Wildlife in the news

Officials: Wolf kills border collie herding sheep

BOISE, Idaho (AP) – Federal officials say a wolf killed a border collie herding sheep in the Boise foothills.

Todd Grimm of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Wildlife Services says the attack occurred May 8 in the Upper Hulls Gulch area as the dog helped herd sheep to the Boise National Forest.

Grimm tells the Idaho Statesman that bite marks indicate a wolf kill.

Frank Shirts owned the border collie named Teson that he says was valued at $500.

Grimm says Wildlife Services used helicopters to search for wolves in the area but didn’t find any. He says there are likely individual wolves roaming the area rather than a pack.

But sheep herders say they’ve heard several wolves howling and seen at least four wolves and pups.

Maine lobsterman charged with ‘egregious’ haul

PORTLAND, Maine (AP) – A Stonington lobsterman illegally harvested hundreds of undersized and protected lobsters in what the Maine Marine Patrol on Tuesday called the most egregious such case in more than 25 years.

The marine patrol said Theodore Gray possessed 269 undersized lobsters and 123 known breeding lobsters.

The illegal haul was “one of the most egregious violations I have seen,” Marine Patrol Maj. Jon Cornish said in a statement. Maine law requires lobsters less than 3 1/4 inches be released.

“This law ensures that young lobsters can mature and reproduce, which is key to the sustainable health of the fishery,” marine patrol Lt. Jay Carroll said.

Gray, 34, faces jail time and a maximum fine of more than $100,000 if convicted. A message left at his home was not immediately returned.

Maine law says fishermen who catch female lobsters with eggs must use a “v-notch” tool or knife to remove a quarter-inch-deep piece of flipper from the animal. The notch extends the lobster’s protection beyond the hatching of its eggs, officials said.

2 convicted of bear trap tampering in Nevada

RENO, Nev. (AP) – A mother and her adult daughter have been convicted of tampering with a bear trap at Lake Tahoe in an effort to thwart wildlife officials’ efforts to capture the animals.

It’s the first such case prosecuted in Nevada, the Reno Gazette-Journal reported in Tuesday’s editions.

Cheryl Ann Morrison, 63, of Truckee, California, and Season Morrison, 35, of Reno each now face up to $3,000 in fines – $1,500 for each of two misdemeanors.

Incline Village Justice Court Judge E. Alan Tiras found them guilty of obstructing or interfering with a Nevada Department of Wildlife officer and tampering with a vehicle.

The two women admitted during a daylong trial last month they deliberately tripped a bear trap set to capture a black bear that was becoming a nuisance in October. They said they thought state wildlife officials had set the trap illegally but the judge disagreed.

Driver hits mother seal on Washington beach

OCEAN PARK, Wash. (AP) – A beach driver ran over a mother harbor seal in the dunes at Ocean Park on the Washington coast causing a fatal injury.

KBKW reports local wildlife rescuers spotted the seal and newborn resting April 20 and put signs on the beach to alert drivers to avoid the area. But the next morning they found the mother had been hit. She was paralyzed and had to be euthanized. Her pup was gone.

Harming a harbor seal is a violation of the federal Marine Mammal Protection Act and anyone with information about this case is asked to call the NOAA fisheries hotline at 1-800-853-1964.

In addition, the Humane Society of the United States is offering a reward of up to $5,000 for information leading to the conviction of the driver.


Black bear family roaming close to Wisc. town

OSCEOLA, Wis. (AP) – Wildlife officials in northwestern Wisconsin are trying to trap a family of black bears that has been digging through trash bins in the small town of Osceola.

The sow and her two cubs have been spotted on multiple occasions in backyards and close to homes in the last week. Experts say the mother bear may weigh about 300 pounds, WCCO-TV reported Monday.

It’s not unusual for the town of about 2,500 on Wisconsin’s border with Minnesota to be visited by wildlife.

Purnal Tracy, 88, told The Associated Press he’s lost two or three bird feeders since last fall. He said the bears must have recently come out of hibernation and wandered into town looking for food.

