Wildlife Management Institute

Helena, MT, United States

Wildlife Management Institute

Helena, MT, United States

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Kilpatrick H.J.,91 Route 32 | Goodie T.J.,University of Connecticut | Goodie T.J.,Wildlife Management Institute | Kovach A.I.,University of New Hampshire
Wildlife Society Bulletin | Year: 2013

The New England cottontail (Sylvilagus transitionalis) is a species of high conservation priority in the northeastern United States and a candidate for federal listing under the Endangered Species Act. Eastern cottontails are abundantly distributed and similar in appearance to New England cottontails. Our objective was to compare cost, effort, and effectiveness of live-trapping and noninvasive genetic monitoring for assessing patch occupancy by New England cottontail. We collected 113 tissue samples and 240 fecal pellets samples for diagnostic genetic testing to detect species presence and assess the proportion of samples consisted of New England and eastern cottontail on 5 study sites in Connecticut in 2008 and 2009. Both methods detected presence of New England cottontail at 4 of 5 sites. Overall proportion of DNA samples consisted of New England cottontail was similar between sampling methods (x2=0.189, P=0.664). However, species composition on individual sites was inconsistent between methods and no clear pattern of bias was discernible. Mean cost per DNA sample to collect and analyze was US$433 for tissue samples and US$33 for fecal pellets. Samples collected per person-day of effort were 40 for fecal samples and 0.7 for tissue samples. Genetic monitoring via noninvasive fecal sampling was a low-cost, time-efficient method for assessing species occupancy, but development of an optimal sampling strategy is needed to evaluate composition and distributions of species on sympatrically occupied sites. © 2013 The Wildlife Society.


White K.S.,Alaska Department of Fish and Game | Pendleton G.W.,Alaska Department of Fish and Game | Crowley D.,Alaska Department of Fish and Game | Griese H.J.,673 CES CEANC | And 6 more authors.
Journal of Wildlife Management | Year: 2011

Ecological theory predicts that individual survival should vary between sex and age categories due to differences in allocation of nutritional resources for growth and reproductive activities. During periods of environmental stress, such relationships may be exacerbated, and affect sex and age classes differently. We evaluated support for hypotheses about the relative roles of sex, age, and winter and summer climate on the probability of mountain goat (Oreamnos americanus) survival in coastal Alaska. Specifically, we used known-fates analyses (Program MARK) to model the effects of age, sex, and climatic variation on survival using data collected from 279 radio-marked mountain goats (118 M, 161 F) in 9 separate study areas during 1977-2008. Models including age, sex, winter snowfall, and average daily summer temperature (during Jul-Aug) best explained variation in survival probability of mountain goats. Specifically, our findings revealed that old animals (9+ yr) have lower survival than younger animals. In addition, males tended to have lower survival than females, though differences only existed among prime-aged adult (5-8 yr) and old (9+ yr) age classes. Winter climate exerted the strongest effects on mountain goat survival; summer climate, however, was significant and principally influenced survival during the following winter via indirect effects. Furthermore, old animals were more sensitive to the effects of winter conditions than young or prime-aged animals. These findings detail how climate interacts with sex and age characteristics to affect mountain goat survival. Critically, we provide baseline survival rate statistics across various age, sex, and climate scenarios. These data will assist conservation and management of mountain goats by enabling detailed, model-based demographic forecasting of human and/or climate-based population impacts. © The Wildlife Society, 2011.


Decker D.J.,Cornell University | Forstchen A.B.,Florida Fish And Wildlife Conservation Commission | Organ J.F.,U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service | Smith C.A.,Wildlife Management Institute | And 4 more authors.
Wildlife Society Bulletin | Year: 2014

In many states, case law, statutes, or constitutions establish a "public trust in wildlife, " a derivative of the public trust doctrine. Although interpretation differs across jurisdictions, the underlying principle of wildlife as a public trust resource, explicitly expressed or not, carries with it broad obligations and standards of trust administration by government to ensure benefits of wildlife are available to all citizens, present and future. The standards for execution of responsibilities by trustees (elected officials or their appointees, such as commissions) and trust managers (e.g., wildlife professionals working for state wildlife agencies) require understanding beneficiaries' varied interests in the wildlife resource, which in turn requires effective public input and involvement, following the precepts of good governance, such as inclusiveness, openness, fairness, transparency, and accountability. Managing wildlife resources as public trust assets entails providing sustainable net benefits from the existence of wildlife and its co-existence with humans. Wildlife managers need an approach to wildlife management that is philosophically consistent with the benefitsproduction focus of trust administration. We explain that impacts management is such an approach, essentially tailor-made for fulfilling trust-management responsibilities because of its focus on diverse, stakeholder-value-defined outcomes (desired impacts) and its reliance on stakeholders' input for identifying and weighing competing outcomes desired by them. Impacts management is a wildlife resource management approach for providing sustainable, highly relevant public trust administration. © 2013 The Wildlife Society.


