Critters

Page Updated 07-30-04

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Orders Wolf Pack Killed near McCall, Idaho
                                                                                                                July 21, 2004
     The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has authorized the lethal control of a wolf pack that repeatedly preyed on sheep near McCall, Idaho. The control action was completed today by agents of the U.S. Department of
Agriculture's Wildlife Services.
     All nine members of the Cook wolf pack were shot and killed on July 20. The wolves were confirmed to have killed more than 100 sheep belonging to one rancher. The sheep were grazing on Federal and State land allotments. Two additional wolf packs, Partridge and Hazard Lake, are believed to be killing sheep belonging to the same rancher, and control actions may be authorized for those wolves. The Cook pack was responsible for killing more than 90 sheep in the same area last year, and that control action resulted in the shooting of two wolves.
     The depredations began in early July and subsequently were confirmed to be caused by wolves. The rancher and herders tried to ward off the wolves and prevent continued depredations but were unsuccessful. They had camped with the sheep in the allotments and used guard-dogs, crackershells fired from shotguns, radio-activated guard boxes (light and siren scare devices) and other methods to scare off the wolves. Biologists from the Nez Perce Tribe, which monitors wolves for the Service, also attempted to haze the wolves from the area.
     "Non-lethal methods were tried, but they didn't work and the wolves continued to kill sheep," said Carter Niemeyer, the Service's wolf recovery coordinator for Idaho. "Wolf recovery has been very successful in Idaho,
But we've always said we won't tolerate wolves that are confirmed to be chronically killing livestock."
     Under Service policy, non-lethal methods to control chronically depredating wolves are attempted before lethal control is authorized. While livestock depredations remain below predicted levels, any loss of livestock
to wolves is taken seriously and may include the removal of those wolves.
     As of 2003, the Cook pack was the largest wolf pack in Idaho, according to the Nez Perce Tribe.
     A total of 35 wolves were reintroduced to the central Idaho wilderness in 1995 and 1996. By 2003, the population had grown to an estimated 356 wolves.
     Of the 37 documented packs in Idaho in 2003, nine packs were involved in livestock depredations. Last year, 13 calves, 118 sheep and six guard dogs were confirmed killed by wolves in the state. Earlier this year the Service authorized killing three wolves for preying on calves and sheep near Bennett Mountain, Idaho.
Contact: Carter Niemeyer, 208-378-5639, Jenny Valdivia, 503-231-6121, or Ed Bangs, 406-449-5225 ext. 204

Elk are ruminants, (so are deer, cows, sheep and buffalo.)  Elk have FOUR stomachs to break down the tough leaves and grasses they eat  Actually, it's more correct to say their stomach is divided into four chambers.
1 rumen
2 reticulum
3 omasum
4 abomasum
With their noses to the ground grazing, elk make easier targets for predators. So they must eat a lot of food fast. The four-chambered stomach helps them do that. The first chamber called the rumenserves as a big holding tank. As elk gulp down their food, it goes to the rumen. They can fill their storage tank up quickly and then go somewhere safe to hide.
Safely bedded in the trees, the elk brings the food from its rumen back up to its mouth in small pieces called cud. It chews the cud slowly, then swallows it again. This time, the chewed food goes to the second chamber called the reticulumto be broken down even more.
After some time in the reticulum, the food gets passed into the third and fourth chambers called the omasum and abosmasum. The abomasum is also called the elk's "true stomach." Here, the nutrients are absorbed into the elk's body and turned into useful energy.

Elk Trivia

In spring and elk eat mainly grasses and forbs (small, leafy plants).  In the fall, elk depend more on forbs and woodier plants, like bushes and shrubs.  In winter, when the snow covers most grasses, forbs and shrubs, many elk migrate to low elevations where the snow isn't as deep and they can paw through to the leftover grasses and plants underneath. They chew on anything that sticks up above the snow, including bushes, tree bark (they especially love aspen), and lichens hanging on the bark of pine trees.

An elk with tusks? It's true. Many thousands of years ago elk actually grew tusks like elephants. Today a few kinds of deer, like the Muntjac in China, still have sharp tusks. But over time, bull elk sprouted larger antlers to show off their strength, so they didn't need tusks anymore. The tusks gradually shrunk to become the only two teeth in the front of the elk's top jaw. We call these smooth, round teeth ivories, tusks, buglers, canines or whistlers.

