WY G&F proposes increase to 58 wolves in 2018 hunt

WYOMING – Wyoming Game and Fish Department is proposing an increase to the wolf mortality limit for the grey wolf 2018 hunting season. After a successful season last year where the 44-wolf quota was met, officials at WGFD would like to see the harvest targeted at 58 now, as they say the population is thriving and exceeding all criteria established to show that the species is recovered.

“The primary change for the 2018 wolf hunting season proposal is adjustment of the wolf mortality limit, which was increased to 58,” said Ken Mills, Game and Fish’s large carnivore biologist who focuses on wolves. “We calculate mortality limits annually based on the best available population and mortality data for wolves and packs present in the Wolf Trophy Game Management Area to be sure harvest levels are appropriate and ascribe to our commitment to manage for a recovered wolf population. This proposal is the result of a data-driven approach based on measured wolf population dynamics.”

The total minimum population of wolves in Wyoming living outside of Yellowstone National Park and the Wind River Reservation at the end of 2017 was 238, with 198 in the Wolf Trophy Game Management Area. The proposed mortality limit for 2018 is expected to result in an end of year population of around 160 wolves in the trophy game area, similar to the 2017 wolf hunting season.

The draft regulation for the 2018 wolf hunting regulation is now available for public comment.

It includes the allocation of higher hunt area quotas in those areas where wolf conflicts with livestock are high or in areas where wolves are impacting big game populations.

Public meetings on these regulation changes and others will occur at the following times and locations:

  • April 30, 6pm, Sheridan, Game and Fish Office
  • May 2, 6pm, Laramie, Game and Fish Office
  • May 8, 6pm, Cody, Park County Library
  • May 9, 6pm, Casper, Game and Fish Office
  • May 10, 6pm, Dubois, Headwaters Arts & Conference Center
  • May 16, 6pm, Pinedale, Game and Fish Office
  • May 17, 6pm, Jackson, Teton County Library Auditorium
  • May 22, 6pm, Evanston, BEAR Center Pavilion
  • May 23, 6pm, Kemmerer, South Lincoln Events Center
  • May 24, 6pm, Green River, Game and Fish Office

Written comments will be accepted through 5pm June 4 at public meetings, by mailing: Wyoming Game and Fish Department, Regulations, 3030 Energy Lane, Casper, WY  82604 or online at http://wgfd.wyo.gov. Copies of the proposed regulations are available on the Game and Fish website and at the address above.

Written comments will be presented to the Game and Fish Commission prior to the public hearing at its July 10-11 meeting in Laramie at the Game and Fish Office.

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Wolf numbers “curbed” by hunting

Wolves
A wolf watches park visitors as it feeds on a elk carcass near the road in Yellowstone National Park in this June 2008 file photo. The return of hunting wolves has trimmed their numbers, but not as high as state goals.

File, Star-Tribune

JACKSON — Hunting’s return to the landscape slashed the number of wolves in Wyoming last year, though not to the degree wildlife managers sought.

Wyoming’s goal was to cut its wolf population by nearly a quarter in places in which the state has control, but only a 16 percent reduction was accomplished. The reason managers missed the mark, Wyoming Game and Fish Department wolf biologist Ken Mills said, is there were more wolves than expected.

“What happened is the Fish and Wildlife Service didn’t have anyone on the ground monitoring wolves,” Mills said. “We located four additional packs. There were 19 adult wolves in those packs.”

Hunters would have been allowed to target more wolves, he said, if those animals were identified ahead of an annual report that informs hunting seasons.

The annual census of Wyoming’s wolves, published Wednesday, found there were 347 animals thought to roam the Equality State as the calendar turned to 2018 — down 30 from a year ago. Yellowstone National Park’s population, 97 animals, remained about the same, as did the number of lobos calling the Wind River Indian Reservation home.

The most significant changes came in areas where Wyoming authorizes hunting, where the population fell from 285 to 238. A managed “trophy-game” hunting area in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem’s interior housed 198 wolves at the end of the year. Another 40 of the large canines roamed the remainder of Wyoming, where wolves are managed as pests and can be killed indiscriminately. In both areas combined, 77 wolves were killed last year.

Groups like the Center for Biological Diversity view the calculated, hunting-driven population decline as a travesty.

“Wolves won’t persist outside Yellowstone National Park if Wyoming continues to eradicate them at this appalling pace,” said Victor, Idaho, resident Andrea Santarsiere, an attorney with the center.

Mills sees it differently. Wyoming’s population, he said, is well above federally required “recovery” requirements: 50 wolves and five breeding pairs in Yellowstone and 100 animals and 10 breeding pairs outside the park. The wolf biologist noted the number of breeding pairs in the state increased over the last year, from 18 to 19.

