Poachers beware: Informant campaign had banner year

http://www.dailyastorian.com/Local_News/20180216/poachers-beware-informant-campaign-had-banner-year?utm_source=Coast+Region&utm_campaign=adb43322aa-EMAIL_CAMPAIGN_2018_01_26&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_e5e9c44ad5-adb43322aa-234572957

By Jack HeffernanThe Daily Astorian

Published on February 16, 2018 8:24AM

Last changed on February 16, 2018 10:05AM

Authorities are cracking down on poaching in Oregon.

OREGON STATE POLICE

Authorities are cracking down on poaching in Oregon.

A program to reward people who report poaching had a successful year in 2017.

OREGON STATE POLICE

A program to reward people who report poaching had a successful year in 2017.

The program known as Turn in Poachers saw an uptick in rewards last year.

OREGON STATE POLICE

The program known as Turn in Poachers saw an uptick in rewards last year.

Authorities credit advertising on social media and local publications with getting the word out about the incentive program to report poaching.

OREGON STATE POLICE

Authorities credit advertising on social media and local publications with getting the word out about the incentive program to report poaching.

A statewide campaign that encourages people to inform on poachers just had the most robust year in its 32-year history.

The Turn in Poachers fund — a collaboration between the Oregon Hunters Association, Oregon State Police and state Department of Fish and Wildlife — rewarded $24,200 in 50 cases last year. That’s more than double the average amount, according to the hunter’s association. The number of cases typically ranges from 20 to 35 in a given year.

Clatsop County had one reward case in 2017. An informant received $500 for information about an elk shot in an area where hunting is not allowed. Poaching issues in the county mainly center on Roosevelt Elk and blacktail deer, since those animals are the most popular big game for hunters, said Sgt. Joe Warwick of the state police’s fish and wildlife division.

The Albany area had the highest number of rewards at 11.

Pinpointing why hunters report more or fewer poaching cases can be difficult. Not all poaching convictions are a result of tips, and not all informants accept rewards.

“We don’t know much about the informants,” Dungannon said. “They give the tip, we write the check and we send it to them.”

Dungannon suggests recent raises in reward money may be a factor in last year’s spike. Standard amounts range from $100 for game fish, shellfish, upland birds, waterfowl and fur-bearers to $1,000 for bighorn sheep, mountain goats and moose.

Dungannon also pointed to the state police’s efforts to advertise the program on social media and in local publications.

“There are things that officers can do to take the game to the next level and get the word out to the community,” Dungannon said.

Nearly all of the fund’s financial support comes from courts ordering those convicted of violations to pay restitution. The hunter’s association and other conservation groups also pitch in when unusually large award amounts are requested.

A bill pending in the state Legislature may help on that front. While judges already impose fines for misdemeanor offenses, the bill would lay out a precedent to impose such fines in addition to any jail or prison sentence. It also would give the state the ability to deny licenses, tags and permits if fines are not repaid.

“This removes any doubt from the court that they’re able to assess the restitution to the state and to the TIP fund,” Dungannon said.

To continue its growth, police and others who run the fund can think of ways to incentivize hunters to turn in suspected poachers.

“It’s a big deal to take home an elk,” Warwick said. “We need to tell them, ‘That bull elk that guy poached, that’s a bull you could have caught legally.’”

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4 elk illegally shot and killed on private property without permission

http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/british-columbia/4-elk-illegally-shot-and-killed-on-private-property-without-permission-1.4432517

The bodies of the animals were abandoned, while a fifth elk was wounded and left alive

By Andrew Kurjata, CBC News Posted: Dec 04, 2017 7:17 PM PT Last Updated: Dec 05, 2017 9:47 AM PT

Conservation officers near Hudson's Hope, in northeast B.C., are investigating after four elk were illegally killed by men shooting from a public road onto private property without permission.

Conservation officers near Hudson’s Hope, in northeast B.C., are investigating after four elk were illegally killed by men shooting from a public road onto private property without permission. (Conservation Officer Service of British Columbia)

Four elk have been illegally shot and killed on private property without permission.

The bodies of the animals were abandoned, while a fifth elk was wounded and left alive.

The incident occurred Sunday evening north of Hudson’s Hope, in northeast British Columbia, said acting Sgt. Brad Lacey of the Peace Region Conservation Officer Service.

