Saturday, October 4, 2014

Montana FWP: Facebook Story From Anti-Wolf Agitator is Nonsense

Posted By on Sat, Oct 4, 2014 at 1:04 PM

International social media lit up in September after a Montana man said he had purposefully struck a pair of wolves near the Idaho/Montana border.

Toby Bridges had posted on his Facebook page some graphic details about accelerating his van into a wolf pack just east of Idaho's Lookout Pass. Bridges oversees the website Lobo Watch.

But evidence indicates that the anti-wolf extremist lied. 

Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks investigated the claim and said it "had nothing even remotely resembling proof beyond a reasonable doubt that it happened the way it was purported. There was just no physical evidence to back it up other than the photo of him on the side of the road with a wolf, and there are plenty of alternative explanations for how that could have happened."  FWP also took its evidence to the Montana Highway Patrol for a second opinion, which concurred that the claim was a hoax.

Game wardens interviewed Bridges as part of the investigation, but he didn't return calls from the Missoulian, looking for a comment.

Here is Bridge's last comment on his Facebook page, posted Oct. 1:

“I want to personally thank all of you wolf loving fools. You’ve been very good for business over on the LOBO WATCH Facebook page. Over the past week, your ignorant remarks about wolves have added more than 400 new WOLF CONTROL followers ... and I only had to ban 150 or so wolfaboos. You people are your own worst enemies ... please, please keep it up.”

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Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Montana Officials Investigate Social Media Claim of Malicious Wolf Killing

Posted By on Tue, Sep 23, 2014 at 9:51 AM

  • Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks
Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks officials are investigating a Missoula, Mont., man's claim that he purposefully struck a pair of wolves near the Idaho-Montana border, The Missoulian reports

Last week, Toby Bridges posted on Facebook graphic details about accelerating the van into a group of wolves chasing a cow elk and calf on I-90 just on the Montana side of Idaho's Lookout Pass. He wrote that the struck wolves were not immediately dead after Bridges hit them, but appeared to have broken legs. Afterward, he turned the van around and took pictures of the wounded animals and posted them on social media. 

Bridges, who oversees the website Lobo Watch and its Facebook page, has since taken the explicit posts off his Facebook page.

Meanwhile, law enforcement is in a pickle as to how to proceed investigating the case, and Capt. Joseph Jaquith told The Missoulian that he's unsure if Montana police can do anything since Bridges posted the photos to social media, and hasn't provided physical evidence of having committed a crime. 

"It's very unsporting, regardless of how you feel about wolves or lawful means for harvest of wolves, certainly running them down on the highway is not what we would accept," he said.

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Monday, September 8, 2014

Wolf Advocates Try to Arrest Gov. Otter Over Wolf Killing

Posted By on Mon, Sep 8, 2014 at 4:45 PM

Protesters gathered in the governor's office on Sept. 8. - JESSICA MURRI
  • Jessica Murri
  • Protesters gathered in the governor's office on Sept. 8.

Armed with signs of graphic wolf killings and leg-hold traps found on their property, Diane and Tim Steiner waited with five others at the bottom of the Statehouse steps to confront Gov. C.L. "Butch" Otter. The group, called the Wolf and Wildlife Action Group, came together from Nebraska, Montana, Washington, Wisconsin and Colorado to arrest the governor with a citizen's warrant charging him with "crimes against nature." 

The Steiners live near the Idaho-Montana border on a ranch that's been passed through the family. They said they've watched wolves run right through their cattle herds and pay no attention to them. 

"We've never lost a calf," Diane Steiner said. "We've never even lost a cat to a wolf."

  • Jessica Murri
But they said that after the wolves were delisted from the endangered species list, the numbers have dropped, and deer—free of the predator—have overrun their ranch. 

"They break fences, they eat the horses' hay, you can hardly drive to town without hitting one," she said.

