Yellowstone northern range wolf packs have all denned

It is the season when pups are born in Yellowstone and across NW Wyoming, half of Montana and most of Idaho.

All of the northern range wolves have denned. It looks like only the Agate Creek Pack will have a den area visible from the road. It’s the same one as last year — visible by scope with a lot of space between it and the road. The Slough Creek Pack did not den again where they met disaster last year. Their densite was put under siege by the “unknown” wolf pack. All of their pups were lost. They chose a new den site for 2007.

So far it looks like none of the interior Park wolf packs have denned.

This winter there was a big fight between Mollies Pack and the Druids. Mollies was probably was looking for country with more elk and fewer grizzly bears to defend their kills from. On paper, it would seem like Mollies would take the Druids. Mollies had 5 big adult wolves and five pups. The Druid adults were only the now-long time alpha male, 480M (once known as “the new black), the new alpha female 569F, and 302M who has never been a fighter. The Druids have 7 pups still with them.

The Druids won, however, sending Mollies back to the Pelican Valley. Doug Smith told me the difference was probably due to the immense ferocity of the Druid alpha male 480M, who rallied the troops so to speak. He had been in wolf fights below, including some of the Mollies that are now dead. It isn’t clear the Mollies had fought another wolf pack despite their reputation for killing bison and battling grizzly bears.

Smith said the Hayden Pack of 4 very light colored wolves is “a pack on the run.” The have been forced out of the Hayden Valley by Mollies on one side and the Gibbon Pack on the other. The Hayden pack has been on the northern range. He said they are currently in Leopold Pack territory, a big pack against which they would have little chance.

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Another victory for WWP. Cattle turnout on Washington state Wildlife Areas stopped!

News Release

Western Watersheds Efforts In Washington State stop Cattle Turn-out on the Whiskey Dick Wildlife Area and bring an Early Stop to Cattle Grazing Already Underway on Pintler Creek In The Asotin Wildlife Area.

Western Watersheds Project’s efforts in Washington State to influence the grazing of cattle in Washington State Department of Wildlife owned Wildlife Areas has proved successful, at least for the moment. The Whiskey Dick Wildlife area near Ellensburg now will not have cattle grazing on it in 2007 after work carried out by WWP members Dr. Steve Herman, Dr. Don Johnson and Bob Tuck as well as WWP’s biodiversity director, Katie Fite who traveled to Ellensburg and Asotin in the last ten days. In addition the Pintler Creek watershed in the Asotin Wildlife Area has had cattle removed after Dr. Don Johnson and Katie Fite visited the watershed and documented damage by cattle already grazing on the land.

For follow-up stories on this effort please review these articles by Scott Sandsberry from the Yakima Herald-Republic:

Readers will also be able to review photos of both Whiskey Dick and Pintler creek in the Asotin Wildlife Area on the WWP web site on a new Washington State page to be posted shortly.

Here is my earlier story on the Whiskey Dick Wildlife area situation.

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Oregon State U. “Large carnivores promote healthy ecosystems by keeping browsers on edge”

Here is a good article about the benefits of cougar populations in Zion National Park. The deer have nearly eliminated cottonwood reproduction in Zion Canyon, the main tourist attraction. It is full of people and deer. The large number of people in this congested canyon have scared away the cougar. There are a huge number of tame deer, which anyone who has been there has seen. There are no cottonwood seedlings, few flowers, and not many other species either except wild turkeys.

In nearby, unvisited canyons the biodiversity is much greater due to the indirect effects of the presence of cougar.

The hypothesis, called the “Ripple effect” is still controversial. It is named after OSU Professor William Ripple’s hypothesis that the presence of large predators creates a “landscape of fear” among ungulates, serving to keep them from eating so much in riparian zones. The improved conditions in riparian zones ripples throughout the ecoystem leading to many important secordary and third level changes.

Wolves have been reported to be having a similar effect in Yellowstone on aspen, willows, and cottonwood.

Large carnivores promote healthy ecosystems by keeping browsers on edge From Terra, the world of research at Oregon State University.

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Posted in Deer, The Great Outdoors, wildcats, Wildlife Habitat. Comments Off on Oregon State U. “Large carnivores promote healthy ecosystems by keeping browsers on edge”

Groups sue to keep gray wolf on endangered species list in Great Lakes

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This is regarding the delisting in Wisconsin, Michigan, and Minnesota. The parties suing are the Human Society of the United States, the Animal Protection Institute, and Help Our Wolves Live.

Groups sue to keep gray wolf on endangered species list
Minnesota Public Radio (AP)

St. Paul, Minn. — (AP) – Three animal advocacy groups sued the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service on Monday over its decision to remove gray wolves from the endangered species list in Minnesota, Wisconsin and Michigan.


Gannett Peak, WY may lose all its glaciers in 20 years

The highest mountain in Wyoming, Gannett Peak, in the Wind River Range is famous for its snowy top and its many glaciers, but they are melting fast.

Story in the Jackson Hole News and Guide.

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Posted in Climate change, mountain ranges. Comments Off on Gannett Peak, WY may lose all its glaciers in 20 years

Western Watersheds Project files federal lawsuit to protect bighorn sheep in Hells Canyon.

A couple weeks ago I posted a news release from the Nez Perce Tribe how the Forest Service was not living up to their committment (mandated by an earlier court ruling) to keep domestic and bighorn sheep apart in Hells Canyon.

Now the Western Watersheds Project has gone to court. Here is their news release.

Western Watersheds Project Files Litigation To Protect Rocky Mountain Bighorn Sheep

On March 30, 2007 Western Watersheds Project filed a Complaint in federal District Court in Idaho against the Payette and Nez Perce National Forests for violations of their Forest Plans, the National Environmental Policy Act, the Hells Canyon National Recreation Area Act and the Administrative Procedures Act charging that the two Forests have failed to protect Bighorn Sheep from disease transmission from domestic sheep permitted to graze on the two Forests in locations that risk die-offs of hundreds of Bighorn Sheep because of direct contact between domestic sheep and bighorns. The case was assigned to Chief Judge B. Lynn Winmill.

On April 16, 2007 WWP was joined in the litigation by the Hells Canyon Preservation Council and The Wilderness Society through an amended complaint. Also filed on April 16 was a Motion for a Temporary Restraining Order and/or preliminary injunction to prevent the turn-out of domestic sheep on five grazing allotments (Smith Mountain, Curren Hill, Marshall Mountain, Bear Pete and French Creek) on the Payette National Forest and one grazing allotment (Allison-Berg) on the Nez Perce National Forest.

Since turn-out on the critical bighorn habitat on the Smiths Mountain allotment is scheduled for May 15, 2007, the court has set a court hearing on the Motion for injunctive relief for May 3, 2007. WWP and the other plaintiffs are very ably represented by lead attorney, Laurie Rule of Advocates For The West’s Boise Office. Also representing WWP and the other groups and supporting Laurie with their excellent work are attorneys Jennifer Schemm of La Grande, Oregon and Brett Brownscombe of Portland, Oregon.

For more information including all the filings in this important case please visit the WWP web site legal pages.

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A lot of wildlife violations at Terry, Montana

Outfitter denies wildlife charges. By Billings Gazette Staff. The outfitter was cited for illegally killing and arranging transport of 11 mule deer bucks.

Terry man accused of killing eagles. By Billings Gazette Staff. Another man has been charged with killing 3 golden eagles.

I had never heard of Terry, Montana until I read this article. It is way downstream on the Yellowstone River. Link to TopoZone.

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