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  • 01 Jun 2011
    By PERRY BACKUS - Ravalli Republic Photo courtesy of Mahar family Geoff Mahar poses with the mountain lion he shot in his front yard Saturday evening after it attacked a goose. The mountain lion killed a sheep on the Mahar property earlier that day. After an eventful day, Geoff and Karen Mahar were sitting down to a late dinner Saturday evening when their prayers were answered. That morning, the couple had discovered that one of their sheep had been killed by a mountain lion at their home northwest of Hamilton. Geoff followed a 50-foot-long blood trail from his backyard pasture to find the sheep's carcass buried under some leaves and sticks. "It was a real obvious lion kill," Geoff said. "It had teeth marks on the back of its neck and rake marks down its sides. The front shoulder had been eaten away." Local Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks biologist Lou Royce gave Mahar permission to shoot the mountain lion. A friend showed up with his hounds, but they weren't able to find the predator. Later, a U.S. Wildlife Services trapper set some traps around the carcass. Geoff spent the rest of the day working on a new shed. The day was nearly over when the couple sat down for their evening meal at about 8:30. "I remembered that I hadn't asked the blessing," Geoff said. "I prayed: Lord, it would be a small thing in your sight if we could get this lion thing finished." About 10 minutes later, the couple heard a ruckus coming from in front of their home. When they looked out the window, they saw a mountain lion race up the driveway and leap over the fence to pounce on their goose, just 10 yards from their front door. "Karen was immediately outside yelling at the lion," Geoff said. "I told her to get back in the house, and I grabbed my gun. All of this was happening in a flash." Geoff shot the lion in his front yard. This wasn't the first time that a mountain lion has killed domestic animals in the area, but Geoff said it did seem odd that it didn't show any fear when his wife started yelling at it. "It didn't shock me at all to have a sheep killed, but it was disconcerting that the lion wasn't at all afraid of us," Geoff said. Royce said it was unusual for the mountain lion to return so quickly to the Mahar home. "Typically, you would see them return at night," Royce said. "Having it come back so soon and kill a goose, it was probably a good thing that Geoff had a chance to get it before it could kill anymore." "I think it probably would have kept getting in trouble," Royce said. With the late winter and cold spring, Royce said people who live in the wildland/urban interface should be aware that predators may stick around in the lower elevations a little longer than normal this year. "Bears are just now starting to come out in force," Royce said. "They didn't have a great summer last year to put on weight, and now they're facing this long, cold spring. "They're hungry and there's not a lot of feed up high yet. People really just need to get rid of attractants. Those birdfeeders and cat and dog food on the porch attract bears." In some cases, people are going to find that bears aren't going to be afraid of them while feasting on food that's been left outside." "It's not the bear's fault," Royce said. "They're just hungry and they want to get some calories. It's not their fault that it's right up against people's homes." Royce also cautions homeowners against using attractants like salt or grain to bring in deer. "Many times, when we have a problem with predators, we'll find that someone in the neighborhood has been feeding deer," Royce said. "I've seen 30 deer in a front yard of someone's home. I understand that people like to see wildlife, but they often don't realize that it also brings in predators." Mahar's place was not the problem, Royce said. "He has livestock, but he keeps it cleaned up," Royce said. "There are not a bunch of turkeys or deer eating the leftover grain that his livestock wasted, but I'd put money on a bet that within a mile of his home there is someone feeding wildlife." Geoff is happy that he doesn't have to worry about the mountain lion anymore, especially since there are young children residing nearby. The mountain lion was estimated to be about 3 years old and weighed somewhere between 100 and 130 pounds. "It couldn't have worked out better for us, although my wife was pretty upset to lose her goose," Geoff said. "It was 2 years old. It was a mean old thing, but you still hate to see your animals killed like that. It didn't have a chance." The lion was a powerful animal. "The wether was big," Geoff said. "I couldn't drag that wether 5 yards. The lion had no problem dragging it 50 feet." Reach reporter Perry Backus at 363-3300 or pbackus@ravallirepublic.com.  
    1454 Posted by Chris Avena
  • By PERRY BACKUS - Ravalli Republic Photo courtesy of Mahar family Geoff Mahar poses with the mountain lion he shot in his front yard Saturday evening after it attacked a goose. The mountain lion killed a sheep on the Mahar property earlier that day. After an eventful day, Geoff and Karen Mahar were sitting down to a late dinner Saturday evening when their prayers were answered. That morning, the couple had discovered that one of their sheep had been killed by a mountain lion at their home northwest of Hamilton. Geoff followed a 50-foot-long blood trail from his backyard pasture to find the sheep's carcass buried under some leaves and sticks. "It was a real obvious lion kill," Geoff said. "It had teeth marks on the back of its neck and rake marks down its sides. The front shoulder had been eaten away." Local Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks biologist Lou Royce gave Mahar permission to shoot the mountain lion. A friend showed up with his hounds, but they weren't able to find the predator. Later, a U.S. Wildlife Services trapper set some traps around the carcass. Geoff spent the rest of the day working on a new shed. The day was nearly over when the couple sat down for their evening meal at about 8:30. "I remembered that I hadn't asked the blessing," Geoff said. "I prayed: Lord, it would be a small thing in your sight if we could get this lion thing finished." About 10 minutes later, the couple heard a ruckus coming from in front of their home. When they looked out the window, they saw a mountain lion race up the driveway and leap over the fence to pounce on their goose, just 10 yards from their front door. "Karen was immediately outside yelling at the lion," Geoff said. "I told her to get back in the house, and I grabbed my gun. All of this was happening in a flash." Geoff shot the lion in his front yard. This wasn't the first time that a mountain lion has killed domestic animals in the area, but Geoff said it did seem odd that it didn't show any fear when his wife started yelling at it. "It didn't shock me at all to have a sheep killed, but it was disconcerting that the lion wasn't at all afraid of us," Geoff said. Royce said it was unusual for the mountain lion to return so quickly to the Mahar home. "Typically, you would see them return at night," Royce said. "Having it come back so soon and kill a goose, it was probably a good thing that Geoff had a chance to get it before it could kill anymore." "I think it probably would have kept getting in trouble," Royce said. With the late winter and cold spring, Royce said people who live in the wildland/urban interface should be aware that predators may stick around in the lower elevations a little longer than normal this year. "Bears are just now starting to come out in force," Royce said. "They didn't have a great summer last year to put on weight, and now they're facing this long, cold spring. "They're hungry and there's not a lot of feed up high yet. People really just need to get rid of attractants. Those birdfeeders and cat and dog food on the porch attract bears." In some cases, people are going to find that bears aren't going to be afraid of them while feasting on food that's been left outside." "It's not the bear's fault," Royce said. "They're just hungry and they want to get some calories. It's not their fault that it's right up against people's homes." Royce also cautions homeowners against using attractants like salt or grain to bring in deer. "Many times, when we have a problem with predators, we'll find that someone in the neighborhood has been feeding deer," Royce said. "I've seen 30 deer in a front yard of someone's home. I understand that people like to see wildlife, but they often don't realize that it also brings in predators." Mahar's place was not the problem, Royce said. "He has livestock, but he keeps it cleaned up," Royce said. "There are not a bunch of turkeys or deer eating the leftover grain that his livestock wasted, but I'd put money on a bet that within a mile of his home there is someone feeding wildlife." Geoff is happy that he doesn't have to worry about the mountain lion anymore, especially since there are young children residing nearby. The mountain lion was estimated to be about 3 years old and weighed somewhere between 100 and 130 pounds. "It couldn't have worked out better for us, although my wife was pretty upset to lose her goose," Geoff said. "It was 2 years old. It was a mean old thing, but you still hate to see your animals killed like that. It didn't have a chance." The lion was a powerful animal. "The wether was big," Geoff said. "I couldn't drag that wether 5 yards. The lion had no problem dragging it 50 feet." Reach reporter Perry Backus at 363-3300 or pbackus@ravallirepublic.com.  
