Tag Archives: usfws

Oregon Gov. To ODFW: Support For Wolf Delisting Was ‘Incorrect’

In a staggering turn, Oregon’s governor told federal officials that her fish and wildlife director was “incorrect” in supporting the delisting of wolves in the western two-thirds of their state and elsewhere in the Lower 48.

IN A SCREENSHOT FROM KGW8’S FACEBOOK LIVE FEED OF GOV. KATE BROWN’S NEWS CONFERENCE THIS MORNING A REPORTER ASKS A QUESTION ABOUT HER POSITION ON WOLVES. (COURTESY KGW)

“The state of Oregon and its agencies do not support the delisting of wolves from the federal Endangered Species Act across their range in the 48 contiguous states,” Gov. Kate Brown also wrote in a letter to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

That contradicts comments sent just the week before by ODFW’s Curt Melcher that said he agreed with the feds that it was time to remove the species from the ESA list, the state was ready to take on the responsibility across Oregon, and “few changes would occur” as a result.

Asked by a reporter at a news conference late this morning if Melcher should have checked with her office before entering the comments on the Federal Register, Brown said, “That probably would have been a good idea.”

In effectively reversing the state’s position, she said it was “critically important that we maintain rangewide recovery for wolves across the entire Western United States and I think it’s critical they maintain their listing status for that to happen.”

Dominic Aiello of the Oregon Outdoor Council disagreed sharply with the governor’s move.

“The proposed removal of the wolf  — or any species — from the federal Endangered Species Act should be cheered as a conservation success story. Unfortunately, the ESA continues to be used by local and national environmental groups and some politicians as a means to force their political agenda. It is extremely disappointing to see Governor Brown undercut science and the state’s biologists,” he said.

Indeed, wildlife management is based in science — but politics does invade the realm, sometimes more nakedly than others.

Earlier this month, the nomination of a Northeast Oregon hunter, outfitter and conservationist to serve on ODFW’s Fish and Wildlife Commission was scuttled after environmental groups objected, and then changed their tune about why they were objecting.

Objections from environmental groups also led to what’s believed to be a first in Washington, Gov. Jay Insee’s 2015 order to the Fish & Wildlife Commission to reverse a decision involving slightly increased cougar quotas in parts of Eastern Washington.

This is the second time this decade that the USFWS has proposed delisting gray wolves in the western two-thirds of Oregon, Washington and elsewhere outside the Northern Rockies (which include the eastern thirds of both states, where wolves were Congressionally removed in 2011).

The other time, in 2013, it was derailed through the courts.

Meanwhile, the species is clearly recovered and not in any danger of failing in the Northwest, thanks to strong protections put in place by ODFW, WDFW and other state wildlife management agencies.

Comments on this latest proposal were due Tuesday, but USFWS has since extended the deadline until July 15, and Brown’s will now stand as the state’s statement.

“ODFW appreciates and respects the governor’s clarification of the state’s position on federal wolf delisting in the Lower 48,” said agency spokeswoman Michelle Dennehy.

WDFW Again Signals Support For Federal Wolf Delisting In Western Two-thirds

It’s unsurprising at this stage, but the top Washington wildlife official once again said his agency is ready to take over wolf management statewide.

WDFW’S 2018 WOLF PACK MAP SHOWS WHERE THE 27 GROUPS OF WOLVES OCCUR. (WDFW)

“The Department finds the USFWS proposal to remove gray wolves from the list of Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and return management authority in the western two-thirds of Washington to the Department appropriate and timely,” writes WDFW Director Kelly Susewind, words not unlike his two predecessors and others there.

His April 18 letter of support comes as the public comment period on the federal proposal to delist the species in the western two-thirds of Washington and elsewhere in the Lower 48 draws to a close in mid-May.

Some 56,000-plus other comments have been submitted as well, including in support from members of Hunting-Washington and the Washington Farm Bureau, among others, but also plenty of opposition.

Susewind’s letter follows on:

* Former Director Jim Unsworth’s 2015 request to US Rep. Dan Newhouse to spur USFWS towards completing its wolf delisting proposal;

* Former Director WDFW Phil Anderson’s 2014 letter to USFWS that the state “no longer needs federal oversight to recover and manage wolves“;

* WDFW wolf policy manager Donny Martorello’s 2013 comment that that year’s delisting proposal was “timely” (it was ultimately waylaid in court).

