Sheep link to bighorn illness adds to grazing controversy

BLM reviewing sheep allotments within 30 miles of bighorn populations.

Bighorn Sheep © Ken Cole

This is another exposé about the fallout of the Payette bighorn viability decision and the latest science which conclusively shows that domestic sheep diseases kill bighorn sheep. What jumps out at me is the information contained near the bottom of the article which says that the BLM is evaluating its policy regarding the two species in Idaho.

“BLM spokeswoman Jessica Gardetto said her agency is working statewide with agencies and grazing permittees on regional separation response plans, but has no timeline for their completion. Biologists are using a 30-mile separation as a guide and will review grazing allotments within that distance first.”

The bigger question here regards what is happening elsewhere. Are the BLM and Forest Service reviewing their sheep grazing permits in other states? I should hope so because, in places like Nevada, where sheep grazing routinely occurs extremely close to, or within, occupied bighorn habitat, the risk of exposure is extremely high and underestimated by the agencies in favor of the “custom and culture” of the elite ranchers who often turn out to be big corporations like Barrick Gold or the Southern Nevada Water Authority.
Read the rest of this entry »

Montana Denied Permission to Hunt Gray Wolves

No Montana “conservation hunt” on wolves-

It looks like the USFWS saw through Montana’s notion of having a sport hunt on wolves under the guise of a “conservation hunt”. They said no.

Montana – Permission Denied to Hunt Gray Wolves. Associated Press in the New York Times

Longer version:

Federal officials deny Montana request to hold a ‘conservation hunt’ for endangered wolves.
Canadian Business Online

Even longer version:

Federal officials deny Montana wolf hunt request.

Posted in Montana wolves, wolf hunt, Wolves. Tags: , , . Comments Off on Montana Denied Permission to Hunt Gray Wolves

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.
Read the rest of this entry »

State scrambling to revive wolf hunt

…..and GUT the Endangered Species Act.
The details of the overreach.

Wolf © Ken Cole

The States are asking their congressional delegations to GUT the Endangered Species Act by changing the language of the Act so that it would allow species to be delisted based on state boundaries. In other words, it would allow the USFWS to use arbitrary, political rationalizations to decide when and where species can receive protection or to incrementally list or delist populations using rationalizations that are not based on the “best available science”. The ramifications of this are pretty profound and conservation groups should take notice of this. As the comments of the Montana FWP commissioners shows, they are not talking just about wolves but about all species.

“Changing the Endangered Species Act sounds like a tough, uphill job, but it’s important when you look at other species like grizzlies and sage grouse,” said Commissioner Dan Vermillion. “Montana has done a good job managing wildlife and we need to make sure we are not penalized (because of other states’ actions).”

Read the rest of this entry »

Comment on Lolo 10(j) Wolf Reduction Proposal

IDFG claims wolves are having “unacceptable impacts” in the Lolo Zone

Now that the US Fish and Wildlife calls the shots again on wolves, the Idaho Fish and Game is proposing to kill all but 20-30 wolves in the Lolo Zone for a period of 5 years. Of course the current 10j rule was weakened so that the states didn’t have to prove that wolves were the major cause behind the inability of the ungulate population to reach their objectives, rather, they only have to show that wolves are a major cause. Because of this, the IDFG says that wolves are a major cause for the failure to meet objectives which conveniently allows them to ignore that the major cause is habitat, not just its reduced carrying capacity, but the changes which have made elk more vulnerable to predation.

It could be argued that given habitat succession, habitat potential may have declined more rapidly than elk abundance, and thus, habitat potential might be below the level necessary to sustain the elk population at objectives in the Lolo Zone. Given the rate of succession (USDA 1999), it is inconceivable that habitat potential might decline at such an aggressive rate.

The management objectives for the Lolo were set in 1999 but, given habitat changes, they are unrealistic and killing wolves will likely only have a very short term effect on elk populations here. The underlying issues of habitat are not really being addressed and possibly cannot be adequately addressed because they are out of our control.

