U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

A new report from Congress’s watchdog says employees overseeing public lands are facing hundreds of threats and assaults.

 

AP Images

Caribou used to be found in the wilds of old growth forests in the Idaho panhandle. The population would often cross state lines into Washington. Now, there are zero caribou roaming free in the lower 48.

 

When federal protections were lifted for the Yellowstone-area grizzly bear last year, conservation groups quickly got to work to reverse that decision. One of those attempts was recently thwarted when U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced they would not restore protections after a months-long review.

Mike McBirney / Monarch Butterflies In the Pacific Northwest Facebook Page

A butterfly, born and raised in the Treasure Valley, has flown all the way to the Pacific coast.

The monarch, nicknamed Monet, is part of a Washington State University study that tags and follows the winged invertebrates during their life cycle.

Gary Kramer / U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

Gray wolves killed a record number of livestock in Wyoming last year, and wildlife managers responded by killing a record number of wolves that were responsible, according to a new federal report.

The report released by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service found that wolves killed 243 livestock, including 154 cattle, 88 sheep and one horse, in 2016. In 2015, 134 livestock deaths attributed to wolves were recorded.

Last year's livestock losses in Wyoming exceeded the previous record of 222 in 2009.

Frankie Barnhill / Boise State Public Radio

The Trump administration has proposed an 11 percent decrease in funding for the Interior Department.

If approved by Congress, the Interior Department would receive $11.7 billion for fiscal year 2018. That’s more than the president had originally outlined in an earlier budget draft, but still would be a hit to department funding.

Cathleen Allison / AP Photo

A new study of sage grouse in Eastern Washington found a surprisingly large benefit from a federal program that subsidizes farmers to plant year-round grasses and native shrubs instead of crops.

The study concluded that is probably the reason that sage grouse still live in portions of Washington's Columbia River Basin.

"Without these lands, our models predict that we would lose about two thirds of the species' habitat, and that the sage grouse would go extinct in two of three sub-populations," said Andrew Shirk of the University of Washington's Climate Impacts Group.

Rich Pedroncelli / Associated Press

About 600,000 young spring chinook salmon have died at a northern Idaho fish hatchery after an electrical problem stopped water from circulating.

The Nez Perce Tribe tells the Lewiston Tribune the fish died at the Kooskia National Fish Hatchery on Friday when an electrical circuit breaker tripped and a warning system to alert hatchery workers failed.

The salmon were a few weeks old and scheduled to be released next spring and return as adults in 2020.

Bryant Olsen / Flickr Creative Commons

Federal officials have approved an Idaho wildlife conservation plan to avoid potential listings under the Endangered Species Act.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service signed off on a state plan that identified 205 Idaho species of concern. Grizzlies, salmon and sage grouse were all on the list, as well as monarch butterflies. Wildlife officials are working on taking Yellowstone grizzlies off the Endangered Species List.

J. Scott Applewhite / AP Images

Sen. Jim Risch (R-Idaho) has introduced a bill to give states more responsibility to manage conservation of the greater sage grouse. It comes as GOP control of Congress and the executive branch begin to shift western land management policy.

In 2015, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service decided not to list the sage grouse under the Endangered Species Act – instead approving strict land management plans that limit mining activities across 10 million acres.

Jim Urquhart / AP Photo

Federal officials are delaying their decision on whether to lift protections for more than 700 grizzly bears in and around Yellowstone National Park and allow hunting, amid opposition from dozens of American Indian tribes and conservation groups.

Officials had planned to finalize the proposal to turn jurisdiction on grizzlies over to state officials in Montana, Idaho and Wyoming by the end of 2016.

Dmitry.S. / Flickr

Federal authorities have announced the establishment of a 7,000-square-mile watershed conservation area in three states that includes major migration corridors for birds and mammals.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service on Thursday gave notice that it has established the Bear River Watershed Conservation Area in Idaho, Utah and Wyoming. Its creation is part of a plan to protect wildlife habitat by buying perpetual conservation easements from willing private landowners.

Jerry McFarland / Flickr

The Northwest's first tribal eagle aviary is opening on the Coeur d'Alene Indian Reservation.

