WORKING WILD

Photo by Melanie Elzinga

OUR GOAL

Thriving ranches and thriving wildlife.

Working lands stitch together the patchwork of landscapes that create the character of the West and the open space valued by so many, both people and wildlife. The Working WildChallenge is a landowner-led effort that recognizes the challenge of ranching with wildlife, and facilitates constructive dialogue between wildlife managers and working lands stewards to solve problems through peer learning, public policies, and increasing access to technical and financial assistance. Our approach leads to stronger partnerships, more resilient ranches, and ultimately, better-connected landscapes. 

OUR APPROACH

Understanding. Connection. Solutions.

Seeking Understanding

Between private stewards, public lands and wildlife managers, conservation organizations, and the public. Holding space on the landscape requires holding space for difficult conversations.

Connecting Practitioners

Through ranch tours, listening sessions, practitioner calls, stakeholder gatherings, virtual meetings, and publications, we connect with each other to promote peer-to-peer information exchange.

Creating economic and policy solutions

As primary stakeholders with deep personal and financial ties to the land, we ensure that landowners have a direct voice in the policy matters that impact us.

Photo by Melanie Elzinga

THE FOUR C's OF THE WWC

Conflict prevention, Control, Compensation & Collaboration

Conflict prevention

Conflict prevention tools need durable sources of funding to allow producers to implement these nonlethal methods within an adaptive framework.

Control

Lethal control is a critical tool in managing large carnivores on working landscapes; supporting, not undermining, conflict prevention. 

Compensation

Compensation for losses to predation is a reasonable and important form of public support for policies that expand the ranges of widely-valued wildlife like wolves and bears.

Collaboration

Collaboration engages landowners early and meaningfully in decision-making processes and is critical to both effectiveness and equity when developing wildlife policies and land management plans.

Wildlife News from the West

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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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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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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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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3 Mexican wolf pups cross-fostered into an Arizona pack

Three Mexican wolf pups have successfully been cross-fostered into a pack in northeastern Arizona, according to state Game and Fish Department officials. They said biologists used remote trail cameras late last month to document eight Mexican wolf pups in the Hoodoo Pack in the Apache Sitgreaves National Forest.

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Humans driving massive, worldwide species decline

Human-driven biodiversity loss has pushed much of the world into a crisis, as vertebrate animal populations have experienced an average 68% population loss since 1970, according to a report released this week. The “Living Planet 2020” study shows anthropogenic land use has been the biggest driver of biodiversity loss, with invasive species and climate change also becoming growing threats to millions of species.

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Cold Springs Fire threatens homes and Sage Grouse

More than 300,000 acres have burned in Washington state since Labor Day, when high winds and temperatures created perfect conditions for fast, destructive fire. Ashley Ahearn headed to Bridgeport, Washington, where the Cold Springs Fire has burned more than 170,000 acres and is still threatening homes and wildlife.

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Are bison the key to bringing back prairies?

As bee and pollinator populations have collapsed, and a number of species of songbirds and plants have fallen to the brink, restoring and saving what is left of the prairies has become a priority for state and local agencies.

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Trump administration plans to remove endangered gray wolf protections by end of year

The Trump administration plans to lift endangered species protections for gray wolves across most of the nation by the end of the year, the director of the Fish and Wildlife Service said yesterday. “We’re working hard to have this done by the end of the year, and I’d say it’s very imminent,” Aurelia Skipwith told the Associated Press.

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Another scuffle over Point Reyes elk population — this time over their water supply

The tule elk, whose magnificent antlered presence is one reason about 2.5 million people visit Point Reyes National Seashore each year, may be at risk of dying from dehydration, say wildlife advocates who are demanding a fence be removed which they say is cutting the elk off from water. Their demands have reignited a long-simmering feud in the seashore where tule elk have been at odds with private cattle and dairy ranchers at Point Reyes, widely considered a gem of the National Park System.

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Are gray wolves back? A puppy sighting in northwest Colorado is the best clue yet

In June, a state biologist watched an adult gray wolf cross the road in front of her followed by a dark gray puppy. The sighting could mean a group of grey wolves isn’t just living in Colorado for the first time since humans eradicated the species in the 1940s; the predators could be breeding as well.

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Study: black turbine blades reduced bird mortality by 72%

Painting one of a wind turbine’s three blades black led to a dramatic decline in bird mortality along the Norwegian coast, new research shows. Bird death from turbine collisions dropped by 71.9% where a turbine blade was black, compared with unpainted turbines at the same wind farm, according to findings published last month in the peer-reviewed journal Ecology and Evolution.

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Utah looks to expand mountain goat range, but at what cost to alpine landscapes?

In Utah, mountain goats are among the most interesting wild ungulates, but Utah Division of Wildlife Resources officials’ effort to expand the nonnative species’ range is drawing criticism because the goats could harm the fragile alpine environments and rare plant communities.

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Grizzly bear advisory council nears completion of state plan

A citizen-led council’s work writing the state’s long-term vision for grizzly bear management nears the end. Members of the governor’s Grizzly Bear Advisory Council tweaked recommendations addressing bear distribution, outdoor recreation and proposed hunts, reaching a consensus on all items except hunting. The council will present its final report to the governor’s office Sept. 1.