A property owner in the area heard “a number of shots being discharged” at around 5:30 p.m. MST and went out to investigate, Lacey said.

The owner found a group of men shooting at the animals from the road and confronted them, at which point they got into their vehicles and left.

A limited-entry hunt for elk is currently occurring in the region, but Lacey said it’s not known if the men were licensed.

Investigation underway

Even if they were, he said, their methodology was illegal.

“Evidence at the scene would indicated that the hunt occurred on a maintained roadway, which isn’t allowed,” Lacey explained.

Additionally, the elk were on privately-owned land, and the owner did not give permission for the men to hunt there.

Elk in the region, which belong to the subspecies Rocky Mountain elk, are not considered at risk, but Lacey said it is still problematic for them to be killed without permission.

“There’s a public safety concern for any firearms being discharged on a maintained roadway,” he said.

Lacey said the dead elk will be maintained for evidence and then, “if the carcasses remain suitable for human consumption, they’ll be utilized by a local food bank.”

Anyone with information is asked to contact the service at 1-877-952-7277.

Two elk shot dead near Cottonwood Pass; authorities looking for information

http://fox21news.com/2017/11/09/two-elk-shot-dead-near-cottonwood-pass-authorities-looking-for-information/

BUENA VISTA, Colo. — Colorado Parks and Wildlife is asking the public for information about two bull elk that were found shot dead near Cottonwood Pass on Sunday.

Wildlife officials said a hunter found the abandoned carcasses off County Road 306 about a half mile from the summit of Cottonwood Pass, which is west of Buena Vista. They estimate both elk were shot dead early Sunday morning. The carcasses, which were abandoned about 50 yards from the road, were fully intact.

Anyone with information about the deaths is asked to call Colorado Parks and Wildlife at 719-539-8413 or 719-530-5520.

Wildlife officials said they recognize accidents can happen while hunting, and they urge the responsible person to step forward.

“Prompt self-reporting will be taken into account when charges are being considered,” they said in a statement.

According to CPW, willfully destroying and abandoning big game can lead to felony charges. If convicted, violators can be fined more than $10,000 and face up to a year in jail, along with a lifetime suspension of hunting and fishing privileges in 44 states, including Colorado.

Renowned wolf biologist casts doubt on hunter’s story of attack

http://www.capitalpress.com/Oregon/20171106/renowned-wolf-biologist-casts-doubt-on-hunters-story-of-attack

Wolf expert Carter Niemeyer trapped, collared, tracked and sometimes shot wolves during a long career with U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

Eric MortensonCapital Press
Published on November 6, 2017 1:36PM
A retired U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service biologist with 30 years experience said it is unlikely a wolf shot by an Oregon elk hunter was attacking the man.

Carter Niemeyer, who lives in Boise and oversaw or consulted on wolf recovery work throughout the West, also said descriptions of the bullet trajectory — in one shoulder and out the other – raise doubt about the hunter’s account that the wolf was running at him when he fired.

“That’s a broadside shot, not a running-at-you shot,” Niemeyer said. “If the bullet path is through one side and out the other, it indicates to me an animal could have been standing, not moving, and the shot was well placed.”

A bullet that hit the wolf as it was running forward most likely would have exited out the hips or rear end, Niemeyer said. He acknowledge the bullet or fragments could have deflected off bone, but said a forensic exam would have to explain that. Michelle Dennehy, Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife spokesman, said the agency did not request a necropsy because the cause of death — gunshot — was known.

Niemeyer said the hunter’s account of taking a “snap shot into a ball of fur” is unlikely.

“I have to tell you I doubt the story,” he said.

Niemeyer, 70, said he’s hunted predators for 52 years as a government hunter and a taxidermist, and has dealt with fellow sportsmen and shooters for decades. “I’ve heard every story,” he said. “This story is very suspect to me.”

The elk hunter, Brian Scott, 38, of Clackamas, Ore., told Oregon State Police that the wolf ran straight at him. Scott told police he screamed, took quick aim and fired his 30.06 rifle once. Scott said he saw nothing but fur in the rifle’s scope as the wolf ran at him, according to published reports.

In an interview with outdoor writer Bill Monroe of The Oregonian/Oregon Live, Scott said he was terrified.