The management objectives for elk in the Lolo Zone (GMUs 10 and 12) are to maintain an elk population consisting of 6,100 – 9,100 cow elk and 1,300 – 1,900 bull elk (Kuck 1999). Individual GMU objectives for the Lolo Zone are: 4,200 – 6,200 cow elk and 900 – 1,300 bull elk in GMU 10; and 1,900 – 2,900 cow elk and 400 – 600 bull elk in GMU 12 (Kuck 1999).

Comment on Lolo 10(j) Wolf Reduction Proposal.
Comment Deadline is August 30, 2010

I’ve written about this before numerous times:

A Whackadoodle Response to the Wolf Decision

N. Idaho outfitter reports 4 wolves killed

IDFG releases Video Summarizing Wolf Hunt

Heads up. Commission Meeting discussing this fall’s wolf hunt set for August 16.

Increased quotas, trapping, snaring, and electronic calls are being considered.

If you want your voice to be heard this is your opportunity. Don’t be intimidated and speak your mind.

F&G Commission To Meet In Idaho Falls In August

The Idaho Fish and Game Commission will meet August 16 in Idaho Falls.

Commissioners will consider proposed seasons, harvest limits and methods of take on gray wolves. They also will consider proposed seasons on waterfowl and sage-grouse.

Routine agenda items also include falconry seasons and limits and Fish and Game’s fiscal 2012 budget.

F&G Commission To Meet In Idaho Falls In August.
IDFG Press Release

Update: It turns out that there is no public hearing at this meeting. Only written comments will be accepted and the public may sit in on the meeting.  To comment try:

Montana FWP more than doubles wolf hunt quota for 2010

186 allowed to be taken in an attempt to reduce MT wolf population to between 411 and 488.

This has been in the news for a while but we didn’t report it here because we all have been traveling.

Montana wants to reduce the population of wolves to between 411 and 488. They have decided to allow hunters to kill up to 186 wolves of which 111 could be taken from northwest Montana, 34 in western Montana, and 34 in southwest Montana.

It’s still a very hot debate as was pointed out by the commissioners:

Commissioner Ron Moody of Lewistown described many of the comments as expressing a “narrow, culturally bigoted point of view which expresses an inflexible ideological” contempt for people with other viewpoints.

Montana FWP more than doubles wolf hunt quota for 2010.
By JENNIFER McKEE Missoulian State Bureau

IDFG releases Video Summarizing Wolf Hunt

Cal Groen Claims that the balance in the Lolo “is completely out of whack”

People have been discussing this on another thread but I thought it deserved its own.

Some of the same old arguments on why even more wolves need to be killed next year are being made and how IDFG will allow even greater killing of wolves in the Lolo.

One notable comment made by Cal Groen is that the balance in the Lolo Zone “is completely out of whack”.

As JB points out:

The idea of “balance” is an ecological myth; it is disconcerting to see F&G agencies perpetuate this myth. Again, ecosystems are dynamic. To imply that populations are “out of whack” when they are changing suggests that there exists some ideal equilibrium between predator and prey. This simply is not true. Populations fluctuate and that fluctuation is natural. The real reason IDF&G wants to manipulate wolves is so that they can maximize elk hunting opportunities in these zones.

The following graphs show the trends in overall elk numbers in the Lolo Zone and are different from those presented here previously which showed harvest numbers. Harvest numbers are not a good representation of what is happening to the elk population because they are influenced by management decisions.

Elk numbers in Lolo Unit 12

Elk number in Lolo Unit 10

It is apparent from the graphs that something has been going on here for many years previous to wolves showing up. The video even explains that there has been changes in the habitat here but then goes on to implicate wolves as the reason that elk remain depressed. But WHY are wolves able to keep elk populations depressed here as opposed to other areas with wolves? The video doesn’t address this. Could it be the same reason that caused the decline in the elk population in the first place. Is it not possible that the habitat here just makes elk more vulnerable to wolf predation?

