wolves

Monday, June 2, 2014

Wildlife Group Blasts Idaho's Wolf Policy in New Ad Campaign

Posted By on Mon, Jun 2, 2014 at 3:23 PM

DEFENDERS OF WILDLIFE
  • Defenders of Wildlife





A national wildlife conservation group is taking aim at Idaho Governor C.L. "Butch" Otter's wolf policy.



In a two-week ad campaign, Defenders of Wildlife hopes to reach out to Idaho voters and political leaders to rethink what the organization is calling a "statewide war on gray wolves." The radio ads, which feature Idahoans expressing concern about the state's wolf population, will air in the Boise and Spokane media markets over the next two weeks.



"We hope that by exposing what residents of Idaho really think of this war on wolves, Governor Otter might change course and start treating wolves like other wildlife," wrote Defenders of Wildlife senior representative Suzanne Stone in a press release.



According to the 2013 winter wolf count, Idaho's wolf population has declined from 856 individual wolves in 2009 to 659 in 2013. According to some elected officials and Idaho's Wolf Control Board created during the 2013-14 legislative session, that number of wolves could be further reduced to 150 individuals by 2018.




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Friday, April 4, 2014

2013 Idaho Wolf Count: Fewer and Smaller Packs

Posted By on Fri, Apr 4, 2014 at 10:51 AM

The Idaho Department of Fish and Game unveiled its annual wolf report Friday, indicating that there were 107 wolf packs in Idaho at the end of 2013, fewer than the 124 packs reported in 2012.


The average mean pack size was 5.4 wolves at the end of 2013, nearly 33 percent smaller than the 8.1 wolves per-pack average during the three previous years.


Fish and Game officials cautioned that not all packs are presumed documented.


Along Idaho's borders, 28 documented border packs were counted in 2013 in Montana, Wyoming and Washington.


As for wolf kills, the Fish and Game report documents that hunters and trappers killed 356 wolves in 2013. An additional 94 wolves were killed in control kills or legal killings by landowners in response to livestock depredation. Sixteen wolf deaths were attributed to other human causes.


Additionally, Fish and Game reports that 39 cattle, 404 sheep, four dogs and one horse were killed by wolves, with another seven cattle, nine sheep, and one dog considered as probable wolf kills.


The full report is available online here.


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Sunday, March 23, 2014

Tough Day to Be a Wolf: While Legislature Creates Wolf-Kill Panel, IDFG Expands Trapping

Posted By on Sun, Mar 23, 2014 at 1:00 PM

On the same day that the Idaho Legislature approved the creation of a new state board to control wolf populations, Idaho Fish and Game commissioners agreed to expand wolf trapping beginning this fall.

On March 20—the final day of the 2014 Idaho Legislature—lawmakers agreed to create a $400,000 fund to establish a five-member board to authorize the killing of wolves that may come into conflict with livestock or other wildlife. The money will come from fees from sportsmen and the livestock industry. Gov. C.L. "Butch" Otter had hoped that the Legislature would have funded the panel with $2 million, but still praised the compromise.

Meanwhile, on the other side of Boise, the IDFG Commission was meeting at its South Walnut Street headquarters. That's where commissioners approved a proposal to open trapping seasons in eight big-game units in the Sawtooth and Southern Mountain zones. To date, wolf trapping had been prohibited through much of southern Idaho.

The commission also agreed to allow hunters to buy up to five wolf hunting tags throughout Idaho. Previously the number of tags was limited by region.

IDFG commissioners voted to extend the wolf hunting season in Idaho's Salmon Zone from March 31 to June 30, coinciding with the season-ends in the Middle Fork Zone and the Selway Zone.

In the current wolf hunt season, 177 wolves have been killed by hunters and another 87 wolves have been killed by trappers.


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Thursday, March 20, 2014

U.S. House Members to Jewell: Bad Science Is Behind Flawed Plan to Delist Wolves

Posted By on Thu, Mar 20, 2014 at 9:15 AM

A bipartisan group of 73 members of the U.S. House—not including either Reps. Raul Labrador or Mike Simpson—have fired off a letter to Secretary of Interior Sally Jewel, urging her to drop any plans to delist gray wolves. The letter came in the wake of an independent peer review that concluded that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service had "failed to use the best available science" when it proposed the removal of Endangered Species Act protections for gray wolves in the lower 48 states.

