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Archive for the month “February, 2012”

WHEN HARVEST EQUALS ENHANCEMENT

LOBO WATCH Guest Editorial –

 

By Jim Beers, Retired USFWS Biologist –

Budding wildlife biologists used to (many years ago) learn in their third year of college that wildlife species nearly always benefit greatly from regulated harvests.  While the desirable percentage of harvest varies greatly from big game to upland game to waterfowl as it does from muskies to crappies; when the optimum annual harvest of mammals, birds or fish is attained, the overall productivity of the species is enhanced.

Consider how many more healthy deer or elk survive a harsh winter when there is abundant food as opposed to many more deer or elk entering the winter when available food is far less than what is needed for many animals.  Healthy deer and elk have healthier young in the spring and healthier young survive to mate and bear more elk and deer the following year.  Of course, other factors enter into survival and the upward or downward trend of animal populations.  Polygamous birds like pheasants “bounce back” quicker than monogamous birds like canvasback ducks.  A series of very severe (temperature, moisture, etc.) winters or springs can cause precipitous drops in both mammals and birds.  That said, the more suited the food supply is through times of stress, the more and healthier are the offspring born and raised subsequently.

I mention all this to direct your attention to all the faux-hoopla taking place in the Northern Rockies’ states of Montana, Wyoming and Idaho, and in the Great Lakes states of Minnesota and Wisconsin.  What hoopla you ask?  Why haven’t you heard?  The federal government has “turned over management of wolves to Montana, Wyoming, and Idaho and they (those states) are killing all the wolves”.  In Minnesota and Wisconsin a similar abdication of federal controls is allowing those two states to hold a “wolf hunting  season”.  Oh my, oh my; the hunters and ranchers and other horrible persons are killing wolves and will once more make them extinct if “we” (urban public, courts, animal “lovers”, environmentalists, and etceteras) don’t “stop them”.

Relax! Things are not as they appear.  All those bad guys are really helping the wolf population to expand into new areas and to reach higher densities where they occur now for longer periods of time.  The paradox of regulated annual harvests being healthy for wild animal populations applies to wolves just as it does to moose and grouse and walleyes and trout.

1. These “first in fifty years” wolf “seasons” are more successful ventures than any subsequent hunts of the same design.  Wolves haven’t been shot at or trapped before and are easier targets.  Wolves are like coyotes (and your dog for that matter), they not only learn fast, they adapt their habits and behavior to stay alive just like Fido adapts to whatever he needs to do to sleep on the furniture and get food.

2. Current “sport hunts” are frankly, a joke.  First the state agencies lie or lowball the number of wolves present.  Second, based on these fantasy figures, state agencies set a low harvest target to get treats from wolf lovers and their judges.  Third, such effective means of killing wolves as aerial gunning, poisons, snares, etc. are never allowed. Fourth, no attempt is made to address all the “No Wolf  Hunting” ownerships that are in effect simply wolf refuges that are quickly recognized by wolves.  Fifth, other impediments like license costs, reporting requirements, closure during other hunts, out-of-state hunter bans, etc. combine to further prove how much the state bureaucrats are worthy of future employment consideration from federal and private animal rights outfits.

3. Canada and Russia and a whole bunch of former Soviet “Republics” like Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Georgia, Turkmenistan, Siberia, etc. know lots about wolf damage, wolf dangers, and wolf control.  Regarding the reduction of wolf populations where their damage (human attacks, livestock destruction, game animal eradication, etc.) becomes unbearable they recognize: A.  Control is expensive; B.  Aerial gunning in winter, bounties, minimal method of taking restrictions, and concentrated annual harvests are necessary for at least 5 years with reduced efforts EVERY year thereafter to prevent a population rebound; and C. Initial reductions of 70-80% per year for those first five years is NECESSARY to reduce wolf populations.  Annual harvests of 30-50% per year thereafter with unregulated private taking of wolves by all citizens where they cause potential harm is necessary, recognizing that periodic harvest increases will be needed as wolves move into the relatively wolf-free areas and as large litters and high wolf productivity display the benefits of hunting and eating in such places.

