Wildlife: Oregon wolf population growing slowly

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State reports suggests non-lethal wolf control is working

Staff Report

FRISCO — Every now and then, the dizzying cycle of lawsuits, appeals and proposed legislation on wolves is punctuated by a bit of good news. Last week, for example, federal biologists announced that the population of endangered Mexican gray wolves in the Southwest grew during the past year, and now, Oregon wildlife officials also say the predators are increasing in their state.

According to the annual Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife annual wolf report, the state’s population has increased by 13 wolves since the end of 2013. The biologists estimate there are now more than 70 wolves roaming in the wilds of Oregon. The state wildlife agency confirmed nine wolf packs and six new pairs, with a total of eight breeding pairs. Continue reading

Feds put Wyoming, Great Lakes wolves back on endangered species list

Heavy snow has pushed elk out of the high country, so the Colorado Division of Wildlife will try to divert them from important livestock feeding areas in the Yampa Valley. PHOTO COURTESY THE NATIONAL PAKR SERVICE.

Wolves chase down an elk in Yellowstone National Park. Photo courtesy National Park Service.

Responding to lawsuits, USFWS acknowledges that state protections are inadequate

By Bob Berwyn

FRISCO — Wild wolves in Wyoming and the western Great Lakes once again are protected under the Endangered Species Act, as the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service published a Federal Register notice explaining that Wyoming’s management plan is not adequate to protect the predators.

Of course the agency needed a push from the federal courts to acknowledge the reality of the Wyoming’s anti-wolf policies. Similarly, a federal court also said the agency can’t delist wolves in the western Great Lakes because protections can’t be removed in part of a species’ range when it has not recovered overall. Continue reading

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

Wildlife: Are lynx holding their own?

Feds conducting five-year status review

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Federal biologists are compiling new information about lynx in the United States as part of a five-year review. Photo courtesy USFWS.

Staff Report

FRISCO — Almost 15 years after listing lynx as a threatened species, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service still hasn’t developed a recovery plan for the snow-loving cats, but a required five-year status review currently under way may help the process.

The review is aimed at clarifying the extent, magnitude, and nature of the threats to lynx so that recovery planning can target those specific threats. When lynx were originally listed in 2000, federal biologists said the lack of adequate regulations on public lands was the main threat to the predators. 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

Climate: California pikas vanishing from lower sites

‘It looks like we’re going to lose pikas from many areas where people have been used to seeing them …’

Colorado pika

A Quandary Peak pika enjoys sunny weather on a rocky ledge. bberwyn photo.

FRISCO — Global warming is probably shrinking habitat for California’s pikas, scientists said this week in a new study that looked at 67 locations with historical data on populations of the small alpine mammals. Pikas have already vanished completely from 10 of those sites, the researchers said, explaining that local extinctions are likely where summer temperatures are high and habitat is already marginal.

“This same pattern of extinctions at sites with high summer temperatures has also been observed in the Great Basin region,”  said Joseph Stewart, a graduate student at UC Santa Cruz and first author of a paper reporting the new findings, published January 29 in the Journal of Biogeography. Continue reading

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