* The agency’s 2012 opposition to the cockamamie idea that wolves in the western two-thirds of the state were a different stock from those in the eastern two-thirds, which were Congressionally delisted in 2011.

* And a Fish and Wildlife Commission position statement on wolves, during the development of which then Chair Miranda Wecker said, “Some wolf enthusiasts want wolves to live out their natural lives. That’s not the position of the department. Let me be crystal clear: Wolves will become a game species. They will be managed, and not for maximum population.”

Federal delisting would allow WDFW to use the same management tools in the Cascades and Western Washington as it does in the state’s eastern third.

“This is the right direction for wolf conservation and management in our state,” Susewind said, pointing to the agency’s recovery plan, legislative funding, stakeholder work and efforts to manage wolves in perpetuity.

WDFW has also begun a status review of the state’s population, which at last minimum count stood at 126 wolves in 27 packs and has surely grown since then as pups hit the ground this spring.

Based on that review, WDFW will make a recommendation to the Fish and Wildlife Commission on whether gray wolves’ continued state ESA listing is warranted or not.

ODFW Reports Group Of Wolves In Indigo WMU

Oregon wildlife managers are reporting a new group of wolves in the upper North Umpqua and Middle Fork Willamette drainages, and say three turned up on a trail camera last month.

A U.S. FISH AND WILDLIFE SERVICE TRAIL CAMERA IN THE UMPQUA NATIONAL FOREST SHOWS ONE OF THREE WOLVES BELIEVED TO BE PART OF A NEWLY NAMED GROUP KNOWN AS THE INDIGO WOLVES. (USFWS VIA ODFW)

ODFW is calling them the Indigo wolves after the name of the wildlife management unit for this part of Lane and Douglas Counties.

The announcement follows public reports of wolf activity in the area in recent years, with biologists finding tracks last fall.

ODFW’S ANNOUNCEMENT INCLUDED A NEW “AREA OF KNOWN WOLF ACTIVITY” MAP SHOWING WHERE THE INDIGO WOLVES RUN ON THE WESTERN SIDE OF OREGON’S SOUTHERN CASCADES. (ODFW)

“At this time, wildlife managers have little data regarding the specifics of this new group (i.e., sex, breeding status, and specific use area) and additional surveys are needed to find out more information,” ODFW stated on its gray wolf page.

Wolves in this part of Oregon are still federally listed, but the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s state office touted it as further proof the species’ recovery is “going strong.”

“This follows robust recovery of gray wolves across the U.S. While the wolf had all but disappeared from the lower 48 by the early 20th century, it now roams free in 9 states and is stable and healthy at over 5000 wolves. This remarkable recovery led the Service to propose removing gray wolves from protection under ESA last week,” the agency posted on Facebook.

Robust, certainly, along with robust conflicts in some cases. Yesterday ODFW said that a wolf or wolves had killed the pup of a livestock producer further south in Oregon’s Cascades.

Its carcass was found 400 yards from his house in the Boundary Butte area, where there have been two wolf attacks on calves so far this year.

“He had last seen the dog alive at midnight that morning when he had gone outside to turn on Air Dancer wolf deterrent devices after being awakened by his dogs barking incessantly,” the state investigation report says.

The Rogue Pack and OR-7 roam in that area. The Capital Press reported that the 16-week-old mastiff was the 11th farm animal to be killed or injured by the wolves since last September.

If the proposed delisting goes through, it would mean state managers would have more flexibility in dealing with chronic wolf depredations.

There’s also another group of wolves, the White Rivers, in Oregon’s northern Cascades.

 

Lower 48 Gray Wolf Delisting Proposal Going Out For Comment

A U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service proposal to delist gray wolves in the rest of the Lower 48 will go out for comment tomorrow when it is officially posted on the Federal Register.

