Pierce R.,Montana Fish |
Podner C.,Montana Fish |
Carim K.,University of Montana
Transactions of the American Fisheries Society | Year: 2013
Anthropogenic degradation of aquatic habitats has prompted worldwide efforts to improve or restore stream habitats for fisheries. However, little information exists on the long-term responses of salmonids to restoration in NorthAmerican streams. To recoverwild trout populations in the Blackfoot River in western Montana, a collaborative approach to stream restoration began in 1990 to improve degraded stream habitats, primarily on private land. To assess the efficacy of various restoration techniques (channel reconstruction and placement of instream habitat structures, restoration of natural instream flows, installation of fish ladders and screens at irrigation diversions, and modification of grazing practices) in the recovery of wild trout, we examined long-term (>5 years) trends in trout abundance on 18 tributaries treated between 1990 and 2005 and subsequently monitored between 1989 and 2010. At pretreatment conditions, average trout abundance was significantly lower in treatment versus reference sites (0.19 versus 0.62 trout/m; P = 0.0001). By 3 years posttreatment, trout abundance had increased significantly to an average of 0.47 trout/m across treatment sites (P = 0.01) and was no longer significantly different from the reference average (P = 0.12). These initial rapid increases were sustained over the long term (5-21 years) in 15 streams. However, trout abundance declined below pretreatment levels on three streams presumably due to the return of human impacts from heavy riparian grazing and detrimental irrigation practices. Although long-term (12 year) average response trends were positive, trends varied spatially and native trout responded more strongly in the upper portion of the basin. Study results indicate that restoration should focus in the mid to upper basin and emulate features of natural channels to promote life history diversity and the recovery of native trout. Finally, long-term monitoring led to adaptive management on most (10 of 18) projects, and thus proved vital to the overall sustainability of wild trout fisheries throughout the basin. © American Fisheries Society 2013.
News Article | March 9, 2016
Thirty animals have been shipped to slaughterhouses, and officials plan to send an additional 63 in the next few days. The bison were weighed and tested for disease for research purposes, and the remaining animals were crowded into holding pens to await shipment. The park's actions are driven by an agreement in 2000 with Montana officials that requires it to control its bison herds. The meat will be distributed to American Indian tribes that traditionally subsisted on bison. "Nobody here wants to be doing this," park spokeswoman Jody Lyle said after the bison were prodded into trailers for shipment. "It's time for a change." About 150 of the animals have been captured this winter trying to migrate out of the park in search of food at lower elevations in Montana. Ranchers worry about bison infected with brucellosis, a disease that can cause cattle to abort their young. There have been no recorded bison-to-cattle transmissions of brucellosis, and critics say the slaughters are unnecessary. Captured bison that test negative for it are not spared. "This is not OK. It's really that simple," said Stephany Seay with the Buffalo Field Campaign, a bison advocacy group. Rick Lamplugh said he moved last May from Oregon to the small town of Gardiner, at the northern entrance to the park, in large part for the wildlife viewing opportunities. The park and state agencies need rethink their policies on bison so they can be "treated like any other wildlife," he said. Tens of millions of bison, also known as buffalo, once roamed North America. Commercial hunting drove the species to near-extinction in the late 1800s before conservationists—including former President Theodore Roosevelt—intervened when only dozens were left. Yellowstone is home to one of the few remaining wild populations. Millions of tourists visit the park each year to see the animals, a top attraction at the nation's first national park. The animals also are the symbol of the National Park Service. Since the 1980s, worry over brucellosis has prompted the killing of about 8,200 park bison, most of them sent to slaughter. In recent years, state, federal and tribal agencies have tried to emphasize public hunts that occur just outside the park's boundaries. Hunters so far this winter have killed more than 400 of the animals, said Andrea Jones with Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks. That's the most since 1989. The vast majority were shot by members of American Indian tribes that have treaty hunting rights in the Yellowstone region. Detracting from the hunt's success has been an unprecedented number of animals that were merely wounded and retreated to the park after being shot. Up to 50 wounded bison were killed by state and federal wildlife agents, Jones said. The park had 4,900 bison at last count, well above