The others had their own reasons for traveling to Idaho's capitol. For Lisa De Celles, she felt she was representing her tribe, the Blackfeet in Montana. Her native name is "Night Wolf," and she said her tribe shares a spiritual connection with the wolves.

"This is hurting us," she said. "If you take out one species, it will cause immense environmental damage. We are trying to stop it now. It's inhumane. It's horrifying. I can't not be here."

The group left the steps to confront the governor in his office, citizen's arrest warrant in hand. The warrant, which was a print-off, came from a friend of the group. Protest organizers weren't sure which judge issued it, since the signature wasn't legible.

They crammed into the governor's office with their large poster boards and asked to see him, but Otter had left for the day.

"He waited for you. He thought you were coming in around 1. He left at 2," the receptionist said.

"But we have a citizen's warrant for his arrest," said one of the protesters.

"Well you can't arrest him," the receptionist said, "because he's not here. Would you like to leave a message?"

Members of the group took turns telling her about their disgust of the state's wolf management program, and slipped out one-by-one.

The group stood in the hallway, shaking their heads, talking in angry whispers, accusing the governor of hiding from them. They weren't sure what to do next, and figured they would head home tomorrow morning.
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IDFG: Keep an Eye Out for Wolves and Bears

Posted By on Mon, Sep 8, 2014 at 1:55 PM

  • U.S. Fish and Wildlife Services
  • Oh, there's one!

The Idaho Department of Fish and Game is making a push to collar as many breeding wolf pairs as possible before the end of the month, but the department is taking advantage of the thousands of hunters that adventure into Idaho's backcountry to lend a hand. IDFG wants area hunters to keep an eye out for wolves and grizzly bears, too, and report the sightings. 

According to a news release from IDFG, a condition of removing wolves from the endangered species list requires the agency to document 15 breeding pairs with pups each year until 2016. According to the Idaho Falls Post Register, that helps ensure healthy numbers of wolves in the wild.

"We're at the point where we need to be sure we meet the criteria for the recovery," Fish and Game regional conservation educator Gregg Losinski told the Post Register. "Right now our top priority is wolves. Right now, if you see a bunch of wolves together, you can still tell which are pups and which are [adults]. As we get later into the fall, that becomes more difficult." 

The documentation is due Dec. 31, making help from the sportsmen heading out for fall's hunting season crucial. IDFG hopes for specific whereabouts of wolves and even better, recorded footage of wolves from trail cams.

The agency is also gathering data on the recovery and management of grizzly bears and encourages sportsmen to report sightings of them as well. All wolf and bear sightings can be reported online.
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Saturday, August 16, 2014

Wolf Killing 'Derby' Organizers Want to Return ... For Another Five Years

Posted By on Sat, Aug 16, 2014 at 11:00 AM

In the wake of last December's controversial wolf killing "derby," which didn't kill any wolves but saw 21 coyotes killed near Salmon, organizers say they now want a five-year permit to keep holding the predator-killing contest.

You may remember that the derby attracted quite a bit of international attention:

"Wolf and Coyote Derby Turns Small Idaho Town Into a Battleground," wrote Guardian Liberty Voice.

"Two-Day Holiday Killing 'Derby' in Idaho Targets Wolves and Coyotes," wrote the Huffington Post.

The derby was unsuccessfully challenged in federal court, and one of the organizers of the hunting contest claimed that a hunter's tire had been slashed. But in the end, no wolves were killed in the two-day event.

Now, the Idaho Mountain Express reports that organizers want the next event to occur Jan. 2-4, 2015, and they want to keep on holding the contest. The application for the five-year permit is undergoing a review process at the Salmon Field Office of the U.S. Bureau of Land Management. The BLM is taking public comment before it considers the application.

