22 Jan 2010, 12:00pm
Wildlife Agencies Wolves
by admin
2 comments

Wyoming Coalition Blasts USFWS for Politicized Wolf Reintroductions

Last April a coalition of Wyoming groups opposed to the introduction of non-native wolves filed notice of intent to sue the US Fish and Wildlife Service for failing to delist wolves in that state [here].

We have discussed this issue before [here, here, among many other posts]. In short, the USFWS issued yet another “Final Rule” last April removing the “Distinct Population Segment” (DPS) of Northern Rocky Mountain (NRM) wolves from the Endangered Species list (again), with the exception of Wyoming wolves.

The Wolf Coalition, which includes the Wyoming Wool Growers Association, Wyoming Stock Growers Association, Wyoming Farm Bureau Federation, Wyoming Association of Conservation Districts, Rocky Mountain Farmers Union, Wyoming Association of County Predatory Animal Boards, Niobrara County Predatory Animal Board, Wyoming Outfitters and Guides Association, Cody Country Outfitters and Guides Association, and Sportsmen for Fish & Wildlife Wyoming, took the matter to court. The USFWS responded, and now the Wolf Coalition has filed a stunning Reply brief.

The WOLF COALITION’S REPLY BRIEF FOR DECLARATORY JUDGMENT AND INJUNCTIVE RELIEF – RELATED TO RESPONDENTS’ REFUSAL TO DELIST THE GRAY WOLF IN WYOMING [here], authored by Harriet M. Hageman and Kara Brighton, pulls no punches. Some excerpts:

more »

15 Jan 2010, 5:00pm
Wildlife Agencies Wolves
by admin
5 comments

Human-Habituated Wolves in Idaho

We have reported on the dangers of human-habituated wolves in numerous posts. A sampling:

* Predicting Predator Attacks on Humans by Dr. Valerius Geist [here]

* Yellowstone Staff Remove Human-Habituated Gray Wolf [here]

* The Hailey Wolf Rally [here]

* Report the Truth About Wolves for a Change by Laura Schneberger [here]

* Undue Burden: The real cost of living with wolves [here]

* Wolves Are Targeting Humans As Prey by Dr. Valerius Geist [here]

* Three Wolf Stories [here]

Human-habituated wolves are those which have lost their fear of humans. It is a common phenomenon, in this country and in Europe and Asia. As reported in Wolves in Russia: Anxiety Through the Ages by Will N. Graves [here], wolf behavior follows a general habituation-exploration model. The progressive circumstances are:

(a) Severe depletion of natural prey.

(b) Followed by wolves searching for alternative food sources among human habitations.

(c) The brazen behavior of wolves increases due to the wolves being undeterred by and habituated to inefficiently armed humans (or ineffectual use of weapons or outright protection of wolves).

(d) Wolves shift to preying on pets and livestock, especially on dogs.

(e) Wolves stalk and kill livestock.

(f) Wolves commence deliberate, drawn-out exploration of humans on foot or on horseback.

(g) Followed by wolves confronting humans.

(h) Wolves attack humans.

Now human-habituated wolves have been observed in Stage (f) near Kamiah, Idaho. The following story is behind a paywall, so we cannot provide a link, but the introduction is:

Wolves reported near Kamiah bus stop

By Eric Barker, Lewiston Tribune, January 15th, 2010

A man who lives near Kamiah reported seeing three wolves near his children’s bus stop recently.

Mike Popp, a hunting outfitter who lives on Glenwood Road east of Kamiah, said he is worried the wolves are becoming too habituated to people and running out of a natural prey base. Seeing a wolf is not unusual for him or his family. Popp guides hunters and frequently runs across the animals. He has also had them on or near his property on a regular basis and has long worried about the effects on elk and moose. But seeing them near the bus stop was different.

“We see wolves. Wolves kill our dogs, they chase our horses,” Popp said. “It’s just a given in the last five years but I think gosh darn it when they walk up to the bus stop like that … the kids is what worries me.”

Popp took his children to their bus stop Monday morning and sat in his jeep while his 6- and 8-year-olds had a snowball fight. The bus pulled up, stopped and flashed its lights. The kids got on and the bus driver pulled into a driveway to turn around. When the driver backed up, the bus emitted warning beeps. After it pulled away, three wolves came out of the woods and walked down the road toward Popp.