the 3,000 dictated under the agreement. Park officials set a goal this year of removing 600 to 900 of the animals. More shipments to slaughter are possible in coming weeks if large groups of bison move into Montana, although a mild winter has reduced this year's migration compared with previous years. During the past decade, Montana Gov. Steve Bullock and his predecessor moved to allow bison into areas adjacent to the park. Yellowstone administrators have supported those efforts, but they say they are bound under the 2000 agreement to keep the bison herds in check. Alternatives—such as transferring some Yellowstone bison to lands outside the park—are under consideration but unlikely to take effect soon. Park workers are holding back from slaughter 57 bison calves and yearlings for potential future placement elsewhere if the opportunity arises, park spokeswoman Amy Bartlett said. If that doesn't happen, the animals will be slaughtered, she said. Explore further: Bison transferred to reservation from Yellowstone
News Article | August 22, 2016
Fishing guides and rafting operators who run businesses along the river said the move could be catastrophic to the area's sizable outdoor industry, which depends heavily on the busy summer season. The closure could last for months if river conditions don't improve and fish keep dying, according to officials from Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks. It extends to hundreds of miles of waterways that feed into the Yellowstone, including the Boulder, Shields and Stillwater rivers. Even when the river reopens, there are fears the fish die-off could deal a lasting blow to the Yellowstone's reputation as a world-class trout fishery that draws visitors from around the world. "This kill is unprecedented in magnitude. We haven't seen something like this in Montana," Fish, Wildlife and Parks spokeswoman Andrea Jones said. By Friday, roughly 4,000 dead fish had been counted, but the total number is estimated to be in the tens of thousands, including fish that sank to the bottom, officials said. Most have been mountain whitefish, a native game species, but reports emerged that the die-off has affected some rainbow trout and Yellowstone cutthroat trout—species crucial to the fishing industry. No dead fish were found inside Yellowstone National Park, where a celebration of the National Park Service's 100th anniversary is set for next week. Officials said they had no plans to close waters inside the park. The closure on the Montana portion of the river aims to stop the spread of the parasite, which causes fish to contract a fatal kidney disease, as well as protect the fishery and the outdoor economy it sustains, officials said. The disease was previously documented just twice in the state over the past 20 years but more recent outbreaks have occurred in Washington, Oregon and Idaho. Officials said it does not pose a health risk to people. Low water levels and warm temperatures are making the problem worse by adding to the stresses faced by cold-water species such as trout and whitefish, officials said. In other rivers, outbreaks of the disease persisted until water temperatures dropped months later. On the Yellowstone, fishing, wading, floating, boating and other activities are banned until further notice. Numerous fly fishing outfitters and rafting companies operate in the closed stretch of river, which extends from Yellowstone National Park's northern boundary to the city of Laurel, along with all tributaries in those areas. Fishing guide Dan Gigone, who owns the Sweetwater Fly Shop in Livingston, said one of his guides reported seeing hundreds of dead fish, including some trout, in the river Thursday. Gigone called the closure catastrophic but said he would not fight it. "We have trips on the books through September," Gigone said. "It's definitely a big part of the Livingston and area economy. But we need to protect the resources as best we can for future years." Yellowstone Raft Co. owner Robin Trotter said she had started calling hundreds of customers with reservations in coming weeks to let them know their trips could be canceled. Fish, Wildlife and Parks Director Jeff Hagener said the agency had to balance economic consequences with the risk to the fishery, given that recreational activities disturb fish and exacerbate the effects of the disease. The parasite is not native to the area, meaning it was introduced by people via a contaminated boat, fishing waders or other means—or possibly by birds that transported it from another waterway, officials said. The wildlife agency set up two decontamination stations to try to reduce the chance of equipment spreading the parasite to other rivers. The agency urged the public to clean equipment properly before moving between bodies of water. "There's not a lot known about how this moves through the environment," said Dan Garren of Idaho Fish and Game who dealt with a 2012 whitefish die-off blamed on the parasite. "It's easy to overlook a dead whitefish. It's true for biologists, it's true for anglers. They don't carry the same weight as trout."