“People envision this jerk hunter out to kill anything, but that’s not me,” he told Monroe. “It frustrates me they don’t understand. I’m a meat hunter. I was looking for a spike elk. This wasn’t exciting. It ruined my hunt.”

Scott told Monroe he didn’t think he had time to fire a warning shot. He could not explain the bullet’s path, which entered the wolf’s right shoulder and exited the left, other than perhaps the wolf turned at the last instant or the bullet deflected.

Niemeyer, the retired wildlife biologist, said wolves will “turn around and take off” when they realize they’re near a human. Niemeyer said he had “many, many close encounters with wolves” while doing trapping, collaring and other field work for USFWS in Idaho, Oregon and elsewhere. He said wolves sometimes ran at him and approached within 6 to 8 feet before veering away.

Wolves are potentially dangerous, he said, “but all my experience tells me it would be fearful of a human.”

People in such situations should stand up if they are concealed, show themselves, and yell or throw things, Niemeyer said. Hunters could fire a shot into the ground or into a tree and “scare the hell out of them,” he said.

“That would have been the first logical thing to do,” he said. “The gunshot and a yell from a human would turn every wolf I’ve ever known inside out trying to get away.”

He also suggested people venturing into the woods should carry bear repellent spray, which certainly would also deter wolves, cougars or coyotes.

“If everyone shoots everything they’re afraid of, wow, that’s not a good thing,” he said.

Niemeyer acknowledged his reaction is based on years of experience with wolves.

“People say, ‘That’s easy for you to say, Carter, you worked with wolves for 30 years and you’re familiar with their behavior,’” he said.

The shooting happened Oct. 27 in ODFW’s Starkey Wildlife Management Unit west of La Grande, in Northeast Oregon.

Scott, the hunter, told police he was hunting and had intermittently seen what he thought might be coyotes. At one point, two of them circled off to the side while a third ran at him. Scott said he shot that one and the others ran away.

Scott went back to his hunting camp and told companions what had happened. They returned to the shooting scene and concluded the dead animal was a wolf. The hunter then notified state police and ODFW, which investigated. Police later found a shell casing 27 yards from the wolf carcass. The Union County district attorney’s office reviewed the case and chose not to file charges.

The Portland-based conservation group Oregon Wild raised questions about the incident. Rob Klavins, Oregon Wild’s field representative in Northeast Oregon, said he’s seen wolves in the wild several times and backed away without trouble or harm. Even the late OR-4, the fearsome breeding male of the infamous Imnaha Pack in Wallowa County, retreated and barked when it encountered Klavins and a hiking party.

“This (hunter) may have felt fear, but since wolves returned to Oregon, no one has so much as been licked by a wolf, and that’s still true today,” Klavins said.

“What has changed is we now have wolves on the landscape, 10 years ago we didn’t,” Klavins said. “Especially in the fall (hunting season), armed people are going to be out encountering wolves.”

Oregon Wild believes poachers have killed several Oregon wolves, and USFWS on Nov. 6 offered a $5,000 reward for information about a collared wolf designated OR-25 that was found dead Oct. 29 in South Central Oregon.

Klavins said wolf shooters might now use a “self-defense” claim as a “free pass to poaching.”

The Only Way To Stop The Decline Of Hunting

https://www.americas1stfreedom.org/articles/2017/10/31/the-only-way-to-stop-the-decline-of-hunting/

 
Hunting is in decline. We’ve all seen and heard the depressing numbers. Many of us have given talks and written articles espousing the benefits of the outdoor lifestyle and encouraging the next generation to seek adventures that can only be experienced afield. We scream from the rafters, “Hunters are the real conservationists!!” While our messages are true, they’re falling on deaf ears. Our increasingly urbanized society moves on about their busy lives disconnected from the world we live in.

There are many reasons for society’s indifference. Demographics have changed; access has changed; economic reasoning has changed; policies and laws have changed. But most impactful to all of this is the emotionally charged and well-orchestrated attack on our hunting culture and traditions by animal rights organizations.