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Washington kills last 2 members of wolf pack preying on cattle

The state of Washington has killed the last two known wolves in the so-called Wedge pack in Stevens County, which had been preying on livestock, the Department of Fish and Wildlife said yesterday. Investigators for the agency found that the pack was responsible for 16 livestock depredations since May. The agency had previously killed one wolf in July in an unsuccessful effort to alter the pack’s behavior.

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Governor Gordon launches first local area working group for Platte Valley Mule Deer Corridor

The working group will review the effectiveness of corridor designation on the migratory herd and evaluate the Wyoming Game and Fish Department’s draft risk assessment report. It will also make recommendations about additional opportunities for conservation as well as examine the impacts of all restrictions on development and use of lands encompassed in the designated corridor. To apply to serve on the working group apply through this form. Applications are due September 18, 2020.

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With tribe’s help, trout thrives in remote Nevada lake

A half-century after being added to the endangered species list, Lahontan cutthroat trout are thriving with help from a Native American tribe at a remote lake in northern Nevada.

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High tech comes to biodiversity protection

Habitat conservation and protection of biodiversity is of growing importance for many states. In Nevada, the effort is being backed up with new high-tech tools designed to guide strategies for protection of vulnerable plant and animal species.

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Ranchers combine cattle, conservation and logging to save birds

[Rancher Dusty] Downey is among 82 ranchers from Texas to the Dakotas using protocols designed by the National Audubon Society to reinvigorate grassland ecosystems to increase populations of imperiled birds.

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Grizzly bear killed by wildlife officials after killing cow

Wildlife officials say they have killed a grizzly bear after it killed a cow on private land in southwestern Montana outside Yellowstone National Park. The adult male bear had killed a cow in Park County last week and was euthanized following consultations with the Fish and Wildlife Service.

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Not easy eating green: Herbivores most at risk of extinction

Although scientists often worry most about the loss of the world’s predators, a comprehensive new study finds that plant-eating herbivores are the animals most at risk of extinction. About 1 in 4 species of herbivores, 25.5%, are considered threatened, endangered or vulnerable by the International Union for Conservation of Nature, the world’s scientific authority on extinction risk, according to a study in yesterday’s journal Science Advances.

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Wildlife agencies float definition of ‘habitat’ in ESA

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and National Marine Fisheries Service are proposing to define “habitat” in the Endangered Species Act for the first time, in response to a 2018 Supreme Court decision.

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Washington kills member of wolf pack preying on cattle

The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife has killed one of the three members of an endangered wolf pack in the northeastern corner of the state in an attempt to reduce the pack’s attacks on cattle. The adult, non-breeding female member of the so-called Wedge wolf pack that has repeatedly preyed on cattle on public and private grazing lands in northeastern Stevens County was killed Monday.

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In western Colorado, wary ranchers eye wolves’ arrival and fear urban voters will introduce more

Ballot measure to widen wolves’ comeback could threaten partnership between conservation community and agriculture. Colorado’s statewide wolf-reintroduction ballot initiative is rankling rural communities, rekindling old conflicts over the purpose of public lands. It’s straining the hard-won partnership that ensures, if not pure nature, the conservation of open landscapes in the face of Colorado’s population growth and development boom.

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Rare leopard frog found beyond its known range in Southwest

A rare frog has been found beyond its known range in the Southwest. A U.S. Forest Service volunteer recently photographed a Chiricahua leopard frog in an earthen stock tank near the town of Camp Verde in central Arizona. Biologists later confirmed that at least 10 of the frogs were living there. The aquatic frogs were thought to be only in eastern Arizona, western New Mexico and northern Mexico but historically were more widespread.

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Sharing the costs of conservation by recognizing ranchers for the habitat they provide

The author of “Eager,” a book about beavers, suggests ranchers should be rewarded for wolves appearing on their property. Ben Goldfarb points to similar programs in Sweden, Arizona and Montana.

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California’s only gray wolf pack has 8 new pups

California’s only known gray wolf pack has eight new pups. Eight youngsters were tallied in the Lassen Pack in northeastern California, according to an April-through-June report from the state Department of Fish and Wildlife. Genetic testing of their excrement shows at least four are male and two are female, according to the agency.

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Service Completes Initial Review of Petition to List Dunes Sagebrush Lizard

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has completed its initial review of a petition to list the dunes sagebrush lizard under the Endangered Species Act (ESA). The Service has concluded that the petition presents substantial information indicating listing may be warranted. Accordingly, the Service will now begin an in-depth review of this species to determine whether it should be listed under the ESA. 

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Groups petition for southeast Alaska wolf protections

Conservation groups asked the federal government Wednesday to provide Endangered Species Act protections to a southeast Alaska wolf population they say is under threat from factors including the loss of habitat and hunting and trapping.

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Conservation credit system allows Nevada ranchers to aid sage-grouse conservation

With greater sage-grouse numbers continuing to decline throughout their range in the western United States, one state is engaging ranchers to preserve habitat for the bird, known for its elaborate mating rituals.

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Search finds zero wolves in South Cascades

A two-year search for wolves in Washington’s South Cascades has found none, a scientist said Wednesday. Researchers tested the DNA of thousands of scat piles sniffed out by dogs. Many piles looked like wolf droppings, but all turned out to be from dogs. “If wolves are in the South Cascades, they are lone wolves.”

