Mark Rey, Public Lands Enemy No. 1?

Bill Schneider asks if Mark Rey, Undersecretary of Agriculture for Natural Resources & Environment (he rules over the Forest Service, and the chief forester has no choice but to be his lackey) is the member of government hardest on public lands now that Richard Pombo, ex-chair of the House Resources Committee, was put out to pasture by his constituents. Pombo is now a lobbyist.
Mark Rey does Bush’s dirty work on our National Forests. [link fixed] By Bill Schneider. New West.

Related, March 1. An Open Letter to all Americans who wish to Contribute to keeping America’s Public Lands Administered by the Forest Service … Wild and Undeveloped.

Wolf advocates dominate first delisting hearing

The first public hearing on the delisting of the wolves in the Northern Rockies was held Feb . 27 in Cheyenne, and it was dominated by people who oppose delisting. This was the only Wyoming hearing planned, but a second hearing at Cody was recently announced under pressure from Wyoming’s lone US Representative Barbara Cubin, well known for anti-conservation views and ties to the oil industry. The date, place and time of the Cody hearing are so far being kept secret, leading to speculation that it will be a stacked hearing, with the details kept secret for as long a possible to make sure only anti-wolf voice is heard.

Story on the Cheyenne hearing. Billings Gazette. AP

Here is the story in the Casper Star Tribune. Wolf supporters show up in force. By Kathleen Miller.

Addition, March 1. Although I can’t find a media story, wolf supporters also had the large majority last night at the delisting hearing in Salt Lake City, Utah

Important note. Comments on delisting have just been extended to May 9.

Yet another removal order issued for a rare Mexican wolf

Coyotes at Chicago’s O’Hare cause delays

This story is from USA Today. It’s a bit humorous in a way, despite the obvious danger. This most persecuted canid has truly conquered North America.

Coyotes at Chicago’s O’Hare cause delays.  By Judy Keen.

One person quoted in the article says the coyotes are venturing closer and closer to cities. That’s wrong. They live in the cities and have for years now.

Posted in Coyotes. 1 Comment »

Boise, Idaho mayor says he opposes gold mine near Sawtooth Mountains

Yet another damn Canadian gold-mining company is bent on destroying America’s public land with a proposed pit in some of the most scenic mountains of Idaho, and the mayor of Boise is not going to sit idly by.

Boise Mayor Dave Bieter said Monday he opposes a controversial gold mining operation proposed near Atlanta [Idaho], and will ask the City Council for a formal declaration of opposition next week.Bieter and others are worried about potential contamination of the Boise River.

Read the full story in the Idaho Statesman. Bieter says he opposes gold mine. Boise mayor will ask council to declare its opposition, but city has no power to halt proposed Atlanta project. By Kathleen Kreller. Idaho Statesman

Update: I made a map from Google Earth showing the area of the planned pits and associated disturbances, perched above the Middle Fork of the River, the town of Atlanta, and adjacent to the splendid Sawtooth Wilderness.

Posted in mining, politics. Comments Off on Boise, Idaho mayor says he opposes gold mine near Sawtooth Mountains

Survey: Famous Jackson Hole elk herd population stable

While Wyoming’s politicians are either predicting the imminent demise of elk in northwest corner of the state or saying they have already been nearly wiped out, the ugly truth of fact again flies in their face.

Survey: Jackson elk herd population stable. Jackson Hole News and Guide.

New story on the count. Feb. 28. Shocker: Wolves Not Slaughtering Elk. By Jim Stanford. New West.

Posted in Elk. Comments Off on Survey: Famous Jackson Hole elk herd population stable

Hearings on wolf delisting begin tonight in Cheyenne, WY

The most important thing about the hearings is that you show up, and make your viewpoint clear by what you wear, small signs, etc. These may not be allowed into the hearing rooms, but the media will want to see them. These hearings are only because they are required by law, and they are really important because of the media, not to gather any information. Don’t be shy, the wolf haters aren’t. My viewpoint.

– – – – –

This is from the USFWS-

Here is the list of hearing places.

February 27, 2007, at Holiday Inn Cheyenne, 204 West Fox Farm Road, Cheyenne, WY

February 28, 2007, at Plaza Hotel, 122 West South Temple, Salt Lake City, UT

March 1, 2007, at Jorgenson’s Inn & Suites, 17111th Avenue, Helena, MT

March 6, 2007, at Boise Convention Center on the Grove, 850 W. Front Street, Boise, ID

March 7, 2007, at Pendleton Red Lion Inn, 304 S.E. Nye Street, Pendleton, OR

March 8, 2007, at Oxford Inns and Suites, 15015 East Indiana Avenue, Spokane Valley, WA

In each location, the public meetings will be from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. and the public hearings will be from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. A brief presentation on the Service’s proposal will be given during the public meetings at 3 p.m. and 4 p.m. and will be followed by a question-and-answer period. During the public hearing, formal oral testimony will be accepted. Written comments also will be accepted at the public meeting and the hearing.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service published its proposal to delist the gray wolf in the northern Rocky Mountains. It can be viewed at Comments from the public can be emailed to, hand-delivered to USFWS, 585 Shepard Way, Helena, MT 59601, or mailed to U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Wolf Delisting, 585 Shepard Way, Helena, MT 59601. All comments must be submitted by the close of business on April 9, 2007.

–  –  –  –  –

At the request of Wyoming’s US Representative Barbara Cubin, there will be a hearing in Cody, but the time or place has not been announced.
Update. Feb. 28: as far as I can tell, and there has some discussion, the date of this still hasn’t been set. . . . kind of like a stage for local politicians and loudmouths to rant and rave with no else having the opportunity to disrupt their script. Will the media play its predetermined role?

Wyoming legislature is working on another defective wolf bill

Folks might be getting confused as to all the wolf bills that have been introduced into the current Wyoming legislature, move and bit, and then die.

Now another one is moving in the Wyoming state senate. This is the last week of the legislative session.

This, like the others, is most likely to be rejected by the US Fish and Wildlife Service if it becomes state law. It is yet another bill that would restrict wolves to a tiny area in Wyoming and take a completely hostile approach to wolves in general.

Story in the Casper Star Tribune. [State] Senate trims wolf management area. By Ben Neary.

Update. Feb. 28. Wyoming Senate passes wolf control bill; House up next. Billings Gazette.

CHEYENNE – The Wyoming Senate on Tuesday approved a wolf management plan that calls for giving the governor’s office authority to negotiate with the federal government over the boundaries of a permanent wolf area in the northwestern corner of the state.

. . . .

On Monday, the Senate had voted to exclude most private land from a permanent management area in which wolves would be managed as trophy game animals. Outside that area, they would be managed as predators that could be shot on sight.

Mitch King, regional director of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in Denver, had said Monday that any reduction of the management area his agency had proposed last fall would be unacceptable. He said a reduction would lead to his agency rejecting a state wolf management plan.

Posted in Delisting, politics, Wolves, Wyoming wolves. Comments Off on Wyoming legislature is working on another defective wolf bill

Why is Butch afraid of the Big Bad Wolf?

