Western Watersheds Project’s comments on Idaho wolf population management plan

Many folks will like to read this, find a lot of good information and see how thoroughly political, rather than scientific the plan is. There is great information placing wolf caused livestock mortality into context with other kinds of losses.

The due date for comments was Dec. 31, 2007.

This  is an 8 page pdf document written by Debra Ellers, WWPs Western Idaho Director.
The comments.

Idaho elk, deer survival rate high despite growing wolf population

Idaho elk, deer survival rate high despite growing wolf population. By Rocky Barker. Idaho Statesman.

The survival rate for radio collared deer and elk females was over 85% and it increased in 2007 over 2006 despite the growing wolf population.

Update:

The same piece, with some editing and anecdote the day after.

Elk, deer survival high despite prowling wolves. By Rocky Barker. Idaho Statesman. Edition 01/01/08

be

2600 acres of Wisdom River Ranch has conservation easement donated and purchased

SW Montana cattle ranch protected from subdivision. By Nick Gevock. Montana Standard

Plum Creek subdivisions could strain fire budget in NW Montana

Plum Creek timber is the largest private landholder in Montana, and now since timbering no longer pays as much as remote subdivisions do, they are planning, asking and building a lot of them. Many are located in expensive-to-service, forest fire prone country. Most county commissions seem to think that they have to let developers do as they please with their land, but who pays for all this?

As long as the US Forest Service keeps fighting fires with the primary goal of saving homes, even the most remote, never-should-have-been built homes, the sprawl will never end (except perhaps now by financial collapse of the mortgage market).

This article explores the problem and suggests the reorientation of thinking of county commissioners will be when they have to assess their constituents the true cost of fire fighting.

Plum Creek subdivisions could strain fire budget. By Michael Jamison, Missoulian.

Kathie Lynch reports on the Druids and Sloughs as mating season nears

Kathie Lynch has another of her great northern range wolf reports. This one focuses on the fast approaching mating season, a time of year when new bonds are temporarily, and sometimes permanently formed, and as it has been discovered in recent genetic research on the Yellowstone wolves, there is much outbreeding from many packs (and no inbreeding). Ralph Maughan

– – – – – – – –

YNP WOLF Notes, December 22-29, 2007. By Kathie Lynch. Copyright.

The 16 wolves of the Druid Peak pack put on a great show over the holidays. The cast of characters includes the alpha pair (480M and 569F), plus everyone’s favorite beta male (302M). There are six yearling females (three grays: 571F, “High Sides,” and “Low Sides”—nicknamed for the depth of the dark saddle markings on their backs, and three blacks: “Bright Bar,” “Dull Bar,” and “Vertical Line”—nicknamed for their white chest markings). There are also four gray and three black pups.

Even though it is still a month before the breeding season, there is already a lot of jockeying for dominance position in the packs and interest in checking out the opposite sex. With six female yearlings who will be ready to breed for the first time in February, the Druids are already attracting a lot of attention. Read the rest of this entry »

Wood River Valley: Wolf howls and water woes. The state of the environment in 2007

The Wood River Valley is a long, many-forked drainage that rises in southern central Idaho mountains and flows southward across the Snake River Plain into the Snake River.

It drains a large area of very scenic backcountry, mountainous frontcountry, and contains the towns of Hailey, Ketchum, Bellevue and Sun Valley, giving the area a much higher average level of wealth than the rest of Idaho.

For environmental, economic and political reasons, it is a part of the state that gets more than average attention.

This article is an overview of “environmental” events there during 2007. Wolf howls and water woes. The state of the environment in 2007. By Jason Kauffman. Idaho Mountain Express.

The biggest story, however, was the Castle Rock forest fire, which threatened Hailey and Ketchum and had a perimeter of about 50,000 acres. Castle Rock Fire brought valley together. Lightning-sparked blaze burned for 20 days near Ketchum. By Jason Kauffman, Idaho Mountain Express.

At the north end of the Valley begins the Sawtooth National Recreation Area, a large parcel of public land, managed by the U.S. Forest Service and set aside by Act of Congress in 1972 primarily for use as recreation and scenery.

Photo of Big Wood River near the southern boundary of the SNRA.

Posted in Fish, Idaho wolves, Motor vehicles wildlife, water issues, Wildfires, Wolves. Tags: , , , . Comments Off on Wood River Valley: Wolf howls and water woes. The state of the environment in 2007

Guest Opinion: Public, private property lost to brucellosis policy

Finally an essay how Montana and Wyoming’s brucellosis policy tramples on private property rights. By Glenn Hockett. Billings Gazette. Guest Opinion: Public, private property lost to brucellosis policy.

He also points out the continuing frenzy over brucellosis  amidst the lackadaisical approach to other livestock diseases.

Wyoming drafts wolf population regulations

The story in the Jackson Hole News and Guide says “hunting regulations,” but they didn’t in fact set hunting regulations.

Wyoming drafts wolf hunting regulations. By Cory Hatch.

Western Watersheds Project sues Bighorn National Forest on grazing

Posted in Grazing and livestock, public lands, public lands management, Wildlife Habitat. Comments Off on Western Watersheds Project sues Bighorn National Forest on grazing

Only one wolf illegally shot in the recent Wisconsin deer hunt

Department of Natural Resources says only one wolf shot during deer hunt. By Robert Imrie. Associated Press writer in the Appleton Post-Crescent.

It wasn’t even a wolf; it was a hybrid.

It is true the wolves are much better accepted in the Great Lakes States than in Idaho, Montana or Wyoming.

Sun Ranch Slates 11,000 Acres for Conservation Easement

Sun Ranch Slates 11,000 Acres for Conservation Easement. New West. By David Nolt.

The Sun Ranch, which is at the base of the high scenic Madison Range, has played a major role in keeping this long, beautiful valley, not far from Yellowstone, from subdivision ruin.

Board mulls hearing on Upper Green River dam

Board mulls hearing on Upper Green dam. Water commission not convinced reservoir idea would fly, but may consider public views. By Noah Brenner. Jackson Hole News and Guide.

Aw the power to stupid ideas. That have such vitality! Like most proposals for new irrigation dams in the West, the economics are horrible. The environmental and pecuniary costs very high and the economic benefits very low.

Green River Lakes is regarded by many as perhaps the most scenic view in Wyoming and the upper Green is perhaps the best remaining moose habitat in a state that is rapidly losing its moose.

squaretopmtn3.jpg
Squaretop Mountain from upper Green River Lake. Copyright Ralph Maughan

Note: I could use a more scenic photo. This is a fairly common one. I would greatly appreciate a contribution. Ralph Maughan

Louisa Willcox: Hope of recovery of grizzly bears in central Idaho is not lost

It is growing increasingly obvious the major threat to grizzly bears is lack of habitat. As the quality of their food sources declines, the same amount of country will support fewer bears. As a result they range more widely and get into trouble as Western development continues to expand into their habitat.

Well there’s not much that can be done about that, right?

Wrong. There’s central Idaho, a huge grizzlyless expanse full of good habitat and not many people. Plans were to begin to restore them them to the area in the early 1990s. Then came governor Dirk Kempthorne, a man of almost no outdoor experience. He protested so loudly about the danger they posed, almost as if they would attack his home in Boise that the plans to restore them were shelved. Now he is Secretary of Interior, but this awful regime will only last one more year, then maybe things can get back on track.

With grizzlies occasionally migrating to the area, Louisa Willcox writes that there is hope yet.

Louisa Willcox: Hope of recovery of grizzly bears is not lost

Border fence raises concerns about wildlife. Environmentalists say barrier will do a better job stopping animals than undocumented workers

Tufts of grizzly fur being used to determine genetic health of population

In particular, researchers are looking to see if bears from the northwest corner of Montana have wandered into the Yellowstone ecosystem. To date, no,” [Charles] Schwartz said. Getting those genes into the greater Yellowstone ecosystem could provide a needed boost for the 550 to 600 grizzlies that live in and around the park.

“The GYE has the lowest diversity of the populations in the lower 48,” Schwartz said.

– – – – –

As a result they are doing DNA analysis of bits of grizzly fur to see if the Yellowstone population needs genetic augmentation.

Story by Mike Stark. Billings Gazette.

Alaskans Weigh the Cost of Gold. Huge mine Could Imperil Salmon, Way of Life

This blog has covered this proposed gold mine earlier. Here is an overview and the latest. Alaskans Weigh the Cost of Gold Mine Could Imperil Salmon, Way of Life. By Karl Vick. Washington Post Staff Writer.

Unlike most other metals, gold is store of monetary value as well as a useful metal. As such, it is not clear that the world economy  benefits from additional mining, processing, and production of gold.

Imagine, for example, what would happen if the amount of refined gold sitting in the world’s vaults suddenly by magic doubled? Would we be better off? Millions of people would lose hundreds of billions (perhaps trillions) of dollars of investments in gold.

As an Idahoan living in a state downwind and slowing being poisoned from the huge gold pits of Nevada (mercury poisoning from them), I have no enthusiasm for gold production. Hopefully Alaskans can save their jobs and lives from this monstrosity.

