Groups want summary judgment in wolf lawsuit

Environmentalists trying to stop federal agency from killing wolves in Idaho

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By ERIC BARKER of the Tribune 6 hrs ago 0

Environmental groups have filed a motion for summary judgment in their case that seeks to stop the federal Wildlife Services agency from killing wolves in Idaho.

According to the lawsuit, the small agency has killed dozens of wolves in the state’s Lolo zone in each of last six years at the behest of the Idaho Department of Fish and Game and its efforts to aid elk herds there. The agency also has acted in concert with the state to kill wolves that prey on livestock.

The Boise-based Advocates for the West argued that the federal agency – even when acting at the request of the state – must follow the National Environmental Policy Act. The 1970 law requires the federal government to study and publish the environmental consequences of its proposed actions and to consider viable alternatives

Advocates of the West Executive Director Laird Lucas said the agency has based its wolf control actions on a 2011 environmental assessment that he argues is outdated and falls short of essential details, such how many wolves would be killed, when and where the control might take place and what the ecological effects would be.

The lawsuit also argues the 2011 assessment is out of date because it relied on a population objective in a state wolf management plan that was changed even before the assessment was complete, and that a more lengthy and detailed environmental impact statement is needed to fully consider the effects of the agency’s wolf killing program.

The lawsuit asks federal district court judge Edward J. Lodge to require the agency to set aside the environmental assessment and require the agency either expand its study or to update it.

“We have this secretive agency trying to operate outside of the public eye,” Lucas said. “Many people in the public really care about wolves, and that is the point of (the National Environmental Policy Act) – to publicly disclose what you are doing.”

The lawsuit was filed in June by the Friends of the Clearwater, Western Watersheds Project, Center for Biological Diversity, WildEarth Guardians and Predator Defense.

The federal government has not yet responded to the request for summary judgement that was filed Friday. If the environmental groups were to prevail, it would make it much more difficult for the state to manage the size of wolf packs in remote areas like the Lolo Zone.

Last year, Wildlife Services employees in helicopters shot 20 wolves in the Lolo Zone. A similar number of wolves was killed there in the three previous years. Idaho’s predator management plan for the Lolo Zone, north of the Lochsa River, calls for a 70 to 80 percent reduction of wolf numbers. In 1989, the department estimated the area had about 16,000 elk. A 2010 survey estimated the herd had dropped to 2,100 animals. The state agency is counting wolves in the Lolo Zone again this winter.
http://lmtribune.com/northwest/groups-want-summary-judgment-in-wolf-lawsuit/article_3ed65c8a-912f-5205-9d96-7534522e0aeb.html

Even Idaho has laws against Wolf Hunting and Trapping



With Idaho Fish and Game winter feeding big game in areas of southern Idaho, hunters are reminded that mountain lions and gray wolves may not be hunted or pursued within one-half mile of any active Fish and Game big game feeding site.  In addition, wolves cannot be trapped within the same distance. 

Additional details on seasons and rules for wolf hunting and trapping, as well as mountain lion hunting rules can be found in the 2015 & 2016 Big Game Seasons and Rules brochure available at all Fish and Game license vendors and online at https://idfg.idaho.gov/hunt/rules/big-game.

copyrighted wolf argument settled

Wolf that escaped from Idaho wildlife park killed by owner

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A wolf that escaped from a drive-thru wildlife tourist attraction in southeastern Idaho has been shot and killed by the owner of the business, Idaho officials said.

Courtney Ferguson, the owner of Yellowstone Bear World near Yellowstone National Park, tracked the wolf through snow and shot it about an hour after it escaped from the facility that also has bears, elk, bison and deer.

“Courtney saw the tracks in the snow, tracked the wolf down and shot it,” Doug Peterson of Idaho Fish and Game told the Standard Journal in a story published Monday. “He took care of it all by himself and relatively quickly and easily.”

Peterson said the wolf was owned by Ferguson so the state’s hunting rules did not apply to the killing of the wolf.

“The wolves we hunt belong to the citizens of Idaho,” Peterson said. “This particular wolf of Courtney’s belonged to him.”

All the animals at the facility that is now closed for the winter were born and raised there, the company said.

Yellowstone National Park has drawn a record of more than 4 million visitors this year, many hoping to spot wolves and grizzly bears in the wild. Ferguson’s wildlife park sits on one of the major routes into the park, with a selling point that visitors can see the animals up close.

“It’s a different setting than the park but they do get to see what those animals look like,” said Jim White, regional supervisor for Idaho Fish and Game.