    Jun 01, 2011 1454
  • 29 May 2011
    Can culling coyotes on your deer lease help the herd? Lots of factors affect the answer. by Mark Kayser Coyote Density Most prey species have cyclic, annual reproduction rates and as the habitat that sustains them decreases, so does the population of the prey. Predators follow suit and also decrease as prey diminishes. Litter sizes shrink and inefficient hunters succumb to the best hunters in a pack. This has been proven in research studies involving predators such as coyotes and Canada lynx in the context of snowshoe hare cyclic trends. Your first goal is to determine if you are dealing with a high coyote density or an average population. Most states have animal damage control offices that deal with predator and nuisance animal control. The United States Department of Agriculture might have an animal damage control officer in your area. These specialists work daily with predators and can tell you if you live in a “problem” area or if trying to control coyotes would be a waste of time. You can do your own research. First, do you routinely find evidence of deer mortality on your property? Do you find fawn parts, adult deer parts and deer hair in coyote scat? Can you trace those kills back to coyotes or are they scavenging road kills from a nearby highway or taking advantage of deer wounded and lost during the deer season? Listen at dawn and dusk and count the number of howls you hear. You can also trigger howls with a siren or recorded howls. This will give you an idea of how many coyotes are in the area. Finally, look for tracks and scat, and count your sightings. If you hunt the property regularly keep notes of when, where and how many tracks, scat and sightings you come across. Ask your hunting partners and lessees to do the same to broaden your perspective of the local coyote density. Habitat Inventory If you have a large property consisting of several hundred acres that include food plots and dense cover, you might be actually ringing the dinner bell for coyotes. Quality habitat increases the all-around prey base and that might attract coyotes. That can be both good and bad. The Quality Deer Management Association attempts to keep its members abreast of the latest in information to aid deer management practices. This organization has updated its members on new research conducted by students and faculty of Mississippi State University regarding predator and deer relationship. The study, which lasted nearly 10 years, indicated that deer managers who conserve and enhance habitat aid deer by creating better fawn hiding locations and overall escape habitat. Plus, the habitat increases other prey species that will attract the attention of predators looking for an easy meal so they won’t be as apt to focus on deer. Location Where you manage deer also should influence your decision to control coyotes. Deer in southern latitudes have less overall stress throughout the year due to increased browse and less winter stress. Deer in northern latitudes often have a feast or famine lifestyle with abundant browse from spring through fall, but suffer through severe conditions due to snow and cold in the winter months. After being rundown from the rigors of the rut, northern deer easily succumb to predation when deep snow and cold enter the equation. I’ve seen a pack of coyotes run down a tired buck and strip it of every ounce of edible meat. Although that isn’t the norm, coyotes tend to have an advantage on northern deer when conditions merit. Another negative factor facing northern deer is their practice of yarding and herding up in large groups, again attracting coyotes. It’s not unusual to see coyotes approaching winter herds of deer and running them to see if any weak animals are in the group. I’ve witnessed it dozens of times and have watched coyotes do the same with my saddle horses. If you try and manage deer in a northern region that has a high coyote density, keep your eye on the conditions to see if coyotes are targeting stressed herds. Research Results Several studies have been undertaken on the predator-and-prey relationship, specifically the coyote’s impact on prey. Each study differs because of location, duration and resources available to conduct the study, but you can glean a few important facts from each. To begin with, several studies strongly support the notion that coyotes prey on fawns in the spring. One study conducted on the coastal plains of South Texas clearly showed fawn survival could be substantially increased by decreasing coyote densities. Two study areas, each consisting of 5,000 acres, were designated. They were five miles apart. One was designated a predator removal site and the other as the control site with no predator control at all. Predator densities were similar prior to the two-year removal period. During the first year the whitetail deer counts indicated a fawn-to-doe ratio on the predator removal property to be at 0.47 and 0.12 on the control property without predator removal. During the second year the fawn to doe ratio jumped to 0.82 on the predator removal property and 0.32 on the control site. Interestingly, similar jumps in productivity were seen in bobwhite quail and Rio Grande turkeys at the removal site. Another study took place over eight years in the Welder Wildlife Refuge in South Texas. Researches coyote-proofed 1,000 acres of pasture with raised and buried fence. The top of the fence was charged with electricity to ensure that coyotes were kept out. All coyotes were removed, but deer were able to cross the perimeter fence and cattle were introduced to replicate typical agricultural conditions. Researchers discovered that fawn survivability was 30 percent higher in the enclosure as compared to the unregulated refuge. Over the next five years, the whitetail density increased, but declined after that period due to decreased food supplies and increased parasites. What do these studies prove? First, the studies took place in areas where deer habitat was not altered. Therefore, as fawn survivability increased along with the overall deer herd, the food base did not. The carrying capacity of the land could not keep up with the animals found within the research sites. That’s not the case on most managed properties today. Quality management programs supplement nutrition in addition to maximizing food plots. Savvy managers have at least 5 percent, if not more, of land cultivated in food-plot programs. Most of the better properties I’ve been on actually have an abundance of food to meet the demands of area deer as well as those migrating to the property during severe winter weather. Next, in several of the studies the predator removal program was only implemented for a short window of time, two years or less. After removal had concluded, coyote numbers began to rise because of predator dispersion and fawn survivability again decreased. One of the studies showed that any coyote removal program of less than six months in time had little effect. Solid results were only seen after nine months or more, and had to be continued to keep fawn survivability high. Short-term bursts of coyote control were only recommended for problem coyotes, particularly those preying on livestock or that had learned to prey on adult deer effectively. Finally, you won’t find a “one-size-fits-all” answer to predator management for optimum deer production. The MSU study clearly illustrated that properties managed with the greatest potential for habitat can achieve quality deer production with little or no predator management. If you have a chink in your plan and are short on habitat, coyotes can pressure your deer, particularly your annual fawn crop. They could be eating the next trophy on your property before it has a chance to grow. Most deer managers take a “no-tolerance” approach to coyotes. Greg Simons manages more than 300,000 acres for deer in Texas with his outfitting business Wildlife Systems and has managed properties for hunting for 20 years. As a biologist with a wildlife and fisheries science degree from Texas A&M University, Simons believes firmly in controlling predators on his property and has the data to prove it. Simons is managing nearly 200,000 acres in west Texas for mule deer and has implemented an intensive predator control program to increase fawn production. After six years the results are obvious and only affected by Mother Nature. “We track the fawn crop on our property and before we started managing the predators our fawn crop was less than twenty-five percent. After one year of predator control, fawn production jumped to eighty percent and has been averaging seventy percent or higher since,” explains Simons. “Last year we only had two inches of rain from January through August so we were in a severe drought, but we still managed to keep fawn production at fifty percent. I can only guess what it would have been without predator control, but I’m sure the percentage would have been much lower.” Currently, Wildlife Systems has multiple leased properties under intensive predator control, but Simons stresses that you can’t hope for miracles on a small property, especially if it is only surrounded by barbed wire. Regardless of your efforts you will continue to have coyotes unless your neighbors also implement a predator-management program. If you own a high-fenced property with net or woven wire fence, you might have better luck managing coyotes. From his experience Simons knows that coyotes prefer to slide under a net fence instead of going through it, leaving easy-to-find clues of their entrance. These slide areas are perfect locations for snares to catch the invaders. Simons stresses that once you commit to a predator management program you need to continue it through the duration of your deer management program regardless of the size of a property. If you stop controlling the predators the vacuum you create will quickly be filled by other coyotes. In a year or two you’ll be back to where you started, advises Simons. If you want to increase fawn production on your property, consider increasing the habitat base and following a stringent predator management control program. Even though people might never agree on coyote control as a whole, I think we can all agree that any fragile fawn or weak adult deer will become a snack if a coyote finds it. It’s your choice whether you want to decrease that opportunity by decreasing the coyote population.