Posted in Fish. Tags: , . Comments Off on Alaskans Weigh the Cost of Gold. Huge mine Could Imperil Salmon, Way of Life

Possible wolf sighting in Rocky Mountain National Park called “credible” by officials

This may be very good news. Of course, much better new would be two large “canids.”

Colorado does have wolf management guidelines in place. Rocky Mountain National Park is overfull of elk, so many the Park Service wants to start shooting them.

Story in the Estes Park Trail-Gazettte. By John Cordsen.

Wolves aggressively trail dogs with owners near Elmendorf, Alaska

This video is making the rounds. It seems that a wolf pack near Elmendorf, Alaska has become very aggressive toward local dogs; and this means the wolves have gotten very close to people in their effort to attack the dogs.

http://www.cnn.com/video/#/video/us/2007/12/22/alaska.wolf.attack.cnn

I can’t understand why this wolf pack has not been shot by local Game and Fish or whoever.

There are a number of points that need to be made here.

The wolves after the dogs, not their owners. There have been several similar incidents in the Northern Rockies. People tend to think the wolves are after them, but dogs interest wolves a lot more than people do. Nevertheless, a person could be attacked by a wolf if he or she gets between the wolf and the dog.

The women in this video had good reason to worry. The safest course would have been to abandon their dogs, but fortunately other than a scare, only a dog was injured.

If anyone knows this area, I would like to know why this wolf pack has not been controlled?

Update: It looks like this is a military area. Fort Rich closes wolf range. adn.com. The wolves seem to have moved on.

Further update 1-2-2008. This story is really all about dogs and wolves as the comments below reveal. Proponents of wolf fear/hatred are still trying to get this story rolling. The latest is this tear-jerker from a local TV station that made it to MSNBC, Wolves attack area dogs. by Rebecca Palsha. KTUU-TV.

Contrast the hysteria over this with the story on the coyote attacking 2 people in Yellowstone and the bobcat attack in Death Valley.

Coyote bites two in Yellowstone (my post on 1-1) 

“Bullshit” Gazette op-ed from Stockgrowers

The headline came from an email sent my one of the folks who reads this blog.

Below is a guest opinion from the Montana Stockgrowers who recently sacrificed their friends in the Montana Cattle Association on the false god of brucellosis control.

Guest Opinion to the Gazette: Brucellosis policy must protect ranchers. By Steve Roth (Stockgrower dude). Roth writes: “The May 2007 disclosure of brucellosis was the most fearsome event in Montana’s livestock industry in over 20 years.”

I guess the Montana livestock industry must not have had much to worry about the last 20 years. When Idaho lost it’s brucellosis free status (since regained) the media and the livestock associations could hardly motivate themselves to even write a news release.

Remember, the Montana Stockgrowers only speak for a portion of the Montana livestock industry. They are going to hype this all winter long as they kill bison and probably violate the property rights of local residents.

Montana wolf hunt gets preliminary approval

Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks has set up a framework for a Montana wolf hunt once the wolves are delisted. Story. Montana wolf hunt gets preliminary approval. Great Falls Tribune.

Montana’s wildlife commission has been proceeding somewhat more cautiously than Idaho’s.

With 40 breeding pairs (“37” according to this story), it might seem Montana can easily keep its population above 15 breeding pairs, but the breeding pair count in Montana has been pretty unstable in the past, so caution seems warranted if they want to avoid a relisting. Breeding pair numbers are less stable than total population figures.

Here are the past numbers (breeding pairs)-

Year 2000 8 breeding pairs
Year 2001 7 breeding pairs
Year 2002 17 breeding pairs
Year 2003 10 breeding pairs
Year 2004 15 breeding pairs
Year 2005 19 breeding pairs
Year 2006 21 breeding pairs
Year 2007 37? breeding pairs

Forest Service is writing rules to help privatize your lands in favor of outfitters

We could see it in the Idaho wolf population management plan, and now we see in the rules the Forest Service is developing regarding allocation of recreation on public lands.

Story in the Casper Star Tribune. Sweet deal for outfitters? By Brodie Farquhar.

Ever since the Pombo-Gibbons bill to give away our public lands to the mining companies was slapped down in December 2005, there has been an upsurge in interest in keeping and protecting our American public lands from the special interests who want to privatize (steal) them from us.

Because citizens are more watchful now, those who want to grab our lands are getting more sneaky. Senator Larry Craig has always been one of the biggest land-grabbers, and the Forest Service still marches to his tune because his former aide Mark Rey oversees the FS.

Update: thanks to Robert Hoskins, here are the proposed regulations 

Tainted rainfall affecting parks, Agency’s report finds more ammonia in Yellowstone, Glacier

Key members of House Natural Resources committee rebuke Kempthone on wolf delisting

Congressmen Nick Joe Rahall (D-WV), George Miller (D-CA), Norm Dix (D-WA), Wayne Gilcrest (R-MD), Jim Saxton (R-NJ) have written a fine letter to Secretary of Interior Dirk Kempthorne opposing Northern Rockies wolf delisting.

Please thank them. It is rare when we have had political leaders to thank on this issue.

Here is the letter

rahill-kempthornewolves-delist.pdf

Catron County ranch hand deliberately sacrifices livestock so Mexican wolves can be killed

This long story below in High Country News describes an illegal tactics being used to make sure the “dangerous” dozen or so Mexican wolves in this lawless county don’t fare well. Last chance for the Lobo. John Dougherty. High Country News.

The federal government should step up, pull grazing permits, take away radio telemetry, and make sure their personnel are protected. This isn’t just about wolves, it is about a place in New Mexico which for years has been allowed to violate the wildlife and public land laws of the United States and New Mexico, abuse your public land, and get away with it.

I first learned about Catron County in the 1990s when they were in the news for violating grazing laws and asserting the bullshit doctrine of country supremacy to the laws of the United States. An “environmentalist” who had stood up to the local strongarm tactics attended a political science conference in Colorado Springs. She gave a presentation on the lawlessness of the area. She actually had to live in a safe house.

Presidential candidate Bill Richardson, governor of New Mexico, would do well to send sufficient law enforcement into the area to maintain order and restore the rule of law.

News Release from the Center for Biological Diversity asking for action.

Ranch hand disputes claim that he lured endangered wolf. Fox11AZ.com

Wyoming US Senator’s bill claims to target beetle kill in Wyoming; others say he is really interested in a public lands giveaway

Barrasso bill targets beetle kill. By Brodie Farquhar. Casper Star-Tribune correspondent.

Whatever his motives, logging has never stopped any of the current beetle kill which is taking place all over the Rocky Mountains. That’s because beetles are not the ultimate cause; it’s the warming climate. The winters are no longer cold enough to kill beetle infestations.

People don’t realize it, but most of the coninferous forests are going to die and then burn to be replaced by something else — what is not clear.

The Ameya Preserve: The Rural Subdivision, Deluxe

This unique and controversial subdivision is being planned for the edge of Paradise Valley, between Livingston and Yellowstone Park. It is being built on Wineglass (Canyon Mountain) where a number of wolf packs have formed in the past.

Its design is far superior to the development that is already going on in the Paradise Valley. It might even by compatable with wildlife; but the fact that it is intended to be a place for socially conscious rich people makes it a lightning rod.

Story in New West. The Rural Subdivision, Deluxe. By David Nolt.

Another story in New West. Montana State Land for Sale. By David Nolt.

One more story in the series New West. Private Property, Public Access and Montana Values. By David Nolt.

The last in the series. New West. The Race to House the Super-Rich. By David Nolt. 

Here is the promo for the “preserve.”

Federal Officials Embrace Wyoming Wolf Killing Plan

There have been a number of stories on this. Here is the view of Earth Justice, who might possibly represent any litigants of the killing plan.

Many Wyoming politicians have long tried to confine nature to Yellowstone Park, and they are succeeding, and the rest of the wide open spaces are being industrialized for oil, gas, and coal.

Federal Officials Embrace Wyoming Wolf Killing Plan. Earth Justice. Press Release.

Suzanne Asha Stone: [Idaho] Wolf management plan is more of a wolf extermination plan

Suzanne Stone had a prominent “readers view” in the Idaho Statesman today. Wolf management Plan is more of an extermination plan.

[Blaine County] Locals denounce [Idaho] state’s wolf plan

Last night, the Idaho Department of Fish and Game held it’s Idaho Wolf Population Management “Open House” followed by a hearing conducted by Blaine County commissioners in Hailey Idaho. For wolf advocates in attendance this night proved to be a remarkably uplifting experience. A diverse group of wolf advocates, hunters, and citizens of Blaine County joined in overwhelmingly condemning the plan and in giving wolves in Idaho a robust advocacy.

Idaho Mountain Express’s take

and my take below the fold…
Read the rest of this entry »

Idaho “wolf viewing area” language is a menace to hunters and wildlife watchers.

You might say, “how’s that? I know it is awful language and a fraud, but how is it dangerous to wildlife watching and hunting in general?

