If you are still using a link to this blog to get to The Wildlife News, please update your bookmark to: http://www.thewildlifenews.com
If you are still using a link to this blog to get to The Wildlife News, please update your bookmark to: http://www.thewildlifenews.com
Well, we finally pulled the plug on the old blog. We hope you like the new one.
A few comments might have been lost in the transition. Sorry!! No doubt there will also be some bugs that need to be corrected.
Ralph Maughan, Brian Ertz, Ken Cole
Oil companies have colluded with the Idaho’s and Montana’s governors so they can make even more profits than if they built the machinery for the toxic Alberta tar sands mining in Canada.
20 most profitable companies. CNN Money.
Republican’s Climate Solution: Clear-Cut the Rain Forest. By John Collins Rudolf. New York Times.
If he is so stupid he doesn’t know trees suck up carbon dioxide, not emit it, what about his views on the economy, medicine, national defense?
Has there ever been a time in America when science was held back so much by politicians who are avaricious fools?
NRG Energy CEO David Crane, lead investor in the controversial Ivanpah Solar Thermal Energy Project, discusses why giant utility-scale renewable energy projects are economically viable and what the future might look like for renewables with a reduction of government subsidies:
[We] fully recognize that the current generation of utility-sized solar and wind projects in the United States is largely enabled by favorable government policies and financial assistance. It seems likely that much of that special assistance is going to be phased out over the next few years, leaving renewable technologies to fend for themselves in the open market. We do not believe that this will be the end of the flourishing market for solar generation. We do believe it will lead to a stronger and more accelerated transition from an industry that is currently biased towards utility-sized solar plants to one that’s focused more on distributed and even residential solar solutions on rooftops and in parking lots.
Carter Niemeyer’s memoir, Wolfer, has won the 2011 IPPY (Independent Publishers Book Awards) gold medal for regional nonfiction.
Since its release, I have run into quite a few folks who have read it. All of those I met commented on its evenhandedness. Many said their eyes were opened about the pressure that is applied to pin a “killed by a predator” report, especially by a wolf, on a rancher’s dead livestock.
Finally, after years, state and federal government agencies agreed to let bison begin to roam the Gardiner Basin just north of Yellowstone Park, but Park County district judge Nels Swandal sided with the Park County Stockgrowers Association to put the landmark agreement aside.
The stockgrowers were effective with their tired, but still effective arguments about spread of brucellosis and danger to people (the classic children at the bus stop argument). “Large numbers of bison now regularly congregate at school bus stops and other locations, interacting with children, elderly, and other individuals that live in the area to a degree not previously encountered,” Park County’s lawsuit stated.
Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks and other agencies are asking for a new judge, but the existing judge (Swandal) gets to pick any replacement.
State wants new judge in bison case. By Carly Flandro. Bozeman Chronicle.
Meanwhile, we haven’t heard anything more about Park County prosecuting the man cited for shooting numerous .22 rounds among the houses to kill a bison.
– – – –
Regarding the views and actions of the Park County Commissioners, here is an interesting guest editorial. Guest column: We must rein in fears, attitudes over roaming bison. By Karrie Taggart (co-founder/coordinator of Horse Butte Neighbors of Buffalo in West Yellowstone — HOBNOB)
While there are several plants called “tumbleweed,” the one most commonly called that is prickly Russian Thistle. It has been around for almost 150 years and Hollywood probably convinced people it is an essential element of the “Old West.”
A couple of fungal blights from Asia Minor now show great promise in reducing its prevalence. Introduction of plant diseases, however, can be very dangerous and controversial. So far these look to be very host specific. I hope these work out if they are approved. To me the prickly tumbleweed of the West has no redeeming value.
High Noon for Tumbleweed? By Emiline Ostlind. WyoFile
Cougar hunting bill dies in Senate committee. Ashland Daily Tidings.
Cougar hunting interests say they will try again in 2012.
Story debates “magic number of wolves needed. By Rob Cheney. Missoulian.
Ok, so some scientists say 5000 wolves are needed to ensure the species’ survival in the Northern Rockies with good genetic diversity. Other say the delisting population of about 1700 was enough.
This article and far too many discussions ignore the plain fact that there are no longer 1700 wolves in the area and it is very unlikely the states will ever allow that number again. 1000 might be tops. It could be as low as 450. To me, the debate has become academic; and writers and decision makers should acknowledge the fact.
Okay, no carcasses this time. Just an old mule deer doe with the maze-running skills of a champion lab rat. We looked out the kitchen window one afternoon and she had worked her way past Bob’s gauntlet of fence panels toward the prize: the bird feeder. Once at the center of the puzzle, she has to avoid the guy wires that prevent the post from falling over. But the reward comes as she inhales the fallen millet and sunflower seeds. Problem is, it doesn’t stop there. She has been known to knock the bird feeder clear off and stomp on it.
We were careful not to go outside the house or let the dogs out while she was inside, lest she panic and hurt herself. Bob actually thought he had her outfoxed with this assembly, but no. Next day he had to improve it, which has finally done the trick. No soup for you, Muley! Bird food is for birds, chipmunks, Ratatosk the squirrel, voles and deer mice. I know, I know: we are already working on a better design so this doesn’t happen next winter. We need a taller, sturdier post that will put the feeder out of reach of a deer on its hind legs. Or something.
Next day: Outside and pissed off about it!
Earlier this month, a judge in Malheur County, Oregon, ordered a year’s probation for a grain farmer from Caldwell, Idaho. Wayne Carlson was convicted of harassing a rival tef grower. Tesfa Drar, the other farmer, is general manager of Teff Farms in Minnesota, and he says that “Carlson approached him and told him to go back to Ethiopia, where he came from.”
Teff is a grain, native to Ethiopia, which is acclimatized to high elevations and low precipitation. Sort of explains why it’s being tried out in Idaho and eastern Oregon, but I’m sure the short news stories aren’t telling us the whole story. Is the teff market really that cutthroat? Is teff cultivation just a niche market, or will it eventually take over some serious acreage? Any chance it will displace the water-sucking alfalfa that dewaters so many of the West’s streams? (Not holding my breath.)
It appears that Carlson, who founded The Teff Co. and has worked with many growers in the region, saw the Ethiopian from Minnesota as a rival poaching on “his” territory.
Carlson had worked in Ethiopia in the 1970s, and “was fascinated by the geological and climatic similarities of the Snake River region and the East African Rift.”
Tesfa Drar was in the area to talk to local farmers about partnerships. The altercation occurred in a restaurant in Vale.
The Teff Co.’s website tells us that “The Teff Company has been supplying the Ethiopian and Eritrean communities for nearly twenty years with American-grown Maskal Teff. With the fertile fields and ecologically sensitive farming methods some of the best quality teff in the world is produced in Idaho.”
I guess to Mr. Carlson, immigrants from east Africa are a good thing, as long as they buy their grain from a Swede from Caldwell, but not such a good thing if they threaten to actually compete with him. Ain’t free enterprise great?
IDFG News Release
May 19, 2011
The Idaho Fish and Game Commission Thursday, May 19, directed the Fish and Game Department to:
1. Manage wolves in a manner that will ensure wolves remain under responsible state management in conjunction with the rest of Idaho’s wildlife.