Another comment made is that the hunt is responsible for halting the 20% increases in population seen in previous years. Part of that may be true, the part about stopping the growth in the population but the rate of growth has been in steady decline for a number of years as the habitat filled with wolves and the 20% rate hasn’t been seen for several years. This same phenomenon has been seen in Yellowstone but to a greater degree. Wolves don’t “overpopulate” in the sense that a rabbit might. They may overshoot their resource but like in Yellowstone, their reproductive rate or success may be impacted by nutrition or outright killing by other wolves. Disease and parasites like parvo virus, distemper, and mange also played a role in Yellowstone.

Idaho wolf population growth rate

Idaho wolf population growth rate

Year Wolves Percent Growth
1994 3
1995 14 367%
1996 42 200%
1997 71 69%
1998 114 61%
1999 156 37%
2000 196 26%
2001 261 33%
2002 289 11%
2003 362 25%
2004 418 15%
2005 518 24%
2006 673 30%
2007 764 14%
2008 856 12%
2009 843 -2%

Is it legal to hunt Idaho wildlife by honing in on radio collars?

Yes, according to the IDFG.

Over on a popular, unnamed anti-wolf website there has been discussion of using radio receivers to track and hunt wolves and the frequencies of the radio collars on them so I asked the IDFG about this. I sent them the exchanges which have taken place there and, specifically, I asked “I would like to know if there is any language which prohibits the practice of hunting wolves, elk, or deer with the aid of radio tracking.”

The reply I received from Jon Heggen, Chief of the Enforcement Bureau for the Idaho Department of Fish & Game:

There is currently no prohibition against the use of radio tracking equipment for the taking of big game.

Radio collar frequencies are considered [just] a trade secret and therefore their disclosure is exempt from Idaho’s public records law.

The problem is that the radio collars frequencies are not a secret. A quick search of documents obtained through public records requests does reveal radio frequencies of wolves and it is common practice to give ranchers receivers with the frequencies of collared wolves. Are we to believe, that with the animosity towards wolves and, frankly, other wildlife, that this information will remain only in the hands of those with the authority to have it?

This is not only a problem with wolves. There are hundreds of elk, deer, bighorn sheep, grizzly bears, wolverines and many other species that are burdened by radio devices. It appears, based on my question and the answer given, that there is a gaping hole in wildlife protection that needs to be filled legislatively or through the commission. Is the state legislature or IDFG Commission going to fill this hole as quickly as they do when the profits of the livestock industry or outfitting industry are threatened or are they going to scoff it off because it might result in the death of a few more wolves and possibly other species?

Is the idea of “fair chase” a thing of the past?

Federal agents hunt for wolves from 5 Montana packs

Up to 22 wolves could be killed in Montana

“Carolyn Sime with Montana Fish Wildlife and Parks says it is unusual to have so many livestock attacks this late in the year.”

This couldn’t be what happens when you disrupt pack structure with a hunt could it? These questions need to be asked of wolf managers.

See: Wolf hunt information and effects that need to be collected

Federal agents hunt for wolves from 5 packs. Associated Press – Idaho Statesman

So far this year 91 Montana wolves were killed by livestock owners directly or Wildlife Services (mostly WS). 112 were killed in the hunt, natural causes, etc. This is a total of 203 dead wolves. If this action is carried out the dead wolf total for the year could reach 225, or 45% of the state’s wolf population. The rule of thumb, meaning it isn’t a hard and fast percentage, is that somewhat over 30% of the wolves in a state can die during a year with no decline in the wolf population.

Official: Montana Wolf hunt was effective

The real story is that 40% of the wolves in Montana were killed this year-

Official: Wolf hunt was effective. By Matthew Brown. Associated Press

The rule of thumb is that wolves can withstand annual mortality of about 30 per cent of the adult wolves, and the population will remain stable. The article below indicates that hunters killed 14% of Montana’s wolf population this year. On the other hand, 26% were killed by Wildlife Services, poachers, ranchers defending their livestock, and natural mortality. They aren’t done yet either. There was just an article about them taking out a wolf pack near Helena because the wolves killed a couple sheep dogs and a goat or something. These officials, not named in the article, want to increase the number of wolves  taken in the hunt next year, but what the figures show is that it’s not the hunt that threatens the wolves, but the killing of wolf packs for mostly trivial livestock losses.

