Severe winter causes big die-off of big game in Idaho, Montana, and Wyoming

The never-ending winter in the Northern Rockies hits deer, elk, moose, pronghorn hard-

During the winter, I made a number of posts about the hard conditions for ungulates in the Northern Rockies. The failure of spring to arrive is causing deaths to continue and grow.

Record wildlife die-offs reported in Northern Rockies. Reuters. By Laura Zuckerman.

Moose

Here is a moose that was killed on Highway 28 just north of Leadore, late this winter. I stopped to take these pictures because I wondered whether the moose had actually been killed by a car, or had been murdered by some motorized nimrod. Moose are so big that they bring out the idiot – never far below the surface – in some of the male apes hereabouts. Moose don’t flee when a vehicle stops nearby. They don’t seem to realize that people are No Damn Good.

My suspicions were aroused because there were no skid marks on the pavement near the carcass. However, apparently this was yet another case of death by vehicle. You can see the moose’s broken hind leg. But that big hole in her head may indicate that someone shot the disabled animal “to put it out of its misery.”

I felt more than usually sorry about this because the same moose (or its twin) had spent some time ambling around our place; we found its tracks out in the old sheep corrals. And one day I looked out the upstairs windows and there she was, stepping over barbed wire fences in her ludicrously effortless way. I do wonder what killed her – tractor-trailer, diesel pickup? Probably not a hybrid, or we would have read about human casualties.

So a young, healthy moose, its best reproductive years still ahead of it, was killed not by the evil wolves [sarcasm alert], but by the only moving thing out there bigger than she was. When I look at the decomposing pile of hair and meat and bone, I think that $10 a gallon gasoline can’t come fast enough. And I wonder, does anyone know where to get some Buprestid (sp?) beetles? I covet that skull, hole or no hole.

Worm infests Wyoming Moose

May infect as many as 50% of Wyoming moose

In 2008 a moose was discovered in the Star Valley that suffered from both Chronic Wasting Disease and a carotid artery worm, Elaeophora schneideri. It now turns out that up to 50% of the population may have the worm but the true extent of the effects are unknown. The worm is transmitted by the bite of a horsefly which tend to do well under hot and dry conditions.

Worm infests area Moose
Jackson Hole News & Guide.

Natural gas drilling proposal in Wyoming Range gets 40,000 comments!!

Wyoming folks love the Wyoming Range and fear fracking-

An unprecedented number of comments came in on the Plains Exploration & Production Co.’s (PXP) plan for up to 136 gas wells south of Bondurant near Noble Basin. Most of the Wyoming and adjacent Salt River Range has been withdrawn from oil and gas leasing/drilling by act of Congress, but the PXP leases slipped through before the leasing was shut down by the Wyoming Range Legacy Act.

My experience in the Noble Basin and adjacent area is of some of the finest elk and moose country in Wyoming.  A domestic sheep beleagered bighorn sheep herd is nearby. The huge number of comments seem to have strengthened the views of new Wyoming governor Matt Mead on the subject of drilling, after maybe fracking the area.

Wyoming Range drilling project garners 40,000 comments. By Environment & Energy Daily in WyoFile.

More moose on the loose in Kootenai County, Idaho

High moose density has developed in Idaho’s Panhandle area-

More moose on the loose in Kootenai County. Becky Kramer The Spokesman-Review.

It is good to point out stories like this one because they offset the much publicized stories that “all” the moose have been killed (by wolves) or whatever.  Truth is their distribution changes as well as the total population size.

What Good Are Wolves? Naturalist Norm Bishop recounts

It’s good to recall the reasons-

Norman A Bishop was a naturalist interpreter for many years at Yellowstone Park, and played a key role in the wolf restoration.  He is retired and continues a vigorous life, partly as an expert ski racer. He holds many positions including the board of the Wolf Recovery Foundation, of which I’m President.

He started circulating a version of “what good are wolves” about a month ago.  It’s good to see it up on-line because it seems that 10-15 years ago everyone interested knew the reasons restoring wolves was a good idea.  With the reality of them we learned some of the ideas were not so, and there were other good reasons no one had really predicted.

Over time the opposition distorted the reasons and just made things up.  The news media produced thoughtful stories, but also too many easy ones with headlines like “Rancher loses a dog and calf to wolves . . . heartsick.”  This is variation of a common type of journalism that is disparaged  — “fuzz and was.”  That means routine police stories and dead people, usually by accidents.  Ralph Maughan

From New West, ” ‘What Good Are Wolves?’ A growing body of scientific research shows wolves are key to the ecosystems of the Northern Rockies. Here’s a condensed version compiled by a long-time wolf advocate. By Norman A. Bishop, Guest Writer.”

Idaho state trooper to be charged with moose poaching

Cpl. Jeff Jayne, accused, is reported to be another anti-wolf worrier about declining elk, etc-

This is from back in late November, but it is incredible.  There hasn’t been any recent news on this, but here is the article in the Bonner County newspaper. Bonner County, Idaho abuts Canada. I thought the story should get wider distribution.

Trooper to face criminal charge. November 23, 2010 10:00 am | Updated. Bonner County Bee

According to information I’ve received, Jayne was invited to be on a panel after the North Idaho Wolf Alliance showed the Lords of Nature at the Little Panida Theater in Sandpoint. In the subsequent discussion, he was very anti-wolf, repeating all the rhetoric of the far out folks who hate wolves.  Well he has a right to his opinion, of course, but then he shows up with a moose out of season. What is it about these people who say wolves are killing all the game and then they end up getting caught poaching.