It is dangerous because it arguably transfers ownership of the state’s wildlife to outfitters. Let me write that again, it implicitly transfers ownership of Idaho wildlife from the state of Idaho to private outfitters. Read the rest of this entry »

Wuerthner: Idaho’s wolf plan panders to hunters and ranchers

George Wuerthner writes his usual kind of essay — sustained argument based on, logic, and data from scientific papers — the kind of material politicians usually ignore 😦

Idaho’s wolf plan panders to hunters and ranchers. George Wuerthner. New West.

One thing Wuerthner doesn’t quite get right is that the plan is not a pander to hunters. It is a pander to outfitters, a subclass of hunters, whose interests are increasingly at odds with the average Idaho hunter. I will write more about this today. . . . here it is, see: Idaho “wolf viewing area” language is a menace to hunters and wildlife watchers.

Utah’s “bear problem” won’t be solved by hunting

That dead boy surely seemed to scare a lot of Utahans, and not surprisingly the quota on bears is to be increased by 20% — good news for bear hunters in short run, but it will do little or nothing to reduce “problem bears” because the wrong bears will be killed.

Editorial in the Salt Lake Tribune.

Posted in Bears. Tags: . 7 Comments »

Local church/blue collar alliance protests drilling south of Green River, WY

People of faith have joined with hunters and blue-collar workers in southwest Wyoming to protest a small exploratory drilling project proposed south of Rock Springs.

Rest of the story. By Jeff Gearino. Casper Star Tribune.

Anyone think Wyoming SFW will help these folks, or will they cry “wolf!”?

Utah wildlife officers encounter un-bull-eviable scene

Wildlife officers encounter un-bull-eviable scene. By Brett Prettyman. Salt Lake Tribune

Posted in Elk. 7 Comments »

Arizona Republic says concern for cows has been too much in the Mexican wolf recovery

This is exactly what I think needs to be said. Finally someone realized that preventing extinction of this small wolf is more important than the cows, whose owners lose little if anything.

Let wolves prosper. Editorial. Arizona Republic.

“Wolf watching areas” in Idaho wolf plan are meaningless tokens

Those who are promoting Idaho’s wolf population management plan as some kind of compromise like to point to its provision for “wolf watching areas” as proof that it is a true compromise and a balanced plan.

The reality is these areas are what students of politics term “symbolic rewards,” more commonly called “tokens” or even “chump change.”

The plan really does provide for wolf watching areas. However, none are designated by the plan, and no permanent wolf watch areas will be. Here are the actual criteria for the watching areas (direct quote from the draft plan) : Read the rest of this entry »

Arrest made in blatant antelope killing

Arrest made in blatant antelope killing. By The Associated Press. Billings Gazette.

Gruesome work keeps Montana FWP on top of wildlife disease

Gruesome work keeps FWP on top of wildlife disease. Technicians testing deer to see if chronic wasting disease is present in state.  By Mike Stark. Billings Gazette Staff.

So far no CWD in Montana, probably a tribute to the  insistence by Montana FWP that wintering wildlife in the state  not be fed and the tough stance Montana voters took on “game farms,” and, as someone commented below because Wyoming wolves have been killing CWD-infected deer and elk before the reach in Montana border. Of course the wolves will be gone if Wyoming’s wolf plan, now just approved, is actually implemented.

Rocky Barker: More laughter than anger at Fish and Game wolf meeting [in Boise]

I didn’t write a report on all of the wolf population management plan meetings. I didn’t get news about some of them.

These are Idaho Statesman reporter Rocky Barker’s impressions on the Boise meeting where wolf supporters predominated.

More laughter than anger at Fish and Game wolf meeting.

It is absolutely true that the wolf issue is as the meeting moderator said,  “social,” that is,  in my view a culture clash, having little to do with wolves, which are but a symbol for reaction to change in the West.

Posted in Delisting, Idaho wolves, Wolves, Wolves and Livestock. Comments Off on Rocky Barker: More laughter than anger at Fish and Game wolf meeting [in Boise]

Bush Administration trying to charge fees to photo and film on the public lands.

Now the Bush Administration wants to charge fees and require permits for people who commercially take photos or film in the national parks, national forests, BLM lands and wildlife refuges.

This is another attempt to steal your rights to use your public land right out from under you, and also to prevent coverage of what is going on on the public lands. It is also a clear violation of your First Amendment Rights.

I can see a ranger asking you for your permit to photograph the pollution running out of oil well on the national forest.

– – – – –

Closely related to this new attempt to take away your natural rights as an American is the growing citizen movement to fight back against the RAT (Recreation Access Tax). Story: Turning Back the Clock to the Good Old Days. What the Baucus-Crapo Bill Does. New West by Bill Schneider.

Breaking story: Fees proposed by Bush Administration for filming and photography on public lands. By Les Blumenthal.

Salmon Farming May Doom Wild Populations, Study Says

Salmon Farming May Doom Wild Populations, Study Says. By Juliet Eilperin and Marc Kaufman. Washington Post Staff Writers.

Salmon farms spread disease and sea lice among wild populations.

ID Fish and Game: Don’t count on Idaho wolf hunts soon

John Miller of AP wrote this: ID Fish and Game: Don’t count on Idaho wolf hunts soon.

The federal government may lift protections from northern Rocky Mountain gray wolves by March, but a state wildlife manager said Thursday he expects environmentalists’ lawsuits over Idaho’s management plan will delay legal wolf hunts for the foreseeable future. [emphasis mine]

You can always file a lawsuit, but if you are wrong on the law or the facts, you will soon find you have your case dismissed and you are out of money. If Idaho Fish and Game is saying this in advance, it seems like evidence they know their wolf population management plan is defective. I’d argue the plan is arbitrary and capricious.

This is just a feeling. No one let me into a secret meeting, but I think most F & G folks know this is just a wolf killing plan, not a hunt similar to that of other game animals. They are saying what they have been directed to say from higher authorities such as certain entrenched lobbying groups and high state officials.

Reject Idaho state’s proposed wolf plan

Opinion by Kelly Weston.

Reject state’s proposed wolf plan. (Kelley Weston is a Hailey resident). Idaho Mountain Express.

News on Montana wolf management

News From Montana
by Salle Engelhardt, vice president
Wolf Recovery Foundation

On December 9, 2007 Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks reconvened the original wolf management plan citizen advisory council in order to discuss their views on parameters for a future season on wolves after delisting takes place.

The State of Montana Fish Wildlife and Parks functions on a biennial calendar. Therefore, in order to establish all hunt regulations for all game animals for the next two years, sessions during the next several weeks will be held to accomplish this objective. Since wolves are, currently, anticipated to be delisted this coming February, the agency is mandated by the legislature to establish the regulations for them as well.

Ten of the original members attended two sessions held in Helena on Dec. 9 and 10. Public comment was allowed during the official all-day session on the tenth. The session on the ninth was an evening event during which the committee was briefed on the current status of wolves in Montana and some discussion concerning the other two states involved in the reintroduction of the specie, Idaho and Wyoming. Discussion and MTFWP presentation by Carolyn Sime, state wolf program director, included a comparison of what they thought would happen back when the state’s management plan was developed with what is known at present.
Read the rest of this entry »

Judge Redden tells feds to fix damage to salmon from dams or else

The federal judge pressing the government to remedy the damage Columbia River dams wreak on protected salmon warned Wednesday of “very harsh” consequences if federal agencies fail to find a solution.

This is from the story in the Oregonian by Michael Milstein on the federal judge’s views on the biological opinion that is emerging from the federal government on their latest plan (their 6th “BO”) to save the salmon protected by the endangered species act. We can do better’ for fish, judge says. Columbia salmon: A federal judge promises “very harsh” measures if a solution is not found The previous five haven’t done well.

Rocky Barker has a story on Redden’s warning too today. Get serious about salmon, judge says. Redden tells federal officials he can drain water if they don’t look at all the ways to save fish. Idaho Statesman. He has followed the issue for many years and has a blog entry on it. Redden still holds out hope region can bring him legal salmon plan.

For those who haven’t following this issue, this is the other long-standing wildlife controversy in Idaho (the first being wolves). Unlike the wolves, there is real money at stake here, not a couple million, but billions. Read the rest of this entry »

More on the RAT, privatization, and the last year of dirty deeds by the Bushies.

David Neiwert wrote this insightful piece.

Neiwart, I should add is an expert on the ideas of the Western extreme right wing. Everyone should read his book In God’s Country: The Patriot Movement and the Pacific Northwest. WSU Press. 1999.

The Phonies in the Woods. By David Neiwert. Common Sense. He discusses the RAT tax, the end days of the Bush Administration (it looks ugly for the outdoors), turning the woods over to private outfitters, and how old western establishment, typified by Larry Craig, keep Westerners confused and disorganized.

This article has a lot of excellent links to earlier material.

Posted in politics, public lands management. Tags: , . Comments Off on More on the RAT, privatization, and the last year of dirty deeds by the Bushies.

Pinedale, WY provides cautionary tale for Colorado communities

Pinedale provides cautionary tale for Colorado communities. By Gargi Chakrabarty, Rocky Mountain News.