The Spokesman-Review reports the Coeur d'Alene Tribe is partnering with the nonprofit Birds of Prey Northwest to create The House of the Bald Eagle for birds that have been injured and can't survive in the wild.

Seven other tribes have U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service permits to operate eagle aviaries, but they are all in the Southwest.

Jason Bechtel / Flickr Creative Commons

Earlier this year, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service proposed lifting endangered species status for grizzly bears around Yellowstone National Park. But before that happens, Idaho, Wyoming and Montana each need to come up with plans for how they would manage the population – including rules for hunting the predators.

A public meeting will be held this week in Boise on the potential for a grizzly bear hunting season in Idaho.

Mick Thompson / Flickr Creative Commons

The reward for information leading to the person or persons who illegally killed a federally protected grizzly bear in eastern Idaho is up to $15,600.

The Center for Biological Diversity on Thursday announced it's contributing $5,000.

The Humane Society of the United States and Humane Society Wildlife Land Trust also on Thursday announced they're offering $5,000.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has already offered $5,000 to the reward that includes $600 from the Citizens Against Poaching.

Tom Royal / Flickr Creative Commons

Idaho officials have released a 10-year draft management plan aimed at reducing the American white pelican population in the state by about half to protect native trout and sport fishing.

The Idaho Department of Fish and Game released the 46-page plan Friday and is taking comments through April 2.

Officials say the white pelican population in Idaho in the last 25 years grew from a few hundred to a five-year average of more than 5,600 breeding pelicans. The draft plan calls for reducing that to 2,800.

Charles Peterson / Flickr Creative Commons

Federal wildlife officials plan to take the grizzly bear off the Endangered Species List in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem. If the proposal goes through, Idaho will take over management of the bear within the state’s borders. 

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Director Dan Ashe says the decision to take the iconic predator off the list comes after decades of collaboration. 

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.

Addison Mohler / US Fish and Wildlife Service

The occupation of a national wildlife refuge in eastern Oregon has gone on for almost a week. The armed militants there say the refuge is a symbol of government overreach in the West. In Idaho, Deer Flat National Wildlife Refuge has been the subject of angst over federal regulations – but with a different outcome.

screen grab fws.gov / U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Wednesday released a new recovery plan for the bull trout. The agency listed it as a threatened species in the late 1990s. Bull trout live in Idaho and four other western states. The new plan divides the fish’s territory into six sections. Mike Carrier, head of Fish and Wildlife’s Idaho office says in some sections, like in Oregon and Washington, bull trout are struggling.

Dan Dzurisin / Flickr Creative Commons

Interior Secretary Sally Jewell announced the much-anticipated decision on Twitter Tuesday morning, using the hashtag #WildlifeWin.

“Because of an unprecedented effort by dozens of partners  across 11 western states," says Sec. Jewell in a video, "the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has determined that the greater sage grouse does not require protection under the Endangered Species Act.”

Alan Krakauer / Flickr Creative Commons

Early Tuesday morning Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell announced on Twitter the decision of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service not to list the greater sage grouse as endangered. This follows years of hard work, cooperation and collaborative planning among stakeholders in what is being touted as the largest conservation effort in U.S. history. 

Stakeholders are already reacting to the decision. Below are comments from some of those individuals and groups.

Julie Rose

Alarm bells echoed across the West in 2010 when the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service warned that the greater sage grouse could be put on the Endangered Species List. The end of this month is the deadline for a final decision. In the interim, there has been an enormous amount of work done to protect the bird – enough to suggest a threat is sometimes big enough to get the job done.

Could this have been the intent all along? To make the threat big enough so that an actual listing might be avoided?

According to a new report from the Western Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies (WAFWA),  the number of male sage grouse in the western U.S. has increased by 63 percent over the last two years. Sage grouse used to number in the millions, but the bird's population has taken a nosedive over the last century. The U.S.

Washington Fish and Game

Federal wildlife officials have rejected a petition from advocates who sought to reclassify gray wolves as a threatened species in most of the U.S.

Gray wolves across most of the Lower 48 are classified as endangered, which is more protective than a threatened designation. Advocates hoped a change to threatened would pre-empt intervention from members of Congress who want to lift federal protections altogether.

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