Officials news for Wyoming and other areas, excluding Idaho and Montana-

The USFWS in Helena continues to put out the wolf news for all of Wyoming and other Western States, except Idaho and Montana where wolves are delisted, and the Mexican wolf recovery area. This means wolf news in Oregon, Colorado, Washington, Utah, etc. is covered.

Here is the latest, and there is good news from Oregon, Washington and Yellowstone Park. Ralph Maughan

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WYOMING WOLF PROGRAM

WEEKLY REPORT

To:                   Regional Director, Region 6, Denver, Colorado

From:               USFWS Wyoming Wolf Recovery Project Leader, Jackson, WY

Subject:           Status of Gray Wolf Management in Wyoming and the NRM

Date:                July 20 through July 24, 2009

Web Address – USFWS reports (past weekly and annual reports) can be viewed at http://westerngraywolf.fws.gov . Weekly reports for Montana and Idaho are produced by those States and can be viewed on the Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks and Idaho Department of Fish and Game websites. All weekly and annual reports are government property and can be used for any purpose.  Please distribute as you see fit.

Annual Reports

The Rocky Mountain Wolf Recovery 2008 Annual Report is available at: http://westerngraywolf.fws.gov .

Delisting Litigation Status

On June 2, a lawsuit was filed in Federal District Court in Missoula (9th Circuit) by a coalition of 13 environmental and animals rights groups. Another separate lawsuit challenging the USFWS delisting criteria was filed shortly after in the 9th Circuit by the Greater Yellowstone Coalition.  While the two groups have their own attorneys, both those cases have now been consolidated in the Missoula District Court under Judge Molloy.  Their complaint alleges the NRM wolf population is not recovered and that the delisting violates the federal Endangered Species Act for many legal reasons, including delisting can not occur without an adequate Wyoming regulatory framework in place, which is not currently the case.  A request for a preliminary injunction has not been filed at this time.  In addition, the State of Wyoming, Park County, and the Wyoming Wolf Coalition filed lawsuits in the 10th Circuit District Court (Cheyenne, Wyoming) challenging USFWS’s rejection of Wyoming’s regulatory framework and the Wyoming state wolf management plan.  Those three cases have been consolidated in the Wyoming court.

Monitoring

USFWS trapping efforts ended east of Dubois, WY due to potential conflicts with summer recreation activities on back-country roads where trapping was attempted. Two bobcats were trapped and released onsite. One large male wolf pup was caught and fitted with a padded radio collar. Trapping efforts may resume later this summer, before big game hunting season.

W.S. and USFWS crew trapped 2 wolves in the Sweetwater Pack, south of Lander, WY. One male wolf was fitted with a VHF collar. A female wolf, that had previously been radio collared in YNP, was released on site.

Summer monitoring of Yellowstone wolves is focusing on reproduction and summer predation at this time. Pup production appears typical of non-disease years, with no evidence of significant pup or adult mortality patterns as in previous disease years. Wolves are beginning to move to higher elevations typical of summer patterns that mirror ungulate movements to higher elevations presumably following greenwave patterns. Spring and summer precipitation and temperature patterns are producing some of the greenist landscapes this far into the Yellowstone’s summer as has been seen in well over a decade. Bull and cow/calf elk groups are appear abundant at higher elevations in many wolf pack territories, and field observations indicate robust calf production and survival so far.

Biologists from WDFW, USFS, and the Washington Department of Natural Resources have recently confirmed the presence of two wolf packs with litters in Washington.  On July 10, a howling survey obtained a response from pups of the year at a suspected rendezvous site used by the Lookout Pack in Okanogan County near Twisp [outside the NRM DPS & still listed as endangered].  Both adults were radio-collared in 2008.  The pack’s den site was discovered on July 15, 2009.  As is typical it was located on a ridge a few hundred feet from water.  Scats were collected to examine food habitats and possibly get a minimum pup count through future genetic analysis.  Also based on multiple reports from loggers, biologists verified the presence of a new pack in Pend Oreille County, adjacent to the Idaho Panhandle [in the NRM DPS & delisted as of May 2, 2009].  A howling survey on July 9, detected both adults and pups.  Sightings by local loggers indicate at least five pups.  Remote cameras have been deployed in the area.  Trapping will soon be conducted to radio-collar the adults in this pack.  This is the first reproductive pack confirmed in northeastern Washington.

