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


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.

A win for Idaho wolves‏

From Defenders.org

The Idaho Fish and Game Department has announced that no wolves will be killed in the federally-protected Frank Church-River of No Return Wilderness during the winter of 2015-16.

The announcement comes after a lawsuit brought by Defenders and other conservation groups to stop the killing of wolves to boost elk populations in federally-protected wilderness lands like Frank Church Wilderness.

The Frank Church Wilderness is the largest national forest wilderness area in the Lower 48 States and a core habitat for gray wolves in the western United States. I know you share my view that wilderness should be managed as wilderness, not as a game farm for favored hunters and commercial outfitters.

The state has previously planned to kill up to 60 percent of the wolves living in Frank Church, in large part to artificially inflate elk numbers for hunters. Those wolves can breathe easier for another winter after this latest decision.

Still, it’s important to remember that this reprieve is only temporary and that we must remain vigilant in our efforts to defend wolves in Idaho.

But thanks to you and your support, Defenders will continue to work tirelessly to protect wolves throughout the Lower 48.

Thank you for your compassion and your continued partnership!

copyrighted wolf in river

Wildlife Services kills 5 wolves



A gray wolf patrols its territory in the mountains of Idaho.


Wednesday, July 8, 2015 4:00 am

Idaho Wildlife Services has killed five wolves due to two incidents of sheep depredation that occurred on BLM land at the head of Croy Canyon and two incidents of cattle depredation that occurred on private land about 10 miles northeast of Fairfield.

Wildlife Services director Todd Grimm said the Idaho Department of Fish and Game confirmed that wolves had killed a ewe and a lamb on May 26 and a second ewe on June 3. He said the department confirmed a wolf kill of a calf on June 24 and a probable wolf kill of a cow on July 3.

Grimm said three wolves were shot on May 28 and two were shot on June 4.

He said the sheep were attended by herders and guard dogs, but said he did not know whether any scare devices were employed. He said the agency does not release the names of livestock producers whose animals are involved in depredation incidents.

Local wolf advocate Lynne Stone, director of the Boulder White Clouds Council, said the wolves were part of the Red Warrior pack, which had been viewed by people this winter on the hillside opposite the Warm Springs base area. She said that at that time, the pack consisted of nine wolves, though the alpha female died before the depredation incidents occurred.

“These wolves were in a great place with lots of wild country,” she said. “Then in came the sheep and we lose the wolves.”

Stone contended that Wildlife Services was “jumping the gun” by using lethal means before giving other methods a chance to scare off the wolves.

“When one ewe and one lamb get killed, they go in with their airplanes and shoot the whole pack,” she said. “We’re not going to have wolves in Blaine County if this is what the sheep industry and Wildlife Services are going to continue to do.”

Grimm said that elsewhere in the state this season, Wildlife Services killed three wolves due to depredation incidents in the Pahsimeroi Valley and three near Cascade. In February, the federal agency killed 19 wolves in the Lolo zone in northern Idaho at the request of the Department of Fish and Game to boost a declining elk population there.

Conservation group questions accuracy of Idaho wolf numbers

copyrighted wolf in river


“Since 2009 more than 1,300 wolves have been hunted or trapped in Idaho, and another nearly 500 have been lethally removed from Idaho’s landscape,” Andrea Santarsiere, an attorney with the Center for Biological Diversity, said in a statement. “In the face of these astounding numbers, it’s no wonder that Idaho may have experienced a nearly 50 percent drop in breeding pairs.”

The Idaho Department of Fish and Game in a 70-page report released April 3 said there were at least 770 wolves in the state, with a minimum of 26 breeding pairs, as of Dec. 31, 2014. The Center notes that’s a steep drop from the 49 breeding pairs in 2009, when wolves in Idaho reached their peak.

The Center also questions the state agency’s estimate of 6.5 wolves per pack, a key number as it’s part of an equation — when multiplied by the number of packs in the state— to tally the overall population.

Jim Hayden, a biologist with Fish and Game, defended the state report’s estimate of the minimum number of wolves in Idaho. Hayden is listed as an editor of the report.

“The 770 is a number we’re very confident with,” he said. “We know the actual truth is higher than that, we just don’t know how far higher.”

He said the agency stopped counting breeding pairs of wolves after surveying 43 packs because it’s expensive and the number had cleared the minimum as required by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. The federal agency could retake management control of the Idaho wolf population if numbers fall below certain criteria.

If the state fails to maintain 15 breeding pairs and 150 wolves over any three-year period, or if the population falls below 10 breeding pairs and 100 wolves in any year, the federal agency could take over.