“We’ve seen bears here in town off and on for the last few years,” Tracy said.

Osceola Police Chief Tim Lauridsen said he had to shoot a 400-pound problem bear at an elementary school a few years ago after it wouldn’t leave town. But he described the latest bear intrusion as “more a disturbance.”

Deer in Yakima area struggling to survive

YAKIMA, Wash. (AP) – Nestled along the edges of the Columbia River on the southern fringes of Benton County are several islands where state wildlife biologists occasionally hike to survey the nests of migratory geese.

The islands also often have small populations of deer, some that swim out only during the fawning season and others that stay to enjoy the safe haven from predators.

About 15 years ago, those biologists doing nest counts found something else instead.

“All the deer were dead on the islands. Every last one of them,” recalled Jeff Bernatowicz, a Yakima-based wildlife biologist with the state Department of Fish and Wildlife. “You couldn’t find a live deer.”

The deaths were eventually attributed to a mutated and particularly virulent form of Adenovirus, a hemorrhagic disease known to cause tuberculosis in cattle.

“In the places where you can identify the virus,” Bernatowicz said, “it will take out 50 to 70 percent of your deer almost overnight.”

Census slows 27 percent decline in caribou herd

ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) – Alaska’s largest caribou herd is getting a little bit smaller.

State wildlife officials say a census conducted last July shows the Western Arctic Herd has about 235,000 animals.

That’s fewer than the 325,000 animals estimated two years earlier and down from the peak of 490,000 caribou estimated in 2003.

State biologist Jim Dau says caribou numbers fluctuate naturally, and the current decline falls within the range of what was documented previously.

The 27 percent decline between 2011 and 2013. There was deep snow from 2011 to 2012 along with high predator numbers.

That stretch also saw a high mortality rates for adult cows and a low survival rate for calves.

Officials say if the current trends continue, they might have to reduce harvest levels.

Wandering Oregon wolf may have found a mate

MEDFORD, Ore. (AP) – Oregon’s famous wandering gray wolf, dubbed OR-7, may have found the mate he has trekked thousands of miles looking for, wildlife authorities said Monday. It’s likely the pair spawned pups, and if confirmed, the rare predators would be the first breeding pair of wolves in the Oregon’s Cascade Range since the early 1900s.

Officials said cameras in the Rogue River-Siskiyou National Forest in the southern Cascades captured several images of what appears to be a female wolf in the same area where OR-7’s GPS collar shows he has been living.

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service biologist John Stephenson said it is not proof, but it is likely the two wolves mated over the winter and are rearing pups that would have been born in April. Biologists won’t start looking for a den until June, to avoid endangering the pups.

“It’s amazing that he appears to have found a mate,” Stephenson said. “I didn’t think it would happen. It makes me more impressed with the ability of wolves to survive and find one another.”

Loggerhead turtle nest found on Georgia coast

BRUNSWICK, Ga. (AP) – State wildlife officials say they’ve spotted the first loggerhead turtle nest of this year’s nesting season along the Georgia cost.

Department of Natural Resources officials say the nest was found on Cumberland Island on Friday.

Officials say the large reptiles usually crawl onto barrier island beaches, dig holes and lay their eggs at night.

State wildlife officials say nearly 2,290 loggerhead nests were spotted in Georgia last year, which was the most in the 25 years turtle nests have been monitored along Georgia’s coastline.

Officials say the number of nests found in Georgia has increased each year since 2010, which is in line with trends in Florida and the Carolinas.

US judge blocks coyote hunting near red wolves

RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) – A federal judge in North Carolina on Tuesday ordered a stop to coyote hunting near the world’s only wild population of endangered red wolves because the animals look so similar and are easily confused.

U.S. District Judge Terrence Boyle ruled that stopping coyote hunts in five northeastern North Carolina counties will reduce red wolf deaths that violate the Endangered Species Act. Boyle said he’d review his ruling in six months. The preliminary injunction blocks coyote hunting in Dare, Hyde, Beaufort, Tyrrell and Washington counties until the start of a trial in a lawsuit that aims to permanently end hunting near the red wolf’s territory.