News Article | January 5, 2016
Park officials on Tuesday released details of plans for at least 600 to 900 bison to be killed by hunters or captured and sent to slaughter. That potentially would be the most in one winter since 2008, and it represents more than 18 percent of the current population of about 4,900 animals. Bison migrate annually from the high country of Yellowstone to their historical winter grazing grounds at lower elevations in Montana. Since the 1980s, worry over the animal disease brucellosis has prompted the killing of about 8,200 park bison. Yellowstone Superintendent Dan Wenk said in a statement that the National Park Service was uncomfortable with the practice and interested in alternatives, such as sending disease-free animals to other public, private or tribal lands. "The park would gladly reduce the frequency and magnitude of these operations if migrating bison had access to more habitat outside the park or there was a way to transfer live bison elsewhere," Wenk said. Park officials originally proposed killing or removing up to 1,000 of the animals, but they scaled back that goal in part because of opposition from American Indian tribes. Wildlife advocates said they were disappointed by but not surprised at the large number of bison being targeted. "The brucellosis argument has been discredited so much that they're shifting their argument and saying there are surplus bison that need to be killed," said Dan Brister, executive director of the Buffalo Field Campaign. "You never hear anyone talking about surplus elk or other wildlife species. We really want to see bison treated like elk and other wildlife." Brister's group has tallied more than 90 bison killed so far this winter by hunters. Capture and slaughter operations will begin on or after Feb. 15, park spokeswoman Sandra Snell-Dobert said. Two weeks ago, Montana Gov. Steve Bullock approved a plan that for the first time would allow hundreds of bison to roam year-round on about 400 square miles of primarily public lands just west of Yellowstone. The proposal must be agreed to by the park, other federal agencies and American Indian tribes before it can go into effect. Whether that will happen this winter is uncertain. But even if it did, it's expected to have little impact on the hunts and slaughters planned for this winter. Most of the population growth has been within herds that migrate into the Gardiner Basin north of the park, not on the west side where Bullock wants more tolerance for the animals. "The governor's decision wouldn't change the number of animals, the goal of what we're trying to take this year," said Sam Sheppard with Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks. Reaching that goal is dependent on the severity of the winter. In mild years, fewer bison leave the park to graze in Montana, Sheppard added. Under a 2000 agreement between federal agencies and Montana officials, the capture and slaughter of bison has become a regular occurrence. The practice is the subject of harsh criticism from wildlife advocates and members of Congress. A record 1,726 bison were removed from Yellowstone in 2008. Most were slaughtered. In the past few years, officials have put more emphasis on hunting just outside the park's boundaries, including by members of American Indian tribes that have treaty rights to harvest the animals. Despite such efforts, the park's herds remain at near-record levels. Unlike most bison in the U.S., Yellowstone's herds are considered genetically pure, making them prized among biologists and the throngs of tourists who come to the park hoping to see one of the animals up-close. Some ranchers, landowners and elected officials in Montana have a more negative view. That's because of brucellosis and the potential for bison to compete with cattle for grazing space on public lands outside the park. Roughly half of the park's bison test positive for exposure to the disease. However, there have been no recorded brucellosis transmissions from bison to cattle. Explore further: Bison transferred to reservation from Yellowstone
News Article | January 14, 2016
The Montana Fish and Wildlife Commission voted 3-1 to relocate 40 greater sage grouse hens this year across the border to Alberta, where an estimated 100 to 120 of the birds are left. The sage grouse in Alberta and Montana make up a transboundary population, and the program should result in healthier numbers on both sides of the border, officials said. "We have worked hard with Alberta to get this to fruition," Montana Fish and Wildlife Commission Chairman Dan Vermillion said. "It seems to be working up there, and Montana has a lot to benefit." However, the commission stopped short of authorizing the relocation of all 120 birds requested by Alberta officials over five years. After hearing opposition from members of the state's Environmental Quality Council, the wildlife commission approved only the first year's relocation and promised to evaluate the program before authorizing the others. Federal officials announced restrictions last year on 67 million acres of public lands in 11 states, including Montana, to protect the bird's habitat and prevent it from becoming a threatened or endangered species. Montana is taking its own measures to protect sage grouse habitat on state lands and to give incentives to keep landowners from damaging the bird's habitat. Several Montana lawmakers oppose the relocation plan because of the politics that have surrounded protecting the bird at the expense of economic development. The Environmental Quality Council on Thursday sent a letter to the Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks agency requesting a three-year block on moving the birds out of the country. Instead, a relocation program should take place within the state, from areas where there are an abundance of sage grouse to those where there are few, said Sen. Jim Keane, D-Butte. Others on the council suggested that the sage grouse could be moved to the border but kept in Montana. The birds could then fly to the Canadian side or stay on the Montana side. John Vore, the