While we have all been preaching to the congregation and spending our time building better habitat for the wild lands we love, groups like People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) and the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) have been vilifying the language of hunting, giving names to beasts, working hard to give a human voice and human rights to deer, antelope and bears. They have convinced segments of society that “survival of the fittest” no longer exists in the wild. Rhetorically, they’ve begun to turn the order of life upside down. Make no mistake, all forms of hunting are in their crosshairs—it is not just lions, elephants and bears; it is pheasants and ducks, deer, elk and turkey … everything.

Make no mistake, all forms of hunting are in their crosshairs—it is not just lions, elephants and bears; it is pheasants and ducks, deer, elk and turkey … everything.

We can no longer afford to spend the majority of our time focusing on our individual corners of the hunting community. We’re all doing great work, but we’re spending too much time focused on the “trees.” Meanwhile groups like PETA, HSUS and plenty more are focused on eliminating the entire “forest.” They’re united, taking us on with well-coordinated and well-funded campaigns with a message that all hunting is evil and corrupt.

This battle will be won or lost on emotion, played out in the court of public opinion. Right now, we’ve lost ground in this battle because we’re not even in the courtroom. While we passionately debate positions on hunting practices amongst ourselves, the anti-hunting community closes in on eliminating our lifestyle.

Now is the time for us to come together as one community of hunters. We all need to exchange ideas and find common ground on messaging, strategy and tactics. We must work as peers, utilizing our individual organizations’ strengths and circles of influence to present ourselves to society in a positive manner.

But most importantly, we must all be on the same page, and move forward with solidarity.

Why is this important to an NRA member? There is an old saying: A right not exercised is a right that ceases to exist. Hunting is a primary way many Americans use their firearms. It is our Second Amendment right to own firearms that guarantees our freedom to hunt. Unlike any other nation in the world, we have this freedom because our Second Amendment right guarantees the personal ownership and use of firearms. Every freedom-loving gun owner needs to become a voice for the American hunter.

As Ronald Reagan famously encouraged, “There is no limit to the amount of good you [we] can do if we don’t care who gets the credit.” Partnering with other organizations such as the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation, Safari Club International, the National Wild Turkey Federation, Ducks Unlimited, Dallas Safari Club, Shikar, the Boone and Crockett Club and many more, the NRA Hunters’ Leadership Forum stands ready to serve as a unifying voice for the hunting community. Along with NRA’s American Hunter, the NRA HLF promotes the active, adventure-filled lifestyle of hunting and, most critically, defends our freedom to hunt. Educate yourself with great resources found at nratv.com and nrahunting.com.

NRA First Vice President Richard Childress and I will travel the country over the next year to speak to various pro-hunting organizations, to galvanize support for our cause. I look forward to encouraging everyone to visit our websites and become informed on these issues.

It is increasingly critical for individuals, leaders and organizations in the hunting community to come together on this issue. All of us together present a very powerful voice for the hunting community. Every freedom-loving gun owner needs to become a voice for the American hunter.

Tribal hunters have taken roughly 25 elk near Yellowstone: A group of teenagers seen stabbing wounded bison as it writhed on the ground

In addition to shooting bison, tribal hunters near the Yellowstone National Park border have been killing elk.

Hunters from the Nez Perce Tribe have killed roughly 25 elk near Gardiner this winter, according to multiple sources, in addition to dozens of bison. It’s the second consecutive year reports of hunters taking elk have surfaced. The hunters are legally allowed to kill game animals on public land in the area because of a treaty, but the activity has some Gardiner residents ticked off.

Bill Hoppe, a resident of the area, said four elk were recently shot near his house. He said allowing the tribal hunters to kill elk outside of Montana’s regular elk season is unfair to regular Montana hunters.

“They ought to buy tags just like everybody else has to buy tags,” Hoppe said.

A Nez Perce Tribe wildlife official declined to comment, directing questions to the tribe’s executive committee. A committee member could not be reached before deadline.

Hunters licensed through the state and five separate tribal nations hunt bison in the Gardiner basin each year as the animals migrate out of Yellowstone National Park. It’s part of an effort to reduce the number of bison in the park, and it’s used alongside the capture-for-slaughter operations. Prior to this year’s hunt and cull, biologists estimated there were about 5,500 bison in the park. Thanks in part to a large migration, hunters have now taken more than 400 bison.

