Heavy snowfall sends elk to refuge. By Cory Hatch. Jackson Hole Daily.
It is shaping up to be a snowy winter in southern Idaho and Western Wyoming.
Heavy snowfall sends elk to refuge. By Cory Hatch. Jackson Hole Daily.
It is shaping up to be a snowy winter in southern Idaho and Western Wyoming.
Jon Tester, the Democratic Senator for Montana, is facing a tough re-election battle in 2012 which may hinge on the wolf issue. He is desperate to find a solution which allows the State of Montana to manage wolves and wants to get something passed in the Senate during the lame duck session before the next congress is sworn in.
His proposal, also supported by Montana Democratic Senator Max Baucus who sold out on the health care bill, is to change the Endangered Species Act to allow distinct population segments (DPS) to be split along state lines to allow wolves to be delisted in Idaho and Montana and not Wyoming. While this may sound like an innocuous change to the ESA it could have devastating effects on the integrity of the ESA for other species. To use political boundaries rather than biological boundaries based on defensible science would allow the Interior Department to incrementally list or delist species based on politics rather than science, a goal of ESA opponents for many years. Essentially it would gut the Act and make it even an weaker tool for protecting endangered species.
But Tester said he thinks there is still a chance that the wolf issue could be dealt with this year. He favors some plan that puts management of the wolf back into state management in Montana and Idaho.
“That is one I would like to get done this lame duck session,” Tester said. “I think the state of Montana had a pretty good plan.”
The governors of Wyoming, Idaho, and Montana are meeting with Ken Salazar in Denver on Monday to talk about wolves. It will be interesting to see what comes of this. Really, there are very few options for the Department of Interior short of trying again but until Wyoming’s plan is accepted it is unlikely they would be successful. There may still be efforts to get a legislative change to the Endangered Species Act during the lame duck session but for some reason I find them unlikely to move forward.
Otter meeting with Interior secretary, other governors on wolves.
Recall that Judge Molloy ruled in 2008 that the USFWS arbitrarily accepted Wyoming’s wolf management plan without justification after initially rejecting it. Specifically Molloy said that the USFWS “acted arbitrarily and capriciously when it approved Wyoming’s 2007 plan despite the State’s failure to commit to managing for 15 breeding pairs and the plan’s malleable trophy game area”.
Updated: Judge sides with Wyoming in wolf case.
By JEREMY PELZER Casper Star-Tribune capital bureau
We’ve been following this for about a year now, and it’s good to hear good news on bighorn sheep because so much has been bad.
Article on the transplants. By Jeff Gearino. Casper Star-Tribune in the Billings Gazette.
Seminoe Mountains BLM photo
This proposal is so obnoxious I couldn’t believe it was real the first time I heard about it. This is a world class fishing river and the reservoir would cut off the famed pronghorn migration route from the Red Desert to Grand Teton National Park that so many have worked on to keep open.
Nov. 10. Commission against Green dam. State legislators will make final decision on $750,000 proposal in December. By Cory Hatch. Jackson Hole News and Guide.
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Recent background on this Nov. 4. Green River dam up for vote. By Angus M. Thuermer Jr. Jackson Hole Daily.
Nine Yellowstone Park wolf packs had pups this year: Agate, Black
Tail, Delta, Canyon, 636 group, Lamar, Madison, Molly, Bechler
My other comment is to notice the small number of livestock losses in Wyoming this year.
Record population is reached amidst a year of bear food stress and many mortalities-
This is a replacement of the original article (it’s more complete). Grizzly numbers hit new high in Yellowstone region. By Matthew Brown. AP
Because of the late spring, just average berry crop, and failure of the whitebark pine nut crop (there will be no more successes), the record number of grizzlies (603) have been very hungry and have come into lots of contact with humans. The death toll of grizzlies is getting close to 50 just before hibernation.
Latest: Hunter shoots grizzly in the South Fork Shoshone. Wyoming Bureau, Billings Gazette
Here are the details on grizzly mortality (up to number 47). 2010 Known and Probable Grizzly Bear Mortalities in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem. Northern Rocky Mountain Science Center (NOROCK). USGS.
Here is the sorry news on Whitebark Pine nut production. http://www.nrmsc.usgs.gov/files/norock/products/IGBST/2010Wbp_FINAL.pdf
Wyoming Gray Wolf Recovery Status Report. U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Sept. 27 through Oct. 1, 2010
Although the report makes no mention of this, the report includes detailed graphs of wolf population and livestock losses to wolves over the years. Look at figure 1 in the report. If you take out one exceptional data point (a large sheep depredation in the Bighorn Mountains in 2009), there is no association between wolf numbers and depredations numbers since 2006. There was a trend until that time.
