USDA partners with Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem landowners to conserve wildlife habitat 

Wyoming landowners in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem have long allowed wildlife to migrate through their private lands, and now, a new partnership will financially compensate them.

The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced the pilot program Friday. The agency is partnering with the state of Wyoming to commit an initial $15 million to landowners willing to conserve their land for big game migration.

It is part of a broad concept called “habitat leasing,” which means the land is essentially “rented out” by the government for wildlife and ranching operations. The land cannot be subdivided into residential units or developed for things like solar infrastructure.

Lesli Allison, the executive director of Western Landowners Alliance, said ranchers are being compensated for what they have already been doing.

“They can’t do that endlessly for free. And it’s part of the reason we’re losing these lands to development is because they’re not able to compete economically with other land uses,” she said.” And that’s because the value they’re providing to public wildlife has never really been recognized.”

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WLA’s statement on New Mexico Supreme Court ruling in stream certification case

On March 1st, The New Mexico Supreme Court held that the state’s stream certification rule is unconstitutional. The rule was intended to provide clarification for both landowners, the public and law enforcement officials as to rights of public access on specific stream segments. Without such clarification, disputes and conflicts will undoubtedly continue. WLA is disappointed in this initial ruling.

Many landowners, including those directly involved in this particular case, have played a leadership role in restoring streams and fisheries, and in conserving essential lands and habitats. Partnering with these landowners and ensuring their investments in sustaining fish and wildlife populations are protected should be the highest priority. WLA will continue to fight to defend the rights of landowners to conserve and steward the land, water and wildlife resources in their care. 

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NM Supreme Court throws out stream certification rule

The New Mexico Supreme Court on Tuesday agreed that a Game Commission rule that allows landowners to restrict access to water that flowed through private property is unconstitutional. The ruling opens can of worms for landowners and anglers, and puts stream restoration projects on private lands at risk. “As a result of development, recreation and intensive agriculture, we continue to lose wildlife habitat and wildlife species at an alarming rate,” WLA said in a statement. “Yet people continue to demand more and more access to places where wildlife have traditionally sought refuge, including on private land.”

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Conservation funding essential for state’s well-being

Opinion: It is absolutely critical to New Mexico’s future that significant conservation funding cross the finish line this legislative session. Intensive use has impacted the land’s capacity to support the watersheds upon which our economies depend. The state lacks capacity at almost every level, from resource management agencies to partners such as acequias, soil and water conservation districts, and restoration contractors. Along with increased funding for restoration projects, agency capacity must be expanded quickly, and our commitment to such objectives must be steadfast and long term.

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Advisory group discuss wolf compensation for livestock depredation in Colorado

The Colorado Stakeholder Advisory Group (SAG) developing recommendations for Colorado Parks & Wildlife on plans to restore and manage gray wolves in the state spent time hashing over alternative plans for livestock compensation for losses due to wolves. Hallie Mahowald of the Western Landowners Alliance said such a program recognizes that “these conflicts result in economic losses, these impacts born largely by folks that maintain and steward working lands, both public and private,” and do so while sharing the landscape with wildlife, she said. “We’re now asking them to do so in a shared landscape with a new predator, both migrating and reintroduced. I just think this is an opportunity for us to show support, and also just to recognize the value of the biodiversity of the habitat that these lands provide, which parking lots and condos and other development doesn’t.”

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WLA’s statement on removal of Jeremy Vesbach from NM Game & Fish Commission

Santa Fe, NM – Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham properly understands that agriculture, recreation and conservation are all important to New Mexico and that the rights and interests of diverse stakeholders need to be respected and balanced. The governor’s actions Tuesday reaffirm that the commission’s job is to maintain the delicate balance of state interests that many stakeholders, the legislature, the game commission and the Department of Game and Fish (NMDGF) have worked hard to achieve.

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Policy

USDA partners with Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem landowners to conserve wildlife habitat 

Wyoming landowners in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem have long allowed wildlife to migrate through their private lands, and now, a new partnership will financially compensate them.

The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced the pilot program Friday. The agency is partnering with the state of Wyoming to commit an initial $15 million to landowners willing to conserve their land for big game migration.

It is part of a broad concept called “habitat leasing,” which means the land is essentially “rented out” by the government for wildlife and ranching operations. The land cannot be subdivided into residential units or developed for things like solar infrastructure.

Lesli Allison, the executive director of Western Landowners Alliance, said ranchers are being compensated for what they have already been doing.

“They can’t do that endlessly for free. And it’s part of the reason we’re losing these lands to development is because they’re not able to compete economically with other land uses,” she said.” And that’s because the value they’re providing to public wildlife has never really been recognized.”

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USDA to Provide Payments to Livestock Producers Impacted by Drought or Wildfire

The U.S Department of Agriculture (USDA) today announced that ranchers who have approved applications through the 2021 Livestock Forage Disaster Program (LFP) for forage losses due to severe drought or wildfire in 2021 will soon begin receiving emergency relief payments for increases in supplemental feed costs in 2021 through the Farm Service Agency’s (FSA) new Emergency Livestock Relief Program (ELRP).

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President Biden Releases FY23 Budget Proposal

The White House officially released their fiscal year 2023 (FY23) budget request on March 28, 2022. The release of the President’s budget proposal which outlines the administration’s spending priorities, is the first step in the FY23 appropriations process.

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Water availability, regs spur farmland value chasm

It took a few years, but ag land values in California now reflect action taken by legislators eight years ago to pass the state’s landmark groundwater law. A growing chasm is evident as land values rise and fall significantly across the state.

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Senators Fischer, Grassley, Tester, Wyden unveil updated cattle market reform bill

U.S. Senators Deb Fischer (R-Neb.), Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), Jon Tester (D-Mont.), and Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) today released an updated version of their legislation, the Cattle Price Discovery and Transparency Act. The senators first introduced the bill in November.

“Our family farmers and ranchers have told us about the need for both robust price discovery and transparency in the cattle markets. The updates to our legislation incorporate a variety of stakeholder feedback to achieve our goal of ensuring more fairness in cattle markets. It’s encouraging to see our bill gain momentum and I am hopeful we will have a hearing on this important legislation in the Senate Agriculture Committee in the coming weeks,” said Senator Fischer, a member of the Senate Agriculture Committee.

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Corner crossers reach for federal court, access to 1.6M Western acres

Four hunters charged with trespassing in Carbon County Wyoming seek a federal court where their case could resolve the legality of corner crossing to access 1.6 million acres of public land across the West.

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New Legislation Would Improve Grazing and Wildlife Habitat Potential of Conservation Reserve Program

U.S. Sens. John Thune (R-S.D.) and Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), members of the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry, have introduced the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) Improvement Act. This legislation would bolster CRP by improving access to grazing, providing more enrollment options to producers, and addressing CRP implementation issues following the 2018 farm bill.

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Colorado hits a “hard pause” on water demand management as it waits for other states to catch up

Colorado is taking a “hard pause” on investigating the viability of demand management, a program that would allow the state to pay water users to temporarily and voluntarily conserve water and store what’s saved in Lake Powell for future use. The Colorado Water Conservation Board wants to instead focus on what can be done to help Colorado water users this year.

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New Mexico agencies: defining conservation key to 30×30

Defining what it means to conserve land and assessing existing conservation projects will be key to meeting New Mexico’s climate goals, state agency leaders said this week.

Sarah Cottrell Propst, secretary of the Energy, Minerals and Natural Resources Department, said the initiative builds on existing healthy soil projects, conservation easements and habitat restoration work.

“We want to preserve a role for natural working lands,” Cottrell Propst said.

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Wildlife

USDA partners with Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem landowners to conserve wildlife habitat 

Wyoming landowners in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem have long allowed wildlife to migrate through their private lands, and now, a new partnership will financially compensate them.

The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced the pilot program Friday. The agency is partnering with the state of Wyoming to commit an initial $15 million to landowners willing to conserve their land for big game migration.

It is part of a broad concept called “habitat leasing,” which means the land is essentially “rented out” by the government for wildlife and ranching operations. The land cannot be subdivided into residential units or developed for things like solar infrastructure.

Lesli Allison, the executive director of Western Landowners Alliance, said ranchers are being compensated for what they have already been doing.

“They can’t do that endlessly for free. And it’s part of the reason we’re losing these lands to development is because they’re not able to compete economically with other land uses,” she said.” And that’s because the value they’re providing to public wildlife has never really been recognized.”

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Wolves force California ranchers into deadly compromises

Griffin’s overarching goal, he tells me, is simply for ranching to endure. That lifestyle is where his heart is, and so too is the protection of open spaces that allow for entire ecosystems — wolves included — to thrive. In this way, he sees the fate of the ranchers and the wolves as interconnected. 

So when Californians think about how to best protect wolves, he hopes they also think about protecting the people who must live with them. 

“Ranchers shouldn’t be the only ones shouldering the burden of having wolves present on the landscape,” he says.

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Guest column: Montana making strides in migration education

Montanans have long valued the state’s wide-open landscape. The state has benefited greatly from the ability of ranching, farming and forestry to utilize these lands in economically productive ways that can be compatible and even synergistic with wildlife presence. This has been a powerful alignment of incentives for conservation. Meanwhile, the state would not be what it is today without decades of conservation effort to alleviate some of the challenges and pressures that wildlife brings to working lands businesses, to plan for winter range and refuge, research wildlife behavior, and inform land management practices.

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With big investment in wildlife crossings, Colorado lawmakers hope to cut car-animal collisions

Senate bill 151 would tab that money for safe wildlife crossings around the state’s highways and interstates and, backers hope, leverage federal money from the bipartisan infrastructure bill to goose the effort. The Colorado Department of Transportation already has a list of 10 wildlife crossing projects it could tackle in the next four years, if money is there, and 24 total for the next decade.

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New wolf attack in North Park puts cattle ranchers back on edge as reintroduction looms

Wolves attacked another cow this week outside of Walden, where ranchers have been on alert since a string of attacks on cattle earlier this winter. The rancher will be reimbursed for the loss of the pregnant cow. Meanwhile, six protective burros were delivered to a nearby ranch that lost three cows to wolves earlier this winter.

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CPW no longer final arbiter of wolf reintroduction after court relists species as endangered

A federal court ruling in February relisting gray wolves as an endangered species across much of the United States could complicate Colorado’s wolf reintroduction effort.

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A government agency is hiring a ‘grizzly bear conflict manager’ and is willing to pay up to $103,000 for the right candidate

The US Fish and Wildlife Service — a government agency that manages wildlife habitats — is currently seeking a “grizzly bear conflict manager”. Rather than stepping in to resolve territorial disputes between bears, they’ll be working with local wildlife agencies to manage bear populations and mitigate their contact with humans.

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Most U.S. wolves are listed as endangered—again. Here’s why.

A new court decision protects wolves, except in the Northern Rockies, just over a year after they were delisted. What’s next in the chaotic world of wolf conservation? There are diverse opinions on the relisting of wolves.

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Annual Game and Fish report shows increase in grizzly captures, livestock conflicts

Wyoming Game and Fish Department (WGFD) officials recorded nearly twice as many grizzly bear captures and relocations in 2021 compared to 2020, the agency said Monday, and conflicts with livestock increased in particular. The information comes upon the release of the 2021 Annual Report of Grizzly Bear Management Captures, Relocations and Removals.

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Will Releasing Captive-Raised Sage Grouse Help or Hurt Dwindling Populations?

As wild sage grouse populations decline and the species teeters on the brink of being listed under the Endangered Species Act, the Wyoming House is considering legislation that would extend certification of the state’s only captive sage grouse breeding farm. The legislation would extend certification of the Diamond Wings Upland Game Birds, which otherwise expires due to a five-year sunset clause this year.

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AZ House passes bill to strip wildlife officials of authority to stop killings of endangered wolves

The Arizona House has passed a bill that would strip state wildlife officials of the authority to stop the killing of Mexican gray wolves in certain circumstances. The Arizona Republic reports the measure would bar the Game and Fish Commission from prohibiting a person from killing a wolf if the person feels threatened or if their livestock or pets are in danger.

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Colorado Parks and Wildlife is dusting off a plan to reintroduce wolverines

As Colorado Parks and Wildlife maps out wolf reintroduction, the agency is considering how to support wolverines, revisiting a stalled plan to reintroduce the rare carnivore in the state.

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Montana cattle group opposes state giving Colorado wolves for reintroduction

The Montana Stockgrowers Association has asked its state wildlife agency to prevent wolves from being captured and released into Colorado as part of the Centennial State’s voter-mandated reintroduction plan.It’s not that the 135-year-old livestock producer organization is supportive of keeping Montana’s wolves in the state. Instead, in a letter to Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks the organization voiced its concern for the livestock producers of Colorado as a sign of solidarity.

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Tiny New Mexico river fish deemed ‘endangered’ by feds despite State’s opposition

A rare river fish in northern New Mexico received the highest federal protections as an endangered species Monday, following legal actions from environmentalists and backlash from state agencies. 

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Nonprofits Petition Federal Government to Ban Harmful Pesticides on Wildlife Refuges

The years-long fight over the use of pesticides on wildlife refuges has now entered a new season, with environmentalists petitioning the USFWS to end the practice, which so far has survived legislative and litigation efforts to permanently curtail it. In a recent petition, groups urged the federal agency to ban agricultural pesticide use on the nation’s 560-plus refuges.

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Yellowstone starts bison cull as animals migrate to Montana

Yellowstone National Park captured 37 bison that were migrating outside the park and sent most to slaughter as officials began an annual program to cull the animals to prevent them from spreading disease to cattle in neighboring Montana. Officials are aiming to remove up to 900 of Yellowstone’s 5,000 bison this winter through slaughter, relocations and hunting.

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Milkweed species proves beneficial for monarch conservation

Researchers have identified a species of milkweed that holds promise for planting on roadsides to improve conservation habitat for migrating monarch butterflies.

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Oil Industry Could Help a Nearly-Extinct Bird in New Mexico

The Biden administration last year proposed listing the portion of the lesser prairie chicken population in eastern New Mexico and the southwest Texas Panhandle as endangered, which could be finalized this spring. That’s amplified an effort to give energy industries a trade-off: Work on conservation and repair of the bird’s habitat and, in exchange, gain protection from the liability of accidentally killing a potentially protected species during operations.

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Idaho wildlife boss: State’s wolves won’t be wiped out

Ed Schriever, director of the Idaho Department of Fish and Game, does want to significantly reduce the state’s wolf population. But he says those who claim Idaho is marching toward a 90% lobo reduction are wrong or pushing an agenda. “We are trying to balance healthy, sustainable wolf populations with other needs, desires and uses. That is an incremental in the iterative process and it’s science-based. We do monitor. We do know what is going on.”

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Groundbreaking Study Finds Widespread Lead Poisoning in Bald and Golden Eagles

Nearly half of North American eagle populations are experiencing debilitating lead exposure, mostly due to ammunition used by hunters, according to an 8-year study published in Science.