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Agencies, group take ‘step forward’ with Mexican owl talks

Negotiations among environmentalists and state and federal officials in Arizona and New Mexico have resulted in a set of recommendations and other provisions that environmentalists say will help protect the threatened Mexican spotted owl while allowing forest thinning projects to move forward.

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Ninth Circuit rules to restore protections for Yellowstone grizzlies

The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals Wednesday affirmed a 2018 Montana District Court decision that struck down federal efforts to remove Yellowstone grizzlies’ “threatened” status under the Endangered Species Act. The delisting in 2017 turned over management of the species to the states surrounding Yellowstone National Park, allowing the states to plan bear hunts.

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Landowner and agency attempts to reduce conflict were unsuccessful in food-conditioned grizzly bear

Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks captured and euthanized a subadult male grizzly bear about five miles west of Shelby on June 19. The bear had been involved in multiple conflicts between Ethridge and Ledger this spring, and attempts to prevent incidents were unsuccessful. In consultation with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the decision was made not to relocate the bear because its undesirable behavior appeared engrained and posed a human safety risk.

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Nevada groundwater order could help save endangered fish

Conservationists say Nevada’s unprecedented interpretation of state water laws to restrict groundwater pumping for development in the desert northeast of Las Vegas could help prevent the extinction of a tiny endangered fish. The order that the state engineer issued this week in a decades-old legal battle is expected to curtail development across 1,500 square miles that share the same groundwater supply in the driest state in the nation.

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Washington state approves killing of 2 wolves that prey on cattle

The state of Washington on Friday authorized the killing of two wolves in the Togo pack in Ferry County because of repeated depredations of cattle grazing in the Kettle River Range. The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife said the pack has been involved in seven cattle depredations in the past 10 months.

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Judge upholds lethal removal of cattle-killing grizzlies

A federal judge has upheld U.S. Forest Service grazing plans that allow the lethal removal of grizzly bears that are caught killing cattle in the Bridger-Teton National Forest of Wyoming.

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Mexican wolf plans spur strong opinions, debate

Many people care about the future management of Mexican wolves, judging by the 40,000-plus public comments submitted during a Fish and Wildlife Service review period that expires tonight. The public outpouring put the issue atop the federal government’s “what’s trending” list of regulatory actions today and underscored the tricky choices ahead as FWS reviews the “nonessential experimental population” and management of the wolves in Arizona and New Mexico.

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Range rider working to protect grizzlies, livestock in Gravellys

Following calls from landowners for additional conflict prevention capacity at the 100+ person meeting convened by WLA near the Gravelly Range in Montana in November, an additional range rider has hit the ground in the region. The new range rider is working to prevent grizzly bears from preying upon livestock in response to increasing bear activity. “We’re trying to protect livestock, and we’re trying to keep bears out of trouble,” said John Steuber, Montana state director for U.S. Department of Agriculture Wildlife Services.

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Study reveals impacts of climate change on migrating mule deer

When drought reshuffles the green-up of habitats that mule deer migrate across, it dramatically shortens the annual foraging bonanza they rely on. That is the main finding of a new University of Wyoming study, which shows the benefits of migration are likely to decrease for mule deer and other migratory herbivores as drought becomes more common due to ongoing climate change.

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Researchers take aim at the “Murder Hornet’, threat to bees

USDA staff at the Agricultural Research Service are searching for the Asian giant hornet (AGH) in hopes of preventing a serious threat to the U.S. beekeeping industry. “If AGH were to become established in Washington State, it could pose a serious threat to the beekeeping industry. AGH could subsequently impact the state’s billion-dollar agriculture industry.”

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U.S. delays repairs for Idaho road in grizzly bear habitat

U.S. officials will delay the repair of an impassable northern Idaho road in important grizzly bear habitat near the Canadian border because of a lawsuit filed by environmentalists, according to court documents filed Wednesday.

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Rule change would cause more migratory bird deaths — FWS

The Trump administration’s proposed narrowing of Migratory Bird Treaty Act protections will have a “likely negative” impact on birds that includes “increased” mortality, according to a Fish and Wildlife Service study made public today.

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From beetles to butterflies, Scientists and landowners are working together to bring endangered insects back from the brink

Stories of an “insect apocalypse” came to a head in 2018 as scientists sent out the alarm on the dramatic loss of populations around the world. But there’s another less-told but equally important story of bringing uncharismatic minifauna back from the brink through cooperation among sometimes-opposing groups: private landowners, public officials and conservation activists.

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Hunting for game wardens: A shortage of conservation officers threatens wildlife

States are facing significant shortages of conservation officers, who help protect natural resources and wildlife. The COVID-19 global health pandemic has triggered major budget cuts, further threatening funding for environmental conservation and could result in additional cuts to conservation districts that are already cash-strapped and understaffed.

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Groups sue over continued grazing in Wyoming grizzly habitat

A coalition of conservation groups sued the U.S. government Tuesday over livestock grazing in a Wyoming forest, saying grizzly bears are too often killed by ranchers and wildlife managers for pursuing cattle in such settings. Forest officials decided in October to allow livestock grazing to continue across more than 260 square miles (690 square kilometers) in the Green River headwaters of Bridger-Teton National Forest.

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Migratory birds are struggling to adapt to climate change

Migratory birds may be particularly vulnerable to the impacts of climate change compared with birds that stay put during the winter, scientists reported May 26 in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. The researchers found that residential birds in North America have expanded their ranges into warming northerly areas since the 1970s, while the breeding grounds occupied by migratory birds have shrunk.