    1650 Posted by Chris Avena
  • Can culling coyotes on your deer lease help the herd? Lots of factors affect the answer. by Mark Kayser Coyote Density Most prey species have cyclic, annual reproduction rates and as the habitat that sustains them decreases, so does the population of the prey. Predators follow suit and also decrease as prey diminishes. Litter sizes shrink and inefficient hunters succumb to the best hunters in a pack. This has been proven in research studies involving predators such as coyotes and Canada lynx in the context of snowshoe hare cyclic trends. Your first goal is to determine if you are dealing with a high coyote density or an average population. Most states have animal damage control offices that deal with predator and nuisance animal control. The United States Department of Agriculture might have an animal damage control officer in your area. These specialists work daily with predators and can tell you if you live in a “problem” area or if trying to control coyotes would be a waste of time. You can do your own research. First, do you routinely find evidence of deer mortality on your property? Do you find fawn parts, adult deer parts and deer hair in coyote scat? Can you trace those kills back to coyotes or are they scavenging road kills from a nearby highway or taking advantage of deer wounded and lost during the deer season? Listen at dawn and dusk and count the number of howls you hear. You can also trigger howls with a siren or recorded howls. This will give you an idea of how many coyotes are in the area. Finally, look for tracks and scat, and count your sightings. If you hunt the property regularly keep notes of when, where and how many tracks, scat and sightings you come across. Ask your hunting partners and lessees to do the same to broaden your perspective of the local coyote density. Habitat Inventory If you have a large property consisting of several hundred acres that include food plots and dense cover, you might be actually ringing the dinner bell for coyotes. Quality habitat increases the all-around prey base and that might attract coyotes. That can be both good and bad. The Quality Deer Management Association attempts to keep its members abreast of the latest in information to aid deer management practices. This organization has updated its members on new research conducted by students and faculty of Mississippi State University regarding predator and deer relationship. The study, which lasted nearly 10 years, indicated that deer managers who conserve and enhance habitat aid deer by creating better fawn hiding locations and overall escape habitat. Plus, the habitat increases other prey species that will attract the attention of predators looking for an easy meal so they won’t be as apt to focus on deer. Location Where you manage deer also should influence your decision to control coyotes. Deer in southern latitudes have less overall stress throughout the year due to increased browse and less winter stress. Deer in northern latitudes often have a feast or famine lifestyle with abundant browse from spring through fall, but suffer through severe conditions due to snow and cold in the winter months. After being rundown from the rigors of the rut, northern deer easily succumb to predation when deep snow and cold enter the equation. I’ve seen a pack of coyotes run down a tired buck and strip it of every ounce of edible meat. Although that isn’t the norm, coyotes tend to have an advantage on northern deer when conditions merit. Another negative factor facing northern deer is their practice of yarding and herding up in large groups, again attracting coyotes. It’s not unusual to see coyotes approaching winter herds of deer and running them to see if any weak animals are in the group. I’ve witnessed it dozens of times and have watched coyotes do the same with my saddle horses. If you try and manage deer in a northern region that has a high coyote density, keep your eye on the conditions to see if coyotes are targeting stressed herds. Research Results Several studies have been undertaken on the predator-and-prey relationship, specifically the coyote’s impact on prey. Each study differs because of location, duration and resources available to conduct the study, but you can glean a few important facts from each. To begin with, several studies strongly support the notion that coyotes prey on fawns in the spring. One study conducted on the coastal plains of South Texas clearly showed fawn survival could be substantially increased by decreasing coyote densities. Two study areas, each consisting of 5,000 acres, were designated. They were five miles apart. One was designated a predator removal site and the other as the control site with no predator control at all. Predator densities were similar prior to the two-year removal period. During the first year the whitetail deer counts indicated a fawn-to-doe ratio on the predator removal property to be at 0.47 and 0.12 on the control property without predator removal. During the second year the fawn to doe ratio jumped to 0.82 on the predator removal property and 0.32 on the control site. Interestingly, similar jumps in productivity were seen in bobwhite quail and Rio Grande turkeys at the removal site. Another study took place over eight years in the Welder Wildlife Refuge in South Texas. Researches coyote-proofed 1,000 acres of pasture with raised and buried fence. The top of the fence was charged with electricity to ensure that coyotes were kept out. All coyotes were removed, but deer were able to cross the perimeter fence and cattle were introduced to replicate typical agricultural conditions. Researchers discovered that fawn survivability was 30 percent higher in the enclosure as compared to the unregulated refuge. Over the next five years, the whitetail density increased, but declined after that period due to decreased food supplies and increased parasites. What do these studies prove? First, the studies took place in areas where deer habitat was not altered. Therefore, as fawn survivability increased along with the overall deer herd, the food base did not. The carrying capacity of the land could not keep up with the animals found within the research sites. That’s not the case on most managed properties today. Quality management programs supplement nutrition in addition to maximizing food plots. Savvy managers have at least 5 percent, if not more, of land cultivated in food-plot programs. Most of the better properties I’ve been on actually have an abundance of food to meet the demands of area deer as well as those migrating to the property during severe winter weather. Next, in several of the studies the predator removal program was only implemented for a short window of time, two years or less. After removal had concluded, coyote numbers began to rise because of predator dispersion and fawn survivability again decreased. One of the studies showed that any coyote removal program of less than six months in time had little effect. Solid results were only seen after nine months or more, and had to be continued to keep fawn survivability high. Short-term bursts of coyote control were only recommended for problem coyotes, particularly those preying on livestock or that had learned to prey on adult deer effectively. Finally, you won’t find a “one-size-fits-all” answer to predator management for optimum deer production. The MSU study clearly illustrated that properties managed with the greatest potential for habitat can achieve quality deer production with little or no predator management. If you have a chink in your plan and are short on habitat, coyotes can pressure your deer, particularly your annual fawn crop. They could be eating the next trophy on your property before it has a chance to grow. Most deer managers take a “no-tolerance” approach to coyotes. Greg Simons manages more than 300,000 acres for deer in Texas with his outfitting business Wildlife Systems and has managed properties for hunting for 20 years. As a biologist with a wildlife and fisheries science degree from Texas A&M University, Simons believes firmly in controlling predators on his property and has the data to prove it. Simons is managing nearly 200,000 acres in west Texas for mule deer and has implemented an intensive predator control program to increase fawn production. After six years the results are obvious and only affected by Mother Nature. “We track the fawn crop on our property and before we started managing the predators our fawn crop was less than twenty-five percent. After one year of predator control, fawn production jumped to eighty percent and has been averaging seventy percent or higher since,” explains Simons. “Last year we only had two inches of rain from January through August so we were in a severe drought, but we still managed to keep fawn production at fifty percent. I can only guess what it would have been without predator control, but I’m sure the percentage would have been much lower.” Currently, Wildlife Systems has multiple leased properties under intensive predator control, but Simons stresses that you can’t hope for miracles on a small property, especially if it is only surrounded by barbed wire. Regardless of your efforts you will continue to have coyotes unless your neighbors also implement a predator-management program. If you own a high-fenced property with net or woven wire fence, you might have better luck managing coyotes. From his experience Simons knows that coyotes prefer to slide under a net fence instead of going through it, leaving easy-to-find clues of their entrance. These slide areas are perfect locations for snares to catch the invaders. Simons stresses that once you commit to a predator management program you need to continue it through the duration of your deer management program regardless of the size of a property. If you stop controlling the predators the vacuum you create will quickly be filled by other coyotes. In a year or two you’ll be back to where you started, advises Simons. If you want to increase fawn production on your property, consider increasing the habitat base and following a stringent predator management control program. Even though people might never agree on coyote control as a whole, I think we can all agree that any fragile fawn or weak adult deer will become a snack if a coyote finds it. It’s your choice whether you want to decrease that opportunity by decreasing the coyote population.