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State shuts down wolf hunting and trapping in southwest Montana after threshold is met

The wolf hunting and trapping season ended in the southwest corner of Montana on Thursday after total kills in Region 3 hit the threshold of 82 wolves. An order from Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks directed wolf hunters and trappers in the region to remove their equipment from the field as quickly as possible. It applied to wolf management units 313 and 316, which encompass the area directly north of Yellowstone National Park.

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Bill would bar Idaho’s lands and animals from ‘personhood’

A bill that would prevent animals, natural resources and artificial intelligence from being granted “personhood status” in Idaho was introduced by the House State Affairs Committee. The legislation seeks to prevent any future efforts to increase environmental protections for animals or inanimate objects by granting them some of the same legal rights a person would have.

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Why experts say the West’s deer population is at ‘inflection point’ after another drop in 2021

Utah wildlife biologists fear there was another 10% drop in the statewide mule deer population in 2021 as mostly dry conditions reigned through the first half of the year.

The projection is based on below-normal adult and fawn survival rates, as well as fawn production in the second half of the year, Utah Division of Wildlife Resources officials told KSL.com.

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Story Short: USFWS to shoot estray cattle

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife (USFWS) notified the New Mexico Cattle Growers’ Association (NMCGA) it would shoot estray cattle in the Gila National Forest via helicopter flyover Feb. 8-10.

Despite efforts by Rail Lazy H to remove the estray cattle, only 20 head were removed, and the remaining moved to rugged terrain. NMCGA said it “adamantly opposes the mass shooting of estray cattle in contradiction to New Mexico’s livestock code” and has concerns USFWS will not be able to discern branded and unbranded livestock.

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Judge restores protections for gray wolves across much of US

A judge restored federal protections for gray wolves across much of the U.S. after their removal in the waning days of the Trump administration. U.S. District Judge Jeffrey White said the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service had failed to show wolf populations could be sustained in the Midwest and portions of the West without protection under the Endangered Species Act. The ruling does not directly impact wolves in the northern Rocky Mountains of Idaho, Montana and Wyoming and portions of several adjacent states.

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How Serious Are We, Really, About Protecting The Yellowstone Ecosystem?

Most of the history of American conservation has focused on public lands, either their management or converting private property to public ownership. However, to stem the number of future extinctions in our country, we must focus increased energy on private lands. How these lands are managed will be the determining factor in whether many species of fish, wildlife, and plants thrive, survive, or fade into memory – even in a place as seemingly wild as the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem. 

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Interior Secretary Deb Haaland Speaks Up On Wolves, But Is It Enough?

Tribes, conservation groups, even former Fish and Wildlife Service director say she should emergency re-list wolves with federal protection. Why does she balk?

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Beaver Dams Help Wildfire-Ravaged Ecosystems Recover Long after Flames Subside

Beaver dams mop up debris that would otherwise kill fish and other downstream wildlife, new observations suggest.

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New American Prairie purchase will open up nearly 10,000 acres to the public

When American Prairie acquired the 73 Ranch last month, it got a wildlife-rich ranch located along the Musselshell River in Garfield and Petroleum Counties. But the public will get more than 9,300 acres of public land that it has never had access to in the deal.

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Gray wolf attacks keep north Colorado town on edge: “We’re their grocery store.”

Walden residents and experts agree the state must do more to control wolves as the reintroduction deadline nears.

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Public comment period closing soon as BLM eyes new sage grouse regulations

The Bureau of Land Management is once again reviewing how it manages sage grouse habitat across 10 Western states.

“The BLM will examine new scientific information, including the effects of stressors like climate change, invasive grasses, wildfire and drought, to assess actions that may best support sagebrush habitat conservation and restoration on public lands to benefit sage grouse and surrounding communities,” the agency stated.

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Idaho working to delist grizzly bears

Idaho is preparing to ask the federal government to remove Endangered Species Act protections for grizzly bears, writes reporter Eric Barker of the Lewiston Tribune. 

The intention was announced during a presentation to the Idaho Fish and Game Commission at Boise on Thursday. It was unclear how far the state’s petition, which is expected to be completed in the next few weeks, will go and whether it will include all of the grizzly bear populations and recovery areas within Idaho or even all of those in the Lower 48. But officials said it will be timed to take advantage of grizzly bear delisting petitions recently submitted by Montana and Wyoming.

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North Park is ground zero in Colorado’s wolf controversy. Ranchers want to know if anyone hears them.

It would be easier, many locals say, to “shoot, shovel and shut up” when wolves prey on their livestock, although getting caught shooting a protected species could mean a $100,000 fine and a year in jail. The Gittlesons, owners of the ranch where there have been recent depredations, though, said they are reporting every wolf sighting and attack to their local Colorado Parks and Wildlife agents, seeking government compensation for their dead cows, and asking for help to scare the pack away from the ranch. At the same time, they want the rest of Colorado to understand why they need lethal force to get rid of problem wolves.

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Elk feast on farmers’ haystacks across Pacific Northwest

Across the West, widespread drought has left elk, deer and even wild turkeys hungry and in poor condition — even a bit desperate. Wild elk are even attacking farmers’ haystacks in Washington and Oregon. Record snow across much of the Northwest’s mountains has driven animals down to the lowlands — in gangs. And climate scientists say things may only get worse in the future.

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New partnerships find win-win projects between ranchers and environmentalists

“You can do all the conservation practices in the world,” said Susie Evans, a fifth-generation cattle rancher in Chaffee County, Colorado. “But if it doesn’t profit, you’re gone.”

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Advisory group discuss wolf compensation for livestock depredation in Colorado

The Colorado Stakeholder Advisory Group (SAG) developing recommendations for Colorado Parks & Wildlife on plans to restore and manage gray wolves in the state spent time hashing over alternative plans for livestock compensation for losses due to wolves. Hallie Mahowald of the Western Landowners Alliance said such a program recognizes that “these conflicts result in economic losses, these impacts born largely by folks that maintain and steward working lands, both public and private,” and do so while sharing the landscape with wildlife, she said. “We’re now asking them to do so in a shared landscape with a new predator, both migrating and reintroduced. I just think this is an opportunity for us to show support, and also just to recognize the value of the biodiversity of the habitat that these lands provide, which parking lots and condos and other development doesn’t.”

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Spring calving heralds beginning of predator season

Alberta, CA – As bear, cougar and wolf populations rebound, ranchers are working with conservation officers, wildlife specialists and researchers to pinpoint and mitigate problems.

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States want grizzlies’ ESA protections removed

Fulfilling a promise made in September, Wyoming Gov. Mark Gordon has officially petitioned the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) to remove the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem (GYE) population of grizzly bears from the Endangered Species List. The petition, filed with the support of Idaho and Montana, affirms that grizzly bears, by all measures, have been fully-recovered since 2003.

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Neighbors, officials help Colorado rancher put up fencing to protect cattle from wolves

On Monday, about a dozen people helped Gittleson trudge through the deep snow to put up 3 miles of fladry around a pasture near his ranch house. The thin electric fencing with flags that wave in the wind was erected to deter a nearby wolfpack that killed one pregnant heifer at the ranch, injured another badly enough it had to euthanized and killed a calf in the early morning hours over the last five weeks

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New bill has Washington tribes, farmers divided over salmon protective zones

House Bill 1838, also known as the Lorraine Loomis Act — named after a Swinomish Tribe member who was a salmon recovery advocate in the state — would set up salmon protection zones known as “riparian management zones” along rivers, streams, and other similar bodies of water that are home to migrating salmon.

The bill states that public and private property owners with land along the designated riparian protective zones will be responsible for protecting those zones, including planting trees and shrubbery to cool down the water temperature. The zones would cover 100 feet on either side of a river or stream in non-forested areas, and different amounts based on tree height in forested areas.

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Wolf experts: Colorado officials should ‘urgently’ address recent wolf kills of livestock

Two experts with decades of experience in wolf ecology in the Northern Rocky Mountains said Colorado Parks and Wildlife officials should address a recent string of confirmed wolf kills of cattle and a dog “urgently and aggressively.”

The latest wolf kills came Tuesday and Wednesday early morning on the Gittleson Angus ranch north of Walden. The ranch is located near where a pair of wolves naturally migrated from Wyoming and had six pups last spring, marking the first time in 80 years wolves were born in the state.

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Collaborative efforts aid fish and fowl

There is much to be said about the collaborations between like-minded groups and individuals. I was fortunate to interview some folks recently in California on their joint efforts to affect positive environmental change.

What you’ll read about here is a decades-long effort between conservation groups and California rice growers to take the successes they’ve seen in bird habitat restoration and parlay that into fish restoration projects in a valley that was once a large flood plain prior to dams and levees.

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Watch: Wolves in Yellowstone Part I: Can hunting and tourism co-exist?

YELLOWSTONE NATIONAL PARK – As of today, 21 wolves that are part of Yellowstone National Park packs, have been killed by hunters this season. Most of those were killed in Montana.

Reacting to the wolf hunters’ success, Emil McCain the owner of Yellowstone Wild Tours said, “There’s no reason to hunt Yellowstone wolves.”

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WLA’s statement on removal of Jeremy Vesbach from NM Game & Fish Commission

Santa Fe, NM – Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham properly understands that agriculture, recreation and conservation are all important to New Mexico and that the rights and interests of diverse stakeholders need to be respected and balanced. The governor’s actions Tuesday reaffirm that the commission’s job is to maintain the delicate balance of state interests that many stakeholders, the legislature, the game commission and the Department of Game and Fish (NMDGF) have worked hard to achieve.

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Another Game Commission member gone amid stream access fight

New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham has dismissed another member of a state panel that oversees wildlife conservation and hunting and fishing regulations as a dispute percolates over public access to streams and rivers that flow through private property.

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CPW Commission approves emergency wolf hazing rules

Ranchers in Colorado can now haze gray wolves to protect livestock after the Colorado Parks and Wildlife Commission unanimously approved new emergency regulations on Wednesday, Jan. 12.

The new regulations were already being considered through the commission’s regular process, but Parks and Wildlife staff and commissioners felt recent wolf predation incidents warranted more immediate action.

Before these new regulations ranchers didn’t have many options if a wolf was harassing livestock. Now they can use guard animals, fladry (colored flags on fencing), scare devices like propane cannons and range riders, as well as several non-lethal projectiles.

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Listen: A wolf pack kill is reported in Jackson County over the weekend

A rancher’s dog was killed over the weekend by a pack of wolves in Jackson County.

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Grizzlies and Us

In this 10-part series produced over the past year by outdoor reporters and photojournalists across Montana and Wyoming, the many issues surrounding the uneasy coexistence of grizzlies and humans are examined in full.

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Documentary focuses on biologists’ effort to save San Juan cutthroat trout following 416 Fire

A new documentary, “The Fish & the Flame,” highlights the successful recovery of the San Juan cutthroat trout in the wake of Durango’s 416 Fire of 2018. The 14-minute film details how Colorado Parks and Wildlife aquatic biologist Jim White collaborated with Banded Peak Ranch Manager Tim Haarmann to save one of the last remaining populations of the recently rediscovered San Juan cutthroat trout as the 416 Fire threatened to decimate the fish that until 2018 was believed to be extinct.

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Fish and the Flame

The successful recovery of the San Juan cutthroat trout in the face of Durango’s 416 Fire of 2018 is the subject of a new documentary film produced by Days Edge Productions and presented by Western Landowners Alliance and Chama Peak Land Alliance.

A free virtual film screening of “The Fish & the Flame” will be held at 5 p.m. Jan. 10. The 14-minute showing will be followed by a question and answer session with Colorado Parks and Wildlife aquatic biologist Jim White, Banded Peak Ranch manager Tim Haarmann, Western Landowners Alliance executive director Lesli Allison, Chama Peak Land Alliance executive director Caleb Stotts and producer Page Buono.

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The wolves are coming. Can Coloradans meet them on common ground?

Jackson County rancher who reported the first wolf kill in more than 70 years says he’s skeptical, but willing to try.

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FWS Sued Over “Burdensome” ESA Regulations After Endangered Bird’s Habitat Overlaps With Cattle Ranch

A cattle growers’ association sued several federal agencies for the allegedly “burdensome federal regulations” on land use imposed under the Endangered Species Act, particularly for cattle growers who rely on their land for their livelihood. The New Mexico Cattle Growers’ Association filed a complaint on Monday in the District of Columbia District Court against the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS), the U.S. Department of the Interior (DOI), as well as the Secretary of the DOI and the Principal Deputy Director of the FWS for the listing of the southwestern willow flycatcher.

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Conservationists hope their plan can save imperiled New Mexico chicken from extinction

A plan to recover the lesser prairie chicken (LPC) was approved by the federal government recently to allow development of lands in eastern New Mexico while also protecting the species from extinction.

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A Colorado family tried to save their cattle ranch by betting big on rare birds. It’s paying off.

From getting the folks at Audubon to certify the ranch as bird-friendly, to selling carbon sequestration credits for the tall grass, the May Ranch near Lamar is modernizing stewardship.

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Oregon police seek clues in poisoning of eight wolves

Police in the US state of Oregon are investigating the poisoning of eight grey wolves found dead by officials earlier this year. Five wolves were discovered near Mount Harris in February, followed by another three later. Tests confirmed that a “poisonous substance” had killed the wolves. Authorities are asking for help from public and conservation groups are offering a $26,000 award for information leading to conviction.

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Elk Occupancy Agreements

PERC and the Greater Yellowstone Coalition have partnered with a local rancher in the Paradise Valley to conserve a nearly 500-acre elk winter range area, separated by approximately 1.25 miles of wildlife-friendly fencing. The designated acreage will exclude livestock and allow for the free and unrestricted movement of elk. The landowner will conduct habitat management and enhancement activities in the elk winter range to maintain and enhance range conditions. This “elk occupancy agreement” is the first of its kind in the northern Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem.

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Climate, population drops, prompt BLM to revise sage grouse plans

Citing population declines, climate change, habitat loss and other factors, the Bureau of Land Management will revise Western conservation plans for greater sage grouse, including in Wyoming where about 38% of the birds live on a landscape heavily used by the state’s industries.

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Wolf Killed in Washington State for Preying on Cattle

The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife announced Monday that an adult male wolf was killed in Columbia County, drawing criticism from wildlife advocates who contend endangered wolves should not be slain for preying on livestock.

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The Bureau of Land Management begins evaluation of plans for sage-grouse conservation

In order to protect the long-term health of sage-grouse populations, review new science and comply with court direction, the Bureau of Land Management is beginning a process to consider updates to the range-wide management plans for sagebrush habitat adopted in 2015 and amended in 2019. More than 70 resource management plans currently guide habitat conservation and restoration on 67 million acres of greater sage-grouse habitat the bureau manages in 10 Western states.

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Wreckreation vs. wildlife

After years of collaborative effort, a working group releases its strategy for saving the remaining native bighorn sheep of the Teton Range in Idaho and Wyoming, proposing the winter closure of 21,233 acres to humans. Even though this only would affect about 2,000 acres of high quality skiing terrain, it’s still too much for some members of the winter recreation community.