Mike Jimenez, Northern Rocky Mountain wolf coordinator for Fish and Wildlife, said the federal agency reviewed Idaho’s methodology and is confident in the numbers.

“From our perspective, they are far above recovery goals,” he said. “How to manage wolves and hunt wolves — that’s a state issue.”

The wolf population has grown so much, Jimenez said, that biologists can no longer rely on using radio collars when doing counts.

“We’re way past that,” he said. “We have a very large wolf population in the Northern Rockies. We’re trying to reduce the need for radio collars.”

Fish and Wildlife estimates that a minimum of 1,783 wolves in more than 300 packs roamed the six-state region at the end of last year.

Hayden said that radio collars on 32 packs in Idaho were used by Fish and Game to come up with 6.5 wolves per pack, which is an increase from 5.4 wolves per pack the previous year.

But he said the agency is relying more on remote cameras and, this spring, will be collecting scat at wolf rendezvous sites to get DNA samples. The DNA can help determine pack size and the number of pups. He noted the wolf population is expected to jump 40 percent with the addition of pups this spring.

The DNA can also be used to help determine harvest levels by hunters.

Some groups, including the Center for Biological Diversity, would rather there be no harvest.

“We don’t think wolves should be hunted at all,” Santarsiere said. “But with such aggressive killing of a species so recently considered endangered, there at least needs to be careful monitoring.”

What’s next and when will it end? Idaho officials kill 19 wolves to boost elk herds

[Yesterday it was reported that Alaska killed 18 wolves to boost moose (for humans, of course), today, Idaho officials announced that they killed 19 wolves to boost elk herds (also for the benefit of humans). What’s next and when will it end?]

copyrighted Hayden wolf walking

LEWISTON, Idaho (AP) – Idaho officials say 19 wolves have been killed in northern Idaho in an effort to reduce wolf numbers and increase the elk population.

The Idaho Department of Fish and Game on Monday announced the killings carried out last month by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Wildlife Services in the Lolo Hunting Zone.

Jerome Hansen of Fish and Game tells the Lewiston Tribune in Lewiston that elk numbers in the region have dropped dramatically over the past 26 years.

Fish and Game says the area had an estimated 16,000 elk in 1989 but that the agency now believes the population could be as low as 1,000.

More: http://www.ktvb.com/story/news/local/regional/2015/03/10/elk-wolves-killed/24697063/

Could Fewer Wolf Kills Mean Fewer Wolves?

Trappers in Montana have killed 77 gray wolves and hunters have shot 127 so far this winter — a total of 204 animals — as the season for the animals nears its end.copyrighted wolf in river

Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks spokesman Ron Aasheim said the final tally for this winter’s wolf harvest is expected to fall short of the 230 wolves killed in the 2013-2014 season.

The trapping season closed Feb. 28, and Montana’s rifle hunting season for gray wolves ends March 15.

Six of the predators have been killed by landowners, under a new state law that allows wolves to be killed if they are considered a potential threat to livestock or human safety.

In neighboring, Idaho hunters have shot 113 of the animals so far this winter and trappers have killed 92.

The state’s total harvest of 205 wolves is well short of the prior year’s total of 302 animals killed.

Idaho’s wolf season ends March 31 for most of the state but continues year-round in some areas.

Wyoming did not have a wolf hunting season this winter. After losing their federal protections across the Northern Rockies in 2011 and 2012, wolves were put back on the endangered species list in Wyoming in September under a court order.

U.S. District Judge Amy Berman Jackson sided with wildlife advocates who said Wyoming’s declaration of wolves as unprotected predators that could be shot on sight in most of the state afforded insufficient protection.

Legislation pending before Congress would nullify the judge’s decision.

There were 1,691 wolves in the Northern Rockies at the end of 2013, the most recent data available.


ID Wolf shooter turns down deal


January 28, 2015 12:00 am | Updated: 12:31 am, Wed Jan 28, 2015.

COEUR d’ALENE – The man who shot a wolf on Rathdrum Mountain turned down a plea deal offered by Kootenai County prosecutors that would have had him pay a $200copyrighted wolf in river fine in exchange for a guilty plea.

He has opted instead for a jury trial.

“I said, ‘Nope,'” Forrest Mize said shortly after his arraignment Tuesday morning. Prosecutor Barry McHugh confirmed the offer was made.

Mize is representing himself on the misdemeanor charge of possessing a wolf without a tag. He doesn’t plan to hire an attorney at this stage.