So what has happened in the Upper Rockies and what is about to happen in the Great Lakes States?

–       Montana and Idaho have had hunting seasons that killed a few hundred wolves out of thousands of wolves.

–       Wyoming is set to kill wolves on site outside the Yellowstone/Jackson Hole Billionaires Ecosystem while USFWS announces plans to release wolves in Colorado that will surely (in addition to Utah, Northern New Mexico, and nearby Great Plains States) spread North up into Wyoming.

–       Oregon and Washington are hosting invading wolves under full protection of law and spending limited-availability money to kill and transplant the few wolves that can be shown to have killed stock or threatened humans.  In five to ten years they will be in exactly the same situation evolving in their Eastern neighbor’s states.

–       Minnesota and Wisconsin wolf “hunts” will follow the same pattern starting later this year.

What pattern you ask?  Why this pattern:

–       Harvest levels of 5 to 20% will be set the first year.

–       Total harvest the first year will in reality be 5 to (being generous here) 10%.

–       Wolf lovers will howl, courts will gear up, and federal bureaucracies will request “more” (money, personnel, and power) to “monitor what is happening” and conduct research on how “loss of an Alpha male” or “stress on denning females” is threatening the wolf gene pool and the tranquility of wolves or how too many big game animals are dying from hunting since wolf populations have plummeted.  Real though all this is, it is all hogwash.

–       The first year harvest will decrease in subsequent years as wolves get smarter and wolf lovers give them more refugiums (i.e. federal land classifications, private land ownerships and activist mogul landholdings) and a host of ways to make hunters less effective and wolves safer are employed by the children of the former animal lab terrorists, Unabomber’s, and SUV car lot destroyers.  If any of these states can maintain a 10% harvest level it will be a miracle.  That said; let us give them the benefit of the doubt and double that to 20%.  A 20 % annual harvest of wolves (when a 70-80% annual reduction is needed to REDUCE them and a 30-50% annual reduction is needed to MAINTAIN their numbers and distribution) only ENHANCES the wolf population:

–       Surviving wolves will be healthier and will have larger (10-12 whelps as with dogs can be routine) litters.

–       Wolf survival due to non-hunting loss will decrease as wolves have more food and do not have to move as far day in and day out.

–       Wolves will remain at higher densities and as a result of learning, live closer to and more off of human habitations.

–       Prohibitions against taking wolves outside proscribed seasons will make wolves, like other animals, bolder outside “seasons” as they frequent human habitations and have their way with dogs, livestock, (kids?, old folks checking rural mailboxes?, campers?, fishermen?, etc.?).  Wolves are now being “managed” just like elk and ducks and bass; that is to say with a conservative harvest that spurs reproduction, maximizes off-season survival, and keeps them “smart” to enhance the challenge of the chase!  They should change the official titles of all these state and federal Wolf Project Leaders, Wolf Specialists, Wolf Liaison, and Wolf Whatevers to WOLF GAMEKEEPER!  But alas, that would be like calling; “choice”… abortion; “gay”… same sex activity; or wolves “exploiting young elk” (as noted in a recent Wisconsin news release)…wolves “killing elk calves”.

That would be “insensitive”.

Maybe Defenders of Wildlife and the US Fish and Wildlife Service should subsidize the wolf hunters like those that purchase Volt cars or those that turn food into fuel.  Wolf hunts as currently construed are doing as much public good as either of those two federal activities.

(Jim Beers is a 32 year veteran of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, serving as a wildlife biologist, special USFWS agent, and as the Chief of the National Wildlife Refuge System, among other positions.  He is also the individual who blew the whistle on USFWS for embezzling between $45- and $60-million from Pittman-Robertson funds, money collected as excise taxes on firearms, ammunition, fishing tackle, and archery gear – that by law was supposed to be used for wildlife habitat and fisheries improvement.)

