Rigging the Game in Nevada

Note: The following is excerpted from “Mule Deer Working Group Supports Feeding Deer to Predators Instead of Restoring Healthy Herds”, the lead article in The Outdoorsman, Bulletin Number 42, Jan-Feb 2011. The entire issue is [here]. Back issues are available at Idaho For Wildlife [here].

By George Dovel

In December of 2010, Nevada’s Board of Wildlife Commissioners decided Nevada Department of Wildlife (NDOW) biologists must take the necessary biological steps to restore and maintain mule deer populations as a condition of continued employment. See Outdoorsman No. 41 Pages 10-11 [here] for details.

Like their counterparts in other western states, NDOW wildlife managers have ignored science and state law in order to implement the radical 1991 “Wildlands” agenda adopted by the United Nations in 1992, and promoted by assorted national and international interests. Their goal of “Re-wildling” North America – by replacing rural humans with protected large carnivores and “native” plants in a vast system of “Core Areas” and “Wildlife Corridors” – is already being implemented.

NDOW Director Refused to Obey Commission

As happened earlier in Idaho and in other western states, when a majority of Nevada Wildlife Commissioners directed NDOW to implement predator control in depleted mule deer herds during the past two years, the Director and his biologists refused to do it. Early in 2010 USDA Wildlife Services control agents explained they could not control predators when the state agency that normally gave them direction refused to agree to it.

In November of 2010, after repeatedly refusing to follow Commission direction to control mountain lions and coyotes in selected areas where they were decimating mule deer herds, NDOW Director Ken Mayor was fired by outgoing Gov. Jim Gibbons. But once Nevada’s new Governor, Brian Sandoval [RINO, Mafia Party] was sworn in, he re-hired Mayer as Acting Director and made no secret of his intention not to reappoint Commissioners whose terms expire in June.

Those Commissioners have already solicited applicants for the Director position and are providing Sandoval with three names from which the law says he may hire one. But if Mayer is not one of the three, Sandoval is expected to re-hire him after the Commission terms expire.

With Acting Director Mayer influencing the new governor and his legal counsel, the Commission lost the opportunity to acquire additional funding that was needed to restore a healthy predator-prey balance in areas where mule deer exist in a predator pit.

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19 Dec 2010, 10:22am
Bears Cougars Wildlife Agencies Wolves
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Depredations of Livestock Up 450 to 1,000 Percent in Montana

by MT St. Sen. Greg Hinkle, Clark Fork Chronicle, December 19 2010 [here]

A few weeks ago I was talking with Hot Springs area rancher Kim Baker, President of Montana Cattlemen’s Association, about depredation of livestock. Since we have seen an increase in wolf depredation in Montana I was wondering if there was a relationship with other predator livestock losses. Kim told me she would see if those figures were available from predator control specialists. I wanted to compare the preceding years with current statistics. Kim went to John Steuber, State Director/Supervisory Wildlife Biologist (USDA-APHIS-Wildlife Services) to have a look at those figures. I have received those figures for 2006 and 2010. What I see is more than alarming and it is a side of the wolf issue that has not been adequately addressed.

Mr.Steuber stated in an email, “The attachment shows all verified and report predator damage for the years 2006 and 2010. I’m stunned at the increase in depredations from 2006 to 2010.” “Remember that this includes damage that was reported to us as well as damage we verified. I’m guessing that one of the reasons other predator damage went up is because we were forced to spend more and more time trying to deal with the exploding wolf population and the damage wolves do. Wolves have made it almost impossible to do much preventative work on coyotes, that is work to prevent livestock depredations before they occur. We are just not able to get up on summer range ahead of the cattle and sheep anymore since we are so busy with wolf work. During this same time period we did not get any additional money from the Federal government or from the state (Fish, Wildlife and Parks). We are losing the battle. I am appalled that the number of livestock killed by predators has increased so dramatically.”