    May 29, 2011 1650
  • 29 May 2011
    Understanding the battle for survival will make you a better coyote hunter. by Randy Smith Besides the normal struggle for food and shelter, a coyote’s daily life is constantly fraught with territorial challenges, quarrels over dominance, environmental threats, disease, and hunter peril. Their survival is constantly challenged, but in spite of all the threats they have flourished. Coyote learn quickly and have long memories. Older coyotes are masters at survival and teach each other well. Because the coyote is so intelligent, it has a longer learning and maturity curve. Coyote have a relatively complex social life. The more you understand that social life, the better your chances. Life Cycle Tactics I normally begin serious calling in late September and in the past have enjoyed pretty good success, especially on young dogs. Shooting can be quite good through October. November brings an influx of big game and upland bird hunters and calling gets tougher. During those times I concentrate on areas not normally associated with pheasants or deer. Fringe dwellers are the coyotes that I have the best luck calling in late October. With no wary adult to supervise them, these sexually immature males are easy to call. They are often hungry and stressed because they have lost the support of the pack. They are also very curious, especially if they have not encountered a caller before. This is the period when distress calls work very well, and most dogs can be called into very close range. This is also the reason there are more coyote road kills in late fall. Young nomads often scavenge road kills and have not learned the dangers of such a practice. Their desire for an easy meal becomes their death warrant when they are suddenly surprised and bewildered by the lights of an approaching auto. Consequently it is a good strategy to set up over bait during this period. I do the bulk of my calling in January and February after the close of deer season. Stress is greatest during these months and I have traditionally had my best luck using distress calls, social howls and barks. The combination of distress calls with bait works very well. This is the time of year when I often get opportunistic shots early in the morning and late in the evening by just driving the back roads and catching individuals on open fields still trying to fill their bellies. Excellent calling can be had when it is snowing heavily, or the first clear day just after a snow. To me, this is the very best calling time. I have always had my best luck under these conditions. I’ve called dogs throughout the day with no apparent break in the action. Blizzards tend to force them to hole up, so they are out just after the storm to fill their bellies. Calling is especially good in protected wooded areas. Breeding Season Tactics Depending on the latitude, breeding season can begin by mid-January. Until the breeding season, I concentrate tactics around the coyote’s desire for food and comfort, or the lack of experience of juveniles. During the breeding season, the coyote population is in its greatest annual period of change. This is the season of the coyote wars. One or several males competing for a female may be challenging an area, and females coming into estrus are searching for a new mate. Researchers (KSU-1968), (Feldhamer, Thompson, Chapman -2003). (Sacks, Bannashch, Chomel, Bruno) contend that secondary or “Beta” females will come into estrus 12 to 17 days after the Alpha female. Since the Alpha pair has bonded, the Beta female must go out on her own to find a mate. Coyote social behavior and nature’s calling combine to cause an unusual amount of relocation, confrontation, pair bonding, and territorial challenge. This also extends the daylight hours that coyotes are active. A hunter is more likely to see more coyotes during the day throughout the breeding season. Breeding pairs can often be caught on open ground as late as mid-day, when the hunter is changing calling sites. Rather than wasting time and ammunition trying to gun down a running pair from the road, take note of these areas and the time the dogs are sighted. Set up for the following morning or next weekend. Chances are the pair will be there. Breeding pairs are establishing den area territories, so they keep a fairly predictable route. These open areas may well be challenging grounds and contain traffic from several different social levels including females in heat, independent males on the make, and Alpha pairs trying to confirm a territory. A great deal of territorial marking may be taking place and be drawing in the dogs. This is a time for aggressive calling using howlers, territorial challenges and the estrus chirp. I normally use a .243 for long range shots and for bucking the traditional windy conditions of the season. An advantage is that it’s normally not as cold in March and sitting in a blind or on a hillside is not uncomfortable. You can wait longer for something to develop. A good pair of binoculars is a must for observing game trails and activity. The disadvantage to breeding season is the weather is unpredictable. It can be warm and still, then a howling wind kicks in, or even a sudden shower or snow squall. Coyotes react differently to each weather situation and a caller can never be sure what those reactions might be. On the other hand, weather changes contribute to the unsettled nature of coyote society and can be an advantage to the caller. Use higher volume on a windy morning. Breeders may not respond as aggressively to traditional distress calls because they have territorial matters foremost on their mind. It may be necessary to go for the long shot off a well braced bipod. Many times my calls do nothing more than stop them for an easier shot opportunity. I’ll use a short bark on my howler to pull this off. If I do connect, I’ll leave him lay, stay in position and keep calling rather than disturb the area. This is also a period when you may run into bold packs that will eagerly cross open ground and come right into the call. They will aggressively defend territory and react boldly. This is driven by Alphas in a quest for territorial control, and pack support is utilized to reinforce their status. This trait can significantly improve calling success. Last season I called in five at one time the first weekend of April. This demonstrated to me that some packs will remain together later than commonly believed. A good low chair or butt pad helps the hunter remain still for longer periods of time. A cover scent is practical in close, still conditions, but on open ground in breezy conditions I don’t bother. Breeding season is an excellent time to deploy the howler and an estrus “chirp” call. I use a high pitched howler to mimic juvenile males or females in heat. Whole family units may come in to defend territory. Single males may also frequent the area checking scent markings and challenging for territory. A howl from a perspective breeding female may be all the encouragement he needs to move in. I don’t recommend overusing the howler, especially later in the morning. At that time of day it is better to simply wait in ambush from the high ground until you see something and then try to entice with a high pitch bark or the good old distress cry. Late day singles may well be nomads looking for a meal at a time when they are less likely to encounter dominate aggressive packs. You can often tell which cry to try by watching the coyote’s body language. If he is advancing at a fairly brisk trot with head low, poking and prodding, digging and searching, a distress cry will probably encourage investigation rather than a territorial challenge. However, if he is moving cautiously with his head held high, frequent stops where he scans the area, moving to high ground and pausing to investigate, an estrus chirp or challenge bark will be more successful. This dog is either on the prowl for a territorial challenge or he is looking for a mate. An estrus “chirp” is a short, brisk vocalization best made with an open reed mouth call. It is a great attention getter and works similarly to a bark with a howler. It is higher pitched and sharper than a howler bark and often convinces a potential suitor or rival to come in for a look. The best location for breeding season is the back country where there is little human traffic in the early morning and plenty of food resources. This is a good time to wear wading boots and cross streams that may turn back other callers. Breeding season coyotes are going to frequent areas of less human traffic and a sound strategy is to go where others don’t and remain in the area later in the day. Large concentrations of rats, mice, and birds are good indicators, as are lambing and calving grounds. I’ve had very good luck recently by overlooking open ground over a mile stretch between lambing ground and good den sites. I like the sand hills where there are acres of farmland bordering good, well foliaged den areas. Winter crops are still short and ground cover is slight. Dogs often pass across these open fields on their way back to heavier cover after a night of foraging. Most of all, coyotes are more aggressive and preoccupied during breeding season. They are more likely to get involved with social activities and let their guard drop. Beginning callers should try their luck in the spring during breeding season before becoming too discouraged. Mistakes we all make are often countered by the natural aggression and confusion that develops during the coyote breeding season.