He started his jeep and drove toward the animals. They left the road and Popp followed their tracks to see where they had come from. He said it was clear they were sitting in the woods about 30 feet away from the road prior to the arrival of the bus.

“While we were there at the bus stop and those kids were snowball-fighting I know they could hear, and they just sat there,” he said. “They are really becoming habituated to all the sights and sounds that are out there.” …

Major tragedies are brewing in Idaho, in addition to the decimation of elk herds and the increasing loss of livestock to wolves. Now they are stalking children.

The outcome is predictable if nothing is done to eliminate the human-habituated packs.

Idaho officials, including those who manage the Idaho Dept. of Fish and Game, need to undertake full predator control measures now, before tragedy strikes. There is no excuse for any delay. If there is any procrastination, and a child is attacked by known human-habituated wolves, the entire IDFG should be swept clean of all current employees and reconstituted with people who are cognizant of the dangers. Should it come to that, civil suits and criminal prosecutions of the dilatory officials will be as swift and brutal as a wolf attack.

10 Jan 2010, 2:19pm
Homo sapiens Wildlife Agencies Wolves
by admin
3 comments

Two-Thirds of Idaho Wolf Carcasses Examined Have Thousands of Hydatid Disease Tapeworms

By George Dovel, The Outdoorsman, No. 36, Dec. 2009 [full text here]

NOTE: see also [here]

Hydatid cysts infect lungs, liver, and other internal organs of big game animals. Michigan DNR Wildlife Disease Lab photo

Hydatid cysts infecting moose or caribou lungs. Photo courtesy of NW Territories Department of Environment and Natural Resources.

My first Outdoorsman article on hydatid disease caused by the tiny Echinococcosis granulosus tapeworm was published nearly 40 years ago. Back then we had many readers in Alaska and northern Canada where the cysts were present in moose and caribou and my article included statistics on the number of reported human deaths from these cysts over a 50-year period, and the decline in deaths once outdoorsmen learned what precautions were necessary to prevent humans from being infected.

In Alaska alone, over 300 cases of hydatid disease in humans had been reported since 1950 as a result of canids (dog family), primarily wolves, contaminating the landscape with billions of E. granulosus eggs in their feces (called “scat” by biologists). These invisible eggs are ingested by grazing animals, both wild and domestic, and occasionally by humans who release clouds of the eggs into the air by kicking the scat or picking it up to see what the wolf had been eating.

As with many other parasites, the eggs are very hardy and reportedly exist in extremes of weather for long periods, virtually blanketing patches of habitat where some are swallowed or inhaled. As Dr. Valerius Geist explained in his Feb-Mar 2006 Outdoorsman article entitled Information for Outdoorsmen in Areas Where Wolves Have Become Common, “(once they are ingested by animals or humans) the larvae move into major capillary beds – liver, lung, brain – where they develop into large cysts full of tiny tapeworm heads.”

He continued, “These cysts can kill infected persons unless they are diagnosed and removed surgically. It consequently behooves us (a) to insure that this disease does not become widespread, and (b) that hunters and other outdoorsmen know that wolf scats and coyote scats should never be touched or kicked.”

[NOTE: moisture around waterholes reportedly preserves the eggs in high temperatures that might otherwise destroy them. Ingestion of E. granulosus eggs by drinking the water is also possible. - ED]

Dr. Geist’s article also warned, “If we generate dense wolf populations it is inevitable that such lethal diseases as Hydatid disease become established.” Because wolves and other canines perpetuate the disease by eating the organs of animals containing the cysts, and the tapeworms live and lay millions of eggs in their lower intestines, the logical way to insure the disease did not develop was not to import Canadian wolves that were already infected with the parasites.

more »

10 Dec 2009, 11:58am
Birds Wildlife Agencies
by admin
2 comments

Barred Owl Blasting Is Back

Yup, shotgun blasting of barred owls is back on the menu. The US Fish and Wildlife Service wants to blow the little birds to smithereens:

Fish and Wildlife Service Seeks Public Comments on Possible Experimental Removal of Barred Owls

USFWS News Release, Dec 9, 2009 [here]

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service today announced it is preparing an environmental analysis of possible experimental removal of barred owls from three areas in Oregon and Washington, to determine if the removal benefits northern spotted owls. The agency is seeking public comments on the scope of the analysis that should be carried out; that is, what are the biological, social, economic and environmental effects that should be studied before the agency decides whether to conduct the experiments. The announcement will be published in the Federal Register on December 10, 2009.