To give you an idea of the problem, here are a few comparisons. In 2006 coyotes killed 111 calves and 698 lambs, in 2010 (to date) there have been 1,348 calves and 2,488 lambs killed. This is about a 474% increase in four years! There has been a tenfold increase with the same type livestock killed by grizzly bears. Black bears are responsible for a 150% increase in the same time period. I also have the figures for lion, and fox kills. These show dramatic increases as well. As the wolf continues to decimate game animals the other predators will be forced to seek other food sources such as livestock and pets. The problem is going get much worse if the wolf population is not controlled soon.

On top of that are the funding problems Wildlife Services are experiencing. Resources have been diverted to mitigate wolf depredation. This has resulted in less aircraft control of coyotes and less time on the ground by control specialists. In this year alone, collections paid by stock growers amounted to $251,660 and expenditures are estimated to be $528,250. Per-capita fees, 100% paid by livestock producers, are used for predator control and it should be noted that predator control is the only benefit some ranchers may get for the taxes they pay.

I find it unconscionable that they are experiencing a dramatic increase in livestock losses and a decrease in the protection they pay for. To put it another way, the per-capita paid has increased while the predator control has decreased. The control of coyotes by aircraft is in jeopardy which will further compound the losses to Montana’s livestock industry.

Our elected leaders are slow to resolve the issue. I have been convinced for years that the wolf introduction/protection will prove to be a ecological disaster that will take decades to recover from, if ever. Montana’s ranchers and sportsmen deserve better and the wolf should be treated like the vermin it is.

RM Grey Wolves Genetically Connected

In July, 2008, U.S. District Judge Donald Molloy enjoined the delisting of grey wolves in the Northern Rockies (thus placing them back on the Endangered Species list) [here, more].

Molloy based his ruling on a faulty understanding of genetics in wolf populations. A quote (with emphasis added):

Plaintiffs argue (1) even though the environmental impact statement on wolf reintroduction specifically conditions the delisting decision on a Finding of Subpopulation Genetic Exchange, the Fish & Wildlife Service delisted the wolf when there is no plausible showing of that genetic exchange between the Greater Yellowstone core recovery area and the northwestern Montana and central Idaho core recovery areas. …

As recently as 2002, the Service determined genetic exchange between wolves in the Greater Yellowstone, northwestern Montana, and central Idaho core recovery areas was necessary to maintain a viable northern Rocky Mountain wolf population in the face of environmental variability and stochastic events. The Fish & Wildlife Service nevertheless delisted the wolf without any evidence of genetic exchange between wolves in the Greater Yellowstone core recovery area and the other two core recovery areas.

Now wolf experts from the US Fish and Wildlife Service, Yellowstone National Park, the Nez Perce Tribe, and UCLA have published a study showing that Rocky Mountain wolves are fully genetically connected — due to their (the wolves) propensity, as members of the Dog Family, for having multiple relations with whatever all the time (or words to that effect). The study is behind a pay wall [here]:

VONHOLDT, B. M., STAHLER, D. R., BANGS, E. E., SMITH, D. W., JIMENEZ, M. D., MACK, C. M., NIEMEYER, C. C., POLLINGER, J. P. and WAYNE, R. K. (2010), A novel assessment of population structure and gene flow in grey wolf populations of the Northern Rocky Mountains of the United States. Molecular Ecology, 19: 4412–4427. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-294X.2010.04769.x

Abstract The successful re-introduction of grey wolves to the western United States is an impressive accomplishment for conservation science. However, the degree to which subpopulations are genetically structured and connected, along with the preservation of genetic variation, is an important concern for the continued viability of the metapopulation. We analysed DNA samples from 555 Northern Rocky Mountain wolves from the three recovery areas (Greater Yellowstone Area, Montana, and Idaho), including all 66 re-introduced founders, for variation in 26 microsatellite loci over the initial 10-year recovery period (1995–2004). The population maintained high levels of variation (HO = 0.64–0.72; allelic diversity k = 7.0–10.3) with low levels of inbreeding (FIS < 0.03) and throughout this period, the population expanded rapidly (n1995 = 101; n2004 = 846). Individual-based Bayesian analyses revealed significant population genetic structure and identified three subpopulations coinciding with designated recovery areas. Population assignment and migrant detection were difficult because of the presence of related founders among different recovery areas and required a novel approach to determine genetically effective migration and admixture. However, by combining assignment tests, private alleles, sibship reconstruction, and field observations, we detected genetically effective dispersal among the three recovery areas. Successful conservation of Northern Rocky Mountain wolves will rely on management decisions that promote natural dispersal dynamics and minimize anthropogenic factors that reduce genetic connectivity.

