Another gray wolf wanders into northeastern California

Gray Wolf

More wolves may roam from Oregon into adjacent states, including California, where the state is developing a wolf management plan.

Conservation activists say sighting confirms need for endangered species protection

Staff Report

FRISCO — Wildlife biologists in California say another gray wolf has likely wandered into the far northeastern corner of the state. Based on an evaluation of photos and paw print measurements, the animal may be a lone dispersing male looking for new territory to occupy.

The California Department of Fish and Wildlife has deployed motion-sensor cameras and biologists will try to collect scat for a DNA sample to conclusively establish whether the observed canid is indeed a wolf. The sighting was in Siskiyou County, in an area comprised of both U.S. Forest Service holdings and private timberland. Continue reading

Wolves in Idaho wilderness area get reprieve

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Idaho wolves catch a break. Photo via USFWS.

State-based wolf plan would have allowed trapping wolves to inflate elk populations

Staff Report

FRISCO — Wildlife advocates in Idaho have slowed the frantic state-sanctioned wolf slaughter that has ensued since the federal government turned management of the species over to the state.

In response to a lawsuit filed by conservationist and wilderness advocate Ralph Maughan, along with four conservation groups, Idaho Fish and Game and the U.S. Forest Service have halted wolf killing in the federally-protected Franck Church-River of No Return Wilderness during the winter of 2015-16.  Continue reading

Sea Shepherd activists face court charges for disrupting bloody whale slaughter in the Faroe Islands

Conservation advocates say annual hunt violates international treaties

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Faroe Islanders defend their annual whale slaughter as important cultural tradition, but face a growing tide of public opposition, Photo courtesy Sea Shepherd.

Staff Report

FRISCO — Five international Sea Shepherd crew members who tried to disrupt a bloody whale slaughter in the Faroe Islands are in court this week, facing charges of violating  Faroe Island’s Pilot Whaling Act. The penalties include fines of up to about $3,000 or up to two years in prison.

Several other Sea Shepherd crew members were found guilty of disrupting the hunt in 2012, and a captain of a small Sea Shepherd boat was charged with not reporting a sighting of dolphins.

The law authorizes the slaughter as part of Faroe Island’s cultural tradition, but conservation advocates say the annual hunt may violate a European wildlife treaty. In the hunt, entire pods of whales and dolphins are driven to shore when they approach the coast and then killed, turning the seawater bloody red. Continue reading

Wildlife advocates question federal sage grouse maps

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Proposed federal conservation plans for greater sage-grouse have sliced and diced important habitat, conservation advocates say. Photo courtesy USFWS.

Report says fragmented habitat isn’t adequate for protection of species

Staff Report

FRISCO — After a detailed mapping analysis maps, wildlife conservation advocates say the federal government downsized important habitat for sage grouse.

The findings are outlined in a new report released by WildEarth Guardians. It compares protected areas to remaining key population hotspots. Almost 20 million acres designated as Priority Areas for Conservation disappeared from the Priority Habitat areas proposed in U.S. Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management sage grouse plans. Continue reading

Environment: Feds face pipeline safety lawsuit

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Workers try to contain an oil spill from a ruptured pipeline in the Yellowstone River in January, 2015.

Lacksadaiscal enforcement is a recipe for disaster

Staff Report

FRISCO — After a series of disastrous pipeline breaks, the National Wildlife Federation says it’s time to hold the federal government accountable for its failure to enforce basic requirements like regular inspections and update safety response plans for pipeline accidents.

This week, the nonprofit group said it will sue the  U.S Department of Transportation in an action that has nationwide implications, since nearly every pipeline that crosses a navigable water is operating illegally. In its formal notice of intent to sue, the National Wildlife Federation is asking the Department of Transportation to issue regulations for oil pipelines in water, and require every owner and operator of an oil pipeline in a navigable water to submit a safety response plan that needs to be approved. Continue reading

Environment: Feds extend comment period on controversial Endangered Species Act changes

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Can the Endangered Species Act be improved?

Proposed changes would make it harder for citizen groups to petition for protection

Staff Report

FRISCO — The feds will give the public an extra two months to weigh in on proposed changes to the Endangered Species Act, with a new comment deadline set for mid-September.

In May, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the National Marine Fisheries Service published draft regulations, saying that the changes are aimed at improving transparency and inclusiveness. The move to freshen up the Endangered Species Act reflects “advances in conservation biology and genetics, as well as recent court decisions interpreting the Act’s provisions.” Continue reading

Summit County: Frey Gulch restoration begins

Construction of new dirt bike trails also under way

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The Forest Service and volunteer partners are simultaneously building new dirt bike trails and closing forest roads in the Tenderfoot Mountain area.

Staff Report

FRISCO — The U.S. Forest Service is implementing restoration plans associated with approval of the new off-road motorcycle trail system on Tenderfoot Mountain.

The trail system, long a local point of contention, was approved last year based on a compromise agreement among stakeholders. The Forest Service has already started building part of the trail, with new single-track visible just a few feet above, and running parallel to Straight Creek Road.

This summer, Tenderfoot Mountain Road (#66.2B) in Frey Gulch will be closed and rehabilitated in order to improve water quality and improved habitat for fish and wildlife. The restoration of Frey Gulch was included as a condition the trail system permit. Continue reading

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