    3334 Posted by Chris Avena
  • Understanding the battle for survival will make you a better coyote hunter. by Randy Smith Besides the normal struggle for food and shelter, a coyote’s daily life is constantly fraught with territorial challenges, quarrels over dominance, environmental threats, disease, and hunter peril. Their survival is constantly challenged, but in spite of all the threats they have flourished. Coyote learn quickly and have long memories. Older coyotes are masters at survival and teach each other well. Because the coyote is so intelligent, it has a longer learning and maturity curve. Coyote have a relatively complex social life. The more you understand that social life, the better your chances. Life Cycle Tactics I normally begin serious calling in late September and in the past have enjoyed pretty good success, especially on young dogs. Shooting can be quite good through October. November brings an influx of big game and upland bird hunters and calling gets tougher. During those times I concentrate on areas not normally associated with pheasants or deer. Fringe dwellers are the coyotes that I have the best luck calling in late October. With no wary adult to supervise them, these sexually immature males are easy to call. They are often hungry and stressed because they have lost the support of the pack. They are also very curious, especially if they have not encountered a caller before. This is the period when distress calls work very well, and most dogs can be called into very close range. This is also the reason there are more coyote road kills in late fall. Young nomads often scavenge road kills and have not learned the dangers of such a practice. Their desire for an easy meal becomes their death warrant when they are suddenly surprised and bewildered by the lights of an approaching auto. Consequently it is a good strategy to set up over bait during this period. I do the bulk of my calling in January and February after the close of deer season. Stress is greatest during these months and I have traditionally had my best luck using distress calls, social howls and barks. The combination of distress calls with bait works very well. This is the time of year when I often get opportunistic shots early in the morning and late in the evening by just driving the back roads and catching individuals on open fields still trying to fill their bellies. Excellent calling can be had when it is snowing heavily, or the first clear day just after a snow. To me, this is the very best calling time. I have always had my best luck under these conditions. I’ve called dogs throughout the day with no apparent break in the action. Blizzards tend to force them to hole up, so they are out just after the storm to fill their bellies. Calling is especially good in protected wooded areas. Breeding Season Tactics Depending on the latitude, breeding season can begin by mid-January. Until the breeding season, I concentrate tactics around the coyote’s desire for food and comfort, or the lack of experience of juveniles. During the breeding season, the coyote population is in its greatest annual period of change. This is the season of the coyote wars. One or several males competing for a female may be challenging an area, and females coming into estrus are searching for a new mate. Researchers (KSU-1968), (Feldhamer, Thompson, Chapman -2003). (Sacks, Bannashch, Chomel, Bruno) contend that secondary or “Beta” females will come into estrus 12 to 17 days after the Alpha female. Since the Alpha pair has bonded, the Beta female must go out on her own to find a mate. Coyote social behavior and nature’s calling combine to cause an unusual amount of relocation, confrontation, pair bonding, and territorial challenge. This also extends the daylight hours that coyotes are active. A hunter is more likely to see more coyotes during the day throughout the breeding season. Breeding pairs can often be caught on open ground as late as mid-day, when the hunter is changing calling sites. Rather than wasting time and ammunition trying to gun down a running pair from the road, take note of these areas and the time the dogs are sighted. Set up for the following morning or next weekend. Chances are the pair will be there. Breeding pairs are establishing den area territories, so they keep a fairly predictable route. These open areas may well be challenging grounds and contain traffic from several different social levels including females in heat, independent males on the make, and Alpha pairs trying to confirm a territory. A great deal of territorial marking may be taking place and be drawing in the dogs. This is a time for aggressive calling using howlers, territorial challenges and the estrus chirp. I normally use a .243 for long range shots and for bucking the traditional windy conditions of the season. An advantage is that it’s normally not as cold in March and sitting in a blind or on a hillside is not uncomfortable. You can wait longer for something to develop. A good pair of binoculars is a must for observing game trails and activity. The disadvantage to breeding season is the weather is unpredictable. It can be warm and still, then a howling wind kicks in, or even a sudden shower or snow squall. Coyotes react differently to each weather situation and a caller can never be sure what those reactions might be. On the other hand, weather changes contribute to the unsettled nature of coyote society and can be an advantage to the caller. Use higher volume on a windy morning. Breeders may not respond as aggressively to traditional distress calls because they have territorial matters foremost on their mind. It may be necessary to go for the long shot off a well braced bipod. Many times my calls do nothing more than stop them for an easier shot opportunity. I’ll use a short bark on my howler to pull this off. If I do connect, I’ll leave him lay, stay in position and keep calling rather than disturb the area. This is also a period when you may run into bold packs that will eagerly cross open ground and come right into the call. They will aggressively defend territory and react boldly. This is driven by Alphas in a quest for territorial control, and pack support is utilized to reinforce their status. This trait can significantly improve calling success. Last season I called in five at one time the first weekend of April. This demonstrated to me that some packs will remain together later than commonly believed. A good low chair or butt pad helps the hunter remain still for longer periods of time. A cover scent is practical in close, still conditions, but on open ground in breezy conditions I don’t bother. Breeding season is an excellent time to deploy the howler and an estrus “chirp” call. I use a high pitched howler to mimic juvenile males or females in heat. Whole family units may come in to defend territory. Single males may also frequent the area checking scent markings and challenging for territory. A howl from a perspective breeding female may be all the encouragement he needs to move in. I don’t recommend overusing the howler, especially later in the morning. At that time of day it is better to simply wait in ambush from the high ground until you see something and then try to entice with a high pitch bark or the good old distress cry. Late day singles may well be nomads looking for a meal at a time when they are less likely to encounter dominate aggressive packs. You can often tell which cry to try by watching the coyote’s body language. If he is advancing at a fairly brisk trot with head low, poking and prodding, digging and searching, a distress cry will probably encourage investigation rather than a territorial challenge. However, if he is moving cautiously with his head held high, frequent stops where he scans the area, moving to high ground and pausing to investigate, an estrus chirp or challenge bark will be more successful. This dog is either on the prowl for a territorial challenge or he is looking for a mate. An estrus “chirp” is a short, brisk vocalization best made with an open reed mouth call. It is a great attention getter and works similarly to a bark with a howler. It is higher pitched and sharper than a howler bark and often convinces a potential suitor or rival to come in for a look. The best location for breeding season is the back country where there is little human traffic in the early morning and plenty of food resources. This is a good time to wear wading boots and cross streams that may turn back other callers. Breeding season coyotes are going to frequent areas of less human traffic and a sound strategy is to go where others don’t and remain in the area later in the day. Large concentrations of rats, mice, and birds are good indicators, as are lambing and calving grounds. I’ve had very good luck recently by overlooking open ground over a mile stretch between lambing ground and good den sites. I like the sand hills where there are acres of farmland bordering good, well foliaged den areas. Winter crops are still short and ground cover is slight. Dogs often pass across these open fields on their way back to heavier cover after a night of foraging. Most of all, coyotes are more aggressive and preoccupied during breeding season. They are more likely to get involved with social activities and let their guard drop. Beginning callers should try their luck in the spring during breeding season before becoming too discouraged. Mistakes we all make are often countered by the natural aggression and confusion that develops during the coyote breeding season.