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8 Sep 2010, 2:42pm
Bears Cougars Homo sapiens Wolves
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How to Confirm a Suspicion

By Jim Beers

There is a growing suspicion by rural residents that “pro-wolf” advocates are releasing wolves to supplement and extend the presence and future growth of wolf packs in the Lower 48 states. One wolf was killed in Ohio recently, a small pack was killed in Indiana, and a wolf was photographed by a trail camera in Illinois.

Where wolves now occur in the Upper Rockies, the Southwest, and in the Southeast; they have been forcibly introduced and militarily protected by federal bureaucrats utilizing federal laws and regulations that they drafted for politicians concerned with their reelection. This has resulted in:

- A spectacular loss of State Sovereignty over everything from resident wildlife, hunting programs, ranching, and rural economies to federal bureaucrats.

- Loss of big game populations like elk, moose and deer to wolves.

- Loss of livestock from cattle and sheep to llamas and pigs to wolves.

- Losses of pet dogs, watchdogs, working dogs, sporting dogs, and trailing dogs to wolves.

- Complete reorientation of rural lifestyles from how children go to and from school, what activities children can engage in outdoors, and where small children must be watched, to what disease potentials are from wandering wolves and how to keep any dogs safe from wolves.

- While it is still denied that wolves kill people; Russian records, American historical records, and recent killings by wolves in Saskatchewan and Alaska expose that lie. Wolves have killed numerous people worldwide for eons and at certain times in astonishingly large numbers.

- Diseases carried by wolves are both deadly and debilitating to humans, livestock, pets, and wildlife; yet no veterinarians or wildlife biologists will even comment on the dangers for fear of being exposed as either a coward or “politically correct” whenever one or more of the deadly diseases and infections are shown to have been or being spread by wolves.

Therefore, it is neither surprising nor improper for rural residents to be concerned that wolves are being spread surreptitiously in the Lower 48 states.

Wolves are NOT ENDANGERED in any sense of the word. They are “Listed” as “Endangered” and/or “Threatened” under the Endangered Species Act only to assuage animal rights and environmental radicals’ agendas and to make federal rule over all remaining wildlife under state authority subject to federal rules and regulations.

So, for all you rural residents worried about whether these radicals are releasing wolves in your neighborhood, there is a simple remedy. In those states where wolves do not currently occur (this is where the radicals will dump them) your state still has authority over resident (as opposed Migratory wildlife like certain birds named in treaties and species claimed as “Endangered” by federal officials and their “Cooperator/Partners” like The Defenders of Wildlife and Center for Biological Diversity et al) wildlife.

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Sage-Grouse and Predator Prey Relations

After years of hue and cry, and being carpet-bombed with lawsuits, last March the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service placed the greater sage-grouse on the candidate species list [here]. That didn’t halt the lawsuits, however [here, here].

The gist of the argle-bargle is that sage-grouse are in decline because their habitat is diminishing [here].

Nothing could be further from the truth. Sage-grouse population changes are governed by predator-prey relations, not habitat.

Sage-grouse do not eat sagebrush. They eat insects and seeds. They feed their chicks caterpillars. The insects and caterpillars that make up their diet also do not eat sagebrush. Principally, sage-grouse prey eat grass.

Sage-grouse can survive and even flourish where there is no sagebrush at all.

Sage-grouse, in turn, are prey to ravens, coyotes, cougars, eagles, hawks and other predators higher up the food chain. Sagebrush does not protect sage-grouse from their predators.