This is from Alan Gregory’s Conservation News Blog. Why is Butch [Otter] afraid of the Big Bad Wolf?

Dale Bosworth talks about his tenure as Chief Forester

Recently retired  Chief Forester Bosworth sat down with John S. Adams of the Missoula Independent.
Coming Home. By John S. Adams. Former Forest Service Chief Dale Bosworth on fire, frustration and the future of the woods

Dale Bosworth returned to Missoula last week after a six-year stint in Washington, D.C., as chief of the U.S. Forest Service. Bosworth, pictured here at his home west of Missoula, spent part of his first day back talking to the Independent.

Posted in public lands, public lands management. Comments Off on Dale Bosworth talks about his tenure as Chief Forester

Congress puts focus on West’s evolution

Actually what happened was the House Natural Resources Committee, now under new management 🙂 held a hearing on the transformation of the West’s economics and society, and balancing that with conserving the beauty and resources.

The most notable thing was those who were invited to testify — no oil company lobbyists and land developers like defeated ex-chair Richard Pombo would have stacked the hearing list with.

Two Native Americans were invited to testify!

Story from the Missoulian. Congress puts focus on West’s evolution. By Noelle Straub.

Posted in politics. Comments Off on Congress puts focus on West’s evolution

Too many ATVs in Spread Creek, WY area; scare elk

Spread Creek rises east of Jackson Hole and flow into the Park. It is terrible fishing because it was degraded by a dam to divert waters to Elk Ranch Reservoir for irrigating hayfields for CATTLE inside Grand Teton National Park.

The lower reaches of Spread Creek are lousy for fish, but the country around it is great elk country, moose, deer, bear and wolf too. The Bridger-Teton NF is supposed to have wildlife management as the number one multiple use for the area, but ATV crowds are pushing in.

This story is about Wyoming Game and Fish Department asking the US Forest Service to limit the Spread Creek area to reduce ATV density because they scare the elk on their summer range. The Forest Service sure seems to be proposing a lot of motorized access for a wildlife first area.

Of course, the Blue Ribbon (blue smoke) Coalition was there to speak up for the fat the lazy.

Story in the Jackson Hole News and Guide. State: ATVs scaring elk. By Cory Hatch

See also, Elk prefer people on foot. Study finds ATVs, bikes disturb them most. Jackson Hole News and Guide. By Corey Hatch.

A winter of failure for brucellosis elk trapping near Pinedale, WY

In the second year of a project called “sadly misconceived” by conservationists, 173 elk were trapped at Muddy Creek feedground near Pinedale. 79 of the elk were adult females.
13 of the 79 tested seropositive for brucellosis and were slaughtered. “Seropositive” means the elk had antibodies — they had been exposed to brucellosis. A smaller percentage, undetermined, actually had brucellosis and were infectious.

The criticism is that the program is very expensive in time, effort, and unnecessary slaughter of elk, with few to no benefits because the petpetuation of the disease is in the winter feeding of Wyoming elk throughout the NW part of the state.

Story in the Casper Star Tribune. Numbers of elk trapped decline from last year. By Whitney Royster. Casper Star-Tribune environmental reporter.

Posted in Elk, wildlife disease. Comments Off on A winter of failure for brucellosis elk trapping near Pinedale, WY

Defending the West is virtue


At Potamogeton Park, Madison Range, Montana. Gallatin National Forest. Photo by Ralph Maughan

I believe that spending as much of your life as possible defending the Western lands, water, air and wildlife is an act of pure virtue.Your actions needs no other justification, but make sure you get plenty of time out on the land so that it doesn’t get to be an abstraction. Turning into a symbol rather than a presence is dangerous.whitepine9.jpg

White Pine Range, north central Nevada. Humboldt National Forest. Photo copyright Ralph Maughan

Do supporters of wolf recovery hate elk?

This should be so obvious, but I has finally dawned on me that many elk hunters think that those who have supported the wolf restoration, hate elk, or at best are indifferent to elk.

Because wolves eat elk, deer, moose, etc. it should be obvious that wolf supporters have a great interest in the health and vitality of ungulate herds, but apparently not!

As for myself, I became interested in wolves after many years of concern how the livestock industry and timber industry made it so we had to exist with a poverty of elk, antelope, moose, and bighorn sheep. I, or groups I was an officer with, had signed onto many appeals and lawsuits against timber sales and range “improvement” projects.

It may be plain to most of us, but we would do well to pointedly to speak favorably about elk and other ungulates, and publicize it when you do something to help them and send the news release to hunting organizations.

Of course, much of the opposition to wolves is based on other matters and the misinformation is stirred up with malice, but this disinformation is picked up in routine conversation.

One again I want to remind folks of this website which is a good summary to what is know about wolves and elk, livestock, etc.

Ex-Forest Service chief backs most of Clinton-era `roadless rule’

Now that Dale Bosworth is a free man, but no longer a person with authority as when he was Bush’s Chief of the U.S. Forest Service, he tells us that he basically supported President’s Clinton’s national forest roadless area protection role, not Bush’s.

I can only hope he did his best to sabotage the Bush rule from within.

Read: Ex-Forest Service chief backs most of Clinton-era `roadless rule’. By Martin Griffith. AP in the Las Vegas Sun.

Bison on National Elk Refuge tops 1,000 animals

Bison on elk refuge top 1,000 animals. Jackson Hole News and Guide.

The bison growth is really out of hand with them having access to all this artificial winter feed. They will destroy the summer range of Jackson Hole. It looks like the growth rate remains about 100 a year despite the bison hunt in the margins of the Park on the Bridger-Teton National Forest, but few bison range there, relatively speaking, especially during the bison hunt.

Posted in Bison. 1 Comment »

South Africa bans hunting caged lions

This story is from the carnivore conservation blog.  It seems like shooting animals in an enclosure and calling it “hunting” is a growing problem all over the world, with ethically challenged entrepreneurs in South Africa just like in Idaho. Fortunately, people are taking action against this practice.

South Africa bans hunting caged lions. Carnivore Conservation 

Potential oil, gas development spreading across Montana

Alberta is an oil and gas development basket case. Wyoming is heading that way quickly. Will Montana soon follow?

Story about Montana’s growing oil and gas damage in the Bozeman Chronicle. By Scott McMillian

Posted in oil and gas, Wildlife Habitat. Comments Off on Potential oil, gas development spreading across Montana

Ten year old cougar may have been North Dakota’s “Eve”

A ten year old female mountain lion was recently accidentally trapped in North Dakota. The mountain lion is now making a comeback in the state, and she might have played a very large role.

Story in the Bismark Tribune.

. . . More on the story. The cougar was trapped in a bobcat snare. There was a major effort to save the cougar’s life.

Effort to save cougar unsuccessful. by Blake Nicholson, Associated Press

Posted in wildcats. Comments Off on Ten year old cougar may have been North Dakota’s “Eve”

Getting realistic about ethanol as fuel

Right now politicians are falling all over themselves to promote ethanol as the solution to America’s “gasoline shortage” problem.