This is important because we hear from USFWS and others something like this Ad nauseum, “The good locations for wolves are all taken. As the population of wolves expands, conflicts with livestock will increase and at an accelerating rate.” [note that this not a actual quote, but a summation of many quotes].
I think the Antelope Fire on Mt. Washburn is reburning the burn from 1988 or at least some spots immediately nearby that were missed by the big fire. I took many photos of the 1988 burn on the mountain, during and after.
Fires grab attention. Jackson Hole Daily. By Thomas Dewell, Jackson Hole, Wyo
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Late season fires sweep Wyoming. By Jeremy Pelzer. Casper Star-Tribune.
From a modest beginning a few days ago, wildfires have increased greatly in Wyoming and at a time they are usually ending for the year.
With the sorry economy it is surely good we have Yellowstone Park in our area. Visit are also up at Grand Teton NP.
Yellowstone visits soar. By Cory Hatch. Jackson Hole Daily.
Although federal grizzly bear managers have been sanguine about the the death of whitebark pine in the Greater Yellowstone ecosystem, the effect on the grizzlies is obvious in Wyoming. They have come down from the subalpine where the whitebark pine will never again have a good year. As federal bear managers predicted, the grizzlies have found food at lower elevations. They love bluegrass, but the trouble is cows are often standing in it.
Wyoming grizzly captures on record pace this year. Bears might be coming to lower elevations in search of food. By Cory Hatch, Jackson Hole, Wyo.
Cory Hatch’s story makes the low elevation grizzly’s presence sound like a puzzle, but I changed the head because the cause is obvious.
Sept. 9, 2010. Related. Grizzly bear trapped near Cody, moved. Billings Gazette.
The article interestingly enough says that Idaho’s Butch Otter and and Montana’s Brian Schweitzer haven’t bothered to ask Wyoming’s retiring Governor Freudenthal whether Wyoming intends to reconsider.” I’m not sure what to make of that.
Wyoming not apologetic for thwarting wolf plans. Ben Neary Associated Press
You have probably crossed Spread Creek if you visited Grand Teton National Park. It is a broad swath of gravel with a tiny stream running through the sun-baked rocks.
I didn’t know the cause of this for many years. Finally I was shown the crumbling old Spread Creek dam, a long ago scheme to irrigate to ranch pastures. Although it will take years to restore the riparian area, it is good news that this old mistake will be removed.
Spread Creek Dam removal to improve trout habitat. Project near national park will open up 50 miles of stream to migrating cutthroat. “Spread Creek Dam will be demolished to improve trout habitat and return the area to a more natural state”. By Cory Hatch. Jackson Hole News and Guide.
It really seemed like a good idea. Wolves will kill some livestock, but a public spirited conservation group will pay generously for all verified losses and even 50% for unverified, but probable losses to wolves.
Defenders has been paying these claims for well over 15 years now. In my opinion, however, the program did not work if their intent was to generate public support or prevent opposition to wolf restoration. Defenders own studies showed that the program did not build support for wolves among livestock owners.
In retrospect, it is easy to see why it failed. Livestock owners hatred of wolves is not based on the economic value of their losses. If the losses were heavier, it might have been welcomed, but in most cases the person who lost stock could pretty easily afford to absorb the loss. As a result, they could turn down the compensation, or maybe even accept it, but vent their spleen anyway. In a few cases it is clear that owners who welcomed a payment were pressured not to apply for one.
Defender’s program will be replaced by a federal/state compensation program recently set up by law by Senators Tester of Montana and John Barrasso of Wyoming. It is less generous, however. Under the new program there has to be a proven loss and states have to pay 50%. The later won’t be hard to achieve at least in Idaho, the legislature will be happy to cut the benefits of blind old people or those tax-sucking school children to pay for the livestock.
Conservation group ends wolf predation payments. Associated Press (as printed in the Seattle PI)
Well, if anyone was uncertain about Wyoming’s comfort with Federal management of wolves in Wyoming then they need to look no farther. Wyoming Governor Dave Freudenthal isn’t going to budge on the State’s management plan and it is unlikely that a new governor or legislature will either.
EarthJustice attorney Doug Honnold makes it pretty clear.
“The law says that if a species is endangered in any significant portion, then the species, or the population in this case, needs to be listed. So somehow, Wyoming has to be part of the picture.”
2010 Big Game hunting forecast. By Christine Peterson. Casper Star-Tribune staff writer trib.com. Posted at the trib: Thursday, August 26
Folks will recognize that Cody Coyote has posted a number of comments here about this Montana and by geography, Wyoming, issue. Now there is a full length article.
Montana’s Plan to Haul Gold on the Chief Joe Highway Riles Wyoming Officials. By Dewey Vanderhoff and Rone Tempest, Wyofile, Guest Writer, reproduced in New West.
