judge from a speech he gave at a water conference. The judge says, in so many words, that there is no such thing as justice in the Endangered Species Act. The Constitution, including the Bill of Rights, has been discarded, and there is nothing the judiciary can do about it.

Judge says water problems won’t be solved in court

By Steve Adler, Associate Editor, Ag Alert, February 24, 2010 [here]

His rulings play a crucial role in determining the operation of federal and state water projects in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta, but Judge Oliver Wanger said last week that court rulings aren’t to blame for drastic reductions in water deliveries.

Wanger, a U.S. District Court judge for the Eastern District of California, gave the keynote address during the annual Madera County Farm Bureau Water Conference.

He has been instrumental in several recent court cases relating to Central Valley Project and State Water Project water deliveries that have been severely restricted by the Endangered Species Act and other federal laws. Most of those cases revolve around protected species such as the threatened delta smelt, as well as threatened and endangered species of salmon, steelhead, sturgeon and even killer whales — “because they feed on salmon,” Wanger said.

Wanger let it be known at the beginning of his talk that he was speaking as “a private citizen and not on behalf of the United States District Court where I serve,” and that his views were not intended to be a comment on any pending cases.

“I am going to touch on subjects that relate to these cases, but I am going to try to not comment on the cases themselves, because we have issues which have been submitted for a decision, or will be very soon,” he said.

The Fresno-based federal judge said he finds it remarkable that there is, what he called, so little accurate information about how the California “water wars” were created and whether there are any solutions to the dilemma.

“I will start by saying one thing: The one place where there can be no solution is in the courts. That is where these cases are, at present, but there is no question that the courts don’t have resources, the courts don’t have expertise, the courts don’t have political authority or executive authority to do anything to solve the issues that are presented,” he said.

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22 Feb 2010, 8:50pm
Deer, Elk, Bison Homo sapiens Wolves
by admin

Echinococcosis Fact Sheet

Michigan DNRE

Echinococcosis (Cystic Hydatid Disease) [here]


Echinococcosis (Cystic Hydatid Disease) is the result of an infection with the larval or adult form of the tapeworm Echinococcus granulosus (E. granulosus) and occurs in humans, wildlife species, and livestock. The adult form of the parasite is present in canids, the larval form in wild cervids, livestock, and humans. The disease is potentially dangerous for humans.

There are two biologically and ecologically distinct forms of E. granulosus in North America: a northern biotype found in the holarctic tundra and boreal forests that is an indigenous sylvatic or wild form that parasitizes free-ranging wolves, bison, and cervids (moose, elk, deer, and caribou); and a southern European biotype that is a pastoral or domestic form that is generally found in domestic ungulates and dogs, but in areas may involve wild canids and other carnivores, wild ungulates, macropodial marsupials, and rarely lagomorphs. The domestic form was spread as Europeans migrated throughout the world with their livestock.


Echinococcosis (Cystic Hydatid Disease) is an emerging disease found in many parts of the world. There are at least nine strains of E. granulosus that have adapted to different hosts and in most cases occupy a wide geographical area. There are pastoral and sylvatic forms of the disease affecting domestic and wild animals, respectively. The pastoral form has been reported in sheep and dogs from the Mediterranean region, South America, Africa, the Middle East, Russia, Central Asia, Mongolia, China, and Oceania. A horse and dog cycle has been reported from Belgium, Ireland, Italy, Switzerland, the United Kingdom, Australia, and possibly the United States (Maryland). A cattle and dog cycle has been reported in Belgium, Germany, South Africa, and Switzerland; a swine and dog cycle has been reported in Poland; a reindeer and dog cycle has been reported in the subarctic regions of Finland, Norway, Sweden, and Alaska; and a camel and dog cycle has been reported in Iran. In Australia the pastoral form has spilled over into wildlife and has been reported in kangaroos, wallabies, wombats, feral dogs, dingoes, and foxes. The sylvatic form has been reported in sheep, jackals, hyenas, warthogs, bushpigs, zebra, buffalo, wildebeest, and lions in Africa and moose, elk, caribou, white-tailed deer, wolf, coyote, and feral dogs in North America and Eurasia.

In the Upper Peninsula of Michigan a deer and coyote and a moose and wolf cycle has been observed.


In North America the life cycle of E. granulosus requires two hosts; a definitive carnivore (wolf, coyote, or dog) and an intermediate herbivore (moose, elk, deer, caribou). Humans are a dead-end intermediate host.

