Northern Rockies wolf population has stopped growing

Increased mortality brings an end to wolf population growth at about 1650 wolves-

Sean Ellis of the Idaho State Journal deserves some credit for digging out the information.

Wolves resilient: Total number in region stable despite hunting. By Sean Ellis.

Now perhaps all sides should just call it even? Doesn’t look like it.

National media discover the decline of wolves in Yellowstone

Although it is old news here, it is good to see these facts being widely disseminated-

Wolves decline in Yellowstone. By Janice Lloyd.  USA Today

As predicted, the remaining elk in the Park are tough critters that can beat up on the wolves.

2008 Mexican wolf count official — 52 wolves

2008 was a year of no growth. It ended with 2 breeding pairs of wolves-

Update (2/6/09) Feds: Killings hamper Mexican wolf populationAP

Update (2/6/09) CBD Press Release – Mexican Wolf Breeding Pairs Drop to Two in 2008: Federal Trapping and Shooting Brings Reintroduced Population of Endangered Species to Brink of Collapse

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Here is the news release from USFWS

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U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

Southwest Region (Arizona ● New Mexico ● Oklahoma ●Texas) http://southwest.fws.gov

Public Affairs Office; PO Box 1306

Albuquerque, NM 87103

505/248-6911

505/248-6915 (Fax)

News Release

For Release: February 6, 2009

Contacts: Jeff Humphrey, 505-248-6909 or 602-680-0853

2008 MEXICAN WOLF POPULATION SURVEY COMPLETE

A total of 52 Mexican wolves were counted in the wild in Arizona and New Mexico at the end of 2008, according to the annual survey conducted by the Interagency Field Team for wolf reintroduction. There were also 52 Mexican wolves recorded in the 2007 survey. Surveys are conducted in January of each year. Pups born in the summer must survive to December 31 to be counted as part of the Mexican wolf population. Fixed-wing aircraft and functional radio-telemetry were used to confirm five wolf packs on New Mexico’s Gila National Forest, five packs on the Apache-Sitgreaves National Forest and Fort Apache Indian Reservation in Arizona, and six lone wolves – two in Arizona and four in New Mexico. The survey indicated that there were only two pairs that met the federal definition of breeding pairs at year’s end.

Of the 52 wolves, 45 were born in the wild. One captive born female wolf (F836) was released to the wild in 2008. In 2008, one wolf was temporarily captured twice after dispersing outside of the Blue Range Wolf Recovery Area, but the animal was translocated back into the recovery area on both occasions. In previous years, wolves were removed because of livestock depredation, for dispersing outside of the Blue Range Wolf Recovery Area or repeated nuisance behavior. No such wolves were removed in 2008. Illegal shooting was the leading cause of documented loss of wolves in 2008. Read the rest of this entry »

Impacts have hunters howling

Articles like this spread misperception-

Impacts have hunters howling. Rapid growth of packs, observers say, mirror decline in deer numbers. By Jim Mann, Northwest Daily InterLake.

In fact the number of wolves in Montana, including this area are down this year. The number of wolves in Idaho, Montana, and Wyoming is no longer growing.

For the last 7 or so years ago many reporters and politicians have led us to believe that wolf numbers would climb indefinitely. Now that a natural or artificial plateau or decline has been reached, they continue to act as though nothing has happened.

An accurate headline would be “Hunters howl, but fewer wolves do.”

Wisconsin wolf population stops growing

537 to 564 wolves at the end of 2007 versus 540 and 577 wolves at the end of 2006. Story in the Chicago Tribune.DNR: Wis. wolf population could be leveling off.” By The Associated Press.

It’s what everyone should expect. Every animal population reaches a peak. Idaho’s wolf population growth slowed greatly in 2007, but the state and the US Fish and Wildlife Service haven’t bothered to mention this critical data. It slowed from 20% to 8.5%.  Wyoming’s wolf population growth slowed similarly, but all the news was about the 34% increase in wolves counted in Montana.

Instead Idaho Fish and Game Commission has started to play number games. You may have read yesterday that there are 1000 wolves in Idaho. They are counting estimated pups just born. This has never been done before and every biologist knows the valid wolf population is that at the end of the year because many pups do not survive. Pup survival rate in Yellowstone has been as low as 30%.

Idaho Fish and Game’s wolf hunt rules issued yesterday are based on a continued 21% growth rate in the wolf population. Here, once again, they are in violation of the delisting rules — wolf population counts at the wrong time of the year.

Audio device uses howls to keep track of wolves

Audio device uses howls to keep track of wolves. By John Cramer of the Missoulian

A lot of people don’t like radio collars on wolves. These “howlboxes” could eliminate much of the incentive to collar them. It ought to make photographers happy and elminate the impact a collar has on wolf behavior.

On the other hand, they might be able to find every wolf pack making Wildlife Services’ killing activities even more lethal.

As far as counting wolves goes, in the past wolf conservationists have argued that the official count is fairly accurate and maybe a bit high. Anti-wolfers have spun stories that the actual numbers are twice, even ten times the official count. With state management this could be reversed with wolf conservationists saying the states overestimate the population so they can pretend they are conserving the wolf.

Perhaps the howlbox could make the process of counting more objective.

Craig’s Fall May Benefit Salmon

Craig’s Fall May Benefit Salmon. By Matthew Daily. Associated Press.

Craig is the most hostile of any senator to conserving the salmon and steelhead runs, and with very little support he had held up many measures to assure these anadromous fish would continue to spawn in Idaho, migrate downstream as smolts to the ocean and return to Idaho to spawn.

The article describes many of Craig’s most recent actions against conserving these fish.

More. I found a column in the Seattle Post-Intelligencer about Washington state’s US Senator Maria Cantwell (Dem) working to undo Craig’s damage in the Senate Appropriations bill. Cantwell Works to erase Criag’s Folly [regarding salmon]. By Joel Connelly.

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But has Craig really fallen? In Sunday’s Idaho Statesman wrote Popkey: For Larry Craig, ‘for now’ might mean ‘until January 2009 Popkey is the Statesman’s reporter who was on leave last spring investigating Craig.

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Also. One Week: GOP leadership’s silence on Craig speaks volumes. By Kevin Richert. Idaho Statesman. Richert is the editor of their editorial page.

I should add that at the bottom of his opinion piece Richert shows he has accepted the wolf population-is-still-growing-fast theory. However, the increase recently reported by Ed Bangs was the number of wolves estimated in mid-2007 population after maybe 500 pups were born compared to the final population figures for 2006 after there had been 7 months for the 2006 pups and adult wolves to suffer mortality. A valid comparison only comes at the end of 2007.