TWO WOLVES ROAM ACROSS A SNOWY EASTERN WASHINGTON LANDSCAPE. (UW)

“While wolves in the gray wolf entity currently occupy only a portion of wolf historical range, the best available information indicates that the gray wolf entity is recovered and is not now, nor likely in the foreseeable future, to be negatively affected by past, current, and potential future threats such that the entity is in danger of extinction,” reads a portion of the 158-page document now available for previewing.

USFWS says that species don’t have to be recovered throughout their former range — essentially impossible with all the development since their large-scale extirpation — to be delisted from the Endangered Species Act, but that it would continue to monitor populations for five years, like it did with the Northern Rockies wolves and which have continued to thrive under state management.

The agency says that delisting will let it focus on species that still need help.

“Every species kept on the Endangered Species List beyond its point of recovery takes valuable resources away from those species still in need of the act’s protections,” USFWS said in a press release officially announcing the proposal.

Word first came out last week from Department of Interior Acting Secretary David Bernhardt that it was pending.

There are now more than 6,000 wolves in the Lower 48, primarily in the Northern Rockies and Western Great Lakes, but those populations are spreading out.

Just last week it became clear that there was likely a wolf or wolves within miles of the Pacific in Southern Oregon after state managers there reported one was probably to blame for a large-scale sheep depredation near Cape Blanco.

Gray wolves were delisted in Idaho, Montana and the eastern thirds of Oregon and Washington in 2011. This new proposal would extend that the western two-thirds of both states and elsewhere, if it is approved. A similar bid in 2013 was challenged in court and the effort was derailed, but quietly began again last June.

“Our deepest gratitude goes to all our conservation partners in this victory, particularly the states and tribes who are committed to wolf conservation and will continue this legacy forward,” said USFWS Principal Deputy Director Margaret Everson in the press release.

ODFW and WDFW last week reiterated that they’re ready to take over management of gray wolves across their respective states. It would level the playing field, per se, in dealing with depredations, but would not mean an immediate free-fire zone as the species would remain under state protections for the time being.

Publication on the Federal Register starts a 60-day comment period.

ODFW Reports ‘Probable’ Wolf Attack On Sheep Not Far From Pacific

Oregon wolf managers are reporting a “probable depredation” within miles of the Pacific Ocean.

They say that over a two week period between late February and earlier this week, the carcasses of 23 sheep — nearly all lambs — were found by a producer and USDA Wildlife Services in a “partially fenced” private pasture in Curry County’s White Mountain area, which by the gazetteer is just east of Denmark and Langlois along a lonely stretch of Highway 101 by Cape Blanco.

Examinations of several carcasses “were consistent with a wolf attack, but lack diagnostic evidence to clearly differentiate between wolf and domestic dog,” leading to the probable determination.

If a wolf, it is likely to be a disperser.


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The incident occurred in that part of Oregon where wolves still are federally listed and thus where the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is the lead agency.

Neither federal nor state managers are currently monitoring any known wolves in Curry County, though tracks on the Pistol River, to the south between Gold Beach and Brookings, were investigated last year and were determined to be “consistent with a wolf” by an ODFW biologist.

A trail cam photo from last fall taken near a “possible/unknown” sheep depredation nearby in Coos County, to the north, captured a “blurry” picture of an animal “that could have been a wolf or dog.”

Cameras have been set up near the site of the attack on the White Mountain flock to see if anything returns.

The public can report wolves in Oregon on this ODFW webpage.

The news comes as today USFWS announced it proposed to delist gray wolves in the western two-thirds of Oregon and Washington as well as elsewhere in the Lower 48.

Feds To Propose Delisting Gray Wolves In Rest Of WA, OR, Lower 48

Editor’s note: Updated 12:15 p.m. March 7, 2019, with comments from WDFW.

Federal wildlife overseers are proposing to delist gray wolves in the western two-thirds of Washington and Oregon and elsewhere across the Lower 48.

A WDFW IMAGE SHOWS A TEANAWAY PACK MEMBER IN CENTRAL WASHINGTON SHORTLY AFTER COMING TO AND WEARING A TELEMETRY COLLAR. (WDFW)

The news was reported by the Associated Press this morning.

“Today, Acting Secretary of the Interior David Bernhardt announced that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service will soon propose a rule to delist the gray wolf in the Lower 48 states and return management of the species back to the states and tribes,” confirmed a USFWS spokesperson.

