<![CDATA[Washingtonians for Wildlife Conservation - News]]>Tue, 05 Sep 2017 05:12:17 -0700Weebly<![CDATA[2015 Washington State Pronghorn Antelope Survey]]>Fri, 03 Jul 2015 22:08:32 GMThttp://w4wc.org/news/2015-washington-state-pronghorn-antelope-survey2015 Washington State Pronghorn Antelope Survey In late February, 2015, an effort was made to do to a scientific count of Pronghorn in Washington State.  Ninety nine Pronghorn were reintroduced into Washington in early 2011, with 19 of those animals radio collared and all being ear tagged.  

Tracking and studies were conducted by the Yakama Nation until the radio collars ceased transmitting, making it extremely difficult to find and count groups of Pronghorn, especially after they dispersed off of wintering grounds during spring green-up.   The health of the herd became subject to wild speculation with little proof as to how they were actually doing.  It became apparent that a survey needed to be conducted to establish a new baseline of Pronghorn numbers.  

An unprecedented cooperative effort was undertaken between WDFW, the Yakama Nation, and state Safari Club chapters to conduct such a survey.  The survey consisted of both aerial and ground components that encompassed parts of three Counties and the Yakama Reservation.    

 Unseasonably warm weather and early animal dispersal was a challenge, however, a successful survey was conducted and the official report, jointly written by WDFW and Yakama Nation, will be posted in the near future on WDFW and Yakama Nation websites.  Publishing the entire eight page report is beyond the scope of this newsletter, so below is a quick summary of the survey results, with quotation marks annotating those statements taken directly from the report.  

Please note that of the six individual SCI members mentioned by name in the survey report, four of those individuals are WWC Board members; Joe Greenhaw, Harris Emmons, Greg McClure, and Doug Barrett.  Additionally, Mike Price, from Northwest Chapter SCI, was inadvertently omitted from the report, but was present and formed part of the ground survey team.  

The report shows that Pronghorns have increased moderately in number.  “During our aerial survey we detected 15 pronghorn groups for a total of 106 pronghorns; 49 were seen on the Yakama reservation and 57 were seen off the reservation. “  Pre-survey scouting had consistently shown at least 3 groups that could not be located again on the dates of the survey, but were known by all parties to be present, so a few of those known animals were included in the final count while a few were not.  “Combining the ground observations with those from the aerial surveys, we obtained a minimum population estimate of 132 pronghorns.”  We know that we did not see all of the pronghorn that are out there, and if some additional known animals had been included in the final count, we could probably safely say there are 146+ animals, although the official new baseline is 132.  

It should be noted that 22 coyotes were spotted during the survey, and coyotes are known, “… effective predators of pronghorn adults…and fawns.”  Part of the conclusion of the joint report states that, “…this recovery remains fragile.” It concludes that human-induced mortality must remain low, that predation by coyotes is an important factor, and that, “…the population will require at least a few more years of continued growth before recreational harvest should be considered.” 

Again, please read the full report, as it is very detailed as to history, methodology, references, and conclusion.  This historic reintroduction and subsequent cooperative survey shows what can happen when agencies and organizations come together and work for common goals, and it shows the continuing involvement and monitoring by your WWC and its membership.

Submitted by; Douglas H. Barrett, WWC BOD      

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<![CDATA[Ranchers, wildlife groups denounce lawsuit against USDA Wildlife Services]]>Tue, 10 Mar 2015 07:53:24 GMThttp://w4wc.org/news/ranchers-wildlife-groups-denounce-lawsuit-against-usda-wildlifeservicesStevens County Cattlemen's Association
Posted on March 10, 2015 by stevenscountycattlemen
March 9, 2015
A recent announcement by five radical environmental groups that they are suing USDA Wildlife Services regarding wolf removal in Washington is gaining strong condemnation from agriculture groups and wildlife conservationists who argue the suit is frivolous and hampers responsible management of wolves.

The Stevens County Cattlemen’s Association, the Inland Northwest Wildlife Council, Cattle Producers of Washington, Spokane County Cattlemen and Washington Residents Against Wolves said the lawsuit that challenges USDA Wildlife Services’ authority to kill wolves in Washington is dismissive of the real challenges of a growing wolf population.