Yellowstone Bear World operates with a license issued by the Idaho Department of Agriculture and its animals are permitted by Idaho Fish and Game.

White called the escape of the wolf “an unusual, isolated incident.”

Ferguson did not immediately respond Tuesday to telephone and email messages seeking comment.

Hunting stops growth in Idaho’s wolf population

Sean Ellis

Capital Press

Published on November 28, 2016 11:49AM

A gray wolf. Idaho’s minimum, documented wolf population has been on a steady decline since the state began allowing hunters to kill the animals.

COURTESY U.S. FISH AND WILDLIFE SERVICE
A gray wolf. Idaho’s minimum, documented wolf population has been on a steady decline since the state began allowing hunters to kill the animals.


BOISE — As hunting is resulting in a slow but steady decline of Idaho’s wolf population, a Boise State University poll taken earlier this year showed strong statewide support for the hunting of wolves.

Idaho’s minimum, documented wolf population has been on a steady decline since the state began allowing hunters to kill the animals.

It peaked at 856 in 2009, the first year Idaho allowed hunters to take wolves, before a lawsuit that resulted in the animals being put back on the endangered species list halted that hunting season.

Since wolves were permanently delisted and hunting resumed in 2011, the population has slowly declined and was 786 at the end of 2015.

“The overall wolf population has stabilized since state management [and hunting] began in 2011,” said Idaho Department of Fish and Game spokesman Mike Keckler. “That’s when that 30-40 percent population increase we were seeing annually stopped.”

A poll taken in January shows support for the hunts.

“Our … survey showed it’s not popular to be a wolf in Idaho,” said Corey Cook, dean of BSU’s School of Public Service, which conducted the poll. “People didn’t express a lot of support for wolves.”

The phone survey of 1,000 Idahoans was conducted in all regions of the state and the results — strong support for wolf hunting — were the same.

The poll results showed that 72 percent of people surveyed supported wolf hunting while 22 percent opposed it.

Fifty-one percent of respondents strongly supported wolf hunting compared with 13 percent who strongly opposed it.

Even in Boise, Idaho’s main urban area, 64 percent of respondents favored allowing hunters to take wolves while 28 percent opposed that.

The poll results show that Idahoans understand hunting is an important wolf management tool, said Idaho Farm Bureau Federation spokesman John Thompson.

“It certainly is a good thing to hear,” he said. “You certainly wouldn’t expect to find that (support) in some of the other states that wolves are moving into.”

After wolves were re-introduced into Idaho in 1994 and 1995, the animal’s population grew rapidly, expanding at a rate of 30-40 percent annually.

Hunting has stopped that growth.

“We’re getting over the honeymoon period (and) people see hunting as a good tool in the management toolbox,” Thompson said.

While wolf hunting has been successful in controlling the animal’s population in Idaho, IDFG numbers show that wolves are getting smarter when it comes to avoiding hunters.

During the 2010-2011 hunting season, Idaho’s first full year of wolf hunting, 181 wolves were killed by hunters. That number rose to 376 the next year but has declined each year since then, to 319 and then 303 and 249 last year.

So far this season, 154 wolves have been killed by hunters in Idaho.

When it came to state efforts to reduce the wolf population, support was solid but a little less favorable than for hunting.

When told that Idaho lawmakers approved spending $400,000 annually to reduce the state’s wolf population, 56 percent of people surveyed supported state efforts while 38 percent opposed them.

OR man poisons wolves

http://www.mtexpress.com/news/environment/man-pleads-guilty-to-wolf-poisoning/article_6a23a02a-9197-11e6-9c69-33ba6422ac80.html

