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Today, the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) released the official annual count for gray wolves living in Washington state; this year’s count tallied 52 wolves, an increase of one individual from the 2012 year-end population. The count also tallied five successful breeding pairs, the same number reported in the 2012 annual count.
Eleven conservation organizations representing hundreds of thousands of Washington residents sent a letter to the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife today urging the agency to rescind its support for stripping wolves of federal Endangered Species Act protections.
Two new solar energy projects recently approved by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM)—the Silver State South and Stateline Solar projects—would put the threatened desert tortoise at an increased risk of extinction by violating the Endangered Species Act, which has prompted Defenders of Wildlife to challenge the federal agencies’ approval of these projects in court. BLM’s approval comes after Defenders spent more than three years attempting to work with the BLM, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (the Service) and solar companies to plan projects in the Ivanpah Valley in a way that would minimize impacts on endangered species and not undermine the future existence of the desert tortoise.
On Friday, February 28, Idaho Department of Fish and Game announced that, working together with Wildlife Services, they succeeded in gunning down 23 gray wolves from a helicopter in northern Idaho’s Lolo elk zone near the Idaho/Montana border. The state agency said this killing was necessary to boost elk harvest levels in the area, despite independent scientific peer reviewers’ observations that habitat loss, not predator influence, was the major factor in this localized elk herd decline.
The number of endangered gray wolves living in Oregon shows a slight increase from the previous year, according to the official winter count released this week by the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife (ODFW). This year’s count tallied 64 wolves, an increase of 16 individuals from the 2012 year-end population. The ODFW also reported four breeding pairs. Oregon’s wolf population is determined annually based on verified sightings of wolves, thus these numbers represent the minimum wolf population in Oregon.
Michigan Representative John Dingell announced today that he will retire after nearly six decades in the House of Representatives. His leadership was instrumental in the passage of some of our nation’s groundbreaking environmental laws, including the National Wildlife Refuge System Administration Act, the Endangered Species Act, the Clean Water Act and the National Environmental Policy Act. Representative Dingell set the high bar for wildlife conservation in this country and demonstrated to generations of Americans that our nation’s natural resources are too valuable to be left unprotected.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (the Service) announced that it will seek public comments on the management of private oil and gas development activities within federal wildlife refuges in the country’s National Wildlife Refuge System. The Service plans to work with a variety of stakeholders to ensure that best conservation and management practices are utilized when reserved, private oil and gas interests are developed on refuge land. Below-surface mineral rights are privately owned on many refuge lands, and more than 200 refuges contain active oil and gas operations that currently lack comprehensive oversight. Moreover, the Fish and Wildlife Refuge System regulations for managing private oil and gas activities on national wildlife refuges are horribly outdated and inadequate for ensuring that private oil and gas activities on refuges avoid, minimize and mitigate adverse impacts to refuge resources.
Defenders of Wildlife, Friends of the Sea Otter, The Humane Society of the United States and the Humane Society Wildlife Land Trust, California Department of Fish and Wildlife, Monterey Bay Aquarium, U.C. Davis Karen C. Drayer Wildlife Health Center, and individual donor Dusty Nabor, are offering a $21,000 reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the person(s) responsible for fatally shooting three threatened southern sea otters found at Asilomar Beach, near Monterey, California in early September of 2013.
Yellowstone National Park has begun to round up and ship wild bison to slaughterhouses as they cross the park’s boundaries in search of lower snow depths outside the Park. On Wednesday, the first shipment of what will ultimately be many truckloads of bison left the Yellowstone National Park’s Stephens Creek facility for transport to a northwest Montana slaughterhouse. Another 26 were shipped to the slaughterhouse on Thursday. This capture and slaughter program, implemented by the National Park Service, is meant to keep the Yellowstone bison population below an arbitrary cap of 3,000.
In an effort to inflate elk populations for commercial outfitters and hunters, the Idaho Department of Fish and Game (IDFG) hopes to kill 60 percent of the wolves in the Middle Fork area of central Idaho’s Frank Church River of No Return Wilderness, according to a predator management plan for the area released this week.