Fish and Wildlife Commission tightens wolf, elk hunting rules | State & Regional |


Elk Wolf Stand OffThe Montana Fish and Wildlife Commission tightened wolf hunting rules near Yellowstone National Park and reduced elk shoulder seasons in west-central Montana Thursday.

The subject of elk and wolves together took up the bulk of the rule-making body’s daylong meeting in Helena, which was streamed to Fish, Wildlife and Parks Regional Offices around the state. By the time the agency’s wolf proposals came up towards the end, the commission limited commenters to 3 minutes each.

Wolf management has drawn intense debate since the state took over management of them in 2011, and commenters had plenty to share about the state’s latest proposals. In December, Fish, Wildlife and Parks had suggested reducing the hunting quotas in Wolf Management Units 313 and 316, just north of Yellowstone, from two each to one each. Then, earlier this month, it changed course and proposed keeping them at two.

For Region 1 in the state’s northwest corner, the agency had proposed extending the general wolf hunting season from Sept. 15-March 15 to Aug. 15-March 31, moving the wolf trapping season end date from Feb. 28 to March 15, and increasing the individual limit from five wolves per person to 10.

It fell to the commissioners to adopt or reject these rules. In the weeks leading up to their meeting, the wolf rules received more than 900 comments online, from as far away as Florida, Hawaii and the United Kingdom.

When it came up for discussion, Commissioner Pat Byorth motioned to keep Region 1 on the 2019 wolf hunting regulations, but accept Fish, Wildlife and Parks’ proposal to maintain districts 313’s and 316’s quotas at two wolves each. He explained that in his view, “the Region 1 proposal came late, and it’s a sea change, and it’s going to have implications for wolf management in a bunch of other regions and so to have it at this late date just doesn’t sit right with me.”

As for the wolf quotas in 313 and 316, Byorth argued that reducing them was not likely to increase wolf sightings in Yellowstone or affect the area’s elk population.

The first commenter, Illona Popper of Gardiner, called for a reduction of the Yellowstone-area districts’ quotas to one each — or, ideally, none at all. A member of the Bear Creek Council, she said that “the wolves are valued intrinsically as wildlife that is crucial to our ecosystem also for tourism, which is crucial to our economy and research, which is crucial to the world.”

But soon afterwards, Mark Lambrecht, director of government affairs for the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation, said that group supported the department’s proposals to both expand offerings in Region 1 and maintain the quotas at two near Yellowstone. “Wolves, like other wildlife, require management according to biological and social capacities. For those reasons, we support the proposal.”

via Fish and Wildlife Commission tightens wolf, elk hunting rules | State & Regional |

Health of packs studied, new wolves identified in annual Mexican gray wolf count – azcentral

A 1-year-old wolf pup is examined for general health during the annual Mexican gray wolf count on Feb. 1, 2020, in the Apache National Forest near Alpine. A consortium of federal and state agencies responsible for managing wild populations of the endangered canine visually counts packs and pack members and evaluates wolves for general health.

ALPINE — On a clear, frosty February day in eastern Arizona, ice hugs sidewalks and piles up in the shade of pine trees, steep slopes and buildings. Snowdrifts from a recent storm paint the nearby slopes glittering white in the bright sunlight, the promise of a warmer day ahead.

But while the temperature is just 36 degrees, the timing is right for the annual count of the endangered Mexican gray wolf across east-central Arizona and western New Mexico. The process usually stretches from November to the beginning of February.

For the past three months, biologists and technicians have roamed the region enumerating wolves and their packs in the Apache-Sitgreaves and Gila national forests. They’re members of the Interagency Field Team, a consortium of federal, tribal and state agencies charged with ensuring the recovery of one of the country’s most imperiled wolf species.

On this day, a group of nearly 20 biologists, technicians, managers and volunteers were gathering for the next step in the count, to survey at least one member of each Mexican gray wolf pack in Arizona and New Mexico and collar wolves that were previously not collared.