I burn 10% ethanol in my truck, and I kind of like it, but ethanol won’t; it can’t become the solution because there is not enough enough ground to grow the inputs (especially ethanol from corn) and still feed people. Corn is used directly or indirectly in many more food products than almost any American knows. Ethanol is going to have a huge environmental fuel, and it is not really a fossil-fuel-free form energy but so much petroleum is used to produce it.

Here is part of a great editorial in the Missoulian.

(1) It takes one gallon of fossil fuel to produce 1.3 gallons of grain ethanol (not much gain); (2) Corn grain ethanol production promotes soil erosion (280 pounds of soil lost per gallon of ethanol); (3) The amount of corn required to fill one 25-gallon tank of gas could feed a person for a year; (4) Corn is an important export to developing countries. Diversion to ethanol production may strain our capacity to supply these countries; (5) Ethanol cannot be transported by pipeline; (6) Ethanol plants demand large volumes of water and generate wastewater.

Read the rest:  Guest Column: In quest for fuel alternatives, it pays to look before leaping. Missoulian.

Yellowstone bison stay inside Park this winter; Montana hunters bought expensive tags for nothing

Due to a mild winter, Yellowstone’s bison herd, which is plenty large, has remained inside the Park this winter. Montana’s Department of Livestock has had few to truck off under the fiction that they are dangerous to cattle, and Montana hunters who saw the state give a big increase this year for expensive bison tags have had little to hunt.

The bison hunt is controversial, in my view, because Montana refuses to give the bison any habitat, even though plenty of cattle free habitat exists to the west and NW of the Park. In the winter of 2005-6, a lot of bison left the Park and the small number bison hunt tags were quickly filled. For some reason, the state assumed that this large out-migration would happen every year, so this year they greatly increased the number of tags sold and did nothing to give bison room to roam beyond the Park.

Those who support bison being freed from their Yellowstone prison and bison hunters, who flat out got screwed, have plenty to complain about. The solution is easy — free the bison, but Montana’s state officials still won’t listen. They are blaming the bison for failure to migrate! No, it is not that unusual for the bison to stay in the Park. Montana government has only its selfish self to blame.
I hope the congressional investigation digs up the dirt that is obviously being hidden in Helena.

Story in the Billings Gazette. Bison staying in park this winter. By Mike Stark.

General Accounting Office to look at bison situation in Montana

Finally some aid may be coming to Yellowstone’s bison, artificially constrained to Yellowstone Park.

The GAO, the investigatory arm of Congress, is looking into a number of bison issues, including the failure of CUT, the Church Universal and Triumphant, a land-owning cult immediately north of the Yellowstone boundary, to allow bison to cross its land.

In 1999, a federal land exchange between the Gallatin National Forest and various private land owners was implemented. It was not just an exchange. A payout of 13-million dollars was also made to made things equal. This exchange was expected to settle numerous private/public land issues on lands north of the Park. It did in part. However, a major enticement for conservation groups to make the deal, as I remember it (I was on the Board of the Greater Yellowstone Coalition at the time), was that CUT would receive land and give up lands in order to facilitate bison migration and winter range. Instead, they have actually brought in cattle (the notion that bison will give cattle brucellosis is one of excuses used to keep bison inside YNP). Yes, it’s time to see whether taxpayers got what they paid for. See the story below.

GAO to examine bison management. 13M deal to open land north of Yellowstone has never been implemented. By Mike Stark. Billings Gazette Staff

Update. 3-3-2007. Bison management under federal investigation. Missoula Independent.

Posted in Bison, national parks, privatization, public lands, public lands management, wildlife disease. Comments Off on General Accounting Office to look at bison situation in Montana

Idaho State Senate passes the “elk farmers” elk regulation bill

Idaho is going down a different path than Wyoming in terms of harming elk–different, but just a bad (privatization of elk). Elk will be livestock, not wildlife if this trend continues. There is already too much agricultural thinking about wildlife in Idaho, and not enough thinking about wildlife as a good thing, in and of itself.

Once again this is a reason why the politicians yell so much about wolves. It’s a diversion from real wildlife issues in Idaho, just as it is in Wyoming. Idahoans need to take the matter into their own hands like Montanans did, and get an initiative on the ballot. The state legislature will never pass a bill on its own.

“We’ve been waiting for this one – this is the industry bill.” With that, Senator Tim Corder, R-Mountain Home began his successful bid to herd S1074 through the full Senate. And in a prepared statement, Sen. Kate Kelly, D-Boise wrote, “Senate Bill 1074 passed by the Senate today was written by the elk industry for the elk industry. It represents bare standards designed to give only the minimal protection.”

Read the rest in New West. Idaho Senate: License Elk Hunt Operations. By Jill Kuraitis, 2-23-07

It is important to note that the vote was largely on party lines, with Democrats favoring wild elk and Republicans favoring the minimal regulation of elk farmers.

Posted in Elk, politics, privatization. Comments Off on Idaho State Senate passes the “elk farmers” elk regulation bill

Buffalo Field Campaign. Little activity on the bison front

Here is the latest report from the Buffalo Field Campaign. The political idiocy that keeps bison inside the Park is at a background level — that’s my interpretation.

However, here are the details from BFC.

Dear Buffalo Friends,

Things remain quiet here along Yellowstone’s western boundary. Not a single buffalo has stepped foot into Montana in weeks. BFC volunteers are conducting daily recons, monitoring the buffalo’s movements inside the park, but none are to be found outside of Yellowstone’s western boundary, or even close to it. In a selfish way it’s good because there’s no buffalo for the Department of Livestock to bully or kill. And, because of their absence, many survived Montana’s “hunt.” Yet we feel guilty for this strange relief, because we all know that a land without bison is, like an ocean without whales, incomplete. We feel a strong sense of loneliness without our giant shaggy friends around but we are thankful that they are able to live in peace for the time being.

Near Gardiner, Yellowstone’s northern boundary has been less quiet. Along the west side of the Yellowstone River, mixed groups of buffalo are on the move, attempting to migrate in search of critical forage. The National Park Service checks their every move, not allowing them to approach the park boundary, not allowing them to find food, not allowing them to maintain the ecological integrity of the land. On Tuesday, NPS Rangers hazed a mixed group of about 30 buffalo deeper into the Park, and this morning 90 buffalo were pushed off of their chosen ground, forced back to grasslands where they have already fed. None had even left the park boundary. Read the rest of this entry »

Kathie Lynch has news about two favorite Yellowstone wolves

From Yellowstone, Kathie Lynch finally has some new news about injured Druid 302M and injured Agate alpha male 113M as well.  I know folks have been checking this web page for news. Here it is:

Druid 302M was seen today (Feb. 22)! Despite his rear leg injury, he was able to move at a run and was within a mile of the rest of the Druid Peak pack. Darkness fell before we could see a reunion, but the small group of wolf watchers awaiting his return was thrilled just to be able to see his tracks (and they were big!) in the snow.

And, here’s some good news for fans of Agate 113M too! On Feb. 21 he was with the rest of the Agate pack, looking happy and as healthy as an almost 10-year-old wolf with an injured left rear leg can look. He was able to run without a limp and keep up with the rest of the pack. His pups mobbed him joyfully with wagging tails all around; his former mate, 472F, trotted next to him; and, his son, acting alpha 383M, stood faithfully by his side.

