Greater Yellowstone grizzlies said to be doing well this year.

Mark Haroldson, Wildlife Biologist for the Interagency Grizzly Bear Study Team at the USGS Northern Rocky Mountain Science Center was quoted by Idaho Fish and Game reporting the following reproduction and motatility statistics:

As of September 1, 2006, 8 human-caused grizzly bear mortalities have been documented in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem. These losses resulted from 2 road kills, 1 mistaken identity kill, 1 management removal, and 4 that are under investigation. Six of the documented mortalities to date were male bears; 2 were females. In addition, a skull was found from a bear that likely died during the fall of 2003. Cause of death could not be determined.

Preliminary numbers this year indicate at least 46 unique females with cubs of the year. Haroldson stated “this year’s high count of females was expected after last years lower than normal count of 31. This was likely due to more females available for breeding during 2005 and a relatively good pine nut crop that fall.” Haroldson went on to say that “overall, in addition to whitebark pine, we have had a good food year with abundant biscuit root, yampa, clover, and berries, plus very few bear-human conflicts.”

Posted in Bears. 2 Comments »

More on the escaped elk

Idaho Fish and Game has a news release today on the elk.

– – –

Date: September 8, 2006
Contact: Ed Mitchell
(208) 334-3700

Governor Risch authorizes immediate harvesting of escaped elk



September 7, 2006

(208) 334-2100
BOISE – Governor Jim Risch signed an emergency Executive Order today authorizing the immediate destruction of all domestic elk that recently escaped from an elk farm in eastern Idaho.

“There is a crisis facing our elk herds in eastern Idaho. Because of the escape of domestic elk that was not reported as required by law, we now have these farm-raised elk mingling with our wild elk herds,” said Risch. The Executive Order I have signed authorizes the employees of Fish and Game and the Department of Agriculture to immediately harvest these domestic elk. The order will also allow the Fish and Game Commission to put into place emergency rules to authorize licensed hunters and private property owners to take these elk without a tag. This emergency action is being taken to protect our wild elk herds in Idaho. There is a serious risk of disease and an altered gene pool from these domestic elk and I am authorizing these activities to begin at the earliest time possible.”

Governor Risch held an emergency meeting Thursday with employees of the Fish and Game and Agriculture to develop an action plan to eradicate the escaped domestic elk.

On August 14 a complaint was filed with state agencies about some domestic elk had escaped from a private elk ranch in Fremont County. It is estimated that 160 elk had escaped through a hole in the fence. Attempts to recapture the animals have had only limited success.

The Idaho Fish and Game Commission has given 24 hours notice that they will adopt emergency rules that will allow licensed elk hunters and private property owners to harvest the domestic elk. The Commissioners will meet by conference call at 3 p.m. Friday.

Domestic elk are required to have two identify marks and ear tagging is the common method for marking. The identification tags from the harvested elk must be reported to the local Fish and Game office. While not required, tissue samples from the domestic elk is being requested to allow further testing of the animal.

The Department of Agriculture has oversight of elk farms in the state, but state law does not require the licensure of the facilities.

Wild wolves again might be at home in Oregon

I got some email and there was a post further down in the blog that there is fairly good evidence that a group or a pack of wolves has formed in Eastern Oregon near or in the Wallowa Mountains. The Wallowas are close to Hells Canyon which is the Oregon-Idaho border. There are wolf packs near Hells Canyon on the Idaho side. While it’s doubtful wolves would cross Hells Canyon in the summer (it may be the hottest place in Idaho at the bottom), they could easily swim the Snake River, at its bottom, in the winter.

The story in in todays Oregonian. Read article.

I have received emails and oral reports of wolves in the Wallowas, mostly near Halfway, OR for several years now.

Elk in the lupine at Little Eagle Meadows in the Wallowa
Mountains, NW of Halfway, OR. Copyright © Ralph Maughan
This is on the south side of the Wallowas

Wyoming adopts its first cougar plan

The Wyoming Game and Fish Commission has adopted the first mountain lion management plan the state has ever had.

The Wyoming Wildlife Federation welcomed the plan.

The Casper Star Tribune has the article. Read it.

Added on Sept. 20. Here is a link (pdf file) to the Wyoming Mountain Lion Plan.

Derby fire burns on. Nearby fires grow too


The Derby Fire

Credit: Mike Granger, Division Supervisor

Winds continued to drive the Derby Fire yesterday, now at 195,000 acres. Three other fires burned in the Absaroka mountains portion of the Absaroka-Beartooth Wilderness north of Yellowstone Park: Pine Creek, Jungle Creek and Passage Falls. The Big Creek Fire in the Gallatin Range, west of Paradise Valley, is threatening to burn into the Bozeman City watershed.

Information and stories:

  • Rancher laments backfire that likely killed cattle. Billings Gazette article.
  • Map of all these fires.
  • Story in the Billings Gazette. Read article.

September 9. Firefighters have a good day. Billings Gazette article.

Posted in Wildfires, Wildlife Habitat. Tags: . Comments Off on Derby fire burns on. Nearby fires grow too