Oct 14, 2016
    A central Oregon resident has pleaded guilty to two misdemeanor charges related to placing poison on a deer carcass in the Frank Church-River of No Return wilderness that caused the death of a wolf and a dog.
According to a news release from the Idaho Department of Fish and Game, Tim Clemens entered a guilty plea Tuesday, Oct. 4, to one count of poisoning animals and one count of unlawful take of big game.
    Fourth District Magistrate Lamont Berecz sentenced Clemens to 10 days in jail, 200 hours of community service in lieu of an additional 20 days in jail, and four years of probation, during which time he cannot hunt. The court also ordered Clemens to pay $675 in fines, court costs and community service insurance, $400 in civil damages for the big game animal killed and $10,000 in restitution to Idaho Fish and Game for investigative costs.
    Fish and Game reported that the charges were the result of an investigation launched in January after conservation officers received a citizen report that two dogs had been poisoned in the Brush Creek drainage of the Middle Fork of the Salmon River during the previous fall hunting season. Brush Creek flows into the lower Middle Fork from the west at the Flying B Ranch.
    A veterinarian confirmed that one dog had died from poisoning and a second dog had survived after treatment for poison symptoms. Interviews of the dogs’ owner and others tied the incident to a field-dressed deer carcass.
    After winter snows receded, Fish and Game officers were able to access the remote area to gather evidence. Sample results from a wolf carcass that the officers found near the site confirmed that it had ingested poison, and sample results from the poisoned dog matched the deer carcass.
    Fish and Game spokesman Mike Keckler said in an interview that investigators were able to work with people who knew where animals had been killed by hunters in that area.
“[The investigators] were able to find the various kill sites and take samples,” Keckler said.
Valley County Prosecutor Carol Brockmann stated that the complex investigation involved multiple interviews in two states and close cooperation between the prosecution and Fish and Game.
    According to the news release, Clemens admitted to Fish and Game that he put a small amount of poison on the carcass of the deer he had killed after the meat was removed.
    “We don’t know what he was targeting,” Keckler said.
    Pursuant to a plea agreement, the court granted a withheld judgment. A withheld judgment means that after completing his sentence and probation, Clemens may ask the court to dismiss the charges against him, removing them from his criminal record.
copyrighted wolf in water

70 Wolves Killed in Idaho in 2016

http://www.nbcmontana.com/news/idaho-officials-wolf-depredation-drops-management-working/110688064

BOISE, Idaho – Idaho officials say livestock depredations by wolves appear to have reached a low point, showing that the program is on the right path.

Idaho Wildlife Services Director Todd Grimm says his office killed 70 wolves in Fiscal Year 2016, which ended Oct. 1, 50 of the wolves were tied to livestock depredations. The recent numbers were about the same as during FY 2015 and slightly down from 2013.

Grimm says he believes depredation cases have gotten about as low as they will be.

Idaho Governor’s Office of Species Conservation Administrator Dustin Miller says the state, which recently took over wolf management, has greater flexibility to manage the predators that the federal government did. He says he expects the trend of depredations to stay low.

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CASTLE PEAK, CASTLE LAKE and CASTLE DIVIDE PROTECTED AS WILDERNESS!

 
Castle Peak and Castle Lake, Ernie Day photo, circa 1970.
 
 
In God’s wildness lies the hope of the world — the great, fresh, unblighted, unredeemed wilderness. John Muir
A year ago on August 7, 2015, President Obama signed the bill that designated three new Wilderness areas in the Boulder-White Clouds.
They are:
White Clouds Wilderness, 90,769 acres
Hemingway-Boulder Wilderness, 67,998 acres
Jerry Peak Wilderness, 116,898 acres
Total: 275,665 acres
Boulder-White Clouds Council
Box 6313
Ketchum ID 83340

North Idaho wolf pups killed at den; reward offered

http://www.spokesman.com/blogs/outdoors/2016/jun/16/north-idaho-wolf-pups-killed-den-site-reward-offered/

Gray wolf pups. (Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife)Gray wolf pups. (Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife)

PREDATORS — Idaho Fish and Game is asking for the public’s help in determining who is responsible for removing and killing young wolves from a den in North Idaho.

The incident occurred in Kootenai County, about 15 miles from Coeur d’Alene, in the Sage Creek drainage, says Phil Cooper, department spokesman.   The incident likely occurred sometime during the week of May 16.

“Fish and Game manages wolves in Idaho as big game animals,” he said.  “There was no open season for wolves in the area when the juvenile wolves were killed.”

Fish and Game officers collected evidence at the scene and are following leads.

Information about the incident can be called in to the Citizens Against Poaching Hotline, (800) 632-5999.

“Callers may remain anonymous,” he said. “A reward is available for anyone providing information that leads to criminal prosecution of the case.”

Wolves kill four hunting hounds in ID

Alpha female mom and pup

Wolves killed four hound dogs valued at several thousand dollars near Moody Bench earlier this month.

Idaho Fish and Game official Gregg Losinski reported that wolves killed the dogs while they were hunting for black bears. The owner had allowed the dogs to run off in search of the bears.

“These were not dogs in a person’s yard or with an individual on a trail. These were dogs that were let loose to track down a black bear and to tree a black bear,” he said.

Wolves prove notoriously territorial and will kill hunting dogs thinking they’re part of a rival pack, Losinski said.

“Wolves don’t see hound dogs as dogs but as other wolves. In their world, they kill the other pack that’s there. It’s not about emotions. It’s about survival. They’re programmed to do that,” he said.

