The Rockin Johnny B

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Wolves Again

Groups ask court to halt Mont., Idaho wolf hunts
   The Associated Press
   BOISE — Environmentalists have asked a federal appeals court for an emergency injunction to halt wolf hunts scheduled to start in a few weeks in Idaho and Montana.
   The request filed by the Alliance for the Wild Rockies and other groups with the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals was made public Saturday. The groups want the hunts canceled until the court issues a decision in an appeal filed Monday challenging a federal judge’s ruling allowing the hunts to go forward.
“We think if we don’t get an injunction, the wolf population in the Rockies will be decimated,” Mike Garrity, executive director of the Alliance for the Wild Rockies, told The Associated Press on Saturday.
   Wolf hunts are scheduled to start Aug. 30 in Idaho and Sept. 3 in Montana. Hunters in Montana will be able to shoot as many as 220 gray wolves, reducing the predators’ Montana population by about 25 percent to a minimum of 425 wolves. 
   State wildlife managers in Idaho, where an estimated 1,000 wolves roam, have declined to name a target for kills for the seven-month hunting season, saying only that Idaho will manage wolves so that their population remains above 150 animals and 15 breeding pairs. That’s the point where Idaho could attract federal scrutiny for a possible re-listing under the Endangered Species Act.
   U.S. District Judge Donald Molloy earlier this month reluctantly upheld a budget rider passed by Congress in April that stripped wolves of federal protections in Montana and Idaho, and in parts of Washington, Oregon and Utah.
   The provision was inserted by Rep. Mike Simpson, R-Idaho, and Sen. Jon Tester, D-Mont. It marked the first time since the passage of the Endangered Species Act in 
1973 that Congress forcibly removed protections from a plant or animal.
   Molloy ruled that the way Congress went about removing endangered species protections from the Northern Rockies gray wolf undermined the rule of law but did not violate the Constitution.
   The environmental groups contend the way Congress removed the protections was unconstitutional because it violated the separation of powers, the constitutional principle ensuring none of the three branches of government tramples on the independence of the other branches.
   “Congress has the authority to make laws and change existing laws,” Garrity said. “But courts are the only ones allowed to rule whether laws are legal or not. If (Congress) can get away with it on an endangered species, they can get away with it under any issue that is before the court.”
   A gray wolf watches biologists in Yellowstone National Park in Wyoming, after being captured and fitted with a radio collar.

The tree huggers are at it again.  They have no idea what they are protesting against.  They have no idea how difficult it is to actually 'hunt' for a wolf.  A hunter is extremely lucky to see a wolf let alone shoot it.  They only way the entire population could be decimated would be if we went back to poisoning them, and that won't happen.  Come on folks, get real.  We are not shooting 'em from choppers or poisoning them, we have a season on them...that's all.  I will be amazed if -- in that hunting season -- more than 200 wolves are killed.  Out of 1000 that ain't much.