“It’s recovered, and it’s functioning as a population,” Mills said. “There’s actually more wolves in 2017 in Wyoming outside of Yellowstone and the Wind River Reservation than there were before 2011 — before we ever managed wolves.”

A lawsuit caused Wyoming to lose control of its wolf population from 2014 to spring 2017, during which time the Endangered Species Act protected lobos from hunting and populations hit record highs.

2016 was the most conflict-prone one for wolves and livestock since the native carnivores were reintroduced to the region 23 years ago. Twenty-five wolf packs killed 243 sheep, cattle and horses, and 113 wolves were killed in retaliation. The numbers fell last year, with 191 wolf-suspected livestock deaths and 61 lobos killed in response.

“I think pretty much everyone can say that’s a positive, right?” Mills said. “Whether fewer wolves is a positive depends on who you are, but less conflict is a good thing.”

Should wolf hunting be increased in the Gros Ventre?

[If you’re asking me, I say HELLNO! The Tetons is where I saw my first wolf in the lower 48 states…]

Please Vote NO!!

http://www.jhnewsandguide.com/should-wolf-hunting-be-increased-in-the-gros-ventre/poll_b74e58fc-37ab-11e8-abeb-eb87d8a2d294.html

Yes. This winter’s Gros Ventre elk population suffered because of the packs. More tags!

Yes, but we need more than sport hunting to control wolf populations.
No. We don’t have enough data to show the wolves were responsible for this winter’s low herd count.
No. The nine killed in the last open season is already too much.

Vote View Results http://www.jhnewsandguide.com/should-wolf-hunting-be-increased-in-the-gros-ventre/poll_b74e58fc-37ab-11e8-abeb-eb87d8a2d294.html

 

Wyoming Is Waging a War on Wolves

The Cowboy State’s scorched earth campaign threatens wolf recovery

Ever wanted to kill a wolf? If so, now’s your time. In Wyoming, wolf hunting is now legit—365 days a year across 85 percent of the state, where wolves are classified as shoot-on-sight vermin. Guns, snares, explosives, trucks, and snowmobiles—almost any form of violence is allowed to kill these animals. Today anyone in most of Wyoming can kill wolves without a hunting license, putting at great risk a wildlife species whose populations in the Lower 48 remain a dim shadow of what they once were and whose recovery in the Rockies is tenuous at best.

And what about the other 15 percent of the state, concentrated around the Jackson Hole area and the Tetons? That’s a “trophy area” where wolves may be seasonally hunted from October 1 to December 31. Unlike much of the rest of Wyoming—where ranches and extractive industries have seriously degraded valuable wolf habitat—the northwest corner still offers wolves, grizzlies, and the other large predators remaining in the West a corner in which to struggle to survive.

And now even that refuge is under fire. During the 2017 hunting season (the first legal hunt in Wyoming since 2013), licensed hunters killed 44 wolves in the trophy area—12 alone within the first 40 hours of the open season. Another 32 were killed across the rest of the state last year. And at least 48 are estimated to die annually from human impacts outside of hunting. To put this in perspective, before wolves were removed from Endangered Species Act protection, there were approximately 380 wolves inhabiting Wyoming’s 97,814 square miles. In a single year, Wyoming may have lost a quarter of all its wolves.

How did this happen? Let’s take a look back. In 1995, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service reintroduced wolves to Yellowstone National Park. The wolves prospered, multiplied, and eventually offered affirmative proof of this animal’s importance to ecosystem health. The successful reintroduction also demonstrated that, almost incredibly, there was still sufficient unimpeded wilderness in the continental United States to allow this far-ranging alpha predator to thrive. The growing number of packs steadily expanded their range as succeeding generations of wolves began to disperse, following the elk herds on their seasonal migration southward out of Yellowstone and into the Tetons. And that’s when the trouble began.

In 2003, just eight years after the Yellowstone reintroductions, the USFWS reclassified the endangered gray wolf under the ESA as threatened, thereby downgrading its protective status. The USFWS, fatigued from years of having to manage the intense public opinions that surround this species, was eager to stop having to oversee wolf management and began planning the wholesale removal of the “recovered” Northern Rockies populations from the ESA. The agency planned to devolve wolf management to the states of Wyoming, Idaho, and Montana, which under law would have to devise management plans that would ensure the maintenance of minimum sustainable populations.

For more than a decade, wildlife advocates fought the attempted delisting in court. The wolves in the Northern Rockies bounced back and forth between being legally protected and at the mercy of state agencies. After a brief period under state management, Wyoming wolves were placed back under the protection of the ESA. A 2009 federal district court decision held that the entire state constituted a “significant portion” of the wolves’ range—a proven historical fact, all the more pertinent given the depleted numbers of wolves throughout North America today.

