New Idaho wolf law draws howls of outrage

State lawmakers aim to cut wolf numbers drastically

A wolf in Yellowstone National Park. (Photo courtesy of Yellowstone National Park)

A wolf in Yellowstone National Park. Photo courtesy of Yellowstone National Park.

Staff Report

FRISCO — Just a few years after Congress removed endangered species protection for wolves in Idaho, state lawmakers seem hellbent on driving the predators back to brink of extirpation.

The Idaho Legislature this week created a wolf depredation control board controlled by anti-wildlife interests. The board will administer a $400,000 fund set up explicitly to kill wolves. Conservation advocates say the new law could result in the slaughter of 500 wolves, leaving just 150 in the state. Continue reading

Wildlife: Idaho ends wilderness wolf hunt — for now

There will no wolf hunting in Idaho and Montana this year. Photo by Tracy Brooks/Mission Wolf / USFWS

Idaho halts wilderness wolf hunt. Photo by Tracy Brooks/Mission Wolf/USFWS.

Wildlife advocates claim hunt was intended to boost elk numbers to benefit hunters and outfitters

By Summit Voice

FRISCO — Wildlife conservation advocates made some headway in their battle to halt relentless wolf hunting in the northern Rockies this week, as the Idaho Department of Fish and Game agreed to stop its trapping and hunting program in the Middle Fork region of the Frank Church-River of No Return Wilderness.

Since mid-December, Idaho killed nine wolves from two packs in the region. Represented by Earthjustice, several conservation groups went to court to block the killing, arguing that the state wolf extermination program would degrade the largest forested wilderness in the lower-48 states. Continue reading

Wyoming wolf battle far from over, as wildlife advocates challenge delisting in federal court

Gray wolves a. Photo courtesy USFWS.

Gray wolves are facing state-sanctioned slaughter in Wyoming. Photo courtesy USFWS.

Lawsuit says state management plan is inadequate

By Summit Voice

FRISCO — Wildlife advocates say that, without federal protection, wolves in Wyoming could soon be back on the ropes because of anti-wolf state policy that does little to protect the predators.

Based on those concerns, conservation groups sued the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in U.S. District Court in Washington, D.C. The court heard arguments in the case on Dec. 17, with Earthjustice attorney Tom Preso asking the judge to restore Endangered Species Act protections to gray wolves in Wyoming until state officials develop a stronger wolf conservation plan. Continue reading

Dwindling Denali wolves raise tourism concerns

wolf population across the 6 million acre park and preserve declined from 143 in fall 2007 to just 55 in spring 2013

Wolves on the Denali Park Road. Photo courtesy NPS Photo / Nathan Kostegian.

Wolves on the Denali Park Road. Photo courtesy NPS/Nathan Kostegian.

By Bob Berwyn

FRISCO — An arbitrary decision by the Alaska Board of Game to allow wolf hunting and trapping near Denali National Park has cut the regional wolf population by nearly two-thirds and significantly reduced opportunities for park visitors to see wolves in the wild — one of the main reasons people go to Denali in the first place.

This year, fewer than 5 percent of park visitors were able to see wolves, down from about 45 percent back in 2000, according to National Park Service statistics obtained by a federal government watchdog group.

“This precipitous decline in wildlife viewing success appears to be unprecedented in the history of the national park system,” said Rick Steiner, a retired University of Alaska professor and a Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility board member. Continue reading

Biodiversity: Feds extend comment period on controversial plan to take wolves off endangered species list

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Feds reschedule hearings on plan to take wolves off the Endangered Species List. Photo courtesy USFWS.

Public hearings rescheduled for November

*More Summit Voice wolf coverage is online here

By Bob Berwyn

FRISCO — There’s a little more time to comment on the controversial federal proposal to take gray wolves off the endangered species list, and boost protection for Mexican gray wolves in the Southwest.

Because of the partial federal government shutdown, the  the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has rescheduled several public hearings on the plan, and the comment period has been extended through Dec. 17.