The adult tapeworm is very small, usually consisting of only three proglottids and measuring 3 to 6 mm in total length and residing in the small intestine. The eggs of the tapeworm are voided via gravid (mature) segments of the tapeworm in the fecal material of the definitive host. The eggs can survive at least a year in the environment as they are highly resistant to environmental stress. The eggs are vulnerable to high temperatures and desiccation however, dying in two hours under these conditions. Egg survival time is increased in damp and cool (the eggs can survive freezing) conditions (for example near watering holes). Once passed in the feces the eggs can be transported by the wind, water, and insects (flies). Egg shedding in the definitive host may be cyclical and each worm can produce by sexual means up to 1000 eggs every 10 days for up to 2 years. Each egg contains an embryo or onchosphere that serves as the infective stage. When the eggs are voided from the canid definitive host they contaminate vegetation and are accidentally ingested by the cervid intermediate host. Humans can be infected by ingestion of eggs acquired from contaminated food or water, from handling live canids or pelts from dead canids, or by handling canid fecal material.

In the cervid intermediate host, the eggs hatch and release tiny hooked embryos (oncospheres or larvae) once they reach the small intestine. The embryo burrows through the wall of the intestine and enters the bloodstream, eventually lodging in an organ (liver, lungs, kidneys, brain, or bone marrow) with the lungs being the most common site. In humans the egg hatches in the duodenum, the hooked embryo penetrates the intestinal wall and is carried via the bloodstream to various organs (liver, lungs, brain, skeletal muscle, and eye) with the liver being the most common site.

In the intermediate host, once the larvae reach the organ of choice they form a metacestode or hydatid cyst. This larval cyst is unilocular, subspherical in shape and fluid-filled, lined with an inner germinal membrane that produces brood capsules. On the inner wall of the brood capsules, an asexual budding process which enhances infectivity and compensates for low sexual egg production occurs that produces thousands of larval tapeworms or protoscolices. The cysts are thick walled, fluid-filled, and range in size from 2 to 30 cm in diameter. Development of these cysts is slow as the parasite is adapted to the long-lived intermediate hosts with protoscolices developing in 1 to 2 years.

The canid definitive host is infected by eating the intermediate host organ that contains the hydatid cyst which contains the protoscolices which has the ability to grow into an adult worm. One small cyst may contain hundreds of protoscolices and one large cyst may contain tens of thousands of protoscolices. Following ingestion, the protoscolices develop into adult tapeworms which eventually produce eggs to complete the life cycle.


Infections with the adult stage of E. granulosus are generally asymptomatic and non-pathogenic to the canid host. Infections with the larval stage of E. granulosus can be pathogenic depending on the localization, size of the cyst, and intensity of the infection in the cervid or human intermediate host. Most hydatid cysts reside in the lung parenchyma but they are also found in the liver parenchyma, just below the capsule. Displacement of lung or liver tissue and fibrosis of the area surrounding the cyst, as well as pressure placed on organs as a result of the hydatid cyst(s) increasing in size during the life of the intermediate host, results in pathological tissue changes. Occasionally larvae localize in kidney, spleen, or brain tissue where their effects are more severe and often fatal. In cervids the hydatid cysts usually develop in the lungs where they are often superficial and may protrude into the pleural cavity. In humans the hydatid cysts are large with numerous protoscolices with the cysts varying in size from 2 to 35 cm (1 to 14 inches) in diameter. Usually humans are a dead end in the life cycle of this parasite but Cystic Hydatid Disease in humans remains a serious problem in humans because the disease can cause extensive pathological damage.


Diagnosis of E. granulosus in the definitive host is accomplished by demonstrating the presence of adult cestodes (usually less than 6 mm long and possessing 2 to 6 proglottids) in the feces or in the upper one-third of the small intestine and identifying them using morphological characteristics (position of the genital pore, the uterus or the testes). Enzyme Linked Immunosorbent Assay (ELISA) tests for detecting coproantigens in the feces of canids can be used to test for E. granulosus. Coproantigens can be detected shortly after infection and prior to the release of eggs by the adult tapeworms. Serological testing can also be performed to determine the presence of oncosphere, cyst fluid, and/or protoscolex antibodies in the serum. This test however does not distinguish between current and previous infections and cross reactivity between Echinococcus sp. and Taenia sp.

Diagnosis of E. granulosus in the intermediate host is accomplished through necropsy examination of the animal and identifying the larval cyst in the organs, usually the liver or the lungs. Formalin fixed tissue positive on periodic-acid-Schiff (PAS) staining demonstrates a positive acellular laminated layer with or without an internal cellular nucleated germinal membrane (a specific characteristic of the metacestodes of Echinococcus sp.).

Diagnosis of E. granulosus in humans is accomplished through an ELISA test which uses an antigen preparation (hydatid fluid) which detects antibodies. Serological testing can also be performed to determine the presence of oncosphere, cyst fluid, and/or protoscolex antibodies in the serum. The presence of hydatid cysts can be determined on autopsy examination.