But in March 2017, the D.C. Circuit Court reaffirmed Wyoming’s wolf management plan, ruling that the “2009 decision has been overtaken by events.” According to the court, the USFWS “has adopted a new definition of ‘significant portion of its range,’” allowing wolves outside the trophy zone to be destroyed with no repercussions to the species recovery across the greater Yellowstone ecosystem. Therefore, the court held, “The [USFWS] has offered ample rationale for determining that the predator area was never ‘envisioned to meaningfully contribute to wolf recovery in the region’ and is thus not a ‘significant portion of its range.’” Wyoming’s wolves were overnight reduced from a federally protected species to vermin across 85 percent of the state.

Idaho and Montana have adopted a more traditional approach to wolf hunting based upon districts, season licenses, and quotas. While those licensed hunting programs have still proved lethal to wolves—at least 271 wolves were killed in Idaho 2016, and 247 in Montana—they are not as sweeping as the no-holds-barred approach across most of Wyoming.

What’s behind Wyoming officials’ antipathy toward wolves? The primary justification for the state’s wolf hunt is, supposedly, economic. Wolves are blamed for livestock depredations in a region that is still emotionally and economically invested in the teetering myth of the independent cowboy, despite the fact that many ranchers graze their herds on public lands and insist that representatives of the USDA’s Wildlife Services agency employ any number of methods—including, per the USDA website, “trapping, snaring, shooting, and the use of chemical products and immobilization and euthanasia drugs”—to remove or kill offending predators.

According to the USFWS, wolves killed a record number of livestock in 2016, including 154 cattle, 88 sheep, and one horse; that’s up from a total of 134 depredations in 2015. In response, government “wildlife managers” killed 113 wolves, up from 54 the year before. To put this into context, the 2016 casualties from disease and weather alone among Wyoming’s sheep herds was 37,550 animals.

Wyoming residents are permitted to shoot on site any wolf they find that is attacking or “molesting” livestock or a domesticated dog. Ranchers are also able to seek compensation for livestock lost to wolves. A brochure published by Wyoming Game and Fish states “Landowners may be compensated for verified damage to livestock caused by wolves. Landowners must submit a signed and notarized damage claim affidavit to the WGFD.” But even though ranchers may get financial relief for any wolf attacks on their livestock, some ranchers insist that the wolves still have to die.

Why do wolves kill livestock? Because they’re easy prey, bred by humans over millennia to be pliant. As Andrea Santarsiere, an attorney with the Center for Biological Diversity, told US News and World Report last summer, “When you have native predators on the landscape and non-native livestock on the landscape, it’s not surprising that the predators are going to view them as prey.”

This all makes scientific sense—but science isn’t the issue in Wyoming. Rather, it’s the occasional threat to livestock growers’ incomes that fuels the attacks against wolves and other predators. But predators are hardly the main problem; according to the USDA, in 2015 non-predator causes of death (mainly respiratory diseases) accounted for almost 98 percent of adult cattle mortality, and almost 89 percent for calves. Of the numerical sliver of cattle and calves that were killed by predators, wolves took only 4.9 percent, while coyote predation came in at 40.5 percent. Even domestic dogs claimed 11.3 percent, more than twice that of wolves.

The second reason for an intensive wolf hunt is the perceived reduction of trophy game such as elk, deer, bison, and moose. For the last few generations, big game has been abundant throughout much of the West, in part because of predator persecution. According to Yellowstone National Park’s website, “Early-20th-century protectionist policies, including the elimination of wolves and cougars, boosted elk numbers and stoked concern that the herd was too large. In response, park managers and hunters shot, trapped, and relocated tens of thousands of elk between 1920 and 1968.”

The annual elk slaughter was conducted primarily to prevent damage to important biotic features such as the cottonwoods and willows that stabilized stream banks; without any fear of predation, elk herds would simply stay put streamside and gnaw new shoots to the roots, eventually resulting in erosion, sedimentation, and the loss of freshwater trout habitat. Large carnivores were reintroduced to the landscape in part for this reason: They keep prey species below their maximum carrying capacity and in the process hold diseases in check and balance ecosystems. With the reintroduction of wolves, and a concomitant increase in grizzly numbers (the bears will sometimes appropriate or scavenge the remains of wolf kills), Yellowstone’s bloated elk population rapidly decreased by around 65 percent.

But this turned some hunters against the resurgent wolves. The trophy males that are the chief interest of hunters are (if not infirmed by age) usually the healthiest and strongest members of the herd. Anyone who has encountered a cantankerous 1,500-pound bull moose standing seven feet at the shoulder will understand the reluctance of any predator to challenge it head on. Predators naturally target the easiest, least demanding prey: the young and old, the sick and lame. Therefore the impact of wolves to healthy adult male elk, mule deer, bison, or moose is ecologically minimal.

