Fish and Game authorizes deputies to kill wolves

The Idaho Department of Fish and Game has delegated authority to kill wolves to county sheriff deputies in Idaho County.  It is unclear what training or methods deputies will have at their disposal when killing wolves.

Fish and Game authorizes deputies to kill wolves – AP

Cadwallader believes this is the first time his agency has delegated authority to local law enforcement agents to kill wolves.

Judge Halts Settlement Over Hundreds of Endangered Species, Orders Parties Back to Negotiations

Turf War or Legitimate Concern ?

Earlier, we took a look at a recent settlement struck between the Interior Department and WildEarth Guardians that seeks to clear the logjam with species listings under the Endangered Species Act.

The settlement would ask the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to make up or down determinations on a host of species, either granting actual protections for warranted species and affording critical habitat to those that warrant protections or determining that they do not warrant protection.

At first glance, the settlement seems to have the potential to do a lot of good – assuming (big) that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service does the right thing.  However, groups like the Center for Biological Diversity objected, arguing that the agreement was too weak, too vague and ultimately unenforceable.  The group also objected to the fact that the would-be settling parties went behind CBD’s back, despite its previous involvement in negotiations, pushing the group out of involvement and making unwise concessions despite CBD’s effort and strong legal interest on a vast majority of the species involved.

Today, the Court agreed with CBD’s challenge of the settlement arguing that the way that WildEarth Guardians and the Interior Department went about its settlement was inappropriate, and ordered all parties back into negotiations:

Judge Halts Settlement Over Hundreds of Endangered Species, Orders Parties Back to Negotiations – Center for Biological Diversity Press Release 5/17/2011 Read the rest of this entry »

Pygmy Rabbits Face Possible Last Stand In Washington

Photo Courtesy USFWS

Previous efforts to recovery pygmy rabbits to habitat in central Washington state have been conducted without success.  Now, biologists hope that releasing more captive rabbits into the wild will mean greater success:

Pygmy Rabbits Face Possible Last Stand In Washington OPB News

In north central Washington, scientists are trying once again to reintroduce a tiny endangered rabbit species into a big, predator-ridden landscape.

You may remember a previous post in which we reported Dr. Steve Herman’s experience of efforts to restore pygmy rabbits in Washington.

Idaho Fish and Game Deputy Director Moore pegged to agency’s top job

Virgil Moore isn’t the candidate whom the anti-wolf crowd wanted to have directing the IDFG. I hope he does a good job but only time will tell. There are a lot of pressures on the IDFG to be very heavy handed with wolves if they get management authority.

He’s been with the IDFG for a long time.

Idaho Fish and Game Deputy Director Moore pegged to agency’s top job.
Idaho Statesman

Elk Foundation, Wildlife Federation: Hunting groups clash over wolves

Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation throws in with cattle and sheep associations-

Story. Hunting groups clash. By Rob Chaney. Missoulian

It appears there is a difference in strategy how to get at wolves, according to the Missoulian. However, I think it is more likely the the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation (actually David Allen, CEO) has actually given up the fight for wild elk and has thrown in with the worst enemies of elk — catttle and sheep associations.They are probably satisfied with elk shooting pens.

The biggest competitor of elk for food is public range cattle.  They eat 90% the same thing, and year after on public grazing allotments at seasons end you find 80, 90, 95% utilization of grass and forbs by cattle and sheep, even though the government grazing plan usually says utilization will be 40, 50 or 60%. In most cases, if you want more elk (and other grazing wildlife), there has to be more food for them. Over hundreds of millions of acres, cows are stealing grass from elk.

Look below who has joined the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation in supporting Senator Orrin Hatch’s anti-wolf bill — almost every livestock association out there, plus a number of right wing hunting groups.

Read the rest of this entry »

Greater Yellowstone Bison show signs of inbreeding.

Government slaughter could irreparably harm bison species.

Buffalo on Horse Butte © Ken Cole

Recently I referenced unpublished data indicating that bison suffer from compromised mitochondrial DNA which could be exacerbated by government slaughter without any examination as to how it will affect the already genetically compromised herd.  That information has now been released.

Historically, bison have gone through what is known as a bottleneck where the population declined to such a low number that their genetic diversity became severely limited. The Yellowstone herd of bison is derived of only about 50 individuals, half of which were brought in from other areas such as northwest Montana and Texas. In recent years, while conducting repeated culling – where greater than half of the Yellowstone herd could be killed either by slaughter or winter kill – government managers never studied how their actions affected the genetics of the bison. For example, prior to the winter of 2007/2008 the population was estimated to be 5,500. That winter 1,631 buffalo were killed by the government and hunting but an additional 1,500 died from starvation due to the harsh winter that they were unable to escape because their habitat has been so curtailed by the policy of Montana and its greedy livestock industry. This left only 2,300 bison, or less than half of the bison herd, the following spring and possibly irreparably harmed the remaining genetic diversity of the herd. Read the rest of this entry »

Wildlife now dogged by man’s best friend?

World-wide problem for wildlife.

What is the most widespread predator in most landscapes? Dogs are, and they have important impacts to many wildlife species. From deer and elk to nesting birds to just about any species they interact with, they can be a nuisance, disease carrier, and predator.

Wildlife now dogged by man’s best friend?
by Laura Zuckerman – Reuters.