Every image of these two noble old-timers will be etched in my memory forever.

Accident that Killed 21 Pronghorn Not All that Uncommon

Accident that Killed 21 Pronghorn Not All that Uncommon. Carnage Abounds on Western Wyoming Roads. New West. By Brian Maffly.

This article is an explication of the earlier story, 21 pronghorn die as they veer into oil services truck near Pinedale.

Posted in Motor vehicles wildlife, pronghorn, Wildlife Habitat. Comments Off on Accident that Killed 21 Pronghorn Not All that Uncommon

Elk prefer people on foot. Study finds ATVs, bikes disturb them most.

Elk prefer people on foot. Study finds ATVs, bikes disturb them most. By Cory Hatch. Jackson Hole News and Guide.

Humans’ beef with livestock: a warmer planet

Humans’ beef with livestock: a warmer planet. American meat eaters are responsible for 1.5 more tons of carbon dioxide per person than vegetarians every year. By Brad Knickerbocker. Christian Science Monitor.

The livestock industry likes to laugh this one off. What’s so funny?

America Is Paying A Steep Price For Cheap Food

This is a new column by conservationist George Wuerthner. His argument is the classic economic explanation that the price of food does not reflect the full costs of production, because negative side-effects, called “externalities” by economists, are passed onto unwilling by-standers and the degredation of the natural environment.

As a result of the failure to pay for the negative externalities, “cheap food” is really pretty expensive.

America Is Paying A Steep Price For Cheap Food. Column in New West. By George Wuerthner.

Posted in politics. Comments Off on America Is Paying A Steep Price For Cheap Food

New wolf management bill dies in Wyoming legislative committee

The brief effort in the Wyoming legislature to revive a bill to alter Wyoming’ proposed wolf management (and so gain acceptance by USFWS) has died in committee.

Story in the Casper Star Tribune. By Ben Neary.

– – – – –

RELATED. Lobo Haters Emerge from Grave of the 19th Century. With Wolves, Wyoming Keeps Shooting Self In Foot. By Todd Wilkinson. New West.

The rabidness of the wolf and federal-government haters—how can it be construed as anything other than pure shameful “hate”?— defies logic, reason, science, and patriotism.

Report finds dangerous levels of mercury near Nevada mines and it’s moving into Idaho waters

Here is a shocking report about the damn Canadian gold pits in northern Nevada and movement of neurotoxic mercury toward and into Idaho.

RENO, Nev. – Startlingly high concentrations of mercury in ambient air were found near at least three northern Nevada mines, according to a January study by researchers at the University of Nevada, Reno.
All three mines are west and upwind of Salmon Falls Creek Reservoir, where the Idaho Department of Environmental Quality has found elevated concentrations of mercury in the water.

Read the rest in the Magic Valley Times News. By Matt Christensen.

A pit of death? The open pits, spoils, tailings and associated carnage of the landscape from Barrick Goldstrike Mines spreads over miles of northern Nevada.
Copyright Ralph Maughan Read the rest of this entry »

Midwest Wolves Fall Prey to PR Scam. Who Knew Slob Hunters Had PR Agents?

Alan Gregory has a story in Counterpunch today. Midwest Wolves Fall Prey to PR Scam. Who Knew Slob Hunters Had PR Agents?

He is a regular poster at this blog and has it own at: Alan Gregory’s Conservation News.

More mismanagement, possible criminal activity, uncovered at Dept. of Interior

In the last two years alone, Devaney’s office [Inspector general] has uncovered golf outings, dinners, hunting trips, concert tickets and box seats at sporting events being accepted against the rules by Interior officials. The office also uncovered exclusive access and special favors by Interior employees to select outside groups.

Corruption has been rife in the Department of Interior, and as a result our land, air, water, and wildlife has suffered as special favors were given out.

Read House panel hears of management mess. By Noelle Straub. Casper Star-Tribune Washington bureau.

Posted in politics, public lands, public lands management. Comments Off on More mismanagement, possible criminal activity, uncovered at Dept. of Interior

Still poor, Yellowstone Park winter air quality has improved.

With fewer and cleaner snowmobiles entering the Park, the air isn’t quite as dirty as it was.

Read, Winter air improving at Yellowstone. By Mike Stark. Billings Gazette.

Time to kill the RAT?

Congress has never had a straight up or down vote on the federal recreation access tax, and Oregon Representative Peter DeFazio wants one on Federal Lands Recreation Enhancement Act (FLREA) or RAT which was slipped into law as an amendment to a bill.

Read “Time to Kill the RAT?” by Bill Schneider. New West.

Posted in privatization, public lands, public lands management. Comments Off on Time to kill the RAT?

President’s Day and the worst President

Today I celebrated the most dangerous office in American government by going shopping, and reading about how Coalition of Retired National Park Service Employees has helped stifle most environmentally destructive President in History.

It’s at Thunderbear, an alternative newspaper I was unaware of until today. Read Thunderbear 271.

Posted in politics. Comments Off on President’s Day and the worst President

Sunday, near the ID/UT/NV border


Sunday at the Silent City of Rocks, Idaho (near the ID/UT/NV border). The prominent rock is the Twin Sisters (a popular climb)

The snow-capped range is the Raft River Mountains (in NW Utah very close to  the Nevada border).

I love this obscure country, and will be getting out more and more in the future. As a result this blog may need some alternative/guest editors.

Photo copyright Ralph Maughan

21 pronghorn die as they veer into oil services truck near Pinedale.

21 Pronghorn Dead. Deadliest Roadkill Ever in Wyoming. By Brian Maffly. New West

Many have had the experience of pronghorn racing along your vehicle, sometimes even sprinting to pass the road in front of you. Something like that may have happened.

The tyranny of the motor minority

This editorial appeared in the Bozeman Chronicle.  The Gallatin National Forest has been working on a new Gallation forest travel plan for years now.  There are an incredible number of interests to satisfy, but the minority who seem to have lost use of their legs, but not their mouths, has bullied its way against the 90% or so who like to see some restraint.

The tyranny of the motor minority. From the Greater Yellowstone Coalition news page.

Posted in Motor vehicles wildlife, public lands, public lands management. Comments Off on The tyranny of the motor minority

Druid 302M appears badly injured. Photos

This will be of great interest to Yellowstone wolf watchers, especially because of 302’s long career, and his patent courting of the Druid Pack, until he finally joined after 21M was dead.

Alan Sachanowski, who has provided so many great photos and stories about the Yellowstone wolves wrote.

Here are a couple photos of a hurt wolf #302. As I understand it, he has been AWOL from the Druids for several days (more than a week), and has been up above Slough Creek probably female trolling. He made a reappearance today near Soda Butte and looks to be badly injured. He was not putting any weight at all on his left rear leg. He was first seen on the north side of the road moving west to east. He stopped on a high ridge and lay down for about an hour and a half, occasionally howling weakly. The assumption among many was that he might be trying to get back to the Druids who where up Cache Creek. I was in the Soda Butte turnout when suddenly he decided to drop down and cross the road about 100-150 yards behind me. I was able to get just a couple quick shots with a 500mm and doubler hand held. He moved across the river and into some Aspen trees on the far side where he again lay down. He was still there when I left about four pm. You can see in the photos that he is dragging his left rear leg.