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Rough start to the year for Mexican gray wolves, cattle

One Mexican gray wolf died after being caught in a trap in April and another was found dead in the wild, bringing the total to more than a dozen that died in the first four months of the year in New Mexico and Arizona. Environmentalists say a combination of lethal management by U.S. wildlife officials and private trapping is making it difficult to recover the species. But ranchers say they face constant pressure from the wolves, pointing to the more than two dozen cattle that were killed just last month.

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Prioritizing pollinators: Farmers are partnering to protect the environment

For farmers and ranchers, prioritizing sustainability extends far beyond their own land. That’s how a unique initiative called Farmers for Monarchs was born. The collaborative involves farmers, ranchers, landowners, researchers, academic institutions, government agencies, conservationists and businesses, all working together to sustain monarch butterfly populations on farms and ranches across the country.

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Pollution: Birds ‘ingesting hundreds of bits of plastic a day’

Birds living on river banks are ingesting plastic at the rate of hundreds of tiny fragments a day, according to a new study. Scientists say this is the first clear evidence that plastic pollutants in rivers are finding their way into wildlife and moving up the food chain.

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EPA report: Dams play large role in raising water temperatures

The EPA issued a report Tuesday detailing summertime water temperature problems on the lower Snake and Columbia rivers and assigning significant responsibility to federal dams. The report said dams on both rivers play a role in raising water temperatures above 68 degrees — the state water quality standards of Washington and Oregon, and the point at which the water becomes harmful to salmon and steelhead. The causes of the increasing water temperatures are known as Total Maximum Daily Load, or TMDL. A draft TMDL is now out for public comment through July 21, 2020.

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Conservation groups ask Washington state to kill fewer wolves

Conservation groups yesterday asked the Washington Fish and Wildlife Commission to sharply limit the number of endangered wolves that are killed over conflicts with livestock. The state has killed 31 wolves since 2012. The conservation groups want the wildlife commission to amend its rules to require that livestock producers use appropriate nonlethal deterrence methods to prevent conflict between livestock and wolves. The new rules would ensure that the state kills wolves only as a last resort.

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NM Supreme Court asked to weigh in on stream access dispute that no one can agree on

Kendra Chamberlain at New Mexico Political Report unpacks the controversy over New Mexico’s stream access law, and the pending lawsuit between pro-access groups and the state. She writes, “Groups on both sides of the dispute all have different ideas about what’s at issue, and what’s at stake, but all parties are quick to point out the dispute is incredibly complicated. And while there’s no shortage of opinions on the topic, stakeholders on both sides of the fence seem to agree on one thing: it was a 2014 opinion issued by then-Attorney General Gary King that started the whole thing.” 

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Lawsuit aims to stop U.S. from killing coyotes in Idaho

Three environmental groups have filed a lawsuit seeking to stop the U.S. government from killing coyotes and other predators in Idaho until environmental studies are carried out. The Western Watersheds Project and two other groups are also asking the U.S. District Court for the District of Idaho in the lawsuit filed Thursday to rule that an eastern Idaho facility in Pocatello that manufactures poison to kill predators is operating in violation of environmental laws.

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US, Wyoming urge rejection of ruling that blocked bear hunts

Attorneys for the U.S. government and the state of Wyoming urged an appeals court yesterday to throw out much of a judge’s ruling that blocked the first grizzly bear hunts in the Lower 48 in almost three decades. The case is before the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. It involves more than 700 grizzly bears in and around Yellowstone National Park that had their protections stripped away and then restored by a judge in Montana just as hunting was scheduled to begin.

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Appeals court rejects lawsuit against Oregon grazing authorizations

Environmentalists have failed to convince the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals that grazing authorizations unlawfully harmed bull trout on seven allotments in Oregon’s Malheur National Forest. The appellate court has rejected allegations from the Oregon Natural Desert Association and Center for Biological Diversity that more than 100 federal grazing decisions — including permit approvals and operating instructions — violated the forest’s management plan over a decade.

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Feds, tribes raise concerns about cuckoo habitat proposal

The Fish and Wildlife Service has rekindled an Endangered Species Act debate with its proposal for a large, multistate critical habitat for the western yellow-billed cuckoo. The Army Corps of Engineers cautions that the proposal could complicate operations of a key California dam. Tribes have worries of their own. Some bird lovers, meanwhile, want more than the proposed 493,665 acres spanning seven Western states.

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Opinion: Public partnerships key to wildlife planning efforts

The lack of recognition of migration corridors — areas through which large numbers of wildlife migrate and thus serve a vital role for long-term survival — in public land management plans is resulting in lost opportunities to conserve wildlife. Fortunately, the BLM acknowledges the need to amend these plans, and its intent to begin a public process creates an opportunity for Coloradoans to be part of a solution to conserve big game habitat.

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Earth’s insect population shrinks 27% in 30 years

The world has lost more than one quarter of its land-dwelling insects in the past 30 years, according to researchers whose big picture study of global bug decline paints a disturbing but more nuanced problem than earlier research. From bees and other pollinators crucial to the world’s food supply to butterflies that beautify places, the bugs are disappearing at a rate of just under 1% a year, with lots of variation from place to place, according to a study in yesterday’s journal Science.

