Druids are returning more and more to their old haunts. Sloughs are wary.

While they are often still out of sight up in the Lamar River, upstream from Lamar Valley, the 15-member Druid Pack appears to be reclaiming their old territory after they were marginalized in recent years by the surging Slough Creek Pack.

Today the third encounter of the year between the two pack was inferred, although not observed.

The Druids were observed north of highway at Soda Butte Cone on a kill. This is the first time they have been seen north of the highway (recall they used to den just above there on Druid Peak). The 8 member Slough Creek Pack was observed about a mile to mile-and-a-half away and moving away (to the west). Then the packs engaged in a long howling bout. Eventually the Sloughs continued west.

In the previous two instances, it was the Slough Creek Pack moving away from the Druids. No physical contact between them has yet been seen, although it is certainly expected.

In other news, the 13 Agate Creek wolves have been observed in some unusual places. Park Ranger-Naturalist Rick McIntyre said that today he observed them for the first time ever on Hellroaring Slopes, the long time home of many past wolf packs.

The newly named Oxbow Creek Pack, which was recently derived from the Leopolds, uses the Hellroaring area, but it has visited the Tower Junction area at least twice in recent weeks. This is generally Agate territory in fall and winter months.

Thanks go to Rick McIntyre for this information.

What Idaho Fish and Game says about the hunting season

BOTH THE GOOD AND THE BAD

A Wildlife Officer’s View of Hunting Season 2006
By George Fischer – Idaho Department of Fish and Game

For many hunters the 2006 season is winding down, yet for others the season is just beginning with whitetail rut hunts and late season elk hunts. Many bird hunters are just starting to hit the field as temperatures cool and upland birds concentrate in thicker cover. Below is a quick run down of what officers in the Grangeville area have observed this fall.

ELK – It’s been a real hit-and-miss season for elk hunters. Some have found lots of bulls and some real trophies, yet others have worked hard just to find a track. As you would expect, wolf issues have weighed heavy on many hunters though out the season. Wolves are changing elk behavior patterns and appear to be concentrating elk in small areas.

When visiting with hunters this fall, it was common to hear many hunters finding elk bunched up in small areas with many traditional hunting areas devoid of elk. Generally, back-country elk hunters found the elk moved down low early this year. Hunters have been doing great the past several years heading high for early bulls. However this fall, hunters down low had some of the better success.

DEER – Deer hunters are enjoying average success. White-tailed deer are still rebounding in lower elevations from the Epizootic Hemorrhagic Disease (EHD) outbreak of several years ago. Does and small bucks are plentiful in most areas, but as the rut approaches the larger mature bucks will begin to show themselves more.

MOOSE – Many hunters are concerned about moose numbers in many of the local units, especially in Unit 15 and the backcountry areas. Moose herd health is on the biologist’s “radar” screen. A data check shows hunter success and antler size is about the same as it has been historically. But hunters are most concerned with the number of wolf kills they are finding and the lack of cow and calf moose observed while they pursue other game.

WILD TURKEY AND UPLAND GAME BIRDS – Turkeys continue to expand into new territory in the region with numbers increasing to stabilizing. Chukar, Hungarian partridge and quail numbers are also decent. While overall numbers are down from the glory days in the early nineties, they are up from a few years ago. Pheasant numbers are about average where you can find good cover to hold them. Forest grouse made it into a good number of stew pots this year, as numbers appeared to be a little better then average in many areas.

This fall, our officers have spent the majority of their time visiting with hunters, responding to citizen calls of poaching incidents and patrolling to detect and deter poaching. Overall, most of the hunters and anglers we contacted were having a great time and doing their best to do things right. A major enforcement check station was also conducted on Highway 95 near Riggins in which several hundred hunters were checked for law compliance. Only 28 game violations were detected. For the number of hunters that passed through the check station, officers were pleased with the overall compliance.

Unfortunately, we have also responded to several “drive by” shootings of deer on private land with several animals shot and left to rot or just shot with only the antlers taken. Like it or not, there area a visible minority out there that are destroying the hunter image. They don’t care about ethics, sustaining game populations or helping assure that the tradition of hunting continues for future generations. Most poach for bloodlust and greed.

Many hunters and non-hunting citizens alike are no longer tolerating the abuse of our local wildlife treasures. They are reporting the crimes to authorities, providing crucial information that has helped bring many poachers to justice.

Please don’t tolerate poaching, even in your friends and family. To report a wildlife violation, a phone call to your local conservation officer or sheriff’s department is often the quickest route. A call to Citizens Against Poaching 1 (800)632-5999 can assure your call is kept confidential and you may be eligible for a reward.