Treatment in definitive hosts can be accomplished by giving canids Praziquantel or Arecoline. Arecoline is a parasympathetic agent and increases the tonus and the mobility of smooth muscle resulting in the purgation of E. granulosus adults from the intestinal tract and passing them from the body in the mucus that follows the formed fecal material. The drug works by paralyzing the tapeworm, resulting in its relaxing its hold on the intestinal wall. Dosage with Arecoline is 1 tablet/10 kg. body weight but pregnant bitches and animals with cardiac abnormalities should not be treated.

Treatment of cervid intermediate hosts is unnecessary as this parasite causes limited pathological damage and is not a significant mortality factor.

Treatment of human intermediate hosts consists of removal of the hydatid cyst(s). Removal of the cyst(s) is recommended for pastoral infections but cysts of sylvatic origin may allow for a more conservative treatment. If surgery is performed to remove the cyst(s), a course of drugs (the drug of choice is Albendazole) is prescribed to kill any remaining tapeworm larvae that might still be in the body. The disease may not always be cured by surgery.


Control of the parasite in wild canids is not feasible. Control in domestic canids can be accomplished by preventing the availability of hydatid-infected offal (do not feed dogs carcasses or allow them to scavenge) and a regular worming regiment with Praziquantel or Arecoline. A vaccine has not been developed for canids

Control of the parasite in livestock is possible through the use of a vaccine that has been developed utilizing a protein contained within the parasite’s egg. The vaccine has not been successful in cervids

Prevention of E. granulosus in humans can be accomplished primarily through education and proper hygiene. Eggs can be ingested either from handling a canid (either alive or dead) that may have eggs on its fur or by handling canid fecal material. Examination procedures of either animals or fecal material poses a risk of infection and potentially fatal disease to humans but this can be minimized by appropriate safety measures. Laboratory materials should be frozen at -80 degrees C for 48 hours. A disposable face mask, gloves, and coveralls should be worn whenever handling animals or fecal material. Contaminated material must be destroyed by heat as chemical disinfection is not reliable.

There are no precautions that need to be taken when handling tissue of the intermediate hosts as the lung cysts are not infective to humans.


Though common in both its definitive and intermediate hosts, the low virulence of E. granulosus in natural hosts reduces its potential as an important limiting factor on the population. E. granulosus is not a significant parasite in the definitive canid host. The cervid intermediate hosts are usually unaffected by an infection with E. granulosus but heavily infected animals may have reduced stamina and be predisposed to predation. Meat from infected cervids is suitable for human consumption but tissues or organs containing the cysts should not be eaten.

Cystic Hydatid Disease in humans can be a significant disease because of the mechanical and toxic effects of the cyst(s). The tremendous reproductive potential of the tapeworm as well as the sheer size of the hydatid cyst(s) can cause problems in the organs where they are lodged. If the cyst(s) bursts, the resultant toxic (anaphylactic) shock would probably be fatal. In Alaska and Canada most infections are benign, indicating humans are probably a less suitable host for the sylvatic form of E. granulosus than for the pastoral form.

22 Feb 2010, 4:04pm
Homo sapiens Wolves
by admin
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Maine Residents Are Told To Learn To Live With Coyotes

by Tom Remington, Black Bear Blog, February 22, 2010 [here]

As citizens gathered in Otisfield, Maine, a small, quiet Western Maine community, authorities handled concerns from the town’s residents about as well as one might expect these days. They were told coyotes don’t bother people, that rabbit populations were low and that it was mating season. Combine that with the ever present blame that it’s the people’s fault for… for… for… well, living, and what did the people learn?

Here’s some short quips on what people were told:

“they can learn to coexist with the varmints.”

“Eradication of coyotes in Maine is impossible”

“keep the animal wild and to support the protection of coyotes”

“not feed coyotes”

“coyotes going after large animals was very unusual”

“there is little game wardens can do”

“I don’t believe there’s anything else we can do. It’s up to you folk,”

“safe to go out into the woods, despite the coyote population.”

“You don’t have to worry about coyotes chasing you out of the woods for a meal. It’s just not going to happen.”

Oh, my! Residents deserve to be told something better than that. The coyotes that are prevalent in Maine are larger than what most people picture in their minds when they think of coyotes. The cartoon Roadrunner comes to mind. The reason for that is that it has been readily established that Maine coyotes have wolf genes in them. The wolf gene doesn’t just add size to the animal. It creates in them a different killing instinct and thus Maine’s coyotes are readily taking on larger animals, i.e. deer, horses and cows.

Telling people to “keep the animal wild” is really kind of a silly notion that by not feeding, having pets outside, growing livestock, putting up bird feeders and doing what most Mainers do in the course of their lives will somehow keep a coyote “wild”. I’m not even sure what that means. A coyote is driven by instinct and the forces of nature. If a coyote gets hungry it goes and searches for food. Not unlike the couch potato watching a football game, when he heads to the kitchen looking for food, if he can’t find it, he may have to jump in his car and head for the nearest convenience store.