One thing the article doesn’t mention is that when all these gas leases were let and plans made was that the attention of the keepers of the local traditions was diverted by talk about “the menace” of the 2 or 3 wolf packs that had formed at the north end of the Green River Basin. . . the classic politics of diversion.

Senators Baucus and Crapo trying to repeal the R.A.T.

Federal Lands Recreational Enhancement Act (FLREA) was passed in the dark of night in 2004. It has become known to its opponents as the Recreation Access [to public lands] tax, or “the RAT,” for helping us remember it.

By “dark of the night,” I mean it was added to the omnibus appropriations bill with no debate, by Republican US Representative Ralph Regula of Ohio. This came on the heels of the 2-year Recreation Demonstration Fee Program which had proven unpopular, but limited in extent. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in public lands, public lands management. Tags: , . Comments Off on Senators Baucus and Crapo trying to repeal the R.A.T.

Resisting Delisting – Idaho Wolves & Livestock’s Influence

Interagency Grizzly Bear Committee to look at claim it unintentially endorses CounterAssault

CounterAssault is probably the number one grizzly bear pepper spray, but UDAP spray is very good too (some say better). Mark Matheny, who invented the large “bear size” pepper spray after being mauled and saved by a small can of spray, is claiming the IGBC is promoting CounterAssault in its education materials.

Story: Grizzly bear committee to examine spray claim. By John Cramer. Missoulian.

Posted in Bears. Tags: . 34 Comments »

Drilling operations reshape Colorado’s landscape

Drilling operations reshape landscape. By Todd Hartman, Rocky Mountain News

Drilling and production are also reshaping Wyoming (the most), Utah, New Mexico, and soon, Montana, and North Dakota. All attempts in Congress so far to tighten up the the drilling have failed. In fact, they were dropped from the recent massive energy bill to try to gather one more vote, that of Domenici of New Mexico. Bush says he will veto the bill anyway.

Two Colorado House members put BLM on notice about Roan Plateau plans. By Bobby MaGill. Grand Junction Sentinel.

National Geographic (photos) on drilling the Roan Plateau.

Skytruth looks at the Roan Plateau. 

Evidence of very serious mercury contamination of southern Idaho continues to build

Rocky Barker writes about it again today in his blog in the Idaho Statesman.

New mercury reports pile on more data that dangerous toxin is spread all over. Rocky Barker. Idaho Statesman. 

Posted in Uncategorized. Tags: , . Comments Off on Evidence of very serious mercury contamination of southern Idaho continues to build

Dick Cheney goes hunting again

This story is about Cheney’s recent “hunting” trip.

The Alternet headline is about the slaughter of animals. It does appear not to be a fair chase hunt, but the thing that I think should impress most folks the most, especially those who live in the West, is that guys like Cheney have no need for public lands. Private clubs are just fine . . . even better because there is no chance of running into some average American like me or you.

Story by Martha Rosenberg, AlterNet.

Note: I posted this to indicate the threat to public lands and wildlife men and women like Cheney pose with their exclusive private hunting clubs

Some very good comments were posted about this, but mostly they are about other aspects of the Chief.

. . . . no I don’t like him either, and for many reasons. Ralph Maughan

Wolf open house finally scheduled for Wood River Valley. County Commissioners to take oral testimorny.

After numerous complaints that Idaho Fish and Game did not schedule an open house on their proposed wolf population management plan in the Wood River Valley (Ketchum, Hailey, Bellvue, Idaho), one has been set for December 17.

The open house will begin about 5:30 PM with an ID Fish and Game Powerpoint presentation. Then the Department will take questions for about an hour. At 7 PM, in a first, an actual public hearing will be held, not by Fish and Game, but the the Blaine County Commissioners. That will go for about an hour with each person getting 2 minutes or so to speak.

The meeting will be held at the Community Campus in Hailey.

Public discusses new Mexican wolf-recovery plan

Currently on the brink of failure due to low population numbers and excessive killing due to alleged conflicts with livestock, the rule governing the management of the Mexican wolves is being updated and your comments are needed. Right now they are in the part of the NEPA process called “scoping” — to determine the scope and range of issues and opportunities.

Here is the notice in the Federal Register.

Defenders of Wildlife is recommending the following changes:

Allow wolves to roam beyond the current artificial boundaries to find suitable habitat and prey.

• Resolve livestock-wolf conflicts in ways that keep wolves in the wild and achieve progress toward reintroduction objectives.
• Revise the service’s 25-year-old recovery plan.
• Allow opportunities to expand wolf reintroduction to other areas in the future.

Your comments are due Dec. 31. You can email them in to: r2fwe_al@fws.gov

Defenders page on “recovery of the Lobo

Western Watersheds Project on commenting on the Mexican wolf.

Mexican wolf population statistics (government page)

Pair of wolves moves into Eastern Oregon

At least it looks like a pair of wolves, rather than a single wolf has moved into Oregon. The tracks of the pair (and there could be more) have been repeatedly seen in the canyon and high peak country of the Wallowa Mountains.

Story in the Baker, Oregon (Baker City Herald). newspaper. Local wolves not all lone. By Jayson Jacoby.

When the wolf is delisted, slated for late February, any wolves in Eastern Oregon will lose their federal protection because the USFWS was careful to draw the delisting lines to more sure good wolf habitat adjacent to Idaho in other states would not be protected. Fortunately, Oregon does have a state wolf protection plan in place.

Bad air: Reason to leave Utah?

The air in northern Utah in the winter is just plain dirty, and has been for a long time.

Story in the Salt Lake Tribune. Bad air: Reason to leave Utah? Expert says breathing pollution is like smoking five cigarettes a day. By Judy Fahys

Posted in Uncategorized. Tags: . Comments Off on Bad air: Reason to leave Utah?

Yellowstone: Giant Geyser erupts back to life

Giant Geyser erupts back to life. By Mike Stark. Billings Gazette.

Posted in Yellowstone National Park. Tags: , . Comments Off on Yellowstone: Giant Geyser erupts back to life

Interior secretary Kempthorne surpass’s Watt’s record for not listing endangered species

For those who remember or who have read of him, Ronald Reagan’s Secretary of Interior, James Watt, was infamous for his hostility toward protecting wildlife and the public lands. Kempthorne has done even less to list endangered species while he cries false poverty.

Rocky Barker at the Idaho Statesman, who has been writing recently about the Bush salmon policy, points this out.

Idaho anti-wolf coalition suggests there are really over 9000 wolves in Idaho and over 900 packs!

This is the kind of thinking we have to face among some in Idaho. Idaho Anti-wolf Coalition.

Buffalo Field Campaign Update. Things OK for now. Awful DOL slaughter expected in March

Here is the latest alert/update from the Buffalo Field Campaign. I usually post them to help this hard working and group of brave volunteers. In the winter they have to confront daily the brutal Montana Department of Livestock, but in recent years also the Bushified Forest Service, and the Gallatin County Sheriff’s Department. Sometimes they get beaten or arrested for non-violent observation, video, and documentation of the harassment and pointless slaughter of Yellowstone’s bison which are confined to Yellowstone Park’s artificial boundary under the myth that they are a brucellosis disease threat to cattle which are now almost non-existent in the areas the bison try to leave the Park to roam. Ralph Maughan

First here is a story from New West on Park bison this winter. State and Federal Agencies Predict Busy Winter for Bison Management. By David Nolt.
– – – – –

Buffalo Field Campaign
Yellowstone Bison
Update from the Field

December 6, 2007

——————————
View BFC Video Footage-
http://www.buffalofieldcampaign.org
Make a Secure Online Donation to BFC-
http://www.buffalofieldcampaign.org/bisonmerchandise/bisonmerchandise.html
Why are they killing the last wild buffalo?
http://www.buffalofieldcampaign.org/issueinbrief.html

Receive BFC’s updates or press releases. Send your email address to bfc-media@wildrockies.org with “sub updates” or “sub press release” in the subject line.
——————————
NUMBER OF AMERICAN BISON ELIMINATED from the last wild population in the U.S.
2007-2008:
10
Total Since 2000: 2,028
*includes lethal government action, quarantine, state and treaty hunts

——————————

In this issue:

  • Update from the Field
  • Lots of BuffaLove and Praises
  • BFC Newsletters and Notecards Available Soon!
  • Ski, Shop, and Surf to Save the Buffalo and Support BFC
  • Last Words

——————————

* Update from the Field

Dear Buffalo Friends,

We are very happy to report that no wild buffalo have been harassed or killed since we wrote to you last week.

Last Friday BFC met with Yellowstone National Park administrators and on Tuesday we attended the Interagency Bison Management Plan open house. At both meetings the news from the agencies wasn’t good. They told us that it will likely be a very bad winter for our friends the buffalo.