“We will decide whether to conduct experimental removal of barred owls only after this open, transparent review of the effects those experiments might have,” said Paul Henson, the Fish and Wildlife Service supervisor in Oregon. “Removing individuals of a common species to benefit a species in peril is something the Fish and Wildlife Service does when necessary, but we will not proceed with this experimental removal until we better understand – and document – the environmental effects of doing it.” …

We first reported this amazing story over two years ago [here]

Shoot to Kill: The Curse of the Spotted Owl, Part 3

SOS Forests, May 8th, 2007

The latest “solution” proposed by the US Fish and Wildlife Service to the Spotted Owl Crisis is to arm Federal “biologists” with shotguns, send them onto public and private property, and have them blast away at owls.

That’s right, sports fans. The defective brain trust at USFWS plans to give loaded weapons to wackos, form owl death squads, and send them out here to shoot to kill owls.

In the name of the Environment!!!!

Get this: after 15 years of intense expert study (ha ha, that’s a laugh), after 15 years of an economic straightjacket strapped on millions of citizens, after 15 years of a half-trillion dollar forest set-aside program, the architects of “owl biology” are punting.

They don’t have a clue about spotted owls, or the hope of a clue, and so have devolved their “owl biology” into a nightmare of pointless violence and owl murder. …

more »

New The Outdoorsman Is Excellent

The previous two posts were extracted (with generous permission) from articles appearing in the new issue of The Outdoorsman, No. 35, July-Nov 2009 [here]. The Outdoorsman is written and edited by Mr. George Dovel [here].

The new issue is excellent, as usual. Looking back, we have posted excerpts from six? previous issues [here, here, here, here, here, here] at least. We highly value and appreciate Mr. Dovel’s work and voice.

Another article (beside the two we posted) printed in the new The Outdoorsman is “When Biologists Stocked Alaska with Wolves” by Ned Rozell of the Geophysical Institute, University of Alaska Fairbanks.

Rozell discusses the “predator pit” that resulted from the 1960 release of a mating pair of wolves onto Coronation Island, a remote 45-square-mile island exposed to the open Pacific. Prior to the release, Coronation Island had a high density of blacktailed deer and no wolves. By 1965 at least 13 wolves lived on the island and three litters of young had been born since the first wolves had arrived. Few deer remained. By 1966 only signs were found of 3 deer and one wolf. By 1983 researchers found no evidence of wolves, and the deer were once again plentiful.

Another article is “Let’s Get Real” by Dr. Valerius Geist, about the myth of the “harmless wolf”. Dr. Geist is the undisputed authority on North American big game species, and many of his essays have also been posted at Wildlife and People [here].

Another article is “The Rest of the Story” by George Dovel in which he discusses predator-prey relationships and the myth of the “balance of nature”.

… In his article “Vancouver Island Wolves,” (see April-May 2006 Outdoorsman) Dr. Geist described how, when wolves entered Vancouver Island during the 1970s, the annual deer kill by hunters plummeted from about 25,000 to less than 4,000. Are we to believe that Vancouver Island’s 12,076 square-mile area is, like Alaska’s Coronation Island, also supposedly “too small for both deer and wolves?”

In both cases, with an abundance of deer to kill and eat, the wolves multiplied much faster than the deer and soon depleted their numbers. When the wolves on Coronation Island killed off most of the black-tailed deer and exhausted the supply of other prey they starved and the deer eventually recovered.

