Archive for the ‘Minnesota’ Tag

Minnesota Department of Natural Resources Closes Another Wolf Zone   Leave a comment

From:  WDIO.com

Dec. 09, 2014

ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) – The Department of Natural Resources is closing the late wolf season a second hunting zone, where hunters and trappers have exceeded the season target.

Hunters and trappers in the northwest zone had registered 96 wolves killed by late Tuesday afternoon, 14 more than the zone’s nonbinding target of 82. DNR wolf specialist Dan Stark says it’s not clear why there’s been a surge since late last week.

The northwest zone streches from northwestern Minnesota to western St. Louis County, including all of Itasca and Koochiching counties.

The DNR last Friday closed the northeast zone, where hunters and trappers registered 40 wolves, five over the zone’s target of 35. The small east-central zone remains open. One wolf has been registered there with a target of nine.

Late-season hunters and trappers have now registered 133 wolves statewide. Hunters killed 124 in Minnesota’s early hunting-only season.

The combined statewide harvest target was 250.

 

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Feds Approve Maine Trapping Plan Allowing Rare Canada Lynx to Be Harmed, Killed   Leave a comment

From: Center for Biological Diversity

Two Canada Lynx kittens after being processed....

Two Canada Lynx kittens after being processed. Credit: James Weliver / USFWS (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

13 Federally Protected Lynx Trapped in First Month of Trapping Season

ORONO, Maine — The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service approved a permit today allowing trappers and state agents to injure or kill federally protected Canada lynx during Maine’s trapping season and as part of state-run predator control programs. The permit approval comes less than a month into Maine’s 2014 trapping season, during which 13 lynx have already been reported captured albeit released alive. Two lynx required veterinary treatment for injured toes.

“Maine’s trapping plan simply doesn’t do enough to ensure that threatened Canada lynx are not harmed or killed,” said Mollie Matteson, a senior scientist at the Center for Biological Diversity. “The Fish and Wildlife Service should never have granted this permit — it’s definitely a setback for recovery of these beautiful cats in Maine.”

Wildlife advocates say the state’s plan to minimize harm to lynx, which is required in order to obtain the federal “incidental take” permit, falls far short of what is actually needed to safeguard the forest-dwelling cats from trapping, to which they are particularly susceptible. The state plan requires trapper education — primarily through the distribution of a new DVD to all licensed trappers — and management of a mere 6,200 acres of state forest for lynx reproduction. Even within this small mitigation area, however, Maine intends to allow trapping. To monitor “take” of lynx, the state is relying almost exclusively on trappers to voluntarily report when they accidentally capture or kill a lynx.

“The state of Maine keeps asserting that traps don’t really hurt lynx, and trappers will reliably self-report when their traps injure lynx,” said Daryl DeJoy, executive director of the Wildlife Alliance of Maine. “This is not scientifically based conservation; it is relentless self-delusion, at best. And lynx are going to be paying for it with injuries and with their lives.”

The final permit includes coverage for several new activities that were not considered by the Fish and Wildlife Service in earlier draft rounds of the permit. In addition to Maine’s recreational trapping program, the state added to the final permit its Predator Management and Animal Damage Control programs. As part of these state-funded programs, the state pays trappers to kill wildlife such as coyotes, beaver and foxes. The predator management program pays incentives and gas money to trappers who will travel to remote parts of the state to kill coyotes, as part of Maine’s effort to maintain high deer populations. Within these programs, the state will also allow the use of cable restraints, which capture animals around the neck but are designed to not asphyxiate them. However, cable restraints designed for smaller mammals may kill, larger, non-target species, such as lynx. The state plans to phase in use of cable restraints in the general trapping program. Maine will also open the state to use of larger traps than previously allowed.

Background
The Canada lynx is a wild cat of northern latitudes and snowy climes. It weighs between 14 and 31 pounds, has large, furred paws, long, black ear tufts, and a short, black-tipped tail. In the lower 48 states, it is found only in a few areas, including Washington state, the northern Rockies and Minnesota. In the Northeast the only breeding population of lynx is in northern Maine, where several hundred live. The lynx was listed as a threatened species under the federal Endangered Species Act in 2000. Because of the threat of Maine’s coyote-snaring program to the lynx, the state and the federal Fish and Wildlife Service commenced negotiations on an incidental-take permit in 2002. A lawsuit brought by wildlife groups against the state’s trapping program a few years later led to an interim plan for lynx protection, until the Fish and Wildlife Service approved Maine’s permit application for the “incidental take” of lynx under the trapping program.

Wildlife groups reject the near-exclusive reliance on trapper self-reporting as the means by which the state and the federal government monitor lynx take. Lynx activists say more active law enforcement, including unannounced inspections of trapper operations, as well as lynx exclusion devices on all killing traps, padded or offset trap jaws, and a ban on the use of chain drags and wire snares, are needed to ensure that the fewest lynx possible are hurt or killed in traps. In addition, wildlife advocates say the trapping plan should hold the state to a higher standard of proof than trapper self-reporting that lynx are not injured by trapping. A previous study of radio-collared lynx in Maine showed that after being caught by trappers, only three of six lynx survived a month.

The Center for Biological Diversity is a national, nonprofit conservation organization with more than 800,000 members and online activists dedicated to the protection of endangered species and wild places.

New Report IDs 350,000 Square Miles of Additional Habitat for Wolves in Lower 48, Including Grand Canyon Area Where Wolf Recently Spotted   2 comments

From: Center for Biological Diversity

Obama Administration Prematurely Abandoning Recovery, Despite Ample Room for
Wolves in Southern Rockies, West Coast, Northeast

SAN FRANCISCO— A first-of-its-kind analysis by the Center for Biological Diversity identifies 359,000 square miles of additional habitat for gray wolves in 19 of the lower 48 states that could significantly boost the nation’s 40-year wolf recovery efforts. The study indicates the gray wolf population could be doubled to around 10,000 by expanding recovery into areas researchers have identified as excellent habitat in the Northeast, West Coast and southern Rocky Mountains, as well as the Grand Canyon, an area where a radio-collared wolf was photographed in recent weeks.