One of the reasons given by the government agencies is the increased paranoia instilled in Montana’s cattle producers since brucellosis was detected in a Montana cattle herd last spring. While it is widely known that wild buffalo were not responsible for this transmission, and while there is no substantial evidence that the source wasn’t domestic cattle, the cattle industry is looking to blame Yellowstone wildlife, in particular the elk and buffalo. The industry fails to take responsibility for bringing brucellosis to this continent and infecting native wildlife. Read the rest of this entry »

Nation’s Largest Sitka Spruce Dies In Oregon Storm

The largest Sitka Spruce broke off in the latest severe storm to hit Oregon. This article tells of it and what happened with things that affect the environment during its 700 year life, e.g., it was a sapling when The Plague struck Europe.
Story. New West. By Joseph Friedrichs

Added. Related from the Oregonian. Big, wet storms may become new ‘normal’. Global warming – Faster-than-expected tropical expansion could bring more tempests to the Northwest By Michael Milstein.

Added. More on more rain in the Pacific Northwest. Climate change could mean more massive downpours. By Lisa Stiffler and Tom Paulson. Seattle Post-Intelligencer Reporters.

Democrats drop drilling restrictions from energy bill

This energy bill keeps getting worse. This concession is certainly bad news for many ranchers who own what is called “split estate” land as well making sure the more sensitive parts of public lands are not drilled.

I don’t like the emphasis on renewables as written because much of this is corn ethanol which isn’t really a renewable, and produces little net energy and a lot of erosion while raising the price of all foods. There needs to be much more emphasis on energy efficiency, which is often the least cost source of new energy and the most benign.

The concession is to attract the support of Republican Pete Domenici, who is retiring next year due to a brain disorder. He will probably be replaced by a conservation-minded senator (Udall). Perhaps it would be better to wait for a bigger Democrat majority and new President.

Democrats drop drilling restrictions from energy bill. Casper Star Tribune.

Update: Corn prices have doubled as ethanol production has soared. Protests from livestock and food makers resulted in an amendment to order no more than 15-billion gallons of the energy-intensive fuel. The other 21 billion gallons of ethanol are supposed to come from “cellulosic” sources like switchgrass and wood chips by 2022. It is not clear yet how to economically convert cellulose into alcohol. Maybe the termites can teach us. 

Bush has now said he will veto. 

Bush’s Forest Service losses a big case

Wow! the legal kickback on the Bush Administration’s lack of attention to the laws is coming fast and furious.

Two days ago, it was the big sage grouse case (which impacts way more than this beautiful upland game bird). Now is it his administration’s misnamed “Healthy Forests Initiative.

Story. Associated Press. Appeals Court Blocks Bush Logging Rule

From the Sierra Club on the decision. Sierra Club Victory in Ninth Circuit Deals Blow to Bush Administration’s So-Called “Healthy Forests” Initiative.

The case is Sierra Club v. Bosworth.

Study: Climate change will endanger trout.

“. . . fish die-offs and fishing closures in Yellowstone and Montana as a probable sign that global warming is already affecting trout populations”

This is from today’s Jackson Hole News and Guide. Study: Climate change will endanger trout. By Corey Hatch.

Sage grouse decision may have big consequences

The decision could have widespread ramifications for sage grouse habitat, which includes portions of at least eight Western states, including large swaths of Montana and Wyoming and the Powder River Basin, where there’s intense interest in energy development. Brodie Farquhar has an article about the politics of it in Wyoming. ‘Wyoming officials say listing the sage grouse would be a ‘grave concern.’ Casper Star Tribune.

More on 12-7. Birds come home to roost. Federal judge: former U.S. official’s handling of sage grouse decision improper. By Jason Kauffman. Idaho Mountain Express.

Note that Idaho sage grouse numbers declined further during 2007. 

Wolf population management plan not supported at Pocatello meeting

The Idaho wolf population management plan open house at Pocatello was a low key affair with about 45 people (excluding the Idaho Fish and Game staff). There were a lot of skeptical questions about the plan — how it was constructed, whether it would really maintain a large population of wolves, the length of the wolf hunting season, why the wolf tag price was so low, and I thought most interesting, the fact that the whole thing is based on the notion of conflicts between wolves and livestock and big game.

When Steve Nadeau, large carnivore coordinator for Idaho, said the wolf conflicts with livestock were on the rise with 200* dead sheep and 23 dead cattle (mostly calves) in 2006, it seemed no one was impressed that this was any sort of conflict level about which to base a hunting plan. When Nadeau replied that maybe 7 times as many cattle were really killed by wolves but not confirmed, it still didn’t seem to impress folks as very many cattle, and because Nadeau couldn’t point to any elk problems outside the Lolo and Selway, conflict between wolves and big games seemed like an odd way to base a plan. Nadeau then said the foundation of the plan (on conflict) was due to the earlier Idaho Wolf Conservation Plan.

I asked why all DAU’s (the wolf management areas) were slated for a decrease in wolf numbers or of stabilizing their numbers? Wouldn’t a balanced plan have some increase numbers goals too, especially in areas adjacent to SW Montana and Wyoming so that genetic interchange could take place?

A member of the audience and the interchange made it clear the plan was not supported by Defenders of Wildlife or the Idaho Conservation League, although both were among the “stakeholder” groups that participated. Nadeau said he assumed that when the wolf was delisted in March, Defenders would then sue.

Many other issues were raised, but neither the television station nor the newspaper did anything more that report what Idaho Fish and Game said. Note. The Idaho State Journal will be doing a followup on the Pocatello meeting.
To me, and I would guess most others, it was apparent the important decisions will be made at the March Idaho Fish and Game commissioner’s meeting, such as how large the first hunt will be — number of tags and whether the hunt will be general or limited to areas so they can test the effects and side-effects of a hunt before going for a statewide hunting season?

– – – –

Addition, Nadeau said he thought maybe having a wolf hunt would reduce the anti-wolf feeling among many. Those who got good at killing wolves, and he stressed how valuable a pelt is, would lobby for keeping more wolves around. Of course, if you want good pelts, you don’t hunt them August through November. The season should be December, January, Februrary

________

* Nadeau said the sheep figures were probably accurate because shepherds watch and know when a wolf has been in the sheep.

Judge Winmill: Government must reconsider giving the sage grouse protection under the ESA

Talk about a blockbuster decision!

Once again Julie MacDonald’s corrupt procedures at Interior have rebounded. The lawsuit was filed by Western Watersheds Project, and was represented by the conservation law firm, Advocates for the West.

Story by Rocky Barker in the Idaho Statesman. Judge: Government must reconsider sage grouse

I see where this is the big, or a big story, in most of the western newspapers on Dec. 5.

I wonder if the Bush Administration will ever figure out there are consequences to not obeying the law?

– – – —

Update. Statement from the Western Watersheds Project

Western Watersheds Project Wins Court Order Overturning Bush Administration Decision Not To List Greater Sage Grouse !

Tuesday December 4, 2007 Read the rest of this entry »

Defenders statement on stakeholders.

Defenders of Wildlife sent out the news release below November 26, 2007 because Idaho and Fish and Game was saying that they were part of the “stakeholders” and strongly implying that they, therefore, had actually helped build the wolf population plan and agreed with it. I imagine that Fish and Game did this because it was politically helpful to suggest that only a handful of conservation groups opposed what is actually a very unbalanced plan. In fact, I think all do.

Ralph Maughan

———————–

To: Northern Rockies editorial page editors and writers
Fr: Suzanne Stone, Northern Rockies representative for Defenders of Wildlife, (208)424-9385
Re: Idaho’s wolf harvest plan will decimate wolf population

Datet: November 26, 2007

__________________________________________________

On Thursday, the Idaho Department of Fish and Game will hold its first public open house on a just-released wolf harvest plan intended to go into effect once wolves in the Northern Rockies are removed from the endangered species list. Unfortunately, this plan is more about extermination than management.

The plan’s primary goal is to reduce Idaho’s wolf population and would allow hundreds of the wolves currently in the state to be killed. This goal was not accepted by all of the stakeholder groups.

While Idaho Fish and Game claims the plan was accepted by all stakeholders, that is simply not true. Defenders of Wildlife and the Idaho Conservation League were two of the stakeholder groups that openly disagreed with the state’s management direction. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in Idaho wolves, politics. Tags: , , . Comments Off on Defenders statement on stakeholders.

IDFG Wolf Plan public meeting – Jerome

The first in a series of Idaho Department of Fish & Game public meetings on Idaho’s Wolf Management Plan took place in Jerome last night. The plan, IDFG maintains, is the result of a series of stakeholders’ meetings that included Livestock interests, sporting interests – including Sportsmen for Fish and Wildlife, and conservation interests represented by the Idaho Conservation League and Defenders of Wildlife.

There is no measure of the restorative niche that this predator contributes throughout Western ecosystems planned to be taken by IDFG, nor does the wolves’ important role inform management in any way other than to trip measures of “control”. State management’s posture maintains wolves as problematic and seemed to pay little heed to any interest other than Livestock and big docile game. Even in maintaining 10 – 15 packs in the state, the motive was characterized in terms of protecting Livestock and big game interests from future federal protection of wolves.

Read the rest of this entry »

Rumor of high level Idaho meeting to conspire against recent bighorn sheep victories

There is a rumor that top Idaho state legislators met today in Boise with the Governor’s office of Species Conservation, the Bush Forest Service, the Bush BLM, Idaho Fish and Game, and perhaps one member from the Federation for North American Wild Sheep to strategize how they can stop the spreading legal victories by Advocates for the West and Western Watersheds Project to protect bighorn sheep in the Hells Canyon and lower Salmon River areas from contact with the deadly (to bighorn) domestic sheep.

