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Wildlife: Denali wolf packs hammered by hunting

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Wolves draw tourists to Denali National Park.

Death of breeding wolves affects pack size and persistence

Staff Report

FRISCO — Following a steep drop in the Denali National Park wolf population, biologists have documented how the death of breeding wolves affects pack size and persistence. The number of wolves in the 6million acre park in Alaska dropped from 143 in the fall of 2007 to just 55 wolves in the spring of 2013, raising concerns about impacts to tourism.

Many visitors come to Denali with the expectation of seeing wolves, but a recent state decision to allow wolf hunting in area previously deemed a buffer zone has had a big impact on wolf numbers. According to the latest research, the death of a breeding wolf sometimes results in a wolfpack disbanding. Continue reading

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Moose encounters near Aspen prompt warnings

‘If things continue this way at Maroon Bells, it’s not if someone will be injured, but when’

Colorado moose

A moose cow and calves grazing near Berthoud Pass, Colorado. Bob Berwyn photo.

Staff Report

FRISCO — Colorado’s growing moose population is causing a safety issue in the popular Maroon Bells area, near Aspen, according to state wildlife officials, who say people are getting to close to the animals along the Crater Lake Trail. Forest Service rangers temporarily closed the trail, but said that risky behavior continues, despite numerous posted signs warning of the potential danger. Continue reading

Colorado to update wildlife action plan

Public input wanted

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Elk in Colorado’s Blue River Valley. bberwyn photo.

Staff Report

FRISCO —Colorado is set to start updating a critical wildlife action plan that helps the state qualify for federal grant funds to protect habitat. The existing version of the plan was completed in 2006 and is due for a mandated 10-year overhaul.

State Wildlife Action Plans originated in the early 2000’s after a coalition of federal and state resource agencies, sportsmen’s groups, conservation groups, non-governmental organizations, businesses and private citizens joined in partnership, urging the feds to provide grants for wildlife and habitat conservation. Continue reading

Fishing: More tiger muskies in Colorado?

State biologists try to balance recreation with restoration of native fish

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More tiger muskies, more native fish? Photo courtesy Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife/ Tim Knepp.

Staff Report

FRISCO —Colorado fishery experts say planting more tiger muskie in western Colorado reservoirs could help provide the sport fishing that anglers want, while helping to meet goals of the Colorado River native fish recovery program. Colorado Parks and Wildlife will release more the tiger muskies in Harvey Gap Reservoir this week, adding to the 140 that were stocked last year.

“We are continuing the evaluation phase of this project,” said aquatic biologist Lori Martin. “This introduction of the non-native species last year was well received. There is still potential for tiger muskie to become a viable alternative to northern pike,” Martin said. Continue reading

Declining populations spur Colorado mule deer strategy summit

Stakeholders to help hash out a plan in facilitated meeting format

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A Colorado mule deer near Missouri Creek. Photo courtesy Kim Fenske.

By Summit Voice

*More Summit Voice mule deer stories here

FRISCO —Colorado wildlife managers are trying to develop a strategy to confront the continued decline in the state’s mule deer population. To get some input on shaping a plan, Colorado Parks and Wildlife, in coordination with The Keystone Center, an independent facilitator, is holding a series of seven public meetings across the state, including three in the northwest region during May. The resulting strategy will guide agency efforts to work towards increasing mule deer populations. Continue reading

Wolves just can’t catch seem to a break in the West

Was public cut out of  Arizona wolf planning process?

Mexican gray wolf. Photo courtesy USFWS.

Mexican gray wolf. Photo courtesy USFWS.

Staff Report

FRISCO — The slowly recovering population of Mexican gray wolves in the Southwest may face even more pressure in coming years, as state officials in Arizona seek to codify a new wolf management plan that could restrict recovery efforts. Continue reading

Biodiversity: Another win for bison restoration

Montana court says bison are not livestock

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A Yellowstone bison. Photo courtesy National Park Service.

By Summit Voice

FRISCO — A Montana district court judge this month rejected yet another attempt by ranchers to block the restoration of bison in the northern plains. The ranchers sought to have wild bison classified as livestock rather than wildlife, but Montana District Judge John McKeon ruled last week that wild bison are wildlife under state law — regardless of their confinement in quarantine.

A legal classification as livestock would have transferred jurisdiction over quarantined bison from the Montana Department of Fish, Wildlife and Parks to the Montana Department of Livestock—a move that threatened to impede any future efforts to restore native bison as a wildlife species in appropriate portions of their historic habitat.

“This ruling rightly discredits what amounted to a stealth attack on future efforts to restore wild bison in Montana,” said Earthjustice attorney Tim Preso, who represented Defenders of Wildlife and the National Wildlife Federation in opposing Citizens for Balanced Use’s argument. “Wild bison are classified as wildlife under Montana law. Now it is time to restore wild bison as wildlife on the Montana landscape.” Continue reading

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