game management bureau chief for Fish, Wildlife and Parks, said the bird is doing well wherever there is suitable sagebrush habitat in Montana. The 40 sage grouse would be removed from an area where there are an estimated 10,000 birds. "I doubt we would even be able to tell the removal of 40 birds from a population of this size," Vore said. "The threat to Montana is the loss of habitat, rather than the loss of a few birds here." The Alberta government's study identifies specific breeding grounds where the birds would be taken. The relocation would be supplemented by researching the Canadian and U.S. populations with the goal of increasing their connectivity with genetically similar populations in Montana. A previous relocation of 41 sage grouse was done in 2011 and 2012. Thirteen of the females in that group initiated nests and only two nests resulted in hatchlings, while a number of the birds were killed by predators. Officials on both sides of the border said the pilot program showed the Montana birds could integrate with the Alberta population. Explore further: Threatened bird leads feds to block some drilling
News Article | January 4, 2016
The region's grizzlies have federal protections, but that could change in coming months, turning control over to the states. The AP obtained a draft agreement detailing the states' plans for the animals. The deal puts no limits on grizzly bear hunting outside a 19,300-square-mile management zone centered on Yellowstone National Park. Inside the zone, which includes wilderness and forest lands near the park, hunters in Wyoming would get a 58 percent share of the harvest, a reflection that it's home to the bulk of the region's bears. Montana would get 34 percent, and Idaho, 8 percent. The management zone has an estimated 717 grizzly bears. There is no estimate of how many live outside the area, although the number is increasing as they expand into new habitat, biologists say. Wildlife advocates say the bear population remains too small to withstand much hunting. That's a particular concern given the large numbers of bears already dying, including during surprise run-ins with hunters and after livestock attacks that prompt officials to trap and kill problem bears. In 2015, at least 59 Yellowstone-area grizzlies were believed to have been killed or trapped and removed by government agencies. That's the most since the animal received protection under the Endangered Species Act in 1975. Despite the deaths, state officials say the grizzly population has recovered from excessive hunting and trapping that exterminated grizzlies across most of the U.S. in the early 1900s. The officials have increased pressure on U.S. Fish and Wildlife Director Dan Ashe in recent months to revoke the animal's threatened status. Directors of the three states' wildlife agencies told Ashe in a Dec. 4 letter that such a step was long overdue. "It is critically important that we capitalize on our tremendous progress and momentum ... by proceeding with a long overdue delisting" of bears from the threatened species list, the directors wrote. It was signed by Idaho Fish and Game Director Virgil Moore; Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks Director Jeff Hagener; and Wyoming Game and Fish Director Scott Talbott. Montana wildlife activist Louisa Wilcox says the states' push for hunting ignores the many bears already dying of other causes. "You're not even hunting them, and you have this ongoing pileup of dead bears," Wilcox said. "Adding a hunt will drive down the population. It's exactly the wrong thing to do." Legal hunting of Yellowstone-area grizzlies last occurred in the 1970s. At least 58 bears were killed in Montana and Idaho in the five years leading up to a prohibition on hunting in 1975. Historical harvest figures for Idaho were not available. Any future hunts would be conservative and need approval from wildlife commissioners following a public comment period, said Quentin Kujala, chief of wildlife management for Montana Fish Wildlife and Parks. The size of each harvest would be on a sliding scale, with the intention of keeping the bear population viable and avoiding the need to reinstate federal protections, Kujala said. More hunting would be possible when the population tops 675 bears, and hunting would be largely barred if the number falls below 600. "We're definitely not talking about a large number. We're not talking hundreds or anywhere near that," Wyoming Game and Fish spokesman Renny MacKay said. A decision on whether protections should be lifted is due early this year, according to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Barring a successful court challenge, it would take approximately a year for such a rule to go into effect. The pending agreement between the states is not required for federal protections to be lifted, state officials said. Explore further: Grizzly bears still need protecting, US court rules
Young M.K.,U.S. Department of Agriculture |
Schmetterling D.A.,Montana Fish
North American Journal of Fisheries Management | Year: 2012
Electrofishing-based estimates of fish abundance are common. Most population models assume that samples are drawn froma closed population, but population closure is sometimes difficult to achieve.Consequently,we individually electrofished 103 radio-tagged trout of two species, westslope cutthroat trout Oncorhynchus clarkii lewisi and brook trout Salvelinus fontinalis, in five streams in western Montana to quantify the influence of habitat and fish size on capture efficiency and movement related to electrofishing with unpulsed DC. First-pass capture efficiency was 46% and declined on subsequent passes. No variables were related to capture efficiency, and only the percentage of cobble or larger substrate was related to the probability that uncaptured fish would move during the first electrofishing pass. About 20% of the uncaptured fish did not move, and 95% traveled less than 18 m. We concluded that for these streams, the bias in abundance estimates from disregarding movement would be relatively minor. © American Fisheries Society 2012.