    May 29, 2011 3334
  • 17 May 2011
    Hunters aiming to bag a gray wolf this year can once again buy a tag from the Idaho Department of Fish and Game.   BOISE, Idaho (AP) — Hunters aiming to bag a gray wolf this year can once again buy a tag from the Idaho Department of Fish and Game. The state wildlife agency started selling tags for $11.50 Idaho residents Thursday, one day after the predators were taken off the endangered species list. Out-of-state hunters will have to shell out $186 for a wolf permit. The decision to delist puts wolves under state management, and Idaho officials are now setting quotas and rules for this season's wolf hunt. Hunters took the backcountry two years ago to hunt wolves after the predators were delisted the first time. Hunters killed 188 wolves during that first public hunt, short of the state limit of 220. Officials in Montana are also gearing up for a wolf hunt this fall.
    13347 Posted by Chris Avena
  • Hunters aiming to bag a gray wolf this year can once again buy a tag from the Idaho Department of Fish and Game.   BOISE, Idaho (AP) — Hunters aiming to bag a gray wolf this year can once again buy a tag from the Idaho Department of Fish and Game. The state wildlife agency started selling tags for $11.50 Idaho residents Thursday, one day after the predators were taken off the endangered species list. Out-of-state hunters will have to shell out $186 for a wolf permit. The decision to delist puts wolves under state management, and Idaho officials are now setting quotas and rules for this season's wolf hunt. Hunters took the backcountry two years ago to hunt wolves after the predators were delisted the first time. Hunters killed 188 wolves during that first public hunt, short of the state limit of 220. Officials in Montana are also gearing up for a wolf hunt this fall.
    May 17, 2011 13347
  • 07 May 2011
    The state Game Commission meets in Albuquerque this week and will get an update on a temporary ban on trapping in parts of southwestern New Mexico where Mexican gray wolves have been reintroduced.  ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — The state Game Commission meets in Albuquerque this week and will get an update on a temporary ban on trapping in parts of southwestern New Mexico where Mexican gray wolves have been reintroduced. The commission meets Thursday at the University of New Mexico's Continuing Education Conference Center. The trapping ban on public lands was ordered last year by then Gov. Bill Richardson while researchers study what risk traps and snares pose to wolves. The commission also is to hear an update on rules governing the allocation of antelope hunting permits to private landowners in New Mexico. Some sportsmen contend that more antelope licenses should be available through the state's public lands hunting lottery system. The commission's membership has changed because of recent appointments by Republican Gov. Susana Martinez.
    1134 Posted by Chris Avena
  • The state Game Commission meets in Albuquerque this week and will get an update on a temporary ban on trapping in parts of southwestern New Mexico where Mexican gray wolves have been reintroduced.  ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — The state Game Commission meets in Albuquerque this week and will get an update on a temporary ban on trapping in parts of southwestern New Mexico where Mexican gray wolves have been reintroduced. The commission meets Thursday at the University of New Mexico's Continuing Education Conference Center. The trapping ban on public lands was ordered last year by then Gov. Bill Richardson while researchers study what risk traps and snares pose to wolves. The commission also is to hear an update on rules governing the allocation of antelope hunting permits to private landowners in New Mexico. Some sportsmen contend that more antelope licenses should be available through the state's public lands hunting lottery system. The commission's membership has changed because of recent appointments by Republican Gov. Susana Martinez.
    May 07, 2011 1134
  • 04 May 2011
    By JEFF BARNARD - AP Environmental Writer Federal wildlife authorities want to capture and kill two young wolves from the Imnaha pack in northeastern Oregon after another livestock kill. Conservation groups responded Tuesday by filing a lawsuit in in U.S. District Court in Portland to block the killings, saying the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service had not done the formal environmental review called for by law before making the decision. The complaint noted that Wildlife Services, the agency that normally carries out decisions to kill wildlife causing problems for agriculture, agreed last year in a separate case that it would not kill wolves in Oregon until it had done an environmental review. Fish and Wildlife spokeswoman Janet Lebson said she could not comment on pending litigation. She added that the wolves would be killed by Fish and Wildlife personnel. The service announced late Monday that an investigation determined a calf carcass found Saturday 10 miles east of Joseph was the result of a wolf kill. Wolf tracks were found about 1,000 feet away, and GPS tracking of one of the wolves in the pack showed it was within a half-mile of the site on Friday, when the attack was believed to have happened. The agency said in a statement that nonlethal measures such as electric fences have not kept the pack from livestock, so lethal controls are in order. The plan is to capture and kill two sub-adults from the pack, which numbers 10 to 14 wolves, to discourage the pack from attacking livestock without affecting breeding. Two wolves from the same pack were under a state kill order last summer, but that was lifted after conservation groups challenged it in a similar lawsuit. "Oregon's struggling wolf population cannot sustain these killings," Noah Greenwald of the Center for Biological Diversity said in a statement. "Oregon wolves are nowhere near recovered and continue to need protection." Greenwald said a provision of the Endangered Species Act that allowed wildlife agents to kill problem wolves in Idaho does not apply in Oregon, where they are still a federally threatened species. Authorities have said wolves that began moving into Oregon from Idaho in the 1990s are responsible for some 40 livestock kills since 2009. About 25 wolves are believed to be in Oregon. Two packs are known to exist in the northeastern corner of the state and a third is believed to be roaming an area between Pendleton and the Washington border. The lawsuit said federal agents killed two wolves in Oregon in 2009 and five others have been killed by poachers or died in accidents.
    1022 Posted by Chris Avena
  • By JEFF BARNARD - AP Environmental Writer Federal wildlife authorities want to capture and kill two young wolves from the Imnaha pack in northeastern Oregon after another livestock kill. Conservation groups responded Tuesday by filing a lawsuit in in U.S. District Court in Portland to block the killings, saying the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service had not done the formal environmental review called for by law before making the decision. The complaint noted that Wildlife Services, the agency that normally carries out decisions to kill wildlife causing problems for agriculture, agreed last year in a separate case that it would not kill wolves in Oregon until it had done an environmental review. Fish and Wildlife spokeswoman Janet Lebson said she could not comment on pending litigation. She added that the wolves would be killed by Fish and Wildlife personnel. The service announced late Monday that an investigation determined a calf carcass found Saturday 10 miles east of Joseph was the result of a wolf kill. Wolf tracks were found about 1,000 feet away, and GPS tracking of one of the wolves in the pack showed it was within a half-mile of the site on Friday, when the attack was believed to have happened. The agency said in a statement that nonlethal measures such as electric fences have not kept the pack from livestock, so lethal controls are in order. The plan is to capture and kill two sub-adults from the pack, which numbers 10 to 14 wolves, to discourage the pack from attacking livestock without affecting breeding. Two wolves from the same pack were under a state kill order last summer, but that was lifted after conservation groups challenged it in a similar lawsuit. "Oregon's struggling wolf population cannot sustain these killings," Noah Greenwald of the Center for Biological Diversity said in a statement. "Oregon wolves are nowhere near recovered and continue to need protection." Greenwald said a provision of the Endangered Species Act that allowed wildlife agents to kill problem wolves in Idaho does not apply in Oregon, where they are still a federally threatened species. Authorities have said wolves that began moving into Oregon from Idaho in the 1990s are responsible for some 40 livestock kills since 2009. About 25 wolves are believed to be in Oregon. Two packs are known to exist in the northeastern corner of the state and a third is believed to be roaming an area between Pendleton and the Washington border. The lawsuit said federal agents killed two wolves in Oregon in 2009 and five others have been killed by poachers or died in accidents.