2. Manage wolves as big game animals consistent with the goals and objectives of the 2002 Idaho Wolf Conservation and Management plan approved by the Idaho Legislature and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to keep wolves off the Endangered Species List.
3. Control wolves where they depredate on livestock and other domestic animals or threaten human safety.
4. Control the population of wolves and other predators as needed to address areas where elk or other prey populations are below management objectives.
5. Develop wolf hunting season recommendations for consideration at the Commission’s July 2011 meeting and develop trapping recommendations.
6. Conduct additional species management planning as appropriate.
Commissioners also agreed to support the state the of Idaho’s legal defense of challenges to state management, such as those lawsuits challenging the 2011 congressional action for wolf delisting, and urge Congress to continue to provide funding for monitoring, control and depredation compensation related to the wolf population introduced by the federal government into Idaho.
A spot on Editorial from the LA Times:
In the 2012 campaign, environmentalists don’t matter – LA Times Editorial
Shortly after his party’s “shellacking” in the midterm election, President Obama ordered government agencies to ensure that new regulations took economic growth into consideration and that old ones be revoked if they “stifle job creation or make our economy less competitive.” Five months later, it’s becoming pretty clear what he meant: The environment and public health will be thrown under a bus for the sake of his reelection in 2012.
Huffing and Puffing. By Kevin Taylor. The Pacific Northwest Inlander.
Among other things, I like the discussion of the snail darter from back in the 1970s when Congress decided to build a real white elephant of a dam and doom this tiny fish.* Congress has interfered with the ESA before. People should remember that.
* The snail darter inhabited only the area to be flooded by the Tellico Dam. If it was built, the darter was extinct (or so it was thought . . . more were found later elsewhere). This was the first time the cabinet level Endangered Species Committee or “God squad” was used. The God Squad, however, looked at the matter and decided the Tellico Dam was such a piece of rancid congressional pork that the country would be better off economically, not even to mention the snail darter, if the dam was never completed. This after the dam was 90% done!! Congress loved its pork though, and over-road the Committee and the ESA, and finished the damn dam, violating residents property rights in the process, in the opinion of many whose land was put permanently underwater.
Wild, rare and beautiful. Editorial in the Lincoln (NB) Journal-Star
Blaine County prosecutors agree to dismiss a felony charge in the elk poaching case against anti-wolf activist Tony Mayer.
Felony dismissed in poaching case – Idaho Mountain Express
Nonetheless, 59-year-old Tony Mayer, a resident of Twin Falls and the founder of the anti-wolf website SaveElk.com, still faces three misdemeanor game charges related to the case.
You may remember the lengths prosecutors went to in order to keep the felony charge alive. Apparently all that effort and tax-payer dollars were spent on little more than to keep leverage on a plea-bargain.
It’s only mid-May, and it still struggles to get much above 60 degrees here in Eastern Idaho, but forest fires are torching northern Alberta, not all that far from the Arctic Circle. A third of the town of 7000 at Slave Lake burned. In the general area, many of the giant tar sand pits have been evacuated. This is near Ft. McMurray. Temperatures have been in the high 70s and 80s.
Hundreds of homes now just smouldering rubble. Premier, mayor shaken by scope of devastation in Slave Lake. Edmonton Journal. By Mariam Ibrahim, Ryan Cormier and Ben Gelinas
Other fires continue to burn across northern Alberta. By Ryan Cormier, Edmonton Journal.
Raging fires stop oil and gas operations. Hundreds evacuated from facilities. By Dina O’Meara, Calgary Herald
The Idaho Department of Fish and Game has delegated authority to kill wolves to county sheriff deputies in Idaho County. It is unclear what training or methods deputies will have at their disposal when killing wolves.
Cadwallader believes this is the first time his agency has delegated authority to local law enforcement agents to kill wolves.
Two grizzlies were shot dead last weekend near the base of the bear-heavy Mission Mountains in NW Montana.
An elk antler gatherer stumbled into a griz on the Blackfoot-Clearwater Wildlife area and shot the bear. Not far away on the Flathead Indian Reservation a grizzly bear was shot near a chicken coop. Raising chickens in unprotected pens and sheds is a rapidly growing economic activity on the reservation.
These dead bears were number 3 and 4 for the year in general area.
Grizzlies killed on Flathead Reservation, at Blackfoot-Clearwater Wildlife Management Area. By Rob Chaney and Vince Devlin of the Missoulian
Earlier, we took a look at a recent settlement struck between the Interior Department and WildEarth Guardians that seeks to clear the logjam with species listings under the Endangered Species Act.
The settlement would ask the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to make up or down determinations on a host of species, either granting actual protections for warranted species and affording critical habitat to those that warrant protections or determining that they do not warrant protection.
At first glance, the settlement seems to have the potential to do a lot of good – assuming (big) that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service does the right thing. However, groups like the Center for Biological Diversity objected, arguing that the agreement was too weak, too vague and ultimately unenforceable. The group also objected to the fact that the would-be settling parties went behind CBD’s back, despite its previous involvement in negotiations, pushing the group out of involvement and making unwise concessions despite CBD’s effort and strong legal interest on a vast majority of the species involved.
Today, the Court agreed with CBD’s challenge of the settlement arguing that the way that WildEarth Guardians and the Interior Department went about its settlement was inappropriate, and ordered all parties back into negotiations:
Judge Halts Settlement Over Hundreds of Endangered Species, Orders Parties Back to Negotiations – Center for Biological Diversity Press Release 5/17/2011 Read the rest of this entry »
Previous efforts to recovery pygmy rabbits to habitat in central Washington state have been conducted without success. Now, biologists hope that releasing more captive rabbits into the wild will mean greater success:
In north central Washington, scientists are trying once again to reintroduce a tiny endangered rabbit species into a big, predator-ridden landscape.
You may remember a previous post in which we reported Dr. Steve Herman’s experience of efforts to restore pygmy rabbits in Washington.
Ah, some credit to two average folks fighting the international oil companies to try to save the economy, scenery, fish and wildlife of the area around U.S. Highway 12.
Idaho megaload foes win Dalton Open Government Award. By Dan Popkey. Idaho Statesman
“The Max Dalton Open Government Award has been given each year since 1999 to a citizen or group judged to be an outspoken advocate of openness in either public records or public meetings on the state or local level.”
Among many other activities trying to kill the megaload shipments across the scenic, narrow, north central Idaho highway, the Daltons exposed Butch Otter’s secret deal with the oil companies to turn Highway 12 into an industrial corridor on the way to the Alberta tar sand pits.
Idaho F&G kills Lolo wolves from helicopter. Lewiston Tribune.
“. . . the hunting has been halted because it hasn’t been as successful as expected, an Idaho Department of Fish and Game official says.”
After about decade, Idaho Fish and Game began their reduction of the number of wolves in the Lolo area in north central Idaho along the Montana border. They got five wolves. Their operation is already over for now. Too expensive!!! They say they will rely on outfitters to kill wolves and a long and generous quota of wolves in the Lolo for the hunting season.