“The organizations behind this suit are taking a clear and public stance that they do not care about the cost to ranch families, rural communities or prey populations like deer, elk and moose that suffer when wolf populations are not kept in check,” said Stevens County Cattlemen’s Association President Justin Hedrick. “It’s easy to sit in your cubicle somewhere and criticize the on-the-ground challenges when it isn’t your family or your livelihood at risk.”

The lawsuit against USDA Wildlife Services was filed on March 3 by Cascadia Wildlands, The Lands Council, Kettle Range Conservation Group, Predator Defense and WildEarth Guardians.

The groups assert that although the USDA has already completed an Environmental Assessment(EA) on the impact of removing wolves in Washington, their lawsuit claims that there is not enough data in the EA to support wolf removal and calls the agency “reckless” for removing a problem wolf in the Huckleberry pack in the summer of 2014. The groups also take issue with USDA Wildlife Services advising the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife on the removal of the Wedge pack in 2012.

“It is ironic that these groups are taking issue with removing problem wolves after the ranches involved had already exhausted non-lethal methods and allowed state and agency personnel to intervene on their private property,” said Hedrick. “These ranches did all they could to try to stop the killing of their animals but once wolves started after livestock, there was no way to stop it. There was no other option but lethal removal.”

A press release from the environmental groups regarding their lawsuit against USDA also claims that wolves in Washington are “far from recovered.”

Washington Residents Against Wolves Spokesman Luke Hedquist takes exception to the claim and notes that wolves are well established not only in Washington, but in neighboring states and throughout North America.

“There are over 65,000 wolves in North America, 670 wolves in Idaho, 650 wolves in Montana and over 300 wolves in Wyoming. Wolves have been removed from the Endangered Species List in all three of these states and the states allow for hunting just to try and keep the wolf populations in check,” Hedquist said. “In Washington, we are experiencing a high concentration of wolves in Eastern Washington that are creating dangerous situations for livestock owners, pet owners and hunters with likely more than 100 wolves in the area. By saying that USDA should not be able to remove wolves, these groups are advocating that public safety, other wildlife species, communities and economies should not be taken into consideration when managing wolves. This suit is essentially calling for non-management.”

The Inland Northwest Wildlife Council (INWC), a sportsman’s group with over 500 members and families, said it is seriously concerned about how the lawsuit seeks to run a strictly pro-wolf agenda without taking into consideration the complexity of the issue.

“When you sue to remove a tool from the toolbox, in this case the ability for USDA Wildlife Services to aid in removal of problem wolves by tying it up with red tape, it means these litigants are not considering the impact of an unchecked wolf population,” said INWC President Leonard Wolf. “Hunters and recreationalists in other states know that part of wolf management is sometimes wolf removal. Ignoring that fact means you will have severe declines in prey population as they experienced in Yellowstone when the number of Elk dropped from 19,000 to under 4,000 due to wolf depredations.”

“We need good, responsible management of wolves in Washington that considers all the available options so we don’t create situations that harm communities or wildlife,” Wolf added.

<![CDATA[Agents kill Lolo wolves to boost elk survival]]>Tue, 10 Mar 2015 07:49:00 GMThttp://w4wc.org/news/agents-kill-lolo-wolves-to-boost-elksurvivalSpokesman.com
March 9, 2015
Agents kill Lolo wolves to boost elk survival
From staff reports
The Lolo elk population has dropped from 16,000 elk in 1989 to roughly 2,100 elk in 2010, and possibly fewer than 1,000 this year. State studies indicate that wolves have become the primary predator affecting calf and cow elk survival in the Lolo.
<![CDATA[Survey shows Washington wolf numbers grew by 30% in 2014]]>Tue, 10 Mar 2015 07:44:38 GMThttp://w4wc.org/news/survey-shows-washington-wolf-numbers-grew-by-30-in-2014WASHINGTON DEPARTMENT OF FISH AND WILDLIFE
600 Capitol Way North, Olympia, WA 98501-109
March 06, 2015
Contact: WDFW Wildlife Program, (360) 902-2515

Survey shows Washington wolf numbers grew by 30% in 2014

OLYMPIA - Washington state's wolf population grew by more than 30 percent and formed four new packs last year, according to an annual survey conducted by the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW).

The survey shows the presence of at least 68 gray wolves in the state through Dec. 31, 2014, up from a minimum of 52 wolves counted in 2013. It also documents 16 wolf packs and at least five successful breeding pairs last year.