Harper D.D.,U.S. Geological Survey |
Farag A.M.,U.S. Geological Survey |
Skaar D.,Montana Fish
Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry | Year: 2014
Water produced during coal bed natural gas (CBNG) extraction in the Powder River Structural Basin of Wyoming and Montana (USA) may contain concentrations of sodium bicarbonate (NaHCO3) of more than 3000mg/L. The authors evaluated the acute toxicity of NaHCO3, also expressed as bicarbonate (HCO3 -), to 13 aquatic organisms. Of the 13 species tested, 7 had a median lethal concentration (LC50) less than 2000mg/L NaHCO3, or 1300mg/L HCO3 -. The most sensitive species were Ceriodaphnia dubia, freshwater mussels (Lampsilis siliquoidea), pallid sturgeon (Scaphirhynchus albus), and shovelnose sturgeon (Scaphirhynchus platorynchus). The respective LC50s were 989mg/L, 1120mg/L, 1249mg/L, and 1430mg/L NaHCO3, or 699mg/L, 844mg/L, 831mg/L, and 1038mg/L HCO3 -. Age affected the sensitivity of fathead minnows, even within life stage. Two days posthatch, fathead minnows were more sensitive to NaHCO3 and HCO3 - compared with 4-d-old fish, even though fish up to 14 d old are commonly used for toxicity evaluations. The authors recommend that ion toxicity exposures be conducted with organisms less than 24h posthatch to ensure that experiments document the most sensitive stage of development. The results of the present study, along with historical and current research regarding the toxicity of bicarbonate, may be useful to establish regulatory standards for HCO3 -. Environ Toxicol Chem 2014;33:525-531. © 2014 SETAC.
News Article | February 15, 2017
The Bozeman, Mont. based Wild Sheep Foundation (WSF) announced it expects to raise more than $3 million for state, provincial and tribal wild sheep conservation during the auctions of special conservation permits and tags at the foundation’s convention in Reno, Nev. Jan. 19-21. Special conservation permits and tags for an array of big-game species in Canada, Mexico, the U.S. and Asia will be auctioned off at WSF’s 2017 Convention and Expo, The Sheep Show™, this week at the Reno-Sparks Convention Center and Peppermill Resort Spa & Casino. This year marks the WSF’s 40th annual convention. “We typically direct more than $3 million annually to state, provincial and tribal agencies through the sale of conservation permits and tags at our convention,” said WSF President and CEO Gray N. Thornton. “The funds raised are used to advance research into diseases that threaten wild sheep populations, support trap and transplant measures and provide habitat expansion and water resources, among many other efforts. All of this work by on-the-ground agencies is carefully planned to protect and augment wild sheep populations throughout North America.” Thornton also said according to data from the Western Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies, 75 percent of all wild sheep conservation and management revenue comes from special auction and raffle permits and tags. “In the past seven years, WSF’s auction of special permits and tags has raised a total of $17,472,500 for conservation efforts throughout the U.S., Canada and Mexico from the tags alone,” said Thornton. “WSF also typically directs more than $1 million annually to wild sheep and mission programs from operational dollars. During the past three years, WSF has directed more than $13.4 Million to wild sheep, wildlife and habitat conservation.” During evening banquets at The Sheep Show™, special permits and tags from 13 U.S. states, 2 Canadian provinces, Mexico, Mongolia and 3 tribal reservations will be offered during often fiercely-competitive auctions. Auction items will include an array of special permits and tags for mule deer, antelope, moose, elk, Alaskan brown bear, mountain goat and four species of North American wild sheep: Dall’s, Stone’s, desert bighorn, and Rocky Mountain bighorn as well as Asian argali. At last year’s convention, auctions of these special permits and tags raised $2,937,500. Three years ago, WSF’s special permit and tag auction proceeds raised a record $3,073,000. With the largest attendance in four decades expected at this year’s convention, Thornton said the foundation expects