    May 04, 2011 1022
  • 29 Apr 2011
    Wildlife officials say a previously unknown pack of wolves is responsible for killing a calf in the Tom Miner Basin area of Park County.   LIVINGSTON, Mont. (AP) — Wildlife officials say a previously unknown pack of wolves is responsible for killing a calf in the Tom Miner Basin area of Park County. Yellowstone Cattle Company's Mike Hubbard tells The Livingston Enterprise he found the carcass April 18, and officials with Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks determined two to three wolves were responsible for the death. FWP wolf management specialist Abby Nelson says the wolves returned to the carcass on two subsequent nights, but traps were removed after a couple of days because of signs that a grizzly bear was in the area. Nelson says a pack spent some time in the area last year but has since moved south into Yellowstone National Park. The depredation is the first reported in the area this year, and Hubbard has been issued a shoot-on-site permit for one wolf.
    1039 Posted by Chris Avena
  • Wildlife officials say a previously unknown pack of wolves is responsible for killing a calf in the Tom Miner Basin area of Park County.   LIVINGSTON, Mont. (AP) — Wildlife officials say a previously unknown pack of wolves is responsible for killing a calf in the Tom Miner Basin area of Park County. Yellowstone Cattle Company's Mike Hubbard tells The Livingston Enterprise he found the carcass April 18, and officials with Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks determined two to three wolves were responsible for the death. FWP wolf management specialist Abby Nelson says the wolves returned to the carcass on two subsequent nights, but traps were removed after a couple of days because of signs that a grizzly bear was in the area. Nelson says a pack spent some time in the area last year but has since moved south into Yellowstone National Park. The depredation is the first reported in the area this year, and Hubbard has been issued a shoot-on-site permit for one wolf.
    Apr 29, 2011 1039
  • 29 Apr 2011
    A $5,000 reward is being offered for information leading to the arrest and conviction of whoever shot and killed a Florida panther in Seminole County.   VERO BEACH, Fla. (AP) — A $5,000 reward is being offered for information leading to the arrest and conviction of whoever shot and killed a Florida panther. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced the reward Monday. Remains of the dead panther were found along a Seminole County road last month. The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission is already working with prosecutors to file charges for the illegal possession of a Florida panther, but no information about the suspects has been released. The federal agency is still investigating who killed the animal. Florida panthers are protected under the Endangered Species Act. Scientists believe there are only about 100 left in Florida. Anyone with information should call 1-888-404-3922.                     
    1132 Posted by Chris Avena
  • A $5,000 reward is being offered for information leading to the arrest and conviction of whoever shot and killed a Florida panther in Seminole County.   VERO BEACH, Fla. (AP) — A $5,000 reward is being offered for information leading to the arrest and conviction of whoever shot and killed a Florida panther. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced the reward Monday. Remains of the dead panther were found along a Seminole County road last month. The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission is already working with prosecutors to file charges for the illegal possession of a Florida panther, but no information about the suspects has been released. The federal agency is still investigating who killed the animal. Florida panthers are protected under the Endangered Species Act. Scientists believe there are only about 100 left in Florida. Anyone with information should call 1-888-404-3922.                     
    Apr 29, 2011 1132
  • 25 Apr 2011
    An attachment to a federal budget bill needed to avert a government shutdown would take gray wolves off the endangered species list across most of the Northern Rockies. BILLINGS, Mont. (AP) — An attachment to a federal budget bill needed to avert a government shutdown would take gray wolves off the endangered species list across most of the Northern Rockies. Wildlife advocates conceded Tuesday the wolf provision was all but certain to remain in the spending bill after efforts to remove it failed. Congress faces a tight deadline on a budget plan already months overdue, and the rider has bipartisan support. It orders the Obama administration to lift protections for wolves within 60 days in five Western states. Protections would remain intact in Wyoming, at least for now. But wolf hunting would resume this fall in Idaho and Montana, where an estimated 1,250 of the animals have been blamed in hundreds of livestock attacks and for declines seen in some big game herds. Wolves also would be returned to state management in Washington, Oregon and Utah. Lawmakers said they inserted the rider to circumvent a federal judge who repeatedly blocked proposals to hunt the predators. The legislation would block further court intervention. "We needed to figure out a way to manage these critters just like we manage other wildlife, and this is the way to do it," Sen. Jon Tester said in an interview with The Associated Press. "If you take a look at impacts wolves have had on domestic livestock, on our big game, it is not deniable that it has been extensive." Wolves were wiped out across most of the United States last century under a government bounty program established to benefit the agriculture industry. They were reintroduced to Wyoming and Idaho in the mid-1990s, and at least 1,651 now roam parts of five states. Only a few dozen of the animals so far have colonized Washington and Oregon and no packs are known to exist in Utah. Idaho and Montana officials were forced to cancel wolf hunts planned last year when U.S. District Judge Donald Molloy restored protections for the species. Those plans are expected to be updated to allow hunting this fall for potentially hundreds of wolves. Wildlife advocates had sought to stop the legislation through a settlement on the issue with the Obama administration announced last month. But that settlement was scuttled in court by U.S. District Judge Donald Molloy, who cited dissension among some environmentalists who characterized the deal as politically-motivated sellout. Mike Leahy, with Defenders of Wildlife, said the time to head off congressional action "has come and gone." He said his group was turning its attention to the states, in hopes of averting overhunting that could drive wolves again to the brink of extinction. "The real threat here is the states grinding down wolf populations in response to anti-wolf rhetoric over time," Leahy said. "They can chip away at the population and manage them down to 100, 150 wolves if they want." Wyoming lawmakers inserted language into the bill to uphold a ruling on wolves by another judge last year that was favorable to their state. However, the ruling said only that the government must reconsider Wyoming's wolf management proposal — not necessarily accept it. Wyoming Republican Rep. Cynthia Lummis said she hoped the rider would "clear away obstacles so that meaningful negotiations can continue" between the state and federal officials. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has said Wyoming law is too hostile to the predators, because it would allow them to be shot on sight across most of the state.
    1126 Posted by Chris Avena
  • An attachment to a federal budget bill needed to avert a government shutdown would take gray wolves off the endangered species list across most of the Northern Rockies. BILLINGS, Mont. (AP) — An attachment to a federal budget bill needed to avert a government shutdown would take gray wolves off the endangered species list across most of the Northern Rockies. Wildlife advocates conceded Tuesday the wolf provision was all but certain to remain in the spending bill after efforts to remove it failed. Congress faces a tight deadline on a budget plan already months overdue, and the rider has bipartisan support. It orders the Obama administration to lift protections for wolves within 60 days in five Western states. Protections would remain intact in Wyoming, at least for now. But wolf hunting would resume this fall in Idaho and Montana, where an estimated 1,250 of the animals have been blamed in hundreds of livestock attacks and for declines seen in some big game herds. Wolves also would be returned to state management in Washington, Oregon and Utah. Lawmakers said they inserted the rider to circumvent a federal judge who repeatedly blocked proposals to hunt the predators. The legislation would block further court intervention. "We needed to figure out a way to manage these critters just like we manage other wildlife, and this is the way to do it," Sen. Jon Tester said in an interview with The Associated Press. "If you take a look at impacts wolves have had on domestic livestock, on our big game, it is not deniable that it has been extensive." Wolves were wiped out across most of the United States last century under a government bounty program established to benefit the agriculture industry. They were reintroduced to Wyoming and Idaho in the mid-1990s, and at least 1,651 now roam parts of five states. Only a few dozen of the animals so far have colonized Washington and Oregon and no packs are known to exist in Utah. Idaho and Montana officials were forced to cancel wolf hunts planned last year when U.S. District Judge Donald Molloy restored protections for the species. Those plans are expected to be updated to allow hunting this fall for potentially hundreds of wolves. Wildlife advocates had sought to stop the legislation through a settlement on the issue with the Obama administration announced last month. But that settlement was scuttled in court by U.S. District Judge Donald Molloy, who cited dissension among some environmentalists who characterized the deal as politically-motivated sellout. Mike Leahy, with Defenders of Wildlife, said the time to head off congressional action "has come and gone." He said his group was turning its attention to the states, in hopes of averting overhunting that could drive wolves again to the brink of extinction. "The real threat here is the states grinding down wolf populations in response to anti-wolf rhetoric over time," Leahy said. "They can chip away at the population and manage them down to 100, 150 wolves if they want." Wyoming lawmakers inserted language into the bill to uphold a ruling on wolves by another judge last year that was favorable to their state. However, the ruling said only that the government must reconsider Wyoming's wolf management proposal — not necessarily accept it. Wyoming Republican Rep. Cynthia Lummis said she hoped the rider would "clear away obstacles so that meaningful negotiations can continue" between the state and federal officials. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has said Wyoming law is too hostile to the predators, because it would allow them to be shot on sight across most of the state.