Idaho wolf kills difficult

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Posted: Monday, March 15, 2010 12:07 am | Updated: 12:09 am, Mon Mar 15, 2010.
AVERY — Milt Turley wants to shoot a wolf.
He and his wife, Kay, live in close proximity to the shaggy-haired predators. Wolf tracks have appeared on the couple’s private beach along the St. Joe River in northern Idaho, and their two Rottweilers growl when they hear wolves howling at night.
Last fall, Turley shot at a young wolf that was prowling a hillside near their house, but it ran off.
Five months after buying an Idaho wolf tag, Turley’s disappointed that it’s still unfilled.
“We’re finding out that it’s ... difficult to kill a wolf,” he said.
Only a few weeks remain in Idaho’s wolf hunt, the first in the state since wolves in the Northern Rockies came off the Endangered Species List. State officials say it’s unlikely that the 220-wolf quota will be met by March 31. Through March 11, hunters had killed 174 wolves.
“This is all new territory for us — the first regulated wolf hunt in the Lower 48,” said Jon Rachael, the Idaho Department of Fish and Game’s state wildlife manger.
Some wolf-hunt opponents predicted that 220 wolves would be shot during the hunt’s opening week. But wildlife managers knew it wouldn’t be that easy, Rachael said.
Wolves, hunters compete for food
AVERY — Only 16 wolf tags have been filled in Idaho’s Panhandle, leaving some hunters’ high hopes dashed by difficulties.
“It’s hard to target a wolf because they move around so much,” said Jim Hayden, that area’s Fish and Game’s regional wildlife manager. “I’ve talked to a number of hunters, all savvy outdoorsmen, who’ve heard them howl or seen one, but haven’t been able to harvest one.”
The mild winter also hampered hunters’ success. During the previous two winters, deep snows concentrated prey deer and elk in the valley bottoms, making the wolves more visible, Hayden said.
Visible or not, wolves are definitely around. As Milt Turley drove a pickup along the St. Joe River Road earlier this month, he and his wife Kay watched the snow-covered road for tracks. For Turley, taking a wolf would fulfill a personal goal and make a political statement, too.
The retired couple said they signed petitions supporting wolves’ reintroduction to Yellowstone National Park, but opposed the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s transplant of Canadian wolves into central Idaho during the mid-1990s.
Milt Turley said wolves compete against him for his favorite meat. The 65-year-old has bagged 72 elk in the mountains of Idaho and Montana, shooting his first elk at age 11 near Pine Creek in Shoshone County. When his sons were teenagers, Turley bought tags in both states so he could fill up the freezer.
“That’s how I fed three hungry boys,” said Turley, a welder who earned a master’s degree and ran North Idaho College’s welding program for 18 years.
Even now, the couple seldom buys beef. They say it’s too fatty and lacks the flavor of wild game.
Milt Turley’s views spilled over into activism. He’s a member of “Save Our Elk,” a group that advocates removing wolves from Idaho.
Kay Turley supports her husband’s desire to take a wolf. “He’s not sick and twisted. He’s not evil and he’s not a killer,” she said.
Said Milt, “I’m just concerned that my grandkids won’t have the opportunity to hunt elk because of the predation going on.”
From the road, they spotted a wolf kill: the carcass of a cow elk lying on the ice covering the St. Joe River. Aside from one lung glistening in the snow, only the elk’s ribs, backbone and head remained. A flurry of tracks indicated that at least two wolves had chased the animal down the hillside. The blood trail led about 500 feet along the road before it veered down to the river.
“That was one big ... wolf,” said Turley, studying a 7-inch wolf print.
Kay Turley is a retired operating room nurse, but she said that frequent sightings of blood and guts on the St. Joe River Road disgust her.
“Why do I have to see elk pulled apart every time I go up the St. Joe River?” she said. “I’ve got as much right to see an elk or a deer as they (environmentalists) have to see wolf scat or hear wolves howling.”
Wolves are part of the Rocky Mountain’s ecosystem, countered Andrew Wetzler, wildlife conservation director for the Natural Resources Defense Council, one of 13 environmental groups that tried to block wolf hunts in Idaho and Montana through federal court action. Re-establishing wolves in their historic range benefits other wildlife, he said.
In Yellowstone National Park, wolves keep elk herds on the move. Elk don’t congregate for long stretches in stream bottoms, which has allowed willow and aspen to grow back, Wetzler said. Wolves also reduced coyote numbers by as much as 50 percent. That led to rebounding populations of rabbits, voles and other small mammals, providing more food for hawks, eagles and owls, he said.
Grizzlies and other scavengers also benefit by grabbing meals from wolf kills, Wetzler said.
“A top predator, like the wolf, has a cascading effect on the ecosystem,” he said.
The first wolf pack in decades was documented in the St. Joe drainage in 1998. Since then, Turley said he’s seen fewer elk in Idaho Fish and Game’s Unit 7, a hunting area that extends up the St. Joe River from Avery.
Unit 7 used to be one of the Idaho’s Panhandle’s better-known elk-hunting areas, said Hayden, the regional wildlife manager. The unit still accounts for some of the highest hunter success rates in the Panhandle, but it’s come down from “exceptional” to “good,” he said.
Part of the change is habitat related. Over the past 50 years, lodgepole pines have overtaken meadows, reducing foraging areas for elk, Hayden said. In addition, the harshness of the past two winters took a toll on elk numbers.
“And wolves have had an impact over time; we can’t ignore that,” Hayden said.
But aerial counts seem to indicate that the unit’s elk herd is holding its own. In 1998, when the first wolf pack was documented in the St. Joe, biologists counted 1,735 elk in the unit. Last February, they counted 2,145 elk.
The shadows were starting to lengthen in the St. Joe River Valley when Milt and Kay Turley returned from their afternoon wolf hunt. Although Milt tramped up and down forested draws into his 50s, a heart attack has made him rely more heavily on his ATVs and pickup to scout game.
“I’ve seen four or five wolves this year, but boy, are they quick,” he said. “And, they’re wary now.”
Gray wolf
Wolves in the Wild

