Here’s a good, balanced discussion of Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) among Montana’s deer and elk population and the influence of Wyoming’s elk feedlots . . .
Last week the Montana Fish and Wildlife Commission asked Wyoming to stop feeding elk during the winter on the feeding grounds in the northwest part of that state. There are more than 20 Wyoming feeding grounds, some at the National Elk Refuge near Jackson, the rest in counties south of the refuge.
The commission’s letter was sparked by the discovery this fall of Chronic Wasting Disease in Montana deer just north of the Wyoming border in hunt units south of Bridger. The disease has infected both mule and white-tailed deer. CWD has since been detected in a mule deer buck killed just south of the Canadian border north of Chester. Since CWD is present in Canadian provinces north of us — Alberta and Saskatchewan — it’s probable the disease has been migrating into Montana across both borders, as well as from the east, where CWD was previously confirmed in the Dakotas.
As far as CWD goes, the commission’s letter probably arrives too late. The disease is in Montana, maybe it’s been here for some time, and evidence from other states suggests eradication is unlikely. The feeding grounds are, or will become, CWD hot spots, but eliminating them now won’t do much to slow the inevitable spread of the disease across Montana.
As mentioned here a couple of days ago, Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD – think of it as mad cow for the deer family) is starting to show up in Montana. A good argument can be made that Wyoming’s elk feedlots aid the spread of this disease . . .
Montana wildlife officials are asking their Wyoming counterparts to stop feeding elk after chronic wasting disease has appeared in the state.
Jackson Hole News and Guide reports the Montana Fish and Wildlife Commission sent a letter last week to the Wyoming Game and Fish Commission, saying their elk feeding practices could accelerate the spread of the fatal, contagious disease.
The Montana letter says officials respect how Wyoming handles its affairs, but management of the disease in Montana is affected by what happens in the neighboring state.
Here’s more news regarding the ongoing effort to restore the black-footed ferret population . . .
A nocturnal species of weasel with a robber-mask-like marking across its eyes has returned to the remote ranchlands of western Wyoming where the critter almost went extinct more than 30 years ago.
Wildlife officials on Tuesday released 35 black-footed ferrets on two ranches near Meeteetse, a tiny cattle ranching community 50 miles east of Yellowstone National Park. Black-footed ferrets, generally solitary animals, were let loose individually over a wide area.
Groups of ferret releasers fanned out over prairie dog colonies covering several thousand acres of the Lazy BV and Pitchfork ranches. Black-footed ferrets co-exist with prairie dogs, living in their burrows and preying on them.
Things are not going well for Bureau of Land Management fracking regulation . . .
A federal judge in Wyoming has struck down the Obama administration’s regulations on hydraulic fracturing, ruling that the U.S. Bureau of Land Management doesn’t have the authority to establish rules over fracking on federal and Indian lands.
In the ruling on Tuesday, U.S. District Judge Scott Skavdahl said Congress had not granted the BLM that power, and had instead chosen to specifically exclude fracking from federal oversight.
Skavdahl made it clear what he was — and wasn’t — considering in his ruling.
A wide-ranging wolverine study starts up next winter . . .
Researchers are working on a plan to study wolverines in four Rocky Mountain states to see if the animals that look like small bears with big claws can be reintroduced to some regions to boost their numbers and see how they might travel between mountain ranges.
Montana, Idaho, Wyoming and Washington state are working together because there are so few wolverines and they are spread across a wide area, a researcher with Montana’s wildlife agency said.
“It doesn’t occur that often that four states start to think about managing a species together,” said Bob Inman, carnivore and fur bearer coordinator for Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks.
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.
Lawsuits over wolf management in Wyoming are hampering some research efforts . . .
Fur piled in a mess under a fallen tree. A jawbone lay nearby. The spine was farther down the hill by some ribs. Part of a shoulder was 50 yards in another direction. They were the first signs of a female moose killed months before by a pack of wolves. Little remained of her body. But her bones told a story…
She was sick, and that may have lowered her defenses, which is what matters to wolves, said Ken Mills, wolf biologist for the Wyoming Game and Fish Department…
Mills, 35, was gathering information in late July on how many moose, deer and elk wolves have killed in the Gros Ventre Range in northwestern Wyoming.
The Eastern Shoshone Tribe took a strong stance in favor of continued protection for grizzly bears . . .
Leaders of the Eastern Shoshone Tribe said they oppose any U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service decision to remove grizzly bears from the endangered species list.
Shoshone Business Council members passed the measure unanimously. They also voted to ban grizzly bear trophy hunting on the Wind River Reservation…
“The Eastern Shoshone Tribe … will not permit the State of Wyoming to inflict its policies on Eastern Shoshone tribal lands,” the Eastern Shoshone Business Council wrote in a release Thursday. “The leadership on the Wind River Indian Reservation rejected proposals to permit the trophy hunting of wolves on our land when the wolf was delisted from the ESA, and we hold that same position in relation to the grizzly bear.”
As expected, the federal judge who invalidated Wyoming’s wolf management plan won’t allow it to go back in force with just a few minor tweaks . . .
A federal judge on Tuesday denied requests from the state of Wyoming, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife service and pro-hunting groups to change last week’s decision that reinstated federal protections for wolves in the state.
The decision by U.S. District Judge Amy Berman Jackson in Washington, D.C., leaves Wyoming and the Fish and Wildlife Service with the choice of either appealing or to developing a revised management plan. The planning process can take years and require more public comment, during which time Wyoming wolves would remain protected under the federal Endangered Species Act.