As it currently stands, Wyoming’s wolf management plan requires the maintenance of a 100 x 10 ratio: that is, 100 wolves with at least 10 confirmed breeding pairs in the entire state, not including Yellowstone National Park or the Wind River Shoshone/Northern Arapahoe Reservation. The plan also calls for state biologists to define a “buffer” against this minimum required population, which presumably would mean more wolves than the required minimum. But the buffer, already vague, is not a legal requirement of the state’s management plan.

And in any case, the Wyoming plan appears to violate federal guidelines, according to attorneys with the nonprofit advocacy group Earthjustice. Under federal regulations, Wyoming must retain a total of 150 wolves, including 15 breeding pairs, throughout the entire state, including the national parks and the trophy game area. Although the state can take the population down to the bare minimum and still remain within the law, the targets seem arbitrary, says Timothy Preso, managing attorney of Earthjustice’s office in Bozeman, Montana.

“There is huge pressure on the ‘trophy zone’ to maintain a viable population without a legal safety net,” Preso said. Reestablishing wolves was a huge and successful effort by the American taxpayer, he said, one that has been sacrificed to extremists who may use any means not already illegal, like certain poisons, to wipe out wolves. “They can dynamite pups in their dens, run them over with snowmobiles, shoot them, trap them.” Preso continued, “There’s not a rational discussion underlying the management of wolves in Wyoming. They’re such a symbol of different things. To some people they epitomize wilderness and freedom; to others they’re pure evil, even somehow scapegoats for dislike of the federal government.”

Preso said the statewide “dual classification” zoning system that is unique to Wyoming, along with the state’s lack of a meaningful buffer to support the minimum required numbers of this isolated population, is at the heart of conservationists’ issues with the Wyoming plan. “We will continue to fight to protect wolves against extreme and hostile state management policies,” he said.

Ken Mills, wolf management specialist with Wyoming Game and Fish, neatly summed things up regarding his state’s unprecedented ability to devastate an ecologically vital, formerly federally protected species. “There’s no other jurisdiction that has to manage wolves the way we do,” Mills told the Jackson Hole News & Guide last spring. “We have a much smaller population [compared with other Northern Rockies states] and a smaller area of suitable habitat. But on the plus side Idaho and Montana can’t manage their populations; they can’t overharvest their population. We can. Essentially we’re managing a population in a brand-new way.”

Pet dog strangled in bobcat snare during family outing in SV

https://buckrail.com/pet-dog-strangled-bobcat-snare-family-outing-sv/

Sage with Stewart’s grandkids.

STAR VALLEY, WYO – It was last weekend. Christy Stewart was with family walking her dog up Wickiup Knoll Trail outside of Afton same as she’d done almost every day for the past four years. Her dog, a 3-year-old Pyrenees named “Sage,” practically grew up on that run.

On Sunday, Sage died on that trail.

Sage

Out of sight for just minutes, the dog caught a scent of fresh meat used to bait a bobcat snare. It didn’t take long. Sage suffocated, hung in a trap just 20 feet off the trail.

Afton Game Warden James Hobbs investigated the incident and reported the trap, baited using a cubby set, was legal. It was not signed in any way that Stewart noticed, and that was her main complaint.

“To me, it’s common sense of not setting a snare so close to a popular recreation sight that would have avoided this nightmare. We all have our rights but there has to be a better way of avoiding senseless injury or death. Warning signs of “TRAPPING IN AREA” would be a good start,” Stewart said.

Stewart added that she wasn’t against trapping, per se, and is not interested in seeing laws changed in that regard. She just wants a heads up on any ongoing trapping so she or any other dog owner could be made aware.

“Nobody deserves a heartache like I have,” she said.

Trappers sometimes do not like to sign their traps for fear of vandalism from members of the public unsympathetic to the practice. Others don’t like to advertise where their traps are set to other trappers or opportunistic fur-gatherers.

Typical cubby set bobcat snare (Trapperman.com)

Lisa Robertson formed the advocacy group Wyoming Untrapped in 2012. WU is dedicated to creating a safe and humane environment for people, pets and wildlife through education, trapping regulation reform and compassionate conservation. The organization keeps the only statewide database of pet/trap conflicts.

WU has documented an escalation in incidents since fur prices began rising a few years ago. Recently, WU reported several trapping alerts in the last two months, including another snare trapping in Star Valley up Strawberry Canyon where a dog almost suffocated. Reports of traps near popular trails have also been reported in Shell and Ten Sleep.

“Traps are indiscriminate and deadly, causing pain and suffering to those who lose a beloved friend and family member,” Robertson posted on WU’s Facebook site.

