Looks like we’re due for above average runoff over the next few months . . .
A hefty mountain snowpack in the Northern Rockies has driven down the summer wildfire potential and bumped up prospects that farmers in most of Montana and Wyoming won’t go dry.
As for flooding, government forecasters say the coming weeks will make all the difference.
A relatively even warm-up would keep streams and rivers in check. Too much warm weather and flooding could threaten downstream communities.
Read more . . .
For those of you who like to dig into source materials, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service maintains a web site with news, information and recovery status reports on gray wolves on the Northern Rockies. You’ll find it here: http://westerngraywolf.fws.gov.
The agency’s “Office of External Affairs” also maintains a page with links to wolf-related press releases, public notices, hearing transcripts, articles and studies at http://www.fws.gov/home/wolfrecovery/.
Today’s news has information on drops in the wolf population in two areas of the U.S. Both declines are attributed to hunting pressures . . .
Northern Rockies See Sharp Drop in Wolves – Aggressive gray wolf hunting and trapping took a toll in much of the Northern Rockies last year as the predator’s population saw its most significant decline since being reintroduced to the region two decades ago. Yet state and federal wildlife officials said Friday that the population remains healthy overall, despite worries among some wildlife advocates over high harvest rates. Its range is even expanding in some areas as packs take hold in new portions of eastern Washington state and Oregon. Continue reading . . .
Number of wolves in Alaska’s Yukon-Charley Rivers National Preserve drops by more than 50 percent – Wolves in Alaska are known to have healthy population numbers. Yet now, it turns out that Alaska’s predator control program has resulted in the number of wolves in Yukon-Charley Rivers National Preserve to drop by more than half. The National Park service counted 80 wolves over nine packs in November 2012. This spring, though, the numbers have dropped drastically. Biologists have only been able to account for 28 to 39 wolves in six different packs–it’s the highest drop in numbers since the park service began tracking wolves 19 years ago. Continue reading . . .
Grizzly bears have recovered in some areas to the point where some very limited hunting may be permitted in a couple of years . . .
With bear-human conflicts on the rise, wildlife managers in the Northern Rockies are laying the groundwork for trophy hunts for grizzlies in anticipation of the government lifting their threatened species status.
It’s expected to be 2014 before about 600 bears around Yellowstone National Park lose their federal protections, and possibly longer for about 1,000 bears in the region centered on Glacier National Park.
Yet already government officials say those populations have recovered to the point that limited hunting for small numbers of bears could occur after protections are lifted…
Continue reading . . .
This too-short Associated Press article claims that, besides returning management of gray wolves to state control in the Northern Rockies, the Obama administration proposes to do the same for a further 4200 wolves in the Great Lakes region . . .
The Obama administration says it is lifting Endangered Species Act protections for 5,500 wolves in eight states in the Northern Rockies and Great Lakes.
The move will turn control over the predators to state wildlife agencies. Public hunts for hundreds of wolves already are planned this fall in Idaho and Montana.
Continue reading . . .
This is going to stir things up. A just-released scientific study concludes that the wolf population is more than high enough to maintain genetic diversity throughout the Northern Rockies. This from the same team that earlier concluded that the wolf population in Yellowstone was genetically isolated, a finding used to argue against removing wolves from Endangered Species Act protection.
Some old research is providing new insight into the genetic diversity of wolves in the Northern Rockies.
Authored by well-known names in the world of wolf reintroduction, the newly published study concludes that as far back as six years ago, wolf numbers were high enough to avoid genetic stagnation in the region.
Mark Hebblewhite, a University of Montana ecologist and longtime wolf researcher, said the study is the most comprehensive paper ever completed on a wild population of carnivores. . .
The study was authored by the same team that earlier reported wolves in Yellowstone National Park were genetically isolated. That information was used to argue against delisting the Northern Rockies population in 2008. . .
Read the full article . . .
For more detail, read the related “News and Views” item from Molecular Ecology, as well as the full scientific paper referenced in the above article. (Both documents are in PDF format and will open in a new window.)