Wildlife advocates seek expansion of grizzly bear range

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Wildlife advocates want federal biologists to bring back grizzlies in Selway-Bitterroot ecosystem in central Idaho and western Montana. Photo courtesy Chris Servheen/USFWS.

Without connectivity to other populations, grizzly bears are vulnerable to inbreeding and genetic depression

Staff Report

FRISCO — The task of recovering grizzly bears is far from done, according to wildlife advocates, who last week asked the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service try and establish new populations of the apex predators in the Selway-Bitterroot ecosystem in central Idaho and western Montana.

As many as 50,000 grizzly bears roamed widely from the Pacific Ocean to the Great Plains in the pre-settlement era, but as pioneers moved in, bears were persecuted and their numbers and range drastically declined. Today, with the western United States inhabited by millions of Americans, there are only a few pockets of grizzly populations totaling about 1,400-1,700 wild grizzly bears. Of the 37 separate grizzly populations present in 1922, 31 were extirpated by 1975. Continue reading

Biodiversity: More California condor chicks take flight

An endangered California condor in flight over Zion National Park. PHOTO FROM THE WIKIMEDIA COMMONS.

An endangered California condor in flight over Zion National Park. Photo courtesy National Park Service.

73 condors now living in the wild in Utah and Arizona

Staff Report

FRISCO — In another small, encouraging sign that California condors may avoid extinction, biologists said last week that two-wild-fledged chicks have left their nests and taken flight in northern Arizona. A third condor chick — the first wild-fledged in Utah — did not survive.

California condors once soared widely from California to Florida and Western Canada to Northern Mexico but were nearly wiped out by the middle of the 20th century and listed as endangered in 1967. In 1982, only 23 condors survived world-wide, and in 1987, all remaining wild condors were placed into a captive breeding program. Continue reading

Is it time to end barbaric wildlife killing contests?

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Should coyoyes be targeted in wildlife killing contests?

Advocacy groups seek ban in New Mexico

Staff Report

FRISCO — Emboldened by California’s recent ban on wildlife killing contests, wildlife advocates say they want lawmakers to enact similar restrictions in New Mexico, which holds more such events than any other state.

A coalition of 10 groups is calling on the governor and state legislature to ban contests that target coyotes, bobcats, foxes, prairie dogs and other animals, calling them immoral and biologically unsound. Continue reading

Study: Killing wolves to save cattle usually backfires

Lethal predator control leads to more livestock kills

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.

Yellowstone wolves surround an elk.  Photo courtesy National Park Service.

Staff Report

FRISCO — Killing wolves to keep them from killing livestock is counterproductive and actually leads to more predation — up to a certain point — according to Washington State University researchers.

The scientists tested the idea that lethal control is an effective way of slowing predation and found the hypothesis lacking. Shooting and trapping lead to more dead sheep and cattle the following year, not fewer, they concluded in their study, published in the journal PLOS ONE. Continue reading

Colorado: When hunting guides go bad

A mountain lion in Colorado

Several people associated with a hunting guide service in western Colorado will have to pay big fines and face other penalties after wounding and maiming mountain lions. Photo courtesy Colorado Parks and Wildlife.

‘Many of the violations committed by Mr. Loncarich appear to be the result of greed, unlawfully killing and maiming wildlife to increase his profits’

Staff Report

FRISCO — A Colorado man and his Oregon helper — who claimed to be hunting guides — are facing stiff penalties after pleading guilty to violate the Lacey Act, a federal law prohibiting the interstate transportation and sale of any wildlife taken in an illegal manner. Continue reading

Wildlife: Feds say genetic testing confirms that wolf near Grand Canyon is from the Northern Rockies

Trapping efforts suspended for now

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.

By Bob Berwyn

FRISCO — Federal biologists say that, based on a genetic analysis of scat, they’re now 100 percent sure that the wolf-like animal spotted near the North Rim of the Grand Canyon is in fact a wild Rocky Mountain gray wolf.

The confirmation clarifies that this gray wolf is fully protected under the Endangered Species Act, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced. Biologists have been tracking the canid since early October and were able to collect scat samples in early November. Continue reading

Environment: 15 years after endangered species listing, lynx are still spurring lawsuits

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A lynx in Colorado watches on the snow-covered forest floor. Photo courtesy Tanya Shenk/Colorado Division of Wildlife.

New lawsuit challenges inadequate critical habitat designation

Staff Report

FRISCO — It’s been 15 years since Canada lynx were listed as a threatened species, and wildlife conservation groups are still battling the U.S. government in court over critical habitat designation for the rare, snow-loving cats.

In the latest legal move, the Sierra Club, Rocky Mountain Wild, and Alliance for the Wild Rockies went back to court this week, claiming that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service still hasn’t got it right. According to the lawsuit, the agency neglected to include numerous large areas of prime lynx habitat, corridors and occupied areas throughout five national forests in Montana and Idaho, as well as millions of acres in the Southern Rockies. Continue reading

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