With legal traps set so close to popular trails and little to no signage, and considering many dogs are allowed off-leash on the trails, Robertson said, “Basically, there are no safe areas for the public.”

Be of Good Cheer (Revisted)

I get the feeling some people won’t be satisfied until I’ve plumbed the deepest, darkest depths of hunter/trapper depravity. I’ve had people ask me to write blog posts on issues as nauseating to cover as Wyoming’s new bounty on coyotes, and the glib manner in which some Wyomingites brag about cutting off coyotes ears in the parking lot of the “Sportsmen’s” Warehouse to claim their $20.00 bounty (following the same ugly tradition of  their forbearers who claimed cash at the fort for Indian scalps); incidents as horrible as the black bear (pictured here) who got caught in a 217855_388677001217027_1495584697_ntrap that some sick, twisted asshole set for pine marten; or report on how poachers are killing off the last of the world’s big cats; or go into how vacuous bowhunters sound when they praise one another for impaling animals for sport, or the malevolent tone used by wolf hunters or trappers when they get away with murdering beings far superior to them in every way.

The problem is, whenever I go there I get so irate I could end up saying something like, “They should all be lined up and shot, their bodies stacked like cordwood and set ablaze to rid the world of every last speck of their psychopathic evil once and for all.”

Well I’m not going to do that…at least not during the holiday season…

December should be a time for being of good cheer and spreading hopeful news…(I’ll let you know if I hear any…)

Delisted grizzlies being reviewed

  • By Mike Koshmrl Jackson Hole Daily

Federal wildlife managers are looking into whether a court ruling jeopardizes the legality of Wyoming, Montana and Idaho’s oversight of Yellowstone-area grizzly bears.

The review of the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem’s grizzlies traces to a July court ruling that found the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service erred in not assessing how “delisting” Great Lakes states’ wolves affects the canines in the rest of their historic range.

The agency took the same approach when it revoked Endangered Species Act protections for grizzlies this summer, delisting an isolated cluster of about 700 bears called a “distinct population segment.” But the bureaucrats did not have the luxury of reviewing the appeals court’s opinion, which kept wolves in Minnesota, Wisconsin and Michigan under federal control.

“What happened is we put the [grizzly] rule out on June 30th, and then the opinion came out about a week later,” said Hilary Cooley, Fish and Wildlife’s grizzly bear recovery coordinator.

“We had not received that opinion,” she said, “so this is new information for us that we need to consider. We’re taking a close look at it.”

The public is being asked to weigh in, with comments due by Jan. 5.

The process does not mean the final grizzly delisting rule is being opened again, Cooley said.

“I want to be clear: The rule is final, and it stands, and bears are delisted,” she said. “To say any more right now is pretty premature.”

Fish and Wildlife plans to make a decision on the matter by March 31. It’s unlikely the outcome would flip management of the region’s bears back to the federal agency.

“I don’t anticipate remanding the rule,” Cooley said.

Wildlife activists view the review as a dodge from complying with legal precedent.

“It seems like a pretty lame attempt to fix some fatal flaws that the Fish and Wildlife Service is now acknowledging exist in that rule,” said Andrea Santarsiere, a Center for Biological Diversity attorney in Victor, Idaho. “The fact is that they’re taking this unprecedented step of collecting public comment on a rule that’s already issued.”

Independent of the Fish and Wildlife review, the courts will also determine whether the Yellowstone grizzly rule jibes with the law. Environmental activists, Native American tribes and other parties filed at least six lawsuits after grizzlies became a state-managed species, and the complaints weren’t filed until after the wolf ruling was issued.

Fish and Wildlife initiated the public review “in part” to cover its legal bases, Cooley said.

“The lawsuit’s key on this issue, and it’s information we did not have when we put the rule out,” she said. “But it’s also due diligence.”

The court that decided the Great Lakes wolves case found that Fish and Wildlife improperly “brushed off” the substantial loss of wolves’ historical range as “irrelevant to the species’ endangered or threatened status.” But the panel of judges did find that the general approach of delisting an isolated population complied with federal law. The analysis and execution, they found, is what was illegal.

The 515-page delisting rule for Yellowstone grizzlies mentions the Northern Continental Divide population — in the nearest grizzly recovery area, approximately 70 miles away — 48 times. The smaller and more distant Cabinet/Yaak, Selkirk and North Cascades populations are mentioned between six and eight times each. Federal managers and the courts will soon decide whether the analysis behind those numbers does the job. 

Women hunter numbers in Wyoming increase as male participate drops slightly

http://trib.com/lifestyles/recreation/women-hunter-numbers-in-wyoming-increase-as-male-participate-drops/article_ef24ac27-75cf-5707-8f3e-7410dac35cbd.html

Lily Lonneker dropped her first pronghorn at 12 years old.