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Note that this was originally from Wyofile, a web site with perhaps the most excellent news writing in Wyoming.
Here is the latest wolf news latest wolf news from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service for Wyoming where the feds still officially manage wolves. There are links to other resources.
I converted their news from .doc to a pdf file in an effort to make it readable here. Unfortunately the table giving livestock depredations in Wyoming did not convert (it is blank). That is too bad because the numbers are so trivial — 17 cattle (mostly calves); 32 sheep.
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Hysteria about wolves in Idaho and Montana continues to grow, fanned by politicians and long time anti-government activists. I predict that 20 years from now this controversy will be studied as a classic case of how rumor fans social hysteria. For those interested there is a vast literature on this in social psychology under the sub-discipline of collective behavior.
I think the rise of the Internet has made this development easier in that people can spend so much of their time “talking” with those who share their views, while ignoring outside information and trading rumor. Fifty years ago it would be much more difficult for this kind of thingwyom-to spread,
Wyoming is angry that they can’t get their way on wolves and now that a judge has reminded them that their plan sucks they’re digging in even further.
Maybe the title of the article should read “GOP governor candidates, Freudenthal say they’ll keep wolves on the Endangered Species List”. Fine with me because otherwise the result will be wholesale killing of wolves throughout the 3 states.
GOP governor candidates, Freudenthal say they’ll keep fighting for Wyoming wolf plan.
By JOAN BARRON – Casper Star Tribune
The wolves are not killing all of the elk or all of the cows and sheep. And, as Ralph continually says here, this is a cultural conflict, not one based on science or rationality. The fight will continue until it becomes one based on science and rationality. Until the hatred of wolves subsides, and those people with political power come up with rational, sound management plans, I’m sure there will be those who argue against delisting. I’ll be one of them as I don’t believe that the state’s management plans are sound or rational or immune to change once wolves are delisted.
In Wyoming, the current plan would leave only wolves in Yellowstone and the surrounding wilderness and would not allow dispersal into other suitable areas or to other states. In effect it would allow for ~150 wolves. That’s not acceptable, rational, or scientifically sound.
In Idaho the IDFG can claim to manage for a certain level of ~518 but the Legislature will undoubtably step in and mandate that they manage for the minimum level of ~109-150. That’s not acceptable, rational, or scientifically sound.
In Montana, the state that many seem to believe has the most sound management plan, only has to maintain 15 breeding pairs after delisting. That’s not acceptable, rational, or scientifically sound.
The states will still be required to maintain genetic connectivity once delisting occurs but at these numbers it won’t happen naturally so they have even considered transporting wolves from one area to another to get around this requirement. That’s not acceptable, rational, or scientifically sound.
I, and other wolf advocates, want acceptable, rational, and scientifically sound management of wolves. The states are not prepared to give them that respect and wolf advocates should not be afraid to say it. Rather than be afraid of our victories and make cautious statements that might offend the so-called “middle” or anti-wolf people, we should be happy that we have been vindicated in court and that the rule of law stands. We have no other venue where the states will listen and we can’t be sorry to use it.
The state of Wyoming wants to confine wolves to 13% of the state, and Judge Molloy struck that plan down back in 2008. Currently under federal wolf management wolves are allowed to inhabit anywhere in Wyoming under federal protection, dependent of course on their behavior.
It seems the wolves have to be very well behaved because in an area northwest of Kemmerer, USFWS told Wildlife Services to kill a lone adult male wolf and a female and all of her pups because one lamb had been confirmed killed by wolves. Other dead sheep (number not released) were found dead in the general area but the cause could not be determined.
Here are some thoughts (1) that is a lot of dead wolves to compensate for a dead lamb, (2) the federal government seems to be carrying out Wyoming’s illegal wolf plan but in a de facto way, (3) this is an ideal way to make sure wolves never get to Colorado, northern Utah or southeast Idaho.
The story is in the official latest Wyoming weekly wolf report of June 25, 2010. I converted the Microsoft Word report to a pdf file and put emphasis (boldface) to the relevant parts of the story.
Story from National Parks Traveler. By Kurt Repanshek
Evert recently wrote Vascular Plants of the Greater Yellowstone Area. He knew the Yellowstone country well. His death certainly is a loss.
The Wyoming Governor continues his complaining about wolves and the litigation surrounding them by claiming that the groups suing over delisting are “venue shopping”. He wants to be the one to decide where a case is heard because he likes the judges where he lives. Frankly, he probably would rather have the Feds managing wolves in Wyoming anyway so they have someone else to blame things on and have a distraction for the wholesale destruction of their landscape by energy developers. Wyoming simply doesn’t want the responsibility of wolf management.
As Ralph accurately states:
“Regarding WY Gov. Freudenthal’s bitching about favorable judicial forums, he seeks a favorable court when he sues. Everyone does.