I’m not sure why the article ended with this: “Ranchers like Jerry Ehmann, 63, counter that the state’s hunt is not doing enough. Ehmann said he used to run about 200 head of cattle on 25,000 acres of public land in southwestern Montana’s Bitterroot Range. After wolves started harassing his animals this year and five calves went missing, Ehmann decided to cut back to only 72 animals and keep them fenced in on his ranch near Sula. He sold off the remaining cattle in November.”

Are we really to believe that the only reason this rancher reduced his herd of 200 to 72 is because “5 calves went missing” — not killed by wolves, but just missing. Calves too, not cattle. Isn’t there a recession or something going on too?  😦 And isn’t this rancher getting toward retirement age?

Update editorial in the Great Falls Tribune. Highly regulated wolf hunt does seem like the right track. The Tribune looks at the Montana hunt and finds it to be sucessful and not a threat to the wolf population. What Tribune hasn’t looked at, what few look at, and what cause dispute between some hunters and wolf advocates, is the focus on hunting.

The Montana problem is not wolf hunting, it is Wildlife Service killers shooting wolves for usually minor offenses like killing a couple sheep or cow calves or maybe someone just ” a couple of my livestock gone missing.”

Shooting of collared wolves impacts research

Game managers may make changes in hunting season for next year-

Wow! The stories about the shooting of the Park wolves who happened to be just north of the Park keep coming. This is another one.

This one today is by Brett French in the Billings Gazette.

Actually we don’t know that this hasn’t happened in Idaho too.  Idaho’s “Upper Snake” wolf hunting zone wraps around the SW corner of Yellowstone Park and almost touches Grand Teton NP where the wolf population seems to have been expanding a bit lately.

Idaho doesn’t report where the wolf kills took place  except by zone. Last week I called Idaho’s wolf manager for additional info, but he never returned my message. You have to wonder.

Idaho Public Broadcasting Focuses on Wolves and Wolf Hunt in Idaho

Two Programs and an interview.

Wolf © Ken Cole

Wolf © Ken Cole

Tonight (Thursday, October 15th) Idaho Public Television will focus on wolves in Idaho. They will start off the night with an episode of Outdoor Idaho and open up discussion about wolves following the program on Dialogue where you can call in to ask questions of the panelists.

Panelists include:
Jon Rachael, wildlife manager, Idaho Department of Fish and Game
Suzanne Asha Stone, Defenders of Wildlife
Carter Niemeyer, former wolf recovery coordinator, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
Mike Popp, hunter and outfitter, Kamiah, ID

This morning Boise State Radio played an interesting interview with Carter Niemeyer.

Wolves in Idaho
Idaho Public Television Outdoor Idaho

Wolf Hunting
Idaho Public Television Dialogue

To Catch a Wolf an interview with Carter Niemeyer about wolf trapping in Idaho.
Boise State Radio

Are Hunters Stupid?–The Unintended Consequences of Wolf Hunting

George Wuerthner has written an essay exploring the reaction of many people to the wolf hunt.

Are Hunters Stupid?–The Unintended Consequences of Wolf Hunting . New West.

Salazar’s legacy: historical first state-sanctioned hunt of Northern Rockies gray wolves

Salazar is part of the West’s landed nobility-

Salazar’s legacy: historical first state-sanctioned hunt of Northern Rockies gray wolves. Seattle Environmental Policy Examiner. By Jean Williams

“The state’s [that is, Idaho] object is to reduce the current wolf population by half.  This is a species that was removed prematurely from ESA protection, under authority by Interior Secretary, Ken Salazar.  The Secretary is considered by many conservations, to have a personal bias, due to the fact that he is also a landowner, rancher, and member of the Cattlemen’s association.”

Wolf hunt information and effects that need to be collected

Side-effects of policies are often the most interesting-

So the hunt is underway in part of Idaho. All of Idaho will be added in a month. Meanwhile Montana will begin a hunt. Most people will focus on whether somebody got a wolf, where, how?  There will be pleasure and outrage. Some basic statistics will be kept.