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Montana County Commissioners Need To Draft Their Own Predator Control Plan…

Following is a “Call to Action” for the Missoula County Board of Commissioners.  Wolves have pretty much destroyed wildlife population across a majority of this western Montana county, and now they are posing an ever greater threat to livestock…pets…and humans.

Dear Missoula County Commissioners;

We have a two-fold problem here in Missoula County.  One is the unbelievable loss of wildlife resources to an ever growing number of wolves.  Another is that we have a state wildlife agency that is not capable of putting together effective wolf control.

Have you seen the predator control plan that has been drafted by the Ravalli County Board of Commissioners?  I know it is a work in progress, but I will “Cc:” those commissioners and ask that a copy be sent to you.  Since MT Fish, Wildlife and Parks neither has the knowledge or the incentive to take care of the problem, it will become your burden to draft a similar plan.  The loss of our elk, moose, deer and other big game animals to predators, primarily wolves, is not acceptable.  And the citizens of this state are becoming more and more angry over that loss each and every day.  The 2012 elections will become a real battleground in Montana this fall, and those responsible for allowing wolves to devastate big game populations will be held accountable.

Here’s what one rural Missoula County resident has to say about this issue…

“Last week my neighbor’s dogs were attacked by two wolves. One was carried off to be killed and eaten later (it was never found) and the other torn to pieces in their yard. The wolves laid in wait until the dogs were let out in the morning. It wasn’t much of a fair fight as the two dogs were pugs and the neighbors described the wolves as “waist high”. There are hundreds of thousands of acres behind Potomac for the wolves to hunt in, but the game has been so depleted that the wolves are moving in closer to the populated areas in order to kill at will. It is time to get rid of these non-native invasive killing machines. When will enough be enough? After our children are carried off and eaten? How long will it be before we have to post armed guards at the grade school to ensure the kids get home safely? 

Potomac used to be known as the “shooting gallery” due to the number of elk taken here during hunting season and now there are none to speak of. I am used to seeing hundreds of elk during hunting season, but I have seen the numbers in the last couple of years decline to where I saw none this last season. This is a travesty and not what we as sportsmen and Montanans want. 

Please force the FWP to stop lying about the numbers of wolves and either eradicate this menace outright, or allow us to thin their ranks to an acceptable number at the very least. The local BLM rangers have been denying the presence of wolves in our area for years, but the local wolf pack is so well known that it was featured in a recent National Geographic article; even called by name (Elevation Mountain Pack). I know of two area outfitters driven out of business due to the dwindling game numbers and I am sure if I checked around I could find several more. What happens when the deer and elk are completely erased from our landscape? Will it then be our fault that the wolves start killing humans for food because we are now in “their” habitat? 

Please stop ignoring this growing problem and create a workable solution before the sportsmen of this area and this state are forced to take matters into their own hands. 

Kai Puhrmann – Potomac, Montana” 

The above message was sent to the same list of Montana elected officials in the e-mail that follows.   That e-mail addresses the inability of FWP and the FWP Commission to tackle the predator problem.  As the Missoula Board of County Commissioners, you must draft a plan of action.  And the citizens of this county and this state will insure that Fish, Wildlife and Parks adhere to it…or they can seek employment somewhere else.

Toby Bridges

LOBO WATCH

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This e-mail has since been used to send the same alarm in other counties in Montana…to encourage the Commissioners in each county to draft their own Predator Control Plan…and to be ready to fall back upon that plan if Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks and the FWP Commission continue to do as close to nothing as possible to take care of the wolf threat (and impact of other major predators).  All Montana residents should e-mail, phone or write their county comissioners to encourage them to get on board, and to come up with their own Plan of Action.  Contact me at lobowatch1@gmail.com and I will see if I can provide e-mail addresses for the commissioners in your Montana county.  