Some of the best hunting of the year is still to come. Please do your part to help the future of our great heritage by obeying all game laws, practicing ethical hunting and passing on the tradition by taking a youngster or new hunter afield.

George Fischer is a District Conservation Officer for IDFG stationed in Grangeville.

Buffalo Field Campaign says “no habitat, no hunt” as second Montana bison hunt begins.

YELLOWSTONE BISON BORDER SHOOT BEGINS

It’s Opening Day for Montana’s Bison Hunt

Exclusive BFC Video & Photos Available Upon Request

For Immediate Release: Wednesday, November 15, 2006
Contact: BFC, Stephany Seay 406-646-0070

WEST YELLOWSTONE & GARDINER, MONTANA. Today marks the opening day of Montana’s bison hunt. America’s last wild herd, the Yellowstone bison are enjoyed and admired by millions of national park visitors, yet between today and February 15 they will be targets for gunners along Park borders. Montana has issued 140 permits to kill Yellowstone bison that enter the state.

A bull bison was shot this morning along the Madison River, less than a quarter of a mile from the western boundary of Yellowstone National Park. Another bull was killed just outside of the Park’s northern boundary, near Gardiner.

Buffalo Field Campaign (BFC) a Montana-based wild bison advocacy group that opposes the current bison management will be monitoring and documenting the hunt. BFC aims to educate hunters regarding the extreme mismanagement of the Yellowstone bison and bolster support for bison conservation in Montana.

“Our position is clear,” said Mike Mease, BFC co-founder, “No habitat, no hunt.”

Wild bison are ecologically extinct in Montana and through a joint state-federal agency plan are subjected to harassment or death any time they enter the state. Montana is a critical part of the bison’s native habitat.

The Montana Department of Livestock (DOL) is the authorizing agency of the hunt, yet this agency lacks any training in or knowledge of wildlife management. The DOL was authorized to harass bison up to a week before the hunt began. Last year the DOL cancelled the bison hunt to harass a group of 40 bison that were within the hunting zone. Their actions caused 14 bison to fall through the ice of Hebgen Lake. Two bison drowned; the rest were eventually sent to slaughter.

BFC strongly opposes the current bison hunt and calls on Montana to provide substantial habitat throughout state, allowing bison to establish a viable resident population. BFC also calls for stripping the DOL of any and all bison management authority.

“This hunt is extremely premature,” said Buffalo Field Campaign (BFC) spokeswoman Stephany Seay. “Wild bison are ecologically extinct in Montana. The state currently doesn’t value bison as a native wildlife species and livestock interests are calling the shots. Bison must be provided year-round habitat and be allowed to recover their native Montana range,” Seay maintained.

American Bison once spanned the continent, numbering between 30 and 50 million. The Yellowstone bison are America’s only continuously wild herd, numbering fewer than 4,000 animals, diminished to less than .01 percent of the bison’s former population.

–30–

Media & Outreach

Buffalo Field Campaign
P.O. Box 957
West Yellowstone, MT 59758
406-646-0070
bfc-media@wildrockies.org

http://www.buffalofieldcampaign.org

Posted in Bison. Comments Off on Buffalo Field Campaign says “no habitat, no hunt” as second Montana bison hunt begins.

The Colorado Cutthroat trout to be reviewed for ESA listing

The Colorado Cutthroat trout has been in decline (along with most sub-species of the cutthroat). As is the usual case, decline of habitat and competition from non-native fish are the causes of likely decline.

Like most potential listings nowadays, it required a federal judge to tell the USFWS to do its job and do a scientific review of the species’ actual condition.

Story. Casper Star Tribune.

Posted in Fish, politics. Comments Off on The Colorado Cutthroat trout to be reviewed for ESA listing

Harvey Manning, megahiker of Pacific Northwest dies.

I’ve written three hiking guides. It was a lot of hiking/backpacking. The walking and writing record of Harvey Manning is beyond my ability to comprehend. But Manning was more than an author of hiking guides, his record in conservation work is impressive too.

Story on Manning from the Post-Intelligener.

Greater Yellowstone grizzly bears soon to be delisted

The grizzly bear recovery in the Greater Yellowstone has been a great success, but most activists I know fear for its long run future, not because it isn’t really recovered, but because every predictable trend about the grizzly bear’s habitat points downward. In addition, habitat corridors allowing dispersal to central Idaho and Northern Montana have not been created.

Story in the Billings Gazette by Mike Stark.

Posted in Bears. 5 Comments »