    Apr 25, 2011 1126
  • 13 Apr 2011
    Republican Rep. Judy Boyle did her part Tuesday, successfully sponsoring a disaster emergency declaration that cleared the Idaho House on a 64-5 vote.   BOISE, Idaho (AP) — Tiffani Bowen waits tables and cooks at the Country Coffee Cabin in Midvale, a little western Idaho ranching community along U.S. Highway 95 near millions of acres of National Forest land. The mother of a 2-year-old has never seen one of the wolves that roam the mountains here, but when local talk turns to the big predators, residents are unified, she said. "Everyone wants to have them all gone," Bowen said. The local Republican Rep. Judy Boyle did her part Tuesday, successfully sponsoring a disaster emergency declaration that cleared the Idaho House on a 64-5 vote. It would allow Gov. C.L. "Butch" Otter to enlist local law enforcement agents to help kill wolves if he decides they are a risk to humans, livestock, outfitting businesses or wildlife. It's similar to a measure in which Idaho County in 2010 unsuccessfully sought authority from Otter to allow wolves to be shot on sight. Wolves haven't attacked humans since their reintroduction to Idaho in 1995, but there's an almost archetypal fear in some of Idaho's rural communities that they are under siege from the big canine carnivores. Ranchers complain they're losing their livestock, hunters say wolves have made big game scarce. And Rep. Lenore Barrett, R-Challis, says she won't let her grandchildren play outdoors because wolves have been spotted on nearby Blue Mountain. "They're killers, they do it for sport, and then they leave their victim still alive for a lingering death," Barrett said. After Tuesday's vote, the measure moves to the Senate. The estimated 1,650 wolves now in the Northern Rockies — about half the population is in Idaho — are descended primarily from 66 wolves trapped in Canada and released into remote areas of Idaho and Wyoming in the mid-1990s by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Federal Endangered Species Act protections have been lifted twice, once in 2008 and again in 2009 when there were legal public hunts in Idaho and Montana. But the protections were reinstated last August by a federal judge after a lawsuit filed by environmental groups. Just last month, ten conservation groups that had sued reached an agreement with U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to remove federal protections from wolves. There's also an effort in Congress by lawmakers from the northern Rocky Mountains to act. Still, Idaho lawmakers like Rep. Marv Hagedorn, R-Meridian, are frustrated at the slow progress and hope to keep the pressure on with legislation like the disaster emergency declaration. Hagedorn, an avid hunter, complained it's been months since the Idaho Department of Fish and Game sought the go-ahead from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to kill dozens of wolves blamed for killing elk in northcentral Idaho. "That population of elk in that one zone is no longer sustainable," Hagedorn said. The five Democratic dissenters weren't convinced. Wolves have been spotted on golf courses near Sun Valley, said Rep. Wendy Jaquet, who represents the central Idaho vacation region. Still, she's more frightened of even bolder mountain lions that have also been sighted around town. Idaho already has the tools at its disposal to manage wolves appropriately without resorting to Boyle's bill, Jaquet said, including the likelihood of delisting, money to compensate livestock owners for losses and federal agents who can be called in to kill problem packs. "We do have lethal measures that take place right now," she said. "We should let the process go forward."
    1191 Posted by Chris Avena
  • Republican Rep. Judy Boyle did her part Tuesday, successfully sponsoring a disaster emergency declaration that cleared the Idaho House on a 64-5 vote.   BOISE, Idaho (AP) — Tiffani Bowen waits tables and cooks at the Country Coffee Cabin in Midvale, a little western Idaho ranching community along U.S. Highway 95 near millions of acres of National Forest land. The mother of a 2-year-old has never seen one of the wolves that roam the mountains here, but when local talk turns to the big predators, residents are unified, she said. "Everyone wants to have them all gone," Bowen said. The local Republican Rep. Judy Boyle did her part Tuesday, successfully sponsoring a disaster emergency declaration that cleared the Idaho House on a 64-5 vote. It would allow Gov. C.L. "Butch" Otter to enlist local law enforcement agents to help kill wolves if he decides they are a risk to humans, livestock, outfitting businesses or wildlife. It's similar to a measure in which Idaho County in 2010 unsuccessfully sought authority from Otter to allow wolves to be shot on sight. Wolves haven't attacked humans since their reintroduction to Idaho in 1995, but there's an almost archetypal fear in some of Idaho's rural communities that they are under siege from the big canine carnivores. Ranchers complain they're losing their livestock, hunters say wolves have made big game scarce. And Rep. Lenore Barrett, R-Challis, says she won't let her grandchildren play outdoors because wolves have been spotted on nearby Blue Mountain. "They're killers, they do it for sport, and then they leave their victim still alive for a lingering death," Barrett said. After Tuesday's vote, the measure moves to the Senate. The estimated 1,650 wolves now in the Northern Rockies — about half the population is in Idaho — are descended primarily from 66 wolves trapped in Canada and released into remote areas of Idaho and Wyoming in the mid-1990s by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Federal Endangered Species Act protections have been lifted twice, once in 2008 and again in 2009 when there were legal public hunts in Idaho and Montana. But the protections were reinstated last August by a federal judge after a lawsuit filed by environmental groups. Just last month, ten conservation groups that had sued reached an agreement with U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to remove federal protections from wolves. There's also an effort in Congress by lawmakers from the northern Rocky Mountains to act. Still, Idaho lawmakers like Rep. Marv Hagedorn, R-Meridian, are frustrated at the slow progress and hope to keep the pressure on with legislation like the disaster emergency declaration. Hagedorn, an avid hunter, complained it's been months since the Idaho Department of Fish and Game sought the go-ahead from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to kill dozens of wolves blamed for killing elk in northcentral Idaho. "That population of elk in that one zone is no longer sustainable," Hagedorn said. The five Democratic dissenters weren't convinced. Wolves have been spotted on golf courses near Sun Valley, said Rep. Wendy Jaquet, who represents the central Idaho vacation region. Still, she's more frightened of even bolder mountain lions that have also been sighted around town. Idaho already has the tools at its disposal to manage wolves appropriately without resorting to Boyle's bill, Jaquet said, including the likelihood of delisting, money to compensate livestock owners for losses and federal agents who can be called in to kill problem packs. "We do have lethal measures that take place right now," she said. "We should let the process go forward."
    Apr 13, 2011 1191
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