I have been writing about this plan, and it has been discussed on the blog for a long time. My position for a number of years has been that there are not as many wolves in the Lolo as commonly thought, and they are a minor reason at best why the elk herds in the area remain far below their previous numbers (prior to the 1990s).
Biologists, except one, who were part of the no longer required “peer review” by the ESA were very skeptical whether this action would increase elk numbers. This included a biologist who clearly did not like wolves. I suspect this will have little long term effect on wolves in the larger area because there are not many wolves, just like there are not many elk. Of course, the two logically go together, don’t they?
I see the wolf reduction as a blood ritual with the intent to satisfy politicians in the local area and in Boise. Performance of ritual is vital to perpetuation of a myth — the myth being that wolves are holding back a return to halcyon elk hunting days of the 1950s.
Montana’s wildlife commissioners have tentatively approved a wolf hunt this fall of 220 wolves, compared to their 2009 hunt of 79. There was no hunt in 210. At the end of 2010, the official wolf population estimate for Montana was 566 wolves. This quota, if filled, is predicted to drop the state’s wolf population by 25% at the end of 2011, although there are competing computer models.
Idaho has an estimated 705 wolves, well down from its peak in 2009. Idaho’s Fish and Game Commission is expected to approve a big hunt quota, although their quota in 2009 was not reached.
Montana FWP tentatively approves 220-wolf quota for fall hunt. By Matt Volz. AP
Although anti-wolf people try to scare us with the seldom caught Hydatid disease which is almost entirely spread, by dogs, fox, and coyotes, here is the latest on a very important threat from scat — domestic cat scat — toxoplasmosis gondii.
I have mentioned T. gondii a number of times. The latest research (from the Journal of Wildlife Diseases) show cats sicken many kinds of small wildlife, as well as 25 per cent !! of the human race. Cats Pass Disease to Wildlife, Even in Remote Areas. Science Daily.
One of the most creepy things about T. gondii is that directs the brain of the host animal (what about people?) in some cases. For example, it makes rats and mice love the smell of cat. How excellent for the cat! How Different Strains of Parasite Infection Affect Behavior Differently. Science Daily. On the basis of sheer statistics, a number of folks reading this post are infected with this parasite.
This means trouble for the bison just released from the pens on the north boundary of Yellowstone Park. I see they are still playing the brucellosis card and the new Old West favorite, We’re scared of the animals!!
Kathie Lynch has written her latest Yellowstone wolf report. It is always a cheer when Kathie writes about this place where wolves can live, wild and free. Wolf watching in April this year sounds very cold, but the wolves love it!
– – – – – – – – –
April 2011 wolf notes by © Kathie Lynch-
In Yellowstone, “spring” break in April is not necessarily synonymous with springtime! Days of granular corn snow flurries (or worse), biting wind and morning temperatures in the teens often ended with the drip, drip, drip of water melting off the edge of receding snow banks. Even though it seemed like winter would never end, the Wicked Witch of the West was doomed.
Of course, as soil and sage replaced the diminishing blanket of snow, the wolves became even harder to spot. Considering that only three packs (Blacktail Plateau, Lamar Canyon, and Agate Creek) are likely possibilities for watching in the Northern Range these days, I felt lucky to see a wolf most days–although my first day was a “one dog day,” and that “dog” was a coyote!
The Blacktail pack provided some excellent viewing for a couple of days as they fed on a bison carcass at Blacktail Lakes. The wolves had to share the treasure with a big, dark grizzly boar who had awakened to a mother lode of winter-killed carcasses. Thanks to the extremely severe winter, the bears will have plenty to eat for a while and won’t have to usurp the wolves’ kills, as they often do.
When quagga mussels were found in Lake Mead, that was the unfortunate first infestation west of the Mississippi, but now some anglers or boaters accidentally spread them to two northern Nevada reservioirs.
Quagga mussel infestation hits reservoirs in Northern Nevada. By Henry Brean. Las Vegas Review-Journal.
The list of species the federal government has been more or less forced to consider for ESA protection has been growing longer and longer over the years, and yet it acts very slowly, complaining that species are being added at too fast a rate. Much of the agency’s tiny budget was eaten up responding to new petitions and defending itself from lawsuits trying to force it to consider various species for ESA protection.
Yesterday, however, it was announced the Department of Interior had made a deal with WildEarth Guardians to analyze 251 species in the backlog over the next 6 years. Officials say this will help clear the backlog. In the last four years WildEarth Guardians was filed about 700 petitions to list species. With this deal, Guardians will be allowed to file only up to ten new ESA petitions a year. Guardians will also ask to have all its pending lawsuits in the matter dismissed.
There is no assurance the government will list any species in the agreement, although it is likely quite a few will end being listed. Some, such as the greater sage grouse, are much more controversial than others. The sage grouse is controversial because it has been heavily impacted by the politically potent livestock sector as well as oil, gas, and wind development.
This is an agreement only with Guardians and does not prevent any other group from filing petitions.
Under the ESA, it was not supposed to work this way. The law’s supporters expected the environment-conscious government would discover and list species on its own accord with citizen petititions to list a species serving only as backup. The reality has been much to the opposite, however.
This deal has yet to be approved by a federal judge.
Interior Dept. strikes deal to clear backlog on endangered species listings. By Juliet Eilperin. Washington Post.
Wild Earth Guardians web site on the agreement
– – – –
More on 5-12-2011. The deal includes the sage grouse. Felicity Barringer at the New York Times tells how the sage grouse got to where it is. A Bird’s Convoluted Conservation Odyssey
The west entrance has been open for some time, but the East Entrance opened May 6 to five feet of snow. The southern gate of the Park from Jackson Hole and the Tetons will open May 13. There is deep snow here too, especially at Lewis River Divide.
The penned bison at the north boundary have been released. Hopefully they will go into the Park where grass is greening in the small lower elevation portion near the Yellowstone and Gardner Rivers.
The suspected source of the pigs is California where they are an invasive species causing some significant damage.
Oregon and Washington to reduce, hopefully eradicate, feral pigs. Seattle Times. AP
Washington Fish and Wildlife Department is firm that wolves remain protected under state law in all of the state-
Wolves are federally delisted in much of Eastern Washington now, but the state’s own endangered species act protects them all throughout the state. Officials recently reminded folks.
The state only has a half dozen to a dozen or so wolves. The original pack discovered now seems heavily chopped apart from illegal killing, but other wolves roam parts of the state, probably in at least one pack. The Lookout Pack, the original pack, was not a reintroduction or part of the Idaho wolves drifting westward. It came out of coastal Canada on its own.
Wolves remain on Washington state’s endangered list. AP in the Seattle Times.
Here is the story on the coming third week of testimony, from the Spokesman-Review.
It seems to me that local folks willing to testify are mostly unhappy. Here is a detailed story about past testimony in New West. New Idaho Megaloads Hearings Address More Than 200 Shipments. By Steve Bunk.