One of the most important and interesting things about new policies is what side-effects are there, including unanticipated ones?

So I am listing some possible side effects. Some are so obvious the various groups and governments are probably keeping track. Some entities might also not want them tracked. Some are not feasible to collect.

  • What happens to a disrupted wolf pack? Do they usually regroup or do they disperse? Will disrupted packs and orphaned wolves take more or less livestock per wolf, or in total, than before the hunt?
  • What percentage of wolves limp off wounded? And then, will wounded wolves resort to killing livestock?  Will wounded wolves be a danger to people?  Healthy wolves haven’t been.
  • How many coyotes will be shot? How many dogs?
  • Will the hunt serve to disperse wolves to new areas, including populated ones?
  • How fast will the wolves learn that they are now prey to humans?  If so or when, how will their behavior change?
  • Will disrupted packs kill fewer elk and deer or more?  We know that smaller packs and lone wolves lose more of their carcass to scavengers and so they might possibly hunt more often.
  • Will the hunt increase strife between wolves — more wolves killing each other?
  • Will it have effects on the genetic structure of the population of wolves in Idaho and Montana?
  • In the course of a year, or two and more if wolf hunts continue, what is observed degree of association between the percentage of wolves killed in an area and the deer and elk population? Actually this is a main effect — a stated intention of the hunt. So we expect Idaho Fish and Game to keep very good records if their rationale for the hunt is for real.
  • How much money is made (or lost) by the Departments on the hunts? This needs to also apply to the reestablishment of radio collars.
  • How many killed or wounded wolves were there in addition to those tagged?

Kamiah hunter shoots wolf; may have been first of the season

Photos show what may be first wolf shot in Idaho’s wolf hunt

I am guessing this is not the only wolf shot today.

Kamiah hunter shoots wolf; may have been first of the season
Idaho Statesman

Big hearing on plea for injunction of Idaho and Montana wolf hunts is this morning in Missoula courtroom

Judge Molloy could allow hunts to procede or stop them despite the on-going sale of tags-

I’ve also wondered if some middle ground ruling is possible, given the intense emotion on both sides of the issue. I’d like to see a new delisting rule crafted. The content of the current rules bothers me more than the wolf hunt because as always the real threat to the long term viability of the wolf recovery are the cattle and sheep industries and their captive federal agency, Wildlife Services, that goes around killing wildlife some influential people think are problems.

Story in the Missoulian. By John Miller, AP.

If the hunt is canceled Idaho wolf tags sold (over 10,000) will have to be refunded. There will probably be some illegal or vigilante action this time. Hopefully folks will obey the law. It’s doubtful, however, that enough wolves would be killed illegally to make any biological difference to the states’ wolf population.

Montana Gov: State would fight injunction on wolves

This is hardly news. I won’t bother to put a link, but has anyone thought of this . . .?

What if Judge Molloy allows the hunt, but puts the wolf back on the endangered species list?

This doesn’t have to be an all or nothing kind of decision. The judge could allow the hunt to begin under careful scutiny of the Court and grant the injunction the minute any “funny stuff” starts. The plaintiffs make a number of claims in the lawsuit. It is not just an anti-hunt suit. JB recently posted a list of the total list of the claims the plaintiffs are making in their brief.

As I have written many times, I fear the the cattle and sheep association/Wildlife Services wolf killing machine more than a well regulated wolf hunt. The wolves will probably replenish themselves in a year, but they won’t come back from the Idaho Fish and Game Commission’s stated intent to use minor livestock depredations as an excuse to kill dozens of wolf packs.  Hunting won’t harm genetic diversity, it might make the wolves more wary, it might even spread them to other states — awesome!!  High tech Wildlife Service killers, however, won’t allow any wolves to remain in a pack.

News stories on setting the Idaho wolf quota

Links to stories on the Idaho Fish and Game decisions to allow the hunt to kill up to 220 wolves-

Idaho sets a limit of 220 for wolf hunt. If hunters harvest that many, the state’s population of wolves could drop almost 25%. By Rodger Phillips. Idaho Statesman.

