Tag Archives: Montana

Wolverine sighted near Havre

Woverine sighted by Dave Chinadle near Havre, Montana
Woverine sighted by Dave Chinadle near Havre, Montana

It seems wolverines can do some serious cross-country traveling when they want to . . .

It’s rare to see a wolverine in Montana, even in the reclusive animal’s remote and mountainous strongholds.

So the tenacious carnivore certainly wasn’t what Havre-area farmer Dave Chinadle expected to see in the middle of a stubble field last week.

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Montana moves forward with sage grouse habitat plan

Sage Grouse - USFWS image
Sage Grouse – USFWS image

Montana gets ready to dish out funding for sage grouse habitat improvement . . .

A Montana panel overseeing a sage grouse conservation plan finalized guidelines on Friday for awarding $10 million in grants to help boost habitat for the imperiled bird.

Meanwhile, state officials have completed evaluating the bulk of 112 projects proposed within prime habitat for the sage grouse, as part of the ongoing implementation of an executive order issued by Gov. Steve Bullock in September.

“I am very happy to report that we are under way,” said Carolyn Sime, a resource program manager for the state’s Department of Natural Resources and Conservation.

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Conservationists seek to defend recommended wilderness against snowmobiler lawsuit

NEWS RELEASE: January 25, 2016

CONTACT: Tim Preso, Earthjustice, (406) 586-9699, tpreso@earthjustice.org

Missoula, MT – A coalition of conservationists, represented by Earthjustice, today requested to intervene in a lawsuit filed by snowmobilers that seeks to overturn restrictions on motorized use in recommended wilderness areas on the Kootenai and Idaho Panhandle National Forests.

At issue are the Forest Service’s 2015 revised forest management plans for the two forests, which recommended certain rugged and pristine areas for wilderness designation and prohibited motorized use within their boundaries to protect wilderness character and preserve the opportunity for permanent protection under the federal Wilderness Act. Snowmobile interest groups filed a lawsuit in November 2015 that asks a federal judge to overturn these recommended wilderness designations and open the protected areas to motorized use by snowmobiles and four-wheelers.

“Snowmobilers already have access to 86 percent of the Kootenai forest and 70 percent of the Idaho Panhandle forest,” said Earthjustice attorney Tim Preso, who is representing the conservationists. “We are standing up to defend the peace and solitude of the last pockets of wilderness-quality lands in these otherwise heavily logged and motorized forests.”

The recommended wilderness areas at issue include landscapes prized for their outstanding backcountry recreation opportunities, including Scotchman Peaks and Roderick Mountain in Montana and the Mallard Larkins and Selkirk Range in Idaho. These areas are home to mountain goats, grizzly bears, Canada lynx, wolverines, and a wide variety of other species, including the last remnant population of woodland caribou in the continental United States. In total, they constitute just 4 percent of the 2.2-million-acre Kootenai National Forest and 7 percent of the 2.5-million-acre Idaho Panhandle National Forests.

Earthjustice is representing The Wilderness Society, Headwaters Montana, Idaho Conservation League, Montana Wilderness Association, Panhandle Nordic Ski and Snowshoe Club and Winter Wildlands Alliance. The groups seek to defend the Forest Service’s designation of recommended wilderness areas and wild and scenic river eligible areas and its decision to restrict motorized access in these areas.

Earthjustice, the nation’s premier nonprofit environmental law organization, wields the power of law and the strength of partnership to protect people’s health, to preserve magnificent places and wildlife, to advance clean energy, and to combat climate change. Because the earth needs a good lawyer.

Montana to relocate some sage grouse to Canada

Sage Grouse

Montana will relocate some local sage grouse to Alberta in an effort to improve the population in both jurisdictions . . .

Montana will send dozens of sage grouse to the Canadian province of Alberta in a plan approved Thursday that faces opposition from some lawmakers who say the state should first look to bolster its own fragile population of the bird.

The Montana Fish and Wildlife Commission voted 3-1 to relocate 40 greater sage grouse hens this year across the border to Alberta, where an estimated 100 to 120 of the birds are left. The sage grouse in Alberta and Montana make up a transboundary population, and the program should result in healthier numbers on both sides of the border, officials said.

