endangered species

Charles Preston

 

Grizzly bears may be taken off the Endangered Species list soon. And, hunts are part of Wyoming’s bear management plans. Those planned hunts are drawing fire from tribes, the Sierra Club, and comments from Yellowstone National Park.

For 40 plus years, the only people who have hunted grizzlies here are tourists and photographers. They come from around the world, hoping for a glimpse of the country’s largest and most powerful carnivore.

Arturo de Frias Marques / WITH USE UNDER CC BY-SA 4.0

The U.S. Geological Survey and the University of Wyoming have published a new study showing that polar bears are having to expend more energy to keep up with faster drifting sea ice.

The study, titled "Increased Arctic sea ice drift alters polar bear movements and energetics," came out in the June 5 issue of Global Change Biology.

Volunteers carrying toads down to Mortenson Lake
Cooper McKim / Wyoming Public Radio

The Endangered Species Act is threatened. Or at least facing significant reform. Momentum in Congress and in western states is building to make changes to the landmark regulation that protects threatened animal and plant species and their habitats. 

Moosejaw Bravo Photography

For nine years now, the Draper Museum in Cody has been studying golden eagles and what they mean for the dwindling sagebrush ecosystem where they live. That study will end next year so Wyoming Public Radio’s Melodie Edwards joined researchers on a trip to band eaglets and find out what all this research is revealing about this iconic species.

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Wyoming is taking over wolf management, again. A federal appeals court has entered its final order upholding Wyoming’s wolf management plan. So, the state will pick up where it left off five years ago. And wolves outside a protected area can be shot on site.

Wolves in Wyoming were first protected by the Endangered Species Act in January 1995, when Canadian wolves were brought into Yellowstone by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

GARY KRAMER - U.S. FISH AND WILDLIFE SERVICE

Wyoming’s management plan for wolves is back in effect, after a recent ruling by the U.S. Court of Appeals reaffirmed the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s 2012 decision to delist wolves. 

Under Wyoming law, wolves fall under a dual-classification system. The first is as trophy game for those wolves living in the northwestern corner of the state. That's where most of them live and where the most suitable habitat is. Wyoming Game and Fish Department’s Renny MacKay said in that area, they receive extra protections.

Wyoming Game and Fish Department

The Wyoming Game and Fish Department is requesting public comments on its latest plan that evaluates the status of the state’s most threatened species.

Biologists have been using the State Wildlife Action Plan (SWAP) that was developed in 2010 to study everything from mollusks to sage grouse. Game and Fish planning coordinator Glenn Pauley said the purpose of these strategies is to preempt endangered species listings by identifying threats and population declines early.

Wyoming Game and Fish Department

 

This week the legislature gave final approval to a bill that will take general fund money away from the Wyoming Game and Fish Department and require them to make up the difference through fee increases.

It’s just one of a few issues Director Scott Talbott is finding challenging these days. He sat down with me to explain that it’s critical that the fees do not lead to a net loss. 

JRProbert via Wikimedia Commons

 

  

Dr. Ali Abdullahi  knew that he wanted to work with wildlife when he visited the Masai Mara reserve in his home country of Kenya. He earned a PHd from the University of Wyoming's ecology department, and embarked on an effort to save the hirola - the world's most endangered antelope. Wyoming Public Radio's Alanna Elder spoke with Dr. Ali about his work. 

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Federal protections for the gray wolf in Wyoming were lifted by a federal appeals judge Friday. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has considered the species ready for delisting for years.

The recovery goal for Wyoming’s wolves was 100 animals but, as of last year, there were 380 in the state. U.S. Fish and Wildlife Wyoming Field Supervisor Tyler Abbott said there’s not enough room for that many wolves in the national parks, but as they expand their range, they’re killing more livestock.

Carol S. Bock

The Endangered Species Act was under Senate scrutiny Wednesday, when the Environment and Public Works Committee met to discuss how to reform the law.  

Former Wyoming Governor Dave Freudenthal attended the meeting chaired by Senator John Barrasso. Both politicians said that while the ESA is important, it needs an update, and mentioned the Western Governor’s Association’s efforts to come up with specific recommendations for reform.  

DeVivo Upper Salt

There aren’t many critters crazy enough to live year round on mountaintops. So any that do live there have got to be tough. Like the American pika, an adorable little round-eared — and noisy — animal that lives in the rocks at the highest elevations.

But are pikas tough enough to survive a warming planet? University of Wyoming researcher Embere Hall is trying answer that question.

Grizzly bear on Swan Lake Flats, Yellowstone National Park; Jim Peaco

Last week, the Northern Arapaho tribe issued a statement expressing frustration about being left out of a meeting on removing the grizzly bear from the Endangered Species List. The disagreement has left some people wondering if grizzly delisting could be the Dakota Access Pipeline of Wyoming in which local tribes assert themselves as sovereign nations.

 

Yufna Soldier Wolf is the director of the Northern Arapaho Tribal Historic Preservation Office, which might make you wonder, what's so historic about grizzly bears? 

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The Northern Arapaho Tribal Historic Preservation Office has expressed frustration with not being invited to a meeting on delisting the grizzly bear in Cody in November. Preservation Director Yufna Soldier Wolf said under a new policy adopted by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service last year, the Traditional Ecological Knowledge of local tribes must be considered in such decisions.