"The peer review report found that the existing scientific literature provides absolutely no basis for this conclusion," says the letter. "Therefore, we are again asking you to direct the Service to rescind the proposed rule. As you said when speaking at the Children, Conservation, and the Future of the Great Outdoors event last June, deciding whether or not to remove ESA protections from the gray wolf 'is about science, and you do what the science says.'"

The 73 members of Congress wrote that they were "troubled by the certainty" with which USFWS proceeded.

Gray wolves were added to the endangered species list in 1975, but hunting in Idaho and in many regions of the Northern Rockies now kills hundreds of gray wolves annually.

A public comment period on the the Department of Interior's proposal ends Thursday, March 27.


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Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Professional Wolf Hunter Ends 'Action' In Frank Church Wilderness

Posted By on Tue, Jan 28, 2014 at 10:08 AM

In the Jan. 22 issue of Boise Weekly, we travel 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.

"Fish and Game is taking action to see if it can alleviate the impact of predation to help recover the elk population in the Middle Fork zone," IDFG spokesman Mike Keckler told BW. "The Middle Fork elk herd has declined by 44 percent since 2002 (from 7,485 in 2002 to 4,223 in 2011). The recent ratio of calves to cow elk during winter was less than 13 calves per 100 cows. Since 1998, the cow-to-calf ratio has been too low for the annual reproduction of calves to replace the adult cow elk that die annually."

But some conservation advocates pushed back against the IDFG's contract with the hunter.

"Seemingly covert predator control actions like this erode the public trust and disenfranchise wildlife supporters who are critical to the department's long-term success," wrote John Robison, public lands director for the Idaho Conservation League.

On Jan. 27, IDFG announced that would end this year's "action," after the hunter killed nine wolves since his hunt began in December, but no wolves killed in the past two weeks. IDFG said it would take a few days more for the hunter to collect his equipment and transport out of the Frank Church Wilderness.

“We remain committed to working with Idahoans to ensure that both wolves and healthy elk populations remain part of the wilderness,” Fish and Game Director Virgil Moore said. “This action was an important step toward achieving our goal of stabilizing the Middle Fork elk population.”

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Saturday, January 18, 2014

U.S. Court Ruling: IDFG Contract With Professional Wolf Hunter Can Move Forward

Posted By on Sat, Jan 18, 2014 at 12:00 PM

Environmentalists were dealt a legal blow Jan. 17 when a U.S. District Court judge denied its bid for a temporary restraining order to stop the state of Idaho and the U.S. government from allowing a professional wolf hunter to continue using public properties and lands in his effort to kill wolf packs in the Frank Church-River of No Return Wilderness.

The suit was filed Jan. 6 by a group of conservationists—including Defenders of Wildlife, Western Watersheds Project, Wilderness Watch and the Center for Biological Diversity—asking for an immediate injunction to stop the hunt.

The Idaho Department of Fish and Game argued that the hunts would help recover the region's elk populations, and that by contracting with a professional hunter and trapper, the state would save money in its wolf management program. But the conservation groups said the hunter's use of federal backcountry airstrips and a cabin demonstrates that the U.S. government approves of the controversial plan.

The hunter, Gus Thoreson, of Salmon, flew into two backcountry airstrips in December before heading out with a team of three mules to reach a remote Forest Service ranger cabin.

But in his ruling, handed down late Friday, U.S. District Judge Edward Lodge ruled that "evidence in the current record shows that the IDFG program for hunting wolves will not result in the loss of the species as a whole."


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Wednesday, January 8, 2014

AP: Lawsuit Aims to Halt IDFG's Contract With Professional Wolf Hunter

Posted By on Wed, Jan 8, 2014 at 9:59 AM

A group of conservationists—including Defenders of Wildlife, Western Watersheds Project and Wilderness Watch—are suing the state of Idaho and the federal government in the wake of Idaho hiring a hunter to begin killing wolf packs in the Frank Church-River of No Return Wilderness.

The Associated Press reports that the suit was filed Jan. 6 in U.S. District Court in Pocatello, and asks for an immediate injunction to stop the hunts.

