Anti-wolfers sue Montana commission over Yellowstone closures – As the saying goes, no good deed goes unpunished. Less than a month after Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks Commission voted to close wolf hunting zones near Yellowstone, anti-wolf extremists have convinced a local judge to lift the ban. The groups argued that the state did not provide proper public notice before imposing the restrictions intended to prevent more collared Yellowstone wolves from being killed by hunters. Wolf advocates, tour operators and scientists alike had encouraged commissioners to close hunting zones near Yellowstone Park in order to protect Yellowstone’s iconic and important wolves. We’re urging the state to stand by its decision and maintain the closure near Yellowstone to ensure no more of these valuable wolves are killed. For more information, see Wednesday’s story in the Bozeman Chronicle and yesterday’s press release from FWP. And here’s an op-ed from our friends at Wolves of the Rockies that appeared in the Helena Independent Record, explaining how the modest closures benefit science and tourism:
“These YNP wolves were collared at great effort and expense to provide important information to both the park and the surrounding states for ecological studies, conservation and management purposes. This invaluable data that the Yellowstone Wolf Project provides includes; tracking wolf movements, the study of the wolf-prey dynamic and the ecosystem effects wolves have, reproduction and mortality, obtaining counts, and allow both the park and the states to track the movement of wolves in areas with livestock operations. While these park wolves benefit science they also have a substantial economic effect on businesses surrounding the northern territory of YNP such as; outfitters, hotels, tour guides, restaurants and stores. These include, but are not limited to the towns of Bozeman, Livingston and Gardiner.”
Hunting season closed, predator zone still open in Wyoming – Monday was the last day of Wyoming’s first official wolf hunting season. A total of 43 wolves were killed in the trophy game area, falling short of the established quota of 52. Another 26 wolves have been reportedly killed so far across the rest of the state where they can be killed at anytime by almost any means. According to a recent story from the Casper Star-Tribune, at least 39 more wolves have been killed by wildlife managers in response to reported attacks on livestock. That means more than 100 wolves have been killed this year out of an estimated 230 that live outside of Yellowstone National Park. As biologist Franz Camenzind points out in his recent op-ed in the Casper Trib, losing a projected 62% of the population could result in a “long-term population decline” toward unsustainable levels. Such a steep drop-off could put the population below the 100-wolf threshold that triggers relisting under the Endangered Species Act, leaving wolves right back where they started.
Happy Cali-versary, OR7! – It’s been one year since the lone male wolf known as OR7 made headlines worldwide for crossing into California—the first wolf in the state in almost 90 years. Born in northeastern Oregon, OR7 entered California on Dec. 28, 2011 and has spent nearly all his time in the Golden State ever since. He quickly made his way south, covering hundreds of miles in just a few months. By summer, OR7 had settled into a large area near the edge of Tehama, Butte and Plumas counties, where he still remains. See map here.
While California wildlife managers have been keeping a close eye on him thanks to a GPS tracking collar, there have been very few reported sightings. Fortunately, OR7 has kept his nose clean and stayed out of trouble (i.e., no confirmed livestock attacks). But he’ll eventually need a mate in order for wolves to really recover in California.
Best of (lady) luck in 2013, OR7!
Read more about OR7’s year-long California adventure in the LA Times.