The five tribal nations hunt there based on rights granted in treaties signed with the U.S. government more than a century ago. These hunters adhere to their tribal government’s hunting seasons and regulations, and aren’t licensed through the state. The five tribes are the Shoshone Bannock Tribes, Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation, Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes, the Yakama Nation, and the Nez Perce Tribe.

Reports of hunters killing elk instead of bison also surfaced last year, when fewer bison migrated out of the park. Then, too, people pointed the finger at the Nez Perce Tribe.

The hunting of elk near Gardiner has been a touchy subject in recent years. Elk that live there move between Yellowstone and Montana. A count of elk there in the mid-1990s found 19,000. Now, there are about 5,300, and hunting opportunities are more limited than they once were for hunters licensed through the state.

Andrea Jones, a spokeswoman for Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks, said that while the state agency works with tribal officials on a number of law enforcement issues — trespassing, driving off the road — they can’t tell tribal hunters not to hunt elk.

“The state of Montana has no authority over the rights of tribal governments to take wildlife negotiated under treaties with the U.S. government,” Jones said.

She said the real issue, though, isn’t whether they have the right to hunt.

“This is about how a sovereign nation is exercising those rights,” she said.

She said some hunters have been cited for trespassing and driving off the road. But the agency also has ethical concerns unenforceable by law, like how wounded animals are treated, wasted game meat left in the field and relations between hunters and landowners.

State and tribal officials have a conference call each week about hunting in the area, and Jones said the state has raised their concerns to the tribal governments.

“We’ve expressed our concern about that,” she said. “There has not been much change occurring.”

Some have also criticized the way hunters have been killing bison. Bison hunting happens on small pieces of land near the park border, and some have complained of multiple hunters shooting at once and then leaving behind gut piles. Recently, the advocacy group Buffalo Field Campaign posted photos online showing a group of teenagers stabbing a wounded bison as it writhed on the ground.

MONTANA RESIDENTS ANGERED OVER TRIBAL ELK HUNTING IN YELLOWSTONE

https://www.gohunt.com/read/news/montana-residents-angered-over-tribal-elk-hunting-in-yellowstone#gs.4zNYYlI

Two elk in field
Photo credits: Shutterstock

Fewer elk reside within Yellowstone National Park, but that doesn’t mean tribal hunters can’t hunt them, especially if fewer bison migrate outside of park boundaries. While this is legal under tribal law, many Montana residents – and elk hunters – think it’s unfair, considering that fewer elk mean fewer tags and opportunity for those who hunt within the established elk hunting seasons.

Local resident Bill Hoppe told The Bozeman Daily Chronicle that “allowing the tribal hunters to kill elk outside of Montana’s regular elk season is unfair to regular Montana hunters” though, legally, the state cannot intervene with established tribal regulations.

“The state of Montana has no authority over the rights of tribal governments to take wildlife negotiated under treaties with the U.S. government,” Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks (MFWP) spokeswoman Andrea Jones told The Bozeman Daily Chronicle, adding that MFWP works closely with local tribal leadership on other law enforcement issues, but cannot enforce which big game animals tribal members can hunt.

While five tribal nations (the Shoshone Bannock Tribes, Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation, Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes, the Yakama Nation and the Nez Perce Tribe) all hunt within the area, following the rights provided to them based upon treaties signed by the federal government over a century ago, the tribe that seems to be under fire is the Nez Perce Tribe – for hunting 25 elk instead of the overabundant bison.

This is an issue because, according to The Bozeman Daily Chronicle, the current elk tally counted roughly 5,300 animals – down from 19,000 animals in the mid-1990s. Bison, on the other hand, are plentiful – so much so that there’s an annual cull and capture-for-slaughter to keep numbers manageable. Tribal sustenance hunting helps keep bison numbers in check.

While this is clearly a concern within the state, Jones says that not much change has occurred despite Montana officials bringing up the elk hunting issue during the state and tribal officials weekly meeting. In fact, Jones says that it’s not really about hunting; instead, “this is about how a sovereign nation is exercising those rights.”

