4 Dec 2008, 1:12am
Latest Wildlife News
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Study: wolves danger to elk herds

By Ralph Bartholdt, St Maries Gazette Record, December 2, 2023 [here]

Wolves are the main reason for shrinking elk herds in an Idaho study area, according to Fish and Game.

The department estimates that the number of cow elk in the Lolo Hunting Zone is being reduced by 13 percent annually because of wolf predation.

State wildlife biologist George Pauley said in an AP article that 87 percent of the elk in the Lolo Hunting Zone need to survive each year to maintain a healthy population there. Now, an estimated 75 percent of the elk survive each year.

“When you are down in the 70s or low 80s, that is not good,’’ Mr. Pauley said. “We are not going to maintain a population. It will decline under those conditions.’’

In 1996 state game managers asked that federal trappers be allowed to kill more than 40 wolves in the region. The request was denied. Now they want hunters to take care of the predators.

“I just think it’s generally more acceptable with folks to manage populations through hunting than any other way,’’ Fish and Game Deputy Director Jim Unsworth told the Lewiston Tribune.

Fish and Game is monitoring efforts to delist wolves under the Endangered Species Act, he said.

Public comments are being taken this week on a U.S. Fish and Wildlife Services plan to end federal protections for wolves in the Northern Rockies.

The wolves were reintroduced into Yellowstone National Park and central Idaho in the early 1990s and an estimated 1,500 wolves live in the Northern Rockies region, including 700 to 800 in Idaho.

Fish and Wildlife wants to have a new plan in place by the end of the year.

If the wolves are delisted, Idaho Fish and Game will once again push to allow hunting of wolves in the Lolo Hunting Zone to prevent further reductions in the cow elk population, said Mr. Unsworth.

“That is certainly our preferred option,’’ he said.

If the effort to delist the wolves is delayed, Fish and Game will consider other options under federal management rules for wolves, he said.

3 Dec 2008, 11:44am
Latest Fire News
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Fires above Sun Valley create avalanche danger

The Associated Press, 11/29/08 [here]

KETCHUM, Idaho — Wildfires that charred thousands of acres near this central Idaho ski resort in 2007 continue to create headaches for avalanche forecasters wary of snow slides on areas burned clear of sagebrush and other vegetation.

The Castle Rock Fire of 2007 forced the evacuation of more than 2,000 homes and burned to within 50 yards of a $12 million Sun Valley ski lodge atop Bald Mountain.

Despite recent restoration work that’s included putting down mulch and seeding areas with native grasses and shrubs, the scorched areas remain prime avalanche country, said Janet Kellam, the head of Ketchum’s three-person Sawtooth National Forest Avalanche Center.

Of particular concern are burns just outside Sun Valley’s main ski resort on Bald Mountain, where newly brush-free slopes could lure unsuspecting skiers and boarders to duck under ropes and into harm’s way.

“I am concerned about out-of-bounds Baldy,” Kellam told the Idaho Mountain Express. “Very much so.”

Last January, an unusual series of avalanches here hit residential areas and closed a road for six days. The slides were caused by storms that combined rapid snowfall and fierce winds, a common recipe for high avalanche danger. Several homes suffered extensive damage as snow swept over them. … [more]

1 Dec 2008, 12:18pm
Latest Wildlife News
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Idaho game agency says wolves hitting cow elk hard in Lolo Zone

by the Missoulian Online, 11/28/2008, [here]

LEWISTON, Idaho - Biologists with the state Department of Fish and Game say wolves are the primary cause of death among a shrinking population of cow elk in northern Idaho.

The agency estimates cow elk in a remote area designated as the Lolo Hunting Zone have dwindled by as much as 13 percent each year. A recent study of radio-collared cow elk indicates that for the most part, wolves are to blame, Fish and Game says.

State wildlife managers unsuccessfully requested permission in 1996 to allow federal trappers to kill more than 40 wolves in the region and now they want to allow hunters to take care of the predators.

“I just think it’s generally more acceptable with folks to manage populations through hunting than any other way,” Fish and Game Deputy Director Jim Unsworth told the Lewiston Tribune.

Idaho Fish and Game managers are monitoring efforts to delist wolves as federally protected animals under the Endangered Species Act, Unsworth said.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is taking public comments this week on its plan to end federal protections for wolves in the Northern Rockies, the latest move in a lengthy debate over management of the animals.

The wolves were reintroduced into Yellowstone National Park and central Idaho in the mid-1990s and there are an estimated 1,500 wolves living in the Northern Rockies region, with about 700 to 800 in Idaho.

The Fish and Wildlife Service wants to have a new plan in place by the end of the year.

If the wolves are delisted, Unsworth said Fish and Game managers in Idaho will pursue permission to allow hunting of the animals in the Lolo Hunting Zone and prevent additional thinning of the cow elk population.

“That is certainly our preferred option,” Unsworth said.

If the effort to delist the wolves from the Endangered Species Act is delayed, or tied up in court battles, Unsworth said Fish and Game will consider other options under federal management rules for wolves.

State wildlife biologist George Pauley said 87 percent of the elk in the Lolo Hunting Zone need to survive each year to maintain a healthy population there. Now, an estimated 75 percent of the elk survive each year.

“When you are down in the 70s or low 80s, that is not good,” Pauley said. “We are not going to maintain a population. It will decline under those conditions.”

 
  
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