Decker D.J.,Cornell University | Forstchen A.B.,Florida Fish And Wildlife Conservation Commission | Pomeranz E.F.,Cornell University | Smith C.A.,Wildlife Management Institute | And 4 more authors.
Journal of Wildlife Management | Year: 2015

Recent evolution of the wildlife management institution in the United States includes adoption of good governance principles, wherein stakeholders expect and are provided opportunities for input and involvement in making decisions about public wildlife resources. Concurrently and perhaps paradoxically, state wildlife agencies are encouraged to operate with fidelity to the public trust doctrine and the principles of public trust administration, which may require trust administrators (i.e., appointed commissioners and public wildlife managers) to keep trust beneficiaries (i.e., theoretically all citizens, but especially special interests) at arm's length (i.e., restricted from having undue control) with respect to directly influencing decision-making. In addition, public trust administration includes citizens taking responsibility for holding trust administrators accountable and requires government to provide citizens recourse for doing so. In practice, however, accountability typically is achieved through political influence or litigation, both routes antithetical to efficient public trust resource administration. This set of potentially conflicting expectations - practicing good governance through citizens' engagement in wildlife decision-making processes, limiting beneficiaries' direct influence on decisions of trust administrators, and citizens' responsibility for holding trust administrators accountable - creates an apparent conundrum for state wildlife agencies. As a catalyst for deliberation about the implications of public trust doctrine in the wildlife profession, we describe potential problems and suggest ways for public wildlife managers to perform their responsibilities with due diligence to the combined expectations and requirements of good governance and the public trust doctrine. © 2014 The Wildlife Society.


News Article | September 12, 2016
Site: www.washingtonpost.com

The federal government announced Monday that it will work to increase the captive population of endangered red wolves. The move ends years of speculation that the government might abandon a 30-year effort to reintroduce the animals into the wild. The reintroduction project will be greatly restricted, however, and some wolves may be removed from the wild. Cindy Dohner, southeast regional director for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, said doubling the number of captive wolves to 400 in zoos across the country is the only way to save red wolves. To do that, the service will attempt to increase the number of mating pairs from 29 to at least 52. At the same time, the agency said it would remove isolated packs of wild red wolves from private lands in several North Carolina counties near where they were reintroduced and place them in a single county within the Alligator River National Wildlife Refuge. Some of the wild wolves would likely be placed in zoos to shore up the mating pairs. [This North Carolina bounty wasn’t for capturing a wolf. It was for capturing a man.] The proposed changes were announced following “a two-year, two-step evaluation of the entire red wolf recovery program” that concluded that the genetic purity of the captive animals would be lost within a decade without implementation of its recommendations, according to a statement by the Fish and Wildlife Service.  Under the current management system, “we would lose the captive population,” Dohner said, because with fewer than 30 mating animals “the population is unable to sustain itself.” But conservationist groups disagreed. Ron Sutherland of the Wildlands Network said Fish and Wildlife was in effect abandoning its plan to bring wild wolves back to their native habitat in the southeastern United States. Sutherland said  North Carolina bullied Fish and Wildlife into folding its effort into one county. Landowners opposed to red wolf introduction turned state officials against the effort, he said, and in turn, those officials, who were once federal partners, allowed hunters to kill red wolves with impunity. Red wolves, a canid relative of western gray wolves, were in danger of going extinct before the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service embarked on an experiment to revive them on federal land in the late 1980s. The population grew to about 150 animals before experiencing a rapid decline over the past decade from breeding mortality and car collisions, and accidents involving hunters who said they mistook the wolves for coyotes. In the past five years, Fish and Wildlife officials frequently found dead red wolves, led to the carcasses by pinging tracking collars. The agency can account for fewer than 30 wild wolves with collars, and have estimated that there are about 15 more whose whereabouts they can’t account for. Landowners and farmers in North Carolina have complained that the wolves are a nuisance, but few have proven that animals have killed livestock. Red wolves, like their relatives, prefer deer, which farmers also consider a nuisance. Sutherland said Fish and Wildlife declined to work with North Carolina officials to strengthen penalties for shooting wolves, failed to engage landowners for a workable solution and turn to conservation groups to raise money to buy land that could be transformed into sanctuaries for wolves. [Decision imminent on the fate of the world’s only red wolves] “They’re shifting their entire emphasis from trying to create a self-sustaining population to growing the zoo population by up to 400 animals to prevent genetic erosion,” Sutherland said. He equated the new proposal to “one big holding pen for red wolves.” Fish and Wildlife said opinions like Sutherland’s are countered by an exhaustive review and the science it produced. It began in 2014 with a peer-reviewed assessment by the Wildlife Management Institute. The assessment was expanded and a team reviewed the red wolf population, the historic range and how it could be sustained. “Its work led to a report with options for the service to consider,” Fish and Wildlife said on its Web site. Red wolves are considered an endangered species, but recent genetic research suggests that they may not be sufficiently different from gray wolves to count as a separate species, and that red wolves have interbred heavily with coyotes. Still, the agency isn’t giving up on red wolves, said Jeff Fleming, a spokesman. “I think the decision we announced today is proof to the contrary.”