The Coming Plague: Chronic Wasting Disease, Cousin to Mad Cow, Is Bearing Down On Yellowstone National Park and America’s Most Famous Elk Herd

https://thebullseye.media/coming-plague-chronic-wasting-disease-cousin-mad-cow-bearing-yellowstone-national-park-americas-famous-elk-herd/

43 minutes (10859 words)

Senior Biologist With National Elk Refuge Says Deadly Pathogen’s Arrival In Greater Yellowstone Wildlife “Inevitable” and “Could Occur At Any Time”

State Senator In Montana Calls For Joint Resolution In Legislature To Condemn Wyoming’s Feeding Of Elk

By Todd Wilkinson

On a map, “Deer Hunt Area 17” is unlikely to ring any bells of recognition, even for most residents in the hunting-crazed Equality State. Located northwest of Gillette in the Powder River Basin—a sweep of mostly treeless geography best known as the largest coal-producing region in America—Hunt Area 17 on Monday, December 19, 2016 became one of the latest in Wyoming to have publicly-confirmed cases of Chronic Wasting Disease.

“If you see a deer, elk or moose that appears to be sick or not acting in a normal manner, please contact your local game warden, wildlife biologist or Game and Fish office immediately,” Scott Edberg, deputy chief of the Wyoming Game and Fish Department’s wildlife division said in a press release. Game and Fish further added, “The Centers for Disease Control and the World Health Organization recommend that people should not eat deer, elk or moose that test positive for CWD.”

CWD strikes members of the cervid (deer) family. Along with animals that test positive—a determination made most often after they are dead—some people won’t even eat big game animals coming out of an area that has been deemed “CWD endemic”; the endemic zone means a part of landscape where CWD is now believed to be present but where it was previously absent.  Today, the endemic zone covers nearly the entire state, save for a puzzle piece of Wyoming that is the most visited by tourists and globally renowned for its “wild” nature.

CWD has been described by epizoologists as “a slow-motion wildlife disaster” in the making; it involves an exotic plague—a cousin to dreaded “Mad Cow Disease— that, true to its name, “chronically” festers at first in wildlife populations and spreads between animals in dribbles and drabs, taking years to assert full impact. By many indications, the prevalence of CWD in the northern Rockies appears to be picking up speed.

An incurable, contagious, and always-fatal malady for deer family members, causing victims to become emaciated and turning their brains essentially to mush, CWD is now spreading inexorably across Wyoming, though it was first identified in the southeastern corner of the state decades ago. Today, the highest prevalence of CWD in mule deer there ranges between 20 and 40 percent in some hotspots. Most animals with CWD die within two years.  It is more common in bucks than does and prevalence oscillates differently though deer and elk herds. There are no vaccines for stopping CWD or medicine therapies that can be dispensed to hosts having it.

The exact origin of CWD is inexact and a matter of speculation. Some believe it is related to scrapie which afflicted domestic sheep and then jumped species.  Scrapie has been in European sheep for 300 years.  In 1967, CWD was identified in captive deer kept at a research facility near Fort Collins, Colorado and then it spread to wild elk and deer.

No cases of CWD in the wild have been diagnosed in Montana and Idaho yet; however, with regard to Montana, the disease is poised to cross its shared border with Wyoming and it is pressing southward in wildlife from two Canadian provinces, Alberta and Saskatchewan. (see map, below)

More: https://thebullseye.media/coming-plague-chronic-wasting-disease-cousin-mad-cow-bearing-yellowstone-national-park-americas-famous-elk-herd/

Brutal Northwest winter has been horrific for wild animals

Antelope injured while falling on ice. Horses stranded in snowy mountains. Cougars descending from their wilderness lairs to forage in a town.

It’s been a beastly winter in the American West, not just for people but for animals too. One storm after another has buried much of the region in snow, and temperatures have often stayed below freezing, endangering a rich diversity of wild animals.

In southern Idaho, about 500 pronghorn antelope tried to cross the frozen Snake River earlier this month at Lake Walcott, but part of the herd spooked and ran onto a slick spot where they slipped and fell. Idaho Fish and Game workers rescued six of the stranded pronghorn, but 10 were killed by coyotes and 20 had to be euthanized because of injuries suffered when they fell down.

Another 50 pronghorn were found dead in the small western Idaho city of Payette after they nibbled on Japanese yew, a landscaping shrub that’s toxic. Tough winter conditions have forced some wildlife to feed on the plant in urban areas.

Heavy snow has forced Idaho’s fish and game department to begin emergency feeding of big game animals in southern Idaho.