But, as Dr. Geist explained in “Vancouver Island Wolves,” after the wolves killed off most of the black-tailed deer and smaller prey, they survived on alternate prey, including elk, livestock and domestic animals and pets. These wolves also continue to kill pockets of deer thereby preventing recovery of the deer population. …

In geographically “closed” ecosystems such as Coronation Island and Isle Royale, a single large carnivore species decimates its single wild ungulate prey and ultimately destroys itself, allowing the prey to repopulate over time. But in the vast majority of ecosystems such as Vancouver Island and Interior Alaska, where alternate prey species allow predators to survive after the primary prey is decimated, the primary prey may not recover without a dramatic reduction in predator numbers. …

That is the situation throughout much of Alaska today and it resulted from pandering to propagandists who were allowed to promote the myth that predators and their prey will seek and maintain a “natural” balance. …

In the lower 48 States, pretending to manage ecosystems rather than actively manage wildlife populations can only result in decades of starvation, disease and scarcity in between the occasional rare “balance” that may appear to exist briefly. At a time when our federal government is promoting sustainable communities and the use of renewable natural resources, promoting the wanton destruction of our renewable timber and wildlife resources is inexcusable.

Please read the (free online) newest issue of The Outdoorsman [here]. You may also wish to send George Dovel a donation for his important and valuable efforts (see the last page of The Outdoorsman).

The Truth about Idaho’s and Montana’s 2009 Wolf Harvest Quotas

By George Dovel

From The Outdoorsman, No. 35, July-Nov 2009 [here]

On March 6, 2008, in an effort to pacify Defenders of Wildlife and other wolf extremist groups, the Idaho F&G Commission ignored the 15 breeding pairs (150 wolves) goal established by the Legislature and approved by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the Interior Secretary. Instead, the Commission adopted a bastard plan that has never been submitted to the full Legislature for approval or rejection as required by Idaho law.

The 2008-2012 IDFG Plan agreed to manage for a minimum population of 518-732 wolves for five years …

In his testimony to the Court, Mech explained: “Every year, most wolf populations almost double in the spring through the birth of pups” [Mech 1970]. For example in May 2008, there will not be 1,500 wolves [in the Northern Rocky Mountains], but 3,000! …

Without any science to support their claim, Idaho F&G Commissioners said they were going to cut the minimum estimated end-of-year wolf population from 732 in 2007 to ~520 in 2008 using only a fall hunting season which also prohibited two methods used to harvest Idaho bears and mountain lions!

In other words, they ignored biology and science and pretended they could do what no other state or Canadian province with wolves has ever been able to do. …

more »

3 Dec 2009, 12:04pm
Homo sapiens Wildlife Agencies
by admin
leave a comment

What is Conservation? Who are conservationists?

By Hunter’s Alert [here]

There are many words that have double meanings, like “gay”, “coke” and “conservation”. Most people would argue that conservation only has one meaning. Through language deception perfected by government agencies and environmentalists (which has been so skillfully brought to our attention by Julie Smithson of Property Rights Research) words are of monumental importance in our perception of the way we view things and make decisions.

Government agents (bureaucrats) and news media (journalists) like to refer to anti-hunting groups such as Nature Conservancy, Defenders of Wildlife, Sierra Club and many others as “conservationists”. These anti organizations (environmentalists) spend much of their time and their money on lawsuits, suing the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service (the government) thus establishing their agendas and imposing their will on the American people.

Hunters were the first conservationists practicing sound conservation in America and they are still the best, spending their money for all forms of wildlife.

These two words today, “conservation” and “conservationists”, have been usurped by anti organizations, agencies, and journalists, ignoring the true conservationist — none other than the HUNTER — and by so doing making the hunter appear to be the problem while they are the saviors.

Now think it through — who gave us all the abundant wildlife we have known up to this day that we rapidly see disappearing all around us? Hunters did it with their dedication to wildlife and their money without having to sue the very government agencies that these hunters pay to represent them in ALL wildlife management. Then the late entrance of these environmentalist organizations, paying virtually nothing, infiltrating our government agencies, and you can see who and where the problem is.

Now — who are the real conservationists?

16 Nov 2009, 12:50pm
Wildlife Agencies Wolves
by admin
leave a comment

Montana wolf hunt to close Nov. 16, half-hour after sunset

by Joleen Tadej, The Clark Fork Chronicle, November 16 2009 [here]

Wolf hunting in Montana will close statewide Monday, November 16, 2009 at one half-hour after sunset.

The order halting the hunt came after Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks officials received word that the pre-established harvest quota for wolves in WMU 2 had been met and was expected to be met in WMU 1. WMU 3 was closed on October 26, 2009. Montana’s statewide quota was 75 wolves.