Elk have four toes. The two outer toes on the backs of their legs are called dew claws, which elk don't use for much more than extra balance and grip. They walk on the middle two toes which form the hoof, covered by a tough, thick toenail. By staying up on their tiptoes, elk can reach their greatest speed.
Elk make slight cracking noises when they walk. Those noises help them keep in touch with each other, especially when the herd spreads out in the thick brush. When elk hear knuckle-cracking, they know it's another elk nearby and not a predator lurking around.

Bear Facts
(The following information is taken from publications by the Colorado Division of Wildlife.)
If you live in bear country, make sure you don't contribute to resident bears becoming "garbage" bears. Most conflicts between bears and people are linked to careless handling of food or garbage. Black bears eat almost anything. They will eat human food, garbage, hummingbird food, and pet and livestock food when available. Once a bear has found the easily accessible, consistent food source that human settlements can offer, it may overcome its wariness of people and visit regularly, increasing the chance of a human/bear encounter. You and your neighbors can make a difference. Your actions may prevent the unnecessary death of a bear--and the heart attack you may suffer when you encounter one in your living room!
Rob Ramey, curator of zoology and the Denver Museum of Nature and Science, explains that bears' problems are usually the result of human actions. "Bears get into trouble because people are careless," Ramey said. "If you live in the mountains or go camping and hiking in the wilderness, treat your food and garbage like you'd treat your valuables. Make them inaccessible. Keep them out of sight and smell, locked up, wrapped up and don't leave them unattended. Bears aren't 'bad,' they're just hungry."

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Living with Bears in your Backyard:
The Idaho backcountry is Bear Country. Whether you're hiking a backcountry trail or strolling through your neighborhood, you may encounter a bear. Bears may be active from mid-March to November. Their constant search for new food sources may draw them into urban areas and into your backyard.
People and bears can live in harmony. Communities can be
porous to bear activity, so that bears can pass through, but are not tempted to stop and get into trouble with people and their non-natural attractants. Be 'bear smart' and follow these few, simple guidelines to ensure any encounters with bears are positive and free from conflict.
Bear Safety at Home
Respect bears! If you see a bear in a residential area: Act responsibly!
Remain Calm
Often the bear is just passing through, and if it finds no food source, will simply move on.
Keep Well Away
Do not crowd the bear - give it plenty of space. Warn others to be respectful; bring small children and pets in the house.
Let the bear know it is not welcome in your backyard
Do not allow the bear to feel comfortable in 'your' territory, not even for a photo opportunity. Assess the situation and ensure the bear has a clear and safe avenue of escape. Show the bear your human presence from a secure position (e.g. balcony or window). Stand facing the bear; making yourself look as big as possible. Use a firm tone of voice to make it feel uncomfortable and encourage it to leave. You can also try banging together pots and pans or throwing stones. After the bear has left the area, remove any food sources that might have attracted it. Deterrents are also available to help discourage bears from entering your property.
When to call for help
If the bear appears to be threatening human safety, pets or destroying property - call the Idaho Fish and Game Conservation Officer - Jon Hunter at (208) 633-3566.
Managing Backyard Attractants:
Bears are often attracted to residential neighborhoods by food odors. Once a bear has located a good food source, it has the ability to remember that location and return. This can initiate a process of conditioning. Bears in pursuit of an easy meal may damage property, or in rare cases, cause injury to people. It is important for everyone living in bear country to follow precautions. Encourage your neighbors to participate as well.
When wildlife managers called to deal with a 'problem' bear, the bear is usually destroyed!
You can prevent the unnecessary destruction of bears by following these simple guidelines:
Dispose of garbage properly:
Dispose of household garbage in bear-proof containers or store in a secure shed, until you can get to the dump.
Bear-proof your property:
Keep doors and windows closed and locked. Food smells can lure hungry bears inside your home.
Do not store food of any kind outside, even if it is inside a locked refrigerator or freezer.
Don't leave trash, groceries, animal feed, coolers, or any odorous item in your vehicle. Bears can easily pry open car/truck windows and doors to access the food inside.
Do not use any type of birdfeeder during bear season. Store all birdseed securely indoors, until bears are hibernating.
If you don't want bears in your yard, it's best not to have any fruit-bearing trees/bushes or gardens on our property. Harvest fruits and vegetables as they ripen. Remove fallen fruit from the ground below the tree. Keep your lawn mowed and free of weeds, especially dandelions and clover.
Burn your barbeques clean immediately after use, wash and store them covered out of the wind - preferably indoors.
Feed your pets inside and store their food inside. Don't leave dog bones lying around your yard.
Keep your compost clean. Use the community composting system.
Use electric fencing to protect orchards and livestock.