This headline is a bit misleading because the pups of the next year will replace all, or some of wolves that are killed. I do think the population will drop some over the course to the next year because there will be illegal mortality on top of 220, and the Commissioners made it clear they want Wildlife Services to kill lots of wolves whenever the wolves kill a lamb or a cow calf.

The depredation of livestock will be an excuse.  I hope they don’t bait wolves (and, therefore, bears) by encouraging livestock operators to lead even more dead carcasses around than they do.

Ready, Aim, Fire Up Controversy. Idaho Approves Wolf Hunt, Stirs Ruckus. Wolf advocates decried the decision. By Amy Linn. New West.

Idaho F&G commissioners approve hunt of 220 wolves. By John Miller. Associated Press Writer

The lawsuit needs to go on because the Idaho political establishment wants to keep this issue white hot and kill most of the wolves in Idaho. A real hunt that keeps a relatively stable wolf population and slowly defuses the issue is not what they want.

Added on Aug. 19. Idaho wolf hunt set to begin. F&G officials take more cautious approach in setting 2009 quota. By Jason Kauffman. Idaho Mountain Express.

Idaho Fish and Game Commission sets wolf hunt quota today

Commission will decide today whether an Idaho wolf hunt will be accepted by wolf conservationists or whether a bitter battle begins-

Update: Commission sets wolf quota at 220 wolves.
More information will follow when I get it. Here is some.
Idaho’s wolf hunting limit set at 220
. Idaho Statesman. From what I read, including the comments in the Statesman, it looks like I’m shaping up as a moderate on this one.

The Idaho Fish and Game Commission meets in Idaho Falls today to set the wolf kill quota just 2 weeks before the wolf season begins. Tags will go on sale Aug. 24. In July, Montana set a wolf quota of 75 after seeking public comment and developing computer models of various quotas and their estimated effect on wolf populations.

Idaho hasn’t sought public input. As I write this, how the quota was determined is not clear.  Some indications are they will have a quota as high as 500 to 700 wolves. Idaho has the best wolf habitat in the lower 48 states as indicated by its current population of perhaps 1000 wolves compared to adjacent Montana with just half as many despite having wolves in the state since the 1980s, beginning with natural in-migration from Canada.

Some people think wolf hunting will prove difficult and the quota won’t be filled. Outdoor writers Rocky Barker of the Idaho Statesman is a well know person who holds to this school of thought.  Others believe there will be a slaughter — wolves being easy to find while elk or deer hunting coupled with a very long hunting season. I tend to the latter because of the length of the season and the likelihood that a fair number of hunters will shot two, tag one, and leave the other.

My view is that I am not against a wolf hunt, but a real hunt of any game animal does not as its purpose reduce the population by very much. If the Commission announced they were going to reduce the state’s elk population by half, for example, that would not be a hunt. Of course, they wouldn’t do that.

Because wolves have not been hunted before  in Idaho, and Idaho so much different geographically than Alaska, a lot of information needs to be gathered. It will be important to see if the Commission puts in place a mechanism to gather critical information, especially so that they can see if a wolf hunt (or reduction) has any effect on elk, deer, or moose populations. Will wolves become more wary of humans?

It is also important to see if the hunt has an effect on livestock depredations. Conventional wisdom is that a reduction in wolves will reduce the number of sheep and cattle killed, but others believe that because wolves are a pack animal and learn what is prey from their pack, disrupted packs will send orphaned pups, wounded wolves and subadults into the herds of livestock.

I for one, would not protest a quota of 100 or 200 animals (comparable to Montana), not that I think any hunt is a biological necessity. However, a high quota with lax oversight will spark a bitter battle. It’s all up to the Fish and Game Commission what they want. For those who want the wolf relisted, a high quota with lax enforcement is more likely to yield success in their lawsuit than a more measured approach. Montana’s Commission (Fish, Wildlife and Parks) seemed to sense that.

Idaho Fish & Game to set limits for first wolf hunt. By Roger Phillips. Idaho Statesman.