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NRCS designs grant for Blackfoot Challenge grizzly conflict reduction

Ranchers can use electric fences to keep grizzly bears and other carnivores out of calving areas and barnyards. Sounds like a win-win situation, except electric fencing can be pricey and going through electrified gates can be tedious and a little dicey. Leave it to the Blackfoot Challenge to find a way around the problem by creating a better way to go through: by installing electrified drive-over mats. That’s what Blackfoot Challenge staff highlighted during a Western Landowners Alliance conference this week.

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Feds reverse Trump-era rule that dramatically reduced critical habitat for spotted owls

The USFWS recently announced a decision to maintain protections on over 3 million acres of forest habitat deemed critical for the survival of the threatened northern spotted owl. Those protections, in parts of Washington, Oregon and Northern California, were removed in the waning days of the Trump administration. The revised designation under the Endangered Species Act determined that removing those protections would cost the owl critical habitat necessary for its continued survival.

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Low-tech restoration has high impact on wildlife, working lands

A remote creek on public land in central Wyoming got some special attention this year as the Bureau of Land Management and partners began to employ low-tech, low-cost methods to restore wet meadows to dry public lands. Wet meadows are riparian areas that provide critical habitat for wildlife and livestock in the arid landscape. “Our goal with these projects is to slow the water down so it has time to spread out, drop sediment, seep down, raise the water table and build back the vegetation that stabilizes the system,” said BLM Wildlife Biologist Leah Yandow. While these simple, low-tech methods aren’t new, it’s the first time the BLM has employed them to restore wet meadows on lands administered by the BLM in Wyoming.

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‘A ticking time bomb for a mass die-off’

Recent grazing decisions continue to risk Southwest Colorado’s bighorns.

On a recent October morning, a single-engine plane dipped and jerked in a turbulent wind. A small group of conservationists and policy advisors, accompanied by my photographer and me, had all packed into a tiny EcoFlight to fly over a terraced expanse of Colorado’s San Juan Mountains. Our pilot took a sharp turn east. The plane rumbled; our shoulders bumped and our cellphones shook as we took blurry photos of snow-capped mountains. We were at the apex of our route, a 126-mile loop over San Juan, Ouray and Hinsdale counties. Directly below us was Hensen Creek, a place that Terry Meyers, executive director of the Rocky Mountain Bighorn Society, called “ground zero” for bighorn-domestic sheep conflicts in southwestern Colorado. He put it bluntly: “We’re looking down on a ticking time bomb for a mass die-off of Rocky Mountain bighorn sheep.”

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Ranchers, USDA, other agencies gathering to discuss working lands, carnivores and conflict

Beyond Conflict online conference will focus on how to respond to increasing carnivore pressure in ways that keep ranches whole so they can continue to provide vital habitat.

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Feds and conservation groups reach agreement on Canada lynx

More than 20 years after the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service deemed the Canada lynx a threatened species, the agency has agreed to prepare a recovery plan for the elusive, forest-dwelling carnivores. Last week the agency entered into a settlement agreement with six conservation groups that sued USFWS in 2020 over its management of lynx.

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Partnering Up

How a collaboration between government agencies, conservation groups and landowners in Montana is showing that wildlife conservation and human prosperity can coexist.

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Conservation groups sue over status of black-footed ferrets

A trio of conservation groups sued the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service on Thursday over its management of black-footed ferrets in Wyoming. Even though the black-footed ferret, North America’s only native ferret species, is still classified as endangered, the agency delegated responsibility for the species to the state in 2015. The federal lawsuit criticizes the rule and calls for oversight to be returned to the federal government.

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Senators urge emergency protections for wolves in U.S. West

A group of Democratic lawmakers on Thursday urged the Biden administration to enact emergency protections for gray wolves in the U.S. West in response to Republican-backed state laws that make it easier to kill the predators. Twenty-one U.S. senators asked Interior Secretary Deb Haaland to shield wolves from being killed for 240 days while permanent protections are considered.

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More protections for Mexican wolf proposed

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is proposing to amend management regulations for Mexican wolves in Arizona and New Mexico. The proposed changes would remove limits on the current number of wolves allowed and restrict previously allowed methods of population control on public and private land.

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Wildlife agencies to cancel Trump-era endangered species rules

The Biden administration moved to rescind two Trump administration environmental rollbacks that crimped the designation of critical habitat to protect threatened or endangered species.

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Top 5 Considerations for Increasing Wildlife Diversity

Land management decisions and actions that focus on the following five considerations produce the most diverse wildlife populations: 1) habitat diversity, 2) ecosystem processes, 3) soil health, 4) ecological stewardship and 5) size. Note, the focus of this article is increasing overall wildlife species diversity rather than increasing the abundance of a particular species.

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White House Announces Nomination of Martha Williams as Director of the Fish and Wildlife Service

The White House today announced the intent to nominate Martha Williams as Director of the Fish and Wildlife Service. Martha has been serving as Principal Deputy Director since January 20, 2021, exercising the delegable authority of the Director. The nomination will now be considered by the U.S. Senate.

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Early hopeful signs from California’s plan to bring back monarch butterflies

Across the state, environmental and nature conservation organizations are teaming up to create and restore suitable habitats for the butterflies, which in the past would migrate by the tens of thousands to California ahead of winter.

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Wildfire smoke disrupts bird migration in the West

Early fall wildfires in the western states and the smoke they generate pose a risk to birds migrating in the Pacific Flyway, according to a new study by the U.S. Geological Survey. GPS data from the 2020 wildfire season indicate that at least some migratory birds may take longer and use more energy to avoid wildfire smoke.

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The controversial plan to bring jaguars back to the US

Jaguars are federally protected in a portion of southern Arizona and New Mexico. Yet some conservationists say that’s not enough, and that it’s time to bring Panthera onca back to what they consider to be the cats’ full historic range. A recent plan detailed in studies published in the journals Oryx and Conservation Science and Practice says as many as 150 jaguars could survive in a 20-million-acre swath dubbed the Central Arizona/New Mexico Recovery Area.

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Idaho reaches deal to reimburse hunters who kill wolves

Idaho officials will make available up to $200,000 to be divided into payments for hunters and trappers who kill wolves in the state through next summer. The Idaho Department of Fish and Game late last month entered into an agreement with a nonprofit hunting group to reimburse the expenses for a proven kill. The agreement follows a change in Idaho law aimed at killing more wolves that are blamed for attacking livestock and reducing deer and elk herds.

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Managing Montana’s elk wealth is causing heartburn for landowners, FWP and hunters

As elk populations have grown and herds have re-established a presence where they weren’t seen for a century, elk have entered Montana’s political crosshairs. The recovery of elk populations has led many of the state’s hunters and landowners to a crossroads, a divisive debate over how best to manage this wildlife wealth.

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There’s probably only one wolf left in far northwest Colorado. Can the state protect it?

For nearly two years, wolf expert Karin Vardaman has visited the Moffat County rangeland every few months to track wolves for Working Circle, a nonprofit she founded to help ranchers live with the predators. The patchwork of public and private land is already a riot of animal life. Forested mountains overlook broad valleys, where elk and cattle scare badgers from their dens beneath the sagebrush.

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US says ivory-billed woodpecker, 22 other species extinct

The US Fish and Wildlife Service is ready to declare the ivory-billed woodpecker — and 22 others — gone for good, tripling the number of species delisted due to extinction. Government scientists warn climate change, on top of other pressures, could make such disappearances more common as a warming planet adds to the dangers facing imperiled plants and wildlife.

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Enviros aim to eliminate states’ funding over wolf hunting laws

(Subscription) States would lose federal wildlife funding if they “excessively” target predator species like wolves, cougars and grizzly bears, under a new petition to the Interior Department filed by myriad environmental groups. The petition seeks to add enforcement teeth to an existing requirement that states not compromise healthy wildlife populations.

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BLM to round up half of Wyoming’s wild horses

The BLM will round up most wild horses in five herd management areas in southwestern Wyoming, beginning as soon as Oct. 7. Removed horses will be “freeze branded, vaccinated, dewormed and given a Coggins test,” a blood test for viral Equine Infectious Anemia. Officials will then return about 1/4 of the removed horses to the range, administering temporary fertility controls to all returned mares, in an effort to reduce the wild horse population in those areas, the agency said Friday.

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Grizzly presence increasing in Sublette

Following news of the recent black bear lethally removed from the Big Sandy area and the numerous verified sightings of bears in the Kemmerer area that have dropped off, Wyoming Game and Fish officials shed some light on grizzly bear relocations and sightings in Sublette County. Four grizzly bears have been relocated and four removed from the Upper Green River Basin since the first instance this summer on July 11.

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Wyoming to ask US to lift Yellowstone grizzly protections

Wyoming will ask the federal government to remove its protections for grizzly bears in the Yellowstone region and permit the region’s three states to manage and potentially allow hunting of the big bruins in certain areas. Wyoming will submit the request after which the USFWS will have 90 days to determine whether delisting under the ESA might be warranted in Wyoming, Montana and Idaho.

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Feds consider re-listing wolf as state hunts start

Gray wolves in the West could go back under federal ESA protection due to the risk of “potential increases in human-caused mortality,” the USFWS announced. The decision to start a 12-month review of the wolf’s status came on the same day Montana and Idaho opened hunting and trapping seasons on the predator.

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US tribes demand emergency protection for wolves

Dozens of American Indian tribes asked the Biden administration Tuesday to immediately enact emergency protections for gray wolves, saying states have become too aggressive in hunting the animal.

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Wildlife damage mitigation payment debate heats up

Late last October, the America’s Conservation Enhancement (ACE) Act was signed into law. It was described as “the most significant wildlife conservation and sportsmen’s law in decades,” by U.S. Sen. John Barrasso, R-Wyo., who introduced the bill. The act includes a little-known provision, promising to help compensate ranchers for lost livestock from predator attacks. Local leaders were excited by the prospects of future budget relief, yet Wyoming game and fish continues to foot the bill for compensation as funding from the bill has yet to be appropriated.

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Wild horse roundup in northwest Colorado begins as BLM tries to gather 733 mustangs

The federal Bureau of Land Management is removing 80% of the wild horses in Sand Wash Basin of Colorado after drought-stricken rangeland turns to “moon dust”

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Report: Migration Key to Conserving Big Game in Bridger-Teton Forest

A report published today focuses on data-driven efforts to conserve big-game migration in Wyoming’s Bridger-Teton National Forest. Sportsmen organizations hope the findings can help guide decision-making as the U.S. Forest Service prepares to revise its 31-year-old management plan

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Why have gray wolves failed to gain a foothold in Colorado?

The Green River Corridor, a pathway from Wyoming to Colorado, highlights the political and physical barriers wolves face.

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House Democrats Agree to $100 Million Allocation for Critically Endangered Species

In a memo released by the House Natural Resources Committee, House Democrats will provide $550 million to the US Fish and Wildlife Service in the upcoming budget reconciliation package, including $100 million for some of the most critically imperiled species in the United States.

The legislation will include $25 million to conserve and restore four of the most imperiled types of endangered species in the United States: butterflies, eastern freshwater mussels, Southwest desert fish and Hawaiian plants.

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Legislators hope to fully fund Natural Resource Trust for first time since its inception

Since its formation in 2005, the Wyoming Wildlife and Natural Resource Trust has dedicated millions of dollars to invasive species treatments, stream bank stabilization projects and fish barrier removals. But there’s one goal the program has never reached, according to Wyoming Wildlife and Natural Resource Trust Executive Director Bob Budd: being fully funded at a level of $200 million, as stipulated by state statute. If fully funded, the trust fund would generate $8 to $10 million annually to be used on projects across the state.

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Biden administration backs end to wolf protections but hunting worries grow

President Joe Biden’s administration is sticking by the decision under former President Donald Trump to lift protections for gray wolves across most of the U.S. But a top federal wildlife official on Friday told The Associated Press there is growing concern over aggressive wolf hunting seasons adopted for the predators in the western Great Lakes and northern Rocky Mountains.

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MT wildlife commission adopts new wolf hunting, trapping regulations

Montana Fish and Wildlife Commission adopted several controversial new wolf hunting and trapping regulations, the culmination of months of debate that has drawn national and even international attention.

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Trout in trouble

This year’s drought has impacted Montana’s treasured cold-water fisheries, and the outfitters and anglers who rely on them. Montana Fish Wildlife and Parks fully or partially closed close to twenty rivers to fishing this summer due to high water temperatures, low flows, or concerns about angling pressure.

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Getting Started Bison Ranching

A few things to consider when starting with or converting to bison ranching: 1) bison largely remain a wild and undomesticated species — treat them as dangerous wildlife, 2) precipitation and drought will affect summer growth and gains — more drought will reduce growth rates and 3) mind your genetics, avoid inbreeding.

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FWP reorganization could hamper science-based wildlife management, public input

The Gianforte administration is starting to reorganize the structure of Fish, Wildlife & Parks, and the changes could make it harder for biologists and resident sportsmen to conserve Montana’s fish and wildlife in the future.

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In Wyoming, fences are coming down to make way for wildlife

Arthur Middleton and the Absaroka Fence Initiative are featured in this story that takes a look at the worldwide problem of barriers to wildlife migration. More than 600,000 miles of fences crisscross the American West, blocking animal migration. Outside Yellowstone this summer, volunteers dismantled a few.

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In Wyoming, fences are coming down to make way for wildlife

More than 600,000 miles of fences crisscross the American West, blocking animal migration. Outside Yellowstone this summer, volunteers dismantled a few.

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Researchers Explore Climate, Human and Wildlife Interactions on Rangeland in Idaho, Oregon

Study to examine the interconnectedness of the inhabitants of western rangelands, including humans, plants and animals, in the face of a changing climate and other stressors.

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Recognizing monarch butterflies under the Endangered Species Act may do more harm than good

Insect populations are declining worldwide, and monarch butterflies are no exception. Efforts to reverse the trends are underway across the United States and Canada. Even with these efforts, many national insect conservation groups are advocating for the USFWS to list the monarch butterfly as “threatened” under the ESA. But a recent op-ed from scientists says that listing the monarch as endangered would trigger regulatory protections that could actually harm monarch populations and current conservation efforts.

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Farmers help create powerful, open-source spatial model to save bumblebees

Created by scientists at the University of Exeter in collaboration with farmers and land managers, BEE-STEWARD is a decision-support tool which provides a computer simulation of bumblebee colony survival in a given landscape. The tool lets researchers, farmers, policymakers, and other interested parties test different land management techniques to find out which ones and where could be most beneficial for bees.

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Montana wolf proposals draw thousands of comments

Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks reported roughly 25,000 public comments were submitted ahead of the August Montana Fish and Wildlife Commission meeting. About 90% of non-form letter comments also opposed killing wolves or expressed ethical or conflict concerns. About 1,000 comments could be identified as submitted from Montana, and those were about evenly split between support and opposition, according to FWP analysis.

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East Yellowstone Collaborative Working Group Recieves a 2021 Catalyst Fund Grant

The East Yellowstone Collaborative Working Group works to restore, protect, and steward the lands of the Absaroka Front to support healthy wildlife populations and sustain private working lands. Funding will support continued facilitation of the Working Group, including monthly partner meetings. Funding will also support targeted work with landowners to explore and prioritize potential conservation projects as the Working Group moves into implementation of its Vision Plan. Targeted investments in sustaining the collaborative capacity of the Working Group will accelerate its ability to achieve landscape-scale conservation outcomes in a landscape of global significance while maintaining the economic viability of ranches and private working lands.