The best way to avoid conflict is to prevent it!
[Adapted for the Yellow Pine area by the Yellow Pine Times with permission]
For more information, visit www.bearsmart.com or call the J.J. Whistler Bear Society at 604-905-4209.
Source: http://www.bearsmart.com/bearSmartCommunities/Education/Info-Backyard.doc

Hiking, Camping and Encountering Bears in the Backcountry:
Be 'bear smart' and follow these few, simple guidelines to ensure any encounters with bears are positive and free from conflict.
How can I be bear smart?
Be prepared! Learn as much as you can about bear behavior before venturing into bear country. Bears are predictable. This trait can be beneficial to people if they come into contact with bears.  Recognizing and understanding bear postures and vocalizations will help you avoid a negative experience.
Never feed a bear, either intentionally or unintentionally by being careless with food scraps or garbage. Respect all bears! Give them plenty of space and do not approach. No one should be encouraged to feed, pet or pose for a photo with a bear. Take pictures with a telephoto lens from a distance. Always be alert and bear aware in bear country.
What should I do if I see a bear?
STOP AND ASSESS: Remain calm. Never approach a bear for any reason. Respect the bears need for space.
BACK AWAY: Back away slowly facing the bear. Do not run. Be predictable. Don't surprise the bear.
TALK CALMLY: Talk quietly or sing so the bear can identify you as human, and continue to back up.
IF A BEAR APPROACHES…Don't panic!!! Encounters with aggressive bears are extremely rare and attacks are even rarer. There are no hard and fast rules when it comes to aggressive interactions, but here are two good rules to remember:
If a black bear becomes persistent, stand your ground and prepare to use your deterrent [pepper spray for bears.] Do not play dead. Seek the safety of a secure building or car, if possible. The bear may bluff charge. If a black bear attacks, fight back with any weapon you can find including nearby stones and branches.
If you encounter a bear on the roadside
, do not get out of your vehicle, even for a quick photo.
Tips for hiking safely:
Bears are far more likely to enhance your wilderness experience than spoil it! Knowing how to interpret their behavior and act responsibly is part of the thrill of sharing forests and mountains with these amazing creatures.
Be alert. Avoid close encounters or surprising a bear.
Look for signs of recent bear activity. Droppings, tracks, overturned rocks, broken up rotted logs, fresh claw marks on trees, plant root diggings, berries on the ground and fur on tree trunks.
Make your human presence known, talk loudly or sing songs. Cracking sticks is a great way to alert bears.
Be especially alert when traveling through dense brush, into the wind, near rushing water, or food sources such as berry bushes. Limited vision or hearing may lead to a surprise encounter.
If you smell or see signs indicating an animal carcass (ravens circling) leave the area immediately.
It's best to hike in groups on established trails (stay out of dense bush) and during daylight hours.
Traveling on fast moving mountain bikes can lead to surprise encounters. Be Alert!
Supervise children at all times. Keep all dogs on leash and under control. Dogs can be helpful in detecting bears but they may also aggravate bears or lead them back to you.
Camping in Bear Country:
When camping in the backcountry, select an appropriate site away from travel corridors and rushing water. Do not camp anywhere bear sign is noticed (i.e.. tracks, droppings, fresh diggings, claw marks on trees). Use a flashlight at night.
Pack out all garbage, even organic food scraps. Don't bury it, bears will find it and dig it up, becoming a danger to other hikers or campers. If you burn food scraps or garbage, be sure to pack out unburned portions.
Reduce the odors that attract bears - do not cook near your tent. Do not sleep in the same clothes you were cooking in. Don't take food into your tent, not even a snack. Use bear-resistant food containers. Coolers and tents are not bear-proof. In public campgrounds, store food in the animal-proof containers that are provided. If none are available, cache food 300 feet away from your tent (suspend between 2 trees a minimum of 12 feet off the ground and 3 feet from the tree trunks).