Idaho officials to set wolf hunt quotas today. Associated Press

Idaho Fish and Game Commissioner says there may be a wolf hunt this fall regardless of the outcome of the lawsuit

Randy Budge thinks hunters will take matters into own hands-

Budge thinks hunters are so upset some will take matters into their own hands if an official hunt is not allowed. It’s always hard to know whether statements like this are predictions or threats.

Idaho Fish & Game prepares for fall wolf hunt. Commissioner: Some Idaho hunters are ready, whether it’s legal or not. Idaho Mountain Express. By Jason Kauffman.

My personal view is that Judge Molloy will let the Montana and Idaho hunts go forward, but may stop them if they get out of hand. For example, if it becomes clear that the rules or the quotas set are not being enforced.

Idaho Fish and Game Postpones Public Hearings on Wolf Hunting Quotas

The Idaho Fish and Game held it’s recent Commission meeting in McCall over the last two days but failed to take up one item on its agenda. The Commission did not discuss wolf hunting even though they are likely to start hunting wolves starting September 1st. They plan to take up the subject at their August 17th meeting which is just days before wolf hunting would start. This gives very little time to contemplate any proposed rules and is widely viewed as a way to avoid an injunction on the pending court case against delisting.

Idaho Mountain Express editorial: A license to kill

“A cloud hangs over this wolf ‘management’ plan: Fish and Game Commissioners tend to reflect the temperament of Idaho Gov. Butch Otter, who’s made no secret of his hostility toward the animal. Last year, he expressed the wish that the wolf population would be slaughtered down to 100 animals to protect elk stock for hunters.”

Read the rest below.

Our view: The license to kill. Idaho Mountain Express.

Note there is an on-line poll associated with this article.

Posted in Delisting, Idaho wolves, politics, Wolves. Tags: , . Comments Off on Idaho Mountain Express editorial: A license to kill

Idaho Fish and Game commissioners spite department biologist’s own recommendation – raise limit 100 over

It’s higher than the initial proposal, giving some indication of the commission’s temperament. The Idaho Department of Fish and Game Commission has set the limit at what the Statesman claims might mean the killing of 500 wolves :

Fish and Game commissioners set limit for 2008 wolf huntIdaho Statesman

As is noted in the article, the commission went higher than Department biologists recommended – wanting to assure the goal of just over 500 wolves in Idaho is made – because the politically appointed commission, “did not believe that hunting would bring the wolf population numbers down to the levels they wanted to see.”

No word on Wolf Watching areas.

Added : Hunting Season Announced for Once Endangered Gray Wolf – LocalNews8

Wolf-watching areas sought in Idaho

The Idaho Conservation League (ICL) is proposing a Central Idaho wolf-watching area that if granted by the Idaho Department of Fish & Game (IDFG) commission would spare wolves in areas surrounding highways in Central Idaho the impending wolf-hunt should delisting pass the test of litigation currently underway.

Should wolves have a sanctuary? Idaho Mountain Express

There is a map of the ICL proposed area featured along with the article.

Read the rest of this entry »

Idaho proposes mortality cap for wolves in 2008

The Assocated Press says that Idaho Fish and Game has released its recommendations for maximum allowed wolf mortality in 2008.

The proposal is a total mortality cap of 328 wolves in Idaho. That total includes wolves killed by hunters and state managers, and those killed in accidents or by natural causes. I assume illegal mortality then is part of the cap.

AP said “The total is in line with Idaho’s overall plan for managing the carnivores. The state plan approved in March calls for maintaining a population level between 500 and 700 wolves for the first five years after delisting.”

My speculation is that this cap will result in a population of about 500 wolves because the growth rate of wolves in Idaho is no longer 20% a year. Last year it had dropped to 8%.

Montana approves wolf hunting season

This was expected, and it isn’t really the news.

Story in the Casper Star Tribune. Montana approves wolf hunting season. By Eve Byron. Lee News Service

The news is that Montana rejected things like trapping wolves (a grave danger to grizzly bears and dogs) and the use of artificial lures, baits, scents, electronic calls, aerial hunting, and night vision hunting. Moreover, the wolf hunting season does not go on for an extended period of time. Idaho’s proposed season goes on through the winter and will maximize the disruption of wolf packs and replacement of the wolves that packs loose due to the hunt.