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Game & Fish asks public to help solve elk, CWD, feedground puzzle

The Wyoming Game and Fish Department last week wrapped up a six-town tour aimed at launching stakeholder groups to generate new ideas for management of Wyoming’s 22 elk feedgrounds, where chronic wasting disease threatens some 14,000 elk. Wildlife managers hope the meetings from Rock Springs to Jackson will encourage citizen stakeholders to volunteer for an 18-month effort that could lead to a new paradigm for managing the winter feedgrounds.

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How Kansas ranchers and the land benefit from going back to the way of the bison

A new generation of ranchers finds success experimenting with methods that go against the grain. They could be blazing a trail to more profitable ranching while aiding prairie wildlife.

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ODFW kills 2 wolf pups from Lookout Mountain pack

Employees from the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife, firing rifles from a helicopter, shot and killed two wolf pups from the Lookout Mountain pack on Aug. 1. On July 29, the agency’s director authorized either ODFW employees, or a Baker County ranching couple or their designated agents, to kill up to four sub-adult wolves from that pack, which has attacked their cattle at least four times since mid-July.

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Conserving prime hay ground as well as Colorado’s elk and deer

Thanks to forward-thinking stewardship by the Etcharts, prime rangeland in NW Colorado will stay a working ranch forever, rather than being chopped up into a subdivision. In order to maintain the economic viability of their ranch and maintain vital wildlife habitat, the Etcharts have enrolled in a slew of NRCS and FSA programs that support their stewardship vision.

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Coalition seeks relisting of gray wolves in US West

Wildlife advocates petitioned federal officials to restore federal protections for gray wolves throughout the U.S. West after Idaho and Montana passed laws intended to drastically cut their numbers. The agency is supposed to respond within 90 days on whether there is enough information for a potential listing under the Endangered Species Act.

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In This Wolf Man, There Are Enduring Echoes Of Aldo

Greater Yellowstone-based scientist Mike Phillips receives Leopold Award, highest honor given by The Wildlife Society for having an impactful career in conservation

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Rancher’s cattle reimbursement request rejected by Game and Fish

A Crandall rancher had his more than $120,000 request in reimbursement for cattle losses caused by grizzly bears and wolves in 2020 mostly rejected by the Wyoming Game and Fish Commission on July 15. G&F determined that Peterson used an unlawful multiplier in his calculations, and the agency can only reimburse for stock that was confirmed by G&F staff to have been killed by bears and wolves. Peterson argued that yearling losses should be compensated with the same multiplier as calves due to their similar age and size.

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Heinrich, Blunt introduce legislation to fund wildlife conservation

The Recovering America’s Wildlife Act, which U.S. Senator Heinrich of New Mexico is introducing along with Republican U.S. Senator Blunt of Missouri, would provide $1.3 billion annually in funding to states and $97.5 million to tribes to implement projects identified in the wildlife action plans that intend to keep species off of the endangered species list and recover those that are already on the list.

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Groups: Idaho wolf law will cause grizzly bear, lynx deaths

Environmental groups have notified Idaho Gov. Brad Little and other state officials of their intent to file a lawsuit over an expanded wolf-killing law they believe will result in the illegal killing of federally protected grizzly bear and lynx.

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Mexican wolf breeding program gets boost from zoo

Five gray wolf pups born at Mexico City’s Chapultepec Zoo are giving a boost to efforts to broaden the endangered species’ genetic diversity amid continuing efforts to reintroduce the animals to the wild decades after they were reduced to captive populations.

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Groups: Idaho wolf law will cause grizzly bear, lynx deaths

Environmental groups have notified Idaho Gov. Brad Little and other state officials of their intent to file a lawsuit over an expanded wolf-killing law they believe will result in the illegal killing of federally protected grizzly bear and lynx.

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Bear relocated to Yellowstone Park area after killing cattle

A grizzly bear was captured north of Pinedale on Wednesday and relocated to an area about 5 miles from the East Entrance of Yellowstone National Park. The adult male was targeted after it killed cattle on a U.S. Forest Service grazing allotment north of Pinedale in the Bridger-Teton National Forest.

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In The Bull’s Eye: A Human Swarm Is Overwhelming The Yellowstone Region

Challenges to the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem including rural subdivisions, sprawling towns, and unprecedented levels of recreation and tourism are threatening ecosystems, migration corridors and communities.

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Ranchers demand more money for grizzly-killed stock, again

Wyoming Game and Fish commissioners backed agency staff last week and approved compensation for trophy game damage to stock that amounted to $388,696 less than two ranchers claimed.

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Landowners weigh how to help ‘dire’ grassland bird populations

Grassland bird populations have been in a free-fall for decades, decreasing overall by 57 percent across the prairies from 1970 to 2016.

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First Female grizzly in 40 years collared in NE Washington State

Wildlife officials have captured and collared a female grizzly in Northeast Washington State for the first time in 40 years. As grizzlies expand their range, there is opportunity for conflicts within communities unprepared for their presence.

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Minnesota DNR calls off wolf hunt this year despite support from farmers, hunters

The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources on Wednesday, July 7, said there will be no wolf hunting and trapping season in Minnesota in 2021 as the agency continues to develop a new long-term wolf management plan.

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US to take longer look at contentious Montana bison proposal

Federal officials will give the public more time to comment on a contentious proposal to expand bison grazing on public lands in north-central Montana. The move comes after Republican Gov. Greg Gianforte criticized the BLM for holding just one virtual meeting on the proposal, which covers about 108 square miles (280 square kilometers) south of Malta.

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Colorado Parks and Wildlife, Keystone Policy Center Launch Online Open House

Colorado Parks and Wildlife and the Keystone Policy Center announced today the launch of an Online Open House and detailed Comment Form available on Colorado’s Wolf Restoration and Management Plan Public Engagement Website.

The online open house and comment form offer the same information, questions and opportunity to submit feedback that is available at in-person public listening sessions that will be conducted throughout the state this summer.

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Wolf reintroduction happened so fast in Montana and Idaho, the states are expanding hunting. Here’s what Colorado can learn.

Taking Montana and Idaho as case studies, Gray wolf populations in Colorado will expand quickly once introduced. In this article, Wildlife officials highlight how hunting manages wolf populations once their populations recover.

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Why the poaching of one gray wolf in Washington can matter

While poaching of a single breeding female wolf can significantly affect the viability of a pack, wildlife managers share that the loss of a single wolf does not hinder overall recovery efforts or population stability

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WDFW: Only open-and-shut wolf attacks confirmed

Washington Fish and Wildlife officials concede that they likely undercount depredations by wolves, but say the high standard is necessary to maintain scientific integrity and legal certainty.

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Deadly attack by grizzly bear prompts calls for action

The deadly attack of a woman by a grizzly bear in Ovando, Montana earlier this week is indicative of a problem that some people say is going to get worse. In this article, state senators Butch Gillespie and WLA member Trina Jo Bradley offer their perspectives on increasing grizzly bear-human conflicts in Montana.

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Colorado’s first gray wolf pack since 1940s now has 6 pups

Colorado’s first litter of gray wolf pups since the 1940s has grown to include six pups. Colorado Parks and Wildlife said Thursday that staff spotted the pups living in a den with two collared wolves in northern Colorado.

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Officials Kill Grizzly Bear Suspected in Fatal Attack of Woman in Montana

Wildlife officials shot and killed a grizzly bear near Ovando, Montana that was believed to have been involved in the fatal attack of a California woman this week. Wildlife officials said the grizzly likely began associating humans and populated areas with food and security, prompting it to search areas where people gathered.

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No-Kill Project Continues As Idaho Expands Wolf Hunting And Trapping

While a new law in Idaho seeks to reduce wolf populations in the State through more liberal hunting, the Wood River Wolf Project continues their effort to employ non-lethal deterrents to reduce conflict between wolves and sheep

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WDFW sets 3-day goal for wolf removal decisions

The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) has set a 3-day goal for wolf removal decisions, in order to speed up the previously lengthy decision process on whether to lethally control an individual wolf or pack that is depredating livestock

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US proposes removing Colorado River fish’s endangered status

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service said Tuesday it plans to propose reclassifying a rare Colorado River Basin fish called the razorback sucker from endangered to threatened status after a multiyear and multistate effort throughout the Southwestern U.S.

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A grizzly bear washed up dead. Then it was found decapitated and declawed, prompting a federal investigation.

A Grizzly Bear that washed up dead on the banks of the Yellowstone River had parts taken as trophies. This is at least the fourth illegal incident involving grizzly bears in the past 14 months.

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California is betting $61 million that new highway crossings will keep wildlife safe

Large animals cause 20 crashes a day on California highways. Experts say special bridges, tunnels, and special wildlife crossing structures can prevent wildlife-vehicle collisions and protect at-risk species.

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Grizzly conflicts central to new Upper Green River grazing debate

A new management plan for Wyoming’s Upper Green River Basin proposes to return cattle to allotments that were previously retired from sheep grazing. Adding flexibility to move cattle onto different pastures will allow more opportunities to move livestock to avoid Grizzly Bear conflict hot-spots.

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Cattle Producers win state support to watch for wolves

The Cattle Producers of Washington organization has been awarded a $397,440 state grant to prevent conflicts between cows and wolves in northeast Washington. The amount nearly doubles state support the group got in 2019 and boosts a program running low on money. The cattlemen’s group helps about 20 ranches protect herds in Ferry and Stevens counties.

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Trump roundups worked: Herds drop for first time in 9 years

(Subscription) The Bureau of Land Management’s aggressive Trump-era wild horse and burro roundup strategy, slammed by critics as cruel and unnecessary, apparently cut herd sizes on federal rangelands for the first time in nearly a decade.

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Wolf reintroduction funding with no license fees is most bipartisan bill of 2021 session

Wolf reintroduction won’t be funded by the sale of hunting and fishing licenses in Colorado, and that was made a matter of state law from Eagle County on Sunday. A recent bill that passed with bipartisan support ensures that, in funding the reintroduction, the general assembly will appropriate money to the Colorado Division of Parks and Wildlife from either the general fund, the species conservation trust fund, the Colorado nongame conservation and wildlife restoration cash fund, or the wildlife cash fund. 

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It’s Some of America’s Richest Farmland. But What Is It Without Water?

A California farmer decides it makes better business sense to sell his water than to grow rice. An almond farmer considers uprooting his trees to put up solar panels. Drought is transforming the state, with broad consequences for the food supply.

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Idaho Fish & Game Commission Expands Wolf Hunting Opportunities—And Criticizes State Legislature

The Idaho Fish & Game Commission officially expanded wolf hunting and trapping opportunities to align with the controversial new law, SB1211, which has been widely reported as a green light to kill 90 percent of the state’s wolves—a claim that, in turn, has been widely disputed. 

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Wyoming Wildlife Taskforce holds first meeting

The Wyoming Wildlife Taskforce convened in Casper in June for their first meeting to begin discussions on policy issues related to hunting licenses and access facing Wyoming hunters and anglers. A recording of the 2-day meeting is available on the Taskforce website.

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New study shows how loss of drought-sensitive species could affect grasslands

A recent study published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences shows how the health of a California grassland might be affected in a future with less biodiversity and a changing climate, particularly in the case of more frequent droughts.

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Discovery of gray wolf pups won’t change Colorado Parks and Wildlife’s reintroduction work

Despite the Colorado Parks and Wildlife (CPW) official sighting of wolf pups in Colorado, CPW will not slow the ballot-mandated reintroduction of the predators on grounds that the state does not yet maintain a self-sustaining population.

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Idaho wildlife managers liberalize wolf hunting, despite majority of Idahoans who commented not supporting changes

During a conference call, Idaho Fish and Game commissioners amended wolf trapping and hunting seasons in response to a newly passed law. Meanwhile, the majority of Idahoans who commented on the proposal did not support the changes.

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Lawsuit challenges gray wolf harvest near Yellowstone National Park

A dispute about the wolf population around Yellowstone National Park and the size of elk herds has become contentious, as an outdoor group sued Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks (FWP) and the FWP commissioners for allegedly failing to follow its own policies about hunting gray wolves.

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Montana Wildlife Officials Consider Rules to Protect Trout

Wildlife officials in Montana are seeking feedback on a proposal to expand fishing restrictions to protect declining brown trout populations. Biologists with Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks and the U.S. Geological Survey have tracked declining numbers of juvenile brown trout in southwest Montana rivers, including the Big Hole, Ruby, Boulder, Beaverhead, upper Yellowstone and upper Stillwater rivers.

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F&G Commission amends wolf hunting and trapping seasons to align with new state law

During a conference call on Thursday, June 17, Idaho Fish and Game Commissioners amended current wolf trapping and hunting seasons in response to recent legislative direction. 

The amended seasons take effect on July 1, consistent with the effective date of Senate Bill 1211. Changes will not be reflected in the current printed 2021 Big Game Seasons and Rules brochure, but an updated brochure with the changes will be available on Fish and Game’s website by July 1.

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(Opinion) For greater sage grouse success, local control matters

North Dakota congressman Kelly Armstrong and National Association of Conservation Districts president Michael Crowder write that local experts and communities offer important knowledge and perspective that should be relied upon when making decisions that affect them, especially when it comes to protecting species that rely on their lands for habitat, like the sage grouse.

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Fence down: Mule Deer Foundation volunteers remove miles of old fence

Mule Deer Foundation volunteers and staff from three states removed close to five miles of a rust-covered fence near Salmon, Idaho as part of a project to both improve wildlife habitat and to make it easier for the Wetzsteon ranch to manage their cattle

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Grizzly managers ponder complicated summer

In the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem, expanding grizzly populations, burgeoning tourist activity and increasing conflicts with livestock producers have the Interagency Grizzly Bear Committee rethinking its bear-management strategies for the coming years.

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Wolves kill more sheep in NE Oregon

Wolf numbers in the northern Blue Mountains of Oregon continue to increase, as does the risk to livestock and the dogs that protect and herd them. Just this month, wolves attacked a flock of sheep and its guard dogs according to state investigators.

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1st gray wolf pups since 1940s spotted in Colorado

Colorado has its first litter of gray wolf pups since the 1940s, state wildlife officials said Wednesday. A state biologist and district wildlife manager each spotted the litter of at least three wolf pups over the weekend with their parents, two adult wolves known to live in the state. 

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Dispute over wolf cross-fostering in Catron County, New Mexico

A plan to place captive-bred mexican wolves in a den with wild wolves in New Mexico is receiving push-back due to potential for livestock conflicts with neighboring landowners. Wolves killed 151 livestock in New Mexico in 2020, with more likely going unreported, according to state biologists.

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In the face of new laws trapping and killing wolves, groups vie for greater protections

Wildlife advocates asked the U.S. Forest Service to double-up on protections for wolves in Idaho and Montana following recent pushes to dramatically cut wolf populations. The petition, submitted to Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack on Wednesday, comes shortly after these states passed a slew of laws making it easier for hunters and trappers to hunt the canid predators.

