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Category: Wolves

Idaho Fish and Game begins selling wolf-hunting tags

Gray wolves

The Idaho Department of Fish and Game began selling wolf-hunting tags Thursday, the same day that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service published the rule that immediately removed wolves in Idaho, Montana and portions of Oregon, Utah and Washington state from federal protection under the Endangered Species Act.

The action comes after the U.S. Department of the Interior on Wednesday declared wolves fully recovered in most of the northern Rockies, returning gray wolves to state management.

Tags are available at license vendors and Idaho Fish and Game offices and cost $11.50 for resident hunters and $186 for nonresidents, with a valid 2011 Idaho hunting license required.

The Idaho Fish and Game Commission will set seasons, rules and limits later in the summer.

-- Kelly Burgess
Twitter.com/latimesoutposts

Photo: Gray wolves. Credit: National Parks Conservation Assn.

 

Poll takes the pulse of sportsmen on western gray wolf issue

A gray wolf runs through the snow in Yellowstone National Park.

Gray wolves in the western United States remain a highly contentious issue. Populations of the reintroduced animals have reportedly exceeded expectations, so much so that the predators were removed from Endangered Species Act protection (at least temporarily, until U.S. District Court Judge Donald Molloy’s Aug. 5 ruling which placed gray wolves back on protected status).

States are looking to overturn this decision and are seeking the authority to manage packs within their boundaries -- including the possibility of allowing wolf-hunting seasons, as were held in Idaho and Montana last year.

Among those stakeholder groups attempting to be heard on the matter -- state and federal legislators, animal-rights activists, ranchers and sportsmen -- are America’s hunters. But when surveyed on the subject as to how best to proceed, they seem to have some gray areas.

Asked if they believe western gray wolf populations have recovered and should be removed from the Endangered Species List, well over half of the respondents to the September HunterSurvey.com and AnglerSurvey.com polls said yes, with 57.1% responding in the affirmative. But about 36% stated that they "did not know" if populations are recovered, with only 6.7% saying they are not.

One thing respondents seem united on is their distrust of the motivations behind animal welfare groups’ opposition to delisting the gray wolf or turning over management authority to the states. An overwhelming 65% believe these groups are acting out of an interest to limit hunting opportunities, with almost 40% saying the organizations are doing so as a means to boost membership and donations. Only 16.1% believe these groups are acting out of genuine concern for conserving and restoring wolf populations. Comments submitted by survey respondents supported these beliefs, with many suggesting animal rights groups will say or do anything they can to put a stop to hunting in any form.

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Judge returns gray wolves to protected status, halting wolf hunting plans in Idaho and Montana

A gray wolf runs through the snow in Yellowstone National Park.

A federal judge Thursday returned gray wolves to protection under the Endangered Species Act, effectively halting the possibility of wolf hunting seasons in Idaho and Montana this year.

U.S. District Court Judge Donald Molloy said in his ruling that de-listing portions of the Northern Rockies wolf population in Idaho and Montana while leaving those in Wyoming protected violated the Endangered Species Act, and that wolf populations cannot be managed based on political boundaries such as state lines.

"The Endangered Species Act does not allow the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to list only part of a 'species' as endangered, or to protect a listed distinct population segment only in part as the Final Rule here does," Molloy wrote.

In separate statements, Montana and Idaho wildlife officials decried the decision.

"If we understand the ruling correctly, Judge Molloy is telling the federal government that because Wyoming still doesn't have adequate regulatory mechanisms to manage wolves, you can't de-list the wolf in Montana and Idaho," said Joe Maurier, director of Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks.

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Montana's 2010 wolf hunting season quota set; licenses to go on sale beginning Aug. 23

Silhouetted wolf in Yellowstone National Park.

Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks will begin selling licenses Aug. 23 for the state’s 2010 regulated wolf hunting season. On Thursday, the Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks Commission set the statewide harvest quota at 186 wolves, up from the 2009 quota of 75 animals.

Wolf licenses will be available for purchase online, from any Fish, Wildlife & Parks license provider or at any Fish, Wildlife & Parks office and will cost $19 for residents and $350 for nonresidents. Hunters must have, or also purchase, a valid 2010 conservation license.

Licenses will be valid within 13 specifically defined wolf management units for hunting seasons that are scheduled to open Sept. 4 for archers, Sept. 15 in select backcountry areas and Oct. 23 for the general hunting season. Hunters must obtain permission to hunt on private lands. 

The general wolf hunting season is set to end Dec. 31, or when quotas are reached, whichever occurs first. The archery-only season, which is scheduled to end Oct. 17, is limited to not more than 20% of the established quotas or subquotas. 