This is rumor, but most of these agencies can’t be happy they keep losing cases and getting orders that insist domestic sheep be kept away from the bighorn. Rumor is they will try to get the Forest Service and BLM to drag their feet more slowly than ever and shut up those folks in Idaho Fish and Game who think wildlife (bighorn at least) come first.

Story about the issue from High Country News. “Sheep v. Sheep”. By Nathaniel Hoffman. My link to the recent news story in the Times-News has gone dead, so Sheep v. Sheep is a substitute.

“Hay Day” at Jackson, WY yields 55 tons of what many say is unneeded hay for Elk Refuge

The National Elk Refuge feeds its elk alfalfa pellets, which are easy to distribute around the Refuge, and so reducing the concentration of elk. They think this might reduce the spread of elk and bison diseases. Nevertheless, a sportsman group (SFW-Wyoming) has taken to delivering hay to the Refuge the last two years on the assumption that the Refuge doesn’t understand that the elk are starving.

On the other hand, the long term average winter mortality for elk on refuge is only 0.05% — spectacularly low and not compatible with the notion that the elk starve

SFW had their hay day in Jackson, Wyoming on Saturday. This article describes what happened. Hay Day nets 55 tons. By Cory Hatch. Jackson Hole News and Guide.

The Elk Refuge phased out the feeding of hay some time ago because it concentrates elk, is unsanitary, labor intensive, insufficiently nutritious, and spreads weeds into the refuge. Read the rest of this entry »

Private effort launched to bolster funding for Yellowstone Park rangers

“The Yellowstone Park Foundation has launched a Ranger Fund initiative, to raise $2 million in two years.”

Story in the Casper Star Tribune by Brodie Farquhar.

Posted in Yellowstone National Park. Tags: . Comments Off on Private effort launched to bolster funding for Yellowstone Park rangers

Spray vs. gun bear deterrent debate rages in Montana

Spray vs. gun bear deterrent debate rages in Montana. By John Cramer, Missoulian.

The other day one of the Montana FWP commissioners was out bird elk hunting, got charged by a grizzly. He had no pepper spray and might have killed the grizzly with his rifle. Since then (and it looks like before too) he has been saying guns are best and that hunting of grizzlies needs to resume so they will learn to fear humans, although the dead bear so far hasn’t interacted with any of its fellow bears telling how dangerous people really can be.

In truth, the facts are almost entirely against this guy. It is also true that in the face of a charging grizzly you are not safe whatever you are carrying. Common sense tells you that a sprayed bear that lives has learned a lot more about people than a dead bear.

Note that this is another one of those stories that tries to establish a person’s credibility by how many bones of his ancestors are in the local cemetery.

I’ve got lots of bones there too, and a lot of experience — two backpacking guides to thick grizzly country. I was so grateful when I could stop carrying my .41 magnum revolver and carry spray. After walking a thousand miles that gun gets heavy.

Note that I think it is highly likely that the grizzly is dead because the bear was shot in the chest from a close range and then apparently shot at least one more time. This is based on the news account.

Haydens probably down to three wolves

Tom Mazzarisi, ranger at Madison in YNP told me that things have not gone well for the 5 remaining Haydens who had been hanging out in the Madison River since being attacked and driven from the Canyon area by the larger Mollies Pack.

He told me something I didn’t know — last winter they spent much of their time in the Madison River area. So it is only natural that the one remaining Hayden adult led the 4 remaining pups to the Madison after being attacked by the Mollies.

The Madison isn’t safe country, however. Some believed they would be attacked by the nearby Cougar Creek Pack, but instead it appears they were attacked by the much larger Gibbon Pack which recently moved up through the area and back into the Gibbon Meadows area. Now it looks like the Haydens are down to three — the adult female, a gray pup and the black pup (who has become pretty large and an effective hunter).

They were last spotted near Old Faithful and moving south toward Craig Pass .

Local residents strongly oppose new transmission line proposed just north of Craters of the Moon National Monument.

Talk about a visual imposition as well as spread of weeds and off-road vehicle tracks! This powerline would destroy the view of the Beaverhead, Lemhi, Lost River, and Pioneer Mountain ranges — hundreds of miles. It’s not just the national monument.

Carey residents: ‘No!’ to power line. Hostile crowd raps plan put forth by South Dakota energy giant. By Jason Kauffman. Idaho Mountain Express Staff Writer

Freudenthal gets more time on Idaho phosphate pit mine review

The JR Simplot Company wants a 1300 acre (2 square mile) expansion of its huge phosphate pit mine in Idaho on the Wyoming border. The federal government BLM just put out a fat environmental impact statement on the Smoky Canyon Mine enlargement, which they seem ready to approve. There are many other phosphate pits in SE Idaho.

The impacts of these phosphate mines extend far beyond the pits because rainwater seeping through the spoils picks up huge levels of toxic selenium which runs into the springs, creek and rivers in Wyoming (and eventually in the Snake River in Idaho). More sheep have died of poisoning while grazing on the “rehabilitated” mine spoils than have been killed by wolves in eastern Idaho.

There is a website that is trying to alert the public to the problem. . . . Caribou Cleanwater Partnership.

Story in the Casper Star Tribune. Gov. Freudenthal wants more time on phosphate mine review.

The selenium also concentrates in some native plants such as gumweed.

The phosphate rock ore is processed in Pocatello, ID into phosphate for fertilizer. Another large phosphate plant is in Soda Springs, Idaho. This mine is to feed the Pocatello plant.

Posted in mining. Tags: , , . Comments Off on Freudenthal gets more time on Idaho phosphate pit mine review

Bangs clears up some media confusion

I have seen both of these stories, and thought I should post and clarify, but haven’t had the time or incentive (lazy) to do it. Fortunately Ed Bangs sent out the following.

Not a wild wolf issue but was confused with one in media so…On the 28th, the Owyhee County Sheriff in ID requested ID WS [Wildlife Services] assistance with capturing a black privately-owned captive wolf that escaped from its enclosure late last month.  The wolf has reportedly been sighted west of Murphy, ID several times since it escaped. On 11/22, the wolf was seen attacking some sheep.  WS confirmed that one ewe had been killed by a wolf-like canid and two others had been injured.  While traps have been set, WS is focusing on trying to locate the captive wolf.  WS will work with the Sheriff and IDFG to resolve the problem.  

In a related story this week another captive wolf/hybird was repeatedly seen in a suburb east of Salt Lake City, UT.

Posted in Wolves. Tags: . 1 Comment »

More on the Idaho wolf that went to Yellowstone

It turns out to be true, but the identification of the particular wolf was wrong. Ed Bangs just sent this info out. The boldface is mine:

“Correction- The frequency for the collared Idaho wolf in Yellowstone NP thought to be B195 is actually coming from Idaho wolf B271M. The two wolves had frequencies close to one another and B271 was mistaken for B195. Turns out B195 has a bob-tail and this one doesn’t so the mistake was eventually discovered by Niemeyer [former FWS and now IDFG]. B271 is currently with a dispersing female from Slough Creek Pack on the northern range of YNP- possibly the beginning of a new pack. B271’s story is amazing. B271’s father is highly likely R241M (who dispersed to ID from YNP; heli-darted 10/13/01 near Dome Mtn.). His mother is likely B189F (origin unknown). B271 was trapped in rubber-jawed McBride #7 by IDFG near the Steel Mt. pack den site (Lost Man Ck.; Boise NF) on 5/3/06. He was estimated as ~ 1 yr. old at that time; so if born in 2005 he belonged to a litter of 4-7 pups. He was aerially located 10 times prior to disappearing from ID following the 12/19/06 flight. His ear tags are both 413. Wow- the son returns to his father’s homeland.

See earlier story I wrote on this. A First. Idaho Wolf goes to Yellowstone Park, joins Sloughs. Nov. 16. 2007

German survives quest to reach Yellowstone using only GPS

Dr. Jon Way reports on he and his students’ trip to Yellowstone wolf country

Jon Way just got back from Yellowstone, and he has a report on some of the same events covered by Kathie Lynch. He also has photos.

It is at his web page: Update November 28, 2007: Yellowstone trip with more pictures added Nov. 29!

Missoulian says the decision not to list river grayling smells “fishy”

Fluvial (river) grayling have been reduced to just one river in the lower 48 states. USFWS doesn’t want to list them. They say graying in the few lakes that have them are sufficient. Western Watersheds Project and other groups are suing over this refusal to list.

Editorial in the Missoulian.

Slow Montana hunting season ends with a bang

Slow Montana hunting season ends with a bang. By Perry Backus. Missoulian.

Just to remind folks how much difference weather makes in a hunting season.

Posted in Elk. Tags: . 7 Comments »

Hunting for wolves

Hunting for wolves. By Nicholas K. Geranios. AP

Posted in Wolves. Tags: . 1 Comment »

Report touts wildlife refuges

Here is another story touting the economic benefits of nearby public lands. Report touts wildlife refuges. By Brodie Farquhar. Casper Star Tribune.

