Wednesday, January 5, 2005

Sensitive species inhabit

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By GREGORY FOLEY
Express Staff Writer

A bald eagle soars over Salmon River country. Photo by Willy Cook

Written on July 30, 2003

With pristine forests, pure alpine lakes and lush meadows, the Boulder-White Cloud mountains provide habitat to an array of sensitive fish and wildlife species, including five that are protected by the federal Endangered Species Act.

· Reintroduced to Idaho in 1995, the threatened gray wolf has found an abundance of suitable range in the White Cloud Mountains. At least one pack of wolves established itself in the western White Clouds this summer. Individual wolves also have been spotted this year on the east side of the mountains.

· The U.S. Forest Service has determined that thousands of acres of land in the region provide excellent habitat for the threatened Canada lynx, which occurs in small numbers in central Idaho.

Canada lynx have historically been spotted in the White Clouds, while their prey species—such as snowshoe hare, grouse, and a variety of small mammals—occur in adequate numbers to support lynx.

· Bald eagles, also a threatened species in the Lower 48 States under the ESA, are known to occur in northern sections of the White Clouds, although much of the mountain range has been deemed unsuitable for the birds. Proposals are pending to remove the bald eagle from the federal list of endangered species.

· Peregrine falcons—removed from the ESA in 1999—are also found in the greater Sawtooth National Recreation Area. Parts of the White Clouds are considered suitable habitat for the once-endangered falcons.

· The threatened bull trout, a species of char native to Idaho, is known to inhabit specific streams and tributaries in the White Cloud Mountains.

· The native Chinook salmon, which migrates annually from the Pacific Ocean to spawn in freshwater systems in and around the White Clouds, is also listed a threatened species under the ESA.

In addition, two sensitive—and elusive—species of mammals that are rarely seen by humans, the wolverine and the fisher, have been sighted in or around the Boulder-White Clouds. The westslope cuttroat, the native trout of central and nothern Idaho, is managed as a "species of concern" by the Idaho Department of Fish and Game.

The Boulder-White Clouds also provide habitat for significant populations of elk, mule deer, antelope, bighorn sheep, mountain goat, pine marten, coyote, mountain lion, black bear and a variety of small fur-bearing mammals.






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