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Conflicts with wolves in Wyoming decrease as population declines toward objectives

Three measures of conflict between livestock and wolves – livestock conflicts with wolves, compensation for depredations caused by wolves and the number of wolves lethally removed in response to conflicts – decreased as the population of wolves in Wyoming stabilized around the management objective.

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Report: Washington’s wolf population grows at least 11 percent in 2019

Washington’s wolf population grew at least 11% between 2018 and 2019, despite the death of 21 wolves from hunting, lethal removal and predation. Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife biologists documented a minimum of 108 wolves in 21 packs and 10 breeding pairs in 2019. The state’s annual wolf survey, published Monday, sets a minimum number of wolves and packs in the state and guides management decisions for the year to come.

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Yellowstone’s Wolves 25 years after reintroduction: The effects on ranchers

March marked the 25th anniversary of wolf reintroduction. After a quarter-century, there are factual answers to lingering concerns, questions and fears. This is the third in a series that has so far has addressed questions and concerns regarding the decision to reintroduce wolves, whether managers introduced the “wrong wolf” and what effects wolves have had on Greater Yellowstone’s ecosystem. But how have wolves affected ranchers, hunters and others who share the landscape with these long-absent predators?

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Documentary: Sharing the Range

Check out this short film documenting the challenges of living with large carnivores and how the people of the Waterton Biosphere Reserve are meeting these challenges.

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Guard dog program brings back tradition in Portugal as wolves expand

One of the oldest canine breeds on the Iberian Peninsula, Serra da Estrela dogs have been guarding livestock against attacks by Iberian wolves and stray dogs for centuries. While some shepherds still use dogs, the tradition has died out in many areas. Complemented by other coexistence measures, the program intends to reduce livestock predation through providing shepherds with free guard dog puppies, in turn enabling the recovery of the endangered Iberian wolf.

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California moves toward protecting mountain lions

California took a major step yesterday toward giving mountain lions protection as an endangered species. The California Fish and Game Commission voted unanimously to approve Southern California and Central Coast mountain lions as candidates for California Endangered Species Act designation. That launches a yearlong status review by the California Department of Fish and Wildlife, which will prepare a peer-reviewed status report. The commission will make a final decision at the end of that period.

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USDA Wildlife Services to use $1.3 M to implement, evaluate nonlethal predation management tools

The USDA Wildlife Services (WS) program has identified 12 states where it will implement nonlethal strategies to reduce or prevent depredation on livestock by wildlife. The fiscal year 2020 budget allocated $1.38 million for nonlethal predator damage management and research to the program that is part of the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) agency.

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Listed species grow as protections shrink

The Fish and Wildlife Service today increased the number of species covered by the Migratory Bird Treaty Act, even as the agency prepares to narrow the law’s protections. In the first revision of its kind since 2013, FWS added a net total of 67 bird species to the protected list, which now numbers 1,093.

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Trump admin reopens Mexican wolf study

The Fish and Wildlife Service today reopened a debate over the best way to protect the Mexican wolf. Facing legal pressure, the agency announced plans to revise the “nonessential experimental population” designation and management of the wolves living in Arizona and New Mexico. The plans require drafting an environmental impact statement supplement.

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Scientists disagree on bison impacts to Yellowstone’s Northern Range

A new report claiming that bison are damaging the Northern Range of Yellowstone National Park is drawing criticism from a park wildlife biologist who questions whether the scientists behind it are “looking too narrowly” at the range. The study by Oregon State University researchers contends that bison “have become a barrier to ecosystem recovery in the iconic Lamar Valley.” Bison, they say, have 10 times the impact elk have on the valley’s vegetation.

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Governors Grizzly Bear Advisory Council considers recommendations regarding hunting once delisted

When it comes to grizzly bears in Montana, hunting is more of a sociological and political tool rather than a biological one. “Whether or not there’s a hunting of grizzly bears really is a social and a value-driven issue,” said Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks administrator Ken McDonald. “Biologically, it’s a management tool that’s available to us once bears are delisted. Whether we utilize that tool or not is a bigger question that the public generally needs to weigh in on.”

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Historic agreement to protect monarch butterfly issued by FWS

The candidate conservation agreement with assurances (CCAA) potentially applies to over 26 million acres managed by energy companies and departments of transportation across the United States. Via the agreement, public and private partners can voluntarily adopt conservation measures that are beneficial to the monarch butterfly, which is currently being considered for listing under the Endangered Species Act.

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Cattle conflicts prompt FWS to kill Mexican wolves

The killing of four Mexican gray wolves by U.S. wildlife officials has drawn the ire of environmentalists who say management of the species is undercutting efforts to restore the endangered predators to the American Southwest. The USFWS took the action after nonlethal means failed to get the predators to stop killing cattle. The latest deaths highlight a conflict that has persisted since reintroduction began more than 20 years ago. Over the last year, ranchers have seen a record number of cattle kills as the wolf population has increased.

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Carcass removal available on Montana’s Rocky Mountain Front

In the ongoing effort to reduce conflicts between grizzly bears and livestock producers on the Rocky Mountain Front, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks are continuing a carcass collection and removal service again this spring. Carcasses of dead livestock and other animals are significant attractants for grizzly bears, particularly in the spring as the bears emerge from winter dens. Carcass dispersal or removal helps reduce attractants that might otherwise draw bears into conflict with people or livestock.

