Feds decline to reclassify gray wolf under Endangered Species Act

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What happens when the states try to manage wolves…

http://thehill.com/policy/energy-environment/246578-feds-decline-to-reclassify-gray-wolf-under-endangered-species-act

Gray wolves across most of the Lower 48 are classified as endangered, which is more protective than a threatened designation. Advocates hoped a change to threatened would pre-empt intervention from members of Congress who want to lift federal protections altogether.

http://flatheadbeacon.com/2015/06/30/wildlife-officials-reject-petition-to-reclassify-wolves/

Wildlife Officials Reject Petition to Reclassify Wolves

Advocates sought to designate gray wolves as a threatened species to pre-empt removal of federal protections

Wildlife officials move forward to lift wolf protections

http://magicvalley.com/news/local/wildlife-officials-move-forward-to-lift-oregon-wolf-protections/article_dc880fff-7524-58d5-8d5d-53773be7428f.html

By Associated Press    April 25, 2015

 PORTLAND — Wildlife officials have moved forward with the process that could remove the gray wolf from the state’s endangered species list.

The decision Friday by the Oregon Fish and Wildlife Commission came as the number of wolves and breeding pairs have increased in the state. By 2014, there were 77 wolves in 15 known packs.

The state’s conservation goal was to have four breeding pairs for three consecutive years, a goal that was reached earlier this year.

The commission will look at two options: delisting the wolves statewide and partially, in eastern Oregon only. The option of not delisting also remains.

State delisting would not impact a federal endangered listing that includes the state’s western two-thirds.

Commissioners will draft a proposal by June and vote on it in August.

copyrighted Hayden wolf walking

Bill Proposed to Remove Wolf Protection in UT, OR, and WA

http://newsradio1310.com/bill-proposed-to-remove-wolf-protection-in-ut-or-and-wa/

YAKIMA, Wash. (AP) — Republican U.S. Rep. Dan Newhouse has introduced a bill to remove the gray wolf from Endangered Species Act protections in Washington, Oregon and Utah.

The freshman lawmaker says removing wolves from the list is “long overdue” and would allow state wildlife officials to manage wolves more effectively.

The Yakima Herald-Republic reports his bill would also prevent states fromcopyrighted Hayden wolf in lodgepoles providing protections to wolves that are stronger than those found in the federal Endangered Species Act.

A spokesman for Conservation Northwest, which works on wolf recovery issues, calls the bill disappointing. Chase Gunnell says there are only a few wolves receiving federal protection in Washington and Oregon

Read More: Bill Proposed to Remove Wolf Protection in UT, OR, and WA | http://newsradio1310.com/bill-proposed-to-remove-wolf-protection-in-ut-or-and-wa/?trackback=tsmclip

 

Organizations Team Up in the Wake of a Severed Mountain Lion Foot Found in a Trap

Missoula, Mont. (April 14, 2015) – An unlikely alliance between the Bitterroot Houndsmen Association, Footloose Montana, and In Defense of Animals is calling on Montana’s Department of Fish, Wildlife, and Parks (FWP) for more accountability in the management of mountain lions in the Big Sky State after the gruesome and horrific discovery of a severed mountain lions limb in a foothold trap. The alliance is seeking a reduction in the overall quota of mountain lions in the Bitterroot Valley, by counting trap-related injuries and deaths toward the overall hunting quota, and by holding trappers accountable.

The severed mountain lion foot was discovered around March 24 by a resident in the Bitterroot Valley. He reported deep claw marks on a nearby tree, indicating that the estimated four-year-old male lion was desperately trying to seek shelter and escape the source of pain – a foothold trap set for wolves. Thanks to recreational and commercial trapping, this mountain lion is likely dead now, either succumbing to starvation, attack by other carnivores, shock, or a painful infection of the severed limb.

The illegally set trap had no identification tag attached to it, and was placed outside the official wolf trapping season, which ended on February 28.
According to Anja Heister with In Defense of Animals, “At least 15 mountain lions have been reported to FWP as caught in traps specifically set for wolves in addition to other species over the course of two trapping seasons, between 2012 and 2014. Yet, these tragic trapping-related injuries and mortalities do not count toward the overall quota for mountain lions. They are also considered merely “incidental” and go unpunished.”

