Idaho Fish and Game only manages to collar 4 wolves in the Frank Church

Goal was 12 wolves-

After the lawsuit and all the expense and danger of darting wolves from the air to collar them in the rugged Frank Church Wilderness, the results are in.  After risk to life and limb, instead of 12 wolves the department got only 4 collared. This is apparently the same number of collared wolves as were shot in the recent and still on-going Idaho wolf hunt (although the Frank Church area had its wolf quota met and has been closed to hunting for the season).

If I was an employee of the department I would be outraged that the state’s politicians in the legislature, Fish and Game Commission and department had me risk my life for this kind of  bullshit.

I had heard most of this a couple days ago, but didn’t know the info had been released. Today Rocky Barker put the info on his blog,It took biologists 12 helicopter landings to collar four wolves in wilderness.” Letters from the West.  By Rocky Barker.

Ken Cole finds ID Fish & Game, wolves, coughing bighorn

Coughing bighorn. That is so ominous!

So our editor, Ken Cole, just got out of the Frank and the Salmon River Mountains. Very interesting news.

An ID Fish and Game helicopter was getting fueled at Corn Creek Bar. The two people in the chopper said they had seen some wolves but none collared. On the trail, Cole found a freshly-killed elk wolves had nailed. The next day he found it had been pretty much all eaten during the night.  He said there’s no way they could collar wolves in the steep country where he was.

Next week Fish and Game is moving into the Middle Fork. Heads up to all the spotters there.

Ken saw lots of deer and elk and bighorn, but one very scary thing about the bighorn — four of them were coughing badly. That was on the slope near the confluence with the Middle Fork.   Has the Montana plague spread into central Idaho? Does anything other than pneumonia cause them to cough?  What a dismal development? He reported his observations to the ID Fish and Game office in Salmon.

Coughing Bighorn Sheep © Ken Cole

Coughing Bighorn Sheep © Ken Cole

Helicopter doing game surveys in Frank Church Wilderness © Ken Cole

Helicopter doing game surveys in Frank Church Wilderness © Ken Cole

Oral Arguments on Wilderness/Wolf litigation heard today

“Wilderness Wolf Watchers” Coalition seeks an Injunction/Temporary Restraining Order preventing the landing of helicopters

Chief District Judge B. Lynn Winmill is set to hear oral arguments on the Frank Church Wilderness/Helicopter Landing litigation this afternoon.  The “Wilderness Wolf Watchers” Coalition seeks an Injunction/Temporary Restraining Order preventing the landing of helicopters in the Frank Church Wilderness before they take place, while the merits of the case are considered.

The Idaho Department of Fish & Game and the US Forest Service each filed briefs against the Wilderness Wolf Watcher coalition’s request :

IDFG Brief
USFS Brief

Among their arguments, the government belittles several advocates’ declarations describing their trips to the Frank this winter and their potential for their wilderness experience to be harmed by the helicopter incursion.

Laurie Rule, Wilderness/Wolf advocates’ esteemed attorney, replied to the governments’ argument with this excellent brief :

Plaintiff’s Reply Brief

Read the rest of this entry »

Wilderness wolf lawsuit attracts wide environmental base

Rocky Barker’s update on the lawsuit filed by Wolf Recovery Foundation and WWP-

I want to reiterate that the part of the lawsuit applying to the Frank Church Wilderness and the chasing, darting, and landing there to radio collar wolves, is not primarily a wolf issue. It is a Wilderness integrity issue. I would be equally irritating if they were doing this to capture elk, wolverine, bears, . . . whatever.

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Wilderness wolf lawsuit attracts wide environmental base. By Rocky Barker. Idaho Statesman.

As Rocky explains, I think the declaration by Dr. Jim Peak gives a crushing blow to Idaho Fish and Game’s argument that this is necessary wildlife management. Here is Dr. Peek’s declaration. Critical reading!