We reported these wildlife biology facts a year ago [here].

In a remarkable about-face, researchers have determined that sage grouse are NOT limited by “loss of habitat.” It turns out that sage grouse populations are governed by PREDATOR-PREY RELATIONS, just like all other animals. …

Idaho State University researchers found that ravens and badgers eat grouse eggs [here], but not ground squirrels. The clever scientists set up webcams near grouse nests and WATCHED as wild predators gobbled pre-hatched chicks. …

Real science, which is mainly concerned with reality, presents strong evidence that PREDATOR-PREY RELATIONS have everything to do with population dynamics, and that “loss of habitat” is a pile of bird crap.

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On Predator-Prey Relations

We have recently posted two engaging “popular” articles by Dr. Charles E. Kay concerning predator-prey relations (or relationships or interactions).

Dr. Kay (of Utah State University) is one of our premier wildlife ecologists and is the author/editor of Wilderness and Political Ecology: Aboriginal Influences and the Original State of Nature [here], author of Are Lightning Fires Unnatural? A Comparison of Aboriginal and Lightning Ignition Rates in the United States [here], co-author of Native American influences on the development of forest ecosystems [here], and numerous other scientific papers.

In Wolf Predation: More Bad News [here], Dr Kay discusses apparent or predator meditated competition, using wolves, moose, caribou, and deer as examples.

Predator meditated competition is a tricky concept. Most people are aware that predators can reduce a prey population, and that the predator population can then fall due to a lack of prey. As the predators decline, the prey population rebounds. Then the predator population rebounds, and the cycle begins anew.

But this model of predator-prey relations is overly simplified. In the real world, predators often have alternative choices besides one type of prey. If the alternative prey is sufficiently numerous, the predator populations do not always decline so much. The primary prey is thus still subject to predation, and it can be driven to extinction.

In effect, the various prey populations are in competition with each other, not for food but for predator avoidance.

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11 Aug 2009, 10:33am
Cougars Wildlife Agencies bighorn sheep
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Mountain Lions Extirpating Bighorn Sheep in AZ

Critical bighorn sheep population continues to struggle

Press Release, Arizona Game and Fish Department, Aug. 5, 2009 [here]

Feds seek comment on draft EA; proposed action will allow needed management

PHOENIX - They are as much an icon of the Southwest as Wyatt Earp, yet the desert bighorn sheep, known for their head-to-head crashing battles and ability to defy gravity by clinging to rocky cliffs, have experienced staggering population declines on the Kofa National Wildlife Refuge.

Continued monitoring of the public’s bighorn sheep population on the Kofa NWR has state and federal wildlife agencies concerned for the future of this historic herd, whose population crashed from an estimated high of 812 animals in 2000 to a record low of less than 400 in just six years.

Why is this population of sheep so important?

“A driving force behind the original establishment of the Refuge was the protection of desert bighorn sheep (Ovis canadensis mexicana), and significant management emphasis remains on maintaining the bighorn sheep population,” as stated in a U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service letter dated Aug. 4, 2009, in reference to the 1939 Executive Order (#8039) that established the Kofa.

The Kofa NWR sheep population has played a critical role in reversing the decline of desert bighorn sheep for more than 50 years. The herd is a historic source population for re-establishing, supplementing, or expanding other sheep populations across the Southwest, in many cases bringing back this incredible species to places where they were extirpated.

“A wide range of outdoor enthusiasts-wildlife watchers, hikers, hunters, photographers, tourists-are able to enjoy the desert bighorn sheep in many parts of the state and the Southwest,” said Pat Barber, the Yuma regional supervisor for the Arizona Game and Fish Department. “Those experiences are made possible by 50 plus years of collaborative translocation efforts by wildlife agencies, landowners and hunter/conservation organizations.”

Some of the more popular destinations that have received sheep from the Kofa herd in the past are the Superstition Mountains, Aravaipa Canyon Wilderness, the Galiuro Mountains, and the San Andres National Wildlife Refuge in New Mexico. There are a number of areas in Arizona that are slated to receive bighorn sheep translocations, including the Pusch Ridge Wilderness, the Mineral Mountains, Big Horn Mountains, Buckeye Hills, and others.