Bear released in wild returns to ski resort

RENO, Nev. (AP) – A bear that apparently became too accustomed to the good life at a ski resort at Lake Tahoe is headed for an animal sanctuary or zoo after wildlife officials decided he’s unfortunately become too domesticated to be returned to the wild.

The year-old black bear, dubbed “Heavenly,” was captured in March after skirting past a busy ski lift at the Heavenly Mountain Resort at Stateline on the California-Nevada line.

Veterinarians at the Lake Tahoe Wildlife Care Center nursed him back to health. California wildlife officials released him last week in the Sierra near Monitor Pass, about 25 miles south of the lake. But they say he made it back to Tahoe within a matter of days and started approaching people again.

“It’s the exact same bear,” Nevada Department of Wildlife spokesman Chris Healy said Tuesday.

Illinois village installs turtle crossing signs

VERNON HILLS, Ill. (AP) – A suburban Chicago community wants fast drivers to hit the brakes to make way for turtles.

The village of Vernon Hills, about 30 miles north of Chicago, is on a reptile-saving mission with its new turtle crossing signs after dozens of the animals died while inching across roads last year.

“We did have a significant amount of carnage last year,” said David Brown, public works director and village engineer.

The temporary signs are being installed in subdivisions near a channel that’s popular with the slow-moving creatures, particularly painted turtles and snapping turtles, The (Arlington Heights) Daily Herald reported.

Gary Glowacki, a wildlife biologist with the Lake County Forest Preserve District, said reptile awareness is increasing among residents who are asking for more signs near their homes after the first were put up several years ago.

Glowacki said he is fielding additional requests from residents who are trying to keep the crawling critters safe, especially during nesting season.

“Pretty much the month of June is the most dangerous time to be a turtle,” he said.

Spam to be used to lure invasive big-headed ants

COSTA MESA, Calif. (AP) – California agriculture officials are on the hunt for an invasive species of ant that’s been spotted in an Orange County yard – and they’ll use Spam as bait.

The Orange County Register reports that 1,570 bait stations were set up May 5 in seven Orange County cities.

The ants love the fatty, oily food.

An amateur bug-lover spotted a colony last month in a Costa Mesa yard and agriculture officials have been trying to determine if there are other colonies.

The species is native to Africa and has a huge head.

If it spreads in California, it could threaten the state’s agriculture.

The ants aren’t dangerous to humans.

Officials will try to get the OK from property owners before placing the bait stations in front yards.

Owl parts discovery leads to arrest warrants

MARCELLUS TOWNSHIP, Mich. (AP) – State wildlife officials have issued arrest warrants against two southwestern Michigan residents for illegally possessing the foot and talons of a great horned owl.

The Grand Rapids Press reported Tuesday the owl parts were discovered at a home as police were investigating a check fraud case. Department of Natural Resources spokesman Ed Golder says the residence is in Cass County’s Marcellus Township.

No arrests have been made. Authorities believe the pair fled to Florida.

Nebraska land protected for endangered beetle

LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) – The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service designated 1,110 acres of land near Lincoln as critical habitat for the endangered Salt Creek tiger beetle.

The news came Monday, as biologists and volunteers released 150 of the tiger beetle larvae on a rehabilitated wetland near the Arbor Lake Wildlife Management Area in Lincoln.

The service published its final decision in the Federal Register, the Lincoln Journal Star said. The designation takes effect June 5.

The number of acres set aside as critical habitat is smaller than the 1,933 acres proposed in 2010, but the service said the land contains enough habitat to support recovery of the species. The number was part of the settlement between the Wildlife Service and the Center for Native Ecosystems, Center for Biological Diversity and Xerces Society. The three conservation groups sued the Wildlife Service in 2010, saying that not enough land was being set aside to help save the tiger beetle.

The beetle is considered one of the rarest insects in the United States.

and was listed as endangered in October 2005.

Before the listing, more than 90 percent of the insect’s saline wetland habitat had been destroyed or severely degraded by encroaching development and farming.