 Toby Bridges 

Ravalli County (MT) Predator Management Policy

          The above photo was taken near what “used to be” one of my favorite camping spots, high in the Bitterroot Mountains of Ravalli County, MT.  My wife, our dogs, and I loved to camp here because of the rich wildlife population.  Every day, deer would walk in and out of our camp, and moose would be in a small nearby lake just about every evening…and come September, at night we could lay in the tent and listen to the elk cows call and the bulls bugle through much of the night.  That was before wolves moved in…or were dumped in!  Now, it’s all just a lot of pretty, and empty, real estate. 
 
          Following is an e-mail I sent to the Ravalli County Board of Commissioners, following a 2-9-12 meeting by that board to work out the details of a county predator management policy.  What are your thoughts on predator management/control being held on a country level?  –  Toby Bridges, LOBO WATCH
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Ravalli County Board of Commissioners;
         
          First of all, I would like to thank the Ravalli County Board of Commissioners for taking a lead role in working toward a solution for the escalated loss of wildlife and damage being dealt to livestock producers by predators in your county.  While I am not a resident of Ravalli County, I have in the past spent a great deal of time recreating there, mostly camping, hiking, hunting and fishing in both the Bitterroot and Sapphire Mountains.  Last year was the first summer that my wife and I did not camp in Ravalli county, and that is due to the fact that there are no more moose where we camped in the Bitterroots or elk where we hiked in the Sapphires.  The place is not the same without the wildlife.
          Yesterday’s meeting made the fourth of the Ravalli County predator management meetings I have attended.  I actually video taped two of the meetings, which were shown on You Tube.
          I spend a great deal of time in the outdoors, most days at least 3 or more hours, walking with my dogs on closed Forest Service roads.  I have seen the damage predators have dealt our wildlife resources all along western Montana.  And despite the great efforts of this state’s wildlife managers and biologists to quickly blame mountain lions and bears for much of that loss, the truth is, that loss can be and should be mostly attributed to wolves.  One cannot walk anywhere without encountering piles of wolf scat…and without fail that wolf scat is always filled with elk, deer or moose hair.  And as pointed out several times at yesterday’s meeting, there is a direct correlation between growing wolf numbers and the precipitous crash of the elk population.  Yes, lions and bears have always had some impact on big game populations, but predator impact has been greatly escalated with the presence of wolves.
          One question asked by a County Commissioner yesterday, centered on “What is Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks’ goal for wolves, lions and bears?”
          If you have not already, educate yourself on the Yellowstone to Yukon Conservation Initiative.  This is the collective effort of more than 100 collaborating environmental groups, organizations and agencies that seek to establish a 2,000 mile long wild corridor from Yellowstone National Parks, up through western Montana and much of Idaho, all along the Canadian Rockies, all the way to the Yukon.  This, for the most part would be a human-free wilderness corridor – and sitting smack dab inside the planned corridor are settled areas like Ravalli County.  Another goal is to greatly reduce human management of most everything inside this corridor, including the management of wildlife.  In essence, the carnivore predators which are now dealing a death blow to the County’s wildlife would become the managers of tomorrow’s big game populations, as those radical Y2Y collaborators seek a “natural balance” in the wild.  For more on Y2Y, go to – www.y2y.net
          One of those collaborators just happens to be Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks.  Another is the University of Montana, where many of today’s new wave wildlife managers are being educated…or perhaps brainwashed.
          One policy of the Yellowstone to Yukon Conservation Initiative reads…“The Yellowstone to Yukon Conservation Initiative neither endorses nor condones the hunting of carnivore species such as grizzly bears, black bears, wolves and cougars.”  And our state Fish, Wildlife and Parks is an acknowledged partner in all of this.
          Ravalli County is now establishing a much needed precedence, and that is that we can no longer rely on MT FWP to do the right thing when it comes to controlling predators.  And that ‘s what it really has to be…CONTROLLING…not MANAGING.  Currently, we have way too many wolves, mountain lions and bears.  Before the Bitterroot’s elk herds can begin to pull out of the predator pit situation they’ve been thrown into, predator numbers must be reduced…by as much as 70-percent.  That cannot be done as long as FWP continues to treat these destructive carnivores as “big game animals”.  Current FWP regulations in regard to “methods of take” are far too restrictive to allow enough of the predators to be taken out of the equation.
          Until wolf numbers are brought to reasonable and KNOWN numbers, we need to have shoot-on-sight 365-days a year opportunities.  Quotas on mountain lions anywhere within Ravalli County need to be eliminated.  And bear hunters must be allowed to use baits, and to purchase two tags…plus establish a season for hunting bears with hounds.  Anything less is an undesirable compromise, and keeps the door open for predators to continue to destroy big game populations – and when there are no more elk, moose, deer, mountain goats and bighorn sheep, those predators will turn more and more on livestock, and present a far greater threat to residents.
          I will “Cc:” this to my good friend Will Graves, the author of the book “Wolves in Russia – Anxiety Through the Ages”.  Will spent several decades researching the past 150+ years of wolf control, and the damages and threats wolves have posed in Russia.  His book is a look at what lies ahead for the Northern Rockies unless we take control right now.  The statistics and documented research in this book is a far cry from the lies told to us by federal and state wildlife agencies, and agenda driven radical environmental groups.  If any of you have questions, please drop Will Graves an e-mail.  He and I discuss wolves at least once a week, and he has come far closer to establishing what we are now experiencing than anything that was included in the Northern Rockies Wolf Recovery Plan or the USFWS 1994 Environmental Impact Statement on the Wolf Recovery Project.   I will also “Cc:” a few other wildlife professionals who have remained true to their professions, and see the wolf for what it really is – a continued threat.
          MT FWP continues to be less than honest in their presentations to county commissioners – and to everyone else in this state.
Toby Bridges
LOBO WATCH

