Stanley, Idaho prohibits winter feeding of elk

Stanley Basin is naturally poor elk winter range because it is the coldest inhabited town in Idaho and most of the grass is eaten by cattle in the summer, leaving very little for wintering elk. Stanley sits at the head of the Salmon River Canyon, and big game that migrates 5 or ten miles down into that canyon find an abundance of winter forage. Before feeding began, and continuing today, a few elk winter near Stanley on the high, wind-blown ridges. There, the grass peeks out of the snow and high location reduces the likelihood that cattle will found it first.Because of Gillet’s vociferous opposition to wolves, some Stanley residents have worried what might happen if wolves show up and chase the struggling band of elk that are being fed. The general area around Stanley now has two wolf packs, the long-time Galena Pack and the new Basin Butte Pack. If the elk head down into the canyon, the wolves will follow and not hang around town.

Lately the winter has been mild, with rain melting much of the previous snow, and the elk are not down in Stanley Basin.

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Elk cows and calves eat hay near Benner Street near Stanley city
limits. Feb 1, 2006. Photo: Lynne K. Stone

Update on Dec. 15. It turns out that Gillet may have access to an odd shape of property that is outside the Stanley city limits and may yet be able legally feed elk.

Wyoming cougars dead of plague

Bob Caesar called my attention to this story story in the Jackson Hole News and Guide.

Cougars die from Plague by Cory Hatch.

A mother cougar and her kitten died of plague. Two other cougars were found dead of the plague. This is rare in Wyoming, plague being more of a threat in the Southwest, but it not as uncommon as thought. Five people have died of plague in Wyoming since 1978, according to the article.

Posted in wildcats, wildlife disease. Comments Off on Wyoming cougars dead of plague

New Forest Plan Rule Nukes NEPA

Perhaps the most important environmental decisions the Forest Service makes is the 15-year (on the average) forest plans for each of national forests. The National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) has always been at the core of the forest plans. NFMA, the National Forest Management Act, requires the forest plans and their updating, but it’s NEPA that guarantees they have to truly consider the public’s opinion (including the opinion of the timber industry, and extractive groups). It is also NEPA that guarantees that their data is accurate, reality-based, so there won’t be made-up figures to satisfy some local or state politician.

Now the Forest Services has issued a final rule that lets the Service ignore NEPA when amending or writing new forest management plans.

This means the Forest Plans won’t have any scientific analysis to support them, and they won’t apply until and if future decisions are made. It makes the Forest Service blind and renders the Forest Plans meaningless.

Was it happening is the standards of politicized intelligence gathering and interpretation that led the United States into Iraq to get those “terrible WMDs” will now be applied to the pride of American public lands, the National Forests.

Brodie Farquhar has the news in New West.

I imagine these new regulations will be struck down in court, but it shows the spirit corruption so typical of the old Congress and the hatred of science so typical of the Bush Administration lives on in the Department of Agriculture of which the Forest Service is part.

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Related New Controls on Publishing Research Worry USGS Scientists. AP. International Herald Tribune. “The Bush administration is clamping down on scientists at the U.S. Geological Survey, who study everything from caribou mating to global warming, subjecting them to controls on research that might go against official policy.”

So information about grizzly bears, elk, and climate change is going to be subject to censorship by political commissars, just like in any totalitarian country, although I have not heard of despots censoring information about wildife before.

Related too. The A to Z Guide to Political Interference in Science. Union of Concerned Scientists

Wild Bill says Rocky Mountain Front has not been saved

Stopping the oil and gas leasing is not enough,  Bill Schneider. New West.

The Forest Service is not protecting the area from off-road vehicles and parts of the Front could fill up with trophy homes.

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An ominus sign on the Rocky Mountain Front. Montanans will recognize that is not “Buffalo Hill,” but famous landmark Haystack Butte in the distance. Photo copyright Ralph Maughan