A wolf hunting season this year, however, is contingent on the outcome of lawsuits pending in court that were filed by conservation and environmental groups seeking to overturn the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service's delisting of gray wolves from Endangered Species Act protection.

-- Kelly Burgess
twitter.com/latimesoutposts

Photo: A wolf in Yellowstone National Park. Credit: Joel Sartore / National Geographic / Getty Images

Idaho resident convicted of wolf poaching is fined and banned from hunting

Wolf

An Idaho resident cited for illegally killing a wolf and hunting from a public road has been convicted on both charges and has been banned from hunting for one year and fined more than $1,000.

The Associated Press reports that Randy Strickland of Eagle, Idaho, was also sentenced to six months in jail, though the judge suspended five months 28 days of that sentence and instead ordered him to perform 40 hours of community service.

The incident, previously reported on Outposts, took place in September 2009, when the then-unidentified Strickland was witnessed shooting a young female wolf while standing in the road behind his truck. That type of hunting is illegal.

Strickland phoned Idaho Fish and Game to report his kill, saying the animal was taken in the Sawtooth zone, where hunting season opened Sept. 1.

When checking the wolf in with the Fish and Game office in Nampa, the hunter said that after studying a map he realized he was actually in the McCall-Weiser zone, where the season didn't begin until Oct. 1.

Fish and Game officers issued citations for shooting a wolf in a closed season and for shooting from a public road. They also confiscated the wolf hide and skull as well as Strickland's rifle, camera and wolf tag.

-- Kelly Burgess

Photo: Gray wolf. Credit: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

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Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks seeks several changes for 2010 wolf hunting season

Two gray wolves in the wild.

The Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks department has released its proposal for this year's gray wolf hunting season. It includes numerous changes, including an increased quota, a longer open season and a possible archery-hunting season.

FWP wildlife managers are seeking to increase the statewide quota to either 186 or 216 wolves, up from the 2009 quota of 75 animals. They would also like to create 14 wolf hunting units in three zones, and allow subquotas in some areas during the early season backcountry hunt, including the area directly north of Yellowstone National Park.

"In a word, it’s all about balance," said Ken McDonald, FWP’s chief of wildlife. "Smaller and more wolf management units represent lessons learned from the 2009 hunting season. Some areas contributed more to the harvest than expected and prevented us from addressing management needs in other areas. We want to adjust that to ensure a widely distributed harvest and yet still target areas where we’re seeing impacts on prey, like elk and deer, and where recurring livestock depredations are anticipated."

The Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks Commission will meet Thursday in Helena to consider the proposal. If approved, a public comment period expected to run through June 14 will follow. A final decision is scheduled to be made July 8.

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Idaho's first wolf hunting season comes to a close

Wolves

Idaho's first wolf hunting season came to a close on Wednesday, with state Fish and Game officials calling it a success.

"The season has succeeded in halting the growth of Idaho's wolf population," said Idaho Fish and Game Director Cal Groen. "It showed that Fish and Game is capable of monitoring and managing a well-regulated wolf hunt."

Fish and Game reported that at the end of 2009, the wolf population in the state was 843 animals -- about the same as at the beginning of 2008.

During the seven-month season, 188 of the statewide quota of 220 animals were reported to department regional offices or conservation officers, with seven of the 12 zones reaching their quota and closing prior to the March 31 season-end date.

Officials are already looking at changes for the 2010-11 wolf hunting season, including expanding quotas, changing zone boundaries and allowing hunters to use electronic predator calls.

However, it remains to be seen if there will be another season this year. Environmental groups have cases pending in court, likely to be ruled on this spring, attempting to return wolves to the endangered species list and stop legal hunting of the animals.

-- Kelly Burgess

Photo credit: National Parks Conservation Assn.

To follow this blog on Twitter, please visit @latimesoutposts

Idaho trips' auction raises nearly $17,000 to benefit outdoor education

Children participate in the songbird banding and raptor trapping trip, one of 42 outdoor opportunities up for auction.

A recent online auction of extraordinary Idaho trips netted nearly $17,000 for the state's Watchable Wildlife programs, designed to promote education, wildlife viewing and photography, and instill an appreciation for what the state has to offer outdoors.

With more than 100 bidders nationwide, the Idaho Fish and Wildlife Foundation reports that this is the most successful auction since it moved to an online-bidding format five years ago.

Ranging from day trips to overnight excursions, 42 outdoor adventures were on the auction block. Trips included guided fly-fishing, youth-mentored duck hunting, patrolling the Salmon River by jetboat and helping biologists capture and radio-collar elk calves.

The top-three highest-bid items were the Selway Wilderness fishing and trail riding trip, which sold for $950; the wolf pup count in Idaho's Sawtooth National Forest, $900; and the Hells Canyon white sturgeon research trip, which netted $875. Other trips, such as the white-fronted geese survey and the rooster pheasant release, sold for less than $100 each.