Talk about passing the buck! “There is little game wardens can do”? Seriously? Seems as though I was reading recently a story of how a couple wardens in far Northern Maine were shooting about every coyote they saw and were told to stop by their superiors. This is an anecdotal reference as I cannot confirm the story but stating there is nothing wardens can do is a cop out. Did someone not get the message to the Maine Warden Service that Maine has a serious deer management problem and coyotes are part of that problem?

As hunters and trappers began complaining to the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife about coyotes, the response was quite similar. They were told if they didn’t like the coyotes go kill them. As didn’t happen in this meeting in Otisfield, it would have been nice had a spokesperson for MDIFW or the Maine Warden Service simply stated that they were fully aware of the problem and was working on remedies BUT in the meantime we would like your help. That would go a long ways instead of hiding behind half truths.

It is time to change up the repeated mantra that it is rare that coyotes attack large animals. It is not rare and residents should be told that it is increasing. Poorly managed wildlife creates situations where too many predators can destroy an ecosystem in short order. If an area becomes overrun with coyotes and they’ve cleaned up the turkeys, grouse, rabbits, mice, moles, birds, chipmunks, squirrels, deer, etc., it’s time they headed for the nearest convenience store, which might just be your back yard. Telling people it is rare is misinforming and does nothing to educate the people so they will know what needs to be done to protect themselves and their property.

And as always we hear the same claim that it is completely safe to go into the woods. I wonder if Taylor Mitchell’s family would agree with, “You don’t have to worry about coyotes chasing you out of the woods for a meal. It’s just not going to happen.” Taylor Mitchell was a very young girl and promising musician who was attacked and killed by coyotes while hiking in Nova Scotia this past fall. … [more]

19 Feb 2010, 10:18pm
by admin
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Idaho Wolf Emergency Bill HCR043

Sixtieth Legislature Second Regular Session 2010


Be It Resolved by the Legislature of the State of Idaho:

WHEREAS, wolf populations have grown to a level of over eight times the number designated for recovery of the species in Idaho and no effective management plan exists for reducing wolf populations to the number designated for recovery of the species; and

WHEREAS, growing and unacceptable levels of wolf predation against livestock and pets exist and many claims relating to losses by wolves are not fully compensated; and

WHEREAS, wolf packs have moved into densely populated areas and unnecessarily large numbers of wolves constitute a threat, not only to property, but to human life itself, with particular threat to children; and

WHEREAS, the time and costs expended in an effort to protect livestock against wolf attacks is never compensated; and

WHEREAS, people living in most rural parts of the state are threatened by wolves and must change their habits and lose the safe use of, and travel upon, their own property. Individuals must now arm themselves to face the threat of growing, unchecked numbers of wolves in many parts of the state; and

WHEREAS, unchecked numbers of wolves are destroying the culture and heritage of rural Idahoans including, but not limited to, their use of real estate, their use of hounds for legal hunting of big game, their livelihood in professional hunting, such as outfitting and guiding, and their choice of type and location of livestock animals for food production and recreation; and

WHEREAS, excessive wolf populations reduce livestock production through direct loss of life and loss of productivity, with higher costs to producers, which creates devaluation of established livestock businesses in areas of high wolf populations; and

WHEREAS, excessive numbers of wolves are hindering recovery of elk populations in parts of the state, are reducing the big game populations available to hunters in the state, and are preventing the Idaho Department of Fish and Game from exercising its mandate to manage big game for the benefit of hunters in the state; and

WHEREAS, in 2006, Governor Jim Risch issued Executive Order No. 200643, finding that there was an imminent threat to the health of wild elk herds, as well as to the public health and safety of the citizens of Idaho, due to escape of domestic elk from the Conant Creek Facility in eastern Idaho and ordered the Idaho Department of Fish and Game to “identify and shoot on site, any domestic elk that have escaped from the Conant Creek Facility.” The large number of wolves in the state presents a far greater threat.

NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED by the members of the Second Regular Session of the Sixtieth Idaho Legislature, the House of Representatives and the Senate concurring therein, that the above described conditions define an emergency condition for all rural Idahoans and, in the face of this emergency, the Legislature hereby encourages the Governor of the State of Idaho to declare that a state of emergency exists in Idaho and to authorize and require the Idaho Department of Fish and Game to use any legal means to reduce wolf numbers to those designated for recovery of the species.

18 Feb 2010, 6:36pm
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Audubon Awarded Sweetheart Contract By BLM

BLM looks to Audubon to map sage grouse habitat

AP, Billings Gazette, 02/17/2010 [here]

CHEYENNE, Wyo. - The U.S. Bureau of Land Management is looking to Audubon Wyoming to map sage grouse habitat across the 11 states where the bird is found.

Sage grouse have been losing their sagebrush habitat for decades and now face listing under the Endangered Species Act. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service expects to announce a listing decision next week.

