The awful Spread Creek Dam in Grand Teton NP to be removed

Gradual purchase of private lands made the dam pointless-

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.

Lead in Grand Teton NP ravens drops with copper bullets

Researchers hope to distribute nonlead ammunition to more hunters next year-

No doubt it dropped in other animals too. Of course, it dropped in the target — elk.

Lead in ravens drops with copper bullets. “Researchers hope to distribute nonlead ammunition to more hunters next year”. By Cory Hatch. Jackson Hole News and Guide.

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Glacier, Yellowstone and Grand Teton manage roadside griz differently

Which method works best?

Actually it seems to me that there are too few differences in result so far to make a determination.

Glacier hazes roadside bears; Grand Teton, Yellowstone let people close. By Cory Hatch, Jackson Hole News and Guide.

Back in the days before 1970, Yellowstone let people feed sandwiches and twinkes to bears along the roadside. About 60 tourists were injured a year as a result. Yet there was a great outrage from the public when the practice of roadside feeding was stopped.

Today bears are coming back to the edge or roads, but feeding is not allowed. Injuries are few to none. If injuries increase, how will the public and Park Service react?

Well-known female cougar dies from plague. Carcass found in Grand Teton National Park.

This cougar was the fifth plague victim in recent years in the Greater Yellowstone-

Well-known female cougar dies from plague. Carcass found in Grand Teton National Park. By Cory Hatch. Jackson Hole News and Guide.

The plague is generally carried by rodents. I wonder how common it is among the rodents of the Greater Yellowstone.

Yellowstone Park wolves to decline for second year in a row

27 % decline in 2008 will be followed by another decline in ’09-

At the end of 2007 there were 171 wolves that lived primarily inside Yellowstone Park, but very high pup mortality due to disease (distemper) along with the natural attrition of adult and sub-adult wolves caused a 27% decline (124 wolves). Disease had hit the pups two other years since wolves beginning in 1995 were restored to Yellowstone. In each case, pups and the population rebounded the next year. Not so in 2009.

Once again pup mortality is very high. The Druid Pack lost all 8 of its pups, for example. There is one important pup mortality difference from 2008. This year the poor pup survival does not appear to be due to a distemper outbreak or other obvious disease.

Mortality of adult wolves is increasing from the mange infestation that seeped into the Park. Mollies Pack was the first pack known to have become infested, although Park border packs in Montana in eastward in Wyoming have suffered from the debilitating mite for years now. Doug Smith, Park wolf team leader, told me that Mollies still has mange, but is showing some improvment. Perhaps the most infested pack is the famous Druids. On the northern range, the Mt. Everts Pack also struggles with mange, but the Blacktail Pack, Agate Pack, and Quadrant Packs are mange free. It is expected that at the end of the year there will probably be 6 “breeding pairs” of wolves in the Park (the same as 2008).

For the first time there are more Park packs living south of famous Northern Range. Packs inhabit all corners of the Park, although the Bechler Pack in Park’s  southwest corner lost its only radio collar when its big white founding male finally died this summer. He originally migrated from the Northern Range all the way down. He was born to the once famous Rose Creek Pack, which was slowly driven northward out of the Park by other packs to eventually disappear as a discrete entity.

The decline of Park wolves has management implications for Idaho, Montana and Wyoming. Wolf managers in the states are generally quick to say,”Oh, studies show you can manage for 30% wolf mortality a year” (note that unlike with other animals, the word “manage” when used by state wolf managers always means to kill). Even some non-affiliated biologists say 30% wolf mortality a year and a stable population go together.

Data from Yellowstone Park shows this generalization has one big exception, and it would be wise to expect that more will happen on other places.

In other news, wolves have been visible inside Grand Teton National Park, with the Antelope Pack being particularly out in the open where visitors can watch them.

Is 55 mph too fast on the Jackson Hole Highway?

Officials think too many large animals are being hit. Speeding may not be the primary cause-

Speed kills? By Whitney Royster. Casper Star Tribune.

Grand Teton, Yellowstone National Parks are among the most visited

Yellowstone is fifth; Grand Teton is ninth-

Most visited national parks. Jackson Hole Daily. By Cory Hatch.

Grizzly 399 finds a new mate, meaning kids have to fend for themselves.

Grizzly mom No. 399 ready to send cubs packing. No. 399 finds a new mate, meaning kids have to fend for themselves. By Cory Hatch. Jackson Hole News and Guide.

Grand Teton National Park’s most famous grizzly has, as grizzlies do, sent her children packing after 2 1/2 years.

Jackson Hole Bears are searching for food near homes

Bears in Jackson Hole are searching for food near homes. By Cory Hatch. Jackson Hole Daily.

A “group of bears” (probably a sow and three large cubs) has been near homes around the east boundary of Grand Teton National Park.  They are also quite far south for Jackson Hole, and they are especially hungry because the deep snow continues to cover grass, newly growing forbs, carion, etc.

The bears might be famous grizzly 399 and her cubs about which a news story was recently published.

Previous story (April 16) on grizzly bear 399 and cubs. Photogenic grizzly family making last show together. By Cory Hatch.  Jackson Hole News and Guide.

Survival of bighorns in Tetons a mystery

This is from the Jackson Hole News and Guide. It’s about how 100 bighorn sheep struggle to survive in the heights of the Tetons. It is a marginal existence, but the destruction of the bighorns of the Snake River Range and other mountain chains to the south and southeast, which would provide better habitat is not due to human development like the article says.

It is sheep, domestic sheep, disease-spreading domestic sheep.

Story by Cory Hatch in the Guide.