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CPW announces membership on wolf reintroduction advisory panels

Colorado Parks and Wildlife has announced representatives of the Stakeholder Advisory Group (SAG) and the Technical Working Group (TWG), which will help guide CPW staff and the Commission through the wolf reintroduction planning process. WLA’s programs director, Hallie Mahowald, has been chosen for the SAG and will be working hard to fight for the needs of Colorado’s landowners throughout this process.

Researchers at Colorado State University and The Ohio State University have created an index depicting the mix of social values among people across all 50 states, providing data that can be useful for wildlife conservation policy and management. The study, “Bringing social values to wildlife conservation decisions,” was published online June 3 in Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment.

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Audubon Report Shows That Important Bird Habitats are Key Natural Solutions to Climate Change

A new report from the National Audubon Society shows that habitats that are important for birds now and in the future are also critical to reducing greenhouse emissions given their ability to naturally store and sequester carbon. This means that maintaining and restoring these landscapes through incentives for management and conservation are important strategies in our collective challenge to stabilize climate change.

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Montana’s Senators differ on details, but agree science is key to grizzly de-listing discussion

As grizzly bears reach and surpass recovery goals in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem, Sen. Daines and Sen. Tester of Montana agree that science should guide decisions to de-list the species from the ESA.

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For Predators, Montana’s New Wildlife Laws Bring Cloudy Future

New laws allowing more liberal wolf trapping and hunting and creating leeway for citizens to retaliate to protect their property from grizzly bears are influencing debate over the relationships between people and predators in Montana.

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Montana officials kill three grizzlies after livestock attacks

Three bears were captured and euthanized in Montana that had chronically depredated livestock. Grizzly bears are protected as a threatened species under federal law, but since their populations have rebounded in Montana, grizzlies have run into increasingly frequent conflicts with humans and livestock.

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California wants to buy nonlethal bear traps and pay ranchers when wolves kill their cows

California’s department of fish and wildlife’s funding will be increasing by $252 million, allowing for a range of new wildlife conservation and management initiatives, including $7 million to buy traps and other equipment to capture and relocate animals, as well as implement nonlethal deterrents such as flagging and fences to protect livestock from wolves

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NFWF Announces $4 Million in Conservation Grants to Support Big Game Migration Corridors Across the West

The National Fish and Wildlife Foundation (NFWF) recently announced $4 million in grant funding for habitat projects throughout the American West to conserve migration corridors and winter ranges for elk, mule deer, pronghorn and other iconic wildlife.

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Judge sides with Game and Fish, limits grizzly-killed livestock award

A judge decided Monday to reduce an arbitration panel’s award to a Hot Springs County, Wyoming rancher for cattle lost to grizzly bears. The rancher sought $205,483 in compensation, but will receive $61,202 to cover 20 confirmed kills by grizzly bears.

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UM research suggests social factors important for human-wildlife coexistence

University of Montana researchers recently published a study in the Journal of Wildlife Management analyzing why landowners do or do not secure attractants in bear country. The results suggest that collective or socially motivated factors may be a missing and important piece of the puzzle for encouraging voluntary steps to secure attractants and reduce human-carnivore conflicts.

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FWP seeks Citizens Advisory Council applicants in southeastern Montana

Volunteer applicants are needed to serve two-year terms on Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks’ (FWP) region 7 Citizens Advisory Council (CAC). The purpose of the southeastern Montana-based CAC is to advise FWP on various regional and statewide wildlife management issues, programs and policies.

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Groups ask feds for emergency re-listing of wolves after new Montana, Idaho laws

A handful of environmental groups are seeking the emergency re-listing of Northern Rockies gray wolves after lawmakers in Montana and Idaho passed several new laws aimed at reducing their numbers.

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Colorado learns wolf is female and showing ‘potential denning behavior’ with male wolf

Colorado wildlife officials have identified a collared wolf that’s been living in Colorado since 2019 as a female.

“I firmly believe a rancher’s chief priority is to protect lands – and the wildlife migrating through them – which provide a wholesome living while supporting a holistic view of nature. This belief, which I hold deep in my blood and bones, is the reason why I so fervently support Colorado Senate Resolution 21-021 to protect Colorado’s habitat connectivity” Says Reyes Garcia in an opinion piece highlighting the importance of habitat connectivity to land stewardship.

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Colorado Senate Passes Bipartisan Legislation to Protect Wildlife Corridors

Recently, the Colorado Senate unanimously passed a bipartisan resolution to protect the state’s wildlife corridors, which would conserve native species while improving road safety and bolstering Colorado’s economy.

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Endangered Species Act listing proposed for lesser prairie-chicken

The Fish and Wildlife Service is proposing federally protected status under the Endangered Species Act for two populations of the lesser prairie-chicken that occupy parts of Texas, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Kansas and Colorado.

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Colorado Senate Passes Bipartisan Legislation to Protect Wildlife Corridors

Colorado Senate unanimously passed a bipartisan resolution to protect the state’s wildlife corridors, which would conserve native species while improving road safety and bolstering Colorado’s economy.

The bipartisan resolution was introduced earlier this month by Democratic Senator Jessie Danielson and Republican Representative Perry Will. The legislation, which marks a monumental step towards preserving Colorado’s rich biodiversity and wildlife heritage for future generations, now goes to the House of Representatives for a vote.

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CPW’s 2nd wolf reintroduction info session focuses on dealing with livestock conflict

Colorado Parks and Wildlife held its second wolf reintroduction education session last week with a focus on what other states have done when releasing wolves and managing conflicts with livestock.

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An Unorthodox Strategy to Stop Cars From Hitting Deer

A recent study found that Wisconsin’s wolves have reduced the frequency of deer-vehicle collisions by a quarter. As a result, they save the state $10.9 million in auto-collision related losses every year.

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Forest Service Defends Grazing by Diamond M Ranch in Wolf Case

The U.S. Forest Service asked a federal judge Monday to dismiss a suit led by wolf advocates who want to drive the Diamond M Ranch’s cattle out of the Colville National Forest in northeast Washington.

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Group wants to reintroduce jaguars; mining ban eyed to protect birds

Environmental groups and scientists with two universities want U.S. wildlife managers to consider reintroducing jaguars to the American Southwest. In a recently published paper, they say habitat destruction, highways and existing segments of the border wall mean that natural reestablishment of the large cats north of the U.S.-Mexico boundary would be unlikely over the next century without human intervention. 

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Montana’s wildlife agency pulls back on science work

Montana’s Department of Fish, Wildlife & Parks plans to shift its research program toward short-term, in-house efforts after a decade of ambitious work helped make it a world-renowned scientific contributor.

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Idaho board ponders an increase in wolf harvest

A new law allows the Idaho Wolf Depredation Control Board to hire private contractors to kill wolves, while increasing funding to this group.  Yet, contracting regulations provide challenges to carrying out the directives of this new law.

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Forest Service moves to weaken bighorn protections in Wyoming Range

Domestic sheep could graze anew on national forest land in the Wyoming Range where conservationists bought grazing rights to separate them, their pathogens and their impacts from bighorn sheep and their habitat.

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Game and Fish says hunting has helped stabilize gray wolf population, manage conflicts

Wyoming Game and Fish Department wildlife managers say gray wolf populations have reached stable levels, thanks in part to hunting in the northwest corner of the state. The stable population also helps keep incidents of conflict at bay, according to the 2020 Wyoming Gray Wolf Monitoring and Management annual report.

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Eruption: How Human Development Is Degrading The American Serengeti

Suburban sprawl threatens rural livelihoods and connected landscapes that support wildlife. In this article, a series of time-lapses demonstrates rapid development and suburban growth in different geographies throughout the west.

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USFWS must consider petition for wild horse’s protection

A federal appeals court ruled on Monday that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) wrongly refused to review an animal advocacy group’s bid to include a wild horse on the country’s list of imperiled species because its refusal hinged on a rule that is inconsistent with the Endangered Species Act (ESA).

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Groups call for reintroduction of jaguars in US Southwest

Environmental groups and scientists with two universities want U.S. wildlife managers to consider reintroducing jaguars to the American Southwest. In a recently published paper, they say habitat destruction, highways and existing segments of the border wall mean that natural reestablishment of the large cats north of the U.S.-Mexico boundary would be unlikely over the next century without human intervention.

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Montana gov signs legislation shaping grizzly management

Governor Gianforte of Montana recently signed Senate Bill (SB) 98, with some implications towards grizzly bear management in the state. SB 98 makes a declarative statement that grizzly bears should be delisted. The bill also states that under state law, a person who kills a grizzly bear that is attacking, killing or threatening to kill a person or livestock has an “absolute” defense against being charged with a crime.

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After Reappearing In Central Montana Range, Grizzly Killed Over Cattle Depredation

Wildlife officials in central Montana have killed the first confirmed grizzly bear in modern times in the Big Snowy Mountains south of Lewistown, state wildlife officials said Friday. The 447-pound (203-kilogram) male bear had been photographed eating a dead cow in late April by a remote camera set up by a landowner.

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Montana has made killing wolves easier. Some hunters are pushing back.

New laws in Montana make it easier to trap and hunt wolves. Yet, hunters disagree on whether new laws passed, particularly ones allowing neck snares, qualify as sportsmanlike hunting.

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Biden nominee says Yellowstone area grizzly population ‘doing very, very well’

While she did not directly answer questions regarding grizzly bears should be removed from Endangered Species List protection, one of President Joe Biden’s nominee’s for the U.S. Fish and wildlife service said Wednesday that grizzly populations in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem are doing “very well”.

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Tolerance key to grizzly conservation, state says

The success of the Bear Wise program — the Wyoming Game and Fish Department’s large carnivore educational outreach program — has helped keep both bears and people safe, according to state officials. But the department is at a crossroads: Its goal of building tolerance among landowners and residents is in jeopardy of wearing thin as conflicts continue to increase.

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First wolf kill of livestock confirmed in Grant County

A Fox Valley rancher became the first rancher in Grant County to lose livestock to a confirmed wolf depredation this month. An Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife report confirmed Thursday that wolves killed a cow in the early morning hours of May 8 within the Northside area of known wolf activity.

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Scientists strive to map global migrations before they’re gone

Matt Kaufman, a University of Wyoming Researcher, and head of the Wyoming Migration Initiative is leading a global effort to map wildlife migrations before they disappear.  Their effort, named the Global Initiative on Ungulate Migration, seeks to inventory the seasonal movements of wildlife globally, and document the web of hundreds of routes to present in an electronic migration atlas.

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Study shows mountain lions have unexpected predator

Elk hunters were among the first in line to object to wolf reintroduction in the Lower 48, but a new study suggests that mountain lion hunters may have had even greater cause for concern.

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State Wildlife Areas, wolves discussed in CPW Commission meeting

A recent Colorado Parks and Wildlife (CPW) commission meeting discussed the timeline for choosing representatives for the Stakeholder Advisory Group and Technical Working Group, two citizen groups that will provide input to CPW’s wolf reintroduction and management plans.

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Silenced howls: The reemergence of the war on wolves

The wolf’s history in the United States is complex and mired in conflict. This article looks back at our relationship with wolves and wilderness to understand a series of controversial bills passed around wolf management, while envisioning paths forward for reducing conflict between wolves and livestock.

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Bill to kill up to 90% of Idaho wolves signed by governor

Idaho Gov. Brad Little has signed into law a measure that could lead to killing 90% of the state’s 1,500 wolves. This controversial bill will expand the hunting season for wolves, and allow a number of new hunting methods including night vision equipment and snaring.

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Interior Department takes steps to revoke Final Rule on Migratory Bird Treaty Act incidental take

Today, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced a proposed rule to revoke the January 7, 2021, final regulation that limited the scope of the Migratory Bird Treaty Act (MBTA). Significant concerns about the interpretation of the MBTA have been raised by the public, legal challenges in court and from international treaty partners. This proposed rule provides the public with notice of the Service’s intent to revoke the January 7 rule’s interpretation of the MBTA and return to implementing the MBTA as prohibiting incidental take and applying enforcement discretion, consistent with judicial precedent.

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Grizzly bear sightings in Big Sandy and south of Lewistown, Montana

Montana Fish, Wildlife, and Park says that recent sightings of grizzly bears in Big Sandy and also south of Lewistown, Montana are a good reminder for outdoor recreationists, farmers, ranchers, and property owners to practice bear awareness and safety precautions this spring and summer.

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Do Sanctuary Gun Laws Disqualify States from Receiving Federal Wildlife Management Funds?

A series of sanctuary gun laws by certain states could disqualify their Game and Fish Commissions from receiving nearly $18 million in annual distributions from the Wildlife Restoration Act fund. Better known as the Pittman-Robertson account the funds are derived from an 11 percent tax on the manufacture of guns, ammunition, and archery products.

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‘Watch for Wildlife’ specialty license plate could ease wildlife migration issues

Oregon Wildlife Foundation (OWF) is running a campaign to approve Oregon’s next specialty license plate. A purchase of a “Watch for Wildlife” specialty license plate voucher raises funds needed to put this new license plate into circulation that will help raise funds to protect important migration corridors for mule deer and elk.

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Group asks US to cut funding to Idaho over wolf-killing bill

The Center for Biological Diversity is asking the U.S. government to cut off millions of dollars to Idaho used to improve wildlife habitat and outdoor recreation opportunities over concerns recent legislation will lead to 90% of wolves in the state being killed.

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Sage grouse supporters urge Congress: Ditch the rider

(Subscription) Sage grouse champions are asking congressional appropriators to end a recent tradition and omit an annual budget rider that bars endangered species protections for the rotund Western bird.

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Grizzly bear captured on game camera in Big Snowy Mountains

Wildlife officials in Montana have confirmed the presence of a grizzly bear in the Big Snowy Mountains, a first for the region. Residents there are encouraged to implement tools and practices to reduce the potential for conflict with Grizzly bears, including installing fencing and securing attractants such as pet food and garbage.

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Grizzly relocated from Meeteetse area

On April 26 the Wyoming Game and Fish Department captured and relocated a grizzly bear, an adult male caught while the department was attempting to mitigate cattle depredation west of the town of Meeteetse.

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Critics say Idaho bill would kill 90% of wolves. Hunters, wildlife experts have other worries

A controversial bill recently passed the Idaho State legislature that would lift wolf hunting tag limits and allow year round wolf  hunting on private lands. While critics think this could lead to 90% of wolves in Idaho being killed, representatives of wildlife management agencies and hunting organizations say the effects will be more nuanced, with potential implications for the future of State vs. Federal management of Idaho wolf populations.

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Grizzly wanders near Drummond

A male grizzly bear captured last fall near Drummond, MT wandered back to the region in recent weeks and turned up at a chicken coop near Drummond. Residents in the area are encouraged to keep their chicken feed and other attractants in bear safe containers or safely indoors to reduce the potential for conflict.

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Future of the grizzly: Debate over Montana grizzly bear management carries on

While the debate over the Federal Designation of the Grizzly bear as an endangered species continues on Trina Jo Bradley, WLA member and executive director of the Rocky Mountain Front Ranchlands Group, knows what it means to run a ranch in Grizzly Bear country and how state management of grizzly bears may support her operation and her community.

