Utah coyote hunter who shot wolf won’t face charges

Federal, state investigators concluded that the Utah killing was a case of bonafide misidentification

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Wolf 914F wandered from Wyoming to the Grand Canyon in 2014 and was later shot by a coyote hunter in Utah. Photo courtesy Arizona Game and Fish Department.

Staff Report

FRISCO — The coyote hunter who shot a protected gray wolf in Utah last year won’t face any criminal charges for killing an endangered species.

Investigators with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources and the U.S. Department of Justice found that the Utah resident was legally hunting coyotes near Beaver in late December when he mistook the collared female gray wolf for a coyote. Continue reading

New Forest Service rule requires bear–proof food storage in Maroon Bells-Snowmass Wilderness Area near Aspen

A peaceful campsite along Officers Gulch Pond, formed when crews were building Interstate 70 through a narrow mountain canyon.

Campers in Colorado run the risk of encountering rummaging bears if they don’t store their food in bear-proof containers. @bberwyn photo.

Growing number of incidents prompts crackdown to protect bears and people

Staff Report

FRISCO — The U.S. Forest Service will try to protect both people and bears in the mountains around Aspen by requiring backcountry campers to store their food in hard-sided bear-proof containers.

The new regulation for the heavily visited 162,333 acre Maroon Bells-Snowmass Wilderness Area on the White River National Forest comes after Forest Service rangers reported an increasing number of incidents involving humans and bears.

“Based on recent human/bear incidents in the heavily used Maroon Bells-Snowmass Wilderness, we are implementing this emergency special order requiring hard-sided bear-resistant food canisters for all overnight visitors,” Aspen-Sopris District Ranger Karen Schroyer said in a press release. Continue reading

Wildfires burn record 1.8 million acres in Alaska

Nationally, fires have scorched more than 2.5 million acres

Spot fires show as small puffs of smoke ahead of the main fire front as the fire moves toward the New Town of the village of Nulato on June 22 Credit: Ben Pratt

Smoke from spot fires ahead of the main fire front as a fire in the Galena Zone moves toward New Town Nulato on June 22, Credit: Ben Pratt/Alaska Interagency Coordination Center.

Staff Report

FRISCO — U.S. Wildfire activity has surged above the 10-year average in the past few weeks, primarily because of what will be a record-breaking fire season in Alaska.

After months of mostly above-average temperatures, Alaska’s vast forests and brushlands were primed, and the Alaska Interagency Coordination Center is reporting that more  600 fires have burned across more than 1.8 million acres in the state.

Fires have caused evacuations, highway closures, and rail and flight disruptions. More than 350 structures have been damaged, including about 70 homes.

Above-average temperatures and a longstanding drought in the western U.S. are big factors in the wildfires burning in parts of Washington, Oregon and California.

According to the National Interagency Fire Center, there are currently 26 major fires burning in Alaska. Nationally, the NIFC is reporting that about 26,000 fires have burned across more than 2.5 million acres for the year to-date, the highest number since 2011, when fires had already scorched more than 4.8 million acres by this time of year.

Colorado: Bear bites man inside tent at food-strewn campsite

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A bear habituated to human food searches a trash bin in Colorado. Photo via Colorado Parks and Wildlife.

Wildlife managers say they will try to trap and kill the bear

Staff Report

FRISCO — Camping restrictions are in place at a Colorado campground after a bear bit a man inside a tent. The Dearhamer Campground,  southeast of Glenwood Springs at Ruedi Reservoir,  has been temporarily restricted to hard-sided campers.

The man, who was sleeping in the tent with his wife and one-year-old child, said they woke up about 3:30 a.m. Wednesday morning when his wife heard scratching, then saw paws on their air mattress.

At the same moment, the man said he felt a bite on his left forearm, but was able to shake the animal off by hitting it with his free arm. He said the animal ran away, jumping over the tent in the process.

After the incident, the man drove himself to Valley View Hospital in Glenwood Springs where he was treated and released for two puncture wounds on his left forearm. Continue reading

Alaska’s coastal wolves facing multiple threats

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Alexander Archipelago wolf, Photo courtesy Alaska Department of Fish and Game.

Wildlife advocates say proposed hunt on Prince of Wales Island is unsustainable

Staff Report

FRISCO — A rare breed of wolves living on coastal islands in southeast Alaska is under the gun more than ever before, according to wildlife advocates who are protesting a state plan to allow hunting and trapping of an Alexander Archipelago wolf population on Prince of Wales Island.

The hunt is being permitted even though scientific data shows a 60 percent decline in the population in just one year. Based on the report, wolf advocates say there may only be about 50 wolves remaining on the island. Continue reading

Environment: House GOP continues anti-wolf crusade

The leader of the new Summit County wolf pack, dubbed "John Denver" by federal biologists. PHOTO COURTESY USFWS.

GOP continues wolf persecution.  Photo via USFWS.

Latest budget amendment would overturn federal court rulings that reinstated protection for wolves

Staff Report

FRISCO — For the second time in five years, anti-environmental Republicans in Congress are trying to make an end run around the Endangered Species Act by stripping federal protection for gray wolves in Wyoming and the western Great Lakes states.

The amendment to a spending bill for the Interior Department is similar to a measure passed in 2011, when Congress removed protections for wolves in Idaho and Montana — the first time that Congress legislatively removed protections for a species. Since the 2011 rider passed, more than 1,900 wolves have been killed in the two states. Continue reading

With help, European bison are making a comeback

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This is an American bison in the Black Hills of South Dakota, but wildlife advocates in Europe are in the midst of an ambitious program to restore native European bison.

European rewilding movement gaining ground

Staff Report

FRISCO — It’s hard enough to maintain native species in places like the wide-open spaces of the American West.

Imagine the challenges on a crowded continent like Europe with a much greater population density. Nevertheless, conservation biologists are making progress, finding nooks and crannies across Europe to restore native wildlife, including bison.

In late May, the nonprofit group Rewilding Europe, in partnership with WWF-Romania, said it will release a small herd of bison into the southern Carpathian Mountains of Romania — the first of the species to roam the region freely in more than 200 years. Continue reading

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