Republican lawmakers declare war on wolves

Proposed legislation undermines Endangered Species Act

Gray wolves a. Photo courtesy USFWS.

Gray wolves. Photo courtesy USFWS.

Staff Report

FRISCO — Politicians are once again meddling with wolf conservation in a process that never ends well for the animals. Last week, Republican lawmakers from Wisconsin, Wyoming and Minnesota introduced House legislation that would remove federal protection from gray wolves in Wyoming and the western Great Lakes states.

Already under political pressure, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service ended protections for gray wolves in Minnesota, Wisconsin and Michigan in 2011 and in Wyoming in 2012. Federal judges overturned both decisions for failing to follow the best science and for prematurely turning management over to state fish and game agencies hostile to wolves. Continue reading

Wildlife: Southwest wolf population tops 100 for first time in modern era

Conservation biologists focusing on genetic health of packs

A Mexican gray wolf in the wilds of the Blue Range wolf recovery area. Photo courtesy of the Mexican Wolf Interagency Field Team.

A Mexican gray wolf in the wilds of the Blue Range wolf recovery area. Photo courtesy of the Mexican Wolf Interagency Field Team.

Staff Report

FRISCO — The future for wolves in the southwestern U.S. looks a little brighter this year, as the population grew by 31 percent to reach 109 wolves living in the wilds of New Mexico and Arizona.

According to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, it’s the fourth year in a row that the population has grown by at least 10 percent. The 2014 minimum population count includes 38 wild-born pups that survived through the end of the year. Continue reading

Feds confirm identity of illegally killed Utah wolf

Grand Canyon wolf

A gray wolf that wandered at least 450 miles from the northern Rockies is now living near the Grand Canyon in Arizona. Photo courtesy Arizona Game and Fish Department.

DNA test shows the wolf was the same one seen wandering around the Grand Canyon

By Bob Berwyn

FRISCO — Federal biologists say they’re now 100 percent sure that a wolf killed in late December in Utah was the same one that had previously been spotted wandering around the North Rim of the Grand Canyon.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service said University of Idaho geneticists matched DNA samples of the dead Utah wolf with samples taken from the wolf near the Grand Canyon. Continue reading

Wildlife: Montana man fined $30,000 for killing grizzlies

Grizzlies are roaming farther north and encroaching on Polar bear habitat, PHOTO COURTESY U.S. GEOLOGICAL SURVEY.

Grizzly bear poaching leads to $30,000 fine. Photo courtesy U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

Poacher admits crime, ask investigators for hides

Staff Report

FRISCO — A Montana man recently convicted of illegally killing three grizzly bears apparently didn’t get the endangered species message.

Everett Skunkcap, 75, of Browning, Montana, admitted the poaching to wildlife investigators, then asked if he could have the hides After the investigation. According to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Skunkcap said he was going to “tan them and put them on the wall [as a] souvenir for what [he] did.” Continue reading

Biodiversity: Rare fox spotted in Yosemite National Park

Just 50 Sierra Nevada red foxes remain in the wild

A Sierra Nevada red fox. Photo courtesy USFWS.

A Sierra Nevada red fox. Photo courtesy USFWS.

Staff Report

FRISCO — One of the rarest mammals in the American West may be making a comeback in the Sierra Nevada. Yosemite National Park biologists this week confirmed a sighting of a Sierra Nevada red fox in the northern reaches of the park — the first the speices has been seen in Yosemite for nearly 100 years.

“We are thrilled to hear about the sighting of the Sierra Nevada red fox, one of the most rare and elusive animals in the Sierra Nevada,” said Yosemite National Park Superintendent Don Neubacher. “National parks like Yosemite provide habitat for all wildlife and it is encouraging to see that the red fox was sighted in the park.”

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has been considering endangered species protection for the species since late 2011. There are only two known populations, one near Mt. Lassen and the other near Sonora Pass, just north of Yosemite, with a total population estimated at about 50 individuals. Continue reading

Study shows challenges of restoring fracking sites

dfg

A patchwork of drill pads connected by a spiderweb of roads in northeastern Utah.

‘Wildlife habitat goals cannot be realized by merely establishing grasses …’

Staff Report

FRISCO — Restoring areas after drilling and fracking requires more than just spreading out some dirt and sprinkling a few grass seeds around, according to two Colorado scientists who took a close look at 10 drilling sites in Rio Blanco County.

After sampling  two undisturbed reference sites and eight reclaimed or abandoned natural gas well pads, they found that none of the oil and gas well pads included in the study had returned to a  pre-drilling, condition — even those that had had 20 to 50 years to recover. Continue reading

Wildlife: Colorado launches new lynx monitoring effort

A radio-collared lynx in Colorado. Photo courtesy CPW.

A radio-collared lynx in Colorado. Photo courtesy CPW.

SW Colorado field project will assess habitat occupancy, population trends

Staff Report

FRISCO — Colorado biologists have launched an ambitious monitoring program aimed at learning whether the state’s population of reintroduced and native-born lynx is holding steady.

The monitoring will cover more than 5,000 miles in the San Juan Mountains in southwest Colorado, including six wilderness areas: Weminuche, Uncompahgre, Lizard Head, Powderhorn, La Garita Mount Sneffels, and South San Juan. Continue reading

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