Failure to pass in this Congress might improve the two Idaho “wilderness bills’

The next Congress will have to take up these bills afresh — from the start. With Democrats now in control, the Times-News opines that the bills may have to get more conservation friendly to puss muster.

Read: Delays may help both Idaho wilderness plans. Twin Falls Times-News. I have characterized these bills (and a lot of copycat bills for other states) as “wilderness designation with side payments.” These are side payments to non-wilderness and anti-wilderness folks. Unfortunately, these side payments confer real non and anti-wilderness political gifts, while all that the wilderness designation does is draw a line around an already existing area of land that is wilderness in fact, but not protected as such by law.

In terms of real conservation it’s what happens on the ground that counts, not what happens on on a map. Some conservation groups don’t recognize that, however, and end up agreeing to symbolic victories while the real, tangible, material rewards go to others.

I would propose that if these bills are to continue they need to become “wilderness designation” with sidepayments to conservation as well as non-conservation interests. For example, in CIEDRA which would designative wilderness in Idaho’s Boulder and White Clouds Mountains, the bill that passed the House has only gifts of privatized public land offered to Custer and Blaine County and gifts to off-road vehicle folks. As Representative Simpson introduced it, however, it had a buyout of grazing in the roaded East Fork of the Salmon River and also inside what would become designated wilderness. This would be a real change, not a change on paper. Simpson dropped this, however, when Richard Pombo, the committee insisted.

Pombo is now defeated, and this side payment to conservation should be added back and more side-payments should be proferred, such as a buyout of grazing in nearby Copper Basin. This is not a roadless area, but with the livestock removed, Copper Basin could become a wildlife rich area like the Lamar Valley in Yellowstone, only more scenic (which may seem impossible to hard core Lamar Valley veterans) with thousands of elk, and hundreds of moose and pronghorn, wolf packs that don’t get shot, and many more beaver than can survive under the current oppressive regime of heavy cattle and sheep grazing all the way past the timberline to the bare rock of the stunning Pioneer Mountain range (stunning if you don’t look at the ground).

Copper Basin and the Pioneer Mountains. This high mountain valley has the Pioneer Mountains (Idaho’s 2nd highest range) on three sides, and the White Knob Mountains on the other (east side). Copyright Ralph Maughan. Cattle graze the Basin and the mountains up past the timberline, all the way to the rock line. Maybe elimination of cattle could be a way to coax conservationists to support a Boulder/White Clouds Wilderness bill in the next Congress.

Agents, landowners killing more wolves

Yes, they are killing more wolves after livestock attacks. This will not reduce the wolf population unless, other things being unchanged, the mortality rate reaches 30 to 40% a year.

A more significant question is “does this do any good and is it cost-effective?” Does it make economic sense to call out the Wildlife Services “air force” and spend $20,000 killing a wolf or wolves that did $1000 damage?

Another questions is, are these revenge shootings or efforts to solve a problem?

One of the most significant parts of the article below, by Mike Stark of the Billings Gazette, is this

“A University of Calgary study published earlier this year said killing problem wolves is only a temporary solution to livestock attacks. Once the offender is removed, another eventually moves in to take its place.

“Wolves are being killed as a corrective, punitive measure – not a preventative one,” Marco Musiani, one of the study’s authors, said earlier this year.

A better approach, he said, is to look at when and where depredations occur and take steps like changing grazing patterns and using guard dogs, fencing, wolf repellants and other measures”

Stark also wrote:

“Coyotes kill 28 times more sheep and lambs than wolves, according to figures compiled by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Foxes, dogs, bears and even eagles also rank higher, and that’s not to mention weather, diseases and lambing complications.”

Story today in the Billings Gazette.

Sheep-killing mystery canid might not have been a wolf

The large canid that killed sheep for over a year in northeast central Montana and which was finally shot about a month ago, might not have been a wolf afterall, but the possibility that it was a wolf has not been ruled out.

As in life, controversy continues over the animal’s nature and origin even with its carcass in hand. Its markings and color are different from the now native wolves of Montana, Idaho and Wyoming, suggesting it is a wolf hybrid, but then again it might have been a wolf migrating in from Minnesota.

DNA analysis should tell the story.

Officials don’t know if predator was wolf or where it came from. By Mike Stark. Billings Gazette.

Story of its shooting back on Nov. 3, 2006. “NE Montana mystery canid finally killed after a year.”

Posted in Montana wolves, Wolves. Comments Off on Sheep-killing mystery canid might not have been a wolf