Comments can be sent to Liz Townley, outdoor recreation planner at:

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Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Hired Gun Won't Return to Frank Church Wilderness to Kill Wolves This Winter

Posted By on Wed, Jul 30, 2014 at 9:48 AM

Last January, Boise Weekly traveled to the Lemhi County city of Salmon to talk to locals about wolves in Idaho and the Idaho Department of Fish and Game's controversial move to hire a Salmon-based hunter to actively hunt wolves in the Frank Church wilderness.

The hunter ended up killing nine wolves, but a coalition of wildlife advocates ended up suing Idaho and U.S. officials over the kills. A federal judge refused a request for a temporary restraining order, and the case is still set to be heard before the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals.

But on Monday, Idaho Fish and Game announced that it would suspend its plan to use the hunter this coming season, and keep it on the back burner at least until November 2015.

The announcement came in a filing to the 9th Circuit.

In this morning's edition of Boise Weekly, we talk with David Langhorst, the man who will take over the reins of the Idaho Department of Parks and Recreation next week. In the 1990s, Langhorst was executive director of the Wolf Education and Research Center and was at the forefront of the reintroduction of wolves to Idaho:

"There are people who have seized on the fact that I was involved in wolf recovery, but I also co-sponsored a bill to reinstitute Idaho's control and management of wolves," he said. "I've tried to be in the reasonable middle."

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Monday, July 7, 2014

Otter Names Members of Idaho Wolf Control Board

Posted By on Mon, Jul 7, 2014 at 2:19 PM

Demonstrators protesting Idaho's wolf policy, including the Wolf Control Board. - HARRISON BERRY
  • Harrison Berry
  • Demonstrators protesting Idaho's wolf policy, including the Wolf Control Board.

The names of members of a wolf regulation panel charged with regulating wolf populations and tracking predation have been released.

Gov. C.L. "Butch" Otter announced July 7 that the Wolf Depredation Control Board's members include co-chairs Idaho Department of Fish and Game Director Virgil Moore and Department of Agriculture Celia Gould. The board will also include former Idaho Cattle Association president and rancher Richard Savage, representing the livestock industry; Leadership Idaho Agriculture-member Carl Rey of Meridian representing the general public; and former Idaho Fish and Game Commission member Tony McDermott representing sportsmen. 

The board was created at Otter's request by the Idaho Legislature with $400,000 from the general fund to manage wolves when they come into conflict with livestock and wildlife populations. The move was criticized by local and national groups, who dubbed the task force a "wolf-kill panel."

According to a press release, the board will not perform its duties at the expense of the Idaho Department of Fish and Game's wolf management responsibilities, which include a listing of wolves as a big-game species for hunting and trapping.

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Tuesday, July 1, 2014

One Arrested at Idaho Statehouse Pro-Wolf Demonstration

Posted By on Tue, Jul 1, 2014 at 4:58 PM

Karen Wells (right) was arrested by the Idaho State Police Tuesday afternoon in connection with demonstrations against the state's stance on wolves. - HARRISON BERRY
  • Harrison Berry
  • Karen Wells (right) was arrested by the Idaho State Police Tuesday afternoon in connection with demonstrations against the state's stance on wolves.

Several wolf advocacy groups descended on the Idaho Statehouse Tuesday afternoon to protest what they are calling Gov. C.L. "Butch" Otter and the Idaho Legislature's open war on wolves, resulting in an arrest. 

Demonstrators stood on the Capitol steps and in the hallway to Otter's office chanting slogans like "Save the wolves, stop Otter's slaughter," and Idaho State Police troopers confiscated the demonstrators' megaphone, but when members of the group attempted to block the governor's office door, demonstrator Karen Wells was arrested.

"We've been trying to get arrested," said Clarisa Damron of the Wolf and Wildlife Action Group.

The protesters decried the state of Idaho's so-called Wolf-Kill Panel, a five-member group that oversees the killing of wolves that might conflict with livestock interests. According to Defenders of Wildlife  a group in the midst of a statewide advertising campaign to raise awareness of the issue, the state will reduce its wolf population from 659 in 2014 to 150 in 2018.