These stories continually telling of the benefits of the public lands have in recent years help stave off the privatizers, but beware because their methods are getting more and more sneaky.

Dubois, Wyoming, hunters split on losses to wolves

Dubois hunters split on losses to wolves. AP.

This article says “Charles Kay, a Utah researcher who specializes in wildlife ecology, said there have been no comprehensive studies of how wolves impact big game because such a study would be complex, time-consuming and costly.”

In fact there have been many studies, although Kay may not think they were comprehensive enough. Then too, “big game” is a lot of different kinds of animals, all of which might respond differently.

More endangered species rulings reversed where Julie MacDonald had influence

Julie MacDonald, the one-woman endangered species wreking crew, figures in yet another case of “inappropriate influence.” The US Fish and Wildlife Service will now revisit the white-tailed prairie dog, Preble’s meadow jumping mouse,  the Canada lynx, the Hawaiian picture-wing fly, the Arroyo toad, and the California red-legged frog.

Story in the Denver Post. Endangered species rulings reversed. By H. Josef Hebert. Associated Press

Posted in endangered species act. Tags: . Comments Off on More endangered species rulings reversed where Julie MacDonald had influence

From reintroduction to statewide hunt? Fish and Game releases draft plan to hunt wolves throughout Idaho

From reintroduction to statewide hunt? Fish and Game releases draft plan to hunt wolves throughout Idaho. By Jason Kaufmann. Idaho Mountain Express.

One of the places Idaho Fish and Game won’t be holding a public hearing is the Wood River Valley: Hailey, Ketchum, Bellevue, Sun Valley, the largest population of mountain folks in central Idaho wolf country. Instead they opt for tiny Challis and Salmon for hearings.

Methinks the people in the Wood River Valley area are bit too educated, and not so easily scared by folk tales for about the vicious wolf for the Department to risk holding a hearing.

Yellowstone wolf notes. Kathie Lynch Nov. 21-25

Kathie Lynch has written another great update on her wolf observations on the Yellowstone Park Northern Range. Ralph Maughan

– – – – – –

Yellowstone wolf notes. Nov. 21-25. Copyright Kathie Lynch.

Five days in Yellowstone, November 21-25, 2007, brought unbelievably frigid temperatures and many, many wolves. Frost was definitely on the Thanksgiving pumpkin in Lamar Valley, with a dawn temperature of minus 20 F! I don’t think it got above zero at all on Thanksgiving Day, but, by 4 p.m., it had warmed all the way up to minus one!

My first day in the park started off with unexpected excitement in Little America as at least seven Agate Creek wolves, with tails flying high, barreled full blast south toward the road at the Lamar Bridge in pursuit of three members of the (unofficially named) “Silver” pack. The silver alpha female and the other two adults, one black and one gray, made it safely across the road to the south, and the Agates returned to the north.

A lone black howler, probably a “Silver” pack pup, cried its heart out nearby, but we didn’t see the “Silver” pack adults again, and the pup also disappeared. This small pack of six seems to have carved out a tenuous home in the Little America area, somehow sandwiched between the Agates, Oxbows, Sloughs and Druids.

Day number two was my first of two three-pack days, with the Druids, Sloughs, and Agates all making appearances. The Druids had to be admired from afar as they stood silhouetted in the early morning sunlight atop snowy Amethyst Peak, high above the Lamar Valley.

The Agates and Sloughs were destined to be the stars that day. Not too far south of the road from the Slough Creek parking lot/outhouse lay what appeared to be a small bison carcass, cause of death unknown. Ten coyotes were gathered around, happily enjoying a Thanksgiving feast. Nearby, a grizzly roamed the Crystal Creek drainage, perhaps having had one last snack before finding a nice warm den for the winter.

Earlier in the day, we had seen 13 Agates (nine grays, three blacks, and the black-turning-silver alpha 472F) bedded in the sage and then howling south of the road in Little America. We lost sight of them, but eventually picked them up again to the east of the Crystal Creek drainage, south of Slough Creek. All of a sudden, they broke into a run and arrived at the possible bison carcass, sending those wily coyotes scattering in all directions.

The Agates fed on the carcass for about an hour, finishing up with a nice rally and group howl. As they headed back to the west, a mighty chorus of howls rose up from behind the ridge near Dave’s Hill. We swung our scopes around to see the absolutely unforgettable sight of 16 Sloughs cresting the ridge. The 13 blacks looked like an advancing army as they rushed forward, fanned out in a united front to stand at attention and issue their challenge to the retreating Agates. Across the road, the outnumbered Agates made a silent getaway into the trees and disappeared to the west without answering the Sloughs.

The next morning found the Sloughs on a bull elk carcass near the Slough Creek campground/trailhead. The carcass was at the edge of the trees, and it was really hard to see the wolves clearly, but there seemed to 13 or so, including the pack’s three grays (the three-year-old female “Sharp Right” and two pups).

The Slough pack technically numbers 18 right now, but there are a couple of variables. The four-year-old Slough, 527F, sometimes travels alone and is often not with the Sloughs. However, she is still very much a part of the pack and was with them when they challenged the Agates on Nov. 22. She may, however, be getting ready to disperse, as she has recently been seen in the company of the mysterious “Idaho Wolf,” who may or may not be Idaho B195M. Although his collar frequency matches, the gray in Yellowstone does not have a bobbed tail, while Idaho B195M supposedly does. Regardless, it would be nice if 527F could hook up with this beautiful collared gray (who was previously so content with the Sloughs until he left the pack when the new alpha male took over in September).

Note: about this, check out this more recent story. He is an Idaho wolf, but not wolf B195M. . . . Ralph Maughan

The other variable is that one Slough black pup has not been seen recently. It may have been another victim of the Druids’ attack on Nov. 17, when they killed the uncollared two-year-old Slough female, “Slant.” A sleek, dark black wolf, “Slant” had endured so much in her way too short life. She was one of only three Slough survivors of the disease epidemic that killed most of the pups in 2005. A year later, she endured the siege by the Unknowns, trapped inside the den hole for days. Slant quite likely was a mother this year, so hopefully her indomitable spirit will live on in another shiny black pup.

My fourth day was another three pack day with the Sloughs close by and still at Slough Creek on their elk carcass, 16 Druids sky high and way, way, way far away up on the Cache/Calfee ridge, and 17 Oxbows way, way, way far away on a carcass up the Hellroaring slope. I think my total viewing distance for the Druids and Oxbows was about seven miles!

The last day brought a chance to see “The Jasper Male,” an uncollared black who frequents Lamar. He was alone and looking for morsels on an old carcass in Lamar. Sometimes he is in the company of a small, lovely gray female. They seem to have found a way to survive in the Jasper Bench area, but they will need to be especially wary now that the Druids are back in Lamar.

The big treat on my last day was a close up view of all 16 Druids! They started off the morning in the Rose Creek area, north of the road near the Buffalo Ranch, and proceeded west into the heart of Slough territory. Eventually, they got so far to the north and west that we had to go to Long Pullout in Little America and look back to the northeast to see them.

After finding the Sloughs not at home (they were up Slough Creek to the north) and chasing a couple of elk, the Druids stayed on the north side of the road and returned to Lamar. I never expected them to cross the road in plain view, but that’s just what they did, right between the Fisherman’s and Coyote turnouts!

They were funny in their different approaches to crossing the road. Some ran down the hill at full speed and crossed like a shot; a black and a gray actually stood posed on opposite sides of the road like crossing guards; two others never did have the nerve to cross. Those two, a black pup and a gray yearling (who maybe got stuck baby-sitting the reluctant pup) stayed on the north side of the road and continued east. Eventually they safely joined the rest of their family in what I’m sure was a joyful reunion.

As we reunite with our own families over the holidays and take time to count our blessings, we surely must reflect on and be thankful for the gifts of inspiration and renewal of spirit that Yellowstone and the wolves have given to us!

P.S. I don’t have any news about the Haydens. With the roads to the interior closed to cars for the winter, we will have to wait until the roads open to snow coaches and snowmobiles in late December before park visitors have a chance of seeing them. It is still not known if the four grays and one black who have been seen (since the Mollies killed 540F and 541M on Oct. 30) are all pups or if one gray may be an adult. I can only hope for quick development of the amazing instinctive hunting behavior I saw as the pups playfully stalked ravens last July across from the Otter Creek picnic area. Winter in the interior is a battle to survive anyway, and the Haydens will have to contend with other nearby packs, including the Mollies and Cougar Creek. However, if a small group like the “Silver” pack can make it surrounded by rival packs, perhaps the Haydens can too. We can only hope.

Bear Hunting Altered Genetics More Than Ice Age Isolation

The genetics of bears apparently has been changed more over time by hunting and other human activities than by natural macro-changes like ice ages.

 Story in Science Daily. 

Posted in Bears. Tags: . 1 Comment »

IDFG announces public meetings on Idaho Wolf Management Plan

UPDATE – The hours for the hearing in Jerome ID have changed to 6 – 9 PM. Also note that the current understanding is that no verbal comments are going to be taken at these meetings.

