Feds hold up oil, gas leases in the Wyoming Range

The Wyoming Range may be the prettiest mountains in Wyoming you never heard of. The begin about 20 miles south of Jackson Hole. They continue southward for many miles, paralleling the Salt River Range.

They are full of elk, and massive fields of wildlife flowers. They have been little developed because the soils are very unstable, prone to natural landslides, even without roadbuilding.

Folks in Wyoming have been very generous to the energy industry, but as they move off the high desert up into the big mountains, the attitude of the citizens and many politicians is changing — both Republicans and Democrats.
On this issue citizens, conservationists, ranchers and outfitters are united. They don’t want rigs up there.

Here is a bit of good news, a least in the short run from the Jackson Hole News and Guide.

Down Cliff Creek. Wyoming Range. Copyright Ralph Maughan

A related article from Sunday Sept. 24. Wyoming’s Gov. Dave Freudenthal wants an oil and gas lease buyback bill. Freudenthal is seeking that some of the oil and gas leases in Wyoming’s Red Desert be bought back.

I spent a week in this area in the summer of 2004. It’s amazing — huge elk right out on the desert in the middle of the summer, pronghorn everywhere, and lots of wild horses, and then, not a gas rig in sight.

Posted in Elk, oil and gas, politics, public lands, public lands management, wilderness roadless, Wildlife Habitat. Comments Off on Feds hold up oil, gas leases in the Wyoming Range

75,000 comments on predator control rule in wilderness areas

Here’s one I missed even though I worked very hard trying to stir up comments on the plan to use all sorts of motorized vehicles to go after predators in designated Wilderness areas. The Wilderness Act and the orginal rules issued to implement it did not view predators as a Wilderness problem, but to be one of values of Wilderness.

Here is the story in Demarcated Landscapes.

Posted in public lands, wilderness roadless. Comments Off on 75,000 comments on predator control rule in wilderness areas

Both candidates for ID governor support ban on “shooter bulls”

Both Democrat Jerry Brady and Republican gubernatorial hopeful Butch Otter are saying they support a ban on the “shooter bull” operations that are cropping up in Idaho. A recent television report said there were 14 canned hunt farms and 78 elk farms.

A distinction should be made between the two, but both are controversial, with “shooter bulls” seeming to be very unpopular among Idaho hunters as well as the general public. My observation is based on letters to the Idaho media, editorials, and the large turnout against new canned hunt east of Blackfoot, Idaho.

Clearwater River area wolf killing plan withdrawn by State of Idaho

Although it hasn’t been officially announced, I understand the recent plan to reduce the wolf population by 80% for five years over a large portion of north central Idaho has been withdrawn. I regard this as one of the biggest victories in a long time.

Idaho Fish and Game Commission proposed it as a way of regenerating the large elk herds that have declined in the last 15 years in much of the upper Clearwater River drainages.

The plan was immediately met by massive negative public comments, both within and outside of Idaho.

It was probably obvious too, to the Fish and Game Commission, that the plan could not pass scientific muster. That is required until the wolf is completely delisted, although I think that science should play a much more important role in all aspects of wildlife management.

The sample size of wolf-killed elk was far too small to draw conclusions about the impact of wolf predation. There was no plan in place to monitor the elk population each year in project area as the plan was carried out. The rival hypothesis that the population decline of elk was due to habitat succession is well documented. It requires much evidence to shoot that hypothesis down. Idaho Fish and Game didn’t have it.

This will come up again when the wolf is delisted because the Commissioners are politicians of sorts, and they know that the appearance of doing something matters.

– – – –

Update Sept. 23. I was wrong believing that the Idaho Fish and Game Commission came to their senses and withdrew their scheme. Instead, the federal government rejected it, as this story from the AP by John Miller indicates.

County commission approves new canned hunting operation in Eastern Idaho

200 people showed up at the meeting in Blackfoot, Idaho. That is really a lot for Bingham County, Idaho. The county commission required double-fencing of the elk shooting gallery for rich “hunters.” There are lots of wild deer and elk outside the operation. Nevertheless, they approved it.

Read story in the Idaho State Journal.

Posted in Elk, politics, Wildlife Habitat. Comments Off on County commission approves new canned hunting operation in Eastern Idaho

More on the killing of first bison of the season by Montana DOL

There is a story about it by Mike Stark in today’s Billings Gazette about it. Read Article.

He does recite the standard list of official lies for the action, but futher down comes the welcome news that the presence of Montana Dept. of Livestock in the area is increasingly resented by local residents.

The day is coming when they will wrench the DOL’s heel off of the back of their necks.