See photos:

Read the rest of this entry »

Cool photos of wolves taking down an Isle Royale moose

Ted Williams put this link on his blog.

Since then folks have been circulating them around the Internet. I got them by email described as the Bitterroot Valley, Montana. Ah the Internet, rumor mill.

Cozy at the Beach

Let’s face the facts, one reason the government has failed protect our land and wildlife lately is because there are a white collar criminals running the Dept. of Interior and other government agencies. . . and in case they were literally in bed with big oil.

– – – – –

In case you haven’t read those parts of this blog regarding top Dept. of Interior officials and possible corruption, a big story is breaking about J. Steven Griles, the former No. 2 official at the Interior, and others. I have always referred to Griles as “ethically challenged,” but now more meat is being put on the bones of the story.

The matter also reaches into the Department of Justice. Sue Ellen Wooldridge, the nations’s top environmental prosecutor owned a plush vacation house with Griles. They were sweethearts. The major owner of the house, however, was ConocoPhillips Vice President Donald R. Duncan. Wooldridge and Duncan purchased the house nine months before she agreed to allow ConocoPhillips delay a $525-million pollution cleanup.

Griles, who is now an oil and gas lobbyist, began dating Wooldridge when she was in the Dept. of Interior, and he was her boss.

In a separate matter, Griles has been told by prosecutors that he is a target of the continuing investigation of convicted felon lobbyist Jack Abramoff and his ties to the Department of Interior where he repeatedly sought special favors.

Here are a series of stories.

Feb. 17. Cozy at the Beach. Editorial in the Washington Post. “A Justice Department lawyer invests with a lobbyist, settles with his company — and is told there’s no ethics problem.”

Feb. 17. Ethics Story Thickens Over Abramoff-Interior Relationships. By Todd Wilkinson, New West.

Feb. 17. House panel hears of Dept. of Interior management mess. By Noelle Straub. Casper Star Tribune.

Feb. 15. How feds’ top environmental prosecutor built home with big-oil lobbyist. By John Heilprin

Idaho Statewide big game harvest figures, 1935-2005

Look at these amazing details.

Look and see if you can detect the effect of wolves. Remember wolves were reintroduced in 1995. At first there were just a few, and at the end of 2005 about 600 wolves, so the evidence of their effect should increase each years after 1995.

Link to the figures.

Poachers making a killing in West’s oil, gas fields

Poachers are running amuck in the West’s “oil patches,” and all we hear about are loser hunters who blame wolves.

What the hell is wrong with these peabrains? They never see the real threat. It might also be that the media facilitates their tales, but I’m only half convinced of that argument

Story in USA Today.

Cougar hunter says wolves attacked, killed dogs near Avery (Idaho) . . . dog owners whine

Wolves have nailed some cougar-tracking hounds again.

Somehow it is hard to cry for these cry-baby hunters. Where is their sense of adventure and that a hunt should be a risk to hunters too?

Story in the Jackson Hole Star Tribune

Related. This was in Ed Bang’s report that came in this evening.

It seems the high elevation Lake Como Pack from inside the Selway-Bitterroot wilderness got into a fight with some lion tracking hounds.

“On Feb. 5th, a lion hunter reported that his hounds had gotten in a fight with wolves near the Tin Cup drainage near Darby, MT. He reported that his dogs were injured but would be OK and he thought 2 wolves were involved. Bradley [MFWP] was incidentally in this same area on the 4th and had cut tracks of several wolves presumably from the Lake Como pack.”

Sportsmen for the Wyoming Range in Washington to lobby for mountain range’s protection from gas drillers.

Story in the Billings Gazette. By Noelle Straub.

Their visit seems to be pretty low key.

Posted in oil and gas, politics, Wildlife Habitat. Comments Off on Sportsmen for the Wyoming Range in Washington to lobby for mountain range’s protection from gas drillers.

Wyoming may revive wolf legislation.

I’m a bit confused about what this means, however.

Story in the Casper Star Tribune.  By Whitney Royster.

The Woods of Germany are home to wolves again

The Woods of Germany are home to wolves again. Their status as a protected species has hunter and biologist snapping at one another in Saxony. By Jeffrey Fleishman, Los Angeles Times Staff Writer.

Posted in Wolves. 3 Comments »

Idaho legislature rejects all elk bills except the one written by the elk farm industry

Canned “hunts” won’t be banned, or even altered. The state Dept. of Agriculture could demand that elk operations put up additional fencing. A $200 licensing fee would be required which the Dept. of Agriculture could revoke.

Legislators argued no farmed elk had been known to escape “lately.”

Story. Elk industry’s bill clears Senate panel. Committee says no to all other plans generated after more than 60 of the animals escaped from a ranch.
By Roger Phillips.- Idaho Statesman.

Hunting and wildlife groups might now try for a ballot initiative like voters passed in Montana about 6 years ago.

Posted in Elk. Comments Off on Idaho legislature rejects all elk bills except the one written by the elk farm industry

Ski group pushes to limit snowmobiles on Togwotee

“A conservation group representing backcountry skiers says the time is ripe to limit snowmobiles in the Togwotee Pass area as officials rewrite the Bridger-Teton National Forest management plan.” From “Ski group pushes to limit snowmobiles on Togwotee [pass area]. Jackson Hole News and Guide. By Cory Hatch.

The Togwotee Pass area is a large area of forest and beautiful meadows NE of Jackson Hole, rising up to the Continental Divide. To its north is the designated Teton Wilderness Area, not to be confused with Grand Teton National Park. Summertime has shown a great environmental improvement because the cattle allotments have been bought out and the lush meadows with willow-sided streams provide much habitat for moose and elk, and great grizzly bear habitat too, but in the winter it has become a snowmobile raceway with the ever more powerful sleds racing 60 t0 80 mph across the meadow, and increasingly directly violating the Wilderness Act by entering the Teton Wilderness. Some get stuck there almost every year and have to be rescued.

This illegal entry into the Teton Wilderness has got to be harmful for hibernating bears, who tend to use the north-facing slopes where the snow lingers longest. Moose do use these areas in the winter, and Wyoming’s moose population is on the decline (no it’s not the wolves; the moose are undernourished). Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in Motor vehicles wildlife, Wildlife Habitat. Comments Off on Ski group pushes to limit snowmobiles on Togwotee

New congress gives new Forest Service chief a grilling in committee hearing.

New Forest Service chief gets rough treatment in Congress. By Matthew Daly, Associated Press.


Hopefully the new Congress will finally rein in the land management agencies which have become increasing lawless during the Bush Administration. The new commitee chairman, however, is a supporter of cutting more timber, and he played an unsavory role in the flap over the Oregon State University’s graduate student’s article in Science Magazine showing the ill effects of  post-forest fire salvage logging on forest regeneration.