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U.S. agency to look at bringing back bison on Montana refuge

U.S. officials said they will consider in coming years whether to reintroduce wild bison to the Charles M. Russell National Wildlife Refuge, a million-acre federal wildlife refuge in central Montana, a move that would be at odds with Republicans in the state who want to limit where bison can roam.

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University of Wyoming publishes ungulate migration conservation study

University of Wyoming researchers published a new study exploring emerging big-game migration corridor conservation strategies meant to protect migration pathways across vast and complex landscapes. Wildlife migrations depend on connected landscapes supported by intact working lands.

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Legislature passes marijuana bill with conservation funding

A recent bill passed in the Montana legislature legalizing marijuana with provisions ensuring that associated taxes will go towards wildlife and public lands conservation within the state.

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Yellow-billed cuckoo gains habitat protections in New Mexico, other states in Western U.S.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced April 21 it had designated 300,000 acres in New Mexico, Arizona, California, Colorado, Idaho, Texas and Utah as protected habitat for the Yellow-billed Cuckoo, an imperiled bird that dwells along riverbeds throughout the West. The move marked a decline in the designated habitat for the cuckoo in a rule issued in 2014 that set aside about half a million acres but was revised last year.

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Native American lawmakers seek federal help on Montana bison

Native American lawmakers in Montana called on the Biden administration to help craft a plan to reintroduce wild bison to the landscape in and around Glacier National Park and the Charles M. Russell National Wildlife Refuge.

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Update: Legislature OKs controversial Idaho wolf-killing bill. It heads to Little next

The Idaho House of Representatives voted 27-8 on Tuesday to approve a bill that would expand opportunities to lethally manage wolves. The controversial bill removes wolf tag limits for hunters and trappers, ends trapping season limits on private land, and gives ranchers and government agencies more leeway to kill wolves deemed threats to livestock or wildlife.

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Western Colorado is wary of gray wolf reintroduction. Will they have to pay for it, too?

The current funding plan for gray wolf reintroduction would rely on license fees paid by hunters and anglers, many of whom live in the western Colorado communities that opposed Proposition 114. A new house bill, bill 1243, seeks to diversify and broaden funding for wolf management in order to lift the financial burden from hunters and anglers

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Several new laws will have an impact on Wyoming wildlife, hunting and fishing

The 2021 Wyoming Legislature passed several bills that will make changes to the Wyoming Game and Fish Department laws and regulations and affect landowners in various capacities. This article provides a summary of laws passed during the 2021 legislative session.

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Report: Washington wolf population continued to grow in 2020

The wolf population in Washington state increased by an estimated 33 animals in 2020, with fewer lethal removals due to wolf-livestock conflict, according to state officials.

The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife released its annual wolf report Friday, saying the estimated minimum wolf population grew to 178 wolves in 29 packs.

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Interior asked to halt grazing rights to protect wild horses

A coalition of more than 70 equine protection, animal welfare and environmental groups, as well as numerous wild-horse and ecotourism businesses, called on newly confirmed U.S. Secretary of the Interior Deb Haaland to halt livestock grazing and revoke grazing permits on the Bureau of Land Management’s Herd Management Area lands in an open letter to the secretary.

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Point Reyes plan for cattle, tule elk all but final after crucial vote

A controversial plan to continue cattle ranching while capping elk numbers in Point Reyes National Seashore passed a key hurdle Thursday night when the California Coastal Commission signed off on the arrangement.

The state agency was one of the last clearances needed — and one that posed the most risk of obstruction — before a largely procedural yet closely watched update to the park’s management plan becomes official.

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Keystone Policy Center to bring Coloradans into the wolf-planning pack

After proposition 114 that would reintroduce wolves to Colorado was narrowly passed last year, The Colorado Parks and Wildlife Commission picked the Keystone Policy Center to facilitate stakeholder advisory meetings that will help incorporate public perspectives into wolf management plans.

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ODFW report shows rise in wolf population; livestock killings nearly double

Oregon’s wolf population rose from 158 to 173 over the past year, while conflict with livestock nearly doubled from the previous year with the majority of depredations (53%) attributed to the Rogue river pack. In the Rogue Pack area, ODFW and partners U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and USDA Wildlife Services have worked extensively to limit depredations

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Study: Shade from solar panels boosts summer flowers

A new study found that shade provided by solar panels increased the abundance of flowers under the panels and delayed the timing of their bloom, both findings that could aid the agricultural community.

The study, believed to be the first that looked at the impact of solar panels on flowering plants and insects, has important implications for solar developers who manage the land under solar panels, as well as agriculture and pollinator health advocates who are seeking land for pollinator habitat restoration.

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USDA Expands and Renews Conservation Reserve Program in Effort to Boost Enrollment and Address Climate Change

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced today that USDA will open enrollment in the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) with higher payment rates, new incentives, and a more targeted focus on the program’s role in climate change mitigation. Additionally, USDA is announcing investments in partnerships to increase climate-smart agriculture, including $330 million in 85 Regional Conservation Partnership Program (RCPP) projects and $25 million for On-Farm Conservation Innovation Trials. Secretary Vilsack made the announcement today at the White House National Climate Task Force meeting to demonstrate USDA’s commitment to putting American agriculture and forestry at the center of climate-smart solutions to address climate change.

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National Audubon Society Announces Largest Market-Based Regenerative Grasslands Partnership in the U.S.

The National Audubon Society today announced the largest market-based regenerative grasslands partnership in the U.S. with Panorama Organic Grass-Fed Meats. The commitment will impact one million acres of certified organic U.S. grasslands and create individual habitat management plans with every family rancher in the Panorama Organic network through Audubon’s Conservation Ranching Initiative.

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West Slope governments want more voice on wolf reintroduction

A coalition of northwest Colorado local governments want more say in the plan to reintroduce wolves in the state, especially as it relates to the Western Slope. Incorporating local voices in the reintroduction process is important to mitigating social conflict over carnivore management.

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Gray wolf confirmed in Nebraska

Genetic testing results recently confirmed a large canine killed Jan. 28, 2021, near Ueling, was a gray wolf. The female wolf had been legally shot by coyote hunters, who contacted the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission. Genetic testing showed the animal originated from a population of wolves found in Minnesota, Wisconsin and Michigan.

“This is the third confirmed instance of wolf presence in Nebraska since the early 1900’s,” said Sam Wilson, Game and Parks Furbearer and Carnivore program manager. “Wolves can disperse great distances from their nearest populations in the northern Rocky Mountains or Upper Great Lakes. While we don’t have any evidence of resident wolves or reproduction in Nebraska, we can expect young wolves in search of new territory to cover long distances and make it to Nebraska from time to time.”

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Landowner tags made permanent in Oregon

The Oregon House has unanimously voted to eliminate sunset dates from the landowner preference program, which provides hunting tags for elk, deer and antelope based on property acreage.

Lawmakers have extended the program several times since it was first enacted nearly four decades ago to reward access to habitat for wildlife, but House Bill 2068 makes the program permanent.

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Colorado and California Prepare for More Wolves

With Wolves detected in areas as far south as San Luis Obispo County in California, and returning by migration and reintroduction to Colorado, success management will rest not only on how effectively agencies handle the newcomers, but also on how well they address the complex human dynamics that come with more wolves on the landscape.

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Chronic wasting disease test developed by scientists

Scientists have developed a new way to test live animals for chronic wasting disease that holds promise for one day detecting the illness in the wild.

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Judge sides with conservationists in sheep grazing dispute

A federal judge sided with environmental groups who said allowing domestic sheep to graze in Montana’s Centennial Mountains at the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Sheep Experiment Station could create conflicts with grizzly bears and other wildlife. Justice Department attorneys argued that officials correctly followed environmental laws in previously authorizing sheep grazing.

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Legislature passes black bear, grizzly bear and wolf proposals

Three controversial proposals that seek to change how bears and wolves are managed in Montana were passed in the Montana Legislature. Proponents of these bills argue that additional lethal tools are needed to manage the state’s large carnivores while opponents view this direction as misguided or unethical.

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Can a pasta machine protect the seeds to save the West’s wildlands?

On their hands and knees in a rural northern Utah canyon on a Monday morning, two scientists peer at the ground trying to determine whether traditional seed protection practices or a pasta machine may be the best way to fight invasive weeds threatening Utah’s rangelands.

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Long-term noise pollution affects seedling recruitment and community composition, with negative effects persisting after removal

A recent study shows that noise pollution can affect plant species’ behaviours and distributions and may hold significant consequences for natural communities. Loud noises from surrounding industry could be affecting the diversity of tree and plant seedlings even after the sites quiet down, researchers said, warning of the long-term effects of noise pollution.

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Counties push for more input in wolf reintro

Gray wolves are being reintroduced to Colorado, but the counties affected have a slim chance of winning a seat at the table of the stakeholder advisory group being established to help guide restoration efforts, members of the Associated Governments of Northwest Colorado said in a letter requesting a specialized local government advisory group to be established to provide more of a voice.

The Associated Governments group (AGNC) submitted a letter Friday to the Colorado Parks and Wildlife Commission, making the case for the additional advisory committee that could potentially function as a cooperating agency.

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New CA Pollinator Coalition Pledges to Increase Pollinator Habitat on Working Lands

The California Pollinator Coalition is broadening its collaboration between agriculture and conservation groups to improve the health, diversity and number of pollinators on working lands.

Spearheaded by the almond industry, a new coalition of agricultural and conservation groups was announced today to encourage more voluntary, grower-friendly efforts to protect the state’s native insect pollinators and managed honeybees.

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Habitat reserves set up to help lesser prairie chicken

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service must decide by May 26 whether to relist the bird under the Endangered Species Act to comply with a court order spurred by three conservation groups suing the agency in 2019.

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Wolves and livestock: Can they live in harmony in Germany?

Germany’s wolf population has risen sharply in recent years — as has the amount of farm animals killed. Wolves are a protected species, but farmers are fed up. Agriculture Minister Julia Klöckner recently announced the launch of Germany’s new federal center for livestock and wolves.

“Just as the wolf is entitled to protection, so are our livestock,” Klöckner said. “We need them to maintain and preserve our cultural landscape.” The return of the wolf, she said, should not “lead to the existence of livestock being threatened in some regions of Germany.”

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Feds recommend grizzly bears remain listed

In a five-year status review, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has recommended that grizzly bears in the lower 48 states remain protected under the Endangered Species Act — drawing immediate complaints from officials in Wyoming and western states. “The grizzly bear in the lower-48 states is not currently in danger of extinction throughout all of its range, but is likely to become so in the foreseeable future,” the report, released late last month, concludes.

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Montezuma County commissioners assert opposition to wolves

The Montezuma County Board of County Commissioners continues to oppose gray wolf reintroduction into the Western Slope, a plan narrowly approved by Colorado voters in November. Commissioners passed a resolution March 23 called “Making Montezuma County A Sanctuary From Wolf Reintroduction.”

The nonbinding resolution is a position statement that says bringing wolves to the county threatens the livestock industry, poses a danger to the local economy and could transmit diseases to pets and humans.

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Proposed roundups target 3,500 wild horses in Wyoming

The U.S. Bureau of Management is accepting public comments through the end of April on plans to remove some 3,500 wild horses from public land in southwestern Wyoming. The federal agency seeks to allow between 1,500 and 2,165 wild horses in areas of the Red Desert outside Rock Springs. An estimated 5,105 wild horses currently live in those areas.

The roundups could begin as soon as July and be completed this year or occur over several years. The horses would be sent to holding facilities where they would be prepared for adoption. Horses that don’t meet adoption criteria would be sent to off-range pastures.

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Advocates sue to protect monarchs, Northern spotted owls

Wildlife advocates recently sued federal officials in a bid for greater protections for monarch butterflies, northern spotted owls and eight other species. The lawsuit comes after federal officials said the species named in the lawsuit need protections, but that other imperiled plants and animals have higher priority.

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Legislature strips Game and Fish of elk feedground closure power

Due to fears over the growing threat of Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) among Elk populations of Wyoming, a bill was passed in the Wyoming Legislature that transitions the authority to close 22 Wyoming Elk feed lots from the Wyoming Game and Fish Commission to the Governor. WLA member, Rep. Albert Sommers, co-sponsored this bill.

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Wildlife’s Most Ferocious Predator: Human Sprawl

The conversion of working lands to subdivisions threatens rural livelihoods and the viability of wildlife populations throughout the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem. With urban sprawl just a few short years away from fracturing the elk migration corridor in Montana’s Gallatin Valley, there are increasing calls for zoning to mitigate impending urban sprawl.

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US judge blocks Nevada grazing; sage grouse totals dwindling

A federal judge has blocked a Nevada project that would expand livestock grazing across 400 squares miles (1,036 square kilometers) of some of the highest priority sage-grouse habitat in the West and accused the government of deliberately misleading the public by underestimating damage the cattle could do to the land.

The ruling comes as scientists continue to document dramatic declines in greater sage-grouse populations across 11 western states — down 65% since 1986 and 37% since 2002, according to a new report by the U.S. Geological Survey.

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Judge: US agency illegally paid for Colorado predator hunt

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service illegally helped pay for a Colorado program to kill dozens of mountain lions and black bears in an experiment to determine if the predators were partly responsible for declining mule deer populations, a federal judge has ruled.

U.S. District Court Chief Judge Marcia Krieger in Denver found that Fish and Wildlife failed to do a required analysis of the program’s environmental effects, possibly so it could fast-track federal funding for most of the $4 million program.

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Legislature strips WY Game and Fish of elk feedground closure power

The Wyoming Legislature passed a bill March 29th that strips the Wyoming Game and Fish Commission of the authority to close any of Wyoming’s 22 winter elk feedgrounds and gives that power to the governor.

The bill requires the Game and Fish Department and Commission to submit any proposal to close a feedground to the Wyoming Livestock Board for review before it heads to the governor.

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California relocates mountain lions making a meal of endangered sheep

In order to save one endangered species, California scientists are having to relocate another iconic creature that is, regrettably, eating it. The California department of fish and wildlife is in the process of moving mountain lions over 100 miles away from struggling populations of bighorn sheep, which are unique to the Sierra Nevada mountains.

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New Federal Report Shows 80-Percent Decline in Greater Sage-Grouse Populations

The United State Geological Survey (USGS) released a groundbreaking report today showing that Greater-Sage Grouse populations have declined 80 percent since 1965, a more dramatic decline than previously thought. There are more than 350 different species of wildlife and plants as well as hunters, ranchers, and whole communities that depend on a healthy sagebrush steppe.

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In Montana, Bears and Wolves Become Part of the Culture Wars

Several bills are headed to Mr. Gianforte’s desk that would allow for more killing of wolves in the state to drive down their numbers. Practices that are being proposed include the use of spotlights at night, which is considered unethical because it temporarily blinds the animal; hunting animals by luring them with bait like wild game or commercial scents; night vision scopes and widening use of neck snares that catch and choke animals to death. Other controversial predator proposals allow hunting black bears with hounds, a practice outlawed a century ago, and placing limits on where wandering grizzlies can be moved, which conservationists say could lead to more bear deaths.