Unfortunately, translocations using sheep from the Kofa were discontinued in 2005. Translocations using animals from the Kofa herd will not resume until the population approaches the long-term population level of 600-800 sheep. The department’s sheep translocation efforts from other source populations continue, but at a reduced rate without the once highly productive Kofa herd as a source.

“A key factor to the herd’s future is managing for the best success in reproduction. Desert bighorn sheep have low birth and survival rates, and any additive mortality to females and their lambs quickly affects the herd’s ability to increase,” said John Hervert, Wildlife Program Manager.

What’s the urgency?

Although managers are working to address several issues that might limit sheep recovery, such as water availability, disease and human disturbance, predation is a growing concern.

Past surveys indicated that, historically, mountain lions were virtually non-existent or only transient guests around the Kofa region. However, in recent years, a number of lions have become frequent users on and around the Kofa, which is having a greater predation effect on the bighorn sheep population during a time when they are already struggling.

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23 Feb 2009, 1:21pm
Cougars Deer, Elk, Bison
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Mountain Lion Control in Nevada

The following appeared in the SF Chronicle Sunday:

by Tom Stienstra, San Francisco Chronicle, February 22, 2023 [here]

Mountain lions vs. deer: In Nevada, deer populations have plummeted from 240,000 to 108,000 in the past 10 years. Scientists attribute the decline largely to mountain lion predation. So Ken Mayer, former big game coordinator in California and now the director of Nevada Department of Wildlife, has ordered a major program to shoot mountain lions.

The intent is not to eliminate predators, Mayer said, but rather to reduce them so deer herds can rebuild. He said the program will be based on wildlife science and the predator-prey relationship.

Some people think that the relationship between mountain lions and deer is self-governing. So when the deer are about wiped out, the mountain lion population then naturally goes down to form a “balance” and the deer herd will bounce back.

That is not what happens. When there are few deer left to eat, the mountain lions then wander into the backyards of homes and ranches and eat whatever they can catch, then return afield to clip off the fawns. Their favorite food other than deer appears to be house cats, but they’ll take dogs, sheep, llamas, calves and about anything else when hungry enough, including people occasionally.

Many wildlife experts believe we need Mayer back in California to do the same thing here. In the past 50 years, the population of deer in California has dropped from an estimated high of 2 million to fewer than 450,000, because of mountain lion predation and habitat loss in the Sierra foothills.

The SF Chron story is a little bit disingenuous. There has been no ban on killing mountain lions in Nevada. The change made by NDOW was to “fulfill the objective harvest.”

The objective harvest has been 349 mountain lions per year. That’s the number of lions that NDOW biologists think necessary to remove to sustain deer populations. However, over the last six years only an average of 160 lions per year were killed. As a result, the lion population has surged and the deer population has crashed.

NDOW Director Ken Mayer would like to see the objective harvest achieved; that is, to make sure that 350 or so lions per year are removed.

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24 Oct 2008, 10:40am
Cougars Deer, Elk, Bison Homo sapiens Wolves
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Beware of “Natural” Wildlife Management

by Dr. Valerius Geist, posted by Tom Remington at the excellent Black Bear Blog, February 24, 2023 [here]

Dr. Valerius Geist, Professor Emeritus of Environmental Science at the University of Calgary in Alberta, is a renowned expert in wildlife management and conservation practices. In addition to teaching, writing about, and lecturing on the subjects, Dr. Geist has performed years of in-the-field research on big game species. He has authored 16 books, seven documentary films and contributed 40 entries to various encyclopedias.

The management of reintroduced wolves is not merely a matter of wildlife management but a clash of deeply held values. It could be called a rural versus urban clash in which some ecologically based philosophies, if one can call them such, are fostered on the country at large by urban based nature “protectors.”