to exceed the $3 million mark again. For a complete listing of special permits, tags, other auction offerings and on-line bidding opportunities, visit http://www.wildsheepfoundation.org. “These are hunts-of-a-lifetime for some of the most treasured and sought-after species any hunter could dream of,” said Thornton. “One of the convention’s most exciting events will be the Jan. 20 Friday night auction of a special permit to pursue one of Montana’s prized Rocky Mountain bighorn sheep.” At the 2013 Sheep Show, the Montana Rocky Mountain bighorn special permit went for a record $480,000. Since then, the Montana bighorn permit has consistently raised over $300,000 annually and remains the auction item that brings in the highest price. These dollars are directed back to Montana Fish, Wildlife, and Parks to fund bighorn sheep restoration and conservation in the state. “All of the auction excitement and competitiveness translates to conservation dollars that go back to the states, tribes and provinces to put and keep wild sheep on the mountain for everyone to enjoy,” said Thornton. “We constantly face challenges for the future of wild sheep, particularly disease and habitat issues. These conservation dollars go directly back to address these challenges at the grassroots level, and our success is measurable in the three-fold increase in bighorn sheep populations over the past 60 years.” For a full schedule of events, information on hotel discounts at the Reno Peppermill Resort Spa Casino and the Atlantis Casino Resort Spa, or to join as a member with the WSF and the conservation and education programs, please visit http://www.wildsheepfoundation.org, contact 800-OK-FNAWS (800-653-6297), email firstname.lastname@example.org or visit Facebook.com/wildsheepfoundation. Contact WSF at (406) 404-8750 to register or visit the Expo Registration Deck at the convention site https://www.visitrenotahoe.com/about-us. The Bozeman, Montana based Wild Sheep Foundation, formerly the Foundation for North American Wild Sheep (FNAWS,) was founded in 1977 by wild sheep conservationists and enthusiasts. WSF’s Mission is to enhance wild sheep populations, promote professional wildlife management, and educate the public and youth on sustainable use and the conservation benefits of hunting while promoting the interests of the hunter and all stakeholders. With a membership of more than 6,700 worldwide and a Chapter and Affiliate network in North America and Europe, WSF is the premier advocate for wild sheep, other mountain wildlife, their habitat, and their conservation. Since forming in 1977, the Wild Sheep Foundation and its chapters and affiliates have raised and expended more than $110 million on conservation, education and conservation advocacy programs in North America, Europe and Asia towards its Purpose to “Put and Keep Wild Sheep On the Mountain”™. These and other efforts have resulted in a three-fold increase in bighorn sheep populations in North America from their historic 1950-60s lows of ~25,000 to ~85,000 today. WSF, our Chapters and Affiliates and agencies partners are also working together to ensure thinhorn sheep thrive in their northern mountain realms for generations to enjoy.
News Article | August 22, 2016
"In an unprecedented move, Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks is closing 183 miles of the Yellowstone River from Gardiner to Laurel to all water-based recreation — fishing, wading, floating, tubing, boating. No similar closure based on a disease outbreak has ever occurred in Montana, even when whirling disease was causing fish die-offs across the state in the 1990s. 'This significant action on the part of the department is in response to the ongoing and unprecedented fish kill on the Yellowstone,' FWP said in an email. 'This action is necessary to protect the fishery and the economy it sustains. The closure will also help limit the spread of the parasite to adjacent rivers through boats, tubes, waders and other human contact and minimize further mortality in all fish species.' The parasite is not a threat to humans or animals that consume the dead fish." "Yellowstone Fish Deaths: 183 Miles Of River Closed To Halt Spread Of Parasite" (AP)