Fish and Game believes the wolves responsible for killing the dogs are part of a wolf group called the White Owl Pack. There’s not much that Fish and Game officials can do about the attacks other than to warn dog owners that there is a wolf population.

“All we can do is alert people that Idaho is a wild place. When you go out there, things happen. Hopefully you’re in control,” he said. “If you know there’s wolves in the area, we encourage hunters not to release their dogs in the area.”

If a dog owner caught a wolf attacking his pet, the owner is within his rights to shoot the wolf. But you can’t just shoot a wolf unless it is hunting season. The state gives residents the chance to do that by summer’s end. It’s allowed wolf hunting for the past five years.

“Depending on where you’re at, you can harvest five wolves through hunting and five through trapping,” Losinski said.

The wolves’ hide is often highly sought after, he said.

“The pelt of the wolf is in its prime during the winter and is a desirable pelt on people’s walls,” Losinski said.

It’s often difficult to successfully hunt and kill a wolf, but that’s what often motivates sportsmen, he said.

“Hunting is oftentimes not about food but for the sport of it,” he said.

Right now the state is in the middle of black bear hunting season. Wolf hunting starts Aug. 30.

In the meantime, Losinski urged hunters to be cautious.

“Do your homework. If you hear wolves, it is not advisable to release hound dogs in that area,” he said.

Losinski also warned that another wild animal, the grizzly bear, will run after dogs if they don’t kill them first.

“Grizzly bears pursue hound dogs. They chase them back to their owners. Black bears will tree,” he said.

Losinski likens the situation to someone fishing for minnows, knowing perfectly well that there’s a shark nearby.

“It’s about situational awareness. Think about where you’re at and what you should do,” he said. “It’s all part of the sport and knowing what you’re getting into.”

Idaho must alter lynx trapping, court says

TUESDAY, JAN. 12, 2016, 1:10 P.M.

By Rich Landers

http://www.spokesman.com/blogs/outdoors/2016/jan/12/idaho-must-alter-lynx-trapping-court-says/

Canada lynx. (U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service)
Canada lynx. (U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service)

WILDLIFE — In a lawsuit filed by animal protection groups, a federal judge has ruled that Idaho’s regulations for trapping furbearers in North Idaho violate the Endangered Species Act by allowing the inadvertent capture of federally protected Canada lynx.

Here are details from the Associated Press:

The 26-page decision made public Monday in U.S. District Court requires Idaho to propose a plan within 90 days that protects lynx in the Panhandle and Clearwater regions.

“We hope Idaho will now recognize that these rare and beautiful animals need more protection than the state has been willing to grant them,” Andrea Santarsiere, an attorney with the Center for Biological Diversity, said in a statement.

The Center, the Western Watersheds Project, Friends of the Clearwater and WildEarth Guardians filed the lawsuit in June 2014 asking that lethal body-crushing traps and snares be made illegal. The groups also want to limit the size of foothold traps in lynx habitat and require daily checks of traps.

Named in the lawsuit are Idaho Gov. C.L. “Butch” Otter, Idaho Department of Fish and Game Director Virgil Moore, and members of the Idaho Fish and Game Commission.

Fish and Game spokesman Mike Keckler said Monday the agency is reviewing the decision and couldn’t comment.

The Idaho Trappers Association intervened on behalf of the state.

“I believe the judge made a mistake,” said the group’s president, Patrick Carney. He said if all the limits the conservations groups want on trapping are put in place, it would greatly limit trapping in the regions.

“If they implement all that, wolf trapping is over, and so is all of the other trapping,” he said.

Besides wolves, other animals legal to trap in Idaho include coyotes, bobcats, otters, beavers, foxes, marten and mink.

The conservation groups in the lawsuit said trapping in Idaho has increased from about 650 licenses issued in the 2001-2002 season to more than 2,300 in recent years. Officials say that at least four lynx have been trapped in Idaho since 2012. One was killed after a trapper mistook it for a bobcat.

Judge B. Lynn Winmill in his ruling found that trappers likely would capture additional lynx in the Panhandle and Clearwater regions through inadvertent trapping.

The conservation groups sought to limit trapping based on potential lynx encounters in other parts of the state as well. But Winmill rejected that argument, noting that the record didn’t support inadvertent trapping of lynx in those areas.

Canada lynx weigh about 20 pounds and have large paws that give them an advantage in both pursuing prey and eluding predators when traveling across snow. They feed primarily on snowshoe hares and are believed to number in the hundreds in the continental U.S. It’s unclear how many are in Idaho.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service listed lynx in the continental U.S. as threatened with extinction in 2000.