Bernhardt is in Denver for the 84th North American Wildlife and Natural Resources Conference.

The official termed the recovery of gray wolves — which began with the formation of packs in Northwest Montana in the 1980s and then federal reintroductions in Central Idaho and Yellowstone in the 1990s — “one of our nation’s great conservation successes, with the wolf joining other cherished species, such as the bald eagle, that have been brought back from the brink with the help of the (Endangered Species Act).”

Yes, a success, but also a flashpoint, and surely this latest attempt will lead to more court challenges, like those that derailed 2013’s proposal.

That one followed on 2011’s successful delisting in the eastern two-thirds of Washington and Oregon, as well as all of Idaho and Montana.


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Last June, federal officials again began reviewing the status of wolves outside the Northern Rockies recovery zone, with the goal of putting it out for public comment by the end of 2018.

That didn’t quite happen, but now it appears that it has.

“Once the proposed rule has published in the Federal Register, the public will have an opportunity to comment,” the USFWS spokesperson said via email.

If it goes through, among the notable impacts would be that WDFW and ODFW would have a more level playing field for dealing with wolf depredations. They can lethally remove members of livestock-attacking packs in far Eastern Washington and Oregon, but west of a line that snakes across both regions they can’t.

Still, it wouldn’t be an immediate free-fire zone, as both states stress nonlethal conflict avoidance tactics in trying to prevent depredations in the first place.

 “We haven’t gotten any official confirmation, and it’s likely this would be a drawn-out process, but if protections were lifted all of Oregon’s wolves would fall under the state management plan,” ODFW spokeswoman Michelle Dennehy told Salem Statesman-Journal outdoor reporter Zach Urness. “We’re ready to handle this if the federal rules are lifted.”

WDFW’s wolf policy lead Donny Martorello echoed that sentiment.

“We have adequate protections for wolves in this state,” he said.

The agency has felt that way for several years, in fact, encouraging USFWS to delist wolves in the rest of Washington and asking a state US House lawmaker to spur the feds as well.

“The best available science shows that the gray wolf has successfully recovered from the danger of extinction and no longer requires federal protection,” said that Congressman, Rep. Dan Newhouse (R-Yakima Valley) in a press release. “We can see in Washington state that the wolf population is growing quickly while being effectively managed by the Washington Department of Fish & Wildlife in the eastern third of the state. I applaud the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s for moving forward with a proposal to delist the wolf in the lower 48 states in order to return management to the states.”

Despite the fears of wolf advocates and highly litigious organizations, wolf populations have grown best largely in the state-managed areas.

“We’re reviewing the delisting proposal from USFWS and we empathize with concerns from colleagues in states such as California and Colorado where wolves have not yet recovered,” said Chase Gunnell, spokesman for Seattle’s Conservation Northwest. “However, given the quality of Washington’s Wolf Plan and investments in collaborative wolf management work here, we do not expect federal delisting to have a significant impact on wolves in our state. Wolf recovery is progressing well in Washington and our wolves will remain a state endangered species until state recovery goals are met.”

Martorello said that the speed at which a federal delisting proposal would likely move would “synch” with WDFW’s own look at how well the species is doing.

Today’s news comes as the state has also begun its own status review of gray wolves, which are state-listed as endangered.

“The department will review all relevant data pertaining to the population status and factors affecting existence of wolves in Washington. Based on the information collected and reviewed, the department will make recommendations to maintain the species current listing status as endangered or reclassify species to sensitive or threatened or other status,” an agency statement says.

A bill in the state legislature also prompts WDFW to wrap up the review by the end of December, though it was amended to remove the possibility of considering delisting in the eastern third of the state as well as made “null and void” if funding for the work wasn’t included in the budget.

Former WDFW Director Selected For USFWS Science Position

Jim Unsworth, whose resignation from the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife took effect a year ago this month, has been hired for a new role with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

JIM UNSWORTH. (WDFW)

He will begin work as the federal agency’s Pacific Region Assistant Regional Director for Science Applications later this month.