They proclaim two myths as self evident or as scientific “truths” to the general public: that predators in general and wolves in particular are an “ecological good” no matter how many; and that “wilderness” is the “natural” pre-Columbian state of North America, then presided over by noble natives who selflessly maintained its ecological integrity which ecologically insensitive Europeans subsequently destroyed. In addition, they operate on the assumption that wildlife is a free gift of Nature, a gift of God, and not a resource painfully restored by human hand over the last 80 years in North America.

The wildlife we currently enjoy is not wildlife that was left over from the past, but wildlife restored by a continental system of wildlife conservation that arose after its near destruction a century ago. It is one of the great cultural achievements of North Americans in the 20th Century, the greatest environmental success story of that century, and a highly successful system of sustained development of a natural resource.

Since wildlife was financed on a “user pays” basis, the restoration fell on the fraction of North Americans who hunt. The rest of society got a free ride in their enjoyment of wildlife as an important component of the high quality of life we enjoy.

Few North Americans are aware of the excellence of the wildlife conservation system developed here by the dedicated public-spirited efforts of three generations of their ancestors. Unfortunately, this ignorance extends to professional wildlife biologists as well. Americans are, after all, not keen on history, following Henry Ford in considering it more or less bunk.

I cannot go into great detail here concerning why predators in low abundance are a benefit to wildlife populations, but are also capable of severely depleting such with unfortunate and unexpected consequences. It’s analogous to sugar: a little in the coffee is great but ingested by the pound it becomes a significant health hazard.

Put another way, if someone proclaimed that deer, as predators of plants, eat only the sick and decrepit plants, sparing the vigorous growing ones in order to insure the health and well being of the range, that individual would not be taken too seriously. Moreover wolves, as Siberian immigrants unlike mountain lions or coyotes, are not expected to be co-adapted with North American species and can be incredibly efficient in removing other species.

For instance, wolves that entered Vancouver Island in the early 1970s are spread across the island now. The deer kill by hunters has plummeted from about 25,000 to less than 4,000 today. Deer are found in reasonable abundance only where they live in suburbs and cities juxtaposed to human beings.

Blacktailed and mule deer are notoriously susceptible to pack hunting wolves. It is ironic that wildlife biologists who reported the severe depletion of deer by wolves on Vancouver Island were not considered quite professional by some academic biologists. Ingrained beliefs can be hard to challenge, no matter what the facts.

Now to the wilderness as an argument for letting nature (and wolves) run its course, unimpeded by interfering human hands. The argument is that wolves must be introduced in a hands-off fashion so as to restore aboriginal pre-Columbian wilderness ecosystems.

Current research indicates that pre-Columbian North America was a well settled, quite severely exploited land, with native people practicing highly skilled horticulture. The latter is a development to escape starvation brought on by food shortages in native ecosystems.

Instead of maintaining wilderness, native people manipulated the land to make it yield sustenance, no different from people on other continents. When European diseases devastated native tribes rapidly in the 16’ Century, thus lifting the heavy hand of red man off the land, “wilderness” was the result.

Far from being the natural state of the land, wilderness is an artifact of European colonization. The ecology of North America was not “natural” in pre-Columbian days. Not only because of agriculture and skillful landscape manipulation by fire, but also because native people had all but destroyed the mega fauna in colonizing the continent.

The lesson from this is that we need not be slaves to some pre-Columbian fiction but may do just as pre-Columbian natives did - generate our own land use and conservation practices in which the maintenance of bio-diversity is the only bottom line requirement. Yes it is quite all right to have areas with minimum predation to raise bountiful wildlife for broad public use.

Not less management as wilderness proponents proclaim, but more management is the more desirable state of affairs.

To let predation go unchecked, “letting it be management,” is bound to diminish much more than the game herds that were built up from next to nothing over the past 80 years. It risks our public system of wildlife conservation and the great Public Good that flows from it.

As game herds drop so do license sales and revenue to game departments. The public guardians of wildlife have less and less wherewithal to do their job, and ultimately have no job.