For more information, visit FWP’s web site [here]

7 Oct 2009, 11:32am
Homo sapiens Wildlife Agencies
by admin
leave a comment

Lawsuit Against USFS Allotment Ranchers Dismissed

From the New Mexico Cattle Growers’ Association

For Immediate Release / October 2, 2009 [here]

Ranchers Claim Victory in District Court Ruling

Yesterday’s ruling by United States District Court Judge James O. Browning dismissing a challenge to U.S. Forest Service (USFS) grazing permit renewal from the WildEarth Guardians is welcome news for New Mexico ranchers and will help ranchers across the west.

“Livestock producers across the West are breathing a sigh of relief today,” said Alisa Ogden, New Mexico Cattle Growers Association (NMCGA) President, Loving. “The claims made by the WildEarth Guardians in this case regarding grazing, the livestock industry and the Forest Service were totally without merit, and Judge Browning reinforced that fact with his ruling. This is a huge victory.”

In 2007, the WildEarth Guardians, then known as the Forest Guardians, challenged the U.S. Forest Service’s (USFS’s) use of categorical exclusions (CEs) to comply with the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) for grazing permit renewal in Federal District Court. The case focused on 26 grazing allotments in the Gila National Forest. The NMCGA, the New Mexico Federal Lands Council and the Arizona/New Mexico Coalition of Counties intervened in the case on behalf of the 26 named allotment owners.

“This case was just one more attempt by a radical activist group to eliminate livestock grazing,” Ogden said. “Had it been successful, it would have devastated the livelihoods of the named allotment owners, and the economy of rural Southwestern New Mexico. We are so pleased that the court saw through the claims made by the WildEarth Guardians and ruled on the side of common sense and the will of Congress.

NEPA analysis is typically required for major federal actions, but due to policy decisions by the USFS and the Bureau of Land Management (BLM), is now required for the renewal of 10-year USFS grazing permits, Ogden explained. Now, the agency has a tremendous backlog of analysis and paperwork, because they simply are not equipped to conduct such detailed review on every grazing permit that comes up for renewal. Additionally, the WildEarth Guardians and other such groups tie up the agencies with appeals and lawsuits.

“This has created a lot of uncertainty for ranchers who depend on grazing allotments as part of their operations, and for the institutions, like banks, that they work with on a daily basis,” Ogden noted. “Fortunately, we have had strong Congressional support on this issue.”
Starting in 1995, and most recently in March of 2009, language was included in several appropriations bills by former Senator Pete Domenici directing the USFS to use categorical exclusions to keep the current terms and conditions of grazing permits in effect until the agency is able to complete the environmental analysis required for renewal.

“Through no fault of their own, these ranchers were placed in jeopardy, and we appreciate the court’s ruling. The ironic thing is, every lawsuit filed against the agency by groups like the WildEarth Guardians takes more and more time and resources away from environmental analysis and on-the-ground resource management –- making the situation even worse.” Although this ruling pertained to these 26 allotments in New Mexico, it will also have a direct influence on the court challenge that Western Watershed Project has mounted to the remaining 138 Forest Service grazing permit renewal decisions on 386 allotments across the remainder of the Western states. That case is now pending in the Northern District Court of California.

“We are extremely pleased that the USFS chose to defend itself and the ranchers on these allotments in the face of this frivolous litigation. We are also extremely proud of the representation that Karen Budd-Falen and the Budd-Falen Law Office, P.C., Cheyenne, Wyoming, protected the industry through participation in the case on behalf of the livestock industry,” she concluded.

-30-

7 Sep 2009, 9:46pm
Wildlife Agencies Wolves
by admin
leave a comment

Wyoming Gray Wolf Recovery Status Report

From: USFWS Wyoming Wolf Recovery Project Leader, Jackson, WY

Subject: Status of Gray Wolf Management in Wyoming and the NRM

WYOMING WOLF WEEKLY- August 31 through September 4, 2009 [here]

Web Address – USFWS reports (past weekly and annual reports) can be viewed at http://westerngraywolf.fws.gov. Weekly reports for Montana and Idaho are produced by those States and can be viewed on the Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks and Idaho Department of Fish and Game websites. All weekly and annual reports are government property and can be used for any purpose. Please distribute as you see fit.

