Environment

Ard van der Leeuw / Flickr Creative Commons

The Idaho Department of Fish and Game is feeding elk in four areas of south-central Idaho in hopes of keeping them off roadways and away from hay stacks and cattle operations.

The Times-News reports that residents in the Wood River Valley are asked not to feed elk or stop them from moving on to the Fish and Game feeding areas.

USGS

Just ten miles from downtown Boise, scientists are studying golden eagle migration in southwest Idaho. And they’re using roadkill to do it.

Scientists from the U.S. Geological Survey, Boise State University and Idaho Fish and Game created a series of motion-sensitive camera traps. They drag a 250-pound road-killed elk through the snow to the trap and leave. The cameras do the work, snapping pictures of whatever scavenger comes by for a snack.

Tatters / Flickr Creative Commons

A central Idaho homeowners association is taking steps to eliminate a poisonous plant that has been killing elk in the area.

The Idaho Mountain Express reports that the Valley Club Owners Association in Hailey has prohibited the planting of yews. The exotic shrubs are commonly used in landscaping, but they are toxic to many animals and to humans.

Officials with the Idaho Department of Parks and Recreation say they've used approximately $70,000 in private sponsorships to partially offset their depleted budget.

Director David Langhorst told a state budget writing committee that private businesses like Airstream and Cabela's have funded various programs in the department's first year of using cooperate sponsorships. Private sponsorships raised another $30,000 in in-kind donations in 2015.

Bureau of Land Management

The Bureau of Land Management says it’s close to releasing its Draft Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement, or EIS, on the last two segments of the Gateway West Project. That means the creation of the 990 mile long power line across Idaho and Wyoming is one step closer to construction.

Wildlife Conservation Society

The future of grizzly bears could change this year, if the animals who frequent Yellowstone National Park are taken off the Endangered Species List. As more animals move outside the park, groups like the Wildlife Conservation Society, or WCS, are looking at where the bears go.

A new study looks at how black and grizzly bears are expanding into habitat in Idaho outside of Yellowstone National Park and how they may interact with humans.

Dave Siddoway / Flickr Creative Commons

More than a dozen elk have died this winter in the Wood River Valley. Biologists think the animals have eaten ornamental yew, a non-native shrub some people have planted in their yards. The bright green plants can be shaped into those intricate topiaries you see in English or Japanese gardens.

ulalume / Flickr Creative Commons

In Washington D.C., a bipartisan group of senators this week introduced a new piece of legislation dealing with nuclear energy, called the Nuclear Energy Innovation Capabilities Act. Idaho Sen. Mike Crapo (R) and Sen. Jim Risch (R) introduced the bill with Sen. Orrin Hatch of Utah (R), as well as Democratic senators Cory Booker of New Jersey and Sheldon Whitehouse of Rhode Island.

Stephen Mitchell / Flickr Creative Commons

The contamination of drinking water in Flint, Michigan has brought the issue of lead poisoning to many people’s attention. The brown-colored water from the Flint River was not treated for lead, and children in the town are especially vulnerable to getting sick. The crisis in Michigan has caused drinking water regulators to take another look at their own systems – including in Idaho.
 

The U.S. Forest Service on Wednesday issued a notice of non-compliance to the Idaho Department of Fish and Game after the state agency violated an agreement by using a helicopter in a central Idaho wilderness to put tracking collars on wolves.

The two-page notice includes additional requirements the state must follow when seeking approval for future landings in wilderness areas.

The Forest Service on Jan. 6 approved Fish and Game's request to use helicopters in the Frank Church River of No Return Wilderness to put collars on elk.

Latham Jenkins / Flickr Creative Commons

The Western Governors’ Association held a meeting in Boise Tuesday about the Endangered Species Act (ESA). The nonpartisan group brought together stakeholders from all ends of the natural resources spectrum.

One of the big topics at the day-long workshop was how science is used – or could be misused – to make endangered species decisions. Richard Valdez was a panelist at the conference. He is an adviser for an environmental planning firm based in Arizona.

Frankie Barnhill / Boise State Public Radio

The federal official who oversees the Salmon-Challis National Forest says Idaho Fish and Game’s unapproved collaring of four wolves in a wilderness area last week is a “big deal.”

Courtesy of University of Idaho Photographic Services

Exercise is something we often talk about in January, usually in the context of getting healthier.

But here in Idaho, biologists and engineers are looking for ways to get fish more exercise. Specifically - trout, salmon, and steelhead raised in hatcheries. The idea is to force fish to work out so they're in better shape - and more likely to live - once they're released.

Right now, hatchery fish are raised in long, rectangular tanks called raceways. The tanks are hard to clean and sweeping out fish waste is expensive.

Dan Stahler / Yellowstone National Park Flickr

Idaho Fish and Game collared four wolves in the Frank Church Wilderness earlier this month. The action was unauthorized by the Forest Service, the agency that oversees the area.

Mike Keckler with Fish and Game says the issue comes down to a communication problem. One of the crews assigned to put tracking collars on elk in the wilderness area also collared four wolves. Keckler says they do that under normal operations, but in this case the agency had a specific agreement with the Forest Service to only collar elk.

Bryce W. Robinson

What can the world’s largest falcon tell us about climate change? That’s the question one Boise researcher is asking in an article published this month in Audubon Magazine.

Bryce Robinson is a Gyrfalcon field researcher and a graduate student at Boise State University. Working with the Peregrine Fund, he’s been studying Gyrfalcons in western Alaska for two years. Robinson studied the birds for his Master’s thesis.

Courtesy of Idaho Fish and Game

File this in your Idaho oddities folder: a hunter killed a mountain lion with a second set of teeth and whiskers growing on top of its head last week. As the Idaho State Journal reports, the year-old animal has Idaho Fish and Game biologists scratching their heads. They have never seen anything like it.

But the scientists do have some theories about what could have caused this abnormal growth.

S. Hellstrom / Bureau of Land Management

As tensions mount over the occupation of a federal building in an Oregon wildlife refuge by an armed group, some are asking the question: Could it happen in Idaho? The Gem State has had its own arguments over the use of federal land, including the Legislature considering taking control of all the federal land within Idaho’s borders.

Bob Dodson

Earlier this year, we told you the story of Idaho Fish and Game parachuting beavers into the Frank Church River of No Return Wilderness in the late 1940’s. Back then, the idea was to trap problem beavers, put them in special boxes and parachute them from a plane. They were sent to remote areas where they could find a new home.

Gary Lane / Wapiti River Guides

This picture has been popping up on social media. It’s an unusual phenomenon known as an “ice circle.” And this one was spotted by an Idaho river guide who snapped this picture while heading out for a hunting trip several years ago.

Gary Lane is a river guide and photographer. He and his wife Barb run Wapiti River Guides out of Riggins. He took the photo in 2009.

“I was driving up the road along the Salmon River above Riggins and I saw that ice circle, so of course I had to get out and take a picture of it,” Lane says.

Jerry Mathes

A writer from Idaho has won a North American Book Award. Author Jerry Mathes won the best memoir award for his book “Ahead of the Flaming Front: A Life on Fire.”

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