“Based in Portland, his staff provides technical guidance, collaborative landscape-level conservation, and science-related funding opportunities to partners throughout the Pacific Region, which includes Idaho, Oregon, Washington, Hawaii, and the Pacific Islands, including America Samoa, Guam and the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands. As a member of the Regional Directorate, Unsworth will serve as the senior scientist in the agency’s largest and most biologically diverse region,” a USFWS press release out earlier this week states.

With multiple degrees and fish and wildlife management from universities in the Northwest, Unsworth worked his way up through the Idaho Department of Fish and Game before being hired by the Washington Fish and Wildlife Commission in early 2015.

He had a rocky three-year tenure at WDFW that was complicated by deteriorating ocean conditions affecting salmon returns and fisheries management, among numerous factors, and in early 2018 he announced his resignation to “pursue other personal and professional goals in wildlife and natural resource management.”

Unsworth appears to have found those outlets with his new job.

“The science portfolio of the Pacific Northwest is in excellent hands,” said Robyn Thorson, USFWS regional director, in the press release. “The Service, our partners and the public will benefit from Jim’s proven leadership skills and collaborative approach to conservation. Dr. Unsworth’s state experience and impressive science credentials will continue our positive momentum on partnership-based landscape conservation.”

Congress Moving Different Directions On Sea Lions, Wolves

Attempts in Congress to give state managers more latitude to deal with two of the most polarizing predators in the Northwest these days are going in opposite directions.

Yesterday saw the US Senate pass a bill that would expand where sea lions could be removed on the Columbia River system, and while the House of Representatives must still concur, a bill delisting gray wolves passed last month by the lower chamber will not go anywhere in the upper house in December, it now appears.

SEA LIONS GATHER INSIDE THE MOUTH OF THE COWEEMAN RIVER AT KELSO, MOST LIKELY FOLLOWING THE 2016 RUN OF ESA-LISTED EULACHON, OR SMELT, UP THE COLUMBIA RIVER. THE ENDANGERED SALMON AND FISHERIES PREDATION ACT PASSED BY THE SENATE AND WHICH GOES NOW TO THE HOUSE WOULD GIVE STATE MANAGERS MORE LATITUDE TO LETHALLY REMOVE THE SPECIES IN TRIBUTARIES OF THE COLUMBIA. (SKYLAR MASTERS)

The Manage Our Wolves Act, cosponsored by two Eastern Washington Republican representatives will likely die in the Senate’s Committee on Environment and Public Works as federal lawmakers’ workload piles up at the end of the two-year session.

Chairman John Barrasso (R-WY) indicated federal budgetary issues would take precedence, according to a report from the DC Bureau of the McClatchy news service.

And even if the Republican-controlled Senate were to still pass the bill in 2019, with November’s election changing the balance of power in the House, a spokeswoman for the new chairman of the Natural Resources Committee, Rep. Raúl Grijalva (D-AZ), told wire reporter Kellen Browning flatly that the panel won’t be moving any delisting legislation while he is in charge over the next two years.

It’s probably best to let the biologists determine when a species is recovered rather than run things through Congress like this, but that also takes time and meanwhile frustrations mount over very real concerns and unintended consequences of 1970s’ environmental protections, and the drag-it-out-in-the-courts approach the laws have inspired in some in the environmental community.

In the case of the wolves of the river, Marine Mammal Protection Act-listed sea lions are taking unacceptably large bites out of Endangered Species Act-listed Columbia salmon and steelhead, putting their recovery — not to mention the tens, hundreds of millions of dollars spent on it — in the watershed at increasing risk.

With pushing from fishermen, state wildlife agencies, tribal managers, even conservation organizations, a bipartisan coalition of Northwest senators and representatives has now been able get sea lion bills passed in both houses of Congress this year.

But even as we live in an era when the back door to delistings and amended protections is being opened wider and wider, it appears that for the time being we’ll need to go through the front one, the traditional way, to clear the wolves of the woods off the ESA list.

Once again.

Back in June, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service quietly announced that it had begun to review the status of the species in the Lower 48 for, what, the third? fourth? time since the early 2000s due to court actions.

That could lead to the delisting of gray wolves in the western two-thirds of Washington, Oregon and elsewhere in their range, handing over management from USFWS to WDFW, ODFW and other agencies.

