US Fish and Wildlife is accepting comments on Montana’s wolf reduction proposal in the Bitterroot Mountains

Blaming wolves for poor elk management?

Graph of information presented in Montana's Bitterroot 10(j) proposal. (Click for Larger View)

The US Fish and Wildlife Service has issued an Environmental Assessment for Montana Fish Wildlife and Park’s wolf reduction proposal for the Bitterroot hunting district HD250 just southeast of Hamilton, Montana.  In the proposal to kill all but 12 wolves in the district, they claim that wolves are responsible for declines that they have seen in the district and that they are causing “unacceptable impacts” elk population there such that they can no longer meet the objectives they have set there.

While the elk population has declined it should be noted that there was a sharp increase in harvest of all classes of elk in the area after wolves were documented even though as one of the peer reviewers says “[t]here is strong evidence that female harvests need to be reduced when wolves are present (for example, see Nilsen et al. 2005, Journal of Applied Ecology)”. The elk count objectives for the area were also drastically increased to levels far above what the area had previously supported and harvest levels remained high as well.

There is also very little information about the population of bears and mountain lions which also take elk.  Bears, in particular, take very young elk and can have a very large impact on elk populations.

Whether or not killing large numbers of wolves and other predators is effective in increasing elk populations is still debatable but it seems apparent to me that the FWP is blaming wolves for their poor management of elk and that their objectives were based on more wishful thinking rather than what was actually possible.

Here are the Criteria for Proposing Wolf Control Measures under the 2008 NRM Gray Wolf ESA Section 10(j) Rule

  1. The basis of ungulate population or herd management objectives
  2. What data indicate that the ungulate herd is below management objectives
  3. What data indicate that wolves are a major cause of the unacceptable impact to the ungulate population
  4. Why wolf removal is a warranted solution to help restore the ungulate herd to management objectives
  5. The level and duration of wolf removal being proposed
  6. How ungulate population response to wolf removal will be measured and control actions adjusted for effectiveness
  7. Demonstration that attempts were and are being made to address other identified major causes of ungulate herd or population declines or of State or Tribal government commitment to implement possible remedies or conservation measures in addition to wolf removal

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Buffalo Field Campaign: On-the-ground activism

Here are a couple of articles about the Buffalo Field Campaign and how they, and other groups are funded.  Contrary to popular belief BFC’s top paid people don’t make much money (trust me, I know this because I am on their Board of Directors).  BFC is also very efficient with its money and has very resourceful people working to maintain and improve its cars and property.  Most of its funds are spent on keeping people out in the field to document what happens to the buffalo and educating visitors to Yellowstone National Park and Grand Teton National Park during the summer months.

Buffalo Field Campaign: On-the-ground activism.
By CARLY FLANDRO, Bozeman Daily Chronicle Staff Writer

The Donor Dance: How green groups stay funded.
By CARLY FLANDRO, Bozeman Daily Chronicle Staff Writer

Oil industry demand for more drilling permits to lower oil prices is phoney

The argument that more drilling, fewer regulations will bring down oil price spikes is a tired old story-

The oil industry recycles it for every international crisis, nevertheless; and the media take it seriously (sort of). Once again they are exposed, although simple logic tells us that a strategy that takes years to implement will not impact a short term price jump.

Oil and Gas Industry sitting on 7,200 drilling permits. By Environment & Energy and Environment Daily on March 29, 2011

Montana Wildlife Federation is going to sue over the oil megaloads

Idaho landowners and conservationists to get help from Montana allies-

National Wildlife Federation Prepared to Sue Montana Over Mega-loads. By George Prentice. Boise Weekly.

Exxon is now getting ready to test taking the megaloads up Highway 12 and through Montana. There could be as many as 200 gigantic loads from Exxon sent to Alberta. Some, however, are being broken down into smaller loads so they don’t have to travel on beautiful Highway 12.

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Here is some good news on the struggle fighting the tar sand oil. Ottawa fights EU’s dirty fuel label on oil sands. Climate Connections. The EU is going to label it as a dirty fuel.

Have you come across any interesting Wildlife News? March 28, 2011

Note that this replaces the 26th edition. That editionwill now move slowly into the depths of the blog. 

Cottonwood in Lamar Valley, Yellowstone National Park. © Ken Cole

Cottonwood in Lamar Valley, Yellowstone National Park. © Ken Cole

Please do not post entire articles here, just the link, the title, and your comments. Posting other people’s writing is a violation of copyright law and  takes up too much space.

Dozens protest wolves outside Missoula court hearing

Numbers were a big anti-wolf disappointment-

Disappointing small number of anti-wolf protesters show up at Molloy hearing. Missoulian. By Ken Briggeman.

Poll Finds Strong Public Support for Bison Restoration in Montana

Buffalo Bull © Ken Cole

In February the National Wildlife Federation conducted a poll of 400 Montana voters and found that they are strongly in support of bison recovery in Montana.  Particularly, 70% say they support recovery in areas such as the Spotted Dog WMA near Deer Lodge and the Charles M. Russell National Wildlife Refuge which covers 1.1 million acres in central Montana.

These results run contrary to the measures that the Montana Legislature has been to trying to push through which would make reintroduction of bison illegal or subject to the approval of county commissioners.

Among other findings, the poll showed that:

  • 63% of Montanans believe that it is possible to manage wild bison in much same ways as other wildlife species such as deer and elk.
  • 70% of Montanans favor having the Montana Department of Fish, Wildlife and parks investigate where wild bison populations could be restored.
  • 70% of Montanans favor allowing hunters to hunt wild bison
  • 72% s of Montanans support establishing a bison population at the 26,000 acre Spotted Dog Wildlife Management Area, near Deerlodge
  • 70% of Montanans support establishing a population of wild bison in and around the Charles M. Russell National Wildlife Refuge in north-central Montana.

Press Release.

Poll Results.