Regardless, the wolf case should have been handled in Montana, not Wyoming. The federal headquarters of the wolf project is in Helena, MT.
He’s a hypocrite.
Jenny Harbine from EarthJustice puts it well too:
“To hear him tell it, you would think wolves only exist in Wyoming, and that Wyoming should have the first crack at deciding the fate of any resource in the entire region,” Jenny Harbine said. “But the truth of the matter is that wolves exist in Montana, Idaho and Wyoming, and Wyoming hasn’t cornered the market on judicial resolution of the conservation issues.”
Gov raps ‘venue shopping’.
By CHAD BALDWIN – Casper Star Tribune
We haven’t discussed this for a couple years. There is an especially good article on Trapper’s Point constriction in Wyofile.com
The Trappers’ Point Antelope Trail – A Precarious Wildlife Corridor. By Emilene Ostlind. Wyofile.
When it comes to grizzly bears, a threatened species, you can legally shoot one in self defense. However, the recent Jackson, WY conviction of a man who shot a grizzly in what he said was self defense shows that self defense does not mean you are justified killing a griz just because you saw it and were frightened.
Trial sets precedent. Verdict in grizzly bear shooting shows that people must justify a sense of threat. By Cory Hatch and Sarah Lison, Jackson Hole News and Guide.
Anti-wolf folks argue that a population goal deal (or promise) was violated by U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service when it did not delist wolves in the Idaho, Montana and Wyoming as soon as the states had 300 wolves in total. Project leader, Ed Bangs, however, said agency changed the goal to keep up with the best available science.
The 1987 goal (years before the wolf reintroduction actually took place) was 30 breeding pairs of wolves spread out over the three states. After reintroduction this was changed to 15 breeding pairs in each of the states and a population of at least 150 wolves in each state. Bangs said that science showed the 1987 goal was too lean. He said understood that as soon as he took the job he now holds.
The Jackson Hole News and Guide April 28 reported their analysis of the 2010 Big Game Management Summary of Wyoming Game and Fish. This article is not on-line, so I will summarize.
The annual census reported almost 103,000 elk in the 27 herds counted this winter. The state’s overall objective for these herds is about 76,000. The post-hunt count early in 2009 was about 1000 less and back in 2008 it was only 93,000 elk.
Some folks complain that elk might be numerous overall, but they are way down where I outfit, hunt, or whatever. The News reports, however, that 20 of the 27 herds were above objectives. Seven were at objective. None were below. There was incomplete data for 8 (so not included in the 27 herds).
Hunters in WY killed 22,839 elk in 2009 compared to 20,866 in 2008. The time for the average hunter to kill an elk declined in 2009 to 17.6 recreation days compared to 18.9 in 2008. Note that this calculation also includes those who hunted but were not successful.
The Jackson Hole elk herd count was 11,693, 6% above objectives. The objective is 11,000. The cow/elk calf ratio was 24, down from the 10-year average of 25. The ratio was suspected to be lower in the Teton Wilderness and southern Yellowstone Park. It was not calculated.
The Targhee herd was not surveyed. The Fall Creek herd, to the south of Jackson was 16% over objective. More tags for that herd will be issued this year.
Folks should remember that the state’s elk objectives, including local objectives are set under strong pressure from the powerful livestock industry. They usually don’t like to see “important animals” like cattle and sheep having to compete much with elk for grass.
So the Jackson Hole wolves rarely engage in surplus killing. This uncommon event is morphed into “killing for fun” by hard core antis. Wolves are most likely to abandon a carcass when humans disturb it, but that is only some packs. Another Wyoming myth dispelled is that the elk leave usually leave the state feedgrounds every time wolves make a kill.
About the study in the Jackson Hole News and Guide. . . Wolves make few unnecessary elk kills, study says. Wapiti tend to stay on Gros Ventre feedgrounds during attacks. Story is by Cory Hatch.
Be sure to read the refusal of a local outfitter to believe the study. He questions the motives of the USFWS and thinks that they are trying to make the wolf “sound as good as they can”. This lack of acceptance is what I’d expect. A person’s attitudes are tied together if they are strongly held. When new information arrives that does match the attitudes, a person will change their thinking in the way that causes them the least discomfort. In this case, the easiest change is to discredit the study (after all it is a federal study). Attitude change is large topic in the field of social psychology. One conclusion is that people are not rational in the short run when they get dissonant information (information they don’t like). That is because accepting unpleasant information may make them feel silly, harm their ties to friends, require them to change a lot of other attitudes, cause them to be frightened, etc.
The newspaper story also mentions the data from the latest Wyoming wolf weekly. Here is a direct link.
Wind power is not a popular thing in Wyoming for some and very popular for others. It is very unpopular for advocates for sage grouse and other birds.
High Country News