Ron Gilette lets Canadian Broadcasting know about the havoc their “Canadian” wolves have wrought in Idaho

Listen to Ron Gilette tell CBC’s “As It Happens” about what Canadian wolves have done 400 miles to the south in Idaho. Go to about 13:30 on your media player at this link.

It is always a kick to hear Ron, and he leaves quite impression about folks here in the Gem State. I hope my residency doesn’t it spoil it to much for him.

I can’t imagine why he doesn’t fill his cabins with visitors. Yes it’s the wolves, although I learned there were about 100 elk in the vicinity of Stanley today.

Both sides cry wolf. Politics of wolf is similiar to politics of abortion

Political scientists call them “symbolic issues,” as opposed to tangible issues.

Symbolic issues have become more and more prominent in recent years in the United States, not just in Wyoming. Such issues that evoke non-economic values eclipse economic issues — the issues that really affect the material welfare of individual people and the nation. This development is, according to some, not an accident.

The Jackson Hole News and Guide has a pretty good analysis. Both sides cry wolf. In the debate over wolf management, politics and values prove as compelling as science. By Noah Brenner.

Other issues like this are where the Ten Commandments may or may not be located, debates over the Flag, the Pledge of Allegiance, etc.  Those groups who are superior in social rank would often rather have people taking about this kind of issue than why so many lack medical insurance or the extreme inequality of wealth in the present day United States.

Hunters, elk ranchers take stands on bills in the Idaho Legislature

 There is finally some action in the state legislature on the many bills introduced to regulate/self-regulate/or crack down on the domestic elk industry in Idaho.

Hunters, elk ranchers take stands on bills. Senate committee hears testimony on measures that would restrict elk-ranching industry. By Roger Phillips. Idaho Statesman

Know this: In Montana, elk rule

 Ed. Note: this article was recently rediscovered by readers although it is a year old (2007 – not 2008 as I write this)

Here is an opinion from a Montana state senator, just dripping with hostility.

Although he says that in Montana, elk rule, and folks there are not going to allow wolves to reduce them, it doesn’t take much analysis to add this as further confirmation of my hypothesis that the wolf issue really isn’t about wolves at all. It is a way to express social hostility toward other people (those considered to be “outsiders”) whether they have lived in Montana, Wyoming, Idaho, etc., for generations or whether they live in New York City where some folks like him seem to think all those who want a full complement of native wildlife restored, live.

Here is his piece in the Helena Independent Record

Read the rest of this entry »

High key Druids

Ray Laible of Pocatello, Idaho, an inveterate photographer and wolf watcher made this high key photo of the Druids. It was taken this month.

Thanks for sharing it, Ray.


Bush budget aims to help western wildlife, especially Wyoming, but . . .

In part due to the impacts of energy development in the West, the new proposed budget by President Bush allocates $22 million to restore and protect wildlife habitat in seven Western states. Of that $11.5 million is to go to Wyoming where energy development impacts have been the greatest.

AP Story in the Billings Gazette. Bush’s wildlife habitat plan emphasizes Wyoming

However, buried in a separate Gazette story, this one about the Wyoming budget in-the-making, it is reported that governor Freudenthal has proposed to put $45 million into the state’s Wildlife Trust Fund, and that has been cut to $6 million under the state legislature’s Joint Appropriations Committee’s recommendations. Budget Story.

It’s good to keep your eye on the entire political landscape.

Wyoming Wolf dispute could extend for years

This article is from the Casper Star Tribune. By Jared Miller.

Giving the standoff between the USFWS and Wyoming, the current wolf situation with the federal government continuing to do all the wolf management in most of NW Wyoming, and Wyoming yelling about wolves and the federal government, could go on indefinitely.

Wyoming’s political oligarchy will only benefit from its current stance.

Quoting from the Star-Tribune, “Vance Welsh, owner of an auto body shop in Afton, said state leaders were right to reject the federal offer. When it comes to wolves, Wyoming needs to stick to its guns, he said. ‘I think that the governor is doing the right thing,’ said Welsh, who has several outfitter friends and follows the issue closely. ‘We’ve been lied to enough from the feds, and there is no need in accepting whatever they decided they want to have shoved down our throats.’ ”

Folks like this are Governor Freuenthal’s ace-in-hole. He can play the big bad federal government issue for as many years as he wants to remain in office.

In fact, Wyoming got already got most of what it wanted — the delisting proposal in fact eliminates all wolf protection in Wyoming outside of a portion of NW Wyoming, where most, but not all of the wolves are, greatly reducing the likelihood they will migrate down to Eastern Idaho, nothern Utah, and Colorado.

Don’t Let Them Shoot McNeil River Brown Bears

I’m surprised that even Alaska would allow this to happen, if only for economic reasons, but they have elected a reactionary new governor, and the Alaska Board of Game has never been enlightened.

This will probably attract the same kind of shooters as those who like to shoot elk, deer behind a high fence.

YouTube video giving the details.

The story is gaining steam. This today on MSNBC. “Famous Alaska bears could become the hunted. State board wants to allow hunts near McNeil River sanctuary.”

More on Feb. 14. Rep Seaton introduced HB127 today to expand the McNeil River sanctuary to include the Kamishak Special Use Area.

Posted in Bears. 6 Comments »

When it comes to conservation Bush is no Teddy Roosevelt says NYT

An editorial by the New York Times today exposes Bush’s pretentions as being a conservationist. T.R.?, He’s No T.R.

In fact the Bush Administration’s minions get worse and more harmful by the day.

Proposal for a giant coal-fired plant near Ely, Nevada draws protest

A giant coal-fired power plant is planned at Ely, Nevada (there is no coal in the area only clear air).

Story in the Las Vegas Sun. Coal-fired plant near Ely draws protest. By Phoebe Sweet.

Here is a story from the Billings Gazette in Montana about where the coal will come from. Wyoming coal planned for Nevada power plant. By The Associated Press

“KT” who posts to this blog was one of the first to sniff this out.

Grazing fees drop, but plan’s in the red

More on the recent drop in public land grazing fees to the minimum rate allowed by law. The federal grazing program also loses money. How can it be justified?

Grazing fees drop, but plan’s in the red. By Tony Davis. Arizona Daily Star.

Appointment of Luthi as number two in USFWS, further stacks the deck against wildlife

Ex-Speaker of Wyoming’s House of Representatives Randall Luthi has been appointed deputy director of the US Fish and Wildlife Service. Luthi will be second in comment to director Dale Hall, who hamstrung wildlife protection efforts in the Southwest when he was its regional director.

Former speaker Luthi tapped as Fish and Wildlife deputy. By Noelle Straub. Jackson Hole Star-Tribune Washington bureau.

Wyoming Republican luminaries praised Luthi as embodying “Wyoming values.”

JH Underground had a much less positive analysis. “Hunt for wolves.

But let Luthi speak for himself-

The real use of FS recreation access fees is exposed.

The Forest Service and other land management agencies are charging more and more access fees. They say the money is put to work for underfunded recreation programs, but it is now apparent that they actually using the money for other purposes including closing recreational facilities.