“We have worked hard with Alberta to get this to fruition,” Montana Fish and Wildlife Commission Chairman Dan Vermillion said. “It seems to be working up there, and Montana has a lot to benefit.”

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States divvy up potential Yellowstone region grizzly hunt

Brown Grizzly Bear - Wikipedia User Mousse

You know grizzly bear delisting is getting serious when they start discussing who gets to shoot how many . . .

Wildlife officials have divvied up how many grizzly bears could be killed by hunters in the Yellowstone region of Wyoming, Montana and Idaho as the states seek control of a species shielded from hunting for the past 40 years, according to documents obtained by the Associated Press.

The region’s grizzlies currently are under federal protection, but that could change in coming months, turning control over to the states. A draft agreement detailing the states’ plans for the animals was obtained by The Associated Press.

The agreement puts no limits on grizzly bear hunting outside a 19,300-square mile management zone centered on Yellowstone National Park. Inside the zone, which includes wilderness and forest lands adjacent to the park, hunters in Wyoming would get a 58 percent share of the harvest, a reflection that it’s home to the bulk of the region’s bears. Montana would get 34 percent and Idaho 8 percent.

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Montana orders sage grouse conservation plan

Sage Grouse
Sage Grouse

Montana enacts a sage grouse conservation plan without waiting for the feds . . .

Montana Gov. Steve Bullock has ordered state agencies to enact a program to conserve greater sage grouse populations by the start of next year as federal officials consider whether more sweeping protections are needed.

The order issued Tuesday follows on a 2014 grouse conservation plan that places some restrictions on oil and gas drilling and other activities blamed for driving down sage grouse numbers.

Critics of the state plan say it has too many loopholes allowing companies to get around the restrictions.

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Montana Governor, Feds sign sage grouse conservation deal

A little more progress on sage grouse conservation . . .

Gov. Steve Bullock signed an agreement Monday with the U.S. Department of Agriculture pledging cooperation on efforts to protect declining populations of greater sage grouse.

The agreement signed at the Capitol in Helena calls for state, federal and local officials to meet annually to discuss sage grouse conservation. It includes no new spending or regulations.

The USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service Chief Jason Weller said the agreement should help streamline and coordinate sage grouse conservation efforts on private land in the state. Seventy percent of sage grouse habitat in Montana is on private or state lands.

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Canadian fire season may preview Montana’s

Canada’s wildfire situation may be a preview of Montana’s . . .

As Montana holds Little League tryouts for the 2015 wildfire season, Canada is showing the planet how to really burn a summer.

Alberta authorities were battling 116 fires by the end of last week, including 46 reported as “out of control,” according to provincial officials.

At British Columbia’s Vancouver Island, a 50-acre fire near Nanaimo forced the evacuation of 12 homes Thursday. Island Timberlands, Vancouver Island’s major private timber company, closed public access to many of its roads on the east side of the island because of the fire danger.

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Montana transitioning from wolf monitoring to management

Kent Laudon, a Montana FWP wolf expert, retires as the state shifts from wolf recovery to management . . .

With gray wolves recovered in Northwest Montana, the state wildlife agency’s role has been moving from species monitoring to management, including hunting.

One of the biggest elements of that change is the departure of Kent Laudon, the region’s top wolf expert who retired Friday after a decade spent trapping, tracking and monitoring wolves in the Northwest Recovery Zone, which roughly spans the top half of Montana’s Rocky Mountains.

He started working for Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks as the regional wolf management specialist in 2004, tasked with determining how many packs are in the area each year and how many wolves are in each pack.

Montana wolf population declines

Hunting pressure decreased the number of wolves in Montana . . .

The number of gray wolves in Montana continues to decline under the state’s management efforts but remains above federal recovery goals, according to the Fish, Wildlife and Parks department.

State officials released an annual report detailing the status of the controversial animal, which remains the subject of scrutiny and debate throughout the West.

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See also: FWP Releases Minimum Wolf Count For 2014