News Article | September 20, 2016
Site: www.washingtonpost.com

The federal government announced Monday that it will work to increase the captive population of endangered red wolves. The move ends years of speculation that the government might abandon a 30-year effort to reintroduce the animals into the wild. The reintroduction project will be greatly restricted, however, and some wolves may be removed from the wild. Cindy Dohner, southeast regional director for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, said doubling the number of captive wolves to 400 in zoos across the country is the only way to save red wolves. To do that, the service will attempt to increase the number of mating pairs from 29 to at least 52. At the same time, the agency said it would remove isolated packs of wild red wolves from private lands in several North Carolina counties near where they were reintroduced and place them in a single county within the Alligator River National Wildlife Refuge. Some of the wild wolves would likely be placed in zoos to shore up the mating pairs. [This North Carolina bounty wasn’t for capturing a wolf. It was for capturing a man.] The proposed changes were announced following “a two-year, two-step evaluation of the entire red wolf recovery program” that concluded that the genetic purity of the captive animals would be lost within a decade without implementation of its recommendations, according to a statement by the Fish and Wildlife Service.  Under the current management system, “we would lose the captive population,” Dohner said, because with fewer than 30 mating animals “the population is unable to sustain itself.” But conservationist groups disagreed. Ron Sutherland of the Wildlands Network said Fish and Wildlife was in effect abandoning its plan to bring wild wolves back to their native habitat in the southeastern United States. Sutherland said  North Carolina bullied Fish and Wildlife into folding its effort into one county. Landowners opposed to red wolf introduction turned state officials against the effort, he said, and in turn, those officials, who were once federal partners, allowed hunters to kill red wolves with impunity. Red wolves, a canid relative of western gray wolves, were in danger of going extinct before the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service embarked on an experiment to revive them on federal land in the late 1980s. The population grew to about 150 animals before experiencing a rapid decline over the past decade from breeding mortality and car collisions, and accidents involving hunters who said they mistook the wolves for coyotes. In the past five years, Fish and Wildlife officials frequently found dead red wolves, led to the carcasses by pinging tracking collars. The agency can account for fewer than 30 wild wolves with collars, and have estimated that there are about 15 more whose whereabouts they can’t account for. Landowners and farmers in North Carolina have complained that the wolves are a nuisance, but few have proven that animals have killed livestock. Red wolves, like their relatives, prefer deer, which farmers also consider a nuisance. Sutherland said Fish and Wildlife declined to work with North Carolina officials to strengthen penalties for shooting wolves, failed to engage landowners for a workable solution and turn to conservation groups to raise money to buy land that could be transformed into sanctuaries for wolves. [Decision imminent on the fate of the world’s only red wolves] “They’re shifting their entire emphasis from trying to create a self-sustaining population to growing the zoo population by up to 400 animals to prevent genetic erosion,” Sutherland said. He equated the new proposal to “one big holding pen for red wolves.” Fish and Wildlife said opinions like Sutherland’s are countered by an exhaustive review and the science it produced. It began in 2014 with a peer-reviewed assessment by the Wildlife Management Institute. The assessment was expanded and a team reviewed the red wolf population, the historic range and how it could be sustained. “Its work led to a report with options for the service to consider,” Fish and Wildlife said on its Web site. Red wolves are considered an endangered species, but recent genetic research suggests that they may not be sufficiently different from gray wolves to count as a separate species, and that red wolves have interbred heavily with coyotes. Still, the agency isn’t giving up on red wolves, said Jeff Fleming, a spokesman. “I think the decision we announced today is proof to the contrary.”


Smith C.A.,Montana Fish | Smith C.A.,Wildlife Management Institute
Journal of Wildlife Management | Year: 2011

The Public Trust Doctrine (PTD) is considered the cornerstone of the North American Model of Wildlife Conservation. Effective application of the PTD requires a clear understanding of the doctrine and appropriate behavior by trustees, trust managers, and beneficiaries. Most PTD literature refers generically to the role of the government as the people's trustee, without addressing the differences between the legislative, executive, and judicial branches of government in the United States or recognizing the distinction between elected and appointed officials and career civil servants. Elected and appointed officials, especially in the legislative branch, have policy-level decision-making authority that makes them trustees of the people's wildlife under the PTD. In contrast, career professionals working for state wildlife agencies (SWA's) have ministerial duties as trust managers. The differences between the roles of trustees and trust managers are important. By focusing on their role as trust managers, while supporting and respecting the role of elected and appointed officials as trustees, SWA professionals can more effectively advance application of the PTD. © 2011 The Wildlife Society.

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