Bill Schneider exposes them in New West. Now We Know Where the RAT Goes. By Bill Schneider.

Link to the Western Slope No Fee Coalition web page

Note that the law on which this was passed by Congress without any debate.

[Section VIII was originally introduced as HR 3283. It passed the House Resources Committee by a voice vote on September 22, 2004. It was then attached as a rider to HR 4818, the Omnibus Appropriations Bill for FY2005, by Representative Ralph Regula (R-OH). HR 4818 passed the House and Senate on December 6, 2004 and was signed by the President on December 8, 2004 to become Public Law 108-447. HR 3283 was never considered by the full House and was never introduced into the Senate except as a rider on the Omnibus Bill.] . . . from the Western Slope No Fee Coalition page

Here is the entire bill

Read the rest of this entry »

Montana’s Schweitzer pushes for Montana parkland

Good news for public access in Western Montana.

Gov. Schweitzer pushes for parkland.  By The Associated Press in the Billings Gazette.

Wyo-fed wolf talks fail. Wolves safe?

Wyo-fed wolf talks fail. By Whitney Royster. Casper Star Tribune.

Story in the Jackson Hole News and Guide. Wolf Decision ‘Political’ 

The US Fish and Wildlife Service has refused to let Wyoming kill wolves just because the governor says the wolves are “hurting big game herds.” Governor Dave Freudenthal (Dem.) has given many contradictory explanations how wolves are hurting big game in Wyoming, outside Yellowstone National Park.

Several weeks ago the Service indicated they might go along with Wyoming’s wolf management plan, which they had long held to be defective. Bills for new Wyoming wolf management plans were introduced in the state legislature (which will now soon adjourn). The bills, however, tended to make Wyoming’s proposed wolf management, which had already been rejected twice, even more hostile to the presence of wolves.

Perhaps sensing the Service would not accept an even more hostile wolf plan, Wyoming’s governor asked the U.S. Wildlife Service to let Wyoming kill wolves while the state and the federal government dickered during the next year (and perhaps beyond).

The talks ended yesterday in what Whitney Royster (above) wrote was “a high-spirited, often angry and name-calling press conference.”

Freudenthal has been inconsistent to why he regards the wolves as such a problem. Earlier he said they were decimating Wyoming’s big game herds. Later he said the wolves weren’t, but would. At any rate, their presence had made hunting more difficult because the wolves have changed the behavior of big game, implying is was too hard for Wyoming hunters to learn to adapt.

I have argued for many years, that Wyoming doesn want to really manage wolves. Instead the goal is either “a prison” for them in Yellowstone Park, or the current situation which provides an often useful emotional issue to be raised whenever other political events draw the public’s attention.

It now appears that Wyoming wolves will continue under federal management and might be safer than Idaho wolves which will soon be subject to a hunt, for which Idaho’s new governor, Butch Otter, suggests a population reduction of 80%. Idaho went forward with a minimal wolf plan, crafted by livestock interests, which was approved serveral years ago by USFWS, but only goes into full effect when wolves are fully delisted. That could be by next fall.

Currently the USFWS is requesting your comments on their proposed wolf delisting in Idaho and Montana (but not Wyoming).

Global Warming Report: Less Winter in the West?

Global Warming Report: Less Winter in the West? By Dan Whipple. New West.

Whipple doesn’t talk about the effect this will have on wildlife. I think it may allow for more winter range for wildlife, with some notable expections such as Yellowstone Park where it will result in wet snow and ice that leaves elk unable to paw through to the grass underneath.

The changing climate may reduce summer range.

Added Feb. 12. Global Warming: Focus on Utah’s Climate. Salt Lake Tribune.

Posted in Climate change. Comments Off on Global Warming Report: Less Winter in the West?

Nature Conservancy adds 4,300-acre easement along the Rocky Mountain Front

The Rocky Mountain Front continues to be a success story, now with more plains grizzly bear habitat protected. The last Congress greatly reduced the likihood of oil and gas development dangers.

See the AP story.

The Front still faces problems — off road vehicles and potential sub-divisions.

The Nature Conservancy always plays a cautious game, and a lot of people think it bends over way too far for ranching. However, on the Front they have played a big role guaranteeing there is still one place grizzly bears can roam onto the plains.

TNC’s Rocky Mountain Front web page.

Posted in Bears. Comments Off on Nature Conservancy adds 4,300-acre easement along the Rocky Mountain Front

Photos of “wolf killed” game?

Mike-S sent me a number of photos of killed elk, also a deer buck, and a bighorn ram. There were several other photos of the same event, taken from different angles and some others too small I thought to tell much at all. I didn’t put these up.

I created a special web page for the photos.

Note several “Mikes” post to this blog, and I hope they will all use a last name initial or something to distinguish themselves.

So what do folks think?

Pombo’s political demise will likely mean Wild Sky Wilderness bill in Washington State will become law

The benefit’s of Pombo’s loss keep coming in . . .

Wild Sky Wilderness area back in Congress’ sights. Protection may pass by summer. By Charles Pope. Seattle Post-Intelligencer.

This is a very important bill because it includes lowland forests. Most designated Wilderness in Washington State is “rocks and ice,” meaning high elevation or otherwise unproductive forest, tundra, severely steep slopes, and rocks and ice.

Delisting wolves won’t change much in the West . . . Rocky Barker

In this Writers on the Range piece, Rocky Barker, well known author and reporter at the Idaho Statesman opines that despite Governor Otter’s strong anti-wolf statement and all the anti-wolf talk among officials, not all that much will happen to the Idaho wolves.

Delisting wolves won’t change much in the West.

I should add that one promient former wolf manager has indirectly offered a somewhat different opinion, and speculated that he could probably kill 90% of the wolves in Idaho by himself if he had an airplane, pilot, and radio receiver (not that he wanted to do this–indeed, quite the opposite).

Barker is correct that much of the anti-wolf sentiment is not realy sentiment against the animal. It is based on dislike of various groups of each other, and as Barker says, dislike of the federal government. That these things are true should be very obvious from reading the anti-wolf (and pro-wolf too) comments on this blog.

Update: it seems that almost as soon as I posted this about group conflict, folks from all kinds of social groups who don’t like each other weighed to pretty much confirm the paragraph above.

BLM gets an acting director

Interior Secretary Dirk Kempthorne announced James M. Hughes’ appointment Wednesday to replace Kathleen Clarke, who resigned as director in December to return to her home state of Utah.” From New acting BLM director has ties to West. AP (what an informative headline!)

The BLM is the largest of the federal land management agencies, and historically the least competent or professional , bullied by livestock, mineral and energy interests. Matters will not change under this acting director who may serve out the Bush Administration (it may be hard to get a replacement of Kathleen Clarke through the U.S. Senate confirmation).

Posted in politics, public lands management. Comments Off on BLM gets an acting director

NREPA — Northern Rockies Ecosystem Protection Act is dusted off.

NREPA is a grand wilderness vision and more, but had fallen on hard times in the Republican congresses.

NREPA is back, with a greater chance, now that Congress has turned greener. Its name has been changed to the “Rockies Prosperity Act.” Here is the bill’s text.