OR DOW received a call about an adult black wolf and 3 pups just north of the Salt Creek Summit– 7-8 miles SE of Wallowa Lake) (in the NRM DPS and delisted on May 2, 2009).  OR DOW found a rendezvous site and began trapping.  On July 17, 2009 B300 (ID disperser with a dead radio) was captured.  She was in good shape, weighed 77lbs., and was nursing pups.  This area has lots of cows and the livestock owner has been helpful and is being kept informed.  OR DOW then got a call about a black adult wolf seen feeding on an elk carcass a couple miles away.  Large wolf tracks were located by the carcass, so OR DOW will try to collar that wolf too. [boldface is mine. Ralph Maughan]

Control

On 7/22/09, WGFD and the USFWS confirmed a yearling steer had been killed by wolves, east of Bondurant, WY. Several packs intermittently use the area and efforts are ongoing to determine which wolves were involved in the depredation.

Research

Summer predation studies in YNP are going strong, with 4 Lotek downloadable GPS collars in two packs dedicated to this research. Collar performance and intensive field work by a dedicated crew is yielding excellent data on prey selection and kill rates associated with Wolf Project’s Matt Metz’s M.S. study.

Law Enforcement and Related Activities

Nothing to report at this time.

Outreach and Education

On the 20th, Bangs did a phone radio interview ~6-8 min with a morning station out of Perth, Australia about wolves and the proposed fall 2009 hunt in Montana.  He covered the basics of wolf biology, history of wolves in NRM, and why the USFWS is such a huge supporter of professional science-based regulated hunting [as used for elk, lions, etc.] as a conservation tool to reduce damage and to increase public tolerance, funding, and local participation.  Amazing how wolf stories travel throughout the world.  A USFWS employee traveling in Indonesia this spring reported he heard about wolf delisting in the NRM on the radio in Jakarta.  It is understandable how wolf issues might be of interest to folks in some place like Europe [eg. within the historic range of wolves] but oddly folks even far outside wolves’ historic range seem to be interested.  Wolf stories become symbolic of human interaction with nature or perhaps it is just the pet/dog connection.  Regardless, this is more evidence that the world really is watching how wolves will be managed in the NRM.

Further Information

To request an investigation of livestock injured or killed by wolves, please contact the U.S. Dept. of Agriculture Wildlife Services at (307)261-5336.

For additional information, please contact:

Ed Bangs (406)449-5225 x204 or Ed_Bangs@FWS.GOV

Mike Jimenez (307)733-7096 or (307)330-5631 or  Mike_Jimenez@FWS.GOV

 
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About The Author

Ralph Maughan

Dr. Ralph Maughan is professor emeritus of political science at Idaho State University with specialties in natural resource politics, public opinion, interest groups, political parties, voting and elections. Aside from academic publications, he is author or co-author of three hiking/backpacking guides, and he is President of the Western Watersheds Project.

10 Responses to Latest federal wolf update, July 20-24, 2009

  1. avatar John d. says:

    “On the 20th, Bangs did a phone radio interview ~6-8 min with a morning station out of Perth, Australia about wolves and the proposed fall 2009 hunt in Montana. He covered the basics of wolf biology, history of wolves in NRM, and why the USFWS is such a huge supporter of professional science-based regulated hunting [as used for elk, lions, etc.] as a conservation tool to reduce damage and to increase public tolerance, funding, and local participation”

    Science based hunting? More like feeding several myths.

