123 Research Drive

Bozeman, MT, United States

123 Research Drive

Bozeman, MT, United States

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Sasmal I.,South Dakota State University | Honness K.,123 Research Drive | Bly K.,World Wildlife Fund | Mccaffery M.,123 Research Drive | And 3 more authors.
Restoration Ecology | Year: 2015

Reintroductions have increasingly become effective at restoring populations of imperiled native wildlife. How animals are reintroduced into unfamiliar environments may have pronounced impacts on behavior, survival, and reproduction. We evaluated the influence of four release methods on survival rates of translocated swift foxes at Bad River Ranches (BRR) in western South Dakota: (1) hard-release, (2) short-soft-release, (3) long-soft-release, and (4) captive born. A total of 179 foxes captured in Wyoming during 2002-2007 and in Colorado during 2006-2007 were released into BRR and the surrounding area. In addition, 43 pups born to foxes in the long-soft-release category were also released. All release methods incorporated a 14- to 21-day quarantine period. Hard-release foxes were released directly from a transport kennel, whereas short-soft-release foxes were released from soft-release pens by opening the door and allowing the foxes to leave voluntarily. Long-soft-release foxes were held for more than 250 days on-site in soft-release pens through the winter and released in the following year in early summer. During 2002-2007, survival of reintroduced foxes differed significantly (p < 0.05) by age (adult vs. juvenile), release year, and release method. The short-soft-release method had the highest 60-day post-release survival probability compared with the other release methods. We did not detect any differences in mortality hazards between wild-born and short-soft-release foxes. Reintroduction programs based on short-soft-releases are useful for restoring or augmenting populations to advance the conservation of the swift fox. © 2015 Society for Ecological Restoration.


Smith D.W.,National Park Service | Bangs E.E.,U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service | Oakleaf J.K.,U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service | Mack C.,Nez Perce Tribe | And 10 more authors.
Journal of Wildlife Management | Year: 2010

After roughly a 60-year absence, wolves (Canis lupus) immigrated (1979) and were reintroduced (19951996) into the northern Rocky Mountains (NRM), USA, where wolves are protected under the Endangered Species Act. The wolf recovery goal is to restore an equitably distributed metapopulation of ≥30 breeding pairs and 300 wolves in Montana, Idaho, and Wyoming, while minimizing damage to livestock; ultimately, the objective is to establish state-managed conservation programs for wolf populations in NRM. Previously, wolves were eradicated from the NRM because of excessive human killing. We used AndersenGill hazard models to assess biological, habitat, and anthropogenic factors contributing to current wolf mortality risk and whether federal protection was adequate to provide acceptably low hazards. We radiocollared 711 wolves in Idaho, Montana, and Wyoming (e.g., NRM region of the United States) from 1982 to 2004 and recorded 363 mortalities. Overall, annual survival rate of wolves in the recovery areas was 0.750 (95 CI 0.7280.772), which is generally considered adequate for wolf population sustainability and thereby allowed the NRM wolf population to increase. Contrary to our prediction, wolf mortality risk was higher in the northwest Montana (NWMT) recovery area, likely due to less abundant public land being secure wolf habitat compared to other recovery areas. In contrast, lower hazards in the Greater Yellowstone Area (GYA) and central Idaho (CID) likely were due to larger core areas that offered stronger wolf protection. We also found that wolves collared for damage management purposes (targeted sample) had substantially lower survival than those collared for monitoring purposes (representative sample) because most mortality was due to human factors (e.g., illegal take, control). This difference in survival underscores the importance of human-caused mortality in this recovering NRM population. Other factors contributing to increased mortality risk were pup and yearling age class, or dispersing status, which was related to younger age cohorts. When we included habitat variables in our analysis, we found that wolves having abundant agricultural and private land as well as livestock in their territory had higher mortality risk. Wolf survival was higher in areas with increased wolf density, implying that secure core habitat, particularly in GYA and CID, is important for wolf protection. We failed to detect changes in wolf hazards according to either gender or season. Maintaining wolves in NWMT will require greater attention to human harvest, conflict resolution, and illegal mortality than in either CID or GYA; however, if human access increases in the future in either of the latter 2 areas hazards to wolves also may increase. Indeed, because overall suitable habitat is more fragmented and the NRM has higher human access than many places where wolves roam freely and are subject to harvest (e.g., Canada and AK), monitoring of wolf vital rates, along with concomitant conservation and management strategies directed at wolves, their habitat, and humans, will be important for ensuring long-term viability of wolves in the region. © The Wildlife Society.