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BLM plan eyes 1,000 miles of new fuel breaks in 3 states

A plan to help in the battle against devastating wildfires creates fuel breaks 400 feet wide along 987 miles of roads in southwestern Idaho and southeastern Oregon that will be tied into an existing fuel break system in northern Nevada. The BLM on Friday released a final environmental impact statement for the Tri-State Fuel Breaks Project, opening a 30-day comment period. The agency said creating fuel breaks by clearing vegetation will help firefighters stop wildfires and protect key habitat for sage grouse and other wildlife.

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Fact vs. fiction: The effect wolves have on Yellowstone’s game animals, ecology

This is the second in a series of articles looking at the impact of reintroducing wolves in Yellowstone National Park 25 years ago. In an effort to separate fact from fiction, this article explains what we know and don’t know by allowing federal, state and local wildlife and livestock managers to respond to common questions and concerns regarding wolves.

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Yellowstone’s wolves 25 years after reintroduction: Separating fact from fiction

A group of wolves from Jasper National Park in Alberta, Canada, arrived at Yellowstone National Park on Jan. 12, 1995. The wolves were penned and given time to acclimate to the environment before the first of them were released on March 21, 1995. The purpose of this article, and others to follow, is to examine the reasons, controversies and ramifications of reintroduction. They will separate fact from fiction and reality from fable by allowing federal, state and local managers to respond to persistent claims and concerns.

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Fight over jaguar habitat in Southwest heads back to court

A federal appeals court is ordering a U.S. district judge in New Mexico to reconsider a case involving a fight over critical habitat for the endangered jaguar in the American Southwest. Groups had sued arguing that a 2014 decision by the USFWS to set aside thousands of acres for the cats was arbitrary and violated the statute that guides wildlife managers in determining whether certain areas are essential for the conservation of a species.

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Safe Passages

As the climate changesaltering where animals graze and find suitable habitats, migration corridors are more important than ever to their survival. In this Washington Post feature story, Ben Guarino and team dig in deep on this vital issue.

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Judge asked to force decision on wolverine protections

Wildlife advocates yesterday asked a U.S. judge to force the government into deciding whether the snow-loving wolverine should be federally protected as the rare predator becomes vulnerable to a warming planet. The request comes in a lawsuit filed in Montana almost four years after U.S. District Judge Dana Christensen ordered wildlife officials to take swift action to protect the animal.

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Idaho board gets $400K to kill problem wolves

Legislation sending just under $400,000 to a state board to use to kill problem wolves in Idaho headed to the governor’s desk yesterday. The state Senate voted 26-4 to approve the budget bill that taps money in the state’s general fund to kill wolves that prey on livestock or wildlife.

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Stanford researchers uncover benefits of diversified farms for protecting wildlife

The researchers found that farms with diverse crops planted together provide more secure, stable habitats for wildlife and are more resilient to climate change than the single-crop standard that dominates today’s agriculture industry.

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Court rejects critical habitat for jaguar

A federal appeals court yesterday rejected the Fish and Wildlife Service’s designation of critical habitat for the endangered jaguar. Reversing a trial judge’s 2017 opinion that had been hailed by environmentalists, a unanimous three-judge panel of the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals concluded the federal agency was “arbitrary and capricious” in its decisionmaking.

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U.S. Department of the Interior approves paintballs to haze grizzly bears

According to a Facebook post from Montana FWP Prairie Bear Monitor, people may now legally shoot grizzly bears with paintballs if they come too close to homes or other possible areas of threat, such as barns, grain bins or schools. 

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Study looks at realities of increasing Yellowstone fees to pay for wildlife conservation

Longtime Wyoming researcher Arthur Middleton wondered what that could look like in practicality. So he assembled a team of economists, lawyers and biologists to run the numbers and probabilities of what would be the impact of either raising park fees for conservation efforts outside of park boundaries, or levying some form of tax to help pay for those efforts. What they found could be a basis for a statewide, or regional, conversation for conserving those wildlife that call Yellowstone, Grand Teton and the surrounding three states home.

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Legislation introduced in US House to require delisting of gray wolves

Legislation proposed Friday by Natural Resources Committee ranking member Rob Bishop (R-Utah) and Agriculture Chairman Collin Peterson (D-Minn.) would require Interior Secretary David Bernhardt to remove gray wolves from Endangered Species Act protection.

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BLM may be forced to repay $125M in latest legal setback

A federal judge’s order nixing yet another attempt by the Trump administration to revise greater sage grouse protections may prove to be a costly bureaucratic mess. Chief Magistrate Judge Ronald Bush yesterday threw out rule changes adopted by the BLM in 2018 that shortened public comment times and administrative protest periods involving oil and gas lease sale parcels that overlap sage grouse habitat. Bush’s order requires BLM to conduct a “notice-and-comment rulemaking” to adopt these changes and comply with the National Environmental Policy Act and other federal laws.

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Support for wildlife overpasses bridges the rural-urban divide in Nevada

In Nevada, as in much of the American West, roads and other development have cut through or encroached on migration routes that wildlife has used for centuries. That has led to an increase in costly—and often deadly—animal-vehicle collisions, and a recognition of the need for solutions, such as overpasses and underpasses for wildlife to use to cross roads.