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Montana FWP’s ‘grizzly guru’ tries to defuse human conflicts with bears

As the human-wildlife interface continues to expand across Montana, the potential for conflicts with grizzly bears increases as well. But Kalispell-based grizzly bear biologist Tim Manley says it doesn’t have to be this way.
By forging relationships with landowners and educating communities on ways to prevent grizzly bear conflict, Manley has flipped the script on people’s willingness to coexist with bears, according to this story by Tristan Scott.

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Lummis introduces bill to delist grizzly bears in Wyoming

A bill removing grizzly bears in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem from the Endangered Species List was introduced today by Senator Cynthia Lummis. The bill titled The Grizzly Bear State Management Act of 2021 was drafted alongside Senator John Barrasso of Wyoming, Senators Mike Crapo and James Risch of Idaho, and Senator Steve Daines of Montana.

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CPW secures conservation easement for Coal Creek Ranch

Using funds from the Colorado Wildlife Habitat Program, Colorado Parks and Wildlife has acquired a perpetual conservation easement on the 1,121-acre Coal Creek Ranch in Rio Blanco County. The property will remain in private ownership and continue functioning as a working ranch, protecting critical habitat and migration routes for a host of wildlife species.

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Is Gallatin County Willing To Sacrifice Its Namesake Elk To Rural Sprawl?

A booming Bozeman, Montana threatens to subdivide working landscapes that elk rely on for winter range and important migratory pathways. Maintaining the viability of working lands in Gallatin county is essential to preserving intact elk populations in the future.

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Wolf walks 500 miles to farthest south in California in 99 years

In the latest sign that gray wolves — one of the iconic species of the American West — are continuing to expand their presence back into California, state wildlife officials are reporting that a 2-year old male wolf from Oregon who first entered Northern California two months ago has made it all the way south to rural Fresno County.

The 500-mile journey, by a radio-collared wolf known as OR-93, is the farthest south any wolf has been confirmed in California in 99 years, since a wild gray wolf was killed in a steel trap in 1922 in eastern San Bernardino County.

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Measures to expand and monetize wolf hunting are moving through the Montana State Legislature, creating clashes about values and vocabulary

This week the House Fish, Wildlife and Parks Committee heard testimony on two bills that passed out of the Senate earlier this month with near-unanimous Republican support. Senate Bill 267 would allow for the“reimbursement for receipts of costs incurred relating to the hunting or trapping of wolves.” Another measure, Senate Bill 314, would remove bag limits, authorize hunting with bait and legalize nighttime wolf hunting (a practice known as spotlighting) on private land.

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Bird Friendliness Index Shows Audubon Conservation Ranching is Bringing Grassland Birds Back

Populations show a jump of more than a third in some areas. The National Audubon Society created the Conservation Ranching Initiative (ACR) in order to support ranchers while protecting and renewing grassland habitats and increasing populations of grassland birds. Audubon range ecologists partner with ranchers to develop habitat management plans customized to make their land more bird-friendly through practices including rotational grazing and minimizing the use of chemicals.

Audubon’s science team has developed a Bird-Friendliness Index to quantify ACR’s impact on vulnerable grassland and aridland birds. It measures the abundance, diversity, and resilience of the bird community on ACR-certified ranchland, and compares them to conventionally managed lands.

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Conservationists renew push to save New Mexico lesser prairie chicken. Feds to decide by May

Federal protections for the lesser prairie chicken could be enacted this spring as a federal judge in 2019 called on the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to decide by the end of May. The lesser prairie chicken is a species of grouse native to southeast New Mexico and parts of West Texas, Oklahoma, Kansas and Colorado.

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Four bold ideas to save Greater Yellowstone (and certain to make some squirm)

Lee Nellis expands on his previous essay about the limits of collaborative conservation by offering “specifications” for a new Western myth. He proposes four public policies we would adopt if were were guided by a new myth: 1) separate landowner incomes from commodity production, 2) remove public lands from partisan politics and places them in trust, 3) grant citizenship to wildlife and 4) end land speculation.

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Wild population of endangered Mexican wolves keeps growing

Once on the verge of extinction, the rarest subspecies of the gray wolf in North America has seen its population nearly double over the last five years, U.S. wildlife managers said recently. The results of the latest annual survey show there are at least 186 Mexican gray wolves in the wild in New Mexico and Arizona.

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Climate Change Lays Waste to Butterflies Across American West

A new study in the journal Science documents declines across hundreds of species over recent decades, and finds years featuring warmer, drier autumns are particularly deadly.

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Who should pay for conservation?

Traditional sources of conservation funding are dwindling, and some believe national park visitors should step up. Lawmakers are looking at ways to increase conservation revenue from the millions of tourists who visit national parks each year.

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Tree of heaven is a hellish invasive species. Could a fungus save the day?

Ailanthus has spread to all but six U.S. states and has gained a foothold on every continent except Antarctica. But there may be a new weapon for fighting back against one of the most invasive species on the continent. The fast-growing tree, native to China, is also a “motel” for harmful non-native insects, like the spotted lanternfly.

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A rare gray wolf trekked from Oregon to California’s Central Sierra. Not everyone is thrilled

The latest gray wolf to make the long journey from Oregon to California has trekked farther south than any wolf tracked in the last century. He brings either hopes of needed genetic diversity or anxieties of predation, depending on who you ask.

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Monarch butterflies down 26% in Mexico wintering grounds

The number of monarch butterflies that showed up at their winter resting grounds in central Mexico decreased by about 26% this year, and four times as many trees were lost to illegal logging, drought and other causes, making 2020 a bad year for the butterflies.

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Big questions about grizzlies await Haaland at Interior

(Subscription) The grizzly bear questions will only get tougher for Interior secretary nominee Deb Haaland. If confirmed, the New Mexico Democrat will confront legal, scientific, management and, yes, political challenges concerning grizzlies far more specific than the Republican queries that pressed her during her two-day confirmation hearing.

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Proposed overhaul of New Mexico wildlife agency stalls

Legislation that would have overhauled New Mexico’s wildlife management agency stalled in a Senate committee yesterday after a lengthy debate in which opponents warned that proposed changes to the distribution of hunting tags would devastate guides and outfitters and cost rural communities jobs and revenue.

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Colorado should go nice and slow on gray wolf reintroduction, panel says

It will take time to ensure that scientists and ranchers, wildlife activists and the rural Western Slope counties where wolves will be reintroduced all have a say on the divisive issue.

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Idaho legislation would expand tools for wolf kills

An Idaho state House panel yesterday introduced legislation allowing the use of snowmobiles, all-terrain vehicles, powered parachutes and other methods to hunt and kill wolves year-round and with no limits in most of the state.

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2020 grizzly bear report card shows almost normal year for conflicts

The final stats have been compiled on Greater Yellowstone grizzly bears for 2020 and with a few notable exceptions, it was a normal year. The annual report of Grizzly Bear Management Captures, Relocations, and Removals was recently completed by the Wyoming Game and Fish Department. Biologists keep track of such things as bear conflicts with people and livestock and relocations.

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30 by 30 could be big win for wildlife, if hunters, anglers, farmers, tribes have a say

The president’s executive order is short on details, but sportsmen’s groups are pushing for it to create more wildlife habitat, and hunting and fishing opportunities. WLA’s policy director Zach Bodhane suggests that habitat leases should be a critical piece of the government’s strategy. Ultimately, he says, leases offer flexibility at a time when all conservation cards should be on the table.

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Amount of grizzly bears captured declines once again

During 2020, G&F captured 26 grizzly bears in 27 capture events in an attempt to prevent or resolve conflicts. Thirteen captures were a result of bears killing livestock (primarily cattle) and 13 were captures involving bears that obtained food rewards (pet, livestock food, garbage, fruit trees), or were frequenting developed sites or human-populated areas unsuitable for grizzly bear occupancy. This is a continuation of a trend of fewer captures in Wyoming.

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Could Biden use private land to reach 30×30 goals?

The idea isn’t simply to buy up private property or establish traditional easements. Instead, groups like the Western Landowners Alliance, which represents 15 million acres across the western United States and Canada,
see an opportunity to rethink what conservation means.

“Conservation as usual isn’t working, and this is an opportunity to actually do something different and change that trajectory, but it’s going to involve economics and people who live and work on the land,” Lesli Allison, the group’s executive director, told E&E News.

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The Surge in Gun and Ammo Sales Has Created a Boom in Wildlife Conservation Funding

New gun owners and ammunition panic-buyers have turbo-charged the firearms industry. They’re also helping generate extra money for wildlife habitat, hunter recruitment, and much more.

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Grizzlies are coming back. But can we make room for them?

We call them “attacks;” bears see them as defense. Either way, human-grizzly interactions are on the rise.

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Poll: Montanans back protection of big game migration routes

A recent poll of 500 registered voters in Montana shows widespread backing for the conservation of wildlife, including protection of migration corridors for big game species. Large majorities favor highway crossings, private land conservation, and restricted development.

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Salmonella outbreak is killing Western finches

An outbreak of salmonella is killing finches across the western United States. The deaths are believed to be related to an outbreak of salmonellosis, a common and often fatal bird disease caused by salmonella bacteria. The problem appears to be especially bad along coastal Northern California, Oregon and Washington state.

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GOP congressman pitches $34 billion plan to breach Lower Snake River dams in new vision for Northwest

Idaho Congressman Mike Simpson unveiled an energy and infrastructure proposal that would end litigation over endangered salmon in the Northwestauthorizing the removal of four dams on the Snake River in Washington beginning in 2030. The ambitious $33 billion plan serves as a new vision for the Northwest, providing the chance for a fresh start.

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Biden Administration delays rollback of migratory bird protections

The Biden administration delayed a ruling finalized in the Trump administration’s last days that would significantly weaken bird protection under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act. The Biden administration’s one-month delay of the new rule will allow for the re-opening of a 20-day comment period for the public to engage with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

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Feds defend gray wolf delisting

The Biden administration is sticking with a decision to remove the gray wolf from Endangered Species Act protections, at least for now. In a brief letter to an environmental attorney sent Thursday, a senior Fish and Wildlife Service official reiterated the reasons the wolf merited the delisting accomplished during the Trump administration.

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Monarch butterfly population moves closer to extinction

The number of western monarch butterflies wintering along the California coast has plummeted precipitously to a record low, putting the orange-and-black insects closer to extinction. An annual winter count by the Xerces Society recorded fewer than 2,000 butterflies, a massive decline from the tens of thousands tallied in recent years and the millions in the 1980s.

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Fatal disease looms large over elk feeding grounds

The discovery of an elk with chronice wasting disease (CWD), an inevitably fatal disease, in Grand Teton National Park last month could be a harbinger of trouble in the Yellowstone region. It’s also put a spotlight on government-led elk feeding in big feedgrounds, which could provide an opportunity for disease to spread.

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The incomplete truth of predators and zoonotic disease

With the continued spread of Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD), the hypothesis that wolves could be the “best defense” or “first responders” against further spread has been getting increased airtime. But here’s the deal: just as wolves may reduce CWD spread, wolves may not reduce CWD spread. The impact of wolves on CWD dynamics is little more than speculation at this point.

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Worldwide occurrence records suggest a global decline in bee species richness

A quarter of bee species haven’t appeared in public records since 1990, according to a study out today, suggesting that some species have become rare enough that nobody is observing them in nature.

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Former FWP Director appointed to U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

Former Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks Director Martha Williams was appointed on Wednesday as second-in-command at the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in the Biden Administration. As principal deputy director of FWS, Williams will oversee a federal agency tasked with managing wildlife and habitat across the country.

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How Wolves Are Driving Down Mountain Lion Populations

A recent study from Wyoming shows that when the two predators overlap, wolves kill kittens in high numbers and push adults to starvation. While mountain lion populations have expanded across most of the American West, wolves are still trying to recolonize parts of their historic range. Since wolves affect mountain lion abundance so greatly, the study suggests that in places where wolves and mountain lions overlap, officials should implement more restrictive hunting quotas on cats to avoid a crash in their population.

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Interior to set a new course for ESA

The Biden administration wasted no time in pledging a wholesale review and potential reversal of its predecessor’s actions on the Endangered Species Act and other hot-button environmental laws.

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New Mexico zoo sends endangered wolf pack to Mexico

A pair of endangered Mexican gray wolves and their seven pups have been sent from a zoo in New Mexico’s largest city to Mexico as part of conservation efforts in that country. The pack of predators will eventually be released into the wild after they learn to hunt and survive on their own.

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Montana lawmakers considering several wolf management bills

Two northwest Montana lawmakers are considering a number of bills that could moderately or significantly change the way Montana manages wolves.

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Colorado begins wolf reintroduction plans OK’d by voters

Pending litigation over the Trump administration’s delisting of the gray wolf from the Endangered Species Act could complicate Colorado’s efforts to reintroduce the wolf to the state.

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New study reframes fence impacts on deer, pronghorn

Pronghorn and mule deer alter their natural movement nearly 40% of the times they encounter fences, according to a Wyoming study that could change how wildlife managers worldwide alleviate the toll imposed by such barriers. Furthermore, researchers observed six different types of altered movements — an important nuance that expands the traditional thinking about fences. 

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New Mexico land purchase to aid with wildlife protection

The acquisition of nearly 1,200 acres of private land near the New Mexico-Colorado border will go a long way to protect a migration corridor for elk and other animals. The transfer was completed following three years of negotiations with land owners, the Rocky Mountain Elk foundation and the Bureau of Land Management. The federal agency paid about $900,000 for four private in-holdings located within the Rio Grande del Norte National Monument.

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Owl’s critical habitat cut dramatically

The Trump administration has cut designated critical habitat for the northern spotted owl by millions of acres in Oregon, Washington and California. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced Wednesday that it would remove 3.4 million acres of critical habitat protections for the bird, including all of what’s known as the O&C Lands, which is big timber territory in Western Oregon.

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Sage grouse review done, but scant time for Trump’s changes

The Trump administration has completed a review of plans to ease protections for a struggling bird species in seven states in the U.S. West, but there’s little time to put the relaxed rules for industry into action before President-elect Joe Biden takes office

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FWS provides $250K for grizzly control

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has allocated $250,000 to protect Montana livestock from grizzly bear depredation in 2021. The money pays for federal Wildlife Services agents to use lethal and non-lethal control of grizzly bears suspected of attacking cattle and other livestock. In 2020, ranchers reported 148 possible grizzly kills or injuries of livestock, of which 124 were confirmed.

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USFWS authority to finalize recovery plans protected

An environmental group has no legal standing to challenge the specifics of recovery plans for endangered species, a U.S. district judge in Montana has ruled, rejecting the the Center for Biological Diversity’s challenge over the details of a recovery plan for grizzly bears in the continental United States.

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Study: Human development can block antelope migration

Conservationists know the most important thing to do for wildlife is to protect their habitat. Now, research shows good habitat is just as important in regions where wildlife migrate. Earlier this month, eight scientists published an eight-year study emphasizing the need to protect large swaths of prairie in eastern Montana and Canada from more development, so pronghorn antelope can continue their historic spring and fall migrations.