Despite all the controversies about public wildlife management, it is on the whole infinitely superior to private management of wildlife for the marketplace. Superior in conservation achievements and far superior in economic returns or as a creator of wealth or employment.

There is little doubt that with the loss of significant public participation in the harvest of wildlife, most public land will lose its political clientèle and, as sure as the sun will rise, will slide into defacto private ownership. There will be little wolf conservation under private condition, or cougars, grizzly bears, etc.

Letting predators run down game herds will indirectly weaken the framework of wildlife conservation. Together with other opponents of public wildlife such as game farming and the anti-hunting and animal rights movements, this may succeed in destroying the greatest environmental success of the past century - the return of American wildlife.

It would be replaced by a mixture of European, South African and shooting preserve type wildlife management - if one can call it such.

Note: Tom Remington’s Black Bear Blog [here] features the latest news, events, and politics effecting the sports of hunting, fishing, and all outdoor activities in North America.

21 Jun 2008, 6:35pm
Cougars
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Mountain Lion Kills, Eats NM Man

Searchers find body of missing man

Eyewitness News 4, 06/20/2008 [here]

State police have found the body of a missing Grant County man and say he was eaten by a mountain lion.

Robert Nawojski was reported missing Thursday by his brother. Friday, authorities found a mountain lion eating his remains near a Piños Altos Cemetary.

At this time, Game and Fish is tracking the animal, but they do not know if the mountain lion actually killed Nawojski.

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Mountain lion sought after man’s body found

The Associated Press, 06/20/2008

PINOS ALTOS, N.M.—Searchers on Friday were looking for a mountain lion that is believed to have fed on the body of a 55-year-old man who’d been reported missing earlier in the week.
The lion was wounded by a game officer Thursday night, and searchers with dogs were looking for it near this mountainous southwestern New Mexico town, state police Lt. Rick Anglada said.
Authorities don’t know if the lion is responsible for the death of Robert Nowojski, whose body was found Friday morning about 80 yards from his home, Anglada said.

“It’s going to take an autopsy to actually determine how he died,” he said.
However, it appeared something had been feeding on the body, and authorities believe it was the lion, Anglada said.

Searchers called the state Game and Fish Department Thursday night after encountering a mountain lion while searching for Nowojski, whose brother reported him missing earlier that day. The brother said he had last been seen on Tuesday, Anglada said.

A game officer who spotted the lion shot and wounded it, said Anglada and Dan Williams, a spokesman for Game and Fish. State police, the game department and federal Wildlife Services, augmented by trappers and hunting dogs, were still searching for the wounded animal Friday afternoon around the rural community, Williams said.

“We’re out there working real hard to find that lion,” he said.

It’s rare for a mountain lion to kill a human. The last reported human killing by a lion in New Mexico was in 1974, when a lion killed an 8-year-old boy near Arroyo Seco.

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30 Mar 2008, 12:06am
Cougars
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Sea Lettuce Bugs WA State Legislature

or Legislators sea kelp (seek help) but cat (cougar) gets their tongues

By WA State Rep. Joel Kretz, 7th District

You’ll all be glad to know the people of Puget Sound will be able to sleep a little easier tonight. The state legislature has given them the right to protect themselves from dreaded attacks by, uh, Sea Lettuce.

For those of you who hadn’t heard, Sea Lettuce is a native species that has become more abundant around the Sound in recent years. The problem is that it grows profusely then dies off, leaving a stinking mess that threatens the health, safety and welfare of the residents in those waterfront mansions.

I can tell you, the legislators from the areas hardest hit by this invasion showed up with blood in their eyes and murder in their hearts.

Sea Lettuce has got to die, they said, and we don’t care how.

Now, these are the same urban legislators who told rural residents overrun with cougars that we had to “learn to live with cougars,” to somehow peacefully co-exist.

I was shocked at this knee-jerk reaction. These people have a little trouble with Sea Lettuce and they immediately want to kill it?

I felt compelled to offer other solutions, something along the lines of how they wanted us to deal with cougars.

Couldn’t we explore non-lethal means of dealing with wayward Sea Lettuce?