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Arizona bill would shield info on endangered species on private land

Biologists looking for endangered species on private property would be required to keep much of what they find secret under a proposal poised for quick approval by the Arizona Legislature. Opposition has unsuccessfully argued that if the new policy becomes law it will hinder public monitoring of recovery plans for endangered plants and animals. Supporters say the shield is needed to protect private property rights.

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Size of the herd still up for debate

There are those who contend Yellowstone’s northern bison herd, numbering 4,000 and approximately 10 times larger than historical size, is leaving a damaging impact on the land. There are those who would argue the shifting landscape is more a part of the natural process that includes a very large herd of ungulates, like the bison and elk. One thing that all agree on is that Yellowstone National Park, and its surrounding ecosystems, are a treasure to be preserved for future generations to enjoy. How to best accomplish that is still up for debate.

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Western yellow-billed cuckoo clocks in renewed habitat debate

The Fish and Wildlife Service is proposing a noticeably shrunken but still sprawling critical habitat for the threatened western yellow-billed cuckoo. In a long-awaited revision today, the federal agency proposed designating approximately 493,665 acres across seven Western states as critical habitat. The move would extend ESA protections to parts of Arizona, California, Colorado, Idaho, New Mexico, Texas and Utah.

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Public Meetings: New Mexico Wildlife Corridors Action Plan

The New Mexico Department of Transportation (NMDOT) in partnership with the New Mexico Department of Game and Fish (NMDGF) has begun developing the Wildlife Corridors Action Plan (Plan) in accordance with New Mexico Senate Bill 228, the Wildlife Corridors Act (Act). Public meetings will be held from February 25 to March 18, 2020 throughout the state.

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Colorado’s western slope prepping for wolves

This well-reported article from Elizabeth Stewart-Savery covers all the angles of the wolf reintroduction controversy in the state. A comprehensive and nuanced introduction to this important issue at a time of outsized rhetoric.

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Groups want cows corralled to protect endangered jumping mouse habitat

In a lawsuit filed Thursday, environmental groups have accused the U.S. Forest Service of failing to keep livestock and wild horses out of streams and other wetlands on forest land in southeastern Arizona, resulting in damage to habitat required by the New Mexico jumping mouse, an endangered species found only in the Southwest.

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Idaho extends wolf hunting and trapping seasons

On February 20, the Idaho Fish and Game Commission adopted nine proposed modifications to wolf hunting and trapping for the 2019-20 and 2020-21 seasons, extending wolf hunting opportunity, opening more areas to wolf trapping and extending trapping seasons.

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Pronghorn worries prompt lawsuit over Wyoming gas field plan

Environmental groups are suing over plans for a potentially huge Wyoming gas field they say would endanger pronghorn in Grand Teton National Park by hindering a migration route between the park and a basin.

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Study upends management strategy for sage-grouse

A new study published in the Journal of Wildlife Management suggests managers may need to overhaul guidelines meant to protect greater sage-grouse by focusing less on factors like grass height and vegetation cover and more on broad impacts to the landscape.

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Montana compensation fund dwindles as livestock losses to predators increase

A Wyoming rancher was awarded nearly $340,000 last month after disputing wildlife managers’ initial offer to pay for several livestock killed by grizzlies and wolves. While the large payout is unusual, Montana ranchers say it’s calling attention to funding issues for livestock losses on their side of the border.

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BLM seeks comments on sage-grouse management plans

The BLM will publish six draft supplemental environmental impact statements (SEISs) on Friday for management of Greater Sage-Grouse habitat on public lands in seven Western states, highlighting the collaborative process undergone in 2019 to develop plans that reflected the needs of western communities and Greater Sage-grouse habitat. Public comments will be accepted through April 6, 2020.

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Elk test positive for brucellosis outside of Montana’s disease surveillance area

State officials say brucellosis has been found in elk in southwestern Montana’s Ruby Mountains, the latest evidence that the disease continues to slowly spread among wildlife in the Yellowstone region. Two elk tested positive for exposure to the disease during recent sampling by Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks.

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Washington rancher provides a clear, though sleepy-eyed, view of ranching with wolves

After losing a calf to a confirmed wolf attack earlier this month, Anatone rancher Jay Holzmiller is doing all he can to prevent another such incident — and he wants to see a more proactive approach from state officials.

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Interior announces grants to 11 western states for big game winter range and migration corridor scientific research

Today, the Department of the Interior announced another round of $3.2 million in grant funding for 11 western states, bringing the Department’s and other stakeholders’ support of big game species habitat conservation and scientific research for migration corridors and winter ranges to more than $22 million. These grants are a part of the Department’s ongoing efforts to execute on Secretary’s Order 3362.

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Utah legislation proposes predator hunting to achieve deer and elk objectives

Utah House Bill 125, which expands the use of hunting predators to manage ungulate herds such as elk and deer, is one of the predator wildlife management bills moving through this year’s legislative agenda.

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Jaguars, snakes derail Arizona copper mine

A federal judge yesterday ruled that the Fish and Wildlife Service must redo an endangered species analysis that allowed other agencies to approve the Rosemont Copper project in the Coronado National Forest. The site lies within the range of America’s only jaguars, northern Mexican gartersnakes and other endangered species in the Santa Rita Mountains outside Tucson.

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New wildlife crossings in the West designed to save animals’ lives

More wildlife overpasses and underpasses are coming to highways in the western United States, thanks to a better understanding of migration corridors boosted by GPS collar technology.