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First time in years, chinook salmon spawn in Columbia River

For the first time in more than a generation, chinook salmon have spawned in the upper Columbia River system. For decades, tribal leaders and scientists have dreamed of bringing the fish back to their native beds. Since 2014, the Columbia River tribes have worked on a plan that examines habitat, fish passage and survival among other things.

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Could spotted owls benefit from forest fires?

It may seem counterintuitive, but forest fires are actually beneficial to spotted owls, according to Penn State biologist Derek Lee. Lee analyzed the results from every published scientific study about the effects of wildfire on the threatened birds, summarizing his results in a paper published in 2018 in the journal Ecosphere. His results have important implications for management of forests inhabited by spotted owls, which assumes that fire is a major threat to the owls.

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Colorado HPP state council seeks livestock and sportsmen representatives

Colorado Parks and Wildlife (CPW) is seeking volunteers to fill two openings on the Habitat Partnership Program State Council. The Council is the oversight body for the Habitat Partnership Program (HPP), which works through 19 local committees to resolve conflicts between agricultural operators and big game as well as assisting CPW to achieve management objectives for deer, elk, pronghorn and moose. The deadline for nominations to be received is February 19, 2021.

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Researchers: Starvation, weather to blame for New Mexico bird die-off

Starvation and unexpected weather are to blame for a statewide die-off among migratory birds in New Mexico earlier this year, researchers said. Biologists from multiple agencies collected hundreds of samples of warblers, swallows and other birds to be analyzed. The researchers found that nearly all the birds were severely emaciated, already starving when they moved into New Mexico.

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Research findings offer a comprehensive understanding of migratory habitats across broad landscapes

An article focused on migration routes of pronghorn sheds new light on the important factors and the cumulative effects from habitat conversion and fragmentation of migratory routes.

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Officials cull bison to balance conservation strategies and brucellosis risk

Wildlife officials have announced plans to cull between 500 and 700 Yellowstone bison from the population and no longer enroll the animals in a brucellosis quarantine program. The plan attempts to balance conservation strategies with strategies to prevent the spread of brucellosis.

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Wildlife advocates sue US agency to protect Canada lynx

Wildlife advocates sued the federal government Tuesday in a bid to force officials to do more to conserve Canada lynx, a snow-loving cat that has struggled to survive in parts of the U.S. West. Attorneys for Friends of the Wild Swan, Rocky Mountain Wild and other groups filed the complaint in U.S. District Court in Montana.

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New migration maps serve as tools to help big game in West

A new atlas of migration corridors in Arizona, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, Utah and Wyoming published by the U.S. Geological Survey can help elk, mule deer, antelope and other animals by focusing efforts to reduce man-made obstacles along their journeys. The new migration atlas documents 26 migration corridors, 16 migration routes, 25 places where wildlife linger while migrating and nine areas where animals congregate during winter.

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OPINION: Bring landowner voices to Montana Private Land/Public Wildlife meeting

Malta-area rancher, president of the Ranchers Stewardship Alliance, and WLA member Leo Barthelmess penned an op-ed for the Northern Ag Network that lays out all the reasons why landowner voices are so important on the issue of how Montana can better support the working lands that support wildlife movement and migration.

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In fire-prone West, plants need their pollinators – and vice versa

A new study grounded in the northern Rockies explores the role of wildfire in the finely tuned dance between plants and their pollinators. Previous studies have looked at how fire affects plants, or how fire affects animals. But what is largely understudied is the question of how fire affects both, and about how linkages within those ecological networks might respond to fire disturbance.

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Study finds biodiversity stewardship incentives can be enhanced by regulatory assurances

A recent study applied a return-on-investment (ROI) perspective to explore better ways to target private-sector conservation engagement under the ESA and identify factors that affect incentives for participation in voluntary conservation. In their study, Epanchin-Niell and Boyd found that incentives may be enhanced through increased availability of programmatic agreements, regulatory assurances, technical and financial assistance, and tailored protections for threatened species.

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First local advisory group named to shape migration corridor policy in Wyoming

Gov. Mark Gordon has selected seven members to serve on the state’s first local migration corridor working group to offer guidance on one of the most critical big-game migratory pathways in the region, located in south central Wyoming.

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Trump plans would ease protections for sage grouse in West

The Trump administration announced plans Thursday that ease protections for sage grouse in the West, prompting an outcry by critics who say the move paves the way for widespread mining and drilling and ignores a federal court ruling. U.S. officials plan to formally publish supplemental environmental impact statements (SEIS) on Friday for the management of greater sage grouse habitat on public lands in seven states.

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BLM Wyoming proposes to offer 383 parcels in March 2021 oil and gas lease sale

The BLM Wyoming State Office plans to offer 383 parcels totaling about 483,017 acres in an oil and gas lease sale the week of March 15, 2021. This includes 285 parcels nominated for the March sale as well as 141 parcels totaling about 244,086 acres that the BLM deferred from lease sales earlier this year because they overlap Greater Sage-Grouse priority habitat.

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Grant to study conflict reduction could have benefits for Colorado wolf reintroduction plan

A large coalition of landowners and conservationists has landed a nearly $900,000 grant from the Natural Resources Conservation Service to study ways to reduce the financial and social burden of predator populations on livestock. Maura Bennett of the Ag Information Network of the West and Colorado Ag Today reports.

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WLA leads seven-state coalition that wins USDA award to study conflict reduction techniques

For grizzly bears to survive, farmers and ranchers need nonlethal tools that can reduce conflict before lethal means are required. But financing and educating people about those tools is the first hurdle. Now, with the help of a Conservation Innovation Grant of more than $886,000 announced last week, landowners and landowner group leaders hope to figure out how to do that.

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New maps document big-game migrations across the western United States

For the first time, state and federal wildlife biologists have come together to map the migrations of ungulates across America’s West. The maps will help land managers and conservationists pinpoint actions necessary to keep migration routes open and functional to sustain healthy big-game populations. The study includes maps of more than 40 big-game migration routes in Arizona, Idaho, Nevada, Utah and Wyoming.

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Japanese town deploys monster wolf robots to deter bears

To fend off rising bear trouble in rural Japan, farmers and conservationists have teamed up to deploy robots in wolves clothing. Officials say there have been no bear encounters since the faux canids with glowing red eyes and bear-tuned motion sensors were installed.

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Appropriators side with Trump on sage grouse, horses

Federal protections for greater sage grouse and wild horses could become major points of contention for Senate and House appropriators working to finalize fiscal 2021 funding legislation in the lame-duck session. The Senate Appropriations Committee’s $35.81 billion Interior-Environment spending bill released today includes language forbidding the Interior secretary from using any appropriated funding “to write or issue” a rule listing the greater sage grouse for protection under the ESA.

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Conservationists say Oregon dam blocks struggling salmon

A coalition of environmental and fishing groups are suing a water district in southern Oregon over an aging, privately owned dam that they say hinders the passage of struggling salmon populations in the pristine North Umpqua River.

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Grant Aims To Reduce Conflicts Between Predators And People

The $894,000 Conservation Innovation Grant awarded last week comes from the USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service. Half of the 20 groups in the coalition awarded that money are in Montana. The grant provides three-year funding with one central goal.

“To scale up conflict reduction efforts,” says Alex Few.

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Light pollution affects animals around the globe

Artificial light should be treated like other forms of pollution because its impact on the natural world has widened to the point of systemic disruption, research says. Hormone levels, breeding cycles, activity patterns and vulnerability to predators are being affected across a broad range of species.

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Washington to manage wolves within borders after fed action

The state of Washington will take over management of most wolves within its borders early next year, after the U.S. government announced that gray wolves in the Lower 48 states would be delisted from the federal Endangered Species Act.

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Infographic: A patchwork of lands fragments wildlife migration

For generations, elk and mule deer in the remote South San Juan Mountains along the Colorado-New Mexico border have migrated from summer’s alpine meadows down to the grassy lowlands where they spend their winters. Most of the higher portion of this major migration corridor lies on U.S. Forest Service lands, but the ungulates’ path also cuts directly through some of the largest privately owned properties in the region. If those parcels were sold and developed, their loss would cut off the seasonal wildlife flow.

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Idaho’s sockeye salmon run falters again; experts perplexed

A meager return of sockeye salmon to central Idaho this year despite high hopes and a new fish hatchery intended to help save the species from extinction has fisheries managers trying to figure out what went wrong. The Idaho Department of Fish and Game plans to form a working group to understand why only 27 of 660,000 juvenile fish raised in the hatchery and released in central Idaho in 2018 survived the two-year, 1,800-mile round trip to the ocean and back to return as adults. Fisheries managers expected about 800.

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Trump administration returns management and protection of gray wolves to states and tribes following successful recovery efforts

More than 45 years after gray wolves were first listed under the ESA, the Trump Administration and its many conservation partners are announcing the successful recovery of the gray wolf and its delisting from the ESA. U.S. Secretary of the Interior David L. Bernhardt announced that state and tribal wildlife management agency professionals will resume responsibility for sustainable management and protection of delisted gray wolves in states with gray wolf populations, while the USFWS monitors the species for five years to ensure the continued success of the species.

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To save threatened plants and animals, restore habitat on farms, ranches and other working lands

Restoring native habitats to at least 20 percent of the world’s land currently being used by humans for farming, ranching and forestry is necessary to protect biodiversity and slow species loss, according to a newly published study conducted by a team of environmental scientists.

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Livestock conflicts linked to several grizzly deaths

Preliminary data suggests livestock conflicts were the primary cause of known grizzly bear deaths outside of Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem monitoring areas in 2020. Frank van Manen, supervisory research biologist for the Interagency Grizzly Bear Study Team, presented highlights from this year’s grizzly bear research and monitoring report to the Yellowstone Ecosystem Subcommittee of the Interagency Grizzly Bear Committee on Wednesday.

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Feds to announce gray wolf delisting

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service on Thursday will announce a new rule to remove federal Endangered Species Act protections for gray wolves across the Lower 48 states. The move will hand wolf management back to individual states and tribal governments.

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Bighorn sheep in Washington tests positive for disease

A bighorn sheep from the Cleman Mountain herd in central Washington state has tested positive for Mycloplasma, a bacteria that causes pneumonia in wild bighorn populations. The bacteria is usually fatal across a significant portion of the herd and there is no treatment for wild bighorn sheep and no preventative vaccine. Past pneumonia outbreaks among bighorn sheep in Washington and other parts of the western United States have been linked to contact between wild sheep and domestic sheep or goats that carry Mycoplasma but are unaffected by the bacteria.

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Federal judge upholds habitat protections for endangered New Mexico meadow jumping mouse

A federal judge has upheld restrictions on 14,000 acres of land designated critical habitat by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. In 2018, the Northern New Mexico Stockman’s Association and the Otero County Cattleman’s Association sued the Fish and Wildlife Service seeking to overturn the protections in New Mexico.

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USFWS pulls wolverine protection proposal


The US Fish and Wildlife Service has denied protection to wolverines under the Endangered Species Act, frustrating conservation groups who argue the species faces an existential threat from the climate crisis. According to the ruling announced on Thursday, the FWS considers wolverine populations in the lower 48 states to be stable and threats against wolverines to be less significant than they previously thought. The agency is consequently withdrawing a proposal to federally protect the species.

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Nevada dam changes give rare trout new life 115 years later

U.S. and tribal officials are celebrating completion of a $34 million fish bypass system at a Nevada dam that will allow a threatened trout species to return to some of its native spawning grounds for the first time in more than a century.

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Suit aims to force listing of bistate grouse on NV-CA line

Citing the government’s repeated reversals and refusals to protect a cousin of the greater sage grouse the last two decades, conservationists are suing again to try to force the federal listing of the bistate sage grouse along the California-Nevada line. The Western Watersheds Project, WildEarth Guardians and the Center for Biological Diversity filed a lawsuit in U.S. district court in San Francisco last week against the Fish and Wildlife Service.

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Wyoming officials call for endangered species reform with grizzly population ‘booming’

Wyoming Game and Fish Director and Wyoming Stock Growers Association Executive Vice President have penned a joint editorial calling for changes to grizzly bear protections under the ESA citing a booming population and expanded range.

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Washington wildfires deliver devastating hit to wildlife

The immediate public concern as wildfires have ravaged portions of Eastern Washington this month is the human suffering, destruction of property and the pall of hazardous smoke. Behind the headlines is the silent anguish of wild creatures. The rate of wildlife survival and recovery will hinge on nature’s cooperation with rain, a fall green-up and a mild winter.

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Reintroduction of gray wolves to be on Colorado ballots this November

Gray wolves stood on the top of nature’s food chain in Colorado over eight decades ago, but were eradicated from most of the western united states by the 1930s. Now after 80 years, the reintroduction of gray wolves will be on the ballot for Colorado. Voting yes to proposition 114 means getting the first wolf paws on Colorado ground by 2023.

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Proposition 114 explained: What’s at stake with the effort to reintroduce gray wolves in Colorado

The question on Colorado’s November ballot marks the first time that voters, not the federal government, would direct state wildlife managers to script a recovery plan for wolves.

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Groups threaten suit over rare bird’s fate in Colorado, Utah

The Center for Biological Diversity and the Western Watersheds Project said yesterday they intend to file a lawsuit contending that several federal agencies are relying on an outdated plan to save the Gunnison sage grouse, a rare bird found only in Colorado and Utah.

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Gallatin Conservation District starts program to boost pollinators in the area

The program focuses on increasing beneficial pollinator habitat in the county. Two pollinator seed mixes are available for county landowners for free to grow their own pollinator garden. Pollinator gardens provide habitat and food sources for native pollinators, including bees, butterflies, moths, and others.

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Growing sage for grouse; Honor Farm seedling, transplant program expands in its second year

After a successful debut last year, the Wyoming Honor Farm in Riverton has expanded its sagebrush-growing efforts to enhance habitat for the greater sage grouse. For this second season, inmates are engaged in the sowing and care of more than 40,000 sagebrush seedlings that will be transplanted in disturbed sagebrush ecosystems across Wyoming this fall.

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Yellowstone’s grizzly numbers are up. Is it time to turn bear management over to states?

Idaho senators say grizzly bears in the GYE are a conservation success story and Congress should remove them from the threatened species list. But the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals upheld a ruling in July reversing the delisting of the great bear because of a lack of “concrete, enforceable mechanisms” to “ensure long-term genetic health of the Yellowstone grizzly.” Now a bill making its way through the U.S. Senate’s committee process may remove the bear from the protected list, at least in the Yellowstone area.

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Subsidies encourage ranchers to make room for the Lesser Prairie Chicken

Lesser prairie chickens don’t really bother Mike McCarty. He likes them just fine, but doesn’t think people understand how hard it is to balance wildlife conservation and being a rancher and farmer in southwest Kansas. “Yes, we need to protect our wildlife and everything,” he says, “but we also need to protect our people, our agriculture.”

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A cuckoo keeps its protections, but debate continues

The Fish and Wildlife Service declared today the western population of yellow-billed cuckoo still warrants federal protection under the Endangered Species Act. In a noteworthy defeat for mining and ranching organizations, the federal agency rejected a petition to strip away the bird’s status as a threatened species.

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