“It’s going to be really hard to find a jury in North Idaho that finds me guilty for shooting a wolf to save my stinking dogs,” he said.

Mize, 53, shot the wolf Dec. 30 while he was out hiking in some fresh snow with his three dogs, all Labs, named Maggie, Jenny and Katie.

He was carrying a gun – a Kimber .22-caliber Hornet – with him for protection when he spotted the wolf, which he said looked like it was about to pounce on his pets. The dogs were 100 yards in front of him.

When he shot the wolf in the side through its heart, his three dogs were all close enough to be visible within the picture of his gun’s scope, he said.

He bought a wolf hunting tag later that day for $11.50 at a Rathdrum pharmacy. He is not a trophy hunter, he said, but wanted to keep the pelt.

According to Mize, two Idaho Department of Fish and Game officers showed up at his house a week after the shooting.

The officers, he said, were suspicious that he had purchased a wolf tag for 2014 on the next to the last day of the year, leaving him only one day to get a wolf.

At that point, he said, he admitted to having shot the wolf before buying the tag.

“I did the right thing, I just did it in the wrong order,” he said. “I’m not going to buy a tag (in advance), because I don’t hunt for wolves.”

He didn’t know there was a wolf near his home on the mountain.

Additionally, he said, he figured the officers would have some “understanding” for his perceived need to shoot the wolf in defense of his dogs.

Fish and Game declined a records request from The Press for any incident report that might have been created detailing the agency’s investigation findings.

Fish and Game confiscated the wolf’s pelt, which was already at a taxidermist, after finding Mize had killed the animal prior to purchasing a tag.

20 years later: What if wolves weren’t reintroduced?

copyrighted wolf in water

From another list:

January 14, 2015 12:01 a.m.

The date was Jan. 14, 1995, when Moon Star Shadow, a 90-pound, silver-tipped black male, stepped out of his cage at Corn Creek and urinated, marking his new territory in Idaho.

Moon Star Shadow and three other wolves released at the edge of the Frank Church-River of No Return Wilderness were the first of 66 wolves brought to Idaho and Yellowstone National Park from Canada in 1995 and 1996.

By 2009, the wolf population had grown to more than 1,500 in Idaho, Montana and Wyoming and today has spread to Washington, Oregon and Utah — even California and Arizona.

In 2011, Congress delisted the populations in Idaho, Montana, northern Utah, western Oregon and western Washington. That removed them from protections under the Endangered Species Act and led to wolf-hunting seasons. Today more than 600 wolves are thought to live in Idaho and the haunting howl of a pack of wolves is an almost common sound in Idaho’s back country, pleasing the people who pushed to restore them.

Idaho hunters and trappers harvest hundreds of wolves every year, but many complain that traditional elk-hunting areas no longer are as productive because wolves kill, move or stress the big game.

Ranchers have the right and means to kill wolves that attack their livestock, but they remain bitter that they aren’t compensated for losses that can’t be definitively linked to wolves. Ranchers also say elk and other big game are streaming out of the backcountry to raid their pastures and haystacks as they get away from the wolves.

But what if the federal government had decided not to reintroduce wolves to Idaho and Yellowstone in 1995?

Folks who love wolves would have fewer to see or hear. And the folks who hate wolves might have fewer options to manage wolves or kill wolves that come into contact with humans and livestock.

A mind of their own

Wolf biologists and managers who led the recovery program that began a decade before the wolves were released agree that Idaho would have wolves today, possibly hundreds, even if the reintroduction never took place. But they doubt that Yellowstone National Park — the place the public associates most closely with the new population of wolves — would have a wolf population today.

Wolves were moving on their own from Canada into Montana and Idaho, beginning in the 1960s. But a lack of safe corridors for the animals between Northwest Montana and Yellowstone would have hindered or stopped natural recolonization of wolves from Canada there. Today, 400 to 450 wolves live in the greater Yellowstone ecosystem.

“There would be wolves in northwest Montana, there would be wolves in central Idaho, but I doubt we would have more than a few (scattered) in Yellowstone,” said Ed Bangs, a retired U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service gray wolf recovery coordinator in charge of the reintroduction.

They were reintroduced under a legal provision that allowed relaxed rules for an “experimental population.” That enabled federal officials to kill wolves that repeatedly attacked livestock and exempted officials from requiring that every federal action in the habitat be shown not to hurt the wolves.

That approach was based on the premise that there was no wolf population — no breeding pairs — in the areas targeted for reintroduction.

