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June 2009

June 30, 2009

To clarify Mike Crapo's press release.....

Here is a press release that came out from the office of Mike Crapo, the senator from Idaho, regarding a reimbursement program for livestock depredations by wolves.  In it he states that since the delisting Defenders has stopped their reimbursement program in Idaho, which is not entirely accurate.  For those of you who who have been following the Northern Rockies wolves situation we just wanted to clarify that while the lawsuit is still on going Defenders is in fact still continuing the reimbursement program.

June 25, 2009

The Wood River Wolf Project: Year Two

Carter Niemeyer, Rick Williamson ad members of the field team discuss the use of telemetry

Carter Niemeyer, Rick Williamson ad members of the field team discuss the use of telemetry

It is grazing season in central Idaho, and the sheep and cattle are being turned out onto the public lands. Many sheep bands, with ewes and lambs, are either being trucked, or trailed into the Big Wood River Valley. It is situated in the Sawtooth National Recreation Area, this 756,000 acres was set aside by Congress in 1972 "... in order to assure the preservation and protection of the natural, scenic, historic, pastoral, and fish and wildlife values and to provide for the enhancement of the recreational values associated therewith..." In this magnificent part of Idaho over 12,000 sheep will pass through this valley during the summer, which is also home to wolves, bears and coyotes. Defenders of Wildlife, Idaho Fish and Game, US Forest Service, Wildlife Services and the local sheep producers are working together on a project that will use a number of different tools and techniques to try and keep the wolves out of the sheep bands that graze in this area.

This is the second year of the Big Wood River Valley Project, one of the most ambitious ones we have been involved in. This project illustrates the evolution from smaller projects that focus on just one or two producers, to more inclusive projects that work over a much larger area and includes all the producers potentially affected by the local wolf packs. Last year there were at least two wolf packs in the area, and one of them had been involved in previous depredations. With the help of a team of field technicians who used an array of non-lethal wolf deterrents, such as telemetry, turbo-fladry, RAG boxes, and air-horns, we managed to reduce the losses from last year by a significant amount. All the local state and federal agencies were involved with this project, and four of the biggest sheep producers in Idaho were all impressed enough by the project that they signed on again for this year.

Randy & Roger, members of the field team, learn to set up turbofladry

Randy & Roger, members of the field team, learn to set up turbofladry

This year we hope to reproduce the success of the project, and we will be working hard to try and deter the local wolves from getting close to the sheep this season. Last Friday we held the training day for the field team, the sheep producers and the herders. Rick Williamson from the Wildlife Services, and Carter Niemeyer the former Wolf Recovery Coordinator for the US Fish and Wildlife Service helped run the training. We practiced using the telemetry equipment that will help us locate the wolves and give us an idea of how close to the sheep they might be. We also practiced setting up RAG boxes and fladry, two non-lethal wolf deterrents that I have talked about earlier in this blog. These tools would be used if we know that there are wolves close at hand, or if we are near a wolf den or rendezvous site. We also issued the field technicians with a few noise makers such as air horns so they will be able to scare the wolves off if they get to close to the livestock. These technicians will work from early evening through to morning, as this is the time that wolves are most active. As the herders set up camp, and the sheep start to bed down, the technicians will turn on their telemetry equipment and start their night’s work scanning for wolves.

The technicians will work closely with the herders and producers to determine what are the best tools to use in these situations, and they will also advise the herders if they think that wolves are in the area. Any project like this depends on good communication between all organizations involved, and after a successful training day like the one we had, hopes are high going into the second year of this project. Already there has been media interest in this project, and the spotlight will be on us, and the wolves throughout the season.

Check out more photos on Flickr >>

June 09, 2009

Update on lawsuit status....

Seems funny in a terrible kind of way that with the wolf delisitng last month that two groups on opposite ends of the debate would both sue the federal government.  But that is just what is happening as both Defenders of Wildlife, as well as many other conservation groups,  and the state of Wyoming have brought lawsuits against the federal government.  We, of course, want them back on the list and Wyoming wants to not be excluded from the delisting.  Oh, and Gov. Butch Otter still wants the first license in Idaho.

June 02, 2009

Keeping Wolves Alive: Lawsuit last hope for long-term wolf recovery in Northern Rockies

Suit filed as a last resort

WASHINGTON – Today, Defenders of Wildlife and 12 other conservation groups filed a lawsuit asking the courts to reverse the ill-timed and unwarranted removal of Endangered Species Act protections for wolves in the Northern Rockies. The lawsuit is a last resort, and only comes after exhausting all other reasonable options.

Regrettably, Interior Secretary Ken Salazar failed to fully consider both scientific and legal inadequacies underlying the Bush administration’s delisting rule before adopting it on April 2, 2009.  The Bush administration delisting rule adopted by Salazar essentially allows over two-thirds of the region’s wolves to be killed before the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service would even consider stepping back in and restoring protections.

The following is a statement by Suzanne Stone, Northern Rockies representative for Defenders of Wildlife:

“After working more than 20 years to restore wolves here, it’s a thrill to see the wolf population finally on the threshold of recovery with more than 1600 wolves in the region.  However, we cannot ignore that this delisting plan fails to protect their future and would allow states like Idaho, which has demanded that all wolves be removed ‘by any means necessary,’ to decimate the population to less than a few hundred wolves. We need a delisting plan that allows the wolf population to thrive while addressing the needs and concerns of our regional residents.  

“We had hoped to avoid the need for litigation, but Secretary Salazar’s decision to go forward with the Bush administration’s delisting plan, which allows states to reduce wolf numbers from 1650 (not including pups), to a mere 450 region wide, left us no choice.

“We are going to court in order to ensure that wolves are fully recovered and treated as key components of the Northern Rockies ecosystem – not as token isolated subpopulations maintained at the most minimum levels in national parks and wilderness areas.

“We had expected at this point to be celebrating the recovery of the gray wolf in the Northern Rockies. Instead, after decades of recovery efforts, tremendous support and investment from the American public, impressive efforts by federal and state wildlife agencies, and one of the most successful wildlife restorations in history, the future of the gray wolf in the Rocky Mountains is once again in jeopardy.

“We look forward to one day seeing wolves fully recovered and under state management, but both the delisting plan and the state plans currently in place are not adequate to ensure the long-term recovery of wolves.

“Sadly, rather than committing to ensuring the long-term recovery of wolves, Secretary Salazar, like his predecessor in the Bush administration, has forced us again to the courts to reverse a delisting rule that puts us right back where we started – with a wolf population that cannot survive without federal protection.”

Learn more about Defenders' work to ensure the recovery of wolves in the Northern Rockies.

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Defenders of Wildlife is represented in this litigation by Earthjustice, along with plaintiffs Natural Resources Defense Council, Sierra Club, Center for Biological Diversity, The Humane Society of the United States, Jackson Hole Conservation Alliance, Friends of the Clearwater, Alliance for the Wild Rockies, Oregon Wild, Cascadia Wildlands Project, Western Watersheds Project, Wildlands Project, and Hells Canyon Preservation Council.


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