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Grizzly captures, kills, down substantially in Wyoming

Wildlife managers relocated or killed substantially fewer grizzly bears in northwestern Wyoming in 2019 compared to 2018. Wyoming Game and Fish Department officials say abundant natural food such as berries helped keep bears away from livestock and other non-natural sources of food.

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Panel abandons griz depredation comp model, awards ranch $339K

An arbitration panel ruled January 27th that Wyoming Game and Fish Department should pay a Hot Springs County rancher $339,927 for stock killed by grizzly bears and mountain lions, almost four times the offer that Wyoming Game and Fish Commission regulations allowed. 

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USFWS: Trump regulations boost risk for migratory birds

The Trump administration’s controversial narrowing of the Migratory Bird Treaty Act will reduce environmental protections that can be expected from industry, the Fish and Wildlife Service predicted today. In proposed new regulations that have immediately prompted heated debate, the federal agency today acknowledged diminished private mitigation as one likely result of limiting the law’s coverage to the intentional killing of migratory birds.

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New Mexico ranchers say hungry elk are damaging property

Some northern New Mexico ranchers are asking state wildlife managers to do something about herds of elk they say are damaging property and eating hay that was stockpiled for cattle over the winter. Members of the Northern New Mexico Stockman’s Association reported the damage earlier this week and notified the agency that they would have to start shooting the elk. State law allows landowners to lethally remove animals that are causing damage on private property.

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Bighorn sheep released on tribal lands in North Dakota

Thirty bighorn sheep are running free on the Fort Berthold Indian Reservation as part of a new agreement between the state of North Dakota and the Mandan, Hidatsa and Arikara Nation. The bighorns brought from Montana were released Tuesday as part of a plan to reestablish the sheep in the western part of the state.

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House committee votes to overturn Trump ESA revisions

The House Natural Resources Committee voted today to approve a suite of bills along party lines, including legislation that would overturn the Trump administration’s controversial rules revising the Endangered Species Act. The full committee also voted to approve two bills that would advance the establishment of wildlife corridors on federal and Native American lands nationwide.

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Idaho agency wants to spend $408,000 a year to count wolves

Idaho’s top wildlife official on Tuesday requested authorization from state lawmakers to spend $408,000 to count wolves. The expense would become part of the agency’s annual budget to keep a running tally of the number of wolves in the state. Idaho stopped counting wolves in 2015 after it was no longer required to do so by USFWS following the lifting of protections for wolves under the ESA.

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Montana summit to focus on grizzly bear education, resources

State and Federal wildlife managers are offering a first-of-its-kind summit on grizzly bear education in Helena this week. Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks is bringing together groups across the state involved in human-bear conflict education to make sure they’re using consistent messages. The summit will also compile a catalogue of education offerings and other resources, ranging from grants for electric fencing to bear spray demonstrations.

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Ladder Ranch works to support sage grouse

On the Ladder Ranch, a multi-generation family works to keep their public lands ranching operation afloat while protecting the greater sage grouse.

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Lawsuit planned to stop Idaho-Wyoming natural gas pipeline

Two environmental groups have given notice they intend to file a lawsuit to stop a proposed underground natural gas pipeline from Idaho to Wyoming the groups say will harm protected grizzly bears and other wildlife.

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California’s monarch butterflies critically low for 2nd year

The western monarch butterfly population wintering along California’s coast remains critically low for the second year in a row (29,000 butterflies compared to compared to about 4.5 million in the 1980s). Scientists say the butterflies are at critically low levels in the Western United States due to the destruction of their milkweed habitat along their migratory route as housing expands into their territory and use of pesticides and herbicides increases.

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Lawmaker proposes wolf-free zones in southern Idaho

Some areas in Idaho would be declared wolf-free zones and other areas where the animals have killed livestock would have increased wolf-killing opportunities under legislation proposed yesterday by state Sen. Bert Brackett. The state Senate Resources and Environment Committee voted to clear the way for a hearing on the measure.

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Groups prepare to sue over grazing in Wyoming grizzly range

Conservationists worried that continued livestock grazing in a Wyoming forest could endanger grizzly bears are preparing to sue the U.S. government. Western Watersheds Project, Alliance for the Wild Rockies and Yellowstone to Uintas Connection allege a 2019 decision to allow grazing to continue in a large area of Bridger-Teton National Forest violates the ESA.

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Petition seeks federal protections for Rio Grande fish

Environmentalists are asking federal wildlife managers to use the Endangered Species Act to protect a fish found only in the Rio Grande in Texas and the Pecos River in New Mexico. WildEarth Guardians filed the petition with the Fish and Wildlife Service yesterday, saying it is part of a campaign focused on vulnerable species found in rivers and streams across the West.

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Updated conflict management resource available

People and Carnivores recently completed an update to their large carnivore conflict management resource which includes a list of peer-reviewed research papers, summarized and categorized, from the last 20 years focusing on North America.

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ESA scores a win with Colorado River fish

A humpbacked Colorado River fish that’s been federally protected for more than half a century has escaped from the edge of doom, the Fish and Wildlife Service announced today. In what officials are calling an Endangered Species Act success story, the federal agency is proposing to downlist the humpback chub from endangered to threatened status. The move would retain protections for the fish but also signify its “partial recovery” and ease some regulatory requirements.

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