The hearings will be held. Nov. 19 in Denver, Nov. 20 in Albuquerque and Nov. 22 in Sacramento. Each hearing includes a short informational presentation. The Service has also added a public information meeting and hearing in Pinetop, Arizona, on Dec. 3. Continue reading

Study shows link between grizzlies, berries and wolves

More proof that apex predators are critical to their ecosystems

ChrisServheenUSFWS

Grizzly bears in the Yellowstone ecosystem may be benefiting from the presence of wolves, according to a new study. Photo courtesy ChrisServheen/USFWS.

By Summit Voice

FRISCO — There’s no question that top predators have profound impacts on their ecosystems, but sometimes those relationships play out in unexpected ways. New research by scientists from Oregon State University and Washington State University has documented how the return of wolves to Yellowstone National Park is helping grizzly bears.

By studying what bears eat, and how wolves affect the behavior of other animals, the biologists found that the return of the wolves is helping to restore a key part of the diet of grizzly bears that has been missing for much of the past century — berries that help bears put on fat before going into hibernation. Continue reading

Biodiversity: Study sheds new light on wolf predation

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Hunting wolves may have less of an impact on elk herds than previously believed. Photo via USFWS.

Three-year tracking project helps show that wolves alone aren’t necessarily responsible for declining elk populations

By Summit Voice

FRISCO — For quite some time, conventional wisdom has held that the presence of wolves in the Greater Yellowstone area has had beneficial impacts on the overall ecosystem by keeping elk on the move.

But a new study, led by recent University of Wyoming Ph.D. graduate Arthur Middleton, casts some doubt on that theory. For three years, the researchers closely followed the  Clarks Fork elk herd west of Cody, along with the wolf packs that prey on it. Continue reading

Biodiversity: Wolves get short end of the stick — again

Caving to political pressure from western states, the Obama administration wants to remove endangered species protections for the ecologically vital predators

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A gray wolf follows a grizzly bear in Yellowstone National Park. Photo courtesy NPS/Doug Smith.

By Summit Voice

FRISCO — In a move that’s sure to spur another round of contentious lawsuits, the Obama administration is moving ahead with its controversial plan to take nearly all wolves across the U.S. off the endangered species list.

Federal biologists say wolves are recovered and no longer need endangered species protection, but conservation groups immediately blasted the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, saying that the agency based its conclusions on faulty science.

“This is like kicking a patient out of the hospital when they’re still attached to life-support,” said Noah Greenwald, endangered species director with the Center for Biological Diversity.  “Wolves cling to a sliver of their historic habitat in the lower 48 and now the Obama administration wants to arbitrarily declare victory and move on. They need to finish the job that Americans expect, not walk away the first chance they get. This proposal is a  national disgrace and our wildlife deserve better,” Greenwald said. Continue reading

Biodiversity: Scientists slam feds on possible wolf de-listing

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Wolves are recovered in Yellowstone, but a possible plan to take them off the Endangered Species List is highly controversial. Photo courtesy Yellowstone NP.

Leaked plan doesn’t live up to intent of Endangered Species Act

By Summit Voice

SUMMIT COUNTY — A group of prominent scientists with expertise in wolf biology is taking issue with a draft plan to take wolves off the Endangered Species List. The document was leaked a few weeks ago, eliciting widespread criticism from wildlife advocates.

Federal wildlife agencies are under intense pressure from states to turn over wolf management. Congress has already set the stage for political interference in the wolf recovery process, and that step has put the the U.S. Fish and Wildlife service at the edge of a very slippery slope. Any proposal to de-list wolves is likely to face significant opposition and legal challenges from conservation advocates. Continue reading

Biodiversity: Wildlife advocates howling mad about draft federal plan to take wolves off the Endangered Species List

Wolves may not be in danger of extinction, but are they recovered?

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The current legal status of wolves in the U.S.

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A gray wolf follows a grizzly bear in Yellowstone National Park. Photo courtesy NPS/Doug Smith.

By Bob Berwyn

FRISCO —An oft-discussed proposal to remove gray wolves from the Endangered Species List has progressed to the point that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has developed a fairly detailed draft version of the plan. The draft rule proposes removing all protections for wolves in 29 eastern states but maintaining endangered status for the Mexican wolf by listing it as a subspecies.

“We propose these actions because the best available scientific and commercial information indicates that the currently listed entity is not a valid species under the Act and that the Mexican wolf (C. l. baileyi) is an endangered subspecies,” the agency wrote in the draft. Continue reading

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