Wolves are highly social animals, and the family structure is focused around the pack. Packs typically consist of a breeding pair—the “alpha male and alpha female”—and their young from previous years. Pack size doesn’t vary much between years because the wolves that either leave or die each year are replaced by newborn pups.
Wolves breed in late winter, and give birth to an average of four to five pups in April. The pups are born in a den dug by the breeding female, around which the pack congregates. Wolf pups spend their first six to eight weeks at the den, and are weaned at around six weeks of age. Once they begin eating meat, the pups are fed by adult members of the pack.
As the pups become older the pack typically moves them from the den to “rendezvous sites”, which are usually wet meadow areas within a pack’s territory where the adults can leave the pups while they go off to hunt. Wolves may use several rendezvous sites during the summer months until the pups are big and strong enough to travel full-time with the pack, generally by late September or October.
An adult male wolf stands about 30 inches at the shoulder and can be over six feet long from the tip of nose to point of tail. It will weigh 70 to 110 pounds. Females are slightly smaller, usually 60 to 80 pounds.
Left a mark on BSUDeparting athletic director’s ouster sudden, sad after three decades of growth, success
 In early May, the National Collegiate Athletics Association — the NCAA — charged Boise State University’s athletics program with a lack of institutional control.
   Three months later, the man who oversaw that athletics program, Gene Bleymaier, is out of a job.
   When colleges get slapped with NCAA sanctions or high-profile sports programs such as football and men’s basketball have a few consecutive bad seasons, it’s not surprising to see athletic directors get fired. Such news usually isn’t as dramatic as a head coach getting axed, but it does happen.
   Bleymaier’s ouster, however, is big news. He has been the head man for the orange and blue for nearly three decades — since 1982. These are some of the major accomplishments the athletics program has enjoyed since he was hired:
   The legendary blue turf was installed in 1986.
   The athletics program joined Division 1 (now called FBS) in 1996.
   Boise got its own college football bowl game, The Humanitarian 
Bowl (now the Famous Idaho Potatoes Bowl) in 1997.
   Taco Bell Arena has hosted the first and second rounds of the NCAA men’s basketball tournament eight times.
   The football team won two Bowl Championship Series games and has climbed the competition ladder from 
the Big Sky to the Big West to the WAC and now the Mountain West Conference.
   Other sports programs have also appeared in national championships, and the wrestling program is consistently in the top 10.
   This success helped drive increased enrollment and merchandise sales for the school, which have brought in millions of dollars.
   Bleymaier led Boise State’s athletics program to heights that seemed like just a pipe dream to most rational people when he first took over the program. Needless to say, the public reaction to Bleymaier’s ouster has been outrage. Boise State President Bob Kustra — the man who fired him — is taking a lot of heat for it.
   Kustra can be brusque, direct and unyielding. When asked about maintaining a football rivalry with 
in-state foe University of Idaho a year ago, Kustra described the culture in Moscow as “nasty” and “inebriated.”
   Given Kustra’s nature, it’s not surprising he would want to send a strong message when his school was publicly embarrassed by the NCAA. It seemed inevitable that someone’s head would roll, 
and since Bleymaier was the man at the top, some questioned in May whether it might be his.
   Whether or not you believe Kustra’s decision was fair, it’s sad to see how it played out. He reportedly told Bleymaier to resign so the school could give him a respectful sendoff, but Bleymaier refused. “You’re going to have to fire me” was, in essence, what he told his boss.
   Bleymaier hedged his bet, expecting public opinion would be on his side when it happened. Bleymaier was right. The public is outraged. The announcement was handled poorly. The school sent out a press release announcing that Bleymaier was being relieved of duties while Kustra was on vacation. So much for the big sendoff.
   Kustra also says the controversial decision was not done because the school was reprimanded by 
the NCAA (for a major violation in women’s tennis and minor violations in four other sports, including football), but because he wanted different leadership in moving forward.
   Yeah, right. That’s like telling your barber you’re firing him not because he gave you a lousy haircut, but because you want a barber who will go in a “different direction” on the next one.
   Boise State has imposed its own punishment on its athletics programs and hired a compliance officer to ensure compliance with regulations. The NCAA will determine if further punishment should be meted out in a few weeks.
   Make no mistake about it — whoever replaces Bleymaier will have big shoes to fill. In many ways, he was not just a BSU icon, but an Idaho icon. It will be a tough act to follow and, as we’ve seen, Kustra won’t be bashful in making his expectations known.
   Our view is based on the majority opinions of the Idaho Press-Tribune editorial board. Members of the board are Publisher Matt Davison, Managing Editor Vickie Holbrook and community membersTim Vandeventer, Sandi Levi, and Brandon Scholl, all of Nampa; Opinion Editor Phil Bridges and community member John Blaisdell of Caldwell, and Alex Zamora of Wilder.
Gene Bleymaier

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