Gray wolf habitat map
Map by Curt Bradley, Center for Biological Diversity. This map and wolf photos are available for media use.

The report comes as the Obama administration moves to strip Endangered Species Act protection from gray wolves by the end of the year, even though wolves have been recovered in less than 10 percent of their historic habitat and are routinely trekking hundreds of miles to disperse to areas of the American landscape they once called home.

“This wolf’s pioneering journey to Arizona, like the wolf OR-7’s remarkable trek across Oregon to California, highlights the compelling on-the-ground reality made clear in this new report,” said Amaroq Weiss, the Center’s West Coast wolf organizer. “The Obama administration must finally acknowledge that the job of recovering wolves to sustainable populations is far from done.”

Today’s report, Making Room for Wolf Recovery: The Case for Maintaining Endangered Species Act Protections for America’s Wolves, analyzes 27 published research papers identifying suitable wolf habitat. It shows that the current wolf population of 5,400 could be nearly doubled if federal protections were retained and recovery efforts began to restore wolves to some of the places they once called home.

The report documents 56 instances over 30 years where wolves have dispersed from existing core recovery areas to states where they have yet to reestablish, including Colorado, Utah, California, New York, Massachusetts and Maine. These events, which frequently have ended in the dispersing wolves being shot, highlight the need for continued federal protections and recovery planning to increase the odds for dispersing wolves to survive and recolonize former terrain. The most famous dispersing wolf, OR-7, traveled hundreds of miles from northeast Oregon to California and has started a family along the border of the two states.

The report’s findings come as federal wildlife officials are working to verify the genetic identity of the radio-collared wolf photographed near Grand Canyon National Park — a discovery that suggests the wolf is likely a northern Rockies gray wolf who traveled hundreds of miles to historic wolf habitat where wolves were exterminated more than 50 years ago.

“What we’re seeing is that the amazing journeys of OR-7 and the wolf spotted in Arizona are far from oddities — they’re reflections of very natural dispersal patterns in recent years, where wolves have travelled hundreds of miles trying to expand to enough of their historic range to survive ongoing threats,” Weiss said. “But without the protection of the Endangered Species Act, we know that these wolves will too often face the same kind of hostility that nearly drove them extinct a century ago.”

Since endangered species protections were taken away from wolves in 2011 in the northern Rockies and western Great Lakes, the states have enacted aggressive hunting and trapping seasons designed to drastically reduce populations. To date more than 2,800 wolves have been killed, resulting in a 9 percent population decline in the northern Rockies and a 25 percent decline in Minnesota. Idaho passed legislation this year creating a “wolf control board,” with the sole purpose of killing wolves, and appropriated $400,000 for the task. Removal of protection in the rest of the country will ensure that anti-wolf prejudices prevail and wolf recovery is stopped in its tracks.

“State management of wolves has turned an Endangered Species Act success story into a tragedy,” said Weiss. “Rather than sound science, gray wolf management by the states has been dominated by anti-wolf hysteria and special-interest politics. Wolves need federal protection so they can survive, continue to recover, and eventually reprise their historic wilderness role at the top of the food chain.”

The report details the serious problems with state management and the important part wolves play in ecosystems; it can be read and downloaded here.

Background
Large members of the canid family, gray wolves are habitat generalists able to live nearly anywhere other than extreme desert or tropical environments, but which require human tolerance for survival. Living in family packs that typically range from five to 10 animals, wolves are highly social animals, with all pack members involved in rearing of young and in hunting forays for their prey (predominantly large wild ungulates such as elk, deer, moose and caribou). At around the age of two to three years, wolves tend to disperse from their family packs to seek mates and territories of their own.

Gray wolves were once the most widely ranging land mammals on the planet, with an estimated 2 million distributed throughout North America at the time of European colonization. As settlers moved west, they cleared the land for their grain and livestock, wiping out first the wolves’ wild prey and then the wolves themselves. Government-sponsored predator-eradication campaigns conducted on behalf of the livestock industry exterminated wolves everywhere in the lower 48 states, with the exception of a remnant population of fewer than 1,000 wolves in far northeastern Minnesota.

Wolves were first federally protected in 1967, under a precursor to the Endangered Species Act. This allowed Minnesota’s wolf population to expand in number and range into neighboring Wisconsin and parts of Michigan. In the mid-1990s, wolves were reintroduced to Yellowstone National Park and central Idaho; their descendants have slowly dispersed into parts of Washington and Oregon, with one wolf making it to California. In the late 1990s, the most highly endangered subspecies of gray wolf, the Mexican gray wolf, was reintroduced to Arizona.

In 2011 Congress stripped wolves of federal protections in the northern Rockies and adjacent areas, and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service did the same for wolves in the Western Great Lakes region. Under state management, in less than three years, wolf populations in these states have demonstrated substantial declines, with nearly 3,000 wolves killed in state-sanctioned hunting and trapping seasons.

In June 2013 the Obama administration proposed stripping federal protections from wolves across most of the lower 48 states. Despite receipt of more than 1.5 million public comments opposed to delisting wolves and critical comments from scientists and a peer review panel, the administration is expected to issue an official rule removing protection from wolves before the end of the year.

The Center for Biological Diversity is a national, nonprofit conservation organization with more than 800,000 members and online activists dedicated to the protection of endangered species and wild places.

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