Donny Martorello, WDFW carnivore specialist, said the latest findings point to continued growth in the state's wolf population under the state's recovery plan.

"While we can't count every wolf in the state, the formation of four new packs is clear evidence that wolves are recovering in Washington," he said. "Since 2011, the number of confirmed wolf packs has more than tripled in our state."

Gray wolves, all but eliminated from western states in the last century, are now recovering under legal protections in several states. Wolves are protected under Washington law throughout the state and under federal law in the western two-thirds of the state.

Martorello said WDFW conducted the survey by using a combination of aerial surveys, remote cameras, wolf tracks, and signals from seven wolves fitted with radio-collars.

The four new packs - Goodman Meadows, Profanity Peak, Tucannon, and Whitestone - were discovered east of the Cascades, where all of the state's other wolf packs are located. The state's Wolf Conservation and Management Plan defines a pack as two or more wolves traveling together in winter.

Martorello said the number of packs would have been even higher if not for the loss of the Ruby Creek pack last spring. One of its two members was struck and killed by a vehicle. The other was accepted for care by Wolf Haven International in Tenino after it was found living among domestic dogs in a small town in Pend Oreille County.

At least nine other wolves also died in 2014. Three were killed by poachers, three died of natural causes, two died of unknown causes, and a breeding female was killed last summer during an effort by WDFW to stop members of the Huckleberry pack from preying on a rancher's sheep in Stevens County.

Attacks on sheep by the Huckleberry pack also pushed the number of livestock killed by wolves to a new record. Martorello said the pack accounted for 33 of the 35 sheep killed or injured by wolves and documented by WDFW in 2014. The department, which recognizes that actual losses were higher than verified to date, also documented four cows and a dog that were attacked by wolves from other packs last year.

Jim Unsworth, WDFW's new director, said wolf recovery in Washington is progressing much as it did in Idaho, where he spent much of his career in wildlife management before taking his new position in February.

"I've been involved in wolf management for more than a decade, and the issues are much the same from state to state," Unsworth said. "Conflicts with livestock are bound to rise as the state's wolf population increases, and we have to do everything we can to manage that situation. So far, wolf predation on livestock has been well below levels experienced in most other states with wolves."

Stephanie Simek, WDFW wildlife conflict manager, said WDFW continues to emphasize the importance of preventive actions in minimizing wolf attacks on livestock. She said WDFW is:

  • Expanding partnerships with ranchers to avoid conflicts with wolves. The department has stationed wildlife conflict specialists in communities where wolves are recovering to work with individual producers.
  • Expanding its "range rider" program, where ranchers can turn for help if they need assistance guarding their livestock. Range riders have been used by several producers, and the state program will provide an increased human presence in grazing areas.
  • Informing livestock owners of the availability of a new carcass pit in Ferry County where they can dispose of dead livestock and other attractants.
  • Continuing to offer cost-sharing agreements for ranchers who seek help in funding preventive measures to protect their animals.
Martorello said the scarcity of snow made it more difficult to track wolves late last year, complicating the 2014 survey. As a result, the survey likely underestimates the number of wolves, packs, and breeding pairs, he said.

Martorello noted that the number of confirmed successful breeding pairs in the annual wolf survey has remained the same for the past three years, despite a significant increase in the number of individual wolves. Since 2012, WDFW has documented a total of five breeding pairs between the Eastern Washington and North Cascades recovery regions.

"Given the continued growth of the state's wolf population, there's a good chance that we have breeding pairs east of the Cascade Range we haven't found yet," he said.

No wolf packs or breeding pairs have yet been documented in the South Cascades/Northwest Coast recovery region.

Under the state's Wolf Conservation and Management Plan, wolves can be removed from the state's endangered species list once 15 successful breeding pairs are documented for three consecutive years among the three designated wolf-recovery regions.

WDFW's wolf survey for 2014 will be available on the department's website at http://wdfw.wa.gov/conservation/gray_wolf/ by April 3.

<![CDATA[Game and Fish increases pronghorn population with killings of coyotes]]>Tue, 10 Mar 2015 07:40:32 GMThttp://w4wc.org/news/game-and-fish-increases-pronghorn-population-with-killings-of-coyotesFebruary 22, 2015 6:00 am
 DOUGLAS KREUTZ Arizona Daily Star
“Pronghorns are in decline — well below our target objectives across the state” for the species, sometimes referred to as antelope, said Jim deVos, assistant director of wildlife management with Game and Fish. “Fawn production is below what is needed.