The FWP Commission meets this Wednesday, April 15 to deliberate the quota for the 2015 mountain lion hunting season and we strongly encourage them to adopt the inclusion of incidental mortalities. “There is no question that the mortality of mountain lions exceeds what the Commission allows,” said Cal Ruark, former president of the Bitterroot Houndsmen Association. “It is time to reconcile the two numbers and reduce the quota, as well as acknowledging so-called “non-target incidents” as what they are – deaths of animals, which, at a very minimum, need to be recognized and counted.”

The Commission must be empowered and do the right thing as a result of this recent disturbing discovery. The maiming and likely subsequent death of this mountain lion is not an isolated incident and the time has come to make bold changes and offer dynamic solutions in order to prevent further animals from suffering the same horrific fate.

Chewed-off Canadian lynx foot--another trapping victim.  Photo by Jim Robertson

Chewed-off Canadian lynx foot–another trapping victim. Photo by Jim Robertson

Conservation group questions accuracy of Idaho wolf numbers

copyrighted wolf in river

http://www.statesmanjournal.com/story/tech/science/environment/2015/04/13/conservation-group-questions-accuracy-of-idaho-wolf-numbers/25702265/?fb_ref=Default

“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.”

Do We Need Wolves?

http://www.howlingforwolves.org/node/528

March 10, 2015

Article source:
In These Times

Howling For Wolves President and Founder Dr. Maureen Hackett was recently highlighted in the article, “Do We Need Wolves?” in the March, 10 edition of In These Times magazine.

The article explores the history of wolves in the United States – how their population dwindled, and then increased, and what past and current challenges they face. Author John Collins particularly explains the many ways wolves are vital to our ecology – citing Yellowstone National Park’s revitalization after they reintroduced wolves as a case study. Collins also addresses myths about wolves – such as how they actually have a net positive and not net negative as widely believed by hunters, when it comes to deer populations.

Dr. Hackett is quoted in the article explaining support for the use of non-lethal and scientific wolf management practices. She also provides information about state wolf management and the unfortunate negative attitude towards wolves.

Read the full article at the link above.

copyrighted Hayden wolf in lodgepoles

Montana’s wolf population drops

http://www.greatfallstribune.com/story/news/local/2015/04/03/montanas-wolf-population-drops/25248731/?fb_ref=Default

by Tribune Staff 12:02 p.m. MDT April 3, 2015

Montana’s verified wolf population declined by 73, or 12 percent, last year while livestock depredations by wolves continued to decline, dropping about 46 percent from 2013.

The minimum number of wolves counted by Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks at the end of 2014 was 554 compared to a minimum of 627 wolves counted at the end of 2013 according to Montana Fish, Wildlife and Park’s annual wolf conservation and management report.

Montana’s minimum wolf packs were counted at 134, compared to 152 last year, while breeding pairs increased to 33 from 28 counted last year.

The minimum wolf count is the number of wolves actually verified by FWP wolf specialists. The actual number of wolves is estimated to be 27 percent to 37 percent higher than the minimum count. FWP’s complete report is available online at fwp.mt.gov.

Overall, FWP Director Jeff Hagener said Montana’s wolf population continues to be very healthy and far above federal recovery goals.

“Among the best news is that confirmed wolf depredations on livestock again took a significant drop in 2014,” Hagener said.

Confirmed livestock depredations because of wolves included 35 cattle, six sheep and one horse in 2014, down 46 percent from 2013 losses of 50 cattle, 24 sheep, three horses and one goat. Cattle losses in 2014 were the lowest recorded in the past eight years.

The decline in wolf depredations continues a general downward trend that began in 2009.

“For FWP, and we hope for others, it reinforces the fact that we not only have more tools for managing wolf populations, but that we’re applying them effectively,” Hagener said. “One of our top priorities is to minimize livestock losses, and we think we’re continuing to make a positive impact there.”

The continuing decrease in livestock depredations over the past four years may be a result of several factors including targeted wolf depredation responses in cooperation with USDA Wildlife Services, and the effects of wolf harvest by hunters and trappers.

In the 2014 calendar portion of the 2014-15 hunting/trapping season, 213 were taken by hunters and trappers compared to 231 taken in the 2013 calendar portion of the 2013-14 season.

The total number of known wolf mortalities during 2014 was 308, down from 335 in 2013, with 301 of these mortalities being human-related, including 213 legal harvests, 57 control actions to further reduce livestock depredations (down from 75 in 2013), 11 vehicle strikes, 10 illegal killings, six killed under the newly-enacted Montana State Senate Bill 200, two capture-related mortalities, one euthanized because of poor health and one legal tribal harvest. In addition, one wolf died of natural causes and six of unknown causes.

