Language of the “Wolf Disaster Declaration” published.

Language of the “Wolf Disaster Declaration” published.

Bill Status: H0343.

It is not the same language as contained in the legislation we posted in February.

It essentially provides for a disaster declaration if there are more than 100 wolves in Idaho.

“[T]he legislature finds that public safety has been compromised, economic activity has been disrupted and private and public property continue to be imperiled. The uncontrolled proliferation of imported wolves on private land has produced a clear and present danger to humans, their pets and livestock, and has altered and hindered historical uses of private and public land, dramatically inhibiting previously safe activities such as walking, picnicking, biking, berry picking, hunting and fishing. The continued uncontrolled presence of gray wolves represents an unfunded mandate, a federal commandeering of both state and private citizen resources and a government taking that makes private property unusable for the quiet enjoyment of property owners.”

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Poop Reveals an Immigrant in Isle Royale Wolves’ Gene Pool

The population of wolves on Isle Royale was formed when a pair of wolves crossed frozen Lake Superior in 1949 from Canada. Since 1958, one of the most important and longest studies of wolf/moose interactions has taken place there. The wolves and moose have fluctuated up and down due to many causes such as tick infestations, genetic inbreeding and fluctuations of forage for moose and prey for wolves. These interactions are seen as a microcosm of wolf prey interactions and demonstrate the many influences on populations.

In the course of this study researchers have found that another male wolf crossed the frozen lake and joined the population. His genes are now represented in 56%, or 9 wolves, of the population of 16 now present on the island.

Besides genetic inbreeding, there is another issue which could eliminate wolves from the island and that is the possible loss of the two remaining female wolves. That has prompted a proposal to bring a few new wolves from the mainland to supplement the population’s genetics and increase their fitness. This runs counter to the National Park Service’s policy to allow natural processes to take place so there will surely be debate about this in the future.

Isleroyalewolf.org has an interesting graph showing the historical wolf and moose population fluctuations that you can see here: http://vicksta.com/wolf%20and%20moose%20graph7.html

Poop Reveals an Immigrant in Isle Royale Wolves’ Gene Pool
Michigan Tech News.

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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Judge asked to lift federal protections on wolves

Judge Molloy will rule “soon” on whether to accept the settlement.

As described in the Missoulian article, there are three ways this could go. One, he could say that the settlement has no value. Two, he could recommend to the 9th Circuit that they accept the settlement. Three, he could say it needed more discussion and ask the 9th Circuit to let him take the case back.

Judge asked to lift federal protections on wolves.
By MATT VOLZ
ASSOCIATED PRESS

Update 3/25/11: Here is a better article about the hearing.
Judge Molloy hears sides on wolf settlement, hunts.
By ROB CHANEY of the Missoulian

Wolf settlement hearing today.

The hearing on the “wolf settlement” begins in just a few minutes.  I won’t guess what the outcome will be but I think the case against the settlement is pretty strong. It also appears that the backlash against the settling parties has been strong among wolf supporters with many stating that they have removed their support.

What’s worse, letting the legislature gut the ESA or doing it yourself?

Wolf settlement puts ball in judge’s court.
By EVE BYRON – Helena Independent Record

Poll Finds Strong Public Support for ESA… and Wolves

With all of the vitriol surrounding wolves in the Northern Rockies you would think that more and more people are opposed to wolf recovery and the Endangered Species Act. Not so fast according to a recent poll which found that Americans strongly support the Endangered Species Act and wolf recovery.  They also feel that scientists, rather than politicians should manage wildlife.

Endangered Species Act Summary

Poll Finds Strong Public Support for ESA… and Wolves.
Ag Weekly Online: Twin Falls, Idaho

2010 Northern Rockies Wolf Report released.

NRM population estimate down from 1731 to 1651. Minimum population estimate down significantly in Idaho from 870 to 705.

The 2010 Northern Rocky Mountain Wolf Reports are out and they show a decrease in the overall wolf population. Wyoming and Montana saw slight increases while Idaho accounted the decline seen in the overall population.  It has long been predicted that wolf populations would level out and possibly decrease as seen in Yellowstone but it is hard to attribute the declines to any particular cause.  It could partly be attributable to last year’s hunt which occurred partially during the wolf breeding season and afterwards, a reduced elk population , increased poaching, difficulty in monitoring, and other factors could play a role as well.

Keep in mind that these estimates are minimum population estimates and that the actual population is higher.  All of the discussions I have had with the people who do these counts indicate that they feel that while these counts are not complete, they are within 20% of the actual counts and are probably accurate with regard to the trends that they show.

Wolves of the Northern Rocky Mountains: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

Report: Wolf Pack Numbers Remain Steady, Livestock Losses Down
NBC Montana

And from this article:

Sen. Benjamin Cardin, a Maryland Democrat who blocked efforts to take wolves off the list in the last Congress, issued a statement this week to The Associated Press saying he remained opposed to a legislative solution to the issue.

Wolf population dips in Northern Rockies
By MATTHEW BROWN – Associated Press

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