A PAIR OF WOLVES CAPTURED ON A TRAIL CAMERA NEAR MT. HOOD. (ODFW)

This morning I asked the feds for an update on how that was proceeding and they sent me a statement that was very similar to one they emailed out around the summer solstice.

Here’s what today’s said:

“The USFWS is currently reviewing the status of the gray wolf under the Endangered Species Act (ESA). Working closely with our federal, state, tribal and local partners, we will assess the currently listed gray wolf entities in the lower 48 states using the best available scientific information. On completion of the review, the Service will, if appropriate, publish a proposal to revise the wolf’s status in the Federal Register. Any proposal will follow a robust, transparent and open public process that will provide opportunity for public comment.”

With six long months ahead of it, June’s version had this as the third sentence: “If appropriate, the Service will publish a proposal to revise the wolf’s status in the Federal Register by the end of the calendar year.”

Now it’s more open-ended.

And comparing a second paragraph USFWS sent along as background, the update has removed the words “under the previous administration,” a reference to the 2013 proposal by the Obama Administration’s USFWS Director Dan Ashe.

The rest of that para touches on the “sound science” that went into that determination and the court action that subsequently derailed it.

It sounds like the science is strong with the sea lion removal authorization, so let’s hope that once the House agrees and president signs it, it isn’t challenged in court, and if it is, that it clears the hurdles that are thrown up — and which lead to bypassing the judicial system all together.

New Website Will Help Track Where Coho Are Dying Early In Puget Sound Streams

THE FOLLOWING IS A PRESS RELEASE FROM THE U.S. FISH AND WILDLIFE SERVICE

Salmon exposed to toxic stormwater runoff can die in a matter of hours, and scientists are asking for Puget Sound area residents’ help in identifying affected streams to study the phenomenon.

COHO EXPOSED TO STREET RUNOFF ARE DYING AND RESEARCHERS ARE TRYING TO FIGURE OUT WHY. (K. KING, USFWS)

Scientists from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), U.S. Fish and Wildlife (USFWS) and Washington State University (WSU), collectively called the Puget Sound Stormwater Science Team (PSSST), have been studying the effects of stormwater runoff on Pacific salmon species for almost two decades. Working to narrow down the toxic chemicals that are likely responsible, the team is unveiling a new interactive website that lets citizen volunteers help map salmon deaths.

As urban growth and development continues in the Puget Sound region, scientists anticipate that the coho mortality syndrome will expand, and will have significant impacts on wild coho populations. This is where area residents come in- helping scientists identify the extent of the phenomenon, and continue to refine scientists’ understanding at the toxic chemicals at play in affected areas.

“Media coverage of our work last year inspired some members of the public to report observations of coho suffering from the syndrome,” said Jay Davis, environmental toxicologist with the USFWS. “We realized that residents of the Puget Sound region can provide important data to help us document affected watersheds. There are potentially thousands of toxic chemicals in stormwater runoff, and refining our understanding of where and when this phenomenon is occurring can help us narrow our focus and provide an important part to this puzzle.”

The PSSST-developed website includes interactive tools that allow users to view the Puget Sound basin and affected watersheds, and train them to identify coho salmon and report suspected coho mortality as citizen scientists. Although studies with other species are ongoing, initial evidence suggests that coho are particularly vulnerable to the syndrome.

A MAP SHOWS PREDICTIONS FOR WATERSHEDS WHERE COHO WILL LIKELY FAIR BEST AND WORST AS THEY MAKE THEIR FALL SPAWNING RUNS. (USFWS)

Clearer picture of mortality

Coho returning to Puget Sound every autumn are an important food source for many animals, including endangered Southern Resident Killer Whales.

In a recently released draft report, the Southern Resident Killer Whale Task Force created by Washington Governor Inslee recognized the importance of stormwater as a source of pollution in Puget Sound, as well as the need to better understand the impacts of toxics on orcas and their salmon prey.

WSU researchers, led by Jen McIntyre, assistant professor at the WSU-run Washington Stormwater Center in Puyallup, have found that coho get sick and die within just a few hours of exposure to polluted stormwater.