The annual count is critical in the ongoing effort to rebuild the population of wolves on a landscape where the predator was once all but eradicated.

The government tracks the progress of the wolves’ recovery using the wild population, which has increased an average of 12% since 2009. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s 2017 recovery plan says that one goal for taking the wolf off the endangered species list is demonstrating an average of 320 wolves over an 8-year period. The 2018 count showed that the wild wolf population grew to 131 from 117, with 64 of them roaming Arizona.

Locating and collaring previously uncontacted wolves supports another key goal of the recovery plan: widening the packs’ genetic pool. Each “new” wolf has a DNA sample taken. The results become part of the “studbook,” a listing of every known wolf, living and dead, in the recovery program.

Because the entire population of wolves, both in the wild and in captivity, is descended from just seven canids, increasing genetic diversity is vital to their long-term viability.

Read more: Health of packs studied, new wolves identified in annual Mexican gray wolf count

Yellowstone biologist reflections on wolves and elk | Open Spaces |

Doug Smith 2

Doug Smith arrived in Yellowstone National Park in 1994 with orders to reintroduce wolves. The same year, a cow elk numbered 1125, was born.

On Jan. 30, 25 years after wolves repopulated northwest Wyoming, grizzly bears came back from the brink and mountain lions re-established themselves, elk 1125 finally died, giving into the weather, a predator or perhaps something else entirely.

Yellowstone National Park senior wildlife biologist is picture with a wolf. Smith arrived in the park in 1994 to reintroduce wolves.
Courtesy, Doug Smith

Smith, 59, tried finding her collar on Tuesday, hoping to definitively say what killed the oldest elk collared in Yellowstone National Park. But signals from her collar were too difficult to trace. After hours of skiing through the backcountry, the senior wildlife biologist and and a team turned around, knowing she will likely be buried by snow soon and then scavenged until she’s no more than bones.

People think of Smith as the wolf guy. He’s spent years at public meetings and in hundreds of interviews talking about wolves. But over the years, he’s felt more connected to that elk.

“We all need touchstones, and this gal out there. Every step of the way was with me in Yellowstone,” he said. “Her life was unsung and mine has been this exciting slog through the wolf world and government bureaucracy, and I wondered how she did it.”

The Star-Tribune caught up with Smith to talk to him about the past 25 years, what he has seen, what elk 1125 likely saw, and what is next for Yellowstone’s elk and wolves.

CST: What was the environment like when you arrived in Wyoming? Were you prepared for the divisiveness?

Smith: I was. Having been interested in wolves most of my life, I had 16 years prior wolf experience, and controversy and wolves go hand in hand. They’re a polarizing topic, sadly, agonizingly, and they’re emotional.

But every time I sat down with a rancher or hunter I always liked them. That was the attitude I came in. I get this, it is the right thing to do, it’s backed by policy and law, but it doesn’t have to be that bad. You can have wolves and hunting and ranching altogether. I was optimistic.

Read more Yellowstone biologist reflections on wolves and elk | Open Spaces |

Intense human pressure is widespread across terrestrial vertebrate ranges – ScienceDirect


The United Nation’s Strategic Plan for Biodiversity 2011-2020 calls for reducing species extinctions, as it is increasingly clear that human activities threaten to drive species to decline. Yet despite considerable scientific evidence pointing to the detrimental effects of interacting threats on biodiversity, many species lack information on their exposure to cumulative human pressures. Using the most comprehensive global dataset on cumulative human footprint, we assess the extent of intense human pressures across 20,529 terrestrial vertebrate species’ geographic ranges. We consider intense human pressure as areas where landscapes start to be significantly modified (a summed Human Footprint value at or above three on the index), which is where land uses such as pastureland appear. This threshold has been correlated with extinction risk for many species. We show that 85% (17,517) of the terrestrial vertebrate species assessed have >half of their range exposed to intense human pressure, with 16% (3328) of the species assessed being entirely exposed to this degree of pressure. Threatened terrestrial vertebrates and species with small ranges are disproportionately exposed to intense human pressure. Our analysis also suggests that there are at least 2478 species considered ‘least concern’ that have considerable portions of their range overlapping with these pressures, which may indicate their risk of decline. These results point to the utility of assessing cumulative human pressure data across species ranges, which may be a useful first step for measuring species vulnerability.