Couldn’t we trap the Sea Lettuce and relocate it? No, they said, it would just cause problems elsewhere.

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25 Mar 2008, 7:22pm
Cougars Deer, Elk, Bison Wolves
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OneCreek On Wolves and Cougars

The Idaho Statesman ran dueling reader’s opinion pieces about wolves this week. One was by Suzanne Asha Stone of Boise, the wolf conservation specialist for Defenders of Wildlife:

Forty years ago, there were no known wolf packs in the northern Rockies because people had driven them to near extinction in the region. Today, 1,500 wolves roam across Montana, Wyoming and Idaho. Returning wolves to the wild has been a remarkable wildlife achievement, but this is a story whose next chapters are just now being written. The question is: Will this story have a happy ending? … [more]

The other was written by Nate Helm, executive director of Idaho’s chapter of Sportsmen for Fish and Wildlife.

Yes, it is time - time to remove the population of wolves living in Idaho from the endangered species list. Sportsmen in Idaho and across the West support the Department of Interior’s (DOI) recent proposal to delist wolves in Idaho, Montana and Wyoming.

Wolves in Idaho are currently managed under the Endangered Species Act (ESA). In the case of wolves, the constitutional right given to all states, including Idaho, to manage her wildlife has been superseded by the ESA. The traditional managers of wildlife in Idaho - the citizens of the state, the Idaho Fish and Game Commission, and the Idaho Department of Fish and Game - have had little say. … [more]

Both opinion pieces drew a rash of comments. Most are typical Internet drivel, but one comment stood out head and shoulders above the rest. It was submitted by OneCreek, a pseudonym no doubt. I don’t have any idea who One Creek is, but his comment was so superb that I am posting in its entirety. Please enjoy, and hopefully learn:

Heck - This should have been a “Letter to the Editor”…

I am going to tread dangerously here, and make an assumption that most, if not all of the previous commentary has been penned by those who live and work in cities. Therefore, thoughts and commentary on the subject outside of that which reflects on certain legal perspectives is mostly little more than “abstract”, rather than objective.

I live and work in the North Fork Ranger District of the Salmon-Challis National Forest. Not only do I live in said District, but my property is totally surrounded by the National Forest. Residing here year-around since the year the wolves were established in the area, 1995, perhaps my observations should be of some consideration regarding this debate.

Living here as I do, observation of the natural world around me is secondhand practice. I see things that the casual visitor does not, and for that matter, even the dedicated hunter or the naturalist. By the time their observational talents begin to truly and measurably improve, they must leave for more civilized environs. Conversely, this grand landscape is my constant companion.

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16 Mar 2008, 11:43am
Cougars
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Cougar Control, or Who Is Merrill Lynching?

Last Thursday the Olympian Online reported [here] that Washington Governor Christine Gregoire signed a bill expanding the use of dogs in cougar hunts. The Senate passed the bill by a 31-18 vote earlier this month. The measure adds three years to a program that allows people to hunt cougars with dogs. The existing program has been operating since 2004, and it includes five counties in northeast Washington. The new bill allows all counties to participate.

The Democrat-controlled Senate and Democrat Governor passed and signed the bill despite Initiative 655 of 1996 whereby the practice was banned.

The Washington Dept. of Fish and Wildlife reports that there are 2,500 cougars in Washington and the population is growing in leaps and bounds (the actual number may be as much as 4,000 according to some sources). From the WDFW website [here].

[M]ore cougar attacks have been reported in the western United States and Canada over the past 20 years than in the previous 80. In Washington, one fatal cougar attack was recorded in 1924. Since then 12 non-fatal attacks have been recorded, 11 of them since 1992. …

Washington populations have more than doubled since the early 1980’s. Our increasing cougar and human populations and decreasing habitat creates new management challenges. The WDFW is responding to over 500 complaints a year regarding urban sightings, attacks on livestock and pets, and cougar/human confrontations.

The problem is serious enough to warrant action, at least in the judgment of the Washington State government.
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