AS FALL’S RAINS RETURN, RUNOFF FROM OUR STREETS AND HIGHWAYS OFTEN GETS FUNNELED INTO WATERS COHO ARE MIGRATING THROUGH, LEADING TO THEIR EARLY DEMISE IN SOME CASES. (K. KING, USFWS)

“Urban runoff contains a soup of heavy metals and hydrocarbons that are highly toxic to fish,” said McIntyre. “Every coho that dies in our polluted urban watersheds before it gets a chance to spawn means less eggs, fewer fry, and fewer returning fish to feed hungry orcas.”

“With this new, interactive story map, citizens along the Puget Sound can help scientists confirm their latest predictions of where coho are in the most trouble,” said Nat Scholz, an ecotoxicologist with NOAA’s Northwest Fisheries Science Center in Seattle. “This will help us understand where green stormwater infrastructure and similar strategies to promote clean water and healthy habitats are most needed.”

While the new story map is aimed at coho, efforts to reduce toxic runoff to Puget Sound lakes, rivers, and marine waters will benefit other species as well.

Coho salmon are an important part of the culture, history, and economy of the Pacific Northwest. This iconic species is widely distributed in lowland watersheds that are vulnerable to ongoing and future development. The role of water pollution in the continued decline of coho populations remains poorly understood.

To learn more about how you can help, including identifying and reporting coho mortality, visit: https://arcg.is/0SivbL

NORTHWEST SPORTSMAN EDITOR ANDY WALGAMOTT AND HIS FAMILY HAD A RAIN GARDEN INSTALLED TO CATCH STREET RUNOFF THAT OTHERWISE WOULD HAVE GONE INTO LAKE WASHINGTON’S THORNTON CREEK. (ANDY WALGAMOTT)

Eastside Reps’ Wolf Bill OKed By US House Committee

A bill federally delisting gray wolves in the western two-thirds of Washington and Oregon as well as elsewhere in the Lower 48 has been approved by a Congressional committee.

A WOLF NEAR WENATCHEE TAKES A LOOK AT A SHERIFF’S DEPUTY. (CHELAN COUNTY SHERIFF’S OFFICE)

The Manage Our Wolves Act received a 19-15 vote before the House Natural Resources Committee during markup yesterday.

The legislation is cosponsored by two Eastern Washington Republicans, Dan Newhouse of the Yakima Valley and Cathy McMorris Rodgers of the Spokane area, and Wisconsin Rep. Sean Duffy.

“The best-available science used by the U.S. Department of Interior and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service shows that the gray wolf has recovered and is no longer endangered,” said Newhouse in a statement.

He’s previously introduced wolf bills as WDFW has been encouraging him to push the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to complete its delisting of the species.

In a midspring letter to the lawmaker, the state agency’s Acting Director Joe Stohr wrote that “(to) ensure ongoing success in wolf recovery, the federal listing needs to keep pace with the on-the ground (sic) recovery status and allow the state to fully implement its management plan.”

Most Washington wolves are in the state’s northeast corner, but at least three packs run west of the delisting line, Highways 97, 17 and 395.

The bifurcated status of wolves in the state means that “the only means available for the USFWS to address wolf-livestock conflicts in the geographic area under the federal endangered designation is for the USFWS to attempt to relocated livestock-killing wolves,” Stohr wrote.

In midsummer, the Teanaway Pack, which runs in the still federally listed portion of Central Washington, injured a calf and an adult sheep, killed an ewe and was probably responsible for a missing lamb.

Gray wolves were proposed for delisting by the Obama Administration in 2013, but progress stalled, and then came a Humane Society of the United States court case addressing Canis lupus in the western Great Lakes that blocked USFWS from moving ahead on its full proposal.

There was little movement on that front until in June USFWS said it was again assessing wolf populations and, “(if) appropriate, the Service will publish a proposal to revise the wolf’s status in the Federal Register by the end of the calendar year.”

It would then undergo public review.

Newhouse’s and McMorris Rodgers’ bill would preclude a delisting from judicial review. It needs to pass the full House and Senate and be signed into law.

Both representatives are up for reelection this fall, with Newhouse likely to retain his seat but McMorris Rodgers in a tighter race, if Fivethirtyeight’s forecast is any indication.