Despite efforts by the Idaho legislature to prevent people from suing over the plans of the lovable oil companies, two new lawsuits on the issue were recently filed. One is by the National Wildlife Federation, the Montana Environmental Information Center, the Montana chapter of the Sierra Club, and the Missoula County Commission against the Montana State Department of Transportation. The other is by Idaho Rivers United. IRU is against the Forest Service. The Lochsa River and a corridor 1/4 mile on either side is part of the National Wild and Scenic Rivers System, and most of it is public national forest land. In fact the Lochsa was one of very first rivers protected, but the Forest Services is just standing by while the road right-of-way is being heavily chopped up for the wide and long loads.
Rebel, rebel. Black Wolf yields a wild hero. By Erika Frederickson. Missoula Independent.
Bison are now allowed to leave the Park to the west in the winter at Horse Butte, but they are supposed to be back in the Park at an abnormally early time.
This year the Park is still under snow. The brutal Montana Department of Livestock hazed the bison toward the Park until the calf died. From the Island Park [Idaho] News- Bison ‘managers’ kill calf
Hundreds of bison were also held at the North Entrance of the Park. They have/had no grass to eat. There was talk about slaughtering a hundred of them, but that was forestalled. Many of them were released in early May, but they went north out of the Park instead of back into it. They were recaptured. Yellowstone hopes to release bison back into park for summer. by Adam Bell. KBZK
Meanwhile, cold and rain/snowy days continue well into May. The Park will be green when the snow finally melts and it finally warms.
Last November Richard Kendall of Craig shot a black bear that was a state record, but the bear was in its den. A lot of folks didn’t like they way he got the record bear. As a result, the Colorado Wildlife Commission unanimously approved a new rule last week to restore fair chase by banning hunting or harassment of black bears in their dens.
This is a space where we’ll post the various documents that wolf advocates will be filing in federal district court of their challenge of the recent wolf delisting rider that was attached to the 2011 budget bill.
Different parties raced to file, with Alliance for the Wild Rockies, Friends of the Clearwater, and WildEarth Guardians in one camp, the Center for Biological Diversity in another having already filed. Western Watersheds Project has opted to file its own separate case as well.
It is likely that the cases will be consolidated in the Montana District Court.
We’ll post the filings as they become available.
Alliance for the Wild Rockies, Friends of the Clearwater, WildEarth Guardians
Center for Biological Diversity
I hope they can eliminate every last one of these exotic pests. Until recently Idaho was free of them. I wonder about the history. How did they get into Idaho?
Wild pigs becoming a problem in S. Idaho. KTVB. By Scott Evans
Already reeling from the massive Jonah gas field, now a new field covering 4 times as much area is planned. The “Normally Pressured Lance” natural gas field” (Son of Jonah, as some call it) comes at a time when the formerly pristine air of the Green River Basin has wintertime air so dirty it violates the standards.
Encana project could add 3,500 gas wells in Wyo. Mead Gruver, Associated Press
The U.S. Bureau of Land Management needs to asked how new drilling of this huge magnitude can be done until the agency can be sure the residents are being protected from the activities that are already underway.
The Wyoming Outdoor Council has a story on the project too (and a map). Agency needs to protect the residents of the Upper Green River Valley. By Bruce Pendery
Fish and Game looking for culprit who shot lion. Rexburg Standard Journal. By Joyce Edlefsen.
Salazar announces wolves delisted in Rockies and hunting can begin – Idaho Statesman
Wolves will be delisted in the Northern Rockies except Wyoming on Thursday, Interior Secretary Ken Salazar said.
The rule would reinstate the 2009 decision by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to delist the gray wolf in Idaho and Montana, eastern Washington, eastern Oregon and northern Utah.
Western Watersheds Project expects to file litigation in U.S. District court challenging the delisting rider.
George Wuerthner critiques the assumption that cougar hunting will decrease conflict with humans.
Oregon’s assumptions on cougar hunting misplaced – George Wuerthner, NewWest.net
Oregon, like many western states, allows cougar hunting. Part of the justification for hunting is the assumption that killing cougars will reduce livestock losses and increase public safety. There is, however, growing scientific evidence that suggests that sport hunting is more likely to increase cougar predation on livestock and may even increase the likelihood of cougar attacks on humans.
Montana’s wolf hunt is expected to be easier on the state’s wolf population than Idaho’s. With the congressional delisting of the wolf in the Northern Rockies, Montana and Idaho can pretty do what they want in terms of wolf quotas.
State wildlife officials propose 220-wolf quota for 2011 season. By Eve Byron Helena Independent Record.
Also, Obama administration takes wolves off endangered species list. AP. They are also delisting the Great Lakes population, which is certainly ready. Unfortunately, all three states: Minnesota, Wisconsin, and Michigan have fallen to tea party governors. Michigan’s seems as bad as Wisconsin’s notorious Scott Walker.
Because there are not many wolves in Oregon, this is a big deal. The pack has 10-14 members. There was one other wolf pack known on the Oregon/Washington state border in 2010 — the Wenaha Pack. It might have 6 members. USFWS has ordered capturing and “euthanizing two un-collared sub-adults from the Imnaha pack.” That wolf pack has killed some cow calves every once and a while over the last year.
Rob Klavins of Oregon Wild said in a statement, “This kill order randomly targets any two wolves of Oregon’s Imnaha Pack. That is not wildlife management, it is retribution.”
My view is that, of course, it is retribution. After watching and writing about wolf depredations of cattle for over 15 years now, I’d say “wolf control” is almost always retribution of a kind. Wolves rarely kill enough livestock in any place to make the dead calf or sheep an economic issue, but it is always a political issue. Wolves killing livestock are treated with the same gravity as human homicides and political assassinations, reflecting the values of those who rule in western rural areas.
Update on Oregon wolf packs (taken from a news story). “Oregon currently has three wolf packs: the Imnaha (10 wolves at latest count), Wenaha (six wolves) and Walla Walla (three wolves). The Walla Walla pack is new and wildlife managers are still trying to determine their range, which could primarily be in Washington State.”
This is big news for all who float or boat the main fork of the Salmon River below the Corn Creek put-in. I’d like to know more about what caused this blowout on April 1.
White water created on Salmon River by blowout. By Eric Barker. The Lewiston Tribune as reported in the Idaho Statesman.
A new study is confirming what many have been suggesting all along; We don’t need to sacrifice wild-lands and pristine wildlife habitat to facilitate renewable energy, it’s all about proper siting.
Win-Win for Wind and Wildlife: A Vision to Facilitate Sustainable Development – Kiesecker JM, Evans JS, Fargione J, Doherty K, Foresman KR, et al. 2011 – PLoS ONE
We estimate there are ~7,700 GW of potential wind energy available across the U.S., with ~3,500 GW on disturbed lands. In addition, a disturbance-focused development strategy would avert the development of ~2.3 million hectares of undisturbed lands while generating the same amount of energy as development based solely on maximizing wind potential.
During the winter, I made a number of posts about the hard conditions for ungulates in the Northern Rockies. The failure of spring to arrive is causing deaths to continue and grow.
Record wildlife die-offs reported in Northern Rockies. Reuters. By Laura Zuckerman.
Politics and reality clash in New Mexico. Posted on May 1, 2011 by Bob Berwyn. Summit County Citizens Voice.
Although he was out of office for a couple years, newly elected Pearce (R-US Rep) is up to his old tricks, made meaner for these lean times.