[Adapted for the Yellow Pine area by the Yellow Pine Times with permission.]
For more information, visit www.bearsmart.com or call the J.J. Whistler Bear Society at 604-905-4209.

Source: http://www.bearsmart.com/bearSmartCommunities/Education/Info-Backcountry.doc

Don't

Do

TICKS
The best way to protect yourself from tick-borne disease is to stay away from ticks. That means avoiding river bottoms and other moist areas where ticks dangle from undergrowth, waiting for a ride and some blood. If you find a tick with its head bored into flesh - either human or animal - take it out as soon as possible. Very few pathogens enter the body during the first 24 hours. Here's what to do: Using tweezers, maneuver under and around the tick's body until the tweezers points are close to the head. Then pull straight out with firm pressure. Cleanse the wound with alcohol.

Wood Ticks
The tick season generally lasts from March to early July, although it varies at different elevations. Wear layers of clothing to prevent ticks from reaching your body, and keep clothing snug around ankles, wrists, and waist. Examine yourself at least twice daily to check for ticks. If a tick is embedded in your skin, remove it immediately without crushing it. Pull it gently with the fingers, forceps, or tweezers, being careful not to leave the head in your skin, and apply an antiseptic.
If a flu-like, moderately severe illness occurs several days or weeks after finding a tick on your body, consult a doctor immediately. 

Removing ticks.
After being outdoors, remove clothing and wash and dry it at a high temperature; inspect your body carefully and remove attached ticks with tweezers, grasping the tick as close to the skin surface as possible and pulling straight back with a slow steady force; avoid crushing the tick's body.

How to prevent ticks.
Avoid tick-infested areas, especially in the summer months.
Wear light-colored clothing so ticks can be seen more easily.
Tuck pant legs into socks or boots and shirt into pants. Tape the area where pants and socks meet so that ticks cannot crawl under clothing.
Spray insect repellent containing DEET on clothes and on exposed skin other than the face.
Wear a hat and a long-sleeved shirt for added protection.
Walk in the center of trails to avoid overhanging grass and brush.

Lyme Disease
Symptoms begin with a red ring-shaped rash. The center part of the lesion remains clear. The lesion may spread to more than 2 inches in diameter. More than 1 lesion may appear. Other symptoms may include:  fatigue, fever, headache, stiff neck, and muscle or joint pain. Chronic arthritis or neurological symptoms may occur. Symptoms usually begin 3-32 days after tick exposure.

Female

Male

Wood Ticks

Tick Season
Tick removal for dogs is the same as tick removal for humans. Use a straight pair of fine pointed forceps or tweezers and grab the tick at the point it is attached to you or your dog, as close to the skin as possible.

Pull gently straight up and away in one sweeping motion. Disinfect the bite area with alcohol, and thoroughly wash your hands with soap and water when you are through.

The tick should be taped to a file card and saved. The date and the area bitten should be marked on the calendar, in case you or your dog start to have some unexplained illness or rash. If symptoms do occur, contact your doctor or veterinarian.

Remember there is only one approved method for tick removal, "FORCEPS"!!!! Ticks don't screw them selves into your skin so don't try to unscrew them. NEVER use heat - Use of a hot match may in fact cause the end of the tick to boil and it will inject what ever it has back into to the area bitten.

The use of grease, Vaseline, or nail polish does in fact prevent the tick from breathing and it will eventually become dislodged from your skin, BUT, the longer you leave the tick attached to you or your dog the greater the chance of contracting any disease organism the tick may be carrying. So prompt removal using a pair of forceps is the best policy.

Interesting facts - - - 
    The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is the principal Federal agency responsible for conserving, protecting and enhancing fish, wildlife and plants and their habitats for the continuing benefit of the American people. The Service manages the 95-million-acre National Wildlife Refuge System which encompasses 544 national wildlife refuges, thousands of small wetlands and other special management areas. It also operates 69 national fish
hatcheries, 63 fishery resource offices and 81 ecological services field stations. The agency enforces Federal wildlife laws, administers the Endangered Species Act, manages migratory bird populations, restores nationally significant fisheries, conserves and restores wildlife habitat such as wetlands, and helps foreign governments with their conservation efforts. It also oversees the Federal Aid program that distributes hundreds of millions of dollars in excise taxes on fishing and hunting equipment to State fish and wildlife agencies.