endangered species

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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. 

Public Domain

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.

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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.”

Wyoming Game and Fish

 

It’s true, we got a late start, the snow turning to mush in the warm sun under our snowmobile tread as we head out mid-morning. I'm tagging along with Wyoming Game and Fish Wolverine Biologist Lee Tafelmeyer into the south end of the Wind River Range to take down a motion-sensored camera he's been baiting with roadkill deer and beaver carcasses in an effort to take photos of wolverines. It's all part of a multi-state project to count this elusive species in the West. Last year, they took 53 photos of an estimated five animals.

J. Michael Lockhart / USFWS

 

Wyoming’s Game and Fish Department and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service are planning a historic venture this summer. They hope to bring black-footed ferrets back to Meeteetse, where they were found 35 years ago when the species was thought to be extinct.

Black-footed ferrets were thought to be extinct in 1981 when John Hogg’s dog brought a dead one to his ranch house near Meeteetse. Hogg has since passed away. But, on the 25th anniversary of the ferret’s discovery near Meeteetse, Hogg told the story, again.

Ernest Thompson Seton

  

Last month, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced they were moving forward with de-listing Yellowstone area grizzly bears from the Endangered Species List. The news raised the hackles of many wildlife advocates. 

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As spring approaches, Yellowstone National Park’s grizzly bear population is starting to wake up. The first grizzly was spotted out of hibernation February 22nd.

Amy Bartlett is a spokeswoman for Yellowstone National Park. She says the bears are coming out of hibernation on schedule, even though it still feels like winter.

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The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service today announced its proposal to remove the Yellowstone area grizzly bear from the endangered species list.

In his announcement, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Director Dan Ashe called the plan a triumph.

“This population of bears has increased by more than 500% since efforts to conserve the bear began in 1981 from as few as 136 bears to probably over 1000 today.”

nps.gov

Wyoming experts were cautiously optimistic Thursday when they learned the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is proposing that Yellowstone Grizzly Bears be removed from the endangered species list.

Grizzly bears were listed for decades, before they were removed from the list in 2007. A judge put them back under federal protection in 2009.  Now, just as grizzly bears are starting to emerge from their dens, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service says it’s recommending delisting again.

Yellowstone’s expert on grizzly bears says it’s time to delist them. Bear Management biologist Kerry Gunther edited the recent Yellowstone Science magazine dedicated to grizzly bear recovery.

“Where are the grizzly bears” is one of the most frequently asked questions at Yellowstone Park Entrances. That question often gets answered now.

Yellowstone Bear Management Specialist Kerry Gunther said in the early eighties it was rare to see any bear in the Park. But things have changed.

National Digital Library of the United States Fish and Wildlife Service

A draft of a tri-state grizzly management and hunting practices agreement between Idaho, Montana, and Wyoming has been making the rounds on media sites, prompting outcry from some animal rights groups.

The memorandum plans for a possible delisting of the grizzly bear from the endangered species list by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. It sets population goals, target mortality rates, and, most controversial, percentages of the management area outside the national parks that could possibly be used for hunting grizzlies. 58 percent of the hunt would occur in Wyoming. 

J. Michael Lockhart / USFWS

A new rule that will make it easier to restore black-footed ferret populations.

The 10(j) rule lets private landowners open up their lands to reintroduction in return for looser restrictions. Under the rule, if a landowner accidentally harms or kills a ferret, he or she will not be prosecuted under the Endangered Species Act.

U.S. Fish and Wildlife spokesman Ryan Moehring, says his agency partnered with Wyoming officials to develop the rule.

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Cody area lawmakers want the federal government to take grizzly bears off the endangered species list. They say there are more bears than ever outside Yellowstone. But others say the numbers don’t matter, and that the grizzly should remain protected.

Many Cody area residents have advocated for grizzly delisting for years. But, talk about delisting intensified this summer, after a grizzly killed a hiker in Yellowstone.

Bob Beck

  

Last weekend Wyoming’s annual sage grouse hunt began. Many hunters were worried that this could be the last hunt in a while, since the bird was facing the possibility of getting listed as an endangered species. When the chicken-sized bird started seeing declines in the 1990’s, some states stopped sage grouse hunting altogether. Wyoming continued its hunt after changing the start date and limiting the take. That will continue, even as the state continues mandated conservation efforts. 

Melodie Edwards

  

You might have heard a strange sound this last Tuesday morning around 10 a.m. It was a sigh of relief from ranchers, oil and gas workers and miners all over the West at the announcement that the greater sage grouse won't be listed as an endangered species. But you probably also heard the slapping of foreheads from wildlife advocates who say the grouse needs full federal protections if it’s going to survive.

In Tuesday’s announcement that the greater sage grouse will not be listed as an endangered species, the state of Wyoming got a lot of the credit by U.S. Fish and Wildlife Director Dan Ashe who said the state's strategy for bringing the bird back from the brink showed long range vision.

“I have to point out singularly the leadership from the state of Wyoming in designing the Core Area Strategy back in 2008. Because it was Wyoming’s leadership that showed us what was possible for sage grouse conservation.”

Ladder Ranch

Wyoming Ranchers are among those who are pleased with the U.S. Department of the Interior’s decision not to list the Greater Sage Grouse as an endangered species.

Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell said in her announcement that one of the main reasons the bird wasn’t listed was the cooperation among individuals, industry, and government in conservation efforts.

Pat O’toole runs the Ladder Ranch in Savery, Wyoming. He says his ranch took several steps to help Sage Grouse – from putting land in conservation easements to creating more sage brush habitat.

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With the decision not to list sage grouse as an endangered species, a new federal report says the current approach is effectively isolating the birds from each other like animals in a zoo.

U.S. Geological Survey ecologist Steven Knick worked on the report, and he says many of the sage grouse protected areas are like small islands scattered around the 11 Western states of its range.

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