From the pages of
Sublette Examiner
Volume 3, Number 49 - March 4, 2004
brought to you online by Pinedale Online

Wildlife Briefs

Wolf laws and lawsuit

Senator Delaine Roberts of Etna effectively killed the last wolf management bill left under consideration by the Wyoming Legislature. When House Bill 111 was assigned to his committee last week, Roberts declared that he would sit on the bill and not let it be considered. It was an effective strategy during a short budget session.

House Representatives Stan Cooper and Monte Olsen, both of whom represent portions of Sublette County, voted against HB111 consistently, but were in the minority in the House. The vote was 44-14 to send the measure to the Senate.

In other wolf news, members of the Green River Valley Cattlemen's Association voted to support the Sublette County Farm Bureau in litigation against the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service for its failure to follow its own rules in controlling wolves that prey on livestock in the region.

Farm Bureau filed its 60-day notice of intent to sue the federal agency last month.

Dead elk toll: 280

Laboratory tests and analysis have conclusively ruled out several causes, including chronic wasting disease, some insecticides and a variety of metals, in the mysterious deaths of elk southwest of Rawlins. The death total has grown to 280.

The work being done by the Wyoming State Veterinary Laboratory and Wyoming Game and Fish Department has also eliminated poisoning from salt, nitrates and sulfates.

"There are still many potential causes to investigate," said Walt Cook, WG&F wildlife veterinarian. "We are all working feverishly, so we can identify the cause and hopefully address the situation in the field to keep more elk from dying."

In addition, the lab has ruled out lead and mercury poisoning, selenium toxicity and many of the common plant toxins.

"Toxins of some sort still seem to be the most likely cause, but every possible cause is being examined," Cook said. "Preliminary tests on four water sources have not revealed anything that would cause these signs in elk."

All of the elk exhibit similar signs, particularly the inability to move. Some animals have lesions on their hind leg muscles, but veterinarians believe the sore muscles are the result of being down for extended periods.

On Wednesday, the Casper Star-Tribune had a front-page article indicating that the animals may have been run to death, but WG&F spokesman Tom Reed discredited that notion in an interview with the Examiner. He said while that excessive running has not been ruled out, "it's a very, very, very unlikely possibility."

Grouse groups

The newly created Pinedale area sage grouse working group will host its first meeting in Pinedale later this month. It's part of a larger effort being organized by the Wyoming Game and Fish Department in accordance with the statewide grouse conservation plan.

The local working group - made up of 10-12 individuals representing conservation, agriculture, sportsmen, energy industry, land management agencies, local governments, sportsmen and other interests - have a three-year charter to identify management practices and the means to implement them for the benefit of sage grouse.

The Wyoming grouse conservation plan was crafted in response to declines in sage grouse and their habitat. Those loses prompted multiple petitions to protect sage grouse under the Endangered Species Act.

The public is invited to observe the two-day meetings and comment during a prescribed public comment period at the end of the half-day meeting on day two. Citizens are encouraged to attend the entire morning to ensure they do not miss the comment period.

The meeting is slated for the Sublette County Library in Pinedale, beginning at 10 a.m. on March 30 and 8 a.m. on March 31

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