Although the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service says protecting the lizard will cost no jobs, Pearce says it will have a big effect.
My view is these people (Republican office-holders like Pearce) can play around with causing a default on the national debt without worrying about jobs, but they won’t let this get past them — a lizard versus oil jobs is just too good for rabble rousing to let it pass.
Kiren Suckling executive director of the Center for Biological Diversity called, “Congressman Pearce’s campaign of misinformation and hysteria is a threat to democracy.” A healthy democracy requires good information and trustworthy politicians. When people like Pearce abuse their positions of power and promote hysteria with fear mongering, they undermine the foundation of democracy and civil society.” This is from “Group Calls on New Mexico Congressman to Recant False Statements About Dunes Sagebrush Lizard. News Release.
Here is a moose that was killed on Highway 28 just north of Leadore, late this winter. I stopped to take these pictures because I wondered whether the moose had actually been killed by a car, or had been murdered by some motorized nimrod. Moose are so big that they bring out the idiot – never far below the surface – in some of the male apes hereabouts. Moose don’t flee when a vehicle stops nearby. They don’t seem to realize that people are No Damn Good.
My suspicions were aroused because there were no skid marks on the pavement near the carcass. However, apparently this was yet another case of death by vehicle. You can see the moose’s broken hind leg. But that big hole in her head may indicate that someone shot the disabled animal “to put it out of its misery.”
I felt more than usually sorry about this because the same moose (or its twin) had spent some time ambling around our place; we found its tracks out in the old sheep corrals. And one day I looked out the upstairs windows and there she was, stepping over barbed wire fences in her ludicrously effortless way. I do wonder what killed her – tractor-trailer, diesel pickup? Probably not a hybrid, or we would have read about human casualties.
So a young, healthy moose, its best reproductive years still ahead of it, was killed not by the evil wolves [sarcasm alert], but by the only moving thing out there bigger than she was. When I look at the decomposing pile of hair and meat and bone, I think that $10 a gallon gasoline can’t come fast enough. And I wonder, does anyone know where to get some Buprestid (sp?) beetles? I covet that skull, hole or no hole.
I think that most people think that poaching should be punished. Rammell seems to think that most people feel just the opposite and that they might side with him. I doubt he’s right and I think that this will make thing much worse for him. He doesn’t seem to be getting much sympathy either.
Rammell trial delayed pending new investigation.
“Oh ye mountains high and the clear blue sky . . .” These are words from a Mormon hymn that isn’t sung in church much anymore. I don’t know the reason, but it is appropriate because northern Utah has slowly developed the dirtiest air the country in the winter. High emissions are one reason, but the biggest factor is the strong temperature inversions that form in the mountain valleys whenever high pressure builds. High pressure usually means good weather, but not in northern Utah.
Cache Valley is the best (or worst) example. In part, I grew up there. I still remember the dirty winter fogs and the cloud of black that hung over Logan, a large town, when I was in high school. The black is gone because coal isn’t burned any more for space heating, but the pollution is now more widespread and more toxic.
The population of Cache Valley has grown. This is in part because of its beauty 3 seasons of the year. This means more traffic. In the remaining agricultural parts of the valley, CAFOs have proliferated. The result is residents breathing sun-modified auto emissions and manure emissions throughout the winter.
Utah’s bad air. Opinion in the Salt Lake Tribune
http://www.airquality.utah.gov/aqp/ This URL gives real time pollution levels, and they are not bad in the springtime.
The Ivanpah solar thermal project consists of 5.4 square miles of high quality habitat for the Endangered Species Act protected desert tortoise, a fact that developers (and some investors) underestimated resulting in the temporary suspension of activities on phases 2 and 3 of the project site due to construction activities exceeding the incidental take limit (number of tortoises allowed to be disturbed) the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service set at 38 Endangered Species Act protected desert tortoises.
The temporary suspension of activities prompted the Bureau of Land Management to take a closer look, and issue a Revised Biological Assessment () estimating the number of desert tortoise the project may impact given what we now know. As it turns out, the initial incidental take limit of 38 was off the mark to the tune of thousands of desert tortoises:
More than 3,000 desert tortoises would be disturbed by a solar project in northeast San Bernardino County and as many as 700 young ones would be killed during three years of building, says a federal assessment issued Tuesday.
This past winter a big fat doe was killed on the county road in front of our property; a couple of immature bald eagles soon appeared and we were worried about them perhaps getting struck by a car as they tried to feed on the narrow right-of-way. So we dragged the carcass into the field out behind our yard. Unfortunately, the result was that a couple of coyotes appeared in broad daylight and that was it for the eagles. “Bastards,” they said to us as they retreated to the cottonwoods along the creek. “Why couldn’t you leave well enough alone?” But the coyotes, one of whom had an injured or crippled foreleg, were happy. I walked right up on this fellow by moving when he had his head buried in the carcass. The moral of the story is that if we had a pack of wolves in the vicinity, this fellow wouldn’t still be alive to stand around and eat venison in the daylight with a bad foot.
Oil sands of Alberta are bad enough, but they look good compared to Western oil shale. Its development will produce little, if any, net energy, while leaving much waste and giant pits. It takes a lot of water too, and the deposits are in the driest part of the United States.
BLM hearing in Salt Lake City sees much opposition to oil shale. Salt Lake Tribune. By Brandon Loomis.
Yellowstone plow crews encounter deep snow at Sylvan. By Martin Kidston. Billings Gazette Wyoming Bureau.
The north and the west entrances are currently open to the public.
Derrick Jensen, a controversial environmental activist most known for advocating the end of civilization, tells the story of the original Star Wars, as made by environmentalists:
That’s the conclusion of Dr. Doug Smith who heads the Park’s wolf program.
I think that might well be true overall, but Yellowstone Park is a small place when it comes to major predators. With the wolf population in the Park as small as it now is, random fluctuations of predatory effects might, in my opinion, have an important effect on the wolves as far as the Park alone is concerned. . . RM
Bears butting in on Yellowstone wolf kills. Battle of carnivores ultimately has little effect on population. By Cory Hatch. Jackson Hole News and Guide.
I guess dogs actually killing a person are just not interesting enough. How about this article from Treehugger (A Discovery Company)? The headline is “Wolf Attacks Mother Walking with Child in Sweden.” Notice how cleverly written it is to try to make it appear mother and child were almost eaten. “The clash between man and nature has claimed another victim, as two wolves converged on the path of a mother out walking with her child in Norrtälje, north of Stockholm.” [boldface mine]. The wolves converged on a “path.” They attacked the woman’s dog, not her or the baby. If there is a dog present, it always turns out wolves are interested in the dog, and yes, poor fluffy ” bought the farm.”
Most people don’t go beyond the headline and the lead. In the middle of the third paragraph, we finally learn that neither the women or the baby were threatened.
Near the end, the article becomes accurate.
The finite availability of western water is part of the reason Ralph Maughan previously posed the question : Will the resource sucking “sin city” be reclaimed by the desert ? Perhaps eventually, but in the meantime – despite setbacks, the Southern Nevada Water Authority keeps stretching its tentacles in a continuing effort to draw-down surrounding water resources:
Hundreds Protest Las Vegas Water Grab – Great Basin Water Network Press Release
Nevadans and Utahns made it clear once again that Las Vegas won’t take water from rural Nevada without a fight.
