Montana’s Wildlife Legacy Decimation to Restoration Review

Montana's Wildlife Legacy Decimation to Restoration

Montana’s Wildlife Legacy Decimation to Restoration

This book written by two Montana gentlemen, chronicle the state’s wild animal populations and the hurdles that are responsible for the current conditions. “Montana’s Wildlife Legacy – Decimation and Restoration” by Terry Lonner and Harold Picton was published as a follow-up to their 2006 video, “Back from the Brink – Montana’s Wildlife Legacy.”

The book advertises itself as “only complete compilation of Montana’s wildlife trapping and transplanting records.” [Read more…]

Litigation Begins Over the Delisting of Wolves






SCI is closely reviewing two separate cases filed in two different courts on June 2, 2009 to challenge the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s rule to delist the wolves of the Northern Rocky Mountains, with the exception of the wolves of Wyoming.  In federal district court in Montana, Defenders of Wildlife and 12 other wolf and environmental groups filed a suit challenging the legality of the delisting of Idaho and Montana’s wolves.


Read the full article here.


Wisconsin Suspends Earn-a-Buck




West Bend, Wis. (AP) — Bowing to pressure from hunters and legislators, Wisconsin wildlife officials finally decided Wednesday to mothball its contentious “earn-a-buck” program and look for other ways to control the state’s deer population.


The Natural Resources Board voted to suspend the program indefinitely everywhere except chronic wasting disease areas. The board also decided to set up a committee to come up with other population management techniques.


Hunters in areas with earn-a-buck must kill an antlerless deer before they can take a buck. Hunters generally despise the program since it was imposed in 1996, saying it forces them to pass up trophy bucks.


Not to be condescending, but is hunting all about trophy animals? What is a trophy? Does it have to make one of the books? To me it challenging myself and enjoying the outdoors. But, I think that it is more important that we keep the sport of hunting going, so our grandkids can enjoy the sport as well. Those numbers are dropping faster than we as hunters can afford.


I personally like the earn-a-buck program as they implemented it last season. The first thing that it taught was me was patience. Second, you definitely need to plan your hunts as it turns into a chess match!


Read the full article here.


Mtn. Lion Encounters…Run? Stand your gound?

Reno, Nev. (AP) — There has been a recent study on fatal encounters between humans and mountain lions, suggests one conventional wisdom – never to try to run from one of the big cats!

Staying put may make a person more desirable as potential prey and prompt an attack, said researchers at University of California, Davis.

This is some very useful information, especially as the Mountain Lion’s territory is spreading at a fairly rapid pace. There have been numerous sightings as far east as Michigan.

Read the full article here.

$57.8 Million to Support Conservation Planning


Interior Secretary Ken Salazar announced more than $57.8 million in grants to 27 states to support conservation planning and acquisition for the habitat of threatened and endangered wildlife and plants. The grants were awarded through the Cooperative Endangered Species Conservation Fund.

“The successful conservation of threatened and endangered species requires a partnership between the federal government and the states,” Salazar said. “These grants provide state agencies the resources they need to help protect and conserve listed species and to empower landowners and local communities to be good stewards of the vital habitat that makes the recovery of imperiled species possible.”

Read the full article here.

Bison Added To FWP's Special License Drawings

The deadlines to apply for FWP’s special license drawings are May 1 for bison, moose, bighorn sheep and mountain goat; and June 1 for elk, deer and antelope.

The May 1 deadline for bison is new this year.

Applying for special big game hunting permits and licenses is a lot easier these days for the growing number of hunters who apply online at

Internet applicants receive instant confirmation that their applications are accepted and accurate, a feature that protects hunters from being excluded from a special drawing. To avoid the one unintended slip-up that can’t be detected, applicants should double check their desired hunting district numbers before and after entering them. Once submitted, the application can’t be changed.

Hunters can apply online at . Click “Apply for a Permit or License.” Applicants will need a MasterCard or Visa credit card. A convenience fee of $1.25, plus two percent of the total purchase, will be added to the purchase price.

For those who don’t own a computer, Internet access is available at Montana’s 80 public libraries and 30 branch public libraries. Paper applications are available at all FWP offices and from most license providers.

Additional information about FWP’s $5 SuperTag lottery is also available online on FWP’s SuperTag Web page. The SuperTag chances are available for bison, moose, sheep, mountain goat, deer, elk, antelope, and mountain lion.


[Read more…]

Idaho Wolf Management

After they were nearly wiped out in the lower 48 states, wolves in Idaho were declared endangered in 1974 under the Endangered Species Act. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s 1987 recovery plan for wolves in the Northern Rocky Mountains included reintroducing them in central Idaho in 1995 and 1996.


Since then, Idaho has been involved in wolf management as directed by the Legislature, which in 2002, adopted the Idaho Wolf Conservation and Management Plan. Under the plan Idaho Fish and Game would be responsible for wolf management following delisting.