She rested in the grass next to her mom as they watched a a doe and a buck. And in one shot, Lily killed the doe.

“I felt really proud of myself. I didn’t know I could do that since it was my first one,” Lily said recently. “It is fun when you get an animal to know you’re feeding your family, and you know the animal died in a humane way.”

Now 14, Lily plans to chase a bull elk this year outside Jackson.

In a sport historically dominated by men, who pass their skills along to sons, stories like Lily’s are becoming ever more common.

Between 2008 and 2016, female resident hunters went from 11,189 to 14,770. Male resident hunters during the same period dropped ever so slightly from 64,649 to 64,371, according to the Wyoming Game and Fish Department.

“Wyoming is one of the states where we’re not losing resident hunters,” said Kathryn Boswell, hunter and angler participation coordinator for the department. “Our numbers are going up, and it’s because women are increasing, and they’re making up the difference.”

Boswell, who is also a founding member of the Wyoming Women’s Antelope Hunt, doesn’t have hard data explaining the increase in women hunters. But she has a few theories from what she’s heard from other women.

“It’s something they can do with their families. They want to put organic meat on the table,” she said. “And there’s a camaraderie that comes with it.”

University of Wyoming student Lexi Daugherty agrees. She’s been hunting with her father most of her life and shot a pronghorn in 2015 at the Women’s Antelope Hunt.

The 18-year-old believes improving access to hunting will also help create more conservationists. She spent the last two years working with the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation and Game and Fish to secure a 20-acre piece of ground near Jackson that opens access to almost 17,000 acres of public land.

“Now it will be there forever, for young girls like me to go hunting on it,” she said. “And it’s something that’s really special to me.”

Hunting also teaches her skills to stay safe in the woods and find food for herself.

Casper teen Krysten Cutler started hunting and fishing with her grandfather, Dale Leatham, who has taken her across Wyoming and the world to chase wildlife.

The two went on a safari to Africa in June with other family members. The 12-year-old shot four African animals including a zebra and impala.

“Why not encourage young ladies to go hunting and fishing?” Leatham said. “It’s something you can do the rest of your life. And it doesn’t cost that much. You can always go hunting and fishing.”

For Krysten, hunting means more time with her grandpa.

“He teaches me, and I like doing it because it’s something to get us outdoors,” she said. “It bonds our relationship.”

The meat from her African animals went to local villagers, though she was able to try each species. A deer she shot recently is at the processor.

“People say that men usually only hunt, but clearly that’s not true,” she said. “I was 12 when I shot my first antelope and I know a lot of other girls who shot their first antelope when they were 12, and it should start evolving.”

Lily, the hunter from Jackson, isn’t sure after this year how much more she’ll hunt. She doesn’t have the same passion for the sport as her mom does. But she also believes in it as a way for women to stay self-sufficient.

Her mom, Gloria Courser, knows that whatever path her daughter chooses, she will be able to take care of herself in the woods.

When Courser started dating her husband in 2006, she didn’t have those skills.

“We were on a game trail and about 20 minutes in he looked back at me and said ‘Where’s the truck?’” she said. “I looked like the scarecrow on the Wizard of Oz. It was a truly teachable moment. I was out of my element.”

The next time they went, she knew where the truck was. And this fall, she was a guide for the Women’s Antelope Hunt.

Not every woman will have a passion for hunting, she said.

“It’s like when I moved away from home, I learned to change my oil. I did it one time, and decided I wouldn’t do it ever again if I didn’t have to,” she said. “But trying, learning to do it, learning how to use a firearm, understanding where meat comes from, is important.”

Wyoming sets next steps for grizzly control

By Angus M. Thuermer Jr. October 4, 2017

The Wyoming Game and Fish Department plans to propose its plans for grizzly bear management — including potential hunting seasons — by April, the state’s chief game warden said Tuesday.

With newfound authority over Ursus arctos horribilis following its removal from the federal threatened species list this summer, Game and Fish will begin canvassing the state in November, to gauge citizens’ sentiments regarding the bear, Brian Nesvik said. Delisting gives Wyoming the ability to enact hunting seasons within federal limits.

Nesvik said the department will approach the public input process “not with any preconceived ideas or a proposal, but just with a kind of open mind.

“We would like to … go out and talk to Wyoming folk and hear what they want to see with grizzly bear management,” he told WyoFile. “Then, after we hear from folks, go to round two where we develop some proposals and take them back out again for some additional feedback.”

The first outreach is scheduled for regional meetings in the second half of November and the first week of December, he said. Proposals — which could include hunting seasons — would emerge for public comment in January.

