Archive for the ‘Northern Rocky Mountains’ Tag

State of Wyoming and feds appeal wolf decision   Leave a comment

From:  The Billings Gazette

Wolf protections

The state of Wyoming is appealing the reinstatement of federal wolf protections.

CHEYENNE, Wyo. — Wyoming and U.S. government officials have filed separate notices that they will appeal a ruling by a federal judge that reinstated protections for wolves in the state.

The notices filed this week target the decision in September by U.S. District Judge Amy Berman Jackson of Washington, D.C., who rejected a Wyoming wolf management plan that took effect in 2012.

The state plan had classified wolves in most of the state as predators that could be shot on sight.

Jackson agreed with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service that wolves in the Northern Rockies have recovered. However, she ruled that the federal agency should not have accepted Wyoming’s nonbinding promise to maintain at least 100 wolves and 10 breeding pairs outside of Yellowstone National Park and the Wind River Indian Reservation.

The Fish and Wildlife Service reintroduced wolves in the Northern Rockies in the 1990s. The animals have since expanded their range.

Despite the plan to appeal, Wyoming Gov. Matt Mead said Thursday he believes that congressional action holds the best chance for resolving the long-running dispute over manage wolves in the state.

Congress previously specified that there could be no legal challenges to decisions to end federal protection for wolves in Idaho and Montana.

Many Wyoming residents believe the wolf population in the state should be restrained to minimize the killing of livestock and other wildlife by the animals.

Wyoming has been involved in nearly continuous litigation against environmental groups and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service over the state’s effort to gain control of wolf management.

“To state it as simply as possible, we’re trying to cover all bases,” Mead said of the state’s notice that it will appeal Jackson’s ruling.

Mead said his administration is working with the state’s congressional delegation on legislation to turn over wolf management to Wyoming and prohibit further legal challenges.

Under the plan rejected by Jackson, Wyoming had divided the state into two general zones. Trophy hunting was allowed in a flexible area bordering Yellowstone, where the number of wolves killed was controlled by license sales. Wolves were left unprotected as predators in the rest of the state.

Trophy hunting is not allowed under federal management.

Mead previously said the state had almost 190 wolves and 15 breeding pairs after the first hunting season in 2012 and just under 200 wolves and 15 breeding pairs after last year’s hunt.

Jackson’s ruling derailed the state plan to allow hunters to kill a maximum total of 43 wolves starting in October.

Tim Preso, a lawyer with Earthjustice in Montana, represented a coalition of groups that sued to overturn Wyoming’s wolf plan. He said his clients are prepared to assert that the appeals court should uphold Jackson’s ruling.

Preso said it appears Wyoming’s best chance at restoring state wolf management would be to fix the flaws in its management plan rather than challenge the judge’s ruling.

Preso said the confirmation of a female gray wolf from the Northern Rockies near the Grand Canyon shows that wolves have the ability to find places to live if humans don’t kill them.

“The big issue that we had with Wyoming’s plan was it provided too many opportunities for people to kill wolves with little to nothing in the way of limits on that in most of the state,” Preso said. “In the rest of the state there were a lot of things that really weren’t nailed down by way of conservation promises.”

 

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Female wolf travels hundreds of miles to northern Arizona   1 comment

From:  Deseret News

By Felicia Fonseca, Associated Press

Published: Friday, Nov. 21 2014 7:49 p.m. MST

Updated: Friday, Nov. 21 2014 7:49 p.m. MST

Wildlife officials have confirmed the first gray wolf in northern Arizona in more than 70 years.

FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. — A female gray wolf from the Northern Rockies traveled hundreds of miles into northern Arizona, marking the species’ first appearance in the region in more than 70 years and the farthest journey south, wildlife officials confirmed Friday.

A wolf-like animal had been spotted roaming the North Rim of the Grand Canyon and the adjacent national forest since last month. Biologists collected its scat and sent it to a University of Idaho laboratory for testing, verifying what environmentalists had suspected based on its appearance and a radio collar around its neck.

“The corroboration is really good to get,” said Michael Robinson of the Center for Biological Diversity.

Biologists don’t know the wolf’s age or from where it traveled. The radio collar wasn’t transmitting a signal, and cold weather forced biologists to suspended efforts to capture the animal and replace the collar.

The Idaho lab might be able to glean more details about the wolf from its DNA, but U.S. Fish and Wildlife spokesman Jeff Humphrey said that could take several weeks or months.

“We’ll let this wolf be a wolf where it’s at, and if it decides it’s going to move back north, it can do that,” he said. “Or if somebody joins her, then that’s nature taking its course.”

Wolves often roam vast distances in search of food and mates. But the farther they go, the less likely they are to find a mate, said Ed Bangs, who led recovery efforts for wolves in the Northern Rockies over two decades before retiring from the Fish and Wildlife Service in 2011.

“It’s looking for love,” he said. “It leaves the core population and doesn’t know the love of its life is going to be right over the next hill, so it just keeps traveling.”

About 25 percent of the roughly 1,700 wolves from the Northern Rockies are being tracked, wildlife officials said. They are distinguished from the Mexican gray wolves found in the Southwest by their more full bodies and less pointed ears.

Mike Jimenez with the Fish and Wildlife Service in Wyoming said Northern Rockies gray wolves are hard-wired to disperse and have traveled hundreds of miles. One young female started off in Montana and traveled 3,000 miles over six months, making stops in Wyoming, Idaho, Utah and Colorado before it died, he said. Colorado had been the farthest journey south for the animals until the female was confirmed in Arizona, he said.

Wolves from another major population in the western Great Lakes have likewise been found far from home.

Wolves largely were exterminated early last century across the lower 48 states, except in the western Great Lakes area. The Northern Rockies population was restored after 66 gray wolves from Canada were relocated to central Idaho and Yellowstone National Park in Wyoming in the mid-1990s.

They’ve been absent from the Grand Canyon region since the 1940s.

The Fish and Wildlife Service in recent years lifted federal protections for the animals in the western Great Lakes and the Northern Rockies. A federal judge recently ordered the protections re-instated in Wyoming after wildlife advocates sued.

Environmentalists are pressing for continued protection of gray wolves. Meanwhile, they celebrated the news of the one in northern Arizona.

“I wonder if she has any sense of the celebrity she has achieved,” said Drew Kerr of WildEarth Guardians.

Associated Press writer Matthew Brown in Billings, Montana, contributed to this report.

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