Annual Reports

The Rocky Mountain Wolf Recovery 2008 Annual Report is available [here]

Delisting Litigation Status

A hearing of the preliminary injunction request was held in Federal Court in Missoula, MT on August 31. Oral arguments were heard from the Plaintiffs, a coalition of environmental and animal rights groups, and the Defendants- U.S. Department of Interior, and two interveners- the States of Montana, and Idaho. At the conclusion of the hearing the judge complimented everyone on what he thought was a well-briefed and civil hearing. He said he would issue an order as soon as possible.

Monitoring

Yellowstone Park reports that ground observations of wolf pups in Lamar Valley indicate severe mange in 1 of 4 (pup is mostly hairless) and evidence of mange in several of the adults. Their pups are also half the size of other pack’s same aged pups. Pups from other packs appear in usual numbers and healthy.

IDFG reported as of 9/4/09 only 3 wolves have been reported taken in Idaho by licensed hunters, all during the first day that a few backcountry units were open [8/31/09]. One of those was taken as it harassed a hunters horses that were picketed by his camp [which would have been legal under the 2008 ESA experimental population rules]. He tagged it just so he could keep the pelt. Additional harvest might happen during the long Labor Day weekend.

Control

On 8/31/09, WY Wildlife Services confirmed 8 sheep (8 ewes) killed by wolves in the Big Horn Mountains. Control to remove wolves causing the depredations is ongoing but so far it has been unsuccessful.

On 8/31/09, WY Wildlife Services confined a yearling steer was killed in the Upper Green River drainage, north of Pinedale, WY. The Green River Pack consists of 11 wolves and have killed >3 cattle this summer. The pack has a chronic history of livestock depredation. The USFWS requested Wildlife Services to remove 4 wolves in attempt to reduce additional depredations.

On 8/31/09, WY Wildlife Services confirmed a cow was killed by wolves in the East Fork Pack near Dubois, WY. The pack consists of approx. 8-10 wolves. Control was completed on 9/2/09 when WY WS removed 2 wolves. …

On 8/31/09, Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife authorized removal of two wolves in Baker County after five separate livestock depredation that killed a total of 27 sheep [all lambs], 1 goat, and 1 calf on 2 private ranches since April 10. One wolf was radio-collared in response to earlier depredations. Monitoring indicated that the only wolves involved were just 2 yearling non-breeders that were not associated with a pack. ODFW also issued a permit to one rancher to shoot the 2 wolves if he caught them in the act of attacking more of his livestock. The wolves were previously harassed “multiple times” from the air but these and other non-lethal methods [rancher got extra fencing, buried the carcasses, and a guard dog] of protecting the livestock were unsuccessful. …

Note: see full report [here] for Table listing confirmed livestock depredations in WY: 1999 - 2009.

18 Aug 2009, 5:06pm
Wildlife Agencies Wolves
by admin
1 comment

Idaho Fish and Game Commission Sets Wolf Hunt Limits

IDAHO FISH AND GAME HEADQUARTERS NEWS RELEASE, August 18, 2009 [here]

The Idaho Fish and Game Commission, Monday, August 17, set harvest limits for Idaho’s first public wolf hunting season this fall.

Fish and Game models indicate Idaho now has at least 1,000 wolves. The population increases at a rate of about 20 percent a year, without hunting.

The commissioners adopted a strategy that would help meet the state’s wolf population objective, as outlined in the 2008 Idaho Wolf Population Management Plan.

Hunters will be allowed to take up to 220 wolves this fall and winter. Wolf tags go on sale at 10 a.m. August 24, at all license vendors. A resident tag costs $11.75, and a nonresident tag costs $186.

One of the commission’s top considerations is retaining state management of Idaho’s growing wolf population. Idaho has an approved wolf management plan, developed with public involvement. The plan was approved by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and found acceptable by a federal judge.