via Intense human pressure is widespread across terrestrial vertebrate ranges – ScienceDirect

Endangered gray wolf is found dead in Northern California – Los Angeles Times


An endangered gray wolf that wandered thousands of miles through Northern California has died, the California Department of Fish and Wildlife said Thursday.

OR-54, a 3- to 4-year-old female, was found dead Wednesday in Shasta County, the agency said in a statement.

It wasn’t clear yet whether the animal died from an accident, natural causes or was killed.

Another collared wolf, OR-59, was found shot to death in Northern California. That killing is unsolved.

Read more  Endangered gray wolf is found dead in Northern California – Los Angeles Times

La Diputación abre el plazo para cazar el último lobo que queda en Gibijo –

La Diputación de Álava abre un plazo de 14 días para que los cazadores puedan matar al único ejemplar de lobo que hay en la zona de Gibijo ( sierra alavesa boscosa) y Álava. Así lo han denunciado desde Ekologistak Martxan y el Grupo Lobo de Euskadi catalogando la decisión de “barbaridad” y denunciando que no se ha hecho caso a las más de 100.000 firmas que se han recogido para no permitir esta actividad. Esta decisión se ha producido a escasos cinco días de que en el Consejo Asesor de la Naturaleza Naturzaintza se debata la propuesta del Gobierno vasco de inclusión del lobo en el Catálogo Vasco de Especies Amenazadas, una total incongruencia de la Diputación alavesa.

“Desde hoy la Diputación Foral de Álava queda totalmente desacreditada para hablar de protección del medio ambiente y de la biodiversidad, además esas 105.000 personas de todo España van a conocer la decisión final tomada y que el último lobo de Álava va a ser asesinado por unos ganaderos que curiosamente están siendo subvencionados con dinero de todos para la protección del medio natural. Quizás va siendo hora de exigirles compromisos reales y si no dejar de consumir sus productos que están manchados con la sangre de los lobos que osan entrar en territorio alavés” indican desde ambas asociaciones.

Ekologistak Martxan ha anunciado que va a poner en conocimiento de la Comisión Europea los hechos y en especial que se haya puesto como excusa para permitir la caza del lobo en Álava el proyecto LIFE Oreka Mendia financiado por fondos europeos. “Vamos a solicitar que se le retiren los fondos y se expulse a la Diputación Foral de Álava de este proyecto, ya que los proyectos LIFE por definición pretenden mejorar la conservación de especies y hábitats amenazados. Los proyectos consisten en medidas piloto encaminadas a detener la pérdida de biodiversidad” finalizan.

via La Diputación abre el plazo para cazar el último lobo que queda en Gibijo –

Germany relaxes law on shooting wolves | News | DW | 20.12.2019

Biosphärenexpeditionen Wolfstour in Niedersachsen

Germany has made it easier for farmers to kill wild wolves. A new law should help farmers better protect their livestock now that the wolf population in Germany is on the rise.

After months of debate, German lawmakers agreed on Thursday to a new law that makes it easier for farmers to lethally shoot wolves in order to protect their livestock.

Livestock farmers will have the right to shoot wild wolves if they are causing “serious damage” to their animals. Formerly, farmers were only allowed to shoot if the wolves threatened the farmer’s livelihood.

The new law permits killing wolves up until the point that there are no more attacks on farm animals in an area, even if it means killing an entire wolf pack.

Farmers are authorized to shoot a wolf regardless of whether that specific animal is responsible for attacking a herd. Wolf-dog hybrids may also be shot.
via Germany relaxes law on shooting wolves | News | DW | 20.12.2019