Co-sponsored by the Idaho Department of Fish and Game, the 20th annual auction offered such a unique variety of outdoor adventures that perhaps other state's might consider hosting such an auction, as a way to provide some much needed revenue to bolster education programs and interest in the outdoors.

-- Kelly Burgess

Photo: Children participate in the songbird banding and raptor trapping trip, one of 42 outdoor opportunities up for auction. Credit: Idaho Fish and Game

To follow this blog on Twitter, please visit @latimesoutposts

Another Idaho wolf hunting zone closes when quota is reached

Gray wolf.

With about two weeks left in the inaugural wolf hunting season in Idaho, a seventh zone reached its quota and was closed.

The limit of 16 wolves in the Salmon zone was reached Monday, ending hunting in that central Idaho area.

As of Tuesday, 178 wolves of the 220 statewide quota have been reported to Idaho Fish and Game, leaving 42 for this season, which runs through March 31.

Hunters are required to report a wolf kill within 24 hours, and must present the skull and hide to a regional office or a Fish and Game conservation officer within five days.

--Kelly Burgess

Photo: Gray wolf. Credit: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

Note: To follow this blog on Twitter please visit @latimesoutposts

Online bidding underway for Idaho trips

Bidders have a chance to win a fly-fishing excursion to Idaho's Nature Conservancy Silver Creek Preserve.

Imagine yourself fly-fishing in the serene setting pictured above; or catching and radio-collaring elk calves; or perhaps releasing young trout into a lake accessible only by horseback or other non-motorized means.

These are only a few of the unique experiences up for bid on the Idaho Fish and Wildlife Foundation online auction. Bidding opened this morning and will close at 8 p.m. (Pacific Time) on Sunday, Feb. 28.

Ranging from day trips to overnight excursions, 42 outdoor adventures are on the auction block, from guided fly-fishing or youth-mentored duck hunting to patrolling the Salmon River by jetboat or helping biologists capture and radio-collar elk calves.

Co-sponsored by the Idaho Department of Fish and Game, the 20th annual auction benefits Idaho's Watchable Wildlife programs, designed to promote education, wildlife viewing and photography, and instill an appreciation for what the state has to offer outdoors.

Full trip descriptions and step-by-step instructions for bidding are available on the IFWF auction webpage.

Good luck and happy bidding!

-- Kelly Burgess

Photo: Bidders have a chance to win a guided fly-fishing excursion to Idaho's Nature Conservancy Silver Creek Preserve. Credit: Silver Creek Outfitters / Idaho Fish and Game

To follow this blog on Twitter, please visit @latimesoutposts

Wolf hunting-tag story gets Idaho woman howling mad

Alpha Fe Lynne Stone knows the Basin Butte wolf pack. She has been chronicling them for four years, and has given each pack member a name to identify it.

These days, however, it would be more accurate to say she knew them. Most of the pack located near Stanley, Idaho, was killed in a U.S. Department of Agriculture Wildlife Services-mandated cull last year.

So when Stone read a recent item on Outposts mentioning that she tried to pass off a state-culled wolf carcass as one she killed herself, she was a bit miffed.

"I never told them I killed the wolf, and they never asked," Stone told Outposts. "Never once did I say that I shot her. I used the words retrieved, and salvaged."

The "they" she mentions are those manning the Wolf Reporting Number, a toll-free phone number that hunters must call within 24 hours of harvesting an animal. "I was only asked if I validated my tag, which I had," Stone added.

The wolf in question -- the alpha female of the Basin Butte pack -- was known to Idaho Fish and Game as B171; Stone referred to her as "Alpha Fe."

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Wolf advocate receives warning for her Idaho hunting tag chicanery

Silhouetted wolf in Yellowstone National Park.

An animal rights advocate who tried to pass off a state-culled wolf carcass as one she shot herself has gotten off with a warning from Idaho Fish and Game, but no other penalty.

Lynne Stone, director of the wildlife advocacy group Boulder-White Clouds Council, had purchased a 2009 wolf hunting tag. She had no plans to go hunt one of the predators, but intended to find a wolf killed by other means and use the tag in an effort to count it toward the statewide hunting quota.

Last November, Stone had her chance. The U.S. Dept. of Agriculture Wildlife Services sent a helicopter to cull wolves from the Butte Basin pack, located near Stanley, Idaho.

Stone, who had been tracking the pack for several years, recovered the carcass of the alpha female, killed in the cull. She took it home and called Fish and Game to report it as a kill.

Fish and Game officials, however, rejected Stone's claim and instead confiscated the carcass as state property.

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Outposts' primary contributor is Kelly Burgess.



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