Morris L.R.,University of Florida | Proffitt K.M.,Montana Fish Wildlife and Parks | Asher V.,123 Research Drive | Blackburn J.K.,University of Florida
Journal of Wildlife Management | Year: 2016

Anthrax, caused by the spore-forming bacterium Bacillus anthracis, is a zoonotic disease that affects humans and animals throughout the world. In North America, anthrax outbreaks occur in livestock and wildlife species. Vaccine administration in wildlife is untenable; the most effective form of management is surveillance and decontamination of carcasses. Successful management is critical because untreated carcasses can create infectious zones increasing risk for other susceptible hosts. We studied the bacterium in a re-emerging anthrax zone in southwest Montana. In 2008, a large anthrax epizootic primarily affected a domestic bison (Bison bison) herd and the male segment of a free-ranging elk (Cervus elaphus) herd in southwestern Montana. Following the outbreak, we initiated a telemetry study on elk to evaluate resource selection during the anthrax season to assist with anthrax management. We used a mixed effects generalized linear model (GLM) to estimate resource selection by male elk, and we mapped habitat preferences across the landscape. We overlaid preferred habitats on ecological niche model-based estimates of B. anthracis presence. We observed significant overlap between areas with a high predicted probability of male elk selection and B. anthracis potential. These potentially risky areas of elk and B. anthracis overlap were broadly spread over public and private lands. Future outbreaks in the region are probable, and this analysis identified the spatial extent of the risk area in the region, which can be used to prioritize anthrax surveillance. © 2015 The Wildlife Society.


Jimenez M.D.,U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service | Bangs E.E.,U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service | Sime C.,Montana Fish | Asher V.J.,123 Research Drive
Journal of Wildlife Diseases | Year: 2010

We documented sarcoptic mange caused by mites (Sarcoptes scabiei) in 22 gray wolves (Cants lupus) in the northern Rocky Mountain states of Montana (n=16) and Wyoming (n=6), from 2002 through 2008. To our knowledge, this is the first report of sarcoptic mange in wolves in Montana or Wyoming in recent times. In addition to confinning sarcoptic mange, we recorded field observations of 40 wolves in Montana and 30 wolves in Wyoming displaying clinicai signs of mange (i.e., alopecia, hyperkeratosis, and seborrhea). Therefore, we suspect sarcoptic mange may be more prevalent than we were able to confirm. © Wildlife Disease Association 2010.


Chipault J.G.,123 Research Drive | Chipault J.G.,Colorado State University | Detling J.K.,Colorado State University
Western North American Naturalist | Year: 2013

American bison (Bison bison L.) preferentially use black-tailed prairie dog (Cynomys ludovicianus L.) colonies over uncolonized range in the mixed-grass prairie of North America. To assess bison use of prairie dog colonies in a different ecosystem, the shortgrass steppe, this study was conducted at the Vermejo Park Ranch, New Mexico. Driving surveys were conducted in summer 2007 to determine the number of bison on and off prairie dog colonies in 2 pastures. Prairie dogs occupied 25.5% and 48.5% of the 2 pastures surveyed. Bison of both sexes used prairie dog colonies more than expected compared to a scenario of bison using colonies based on colony availability (P < 0.001). With the exception of bulls in one pasture, bison observed off-colony were more likely to be grazing than bison observed oncolony (P < 0.04). When selection of prairie dog colonies was assessed for only those bison observed grazing, bulls in both pastures and cows in one pasture used prairie dog colonies more than expected based on availability (P ≤ 0.001). Forage quality was superior on prairie dog colonies, with crude protein higher (P < 0.001) and acid detergent fiber lower (P < 0.001) in blue grama (Bouteloua gracilis [Willd. ex Kunth] Lag. ex Griffiths) collected on-colony than offcolony. Further studies under a variety of conditions are still needed, but selection for prairie dog colonies by bison at Vermejo, combined with findings from previous studies, suggests that during the growing season, bison and cattle (Bos taurus L.) might select prairie dog colonies over uncolonized range in both the northern and southern extents of North American grasslands.


Carroll C.,Klamath Center for Conservation Research | Vucetich J.A.,Michigan Technological University | Nelson M.P.,Michigan State University | Rohlf D.J.,Pacific Environmental Advocacy Center | Phillips M.K.,123 Research Drive
Conservation Biology | Year: 2010

The U.S. Endangered Species Act (ESA) defines an endangered species as one "at risk of extinction throughout all or a significant portion of its range." The prevailing interpretation of this phrase, which focuses exclusively on the overall viability of listed species without regard to their geographic distribution, has led to development of listing and recovery criteria with fundamental conceptual, legal, and practical shortcomings. The ESA's concept of endangerment is broader than the biological concept of extinction risk in that the "esthetic, ecological, educational, historical, recreational, and scientific" values provided by species are not necessarily furthered by a species mere existence, but rather by a species presence across much of its former range. The concept of "significant portion of range" thus implies an additional geographic component to recovery that may enhance viability, but also offers independent benefits that Congress intended the act to achieve. Although the ESA differs from other major endangered-species protection laws because it acknowledges the distinct contribution of geography to recovery, it resembles the "representation, resiliency, and redundancy" conservation-planning framework commonly referenced in recovery plans. To address representation, listing and recovery standards should consider not only what proportion of its former range a species inhabits, but the types of habitats a species occupies and the ecological role it plays there. Recovery planning for formerly widely distributed species (e.g., the gray wolf [Canis lupus]) exemplifies how the geographic component implicit in the ESA's definition of endangerment should be considered in determining recovery goals through identification of ecologically significant types or niche variation within the extent of listed species, subspecies, or "distinct population segments." By linking listing and recovery standards to niche and ecosystem concepts, the concept of ecologically significant type offers a scientific framework that promotes more coherent dialogue concerning the societal decisions surrounding recovery of endangered species. © 2010 Society for Conservation Biology.

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