In February 2005, the Fish and Wildlife Service revised the rules that govern the experimental non-essential population of reintroduced wolves in Idaho south of Interstate 90. The change eased wolf management rules and gave Idaho a greater role in wolf management.


In January 2006, an agreement between Idaho and the U.S. Department of Interior designated the state as an agent for day-to-day wolf management for the Fish and Wildlife Service.


When wolves are removed from the endangered species list, Idaho Fish and Game will take over management under the state’s 2002 wolf management plan and the 2008 Wolf Population Management Plan. Wolves would be managed as big game animals, similar to black bears and mountain lions. Hunting seasons would be set by the Idaho Fish and Game Commission.



Idaho is Ready and Able to Manage Wolves



Read the full article here.

Gray wolf delisting formalized

wolf_elk_hartmanmw15The federal government’s second attempt at removing endangered species protection for the gray wolf in the Northern Rockies will be published today, with environmental groups already promising a legal challenge.


“The science on this is clear,” said Ed Bangs of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in Helena. “Wolves are recovered.”


The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced its latest delisting plan late last year, but the official decision will be published in the Federal Register today, which sets in motion removal of federal protections in Montana and Idaho.


Wolves will be delisted May 4, Bangs said.


For all practical purposes, Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks already is managing wolves here, but the transfer of control will allow hunting seasons and more liberal defense-of-property rules.


“We’re not hostile to the notion of hunting,” said Louisa Willcox, director of the Natural Resources Defense Council in Livingston. “We’re concerned about the overall, cumulative kill level.”

Idaho’s hunting season is particularly troubling, she said.


The organization is one of 12 conservation groups that announced plans Wednesday to file a lawsuit in 60 days to block the delisting plans.


Montana, Wyoming and Idaho have 1,600 wolves and 95 breeding pairs. Willcox contends the population needs to be 2,000 to 3,000 to guarantee recovery. “We’re close,” she said.


Under the new plan, federal protection would remain in place in Wyoming, where state law defines wolves as a predatory animal that can be shot without cause in 88 percent of the state. Wyoming wolves were part of the first delisting plan, but Bangs said its management plan would allow too many wolves to be killed.


The state of Wyoming told the Associated Press it’s planning to sue the federal government for leaving wolves in that state on the endangered species list.


Lawsuits were expected and won’t automatically derail delisting, Bangs said.


“I’m hoping, while the court goes through this, they will let states manage wolves,” he said.


Another change in the new plan is it provides more evidence wolf subpopulations are connected, Bangs said.


Wolves were delisted the first time Feb. 28 of last year.


But conservation groups sued, challenging the adequacy of Wyoming’s management and questioning the genetic connectivity between subpopulations. Rather than fight the case in court, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service decided to withdraw its delisting rule and come up with a new plan addressing the concerns.


Federal protections were restored July 18.


In March, U.S. Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar affirmed the agency’s new plan, but 12 conservation groups announced Wednesday their intent to sue again.


The groups are the NRDC, Defenders of Wildlife, 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 and Wildlands Project.

Wolf bill voted down by Senate


HELENA – A bill that aimed to give Montana sole authority over wolves in the state was voted down on the Senate floor Tuesday, with several senators expressing fear that passing the bill could derail the current delisting effort.

The bill’s sponsor, Sen. Joe Balyeat, R-Bozeman, tried to beat back those fears, saying the bill clearly states that the policy wouldn’t take effect if delisting goes forward. But the proposed law would give the state leverage if delisting doesn’t happen. If put into action, the plan would void all management agreements that Montana has with the federal government.

“We’ve heard these promises and they’ve never, never come to pass,” Balyeat said.

However, the Senate voted against the bill 27-23, with five Republicans joining Democrats in opposition to the bill. The bill had been approved in two committees before coming to the floor for a vote.

Sen. Bruce Tutvedt, R-Kalispell, who said he has worked on crafting Montana’s wolf policy to take over from the federal government since the Racicot administration, opposed the bill.

“We think anything that gets us off that goal, takes our eye off the ball, is the wrong thing to do,” he said.

Congress on Tuesday agreed to match up to half the funding states pay landowners for livestock killed by wolves and efforts to prevent losses.

It was good news for Montana farmers and ranchers, where the state program responsible for covering those payments is broke, said George Edwards, coordinator Livestock Loss and Reduction and Mitigation Program.

The provision was contained in a public lands bill with 171 provisions including the creation of wilderness in California, Colorado, Idaho, Michigan, New Mexico, Oregon, Utah, Virginia and West Virginia.

Montana has big bighorns



Almost a third of the bighorn rams that hunters have taken over the past three years in Montana qualify for the Boone and Crockett Club scoring system record book.

Hunters and conservationists interested in sheep say that makes Montana one of the best, if not the best place to hunt trophy bighorns.

See six record rams taken last year in Montana and read about a record ram taken during an undercover operation by FWP and a new plan to manage the sheep in Thursday’s outdoor section.