LOBO WATCH Endorses Bob Fanning For Montana Governor!

Montana gubernatorial candidate Robert Fanning, center, LOBO WATCH founder Toby Bridges, right, and LOBO WATCH supporter Keith Steigers, left, joined more than three-dozen others to protest the Howl Across America pro-wolf rally in Bozeman, MT this past year.  ____________________________________________________________________

I’m the first to support every Montana voter’s right to cast their ballot for the candidate theyfeel is best suited to fill the Office of Governor.  I certainly know I will.

We all have issues that are most important to us, and I’m sure that not all of us will share the same priorities.  At the top of my list just happens to be getting someone in that office who will do one heck of a lot more than our current Governor has to take control of the wolf problem.

Yes, there are other issues that are equally important.  However, unless we can get wolf numbers low enough to stop the decline in big game populations, the quality of life in this state will take an equally precipitous crash.  It already has. One state senator has already put a pencil to what wolves are costing Montana annually, stating that the total loss of game, livestock, tourism dollars, hunting permit sales, loss of booked hunts with outfitters, added costs to ranchers to thwart wolf attacks, added vet expenses, repairs to fences due to cattle being run through them, and the loss of small business revenue related to hunting expenditures now tops $120,000,000 EVERY YEAR.  And with each new year, living with wolves sees added expense.

Now, we know the wolf “experiment” that was forced upon Montana residents has been nothing more than the start of a much larger radical environmental agenda – to force rural residents off the land, and to return much of western Montana back to roadless wilderness. Those plans, and the lack of any real effort by many elected officials to combat the negative impact environmental organizations have had on this state, do not give economic growth a chance.

So much for attracting new business…and better paying jobs.

Come November 6th, I’ll be casting my vote for Bob Fanning.  The following endorsement shares why.

If a strong state economy and a rewarding outdoor lifestyle are important to you and yourfamily, now is the time to see where your candidate stands on strignent wolf control, exercising state rights, and taking charge of the problems that now plague the state.