Bill Schneider at New West has a favorable review. Ending the War Over Wilderness. By Bill Schneider.

A nameless meadow in the Nameless Creek roadless area. Boise National Forest. This, among hundreds of other roadless ares, would be designated Wilderness by the Rockies Prosperity Act. Copyright Ralph Maughan

Case of echinococcus granulosus hyped by anti-wolf group.

I warned folks of the dangers of coyote, dog, fox, and wolf scat last September. Article.

Now a rare case of  echinococcus granulosus (disseminated tapeworm cysts) has shown up in an elk shot near Paradise Valley north of Yellowstone Park. An anti-wolf group is trying to make it an issue, although among canids the ratio of coyotes to wolves point to coyotes as the source of this rare, but very unpleasant, infestation.

These folks seem to have no bounds in their effects at disinformation.

Posted in wildlife disease. Comments Off on Case of echinococcus granulosus hyped by anti-wolf group.

Wolf delisting rules are finally published in the Federal Register

Although many people may have belived the rules delisting the wolf were already out there for public comment, that was not the case.

The final rule for delisting in the Great Lakes was published today, as was the proposed rule for the Northern Rockies.

Here are the links. You have 60 days to comment. Don’t forget the public hearings.

Great Lakes


The Country Formerly Known as Wolf?

By Halina Szyposzynski


The military has its “five-o’clock follies.”  The Mexican Wolf Adaptive Management Work Group (MWAMWG) has its “quarterly quirks.”  Items from the January 27th meeting: 


·         After receiving complaints from Greenlee County residents, wolf managers are removing the phrase “Wolf Country” from signage advising of wolf presence in the Blue Range Wolf Recovery Area.  Apparently, this language has offended the sensitivities of wolf opponents.  Shooting sports enthusiasts throughout the Recovery Area will appreciate that the revised signs, as compared to the current ones, are expected to be of equal target practice value.  Perhaps greater, being fresh.


·         A proposed compensation and incentive plan, currently in its conceptual stage, would establish a non-governmental fund to pay ranchers for tolerating wolves.  Its possible structure? A board composed of local residents – none of whom are offended by the phrase “Wolf Country” –  would evaluate livestock loss claims and adjudicate compensation amounts.  Ranchers would be paid to take proactive measures to reduce livestock predation, examples of which did not include carcass removal or liming.  Ranchers would also receive payments for each loss attributed (conceptually?) to wolves.  Presumably, the bank cutting the checks would have a board of directors, composed of as yet unspecified parties.  The audience was assured that “this is not the fox guarding the henhouse.”


Payments could be made in advance for the anticipated livestock loss increase attributed to wolf presence,  above some hypothetically normal rate of loss.  Payments could be based on the number of living wolves or pups produced;  the problem with this option is that it requires an actual increase in living wolves and pups.  Alternatively, payments could be based on the number of cows grazed, on public lands.  No word yet on whether rates of lightning, starvation, illness or falling off cliffs, which cause the vast majority of cattle losses, are also expected to increase. Read the rest of this entry »

Clintons’s Roadless rule reinforced!

Here is another great victory for the Clinton rule protecting all national forest roadless areas.

A federal judge in Northern California issued a final injunction Tuesday that protects 52 million acres nationwide from a repeal of the 2001 Clinton roadless rule. U.S. District Judge Elizabeth D. Laporte included language in her decision preventing roads and surface disturbance related to energy development, though oil and gas deposits would still be available through directional drilling. Read the rest in the Jackson Hole News and Guide. Story by Cory Hatch.

What the fight is over — unprotected roadless lands like these. This is the Marten Creek Cirque
inside a large roadless portion of the Wyoming Range (SW Wyoming). Copyright Ralph Maughan

Bush increase for national parks said to rely on private donations.

Yellowstone Park Superintendent Suzanne Lewis is reportedly very happy about the unexpected increase in the proposed budget. Maybe there are no strings attached, but I’m still looking for the privatization angle — will result be “Yellowstone brought to you by Haliburton?”

Park officials thrilled about Bush’s proposed budget. By Mike Stark. Billings Gazette.

Park plan relies on private donations. by Brodie Farquhar. Casper Star Tribune.

Montana legislature to debate bills on game “damage” to private land

Bills raise debate on game damage to private land. Hearings scheduled next week in Helena. By Brett French. Billings Gazette Outdoor Writer.

Here is another example of why wolves are constantly used to divert sportsmen — so they don’t pay attention to things like this. The situation is kind of hard to explain if the wolves have killed most of the wildlife, but then they haven’t.

Here is a related story from USA Today. More towns putting deer in the cross hairs. Drivers are involved in about 1 million accidents a year involving deer.
By Charisse Jones, USA TODAY

Bush Budget Slashes Environment, Funds Nuclear Development

The details of Bush’s proposed budget are becoming clear, and like the old saying “a skunk can’t change its stripes,” it’s the same as it has been for 7 years.

Posted in politics. Comments Off on Bush Budget Slashes Environment, Funds Nuclear Development

Another Mexican wolf alpha to bite the dust

By Jean Ossorio.

The alpha male of the San Mateo pack–one of the handful of breeding pairs (six or seven, depending on how you interpret the definition in the Final Rule) at the end of 2006–has been slapped with a removal order by the USFWS for a third livestock depredation within 365 days. The rest of the pack (an alpha female and a couple of last year’s pups) are apparently not under the same order.

This pack formed in 2004 when a wild-born Cienega disperser (AM796) paired up with an uncollared female (AF903, who turned out to be a wild born disperser from the defunct Gapiwi Pack) in the San Mateo mountains, outside the recovery area in New Mexico. They were caught (although pups presumably born before they were captured were never found) and released back in the recovery area in New Mexico, only to vote with their feet and head right back to their old haunts. A second translocation put them in the Arizona section of the recovery area. The past couple of years they have made the east side of Escudilla Mountain in Arizona and adjacent New Mexico their home territory. A yearling from this pack died in November 2006, apparently killed by members of the Bluestem pack encroaching on San Mateo territory.
See the FWS news release at-

New Idaho bill would keep wolf permits below $10

A bill in the Idaho Legislature would reduce the recent $26.50 per wolf tag set by the Fish and Game Commission to $9.75. My guess that will have no effect on the number of wolves killed, but is another signal to the outside world the Idaho legislators don’t like wolves. A co-sponsor of the bill is a former Fish and Game Comissioner, Fred Wood, Republican of Burley, Idaho.

Here is the story from the Magic Valley Times-News. By Jared S. Hopkins. Times-News writer

And that is what is mostly going on here . . . Idaho politicians giving folks the finger under the belief that the average wolf supporter is as one person put it “a wine-drinking, lawyer from New York City.”

Gay sheep studied at Idaho facility

A lot of folks in Idaho wonder what they study at the U.S. Sheep Experiment Station near Dubois, Idaho.

Pretty interesting stuff! A bare majority of domestic rams are heterosexual. Read the story in Slate Magazine.

Posted in Uncategorized. Comments Off on Gay sheep studied at Idaho facility

Pic of a Wyoming state elk feedlot

