Idaho 02/23/12 spokesman.com: by Eric Barker – Federal wildlife agents shot and killed 14 wolves from helicopters in Idaho’s remote Lolo Zone earlier this month. The three-day operation, aimed at reducing the number of wolves roaming the backcountry area where elk herds are struggling, was carried out in a partnership between the federal Wildlife Services agency and the Idaho Department of Fish and Game. Wildlife managers hope a sustained reduction in wolf numbers will allow the Lolo elk herd, which has been severely depressed since the mid 1990s, to rebound. “We’d like to see one of Idaho’s premier elk populations recover as much as possible,” said Jim Unsworth, deputy director of the department at Boise. The department has long had a goal of reducing the number of wolves in the area along the upper Lochsa and North Fork Clearwater rivers, once renowned for its elk hunting.
The agency first sought permission in 2006 from federal wildlife managers to kill 40 to 50 wolves that at the time were still under the protection of the Endangered Species Act. The state failed to win permission then and eventually gave up in favor of seeking the overall delisting of wolves. Delisting occurred in 2009 and a wolf hunting season was authorized. Hunters killed 13 wolves in the zone that year, far fewer than wildlife managers hoped for. Following the hunting season, wolves were briefly returned to federal management. They were delisted for a second time in the spring of 2011 and the department quickly approved a control action that resulted in six wolves being shot using helicopters. Hunting resumed in the fall and trapping started in November. Through Wednesday, hunters and trappers had taken 22 wolves from the Lolo, bringing the total known wolf kills there to 42 and in line with the department’s plan for the area.
Elk herds tanked in the Lolo Zone during the harsh winter of 1996-97. But numbers had been on the decline for many years prior. Biologists said the biggest problem was a long-term change in the habitat, but they also blamed growing numbers of bears and mountain lions. Hunting seasons on those predators were liberalized and managers expected elk numbers to slowly climb. But the herds continued to shrink and blame was placed on the increasing number of wolves moving into the area. According to recent studies by researchers from the department, wolves are the primary cause of death in female elk in the Lolo and of calves more than 6 months old. Researchers have said the habitat is capable of supporting far more than the 2,000 elk estimated to be in the area. – For complete article see http://www.spokesman.com/stories/2012/feb/23/aerial-gunners-kill-14-wolves-north-idaho/
California 02/23/12 patch.com: by Charles Burress – An El Cerrito resident reported two mountain lion sightings on Feb. 21, and sightings were also reported in San Mateo and Los Altos. See http://elcerrito.patch.com/articles/mountain-lion-attacks-deer-in-el-cerrito-police-issue-warning
New Hampshire 02/23/12 Hopkinton, Merrimack County: A teenager in Hopkinton was attacked by a possibly rabid coyote Wednesday, New Hampshire Fish and Game said. Jed Aubertin, 15, said he was walking the family dog in a wooded area near his home when the coyote approached him. Aubertin said that as a hunter, he see coyotes all the time, but the way this one came at him was different, so he kicked his dog and told it to go home. When the dog left, the coyote attacked. The teen said he punched the coyote in the nose until it left. “He was down because I punched him right in the side of the head pretty hard for three or four seconds,” Aubertin said. “He got back up, and I didn’t know what to do, so he kept jumping at my throat, so I just kept hitting him by the teeth, and I messed up my knuckles pretty good. But eventually he just limped off, and I yelled at him and he went back in to the woods.” He was scratched and possibly bitten by the coyote and is receiving a course of rabies shots as a precaution.
Fish and Game Department officials said the attack is highly unusual and it is the first time they know of that a coyote has attacked a person in the state. A local dog was attacked earlier in the week, and officials suspect it is the same coyote. Officials said residents should be aware of any coyotes that display any interest in humans, whether friendly or aggressive. When expressing normal behavior, coyotes show no interest in humans, officials said. If someone sees a coyote, Fish and Game biologist Pat Tate recommended yelling at it to instill fear.
New York 02/23/12 northcountrynow.com: Recent summer outbreaks of the potentially fatal disease eastern equine encephalitis, or EEE, spurred state lawmakers to examine the problem in New York, and they have issued their report. The 93-page document, including 13 specific recommendations to improve the state and local response to the virus, is the result of a roundtable last fall, sponsored by the Senate Committees on Agriculture, chaired by Senator Patty Ritchie of Heuvelton, and Health, chaired by Senator Kemp Hannon. Sen. Ritchie’s interest in the issue was inspired by the death last year of a 4-year-old Oswego County girl, the third fatality in three years caused by the mosquito borne virus. Oswego County is at the southern end of Ritchie’s 48th Senate District, which includes western St. Lawrence County and Jefferson County.
“The death of Maggie Sue Wilcox last summer focused the public’s attention on the problem of EEE which, while not unique to Central New York, appears to have hit this region especially hard and with tragic consequences,” Ritchie said. “In response, my roundtable brought together the experts and officials charged with protecting human, as well as animal life, to try to find ways to prevent additional loss of life.” “It’s already produced positive results, by gaining a commitment from the state and county to more aggressively attack the problem, improve communication and cooperation to reduce the risk and save lives. The recommendations in this report build on that commitment in the hope that we can prevent another tragedy,” Ritchie said.
Among the recommendations is one for New York to work with the 19 other states impacted by EEE to make development of a human vaccine a priority. Also recommended is a horse registry, better efforts at early detection of the mosquito-borne virus, updating the Health Department’s mosquito disease control plans, a the possibility of the state picking up more of the costs of aerial spraying. Ritchie said that she was reviewing possible legislation to implement some of the recommendations. The report can be seen at http://www.nysenate.gov/files/pdfs/EEE_Report_with_cover.pdf.
California 02/22/12 Westlake Village, Los Angeles County: For the first time this year, a dead crow found in the county has tested positive for West Nile Virus. See http://www.contracostatimes.com/california/ci_20020564