In eastern Oregon, state wildlife officials are feeding elk, but the weather makes accessing them difficult. When highways and the Interstate are closed because of the snow, the workers must still get to the rural feeding stations where they feed the elk alfalfa hay.

“When you run feed programs, you can’t take a day off because of bad weather. If you take a day off, the elk wander away,” said Nick Myatt, district manager of La Grande office of the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife.

Wandering elk tend to feed on haystacks that ranchers have left for their cattle, and congregate in low-elevation sites along Interstate 84 in northeastern Oregon, where cars have hit them in recent weeks, Myatt said.

In western Wyoming, supplemental feeding of elk wintering on the National Elk Refuge near Jackson started the first week of January, three weeks earlier than usual because heavier than normal snowfall buried the natural forage the thousands of elk graze on at the 24,700-acre refuge.

Mule deer, which are smaller than elk, have not only been prevented by a layer of ice from pawing through powdery snow to reach their natural forage, but that ice also makes them easier prey. The deer break through the ice and stumble while animals like coyotes can stay on top of the surface.

“With conditions that we have, we do anticipate higher mule deer mortality,” Myatt said.

John Stephenson of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service said wolves are also more agile in deep snow than deer or elk because their lighter bodies and big feet help them stay on the surface better. Stephenson said he is amazed that a wolf he’s tracking south of Crater Lake, Oregon, traveled roughly 30 miles through 6-foot-deep snow in less than 12 hours recently.

Some animal lovers have been taking matters into their own hands by feeding deer, but experts warn they will likely do more harm than good and could end up killing the animals.

“What they’re feeding the deer is an improper diet,” said Rick Hargrave, a spokesman for the Oregon wildlife department. “They have a complex digestive tract, and they require the right mix of crude protein, fat, carbohydrates, vitamins and minerals.”

The deep snow likely caused a group of normally elusive cougars to come to the woodsy community of La Pine in recent days, where they preyed on pets and chickens, the Oregon wildlife department said. Authorities on Thursday killed a fifth cougar in the central Oregon town. Four others were shot dead on Saturday and Monday, raising an outcry among some conservationists.

Amid the grim news, there were some bright spots.

In central Idaho, volunteers earlier this month rescued a horse stranded on a snowy mountain by tranquilizing it, placing it in a sling and then attaching it on a long line to a helicopter. It was flown, dangling from the belly of the chopper to safety. A second stranded horse was not found and is believed to have died.

The experience was emotional for the rescuers.

“You get your adrenaline going and everyone gets all excited and choked up,” Robert Bruno, president of Idaho Horse Rescue, told KTVB-TV of Boise.

In California, some of the heaviest snow and rain in decades should prove a life-saver for threatened native salmon, whose numbers have dropped during the state’s five-year drought that is now easing.

Flooding this winter has greatly expanded the bug-rich wetlands where young salmon can eat and grow strong on their way to the ocean, said John McManus of the Golden Gate Salmon Association, a fishing-industry group.

“They eat like little pigs, and they love it,” McManus said. “It’s a little smorgasbord for them.”

___

AP journalists Rebecca Boone in Boise, Idaho, Bob Moen in Cheyenne, Wyoming, and Ellen Knickmeyer in San Francisco contributed to this report.

Too Many Deer on the Road? Let Cougars Return, Study Says

http://mobile.nytimes.com/2016/07/19/science/too-many-deer-on-the-road-let-cougars-return-study-says.html?mabReward=A1&action=click&pgtype=Homepage%C2%AEion=CColumn&module=Recommendation&src=rechp&WT.nav=RecEngine&_r=1&referer=

Cougars can kill hundreds of deer over the course of their lives, leading some scientists to argue that restoring them to 19 states with large populations of deer could prevent automobile-deer collisions.
KONRAD WOTHE / MINDEN PICTURES
JULY 18, 2016
Trilobites
By JAMES GORMAN
What large mammal regularly kills humans in the Eastern United States?

And what other large mammal might significantly reduce those deaths?

The answer to the first question is the white-tailed deer. Deer do not set out to murder people, as far as anyone knows, but they do jump out in front of vehicles so often that they cause more than a million collisions a year, resulting in more than 200 deaths.

The answer to the second question, according to a new scientific study, is the cougar.
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