This at a time when the Interior Department has announced a report commissioned by the Bureau of Reclamation – which has presumably brushed up on its 9th grade math – highlighting the impacts of climate change to western water resources – including a projection of an 8 to 20 percent decrease in average annual stream flow in several river basins, including the Colorado, the Rio Grande, and the San Joaquin.
Interior Releases Report Highlighting Impacts of Climate Change to Western Water Resources – Interior Press Release
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar today released a report that assesses climate change risks and how these risks could impact water operations, hydropower, flood control, and fish and wildlife in the western United States. The report to Congress, prepared by Interior’s Bureau of Reclamation, represents the first consistent and coordinated assessment of risks to future water supplies across eight major Reclamation river basins, including the Colorado, Rio Grande and Missouri river basins.
Residents on Highway 12 and recreation businesses are rallying against the megaloads.
Fate of ExxonMobil megaloads at stake in Boise hearings. By John Miller. AP in the Missoulian.
Snow extends closures. By Cory Hatch. Jackson Hole Daily
I won’t bother to say the obvious about the danger of dogs versus wolves.
Killer dogs attack. Idaho Statesman.
If there are domestic sheep, they probably shouldn’t risk it.
Montana FWP considers new bighorn herd in Bitterroot. By Perry Backus. Ravalli Republic
Although it might just be passing through, this is a first for this mountain fastness.
Last summer, my spouse (Jackie) staffed a fire tower on the edge of the Eagle Cap Wilderness, which covers much of the mountain range.
The creation of the vast Eagle Cap Wilderness, plus a number of subsequent additions, was a great conservation victory.
Story. Wolverine tracks found for first time in Wallowa County. Researchers seek to answer if animal was loner or part of pack. East Oregonian.
Regarding this headline . . . wolverine don’t form packs.
What the federal delisting for wolves means for Oregon’s packs, ranchers. By Richard Cockle, The Oregonian.
Montana’s ‘wolf man’. By Eve Bryon. Helena Independent Record.
23 years dealing with conservationists, ranchers, scientists, nuts, cranks, and lying politicians. Overall, I think he did a good job, especially considering the context. He kept a cool head, which was simply amazing given the policy he administered. RM
Recently we posted an article how Lake Mead would soon fall to a level that it would no longer be able to generate power. I recently visited (see photo). The drawdown was amazing, but the extreme wet winter and spring upriver will raise the lake for a year for the first time in a decade. The future is still probably bleak for the river’s many water consumers and the downriver wildlife.
Lake Mead replenished by snowfall. Arizona Republic. By Shaun McKinnon.
Bozeman Earth Day speaker: Beef is bad for the planet. By Gail Schontzler. Bozeman Chronicle Staff Writer
It is redundant to call this sad and dangerous. Small arms are used not primarily to cause suffering, but to avoid a loud report from the gun attracting attention. Rural neighbors who are out to settle scores kill each others livestock this way.
Montana probes killing of Yellowstone buffalo. Laura Zuckerman. Reuters US Online Report Domestic News
Addition. Here is the story in the Island Park, Idaho newspaper. Bison haters attack roam-free policy.
4/23. More. Story makes it the U. K. Hunt for the Yellowstone bison serial killer after beasts shot in protected national park. The Daily Mail.
A Hole in the Endangered Species Act. New York Times.
This is good news, although likely temporary.
The turnouts constructed on the Montana side of Lolo Pass appear to be larger than the oil giant said and closer to Lolo Creek which already suffers from highway runoff.
Judge stops construction of big-rig turnouts in western Montana. By Kim Briggeman of the Missoulian
We just received notice that the BLM has suspended construction of some of the the Ivanpah Solar Thermal Power Plant due to the project reaching its upper limit number of tortoise killed for the Biological Opinion and incidental take limits established in approving the project.
Please do not post entire articles here, just the link, the title, and your comments. Posting other people’s writing is a violation of copyright law and takes up too much space.
George Wuerthner wrote this now apt essay over a year ago, published in New West last September, suggesting that should anti-wolf interests succeed in delisting wolves and fail to exercise restraint in killing wolves that it would ultimately backfire.
Wolf Restoration is a Challenge to West’s Old Guard – George Wuerthner – NewWest.net
Demographically the country is changing to a more diverse racial, religious and age structure. The majority of Americans who do not hunt only accept hunting if they believe the hunter is killing an animal to eat it. Public support for hunting declines rapidly if hunters kill animals for trophy mounts. When it comes to shooting an animal just to kill it as would be the case for hunters shooting wolves—and/or worse as a matter of vindication as in predator control, public support turns to public opposition.
Similarly, without the ESA ‘hook’ extending legal protection for wolves, some of the last, best remaining legal angles to protect wolves will be in preventing conflict with livestock on public lands that is ultimately responsible for government trapping and slaughter of entire packs of wolves.
Increased public scrutiny over public lands ranching at the land-use level – demanding that ranchers implement preventative measures as a condition of permit to use public lands to graze cattle and sheep is one tangible avenue wolf-advocates might pursue to accomplish wolf protections.
One thing is for sure – if wolves are to persist on the landscape in the ecologically relevant numbers that advocates have been promoting for years, outrage over the wanton slaughter of wolves must be felt by those responsible.
Wolves to come off endangered list within 60 days
The House and Senate passed a budget bill which included the rider to delist wolves in Idaho, Montana and parts of Oregon, Washington, and Utah but leaves the status of wolves in Wyoming unchanged. The rider, attached by Senator Jon Tester (D-Montana) and Representative Mike Simpson (R-Idaho), mandates that the Secretary of Interior republish the 2009 delisting rule in the Federal Register within 60 days of passage of the bill and restricts the rule from being challenged in court.
President Obama is expected to sign the bill.
The removal of a species from the Endangered Species Act by Congress is an unprecedented move and is likely to be followed by more such moves in the future. Congress has basically said that if a species becomes too inconvenient to industry then it shouldn’t be allowed protection and management of the species doesn’t have to subject to the best available science.
What comes next is anyone’s guess but surely there will be a great number of wolves killed in Idaho and Montana in areas where their respective game agencies have blamed wolves for declined elk populations. Those killings could begin immediately after the rule is published in the Federal Register and if they occur soon then they will undoubtably end up killing packs of wolves who are near their den sites. Idaho has committed to maintain only 10-15 breeding pairs or 100-150 wolves in total and they recently passed a wolf disaster declaration which defines a wolf disaster as having any more than 100. Even though that legislation is now moot because it only applied while wolves were not protected under the ESA, it is a signal of things to come from the legislature next year.
One thing should become abundantly clear. The livestock industry, with the help of Democrats, did this. If anyone thinks that Democrats represent the interests of wildlife advocates or that the livestock industry presents anything other than a threat to wildlife then they are fooling themselves. Now that you recognize this what do you do? Do you hold them accountable? Do you escape from your codependent behavior that so many of us used to avoid conflict with our families and understand that it is effective politically? Really, this happened because the anti-wolf crowd was able to rile up people into a fervor using hyperbole and fear that was noticed by politicians who are only worried about their reelection. That’s how politics works. The squeaky wheel gets the grease.