The goal would be to put a plan in front of the Wyoming Game and Fish Commission for its April meeting, during which it typically acts on changes to hunting and other regulations, Nesvik said.

The chief warden said he hopes “science and the desires of the public can come together to do the best thing for the future of the grizzly bear.” But, he cautioned, “some people might be disappointed.”

“There isn’t anything we make decisions on or manage in this state that has an absolute consensus,” Nesvik said.

Federal limits would apply to hunting

As a precondition to delisting the grizzly bear in the Yellowstone ecosystem, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service required Montana, Wyoming, and Idaho to agree on a memorandum of understanding that would limit the total annual human-caused bear mortality —  including from hunting — and split the total number of authorized deaths among the three states. The MOU would allow Wyoming the bulk of the so-called “discretionary” mortality quota, at 58 percent. Montana would get 34 percent and Idaho 8 percent.

Exact numbers would be determined annually, based on grizzly population numbers, sex and age classifications, and other factors.

A Game and Fish Department review of grizzly bear activity in Wyoming in 2016 shows that 22 grizzlies were killed of the 40 captured for conflicts. Those euthanized were killed for “a history of previous conflicts” or “a known history of close association with humans.” Several were killed for being “unsuitable for release into the wild.” Those included orphaned cubs, bears in poor physical condition, or bears that caused worries about human safety. One death was inadvertent.

http://www.wyofile.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/10/Griz-conflict-captures-2016.jpg

The bears captured for conflicts with people or property in 2016 tended to be on the fringes of occupied bear country. The red border circles the primary conservation area, the black surrounds the demographic monitoring area. There were 40 conflict captures in 2016, Game and Fish reported. (Wyoming Game and Fish Department)

There were 223 “conflicts” between grizzlies and people, a category that ranges from attacks by bears — there were four people injured — to eating apples and chickens. Most of the conflicts occurred on the edges of bear country, according to the report of 2016 activity.

Grizzly bear delisting in the Yellowstone ecosystem represents “a huge success story,” said Dan Thompson, the Game and Fish large carnivore section supervisor. With restoration of the species in the ecosystem came “just an overall expansion of bears…the overall distribution of grizzly bears,” he said.

Debate continues regarding whether the expansion of occupied grizzly country is due to more bears or changes in the environment that drives them to seek meat — like livestock — farther from their core habitat. Regardless of the cause, “we’re starting to see potential conflicts with people,” Thompson said.

In fiscal year 2015, the Wyoming Game and Fish Department paid $457,516 for livestock and other property losses from grizzly bears, according to department data. The agency continues to wrestle with depredation by bears and to compensate ranchers for damage. The agency publishes a weekly grizzly bear update for those interested in keeping up.

The department spent an average of $2.06 million on grizzly bear conservation between FY 2012-2016, Thompson said. That includes a host of activities, from capturing to relocating, tracking, counting and so on.

Two lawsuits challenge Yellowstone delisting

Conservation groups sued after Yellowstone-area grizzlies came off the threatened species list this summer. Two complaints focus on the government’s decision to delist the Yellowstone population of bears while other populations remain in peril.

The future of Yellowstone bears themselves is uncertain, the suits contend. That’s in part because of climate change that critics say is driving bears farther from the core of the ecosystem as traditional food sources disappear.

Read a WyoFile story about worries regarding grizzly hunting

One suit pits the Northern Cheyenne tribe, Sierra Club, Center for Biological Diversity, and the National Parks Conservation Association against U.S. Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke and colleagues. The Alliance for the Wild Rockies, Native Ecosystems Council, and Western Watersheds Project filed another action.

“The [U.S. Fish and Wildlife] Service acknowledged that grizzly bears have shifted to meat in response to the decline in whitebark pine; that more bears die due to human conflicts during years of poor whitebark pine production; and that human-bear conflict mortality has spiked in recent years,” the Northern Cheyenne and their fellow plaintiffs contend. “But the Service did not address or evaluate the logical conclusion arising from these facts: that is, grizzly bears’ shift to meat has brought bears into more frequent contact with hunters and livestock and, therefore, caused the recent upsurge in mortality.”

http://www.wyofile.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/10/Griz-rangeGF-maps.jpg

Game and Fish illustrates expansion of grizzly range with these maps from 2010 and 2016. Debate continues regarding the reason for bears expanding their territory. Regardless, wildlife officials say chances for conflicts increase, conflicts they seek to diffuse with their Bear Wise Wyoming program. (Wyoming Game and Fish Department)

The Alliance and its co-plaintiffs made a similar claim. Conservationists have also complained, although not specifically in the lawsuits, that authorities have established boundaries where grizzlies will be tolerated based in part on social tolerance or acceptability. They say that interjects political bias into what’s supposed to be decisions based on science.

