Wildlife

Gray wolves are a controversial and polarizing animal in much of the American West. Wolves have slowly come back from extinction, forcing people to learn how to coexist with the cunning predator. One farmer is teaching his cattle to huddle together as bison do when threatened — there is safety in numbers.

A new independent review finds the federal government used uncertain science when it proposed taking the gray wolf off the endangered species list across the Lower 48.

Idaho Department of Fish and Game

Idaho Fish and Game officers and Garden City police tracked down and killed a mountain lion in Garden City Thursday.  The animal was shot along the Boise River Greenbelt in the Riverside subdivision around 5:30 p.m.

An eyewitness says the cougar was under his front porch. It ran from that location and the chase began.  Police, conservation officers and a houndsman tracked the animal through backyards and common areas in the subdivision.  They say they were hoping to tree the animal, tranquilize it and then move it to another location.

gray wolf, wolves
U.S. Fish & Wildlife

Republicans in Congress say a 40-year-old law meant to protect animals and plants from extinction has become bogged down by litigation and needs to be updated.

A group of 13 GOP lawmakers released a report Tuesday detailing their proposed changes to the Endangered Species Act, one of the nation's cornerstone environmental laws.

Proponents credit the act with staving off extinction for hundreds of species — from the bald eagle and American alligator to the gray whale. President Richard Nixon signed it into law in December 1973.

Neil Paprocki

People in Idaho are seeing more raptors because golden eagles and red-tailed hawks aren't flying as far south for winter. That's according to a new study from Boise State University. The study authors say the change in migration habits means fewer of the birds of prey are being spotted in southern states.

wolf, wildlife, yellowstone
Jim Peaco / Yellowstone National Park

Idaho wildlife managers called off a professional wolf hunter who has been killing predators inside a federal wilderness area.

Department of Fish and Wildlife Monday said it was halting the hunt after nine wolves were killed.

It had planned to keep hunter Gus Thoreson of Salmon in the Frank Church River of No Return Wilderness this winter as it sought reduce wolves and bolster low elk populations there.

Wolf advocates initially lost their bid for a court order to force Thoreson to quit hunting wolves from his base on U.S. Forest Service territory.

wolf, wildlife, yellowstone
Jim Peaco / Yellowstone National Park

Republicans promoting Gov. C.L. "Butch" Otter's proposed $2 million fund to kill wolves say they hope the cash helps eliminate more than 500 of the predators in Idaho, reducing numbers to 150 animals in 15 packs.

Rep. Marc Gibbs of Grace and Sen. Bert Brackett of Rogerson Monday told the House Resources and Conservation Committee the cash set aside with Otter's proposal will bolster Idaho's predator arsenal.

Idaho now has about 680 wolves, according to state Department of Fish and Game estimates.

Elk
GoCyclones / Flickr Creative Commons

Hunters and other interested parties have one more chance to comment on Idaho's proposed new elk management plan.

The state has spent the last several years working on a plan to replace the current version, which went into effect in 1999. Fish and Game's deer and elk program coordinator, Toby Boudreau, says the 15-year-old plan is now obsolete.

Yellowstone National Park, Bison, Lamar Valley
Emilie Ritter Saunders / Boise State Public Radio

Yellowstone National Park administrators say shooting wild bison with vaccine-laced "biobullets" to prevent the spread of an animal disease would be too ineffective to justify the expense.

Tuesday's announcement means a program that has led to the periodic capture and slaughter of thousands of migrating bison will continue.

For more than a decade, wildlife officials have weighed shooting Yellowstone bison with absorbable, vaccine-laced bullets to prevent the spread of the disease brucellosis to livestock. The concept was supported by cattle ranchers.

Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife

Some conservation groups are suing federal and state officials over Idaho's plan to track and kill wolves from two packs in central Idaho.

The lawsuit, filed by Defenders of Wildlife, Western Watersheds Project and Wilderness Watch on Monday, asks the judge to stop the extermination immediately to give the case time to work through the courts.

bald eagle
PenWaggener / Flickr Creative Commons

State wildlife officials say West Nile Virus appears to the mystery illness that's caused more than two dozen bald eagles to die in Utah this month.

The Utah Division of Wildlife Resources says results of laboratory tests on some of the first birds found indicate they died from West Nile.

Officials say 27 bald eagles have died since Dec. 1, and six others are being treated at a wildlife rehabilitation center.

DWR says in a statement that it believes the eagles ate grebes that were infected with the virus.

No Wolves Killed During Controversial Idaho Hunt

Dec 30, 2013
wolf, wildlife, yellowstone
Jim Peaco / Yellowstone National Park

Organizers of a coyote and wolf hunting contest held over the weekend in Salmon, Idaho say hunters did not kill any wolves as part of the ‘derby.’ Hunters shot 21 coyotes.

The week between Christmas and New Year's is one of the best times of the year to watch grey whales migrating along the Oregon coast.

Washington Fish and Game

Update 2:11 p.m.:

A federal judge allowed a wolf derby to proceed on public land in Idaho, ruling its organizers aren't required to get a special permit from the U.S. Forest Service.

U.S. District Magistrate Judge Candy Wagahoff Dale issued the ruling Friday, hours after a morning hearing.

WildEarth Guardians and other environmental groups had sought to stop the derby, arguing the Forest Service was ignoring its own rules that require permits for competitive events.

The Forest Service, meanwhile, countered no permit was needed.

wolf, wildlife, yellowstone
Jim Peaco / Yellowstone National Park

Update, 11:26 a.m.: The groups finished filing their suit Monday morning. You can read it here.

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