At least one group is already blaming the non-settling groups for taking away “leverage to rally senators against Tester and Reid” even though the judge specifically pointed out that he did not have the discretion to “allow what Congress forbids”. Of course I wasn’t pleased with the settlement deal and I don’t think that it would have provided any more protection than what wolves face today but I also don’t think that it is useful to blame anyone other than the people who orchestrated this gutting of the Endangered Species Act. We could have that conversation but what purpose does it serve other than to feed one’s ego?
The real focus should be on making sure that wolves remain on the landscape and serve a meaningful role in the ecosystem and not just a token population that exists at artificially low levels. I suggest that there are a few main targets to make sure this happens. First, defund the Wildlife Services predator control program, they need to be grounded so that they can’t kill wolves from the air. Second, conservationists need to recognize that the livestock industry is who orchestrated this and that they will be more scrutinized now that they have done this. More focus should be placed on public lands ranching that depends so much on the good graces and taxes of the public. And Third, the politicians who take the votes of wildlife advocates need to held to account. Western Democrats worked hand in hand with Republicans and the livestock industry to get this done. They need to know that they will face primary challengers who are willing to scuttle their entire candidacy just to make the point.
Does the metaphorical Hayduke live? I’m not so sure anymore. Can he be resurrected? I hope so. As conservationists we have to give them hell.
There has been a flurry of press and opinion about the wolf delisting rider attached to the budget bill and the ongoing negotiations in Wyoming to change their wolf management plan in the last several days.
Some of the reporting is good and some misses important elements of the controversy but the issue has become very well publicized. By all reports I’ve received, members of the House and Senate have received a huge number of calls about the issue but, unless the bill is defeated, there is likely no way to remove the language from it.
Below the fold is a long compilation of just the articles which have appeared in the press in the last two days.
I’m heading back home from a fruitless mission to find sign of sage grouse near leks (strutting grounds) along the Owyhee Front near Murphy, Idaho. We didn’t find any sign at all and fear that they are blinking out in this once productive stronghold.
Google announces its private investment in Brightsource Energy, the proponent of the controversial Ivanpah Solar Thermal Project:
Google Solar Project: Google Invests $168 Million In Mojave Power Plant – Huffington Post
The commitment announced Monday is part of the financing that BrightSource Energy needs to build a solar power plant in California’s Mojave Desert.
A BrightSource contractor working on the Ivanpah Solar Electric Generating Station in California’s Mojave Desert kills a Mojave yucca (Yucca schidigera) that was likely between 400-800 years old.
Around Christmas, Interior Secretary Ken Salazar announced that the administration would be pursuing a BLM Wild Lands initiative, vague direction to BLM to inventory lands which exhibit wilderness characteristics for future Congressional Wilderness designation consideration.
It was a brief respite from Obama’s anti-environment Interior Department. Now that relief is being defunded, more anti-environment funding cuts carried by the budget bill:
Budget deal stops BLM Wild Lands inventory – Idaho Statesman
The budget deal prohibits the Obama administration from spending federal funds on its proposed Wild Lands initiative.
Idaho Republican Rep. Mike Simpson authored the provision to stop the Bureau of Land Management from carrying out its inventory of public lands with wilderness characteristics.
Will the proposed budget cut funds to administer environmentally destructive subsidized uses of publics lands like welfare ranching ?
Just when you think it couldn’t get any worse, new language was added to the rider which delists wolves in the Northern Rockies at the insistence of Wyoming’s delegation. The new language intends to make it easier for Wyoming’s plan to pass muster or make it so that a plan that is being negotiated will pass muster with the USFWS. There are reports that Governor Mead has been holding meetings behind closed doors among only groups who have little respect for wolves. The deal being considered would slightly decrease the free-for-all kill zone and provide for “dispersion routes” so that wolves could possibly disperse to Colorado or Utah.
This is the language contained in the Final FY 2011 Budget Bill.
SEC. 1713. Before the end of the 60-day period beginning on the date of enactment of this Act, the Secretary of the Interior shall reissue the final rule published on April 2, 2009 (74 Fed. Reg. 15123 et seq.) without regard to any other provision of statute or regulation that applies to issuance of such rule. Such reissuance (including this section) shall not be subject to judicial review and shall not abrogate or otherwise have any effect on the order and judgment issued by the United States District Court for the District of Wyoming in Case Numbers 09–CV–118J and 09–CV–138J on November 18, 2010.
What does this all mean? Well, first, this language requires the Secretary of Interior to reissue the 2009 delisting rule which leaves out Wyoming but delists wolves in Idaho, Montana, eastern Oregon, eastern Washington, and northern Utah. This cannot be challenged in court. And, as I pointed out above, it also protects the decision that the judge in Wyoming made which requires the USFWS to re-examine Wyoming’s wolf management plan.
If it passes this could happen at any time during the following 60 days.
Wolf Crosses the Lake Superior Ice to Become Leader of the Pack. By Nicholas Bakolar. New York Times.
Megaloads have no place in Idaho. By Bill Sedivy. Idaho Statesman.
Today Montana District Court Judge Donald Molloy denied the settlement agreement put forth by 10 of the 14 environmental groups who sued to keep wolves protected under the Endangered Species Act. The settling parties had asked the judge to set aside his previous ruling which found that the USFWS 2009 delisting rule was illegal because it split the distinct population segment (DPS) of wolves in the Northern Rockies and left them listed in Wyoming. The Endangered Species Act does not allow the USFWS to partially delist a DPS.
“[The] District Court is still constrained by the “rule of law.” No matter how useful a course of conduct might be to achieve a certain end, no matter how beneficial or noble the end, the limit of power granted to the District Court must abide by the responsibilities that flow from past political decisions made by the Congress. The law cannot be ignored to accommodate a partial settlement. The rule of law does not afford the District Court the power to decide a legal issue but then at the behest of some of the litigants to reverse course and permit what the Congress has forbidden because some of those interested have sensibly, or for other reasons, decided to lay a dispute to rest.”
Well, they’ve done it. They’ve reached an agreement to keep language in the upcoming budget bill which would delist wolves everywhere in the Northern Rockies except Wyoming. (Added to clarify what has happened)
While this process doesn’t immediately delist wolves, it cannot be challenged. It is unclear exactly what the language says but presumably wolves in the Northern Rockies will be delisted in all but Wyoming as previous wording has indicated. Previous language mandates the US Fish and Wildlife Service to republish the rule which delisted wolves in 2009. It does not preclude a petition to relist wolves if their populations become endangered again. The delisting rule still holds the states of Idaho and Montana to their management plans but it seems that, with the most recent “wolf disaster declaration” that they don’t intend to allow more than 100 wolves to persist in the state.
Also, the recent settlement agreement, as some have previously indicated, will likely provide political cover to the USFWS to accept Wyoming’s management plan with little or no changes. It seems that wolves are facing dark days ahead.
Budget bill pending before Congress would remove wolves from endangered list.