New regulations resulting from an endangered or threatened species listing could substantially affect a variety of land uses across the West, including gas development and wind energy.

The BLM plans to award a contract for mapping sage grouse habitat to the Audubon Wyoming by early March. The contract amount has not been negotiated yet but won’t exceed $100,000, said Chad Hepp, a BLM contracting officer in Denver.

Audubon already works with various state agencies that have been studying where sage grouse habitat exists, Hepp said Tuesday. He said the group should be able to draw from that data without having to do new field research.

“We’re trying to pull everything into one central database and map it,” Hepp said.

The state wildlife agencies studying the greater sage grouse include the Wyoming Game and Fish Department, which with help from Audubon Wyoming created maps before the state announced core habitat zones for the species in 2008.

“This is an extension of the same work we’ve already done,” said Brian Rutledge, executive director of Audubon Wyoming. “Which just makes the most sense to do. Why reinvent the wheel?” …

Note: What the article convenient leaves out is that the Audubon Society has been a frequent plaintiff in lawsuits against the US Fish and Wildlife Service to force the Federal Government to list the sage grouse as an endangered species.

And now here comes this sweetheart no-bid contract. Conflict of interest? Extortion? Can their funky old counts done for lawsuit purposes be trusted? Exactly which invented wheel are they talking about?

Once again, your tax dollars at work, or at something.

12 Feb 2010, 9:10am
Wildlife Agencies Wolves
by admin

Mexican wolf end-of-year counts mislead the public

by Laura Schneberger, Gila Livestock Growers Association, [here]

Are Mexican wolves really being destroyed by humans in the reintroduction area? That is the question behind what is becoming an annual failure of the US Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) to increase their wolf population. Slipping from 52 wolves in 2009 down to 42 in 2010, the program consistently fails to gain ground.

Since the FWS are so “determined to identify the reasons for this decline”, let’s examine what they might be missing. n 2008 18 foxes attacked people in Silver City NM, not isolated incidents, yet rabies is completely ignored by the US Fish and Wildlife Service, in New Mexico and Arizona. This is odd considering FWS regional director; the man responsible for the Mexican wolf program, Dr. Benjamin Tuggle, is an expert in wildlife diseases.

Fact, there is a major rabies outbreak destroying wild canine and cat populations throughout the (BRWRA) Blue Range Wolf Recovery Area, and has been for several years. The FWS cites 31 pups they know were born last spring. However they didn’t vaccinate or collar all of those pups according to the Final Rule governing the program.

Thirty-one new pups should have boosted wolf numbers beyond 80 in the wild. If 50% of the pups survived, there would be 67 give or take, on the ground now. There could very well be that large an increase, but since FWS annual count occurs only after young wolves begin dispersing, their census numbers might not reflect much in the way of an increase [because many wolves go uncounted].

FWS imply in media reports that they believe more than 2 of the 8 wolves found dead last year were illegally shot. Fact, one of those shootings was done in a front yard. FWS were notified of the shooting when it occurred. They found a collared but offline (radio malfunction) dead wolf — one not counted in last year’s tally. Currently an investigation is ongoing into what may be yet be a legal wolf shooting. FWS know this but continue to insinuate there is something shady and sneaky going on in the backwoods of the BRWRA.

At least two wolves were killed by FWS manipulation of the San Mateo pack. FWS know this as well, but still appear to insinuate that ranchers or someone else killed the animals by shooting them. How is misleading the media and public about dead wolves found, but not confirmed as illegally killed, going to contribute to a self sustaining wild wolf population?

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10 Feb 2010, 4:06pm
Moose Wildlife Agencies Wolves
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Too Hot for Moose?

It started out as a joke. At least, I thought it was a joke. A spoof, a satire on crappy wildlife ecology. But evidently it was for real. Or surreal. The article:

What’s killing Minnesota’s moose?

By DOUG SMITH, Star Tribune, February 9, 2010 [here]

The bad news continues for Minnesota’s moose.

The population of the iconic animal in northeastern Minnesota has declined again, based on the latest aerial survey this winter by the Department of Natural Resources.

Wildlife researchers estimate that there are 5,500 moose in that region of the state. With a 23 percent margin of error, the estimate is not statistically different from last year’s estimate of 7,600, but it supports other evidence that the moose population is declining.

“We don’t believe the population dropped 2,000 in the past year, but it’s indicative that the population is declining and parallels everything else we’ve been seeing,” said Mark Lenarz, DNR wildlife researcher. “Our concern continues.”

Reasons for the decline are uncertain, but researchers continue to believe a warming climate is responsible. Minnesota, already at the southern fringe of the moose range, apparently is becoming inhospitable for the large animals. Moose are extremely heat-sensitive, and temperature readings in Ely show over the past 48 years, average summer and winter temperatures have increased substantially.

Moose aren’t likely to disappear anytime soon, but as their range shifts north, Minnesota’s population could continue to stumble.