Toby Bridges

LOBO WATCH

www.lobowatch.com

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Toby Bridges/LOBO WATCH Endorsement of Bob Fanning –

“Bob Fanning For Governor 2012!

            ‘The opportunity to harvest wild fish and game animals is a heritage that shall forever be preserved to the individual citizens of the state’.

            Those very words are included in Montana’s constitution, ensuring the citizens of this state that our bounty of wildlife and wild places will “forever be preserved”.  That outdoor lifestyle is so important to Montanans that the constitutional guarantee of quality hunting and fishing, both as recreation and for sustenance, holds a very dear place in the hearts of the sportsmen and sports women of this state.

            Under the leadership of our current Governor, Brian Schweitzer, Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks and the Fish, Wildlife and Parks Commission have violated both the trust of the state’s very outdoor oriented population and the agency’s  legal obligation to preserve the quality of hunting and fishing within the borders of the state.  The agency and commission have broken away from the North American Model for Wildlife Conservation to more closely support the agendas of radical environmental groups, even forming a partnership with one extremely anti-hunting group of collaborators, known as the Yellowstone to Yukon Conservation Initiative.  The goal of that initiative and many of the organizations making up the list of partners is to force rural residents off the land and into the cities, and to allow wildlife to manage itself. 

            Their intent is to turn most of western Montana back into roadless and humanless  wilderness, where large major predators can roam freely from current Yellowstone National Park all the way to the Yukon.  Wolves, grizzly bears and mountain lions would become the new managers of our elk, moose, deer, pronghorn, bighorn sheep, mountain goats, and all other living things within that wilderness corridor.

            Only one 2012 candidate for Montana’s governor office has openly fought the idiocy of such thinking – Robert Fanning, of Pray, Montana.

            Bob founded and has served as the c.e.o. of the Friends of the Northern Yellowstone Elk Herd, and has witnessed the destruction of that herd, from nearly 20,000 elk during the mid 1990’s to only about 4,000 elk today.  The cause for the drastic decline of that herd has simply been escalating wolf and grizzly populations, which have totally destroyed spring calf crops.  As the sharp downward spiral of all big game populations in the Greater Yellowstone Area has continued, Bob Fanning has become one of the loudest voices behind this state’s right to manage all wildlife, including major predators such as federally protected wolves and grizzly bears.

            He has made wolf control a major campaign promise, and that has made him a target of criticism from several others running for the same office.  They say he is a single issue candidate.  Nothing could be further from the truth.  The Fanning-Baldwin platform addresses far more than any other 2012 gubernatorial campaign.  The others seem to be stuck on the same old issues we hear during any election year, including better paying jobs and better education. Fanning also addresses those – but in a slightly different manner.  He strongly feels that all of that begins with first eliminating the control of an intrusive federal government, and to exercise state rights to develop natural resources, to fully protect the state’s very rural based economy, to insure the value of the dollar, to stop the federal land grab, to live up to our state constitution, in short, to make Montana the state it has been in the past.

            I’ve never before endorsed anyone for the Office of Governor.  I, like hundreds of thousands of other sportsmen in this state, realize that to save our wildlife and hunting heritage in Montana is going to take a governor who is ready and willing to go nose to nose and toes to toes with the federal government.  The same holds true in order for the logging industry, ranching, farming, mining, energy exploration, or any other natural resource based economic opportunity to flourish.  Quite honestly, Bob Fanning is the only candidate willing to show that kind of spunk.  And spunk is what we need right now to make things right in Montana.  

            What we don’t need are four or eight more years of the same old thing that has destroyed much of this state…along with the future opportunities and the  initiative to make Montana a better home.

Toby Bridges                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    LOBO WATCH”

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                             

More on the Bob Fanning-Chuck Baldwin campaign platform at – http://www.fanning-baldwin.com

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