The Idaho Department of Fish and Game argues that the hunts will help recover the region's elk populations, and that by contracting with a professional hunter and trapper, the state will save money in its wolf management program.

But the conservation groups say the hunter's use of federal backcountry airstrips and a cabin demonstrates that the U.S. government approves of the controversial plan.

"Federal law does not permit the Forest Service to disregard its duty to safeguard the wilderness character of the Frank Church Wilderness," wrote Earthjustice attorney Tim Preso in the lawsuit. "IDFG's wolf extermination program threatens the wilderness character of the largest forested wilderness in the continental United States by removing animals that are a wilderness icon and whose undisturbed presence in the wilderness is critical to maintaining ecological balance among wildlife species."

The AP's Rebecca Boone reports that the hunter, Gus Thoreson of Salmon, flew into two backcountry airstrips in December before heading out with a team of three mules to reach a remote Forest Service ranger cabin.

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Monday, January 6, 2014

Private Idaho Group Incentivizes Wolf Kills

Posted By on Mon, Jan 6, 2014 at 9:00 AM

Last year, a North Idaho group called the Foundation for Wildlife Management wrote 22 checks for $500 each to people who killed wolves during the trapping season. The group is expected to talk about its controversial mission at a Thursday, Jan. 16, meeting of the Idaho Fish and Game Commission in Boise.

The Lewiston Tribune reports that the foundation, "a sort of wolf-trapping cooperative," was formed by a group of hunters and trappers who "desperately want to see wolf populations thinned." Members are asked to joined the group for $35 and if they successfully trap and kill a wolf, they can be reimbursed up to $500 per wolf for their expenses. Organizers say the group has definitely increased the number of active wolf trappers in Idaho's Panhandle.

“We haven’t had a whole lot of publicity to this point. We have avoided it and been able to be successful without it,” Jack Hammack, founding member of the group, told the Tribune. “It’s so easy to get unwanted publicity.”

But Hammack said his group is simply trying to help Idaho state wildlife officials manage wolves. "All we are trying to do is help the department reach its objectives," he said.

The Tribune reports that this appears to be the first time a grassroots group has formed to incentivize a wolf kill.

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Monday, December 30, 2013

No Wolves, 21 Coyotes Killed in 'Derby,' Residents Say They Were Threatened

Posted By on Mon, Dec 30, 2013 at 9:56 AM

No one claimed the $1,000 prize for killing the largest wolf in this past weekend's controversial wolf hunt derby in Salmon. In fact, no wolves were killed by hunters during the two-day event.

But organizers of the event said 21 coyotes were killed during the event.

The hunt attracted media attention from across the globe:

"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.

Managers at the Stagecoach Inn in Salmon say a hunter's tire was slashed in their parking lot Dec. 27. And managers of the Savage Grill in Salmon—co-sponsors of the event—told a Twin Falls television station that they received a series of threats because of their sponsorship.

U.S. District Magistrate Judge Candy Dale ruled Dec. 27 that the derby could go on as scheduled after an attorney for Wild Earth Guardians had argued that the U.S. Forest Service was ignoring federal law by permitting the hunting derby on federal land. But Forest Service officials said that while the hunting—a noncommercial event—was taking place on federal land, any judging and awarding of prize money would take place on private land.

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Sunday, December 29, 2013

Tally From First Day of Wolf Derby: Zero Kills, One Vandalized Car

Posted By on Sun, Dec 29, 2013 at 11:01 AM

Organizers say approximately 200 people were expected to participate in this weekend's coyote- and wolf-hunt derby in the Salmon area, but only about 50 or 60 participated in Saturday's first day of the event.

The Associated Press reports that no wolves had been reported shot in the derby.

U.S. District Magistrate Judge Candy Dale ruled Dec. 27 that the derby could go on as scheduled after an attorney for Wild Earth Guardians had argued that the U.S. Forest Service was ignoring federal law in permitting the hunting derby on federal land. But Forest Service officials said that while the hunting—a noncommercial event—was taking place on federal land, any judging and awarding of prize money would take place on private land.

Hunters are being promised a $1,000 prize for the largest wolf killed and a $1,000 prize for shooting the most coyotes.

An organizer told the AP that one hunter's vehicle had been vandalized with paint and scraping and that law enforcement was investigating the incident.

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