“People come up here to catch fish and see wildlife,” said Bob Baker, owner of Gunflint Pines Resort and Campground on the Gunflint Trail, northwest of Grand Marais, Minn. “The moose is the one animal people want to see when they’re here, and its decline could impact tourism.”

Already in the northwest part of the state the number of moose has fallen from around 4,000 in the mid-1980s to around 100 today.

“There’s more and more evidence suggesting it’s related to climate,” Lenarz said. Higher temperatures can stress moose, making them susceptible to diseases and parasites.

OMG! Minnesota mooses are dying from gloooobal waaarming!! And there goes the tourism industry right along with them. Quick everybody, change your lightbulbs to the twisty, mercury-filled kind and/or pay more taxes. Definitely pay more taxes. That’ll save the mooses and the gawker/gaper businesses. Oh, and be sure to hire more wildlife ecologists!

Some of my correspondents were less amused than I was. One eminent wildlife scientist was perturbed at the idiocy in his own clan:

Mike, the same BULLSHIT appeared in Bioscience, and in Defenders magazine, without one word about predation, and as XXXXXX pointed out in an email in response to this nonsense, moose are NOT declining in Utah but increasing because we have no wolves. Yet. If warming was really killing off the moose, you would expect that moose in the SOUTHERN part of their range to be affected first, but they have not. Consider the moose population in Alberta, where moose are increasing in the agricultural zone, which is poor moose habitat, while at the same time moose are decreasing in the forest-mountain zones — BECAUSE there are neither wolves or grizzlies in the ag zone, while predators are common in the rest of the providence!!!!!!!!!

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9 Feb 2010, 3:11pm
Deer, Elk, Bison Wildlife Agencies Wolves
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Negligent or Naive About Wolves?

by Kelton Larson

Read the article below where Commissioner Randy Budge comes clean on what has really happened to our big game populations in Idaho.

Although the reality is not pleasant, it is certainly positive that the commission is coming clean by telling us the facts about Idaho big game populations. Hopefully this will bring positive changes for Idaho’s wildlife and sportsmen.

The real question is: why did the IDFG and Commission sit back and let our let our big game populations crash? Why wasn’t the 10j Rule used 5 to 7 years ago?

The 10j Rule was the rule that was used to introduce the Nonessential Experimental Population of wolves into central Idaho and YNP in January of 1995. It was rewritten in 2005 to allow Montana — and subsequently Idaho after the MOU was signed by Kempthorne in Jan 2006 — to allow both states to kill wolves that were having an unacceptable impact on ungulate populations. Although IDFG described it as “having to jump through a bunch of hoops,” IDFG only had to document a 25% decline in an ungulate population in five years and get a peer review of their wolf kill plan to be able to remove the wolves.

Instead the IDFG implemented the cow/calf collaring study that initially reported wrong numbers and failed to report the actual elk population decline. But even after the losses became evident in the Lolo and Sawtooth Zones, and Dr. Geist and other experts reviewed the IDFG plan, IDFG still has not controlled very many wolves to date.

I remember when Governor Kempthorne signed the 10j rule. We were all excited that IDFG could start controlling wolves. There is no excuse for what has happened to our big game populations. The IDFG and the commission have had their hands in their pockets for a long time. The IDFG and the Commission and many legislators have bought into this delisting myth. As Commissioner Budge points out in the article below, the 200 wolf hunt quota will not be enough to halt elk population decline.

The bottom line is the whole introduction of wolves has been a disaster for Idaho. The impact will be felt for many years to come. Outfitters have been put out of business. Revenue to Idaho’s economy and small business’s has been greatly reduced. Wolves have been a plague on Idaho’s ranchers and farmers. Now we find out that these wolves were probably introduced with diseases. And of course the IDFG will probably want residents to pick up the bill for nonresident hunters not coming to Idaho anymore.

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9 Feb 2010, 11:10am
Homo sapiens Wolves
by admin

Lynn Stuter: The truth about the wolves

Note: the following article is an excellent overview of wolf issues. Please click on the link below to read the full article.

The Truth About the Wolves

by Lynn Stuter, News With Views, February 9, 2010 [here]

There a secret, hiding in plain sight, that every American should know about. Your life may depend on it.

In the mid-1990’s, wolves were “re-introduced” to areas of the West under the auspices of the United States Fish and Wildlife Service in accordance with the “Endangered Species Act”.

I will digress here for a moment and explain why quotes are used around the word “re-introduced”. The word re-introduced means to bring back a species indigenous to the area from which it has disappeared or is in danger of becoming extinct.

The wolf indigenous to most parts of the West is called the Timber Wolf or Gray Wolf (canis lupus irremotus). The male of these species, on average, is about 75 lbs; the female is smaller as is usual with most species.