Matthew Brown – Associated Press
To clarify, the language has not been passed yet. It was not included in the short term budget agreement which funds the government for the next several days but, rather, will be included in the long term budget bill which is being written and will be posted for review for three days as House rules require.
The Boise Weekly has written another strong exposé on Idaho dairies and how the State’s regulators are utterly failing to regulate them or test their products for dangerous levels of antibiotics and other drugs.
Got Milk? Got Drugs? Got Both?: State Responds After Idaho Dairy Cattle Test Positive in Food Safety Tests | High levels of antibiotics and other drugs found in cattle linked to dairies.
By George Printice – Boise Weekly
Rocky Barker has a blog today about the upcoming status of public lands in the government shutdown.
National forests and BLM lands will remain open but national parks close. By Rocky Barker. Idaho Statesman
Update. Looks like some deal was worked out late Friday night. Government remains open
Yesterday I received an envelope containing a report which was hand-delivered to every member of the U.S. Congress. The report was prepared by the group Living with Wolves which was founded by filmmakers Jim and Jamie Dutcher.
Their mission statement reads:
Living with Wolves is dedicated to raising awareness about the social nature of wolves, their importance to healthy ecosystems, threats to their survival and the essential actions people can take to help save wolves.
I think the report is very worthy reading and does a good job of explaining why legislative delisting of wolves should be opposed.
It looks more and more like a government shutdown of uncertain duration. Dept of Interior just made it clear that national parks and monuments will be closed down and “secured.” I have to wonder what will happen come Saturday to all those currently inside of big parks like Yellowstone?
DOI said national wildlife refuges and BLM visitor facilities will be closed. I don’t know how they can bar entry to the hundreds of millions of acres of scattered BLM lands, but a lot of NWRs could have the access gates of major roads locked shut. National forests? That is the USDA. I haven’t read a statement from them.
We were on our way to some national parks, so I guess a lot of plans are being disrupted and people angry at the buffons in Congress. While others will no doubt disagree with me, I blame the tea party Republicans foremost for this totally avoidable problem of uncertain, but probably severe magnitude.
Editorial basically says Idaho legislature has gone bonkers. And in the end, hysteria triumphs in Idaho Legislature. Magic Valley (Twin Falls, ID) Times-News.
Most of the comment on the blog has been about what happens to the wolves, but my take has also been if they pass crazy legislation like this in the Idaho legislature, can you imagine what other laws must be like? As they say, “when the legislature is in session, lock your gate and prepare to protect your life and property.”
I have been thinking about this and all the other frightening things the legislature has done this year (fortunately not to me directly). Sane Idahoans need to organize or they will lose their freedom, property, and many other rights. Because it is such a Republican state by tradition, there might have to be a third party.
The legislature also just closed their primary election (that is they will now only allow registered Republicans to vote in it). The effect of this is to permanently lock craziness in power because independents and Democrats will have no say in who the Republicans nominate for office. In Idaho the winner of a primary election is pretty much the one who will win in November. Otherwise, the only hope is reform from within the Republican Party.
The Idaho Statesman has published an editorial about the recent “Wolf Disaster Declaration” recently passed by the Idaho House and sent to the floor for a vote in the state Senate:
Our View: Beware: Legislative ‘scientists’ at work – Idaho Stateman Editorial Board
Boyle says Idahoans feel physically and psychologically threatened by the wolves — a message echoed, in less-than-measured tones, in the bill itself. “The uncontrolled proliferation of imported wolves on private land has produced a clear and present danger to humans, their pets and livestock, and has altered and hindered historical uses of private and public land, dramatically inhibiting previously safe activities such as walking, picnicking, biking, berry picking, hunting and fishing.”
Not exactly. Wolf attacks are extremely rare — and certainly in relation to the region’s population of fearmongering political panderers.
Strong language in the editorial, but not enough to pacify what looks soon to be their bloodlust fantasy codified into state statue.
A “Bison conservation area” will be established in the Gardiner Basin, and for the first time it looks like migrating bison that cross the Yellowstone Park boundary on the north end will be allowed to roam rather than be shot or trucked off to slaughter.
Although the area is a large 75,000 acres almost all of it is steep mountainslope that bison rarely use. The basin itself is a couple thousand acres along both sides of the Yellowstone River until the mountains squeeze it shut at Yankee Jim Canyon on the north.
A hunt will be established and the annual bison slaughter ended. Apparently an average of 400 bison will need to be killed each year to keep the current population in the Park about stable. In mild years, few bison migrate north, so obviously in some years no hunt is possible.
Tea partiers and cattle cranks in the Montana legislature have passed a number of anti-bison bills, so this announcement assumes that Governor Schweitzer will veto them.
I think this is something to celebrate at a time when radicals have taken over many state legislatures and weird, dangerous and mean spirited laws emerge daily.
Agreement to let Yellowstone bison roam in [Gardiner area]. Associated Press.
The Senate Resources and Environment Committee will be holding a hearing today at 2:00 pm on H343 in room WW02 of the Capitol building. There will likely be crowd present so be there early if you want to testify.
This bill, which is likely to pass and be signed by the Governor, demonstrates exactly why Idaho cannot be trusted to manage wolves. Even if the IDFG desires to set management goals for wolves above the minimum of 10-15 breeding pairs or 100-150 wolves, the legislature is showing that it can, and will, override them. This legislation seems to even strike at their own 2002 plan which allows wolves to persist in areas where they are not even causing conflict. This would define conflict in such a way that even their presence on a mountain top far away from anyone is a conflict because it might scare some weakhearted berry picker.
You can watch or listen here: Idaho Legislature Live (Idaho Public Television).
Sometimes you have to wonder…….
It doesn’t seem like a good move by those who want wolves to be delisted to me.
House presses on with wolf disaster declaration.
Update: According to sources in the legislature, I’m guessing that this will likely pass the Senate and be signed by the Governor. How this will affect negotiations in the US Senate over the rider to delist wolves, which is attached to the Continuing Resolution, is yet to be determined.
Idaho House declares wolves a disaster emergency.
By Laura Zuckerman – Reuters
The Meltwater Stonefly, an aquatic insect scientists consider can be “ideal early warning indicators of climate warming in mountain ecosystems” is the latest in the long list of species abandoned by the Obama Administration using the “Warranted But Precluded” determination to deny meaningful protections under the Endangered Species Act.
Rare fly won’t get endangered listing – Daily Inter Lake.com
The meltwater Lednia stonefly, also known as the mist forestfly, depends on streams fed by Glacier Park’s glaciers.
The environmental group WildEarth Guardians had petitioned for protection for the stonefly based on the contention that climate change is causing glaciers to shrink and that would imperil the insect.
Demarcated Landscapes has a nice write-up on the disappointing, but not unforeseen, news ~ It’s the end of the world as we know it… just days after the Obama Administration announced its re-election campaign – what could be the first billion dollar campaign – abandoning the old slogans of “Change” and “Yes We Can” with a new campaign motto :
Are You In ?
… Not if you’re the Meltwater Stonefly, Northern Rocky Mountain wolves, Sage grouse, Pygmy rabbit, Wolverines, or any number of other environmental values abandoned by this administration in favor of the political expediency of appointing a western rancher to head the Department of Interior.