“Montana’s wolf management program seeks to manage wolves just like we do other wildlife — in balance with their habitat, with other wildlife species and with the people who live here,” Hagener said.

For the purpose of reporting minimum counts to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Montana is divided into three areas that reflect the former gray wolf federal recovery zones. The three zones cover the entire state and include more than one FWP region. Following is a summary of the 2014 minimum counts verified for those areas:

In the “Northwest Montana” area, counts showed a minimum of 338 wolves in 91 verified packs and 17 breeding pairs, compared to 412, 104, and 16, respectively, in 2013.

In the Montana portion of the “Central Idaho” area counts verified a minimum of 94 wolves in 20 packs, with six breeding pairs, compared to the 2013 counts of 123, 26, and seven respectively.

The Montana portion of the “Greater Yellowstone” counts include a minimum of 122 wolves in 23 packs, and 11 breeding pairs, compared to 132, 22, and five, respectively in 2013.

The recovery of the wolf in the northern Rockies remains one of the fastest endangered species comebacks on record. In the mid-1990s, to hasten the overall pace of wolf recovery in the Northern Rockies, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service released 66 wolves into Yellowstone National Park and central Idaho. FWP began monitoring the wolf population, and managing livestock conflicts in 2004. After several court challenges wolves were taken off the Endangered Species list in 2011.

The delisting of wolves in 2011 allows Montana to manage wolves in a manner similar to how bears, mountain lions and other wildlife species are managed, which is guided by state management plans, administrative rules and laws.

copyrighted wolf in river

Wolf harvest down slightly from last year

http://www.greatfallstribune.com/story/outdoors/hunting/2015/03/17/wolf-harvest-slightly-last-year/24928657/

Montana hunters and trappers killed 207 wolves during the 2014-15 season, which came to a close Sunday.

That was 23 fewer wolves than the 230 killed in the 2013-14 season.

Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks wasn’t surprised by those numbers. That’s well within normal season-to-season hunting fluctuations, said John Vore, game management bureau chief with FWP.

A number of factors could contribute to that decrease.

copyrighted wolf in riverWe suspect the wolf population is down a little bit,” Vore said.

The weather was also very different between the two seasons, said Ron Aasheim, FWP spokesman.

Wolf hunters also may not have been as motivated after a few seasons of wolf hunting, he said. Hunters who were really interested and committed to getting a wolf when wolf hunting first became legal may have already harvested a wolf last year or the year before and may not have worked as hard this year.

FWP issued 20,383 wolf licenses this season, compared to 24,479 last season.

Along the Rocky Mountain Front, hunters took 11 wolves and trappers took eight. Last year, 12 wolves were taken in Region 4.

No wolves were killed this year in the Highwoods or Little Belts, said Ty Smucker, wolf management specialist in Region 4.

FWP is preparing is wolf population report. That should be out in the next couple weeks, Aasheim said.

A history of wolf hunts in Montana

2009: During Montana’s first regulated wolf hunt, hunters harvested 72 wolves during the fall hunting season. As hunters approached the overall harvest quota of 75 wolves, FWP closed the hunt about two weeks before the season was scheduled to end.

2010: The hunting season was blocked by a federal court ruling in August 2010 that returned wolves to the federal endangered species list. In April 2011, the U.S. Congress enacted a new federal law delisting wolves in Montana and Idaho, and in portions of Washington, Oregon and Utah.

2011-12: The wolf hunting season ended with a total harvest of 166 wolves, 75 percent of the overall quota of 220 wolves. The season was initially set to end Dec. 31, but was extended to Feb. 15.

2012-13: This was the first time wolf trapping was allowed in the state. There was no statewide quota. Hunters took 128 wolves and trappers took 97 wolves for a total of 225.

2013-14: Montana’s wolf hunting season was extended and the bag limit was increased to five wolves. Hunters killed 143 wolves and trappers took 87 wolves, for a total of 230 wolves.

2014-15: Hunters killed a 130 wolves and trappers killed another 77 for a total of 207 animals.

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.

http://trib.com/news/state-and-regional/winter-wolf-harvests-trailing-in-northern-rockies-most-hunting-trapping/article_d585057d-f9b6-50f1-b661-e5e4f6be8006.html