The commissioners’ decision is consistent with the population goals set out in the plan.

more »

11 Aug 2009, 10:33am
Cougars Wildlife Agencies bighorn sheep
by admin
leave a comment

Mountain Lions Extirpating Bighorn Sheep in AZ

Critical bighorn sheep population continues to struggle

Press Release, Arizona Game and Fish Department, Aug. 5, 2009 [here]

Feds seek comment on draft EA; proposed action will allow needed management

PHOENIX - They are as much an icon of the Southwest as Wyatt Earp, yet the desert bighorn sheep, known for their head-to-head crashing battles and ability to defy gravity by clinging to rocky cliffs, have experienced staggering population declines on the Kofa National Wildlife Refuge.

Continued monitoring of the public’s bighorn sheep population on the Kofa NWR has state and federal wildlife agencies concerned for the future of this historic herd, whose population crashed from an estimated high of 812 animals in 2000 to a record low of less than 400 in just six years.

Why is this population of sheep so important?

“A driving force behind the original establishment of the Refuge was the protection of desert bighorn sheep (Ovis canadensis mexicana), and significant management emphasis remains on maintaining the bighorn sheep population,” as stated in a U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service letter dated Aug. 4, 2009, in reference to the 1939 Executive Order (#8039) that established the Kofa.

The Kofa NWR sheep population has played a critical role in reversing the decline of desert bighorn sheep for more than 50 years. The herd is a historic source population for re-establishing, supplementing, or expanding other sheep populations across the Southwest, in many cases bringing back this incredible species to places where they were extirpated.

“A wide range of outdoor enthusiasts-wildlife watchers, hikers, hunters, photographers, tourists-are able to enjoy the desert bighorn sheep in many parts of the state and the Southwest,” said Pat Barber, the Yuma regional supervisor for the Arizona Game and Fish Department. “Those experiences are made possible by 50 plus years of collaborative translocation efforts by wildlife agencies, landowners and hunter/conservation organizations.”

Some of the more popular destinations that have received sheep from the Kofa herd in the past are the Superstition Mountains, Aravaipa Canyon Wilderness, the Galiuro Mountains, and the San Andres National Wildlife Refuge in New Mexico. There are a number of areas in Arizona that are slated to receive bighorn sheep translocations, including the Pusch Ridge Wilderness, the Mineral Mountains, Big Horn Mountains, Buckeye Hills, and others.

Unfortunately, translocations using sheep from the Kofa were discontinued in 2005. Translocations using animals from the Kofa herd will not resume until the population approaches the long-term population level of 600-800 sheep. The department’s sheep translocation efforts from other source populations continue, but at a reduced rate without the once highly productive Kofa herd as a source.

“A key factor to the herd’s future is managing for the best success in reproduction. Desert bighorn sheep have low birth and survival rates, and any additive mortality to females and their lambs quickly affects the herd’s ability to increase,” said John Hervert, Wildlife Program Manager.

What’s the urgency?

Although managers are working to address several issues that might limit sheep recovery, such as water availability, disease and human disturbance, predation is a growing concern.

Past surveys indicated that, historically, mountain lions were virtually non-existent or only transient guests around the Kofa region. However, in recent years, a number of lions have become frequent users on and around the Kofa, which is having a greater predation effect on the bighorn sheep population during a time when they are already struggling.

more »

9 Aug 2009, 8:25pm
Wildlife Agencies Wolves
by admin
leave a comment

Montana FWP To Intervene In Federal Wolf Delisting Lawsuit

Press Release, MFWP, August 04, 2009 [here]

Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks has intervened in a federal lawsuit aimed at turning back a recent decision to remove gray wolves in the northern Rocky Mountains from the federal list of endangered species.

FWP will also oppose any preliminary injunction requests that seek to reinstate federal Endangered Species Act protections for gray wolves in the northern Rockies.

“Montana’s wolf population is growing and is well protected by Montana law and well-managed under the state’s federally approved wolf conservation and management plan,” said Joe Maurier, director FWP in Helena. “Montanans have worked hard for more than a decade to recover wolves and FWP will work equally hard to ensure that wolves in Montana are managed under a highly regarded and science-based state plan.”

The case is before U.S. District Judge Donald Molloy in Missoula. Under a similar lawsuit filed in 2008, Molloy reinstated federal protection for the wolf.

