Good news about whooping cranes

Here is some good news about one of the species folks have been trying to recover way before there was an Endangered Species Act.

Whooping Cranes: An Update. From Alan Gregory’s Conservation News.

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WY elk feedgrounds get temporary permit from US Forest Service

Despite a lawsuit against issuing another permit for Wyoming to continue its dangerous disease-spreading practice of mass feeding of elk in the wintertime, the Forest Service has prevailed in its effort to reissue the permit for the elk feedlots on national forest land without any analysis of its environmental impacts.

The Forest Service used a categorical exclusion or CE, which has become a very common end run around the National Environmental Policy Act during the Bush Administration. The pretension of a CE is that the effects are so minor and the controversy so little, that analysis doesn’t have to be done, something absolute contrary to the facts in this case (and many others).

Story in the Casper Star Tribune. By Whitney Royster.

Included in this is Wyoming Game and Fish’s new “test and slaughter” program for elk that react positively for the presence of antibodies to brucellosis. They kill the elk that test positive. They let the rest enter the winter feedlot. Unfortunately, the testing has lots of false-positives and false-negatives.

Just a reminder that Wyoming’s governor is complaining about the decimation of the elk herds by wolves at the same time this slaughter is going on. Sportsmen for Fish and Wildlife, Wyoming is also complaining about wolves as they stand idly by and let the state shoot elk and then send them onto feedots which perpetuate the infection.

A solution that would work is to buy up winter range for elk (Wyoming is rolling in money from the energy boom) and then abolish the feedlots. Brucellosis would soon virtually disappear as has been shown among those Wyoming elk that avoid feedlots.

The objections to this come from those make a living pitching hay to the elk, those who like to see the herds of elk standing behind a fence, and, of course, ranchers who don’t want elk on the winter range they would rather use for cattle.

If Montana doesn’t feed elk and it does well, Wyoming should follow Montana’s example.

As a footnote, Idaho feeds a little bit, and the result was the elk passed brucellosis to nearby cattle and the state lost its “brucellosis-free” status for a year.

Earlier stories on this:

Newer article Jan. 9, 2007.  Jackson Hole News and Guide. 4 feed grounds receive permits. By Cory Hatch.

Cloud seeding plan for the Wind River Range stirs fears

The Wyoming Association of Conservation Districts wants to try cloud seeding to increase snowfall over the tall Wind River Range (the highest mountains in Wyoming).

Because the Winds are mostly designated Wilderness, this human modification is controversial. However, by far the largest change to the range is the huge increase in human pollution just beneath the Winds from the massive natural gas developments.

Cloud seeding is controversial because if it works it can harm stream beds and wildlife habitat and probably robs downwind areas of precipitation. However, Wyoming has been seeding clouds over the Salt River Range for years, and storms usually pass over this Idaho/Wyoming border ranger before reaching the Winds. Would cloud seeding even things out?

Story in the Jackson Hole News and Guide by Cory Hatch.

Crest of the Wind River Range. Bridger Wilderness Area. Copyright Ralph Maughan

Montana governor appoints two replacements to the Fish, Wildlife and Parks Commission.

When it comes to wildlife management at the state level, few things are more important than who gets on the state’s “Fish and Game,” “Willdife Commission,” “Wildlife and Natural Resources Board,” or what ever it is called. In most states, many of these appointees are “good ol boys and girls” who know little of about wildlife management or science.  They are often from occupations that have built-in hostility to protection of wildlife habitat.
I don’t the details, but at least one of these replacements will probably be an improvement for Montana wildlife.

Story in the Billings Gazette. AP

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USFWS has a “genetics based” approach underway for national wildlife refuge bison to eliminate cattle genes

Here is the story.

Unfortunately many bison on various national wildlife refuges are polluted with cattle genes. This program will help eliminate that.

Posted in Bison. 2 Comments »