In hearing about wolves invading Idaho, which has the largest contiguous wilderness area of any state in the lower 48, I kept hearing stories about huge animals. One gent told me that a wolf crossed the road in front of his pickup and stood as tall as the hood. I rather discounted it as the proverbial “fish story” where the fish gets bigger with each telling of the story. What he was describing was one big animal considering his pickup was a 4×4.

I would learn that he wasn’t telling a “fish story”. The wolf brought in and turned loose in the Yellowstone National Park and other parts of central Idaho is the Canadian Gray Wolf. If this article is correct, the species of wolf imported is the canis lupus occidentallis or MacKenzie Valley Wolf, a large wolf from Western Canada. One website states that this wolf was imported from Alberta. In searching, there is the canis lupus columbianus, a large wolf found in Yukon, British Columbia and Alberta. Another, canis lupus griseoalbus, is a large wolf found in Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba. Whether one or more of these species, what is obvious is that they are not indigenous to the lower 48.

Males, on average, weigh 130 lbs, the females somewhat smaller. These animals are huge, far outweighing any dog but the mastiff breeds. Were they to stand on their hind legs, put their feet on the shoulders of most people, they would be looking down at them!

Let me be perfectly clear; the Canadian Gray Wolf is not indigenous to the lower 48 states. To claim they are a “re-introduction” is not only misleading but purposely misleading.

That would not be the first or last problem with the “re-introduction” of wolves. … [more]

7 Feb 2010, 6:59pm
Deer, Elk, Bison Homo sapiens Wolves
by admin

Synopsis of Wolf-Borne Hydatid Disease

by Dr. Valerius Geist, PhD., Professional Biologist, Professor Emeritus of Environmental Science

Dear friends,

We can summarize matters pertaining to the presence of hydatid disease as follows. As expected, following some time after the spread of wolves, there was the entry of sylvatic hydatid Echinococcus granulosus disease into said wolf populations and associated prey. Earlier on fox tape worm, E. multilocularis had spread into the NW United States and I understand that it is still spreading. This dreaded parasite has been reported from foxes and coyotes. Since E. multilocularis has been reported from wolves in Europe, and since wolves may be avid “mousers”, opportunity permitting, it is likely that E. multulocularis will be reported in American wolves as well. As you are aware, E. multilocularis cycles primarily between canids and rodents (mainly voles). Moreover, since the pastoral type of E. granulosus is found cycling between domestic sheep and dogs further south, it is likely that, in time, stray wolves will pick up this variant of hydatid disease. Consequently, we expect wolves, eventually, to be carriers of sylvatic, pastoral and alveolar hydatid disease.

You may have noticed that there is some discrepancy in the accounts of hydatid disease emanating from wildlife agencies as opposed to accounts by clinicians. My understanding of hydatid disease, which I have carried with me ever since my student days over 40 years ago, matches that of the clinicians. It is a silent disease, difficult to diagnose, with little specificity in symptoms, gradually developing worse over 10-20 years, and, depending on the location and number of cysts, ranging in effects from benign to lethal. It is particularly dangerous to anyone engaged in an active, sporting lifestyle, since blows to the body can lead to rupture of cysts with dreadful consequences, and prolonged, costly treatment. Alveolar hydatid disease in particular is likely to be lethal.

It is well known that domestic dogs play a very large risk factor in hydatid disease. Unlike in Northern Canada or Alaska, in the West one is dealing with much greater densities of people, dogs and carrier species such as deer or elk. High incidents of the parasite in wolves and coyotes and a high infestation rate with cysts in lungs and liver of deer and elk, put at risk the ranching, farming and rural communities. In winter time deer and elk will frequently be found on ranches close to communities. Dogs from ranches, farms and hamlets will have access to winter killed carcasses of deer and elk as well as to offal left in the field during the hunting season. Once infected with dog tape worm, the ranch and house dogs will contaminate the yard, porches, living rooms etc with hydatid eggs. There is no escape from this! Ten to twenty years down the road, hydatid disease will raise its head, in particular in persons who as toddlers crawled over floors walked over by people and dogs carrying in hydatid eggs from the outside. Please inform yourself what this is likely to mean in terms of prognosis, suffering and costs!

We know that in the past there were attempts in Finland and in Russia to eliminate, or at least control hydatid disease. In Finland the eradication of hydatid disease was accomplished by diminishing wolf numbers and treating domestic dogs with anti-helmithic drugs. In Russia, controlling wolf density in spring and summer led to significant declines in the disease in the prey (see p. 83 of Will Graves 2007, Wolves in Russia. Detselig, Calgary [here, here]). I am suggesting that eliminating hydatid disease be discussed, and suggest the following approach.

