Aggressive wolf management plans in Montana and Idaho are drawing the attention of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service . . .
On opening day of Montana’s expanded wolf-hunting season, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service said it has decided to conduct an in-depth status review to determine whether state management plans aiming to aggressively reduce wolf populations threaten the recovery of gray wolves.
The agency now has a year to conduct a further review of the species using the best available science to determine whether listing under the Endangered Species Act is warranted.
The process was initiated this summer when environmental groups asked the agency to relist the animals through two separate petitions. The groups filed the petitions after lawmakers in Montana and Idaho passed laws that encouraged aggressive population reduction by broadening the methods hunters could use to harvest wolves and expanding the trapping season.
In a release about the decision, the agency wrote that the two petitions presented “substantial information that potential increases in human-caused mortality may pose a threat to the gray wolf in the western U.S.” and that the “new regulatory mechanisms in Idaho and Montana may be inadequate to address this threat.”…
Diane Boyd, large carnivore specialist for Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks (and NFPA member), gave a well-received talk last week . . .
Wolves live in family groups. They don’t think twice about traveling long distances. They’re territorial. They make a lot of noise. And some have no qualms about capturing and killing their foes.
In other words, they’re a lot like humans.
Contrary to the host of conspiracy theories out there, wolves in Northwest Montana aren’t hybrids and they weren’t shipped in from points north. They came here on their own volition back in the late 1970s, stragglers from Canada that eventually made the North Fork of the Flathead in Glacier National Park home, biologist Diane Boyd said during a talk last week.
Here’s a good article on the wolf management difficulties faced by Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks . . .
Wolves are complex critters that for centuries have inspired myths and legends while generating fierce controversies, an animal whose presence on the landscape is at once magical and maddening, captivating wildlife lovers while commanding condemnation from hunters who say the population of predators is decimating the bounty of big game in Montana.
Livestock producers living on the wild edges of wolf country have their own set of challenges, forced to keep constant vigil over calving pastures that serve as a veritable beef buffet for a pack of predators.
And wildlife managers with Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks (FWP), the agency tasked with implementing regulatory mechanisms to manage wolves following delisting of the species from the Endangered Species Act in 2011, which granted the state full management authority of its wolf population, are caught in the middle, seeking to strike a delicate balance amid competing interests that remain bitterly divided.
Diane Boyd gave a well-received presentation last Wednesday during a seminar hosted at the University of Montana W.A. Franke College of Forestry and Conservation . . .
A lot of people talk about the important role federal and state lands play in protecting wolves, but Diane Boyd, a wolf and carnivore specialist, said those public landscapes often are at high elevation and don’t harbor wintering populations of deer and elk.
In fact, the scientist said Wednesday that wolves need both private and public lands protected, and the private swaths are critically important.
“They hold the key, in addition to the federal lands, to maintaining grizzly bears, wolves, elk, deer, everything,” Boyd said.
Montana plans to change the way they count wolves. The Missoulian has the story. We’ve also included a link to the official Montana FWP press release discussing the subject . . .
Montana wildlife officials say the way they count wolves is too expensive and falls far short of an actual population estimate, so they plan to switch to a model that uses information gathered from hunters.
However, wildlife advocates say wolf numbers are declining and the switch could threaten the species’ survival. They worry the data is too unreliable to be used to manage the population.
The change, expected within the next three years after improvements to the model, will be cheaper than the annual wolf counts conducted now and provide a more accurate estimate of the total population, Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks officials said.
Five years after the contentious decision to remove federal protections under the Endangered Species Act, Montana’s gray wolf population remains healthy and among the largest in the Northern Rockies, according to state wildlife officials.
The state’s Fish, Wildlife and Parks Department reported a minimum count of 536 wolves across Montana in 2015, 18 fewer than the previous year but well above the federally-mandated minimum of 150.
Biologists confirmed a minimum of 32 breeding pairs, down from 34 in 2014. The federal and state standard requires a minimum of 15 breeding pairs.
Wolf numbers in Montana remain healthy and well above federally-mandated minimums as the fifth and final year of federal oversight of state wolf management comes to an end in May.
Montana’s annual wolf report shows a minimum wolf count of 536 wolves in 2015, which is down from 554 in 2014. Included in this number is a minimum number of breeding pairs of 32, which is down from 34 in 2014.
The difference between the overall minimum wolf counts in 2014 and 2015 is 18, well within the variability expected when counting a wide-ranging species that often occupies rough timbered country.
“It is important to remember that these are minimum counts, meaning that only wolves FWP could actually document as being on the landscape were included,” said John Vore, Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks Game Management Bureau Chief. “As wolf numbers have increased there is just no way we can physically count them all. We know there are more wolves out there. According to our best estimates the actual number of wolves is at least 30 percent more than the minimum count.”
Several conservation groups want the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to continue keeping an eye on things in areas where the gray wolf has been delisted . . .
Five conservation groups on Tuesday asked the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to extend its oversight of wolves in Montana and Idaho that is set to expire in May.
The agency removed the two states’ gray wolf populations from the Endangered Species List in 2011 after finding they were sufficiently recovered. The delisting order required the Fish and Wildlife Service to continue monitoring the population for five years as the states’ wildlife agencies assume management of the species.
Trail camera photos confirm that Oregon’s famous wandering wolf, OR-7, has fathered at least two new pups.
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service biologist John Stephenson said Thursday that brings to seven the number of wolves in the Rogue pack, which lives on the Rogue River-Siskiyou National Forest in the Cascades of southwestern Oregon. That includes three pups from last year.
Biologists had confirmed the second set of pups last July, but didn’t know how many.
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.