WWP & Wolf Recovery Foundation Litigates Big to Protect Wolves in Central Idaho

~ by Jon Marvel

Jon Marvel
Friends,
On December 31, 2009 Western Watersheds Project and the Wolf Recovery Foundation welcomed the New Year by filing litigation in federal court challenging the federal government’s mismanagement of public lands and wolves in Central Idaho.

Read the Associated Press article :

Groups Sue to End Idaho wilderness copter landings – John Miller, AP 1/06/10

Sawtooth Mountains, photo: Lynne Stone

Sawtooth Mountains - Sawtooth National Recreation Area © Lynne Stone

This important litigation aims to protect Idaho wolves by asking a federal court to halt mismanagement in three key ways :

Read the rest of this entry »

Wilderness. Wild and free, or to be a surveillance zone?

Idaho Fish and Game Proposal defeats the purpose of Wilderness-

What could more opposite, animals and people roaming freely in the great outdoors; or struggling through rough country under the never sleeping watch of souless technology, subject to summary execution from the air on the order of distant bureaucrats?

That’s what is a stake in the Forest Service approval of radio collaring wolves in the lower 48 states’ largest Wilderness area. Does anyone think this will stop with wolves and other animals, or with the Frank Church Wilderness?

The photo shows a small part of the 2.4 million acres of the Frank Church/River of No Return Wilderness. Is this to be a killing zone and a place of government watching?
Photo by Lee Mercer.

Forest Services issues the decision memo on the helicopter landings

Well they finally issued it. People I talk with are really stirred up about this. It is not a wolf thing. It is the integrity of Wilderness. The Forest Service needs to have their hat handed to them on this one. We need to kick their sorry ass. RM

Decision Memo. Special Use Authorization to Idaho Fish and Game For Helicopter Landings and Aerial Darting To Support Gray Wolf Capture and Collaring In the Frank Church-River of No Return Wilderness

USDA Forest Service. Intermountain Region. Payette and Salmon-Challis National Forests. Idaho, Custer, Lemhi and Valley Counties, State of Idaho. Various locations in the Frank Church-River of No Return Wilderness

Rocky had a story on it yesterday in his blog. State biologists may soon dart wolves from helicopters in Frank. Rocky Barker.

Wolves to be tracked, darted, collared in Frank Church Wilderness

Forest Service will cave to Idaho Fish and Game’s plan to grossly abuse the concept of Wilderness-

Even though 90% of the comments received were opposed to Idaho Fish Game’s plan to violate the Wilderness Act because they want a better count of the number of wolves in the Frank Church Wilderness, this week the Forest Service told interested parties they were approving the request.

In 2006 Idaho Fish and Game was fended off, but this year they were back again claiming they needed to use high tech methods to count wolves in Wilderness. Because they have promised to maintain a population of 500 wolves in Idaho, well above the 100 required by the wolf restoration plan, their plan for unnecessarily exact counting is hard to understand. It makes folks very suspicious about their motives.  Worse this is a threat to the entire American Wilderness System on behalf of a one-state interest.

The purpose of the Wilderness System is to maintain wildness. Having high tech monitoring of the individual animals located by flying low, darting, and landing in this supposedly forever protected land is an abomination.

The Forest Service is advancing this plan by means of an non-appealable “categorical exclusion.” That type of document  is for public land matters so unimportant that an environmental analysis is not needed. The only remedy is to go immediately to court. The whole thing is a fraud. If it is so unimportant why did they fly up from Ogden, Utah to tell people their intentions?

The radio collaring is expected to begin in March.

Update added late on 12-17. Will helicopters land in Church wilderness? State seeking Forest Service approval to help collar wolves. By Jon Duval. Idaho Mountain Express Staff Writer

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Past stories on this.

Dec. 16. Scott Phillip’s LTE. No helicopters in wilderness. Idaho Mountain Express.

October, 2, 2009. Idaho again wants to land choppers in wilderness. By John Miller. AP
Sept. 18, 2009. Idaho Department of Fish & Game Moves to Collar Wolves in the Frank-Church Wilderness. By Brian Ertz
August 2006. Captive Wilderness. Discover Magazine.