US Fish and Wildlife is accepting comments on Montana’s wolf reduction proposal in the Bitterroot Mountains

Blaming wolves for poor elk management?

Graph of information presented in Montana's Bitterroot 10(j) proposal. (Click for Larger View)

The US Fish and Wildlife Service has issued an Environmental Assessment for Montana Fish Wildlife and Park’s wolf reduction proposal for the Bitterroot hunting district HD250 just southeast of Hamilton, Montana.  In the proposal to kill all but 12 wolves in the district, they claim that wolves are responsible for declines that they have seen in the district and that they are causing “unacceptable impacts” elk population there such that they can no longer meet the objectives they have set there.

While the elk population has declined it should be noted that there was a sharp increase in harvest of all classes of elk in the area after wolves were documented even though as one of the peer reviewers says “[t]here is strong evidence that female harvests need to be reduced when wolves are present (for example, see Nilsen et al. 2005, Journal of Applied Ecology)”. The elk count objectives for the area were also drastically increased to levels far above what the area had previously supported and harvest levels remained high as well.

There is also very little information about the population of bears and mountain lions which also take elk.  Bears, in particular, take very young elk and can have a very large impact on elk populations.

Whether or not killing large numbers of wolves and other predators is effective in increasing elk populations is still debatable but it seems apparent to me that the FWP is blaming wolves for their poor management of elk and that their objectives were based on more wishful thinking rather than what was actually possible.

Here are the Criteria for Proposing Wolf Control Measures under the 2008 NRM Gray Wolf ESA Section 10(j) Rule

  1. The basis of ungulate population or herd management objectives
  2. What data indicate that the ungulate herd is below management objectives
  3. What data indicate that wolves are a major cause of the unacceptable impact to the ungulate population
  4. Why wolf removal is a warranted solution to help restore the ungulate herd to management objectives
  5. The level and duration of wolf removal being proposed
  6. How ungulate population response to wolf removal will be measured and control actions adjusted for effectiveness
  7. Demonstration that attempts were and are being made to address other identified major causes of ungulate herd or population declines or of State or Tribal government commitment to implement possible remedies or conservation measures in addition to wolf removal

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Earthjustice’s lawyers chastise Schweitzer for comments on wolf management

Montana Governor changes direction on wolves

May be violating federal law

Today Governor Brian Schweitzer has sent a letter to the Department of Interior stating that Montana Fish Wildlife and Parks will no longer prosecute killing of wolves by landowners defending livestock in northwest Montana, they will kill entire packs upon any livestock depredation, and they will kill entire packs of wolves in the Bitterroot to protect elk herds.

This would appear to violate federal law.

The letter is here and copied below : Read the rest of this entry »

Proposed bill would strip feds of wolf authority within Montana

Another temper tantrum from the reactionaries in Montana.

State Sen. Joe Balyeat, R-Bozeman is planning on reintroducing a bill which claims that the Federal government has no right to manage wolves in Montana. This contradicts numerous court rulings and would most certainly cause the state its present ability to manage wolves and further put any delisting effort out of reach for the region.

Of course it puts in place a few ridiculous sanctions against wolf supporters who may be “party to a lawsuit with the purpose of preventing or delaying the implementation of state management of wolves.”

Another overreach by the reactionary right who want to distract people away from the issues that their ideology fails to solve. This won’t solve joblessness or any of the other problems faced by many in this poor economic climate. It might make a few people happy but the only thing that is really clear is that more jumping up and down and screaming about how unfair things are doesn’t solve the problem that they have identified.

Go ahead Joe. The wolves will thank you.

Proposed bill would strip feds of wolf authority within Montana.
Rob Chaney Missoulian

Montana FWP and Idaho Fish and Game submit wolf reduction proposals

Idaho and Montana have submitted proposals to the US Fish and Wildlife Service for approval to kill up to 186 wolves in Montana and up to 80% of the estimated 76 wolves in Idaho’s Lolo hunting zones.

Here is the IDFG proposal:

IDFG proposes an adaptive strategy to reduce the wolf population in the Lolo Zone. Wolves will be removed to manage for a minimum of 20 to 30 wolves in 3 to 5 packs. The level of removal will be dependent on pre-treatment wolf abundance. Using the minimum estimated number of 76 wolves in the Lolo Zone at the end of 2009 (Mack et al. 2010), a minimum of 40 to 50 wolves would be lethally removed during the first year. Removal during subsequent years would be lower, but variable, depending on wolf abundance. However, IDFG will maintain a minimum of 20 to 30 wolves annually in the Lolo Zone for a period of 5 years.

We’ve covered the Lolo wolf issue in detail over the last several years.
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3 wolf packs in SW Montana to be eliminated

Big Hole Valley will be empty of wolves after control actions finish.

The rancher who closed his land to public hunting will get his way once all of the wolves in the Big hole Valley are killed.

3 wolf packs in SW Montana to be eliminated.
By Nick Gevock, Montana Standard

Montana wolf hunt begins tomorrow, Sept. 15

Hunt will begin in four Montana Wilderness Areas and two more Idaho areas-

Although the Idaho wolf hunt has got all the attention, Montana’s hunt begins on a limited basis Sept. 15.  It will be in the Bob Marshall complex of Wilderness areas and the Beartooth Wilderness immediately north of Yellowstone Park.

Idaho’s hunt is currently open only in two hunting areas, but the Selway and Middle Fork hunting units open Sept. 15. The rest of Idaho will open on Oct. 1.

So far about 3500 wolf tags have been sold in Montana compared to about 11,000 in Idaho.