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.