"The problem is, [Otter] doesn't want  'em here. He never did," said Damron. "The wolves belong to the Creator and I'm pretty sure that's not Otter."

Spiritual leader for the group Jimmy St. Goddard, who preferred to use his Native American name, Eesukyah, said he has been campaigning for wolves for 38 years, and hopes that the demonstration would help bring about a change in Idaho's leadership.

"[Otter] is the only governor who's doing this," he said. "[Democrat] A.J. [Balukoff]'s going to win the election if Otter keeps doing what he's doing."

Demonstrators gathering around an Idaho State Police vehicle parked in front of the capitol. - HARRISON BERRY
  • Harrison Berry
  • Demonstrators gathering around an Idaho State Police vehicle parked in front of the capitol.

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Sunday, June 15, 2014

Wolf Issue Opponents Hunting This Week for Long-Term Solutions

Posted By on Sun, Jun 15, 2014 at 10:09 AM

There has been little, if any compromise, to date in Idaho's raging debate over wolves—opponents are quick to point to more than 4,000 sheep and nearly 2,000 cattle reportedly killed by wolves in the past quarter century while proponents want to remind us that more than 2,000 wolves have been killed by humans in the same period of time.

But in a rare opportunity for all sides to sit elbow-to-elbow, The Wood River Wolf Project will be hosting a collaborative effort this coming week, bringing together wildlife advocates, ranchers, and representatives from federal, state and local agencies. In particular, Suzanne Stone, co-founder of the Wood River Wolf Project, said she's hoping that the two sides will be able to find new, nonlethal techniques for keeping wolves away from livestock in the Wood River Valley.

"One of the best parts of the project is that people are able to set aside their differences," Stone told Boise Weekly. "It's a win-win for both sides."

The two-day workshop will begin with indoor meetings, but Tuesday will feature outdoor field tours.

Stone said she believed the similarities outweigh differences among the opposing sides.

“People across the board love the land, the wildlife and their Idaho heritage,” she said. “We set the differences outside the door. I wish the state would do that!”

Since its inception, Stone says the Wood River Wolf Project has helped to protect up to 27,000 sheep in a 1,000-square-mile project area in and around the Sawtooth National Forest. In the last six years alone, she said that fewer than 30 sheep had been lost.

“We’ve got one of the worst case scenarios in terms of risk, yet one of the lowest lost rates of livestock to wolves statewide," said Stone.

The Idaho Legislature recently appropriated $400,000 annually, just to kill wolves, but Stone insists that it's an inefficient use of money, and only a short-term fix.

"You have this ongoing spiral of conflict and we’ve seen that go on for 20 years now in Idaho,” she said.

Citizens are welcome to participate in some of the workshops over the next couple of days, but must ask for access from Charlotte Conley at cconley@defenders.org. This year's event is the fourth annual workshop and training.

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Saturday, June 7, 2014

Young Wolf Which Trekked Through Idaho, Shot Illegally in Montana

Posted By on Sat, Jun 7, 2014 at 10:00 AM

Wildlife officials have tracked a 2-year-old male gray wolf from its home in northeast Oregon, through Idaho and into Montana's Big Hole Valley. But that tracking can end now—the GPS collar-wearing wolf known as OR-18 was killed on the last day of May in Montana's Sapphire Mountains.

This morning's Missoulian reports that the wolf was probably in search of a new home and mate after being captured and fitted with a collar by Oregon Fish and Wildlife biologists in March 2013.

"It hadn't been in the Bitterroot even a week and a half," Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks biologist Liz Bradley told the Missoulian.

But on May 31, the wolf was illegally shot from a road in the Burnt Fork area of the Bitterroot Valley, east of Stevensville, Mont.

Meanwhile, the Wolves of the Rockies group has increased a reward from $1,000 to $3,500 for information leading to a conviction in the case of the illegal wolf killing. Tipsters can remain anonymous when they call 1-800-847-6668.

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