As the wolf population in British Columbia and Alberta grew in the 1980s, several packs showed up in Northwest Montana, making that area ineligible for reintroduction. Many wolf sightings also were reported in Idaho.

An Idaho plan

The drive for reintroduction in Idaho came from Republican U.S. Sen. James McClure.

McClure believed the return of the wolf to Idaho was inevitable. He wanted to put in place rules that would protect ranchers from the powers of the Endangered Species Act that restrict the killing of depradating wolves and other management. In 1988, he proposed federal legislation that would have reintroduced a few packs and stipulated that no wolves would be allowed to live outside of Yellowstone and Idaho’s wildernesses. His bill would have restricted wolf expansion more tightly than did the final reintroduction rules.

“He wasn’t a wolf-lover,” said David Mech, an internationally known wolf biologist who was one of the early voices for reintroduction.

McClure not only feared the costs to ranchers if more wolves showed up in Idaho. He believed loggers, miners and recreationalists would end up facing stricter limits under the full powers of the federal Endangered Species Act.

Ranchers weren’t convinced.

Brad Little, who today serves as Idaho’s lieutenant governor, came from a long line of sheep ranchers. In 1988, he was active with the Idaho Woolgrowers and an opponent to McClure’s bill, which went nowhere because of strong opposition from Wyoming ranchers and lawmakers.

“He was pretty darned convinced that his bill would have been far and away superior to what we eventually got,” Little said.

The return of wolves forced Little, like most ranchers, to change the way he operates. He gave up private grazing leases in the Cascade area due to the rate of depredation on his cattle. But he said ranchers in Custer and Lemhi counties that deal with the largest wolf populations have had the hardest time maintaining their livelihoods.

“The central Idaho ranchers are in the same place that the West Coast loggers were with the spotted owl,” Little said.

‘The sweet spot’

Suzanne Stone, now with Defenders of Wildlife, was contracted by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife in the early 1990s to look for wolves in central Idaho.

Stone soon learned how difficult life would be for wolves in Idaho, both then and now. Biologist Steve Fritts was teaching her to howl in 1991 near Warm Lake east of Cascade.

“On my second howl, we literally (had) rifle bullets go over our heads so close I could hear them whistle,” Stone said.

She wanted reintroduction to be called augmentation, because she knew wolves already were living in Idaho. But she also believes that if the naturally moving wolves had been given the full protection of the Endangered Species Act, we would have wolves in Idaho, Yellowstone and at least Wyoming without reintroduction.

The wolf recovery program today would not be as divisive, Bangs said, had the delisting occurred several years earlier — before wolf populations had reached their peak and affected so much livestock and big game.

“We lost the hunting constituency because of that,” he said.

Steve Alder agrees.

Alder heads Idaho for Wildlife — the group that sponsored this month’s wolf- and coyote-hunting derby in Salmon.

“From our perspective, (the delay in delisting) really got people rallied,” he said.

So what ended up happening?

Wolves captured in northern Alberta were released Jan. 14, 1995, after a federal judge lifted a temporary restraining order.

In Idaho, the 35 wolves simply were released from cages into the wild.

At Yellowstone, packs captured together were kept in enclosures to allow the animals to acclimate to their new environs. The enclosures were opened in March and the wolves reluctantly left to take over their new home. More wolves were released in 1996.

From the beginning, Idaho’s great wolf habitat — lots of undeveloped spaces and lots of food such as elk and moose — meant that the wolf population grew faster here than anywhere else.

By 2001, the Idaho population had reached the 10 to 15 breeding pairs that federal biologists said was necessary for recovery.

After years of debate, lawsuits and failed efforts to remove Idaho wolves from protections under the Endangered Species Act, Idaho Rep. Mike Simpson added a rider to a fast-track federal budget bill in 2011. The rider inserted language to allow Idaho and Montana to manage

New WDFW Pick is Former Idaho Gun-Nut

The following is an open letter by an anonymous reader…

The Fish and Wildlife Commission’s recent choice for the Director of the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) is an inappropriate choice for Washington.

The new director is from the Idaho Department of Fish and Game, which is known for its brutal archaic wildlife management style.  They support many practices, which have been banned here by state initiatives because of the cruelty involved.  These practices include bear baiting, hounding, and the use of steel-jaw traps.  They promote the killing of wolves in all kinds of despicable ways and put little emphasis on protecting endangered species.

The primary mandate for WDFW is to protect, preserve, and perpetuate our state’s wildlife.  The Commission’s choice of director is inconsistent with this mandate and is ill suited for our state.  I fear for the future of our wildlife.

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