“We do use predator removal in a very targeted, surgical fashion to help bolster fawn production and get the population back to a desired state,” deVos said

Opponents of coyote-killing programs sometimes maintain that wildlife agencies should let nature take its course without interfering.

“That’s conceptually an interesting idea, and it worked well before Arizona had close to 7 million people,” deVos said. “But it’s absolutely impractical in practice” in a state with a growing population where maintaining an ecological balance is challenging.

<![CDATA[B.C. wolf cull will likely last 5 years, assistant deputy minister says]]>Tue, 10 Mar 2015 07:34:57 GMThttp://w4wc.org/news/bc-wolf-cull-will-likely-last-5-years-assistant-deputy-minister-saysBy Chris Brown
CBC News 
Posted: Feb 11, 2015 6:23 AM PT Last Updated: Feb 11, 2015 10:20 PM PT

The point man for British Columbia's effort to save endangered mountain caribou says a controversial wolf cull will likely be necessary for the next five years.

Assistant deputy minister Tom Ethier told CBC News the 180 wolves being shot from helicopter in the South Peace and South Selkirk regions this winter are just the beginning.

"We've been pretty clear this is a five-year project," Ethier said. "We're going to be doing this for the next five years. At the end of those five years, we're going to do that analysis as to whether this effort was worth it."

<![CDATA[Federal Appellate Court Rules EPA Cannot Regulate Content of Ammunition; Dismisses Anti-hunting Groups’ Lawsuit Seeking to Ban Traditional Ammunition]]>Wed, 24 Dec 2014 01:12:57 GMThttp://w4wc.org/news/federal-appellate-court-rulesepa-cannot-regulate-content-of-ammunition-dismisses-anti-hunting-groups-lawsuitseeking-to-ban-traditional-ammunitionNational Shooting Sports Foundation
December 23, 2014

NEWTOWN, Conn. — The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia today upheld the dismissal of the latest lawsuit brought by anti-hunting groups petitioning the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to issue regulations banning traditional ammunition with lead components. The refusal by the EPA to consider the petition was challenged by the anti-hunting petitioners in federal court in 2013.
<![CDATA[Two Articles Regarding:  "How Wolves Change Rivers" Video]]>Sat, 20 Dec 2014 01:41:59 GMThttp://w4wc.org/news/two-articles-regarding-how-wolves-change-rivers-video
Jackson Hole News & Guide
Wolf-driven trophic cascade is overblown
Willow study casts doubt on theory about effects of reintroduction.

WEDNESDAY, MAY 14, 2014 4:30 AM
By Mike Koshmrl
Meanwhile some mainstream media are continuing to propagate the popular theory of a wolf-driven trophic cascade in Yellowstone wetlands. One recent example is a four-minute YouTube video, “How Wolves Change Rivers,” that went viral and generated more than 4 million views.

Its British narrator and creator, George Monbiot, is essentially telling lies, Hobbs said.

“It is true that wolves eat coyotes,” he said, “and just about every other statement in that video is false.

Is the Wolf a Real American Hero?
When we tell the wolf story, we get the Yellowstone story wrong.
Perhaps the greatest risk of this story is a loss of credibility for the scientists and environmental groups who tell it.
<![CDATA[REMINDER: HUNTER REPORTS DUE JaNUARY 31st]]>Thu, 18 Dec 2014 08:16:10 GMThttp://w4wc.org/news/reminder-hunter-reports-due-january-31stWashington Department of Fish & Wildlife
Hunter Reports

All hunters are required to submit a hunter report for each big game or turkey transport tag and special hunting permit acquired for the previous hunting season by January 31. Hunters who do not report by January 31 are subject to a $10 penalty...

<![CDATA[Believe It: Killing Wolves Works ]]>Tue, 16 Dec 2014 22:37:56 GMThttp://w4wc.org/news/believe-it-killing-wolves-worksPinedale Online! 
by Cat Urbigkit, Pinedale Online! 
December 6, 2014
There is much ado about a paper published this week, with headlines such as "Killing wolves to protect livestock doesn't work in the long run" and "Kill this wolf and more sheep will die." (The paper is linked below.)