Lingjing Bao

Although there was hope among Wyomingites that Congresswoman Cynthia Lummis would be tapped by President elect Trump for Interior Secretary, it appears that position will go to Washington Congresswoman Cathy McMorris Rogers instead.

Bureau of Land Management / Flickr

Wyoming Republicans were dealt a setback in their efforts to keep sage grouse off the federal endangered species list.

House Republicans were able to include a provision in this year’s National Defense Authorization Act that would prohibit the federal government from changing the conservation status of sage grouse for the next decade. But the provision was left out of the final bill when House leaders negotiated a final bill with their Senate counterparts. That didn’t sit well with members of the lower chamber.

Amy Gerber

A group of federal and state wildlife managers approved the updated management plan for grizzly bear delisting at a meeting in Cody on Wednesday. The Conservation Strategy is a big step toward delisting, since the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has recommended delisting. But, Yellowstone Superintendent Dan Wenk voted against it, and a Sierra Club spokeswoman reminded the group grizzly numbers are declining.

Jeannie Stafford / USFWS

A new scientific study suggests as wildfires become more frequent, sage grouse populations in the West will decline because of a loss of habitat. 

The study was published in the scientific journal PNAS and shows that if sagebrush continues to burn at the rate it has in recent decades, sage grouse populations will be halved in 30 years. 

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The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is reevaluating a previous decision not to extend endangered species protections to wolverines. The agency decided against listing wolverines as an endangered species in 2014, but was then sued by environmental groups. Under court order, the agency will undertake a two-year review of whether the wolverine should in fact be listed, and will reopen the public comment period. 

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The reintroduction of black-footed ferrets that took place in July seems to be succeeding. 35 ferrets were set loose in Meeteetse, the area where they were found 35 years ago after they were thought to be extinct. Wyoming Game and Fish recently re-captured 19, and all tested negative for any harmful diseases. Wyoming Game and Fish biologist Nicole Bjornlie said this was a good sign.

Piikani Nation Administration

On Sunday, tribes from the U.S. and Canada are convening in Jackson to sign a historic treaty to pledge their dedication to protecting the grizzly bear. The signing comes in advance of a proposal by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to delist the Yellowstone grizzly from the Endangered Species List by the end of the year.

Mike Cline, Public Domain

Back in 2012, wolves were removed from the federal Endangered Species List and the state was briefly allowed to manage the population.

Wyoming Game and Fish

In the last week a bow hunter suffered numerous injuries after he was attacked by a bear. Game and Fish officials worry about such things at this time of year as more hunting seasons get underway. Tara Hodges from the Cody Game and Fish office explains that hunters need to be bear aware. 

Mike Cline, Public Domain

Two of the four wolves suspected of preying on cattle in northwest Wyoming have been killed. U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service officials say that has successfully stopped the livestock depredations in the area, making it unnecessary to kill the other two wolves for now.

The Service’s Wyoming Field Supervisor Tyler Abbott says if it seems like there’s been more lethal control of wolves recently, that’s because there has been.

Bureau of Land Management / Flickr

The Bureau of Land Management has released new documents to guide its sage grouse protection strategy. Last year, the agency announced new sage grouse management plans covering more than 60 million acres across 10 states. Those plans were a major factor in the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s decision not to list the bird as endangered, but they didn't include many details about how the protections would actually be implemented.

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The number of sage grouse in Wyoming increased for the third year in a row, according the latest Wyoming Game and Fish Department survey. According to Sage Grouse Program Coordinator Tom Christiansen numbers increased this year by 16 percent.

Last year, they grew 66% but that's because Wyoming's sage grouse count fell so sharply in 2012. The bird was even under consideration to be listed as an endangered species. But this year has been wet, which has meant more food for chicks and more cover from predators.

Carol S. Bock

The Wyoming Game and Fish Department continues to put the finishing touches on the plan for how Wyoming will manage the grizzly bear. This week Game and Fish Commissioners voted to approve a three state agreement concerning how Wyoming, Idaho, and Montana would manage grizzlies when they come off the endangered species list. Wyoming Game and Fish Chief Game Warden Brian Nesvik joins us to provide an update on where those delisting efforts stand. 

Melodie Edwards

  

On the shore next to the Buford Ranch pond in early June, clear plastic tubs sit in stacks with little ordinary-looking, brown speckled toads visible inside climbing the walls, trying to escape. And escape is exactly what a crowd of people—private landowners, environmental groups and federal and state agencies—have all gathered here today to help the toads do.

Wikipedia Creative Commons

With only a few hundred in existence, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service plans to release over 900 adult Wyoming toads onto land west of Laramie on Wednesday. U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Recovery Coordinator Doug Keinath says there’s a lot riding on the release because of how rare this toad is.

“It’s extremely rare. It’s considered one of the most endangered amphibians in North America, if not the most endangered amphibian in North America. It only occurs within the Laramie Basin. So within 30 miles or so of Laramie is the entire global range of the Wyoming Toad.”

Melodie Edwards

  

Everywhere you look on the McNeil elk feed ground west of Bondurant, you see the bones and hides of dead elk. Rancher Steve Robertson says many are left behind from wolf kills. He tells of seeing elk chased by wolves here just this last winter.

“The steams boiling off them, their tongues are hanging out,” he says. “And then two weeks later all those elk were killed on the feed ground. And the elk, they can’t go anywhere they’re snowed in, they’re trapped.”

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