1.) Assuming the number of wolf packs can be reduced so as to retain a vibrant, abundant prey base, that developmental studies proceed on how to create bait stations that are accepted by wolves, with bait containing anti-helminthic drugs that are readily eaten by wolves. I am aware that this will not be a quick project. Rather I expect that wolves will accept bait stations, let alone the bait, only very gradually. It will take time, experimentation and sophisticated know how to make bait stations operational. However, once accepted by wolves, the bait stations will break the hydatid cycle between wolves and ungulates. Over time, this will lead to diminished infections of deer and elk, and this with re-infection with the parasite by wolves and coyotes.

2.) Unfortunately, under moist and cold conditions hydatid eggs remain viable for months and may even infect after three and a half years. Under dry, hot conditions the eggs die quickly. Burning the understory in forests will not eliminate the dangers from hydatid eggs, but will certainly reduce such. It’s a policy worth looking at.

3.) Simultaneously, a thorough campaign must be initiated to regularly de-worm dogs in danger areas as well as encourage specific hygienic measures. Here it means winning the ears and the trust of the rural communities.

Finally we have to look to history. Wolves have been exterminated from lived in landscapes universally because they, or their diseases, posed a serious threat to affected people, livestock and wild life. The lessons from history are that we can at best live with wolves if such are relatively few, the abundance of natural prey is high, and the risk from diseases non existent. We have the means and intelligence to achieve such.

5 Feb 2010, 10:48pm
by admin
1 comment

NAIS is NOT dead!

by Julie Kay Smithson, Property Rights Research [here, here]

No one should be breathing a sigh of relief that the “National Animal Identification System,” or “NAIS,” is dead. It becomes immediately clear, when reading the “Factsheet” below the news release, that the language deception has simply been ramped up a couple of notches. The “840″ “country code” — which is an INTERNATIONAL identification code — remains firmly in place. RFID tags are still the preferred way. The information already gathered will NOT be deleted or removed. There is no mention whatsoever of giving up on the original intent or its tentacles. Notice that there is no contact information for a USDA spokesperson. Whoever said “There’s a sucker born every minute” is alive and working for the USDA.

Note: bold areas below are my emphasis added.

USDA Announces New Framework for Animal Disease Traceability [here]

Release No. 0053.10, February 5, 2010

Washington, D.C., February 5, 2010 - Agriculture Secretary Vilsack announced today that USDA will develop a new, flexible framework for animal disease traceability in the United States, and undertake several other actions to further strengthen its disease prevention and response capabilities.

“After concluding our listening tour on the National Animal Identification System in 15 cities across the country, receiving thousands of comments from the public and input from States, Tribal Nations, industry groups, and representatives for small and organic farmers, it is apparent that a new strategy for animal disease traceability is needed,” said Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack. “I’ve decided to revise the prior policy and offer a new approach to animal disease traceability with changes that respond directly to the feedback we heard.”

The framework, announced today at the National Association of State Departments of Agriculture (NASDA) Mid-Year meeting, provides the basic tenets of an improved animal disease traceability capability in the United States. USDA’s efforts will:

* Only apply to animals moved in interstate commerce;
* Be administered by the States and Tribal Nations to provide more flexibility;
* Encourage the use of lower-cost technology; and
* Be implemented transparently through federal regulations and the full rulemaking process.

“One of my main goals for this new approach is to build a collaborative process for shaping and implementing our framework for animal disease traceability,” said Vilsack. “We are committed to working in partnership with States, Tribal Nations and industry in the coming months to address many of the details of this framework, and giving ample opportunity for farmers and ranchers and the public to provide us with continued input through this process.”

One of USDA’s first steps will be to convene a forum with animal health leaders for the States and Tribal Nations to initiate a dialogue about the possible ways of achieving the flexible, coordinated approach to animal disease traceability we envision. Additionally, USDA will be revamping the Secretary’s Advisory Committee on Animal Health to address specific issues, such as confidentiality and liability.

Although USDA has a robust system in place to protect U.S. agriculture, with today’s announcement, the Department will also be taking several additional actions to further strengthen protections against the entry and spread of disease. These steps will include accelerating actions to lessen the risk from diseases — such as tuberculosis — posed by imported animals, initiating and updating analyses on how animal diseases travel into the country, improving response capabilities, and focusing on greater collaboration and analyses with States and industry on potential disease risk overall.

More information on USDA’s new direction on animal traceability and the steps to improve disease prevention and control is available [here]

more »

1 Feb 2010, 2:37pm
Deer, Elk, Bison Wolves
by admin
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22 Wolves

From Don P.:

Some friends in Wyoming sent me this photo taken recently in Wyoming near Jackson. Twenty-two wolves in ONE pack. The destruction this pack can cause in a single day is mind boggling.

Click for larger image.

There are some areas where the game herds have already been decimated to the point that the herds will never recover to reasonable numbers in our lifetime. And it is only going to get worse.

We are working feverishly to come up with a silver bullet idea, pending the upcoming court litigation. Will keep you all posted.

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