The recovery goal for wolves in the northern Rocky Mountains was set at a minimum of 30 breeding pairs-successfully reproducing wolf packs-and a minimum of 300 individual wolves for at least three consecutive years. This goal was achieved in 2002, and the wolf population has increased every year since. Today, more than 1,600 wolves inhabit the Northern Rocky Mountain Recovery Area-which comprises Montana, Idaho, and Wyoming, and parts of Oregon, Washington, and Utah. That growing population is connected to a continuous population to the north in Canada and Alaska. At least 500 wolves now inhabit Montana.

New Revelations About Reintroduced Wolves

By George Dovel, The Outdoorsman, Bulletin 34, April-June 2009

Full text [here]

Selected excerpts:

In the early 1980s the 197-page unpublished research report, “Wolves of Central Idaho,” surfaced. In it, co-authors Timm Kaminski and Jerome Hansen estimated that elk and deer populations in six of the nine national forests in the proposed Central Idaho Wolf Recovery Area could support a total of 219 wolves without decreasing existing deer and elk populations in those forests.

They based this on an estimated 16.6 deer or elk killed by each wolf annually, and on estimated increases in elk and/or deer populations from 1981-1985 in the two-thirds of forests where they had increased.

But even if their estimated prey numbers and calculations were accurate, their report said only 17 wolves could be maintained in the Salmon National Forest, five in the Challis NF, and none in the Panhandle, Sawtooth and Bitterroot Forests. Yet the obvious question of what to do when the number of wolves in any National Forest or game management unit exceeded the ability of the prey base to support them was not adequately addressed.

Relocating “Problem” Wolves in Idaho Wilderness

Although there were increased reports of sightings of single wolves or pairs in Idaho during the late 1970s and early 80s and credible reports of at least two wolf packs with pups, no confirmed wolf depredation on livestock had been recorded for nearly half a century. Realizing that livestock killing would occur as wolf numbers increased, Kaminski and Hansen recommended relocating livestock-killing wolves into the central Idaho wilderness areas.

That was written more than 25 years ago …

[Tweny-five years later] Tribal, FWS and State biologists [have] all ignored wolf expert David Mech’s warning that relocating wolves that killed livestock did not stop their killing livestock. Transplanting even more wolves into areas like the Selway and Lolo Zones, with inadequate elk calf survival to support any wolves, guaranteed an accelerated decline in the elk population and the exploitation of alternate prey.

At a Predator-Prey Symposium in Boise, Idaho on Jan. 8, 1999, the featured speaker – North America’s top wild ungulate authority Dr. Valerius Geist – spent two hours explaining to federal, state and university wildlife biologists why wolf populations must be carefully controlled to maintain a healthy population of their prey species. Idaho biologists and members of the Idaho Wolf Oversight Committee appeared to listen carefully – but later invented excuses not to follow his expert advice. …

more »

8 Jul 2009, 11:26pm
Homo sapiens Wildlife Agencies
by admin
leave a comment

NYT Gets It Wrong, Again, As Usual

Shut up in their mega-urban hell and subjected to all the insanity therein, it is really no surprise that the editors of the financially reeling New York Times know absolutely nothing about the reality of life in the normal parts of this country.

The madness and profound ignorance of NYT editors was on display again yesterday, in an unsigned editorial that railed against hunting in National Parks. From the defunctifying NYT [here]:

Editorial: Elk Hunting in the Badlands, July 7, 2009

In 1985, 47 elk were released in the southern section of Theodore Roosevelt National Park in western North Dakota. Today, that herd numbers some 900 animals, far more than the park can sustain. The herd needs to be reduced to about 300 in order to bring it into balance with its ecosystem. What to do?

Senator Byron Dorgan’s idea — spelled out in a rider to an Interior Department appropriations bill that the Senate is expected to consider soon — is what he calls a “common sense” public elk hunt. The idea violates both common sense and the very idea of a national park.

To begin with, the proposal would legislate a management issue better left to the secretary of interior and the National Park Service. Worse, it would authorize an activity — public hunting — that is proscribed by the founding legislation for the national parks and their current management policies.

Where did the NYT get that idea? Hunting was one of the founding activities and is not proscribed. Unauthorized hunting in National Parks is not allowed, but authorized hunting is and always has been.

more »

 
  
  • Colloquia

  • Commentary and News

  • Contact

  • Follow me on Twitter

  • Categories

  • Archives

  • Recent Posts

  • Recent Comments

  • Meta