Originally, a meeting in Boise was set for this Thursday in Boise from 5 – 8 pm – announcement was to be issued yesterday (11/26) at 4 pm – that’s a 3 day notice for an issue as important and controversial as Idaho’s management of wolves.

This is no longer the case.

A cynic might wonder whether IDFG is genuinely interested in a full and complete public involvement. I guess that makes me a cynic on this one.

Following a complaint expressing concern with IDFG’s tendency to give relatively inconspicuous notice of opportunities for public involvement posted mere days before being held, a new schedule was agreed upon for meeting locations, dates, and times throughout the state of Idaho :

News Release
Idaho Department of Fish and Game
600 South Walnut
P.O. Box 25
Boise, ID 83707-0025
http://fishandgame.idaho.gov

“To Preserve, Protect, Perpetuate”

Contact: Niels Nokkentved 208-334-3746
For Immediate Release

Fish and Game Sets Public Meetings on Wolf Management Plan

Read the rest of this entry »

Agencies that manage Yellowstone bison plan public meeting in Bozeman Dec. 4

The National Park Service, the USDA Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service [APHIS],  Forest Service, Montana Department of Livestock and Montana Department of Fish, Wildlife and Parks will hold this meeting. Story.

Scientists look for answers to Utah forests’ beetle epidemic

Scientists look for answers to state forests’ beetle epidemic. By Judy Fahys. The Salt Lake Tribune.

This is not unique to Utah. Various and vast death of conifers is happening all over the Rocky Mountains as well as British Columbia and Alberta. The cause of the beetle pandemic is not local and there is no solution except a change to colder winters.

These forests burn more almost every summer and this will continue until there is a change in the vast regions. The people I talk don’t debate that this is going to happen, the question is what will replace the dying and dead forests?

Montana knapweed researcher sees work paying off

Montana knapweed researcher sees work paying off. By Perry Backus. Missoulian.

Aside from cheatgrass, the spread of the knapweeds: spotted knapweed, diffuse knapweed, Russian knapweed, and yellow starthistle, is probably the biggest exotic noxious plant problem in the West.

Like cheatgrass, its adverse effects are often unappreciated by the casual observer of wildlife or those into single cause explanations of wildlife population sizes.

So this is good news except that noxious annual cheatgrass often replaces the dying knapweed because the seeds of native perennial plants have decayed away.
Image of spotted knapweed.

Image of yellow starthistle

Avalanche danger will be high this winter after big wildfires.

Idaho Fires lead to higher avalanche danger. KTVB 7.

Much of the vast area burned is steep and turns into avalanche country when the trees are removed, even partially. The same will be true in parts of Montana where there were many fires.

Right now snow pack is generally low.

Avalanche center current reports.

Wolf in the Rockies: Carnivore recovery or token effort?

Guest Opinion. Billings Gazette. Wolf in the Rockies: Carnivore recovery or token effort?

Finally, someone who doesn’t mention the “poor ranchers.” Of course, it’s a guest opinion.

Canada creates huge protected forest reserves. Area is as big as 11 Yellowstones.

 Some good news for the vast, but increasingly threatened boreal region of Canada.

Canada creates huge protected forest reserves. Area as big as 11 Yellowstones offers buffer from oil, mining. AP in MSNBC.

Matthew Brown wolf article reveals MSM assumptions about wolves, West.

Wolf debate hits close to home for ranchers. By Matthew Brown. Associated Press

This story has appeared under a number of headlines, but whatever it is titled, Matthew Brown’s recent piece on wolves reveals the difficulty the public has getting information because it has to cut through cultural hysteria and bad statistics on the wolf issue.

Brown begins his piece by telling us of rancher Randy Petrich of Pray, Montana (that’s the Paradise Valley) who has legally shot 7 wolves over the years, and insists “I believe that any wolf on any given night, if there happens to be a calf there, they will kill it.” Brown doesn’t say how many livestock Petrick has actually lost (Brown doesn’t really confirm that Petrich has lost any), only that he has killed 7 wolves.

Is this typical of Paradise Valley? Given the number of wolves killed, my guess is he interviewed the person who has killed the most wolves. So the reporter begins with an extreme case, not the typical person, and someone who might have the right to worry but does not seem in touch with reality. For example, the article says Petrich sees wolf tracks almost every morning. Were Petrich’s belief true — wolves will kill any calf that happens to be there, then he must have lost thousands of calves over the 7 years he has been shooting wolves.

Do we know anything else about this supposedly hard pressed rancher? Were his non-ranching neighbors interviewed? (if you have been to Pray, Montana, you know that most of the people there are not ranchers). Well of course they were not interviewed, because to most of the media, you don’t count in the West unless you are part of 1% of the population that meets their cultural assumptions.

Then Brown talks about the growth of the wolf population since restoration began. 66 wolves have grown to an estimated 1,545 in a three state area. Brown uses Ed Bang’s figures, which were released in mid-year when wolf population is at its annual maximum, not the year end, when the figures are official and always lower than mid-year. This allows him to say the population is growing at 20%.

Anyway is 1500 wolves a lot? Is it too many? What if elk had become extinct in Idaho, Montana and Wyoming and 66 elk were released in 1995-6 to try to restore the elk population. If there were 1500 elk after 12 years, would reporters say the number of elk is astonishing, “exploding,” “ballooning?” Would the states call a hunting season to knock this “huge population back” to 450 elk? Would conservationists be condemned for suggesting 2000 might not be too many elk?

Going back to the rancher(s) for a moment, how many coyotes, bears, cougars, and feral dogs are there in the area and how many calves have they lost to these? This is never mentioned. This kind of reporting is like a story on homicides where only the those committed by one ethnic group is mentioned. It think people quickly call that “racism.”

Finally we get to “environmentalists” who, of course, condemn the current plans, but more interesting, it is never reported how many generations the attorney quoted has lived in the West. We always learn right off that rancher Petrich is “third generation.” We always learn that about other ranchers (except then they have not been here for land). I suppose this is intended to prove ranchers have some special claim and at the same time all others a newcomers.

I get quoted in the news. No ever asks how many generations my family lived in the area.

For the record, the Maughans settled in Utah the early 1850s, and my other relatives were all in the area well before 1900. Does that make me and all of them genius’, OR only those who went into livestock?

Finally we learn that biologist Dave Mech thinks maybe the “wily animals will prove too smart for hunters”.

I don’t really know, but I do know a man who has actually managed wolves and shot far more over the years than this rancher. He told me they were very easy to locate and kill.

This article is typical of those written about Western issues.

Western issues have a peculiar character. Students of policy call them “wicked problems,” meaning there is never a clear point where they are settled, and efforts to solve them spawn new problems. There is rarely even agreement on what exactly the problem is or that there is even a problem at all (are 1500 wolves a problem?). The issues are also tied together because the conflict is cultural, not economic. Money is not a solution. We see that in lack of rancher appreciation of Defender’s compensation program and the failure of the MSM to even mention it most of the time.

We will be fighting over “western issues” 50 years from now.

Idaho issues draft “Wolf population management plan.”

Yesterday Idaho issued a draft plan that is being called a plan to provide for “limited” hunting of wolves (would they call it anything else?). And of course, the media will buy that phrase, at least for a while. In fact my home town newspaper has just such an on-line poll this morning. “Do you favor a plan to allow limited hunting of wolves in Idaho?”

No doubt the Governor was told or figured out that his early statement about wolves that was extremely hostile, was not helpful in the cause of reducing wolf numbers in Idaho, so he has a nice statement included for this plan .

A quick glance once over of the plan indicates to me that it is a plan to kill as many wolves as possible under the disguise of hunting, while allowing the state to claim they still have 15 breeding pairs of wolves or more. It is a plan to cause maximum disruption of wolf packs and one that will probably increase the number of livestock killed by wolves as disrupted packs and females with pups try to feed their offspring.

It is not a hunting plan; otherwise management would be to keep the population nearly stable (as they do for deer and elk) and the hunt would be in the winter when wolf pelts are at their finest. Nevertheless, they are saying it is to manage wolves like other big game and the person who digs no further will probably say “that is OK; it makes sense.”

While Defenders of Wildlife and the Idaho Conservation League are being promoted as seeing this plan as acceptable, this is not true. It was more like they were merely handed the plan slightly in advance of release. Yesterday a Defenders spokesperson told us this is just a flat out lie. It is not acceptable to them.

The plan does provide for having an area or two where management will be so people might view wolves, but no specific areas are suggested, nor size.

Because it is Thanksgiving, a full analysis of the plan will have to wait, but you can read the plan at the Idaho Fish and Game website

Because I haven’t read it fully, it will probably have to correct some mistakes.

Trout Unlimited protests planned BLM leases in NW Wyoming

The BLM is intent on turning even more prime wildlife habitat and trout streams over to the tender mercies of the oil companies.

This story tells of their effort to retard this. By Ruffin Prevost. Billings Gazette.

Posted in B.L.M., Fish, oil and gas, public lands, public lands management, Wildlife Habitat. Tags: . Comments Off on Trout Unlimited protests planned BLM leases in NW Wyoming