Ed Bang’s statement, however, is as usual, superficial but popular crap public relations that “It’s time. It’s past time, and the sooner we just start treating wolves like any other animal — mountain lions, black bears, deer or elk — the better it will be for everyone, including the wolves.”

Each of the animals he names is different and in terms of hunting they are not treated the same. Moreover, there are far fewer wolves in Montana than cougar and bears.

Montana knows that they are the state that could most easily slip to an insufficient number of breeding pairs of wolves, and I think a hunt is premature on a statewide basis, so if they misjudge, emergency relisting of the wolf will quickly be on the agenda.

I think Idaho and Wyoming are going to be the real problem states when it comes to wolf killing.

Montana wolf hunt gets preliminary approval

Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks has set up a framework for a Montana wolf hunt once the wolves are delisted. Story. Montana wolf hunt gets preliminary approval. Great Falls Tribune.

Montana’s wildlife commission has been proceeding somewhat more cautiously than Idaho’s.

With 40 breeding pairs (“37” according to this story), it might seem Montana can easily keep its population above 15 breeding pairs, but the breeding pair count in Montana has been pretty unstable in the past, so caution seems warranted if they want to avoid a relisting. Breeding pair numbers are less stable than total population figures.

Here are the past numbers (breeding pairs)-

Year 2000 8 breeding pairs
Year 2001 7 breeding pairs
Year 2002 17 breeding pairs
Year 2003 10 breeding pairs
Year 2004 15 breeding pairs
Year 2005 19 breeding pairs
Year 2006 21 breeding pairs
Year 2007 37? breeding pairs

From reintroduction to statewide hunt? Fish and Game releases draft plan to hunt wolves throughout Idaho

From reintroduction to statewide hunt? Fish and Game releases draft plan to hunt wolves throughout Idaho. By Jason Kaufmann. Idaho Mountain Express.

One of the places Idaho Fish and Game won’t be holding a public hearing is the Wood River Valley: Hailey, Ketchum, Bellevue, Sun Valley, the largest population of mountain folks in central Idaho wolf country. Instead they opt for tiny Challis and Salmon for hearings.

Methinks the people in the Wood River Valley area are bit too educated, and not so easily scared by folk tales for about the vicious wolf for the Department to risk holding a hearing.

Idaho issues draft “Wolf population management plan.”

Yesterday Idaho issued a draft plan that is being called a plan to provide for “limited” hunting of wolves (would they call it anything else?). And of course, the media will buy that phrase, at least for a while. In fact my home town newspaper has just such an on-line poll this morning. “Do you favor a plan to allow limited hunting of wolves in Idaho?”

No doubt the Governor was told or figured out that his early statement about wolves that was extremely hostile, was not helpful in the cause of reducing wolf numbers in Idaho, so he has a nice statement included for this plan .

A quick glance once over of the plan indicates to me that it is a plan to kill as many wolves as possible under the disguise of hunting, while allowing the state to claim they still have 15 breeding pairs of wolves or more. It is a plan to cause maximum disruption of wolf packs and one that will probably increase the number of livestock killed by wolves as disrupted packs and females with pups try to feed their offspring.

It is not a hunting plan; otherwise management would be to keep the population nearly stable (as they do for deer and elk) and the hunt would be in the winter when wolf pelts are at their finest. Nevertheless, they are saying it is to manage wolves like other big game and the person who digs no further will probably say “that is OK; it makes sense.”

While Defenders of Wildlife and the Idaho Conservation League are being promoted as seeing this plan as acceptable, this is not true. It was more like they were merely handed the plan slightly in advance of release. Yesterday a Defenders spokesperson told us this is just a flat out lie. It is not acceptable to them.

The plan does provide for having an area or two where management will be so people might view wolves, but no specific areas are suggested, nor size.

Because it is Thanksgiving, a full analysis of the plan will have to wait, but you can read the plan at the Idaho Fish and Game website

Because I haven’t read it fully, it will probably have to correct some mistakes.