  2. avatar Jeff says:

    Hunting is a invaluable part of wildlife mgmt on the modern landscape

  3. avatar JB says:

    Certainly hunting can play a role in predator management. However, I am not aware of any research that indicates that hunting increases human tolerance of wolves.

  4. JB,

    The Idaho Fish and Game Commission is certainly pushing the public tolerance argument. The one token conservationist on the commission, Gary Power, firmly believes it because when he worked for Idaho Fish and Game Department, cougar became big game in Idaho and you can argue that its status as big game (huntable) from the start promoted hunter acceptance of cougar.

    It must be noted, however, that there was already a fair population of cougar in Idaho, so moving them from varmint to game status actually protected them. Lately, the Idaho Fish and Game Commission has declared war on cougar and black bears because of pressure from deer-and-elk-are-the only-wildlife-worth-conserving crowd.

  5. avatar ProWolf in WY says:

    JB, hunting can be based on science and it could help wolves if they were considered big game and not varmints. However, as Ralph stated, the majority of the hunting community believes in the deer and elk are the only wildlife worth conserving mentality.

  6. avatar rick says:

    “Lately, the Idaho Fish and Game Commission has declared war on cougar and black bears because of pressure from deer-and-elk-are-the only-wildlife-worth-conserving crowd.”

    Ralph, could you expand on that? I am curious about what is going on. What is the IDFG’s plans regarding bear and cougar?

  7. avatar Jon Way says:

    While I don’t disagree with JB’s comments…. Why do hunters always have to be considered for saving animals. In other words, there are many other constituents where hunting wolves (or lack thereof) wouldn’t bother them. It seems to always be what hunters want for better acceptance. Yes, I know, state game agencies receive most of their moneys from hunting dollars, but we are supposed to live in a democracy where 1 group doesn’t always have the upper-hand.

  8. avatar ProWolf in WY says:

    Jon, a lot of hunters I know are paranoid that their way of life will be eradicated not only by wolves but by other factors as well. Time and time again I hear rants about wolves being the scourge of the elk and deer herds and other arguments about how there is going to be so much gun control that hunting will be abolished, etc. etc. While I am a hunter myself, I do not like to identify with groups like that and so am a bit of an anomaly, especially in the state of Wyoming. Hunting groups may have an upper hand due to the reason you mentioned with the funding, but livestock interests almost always trump even hunting interests.

  9. avatar JB says:

    Thanks, gents. Actually, the point I was trying to make is that one of premises used to justify the hunting of wolves (a practice I do NOT oppose) has never been evaluated, scientifically. What’s ironic is that this hypothesis is much more easily evaluated than most of the ecological and biological hypotheses that underly the debate that takes place here.

    An example…

    In my view statements like “elk populations in Idaho are decreasing” are hardly worth study at all; yet everytime this statement is made a debate ensues in which people cite all kinds of ecological research and inevitably call for more. However, someone makes a statement like “hunting will increase tolerance of wolves”–a statement that much more profoundly impacts wolf management–and nobody says a thing! Where are the cries for research to evaluate this readily testable hypothesis?!

  10. avatar ProWolf in WY says:

    Where are the cries for research to evaluate this readily testable hypothesis?!

    I think it is simply because the people who are usually more vocal about wolves are from one extreme to the other. You have the likes of the saveelk founders and organizations like Fund for Animals that represent the most extreme ends of the spectrum. You do not see much arguement from more neutral sides. I think part of that is due to the mentality that if you live in Wyoming, Montana, or Idaho it is fashionable to be anti-wolf and you are practically burned at the stake if you are even slightly for a compromise.

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‎"At some point we must draw a line across the ground of our home and our being, drive a spear into the land and say to the bulldozers, earthmovers, government and corporations, “thus far and no further.” If we do not, we shall later feel, instead of pride, the regret of Thoreau, that good but overly-bookish man, who wrote, near the end of his life, “If I repent of anything it is likely to be my good behaviour."

~ Edward Abbey

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