Game and Fish seeks to increase social tolerance, and support for grizzly bears in general, through an 11-year-old program called Bear Wise Wyoming, Thompson said. “It’s so vital to management of large carnivores,” he said.

In the parlance of bureaucracy, Game and Fish is “creating a social conscience regarding responsible attractant management and behavior in bear habitat.” Bear Wise seeks to raise awareness, reduce access to things like food and garbage, and educate people about both grizzly and black bears.

http://www.wyofile.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/10/BearWiseLOGO-Model-1-300x232.jpg

Game and Fish brands its Bear Wise Wyoming program with this logo.

Among the efforts undertaken by the program have been the free give-away of hundreds of cans of bear spray to licensed hunters. In Cody last year the effort was supported by Wyoming Outdoorsmen, Bow Hunters of Wyoming and Yellowstone Country Bear Hunters Association, Game and Fish said. One hundred cans of spray were given away in less than an hour.

A similar event in Jackson last month saw a line of some 30 or more hunters waiting before the 8 a.m. give-away began. With the Greater Yellowstone Coalition, Game and Fish also has installed more bear-proof food storage boxes in campgrounds.

Game and Fish also seeks to protect those who travel into bear country as part of their job. It put on a workshop last year titled “Working Safely in Bear Country” in Park County that targeted national forest employees, among others.

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Game and Fish admits there is some resistance in sharing ground with grizzlies, including in the Wapiti and Pinedale areas. There, Game and Fish says, efforts are hampered by the lack of ordinances, regulations and laws, by seasonal residents, and by scant community organizations. Another factor is “decreased public tolerance for grizzly bears due to record numbers of human-bear conflicts and continued federal legal protection,” the report for 2016 said.

Game and Fish said it would announce the schedule of the November and December meetings soon.

[Wolf] Hunting to Resume After Wyoming Gains Authority Over Wolves

https://www.usnews.com/news/best-states/wyoming/articles/2017-09-28/wyoming-wolf-hunt-to-begin-sunday

Licensed wolf hunting is set to resume in Wyoming for the first time since 2013 after the state won back the authority to manage the animals.

Sept. 28, 2017, at 4:37 p.m.

The Associated Press

FILE – This July 16, 2004, file photo, shows a gray wolf at the Wildlife Science Center in Forest Lake, Minn. For the first time since 2013, licensed wolf hunting will take place in Wyoming. Wyoming’s wolf hunting season opens Sunday, Oct. 1, 2017 and runs through Dec. 31. It is confined to 12 trophy game hunt areas in the northwest part of the state. The Wyoming Game and Fish Department has set a quota of 44 wolves to be taken. (AP Photo/Dawn Villella, File) The Associated Press

By BOB MOEN, Associated Press

CHEYENNE, Wyo. (AP) — Licensed wolf hunting is set to resume in Wyoming for the first time since 2013 after the state won back the authority to manage the animals.

The season opens Sunday and runs through Dec. 31 in 12 trophy game hunt areas in the northwest part of the state.

The Wyoming Game and Fish Department has set a limit of 44 wolves for the hunt.

“We don’t set up a mortality quota necessarily expecting to meet it or thinking we need to meet it,” said Ken Mills, the state’s lead wolf biologist. “That’s just what we’ve said is a sustainable number for the population and will leave us approximately where we want to be at the end of the year.”

Mills said the state wants to see 160 wolves remaining in the trophy game area after the hunt is over.

Earlier this year, a federal appeals court lifted endangered species protection for wolves in Wyoming, allowing the state to take over management of the animals.

There are about 380 wolves in Wyoming. The state is committed to maintaining at least 100 wolves, including 10 breeding pairs, outside Yellowstone and Grand Teton national parks and Wind River Indian Reservation.

Tim Preso, a lawyer with Earthjustice in Montana, said wolf advocates are concerned about whether Wyoming maintains sufficient wolf numbers, especially when wolves are considered predators that can be shot on site in 85 percent of the state.

Preso represents a coalition of groups that sued over Wyoming’s wolf plan.

“If they start moving in a direction where they’re going to try to manage down to minimums — that would be troubling and we would be very concerned about that,” Preso said. “But at least for this first year, that’s not what they appear to be doing. So we’ll continue to watch it and see how this moves forward.”

Wolf hunting continues to be prohibited in the national parks, the National Elk Refuge near Jackson and on the reservation.

The state last allowed licensed wolf hunting in 2012 and 2013, but it was stopped when a federal judge sided with environmentalists concerned about Wyoming’s wolf management plan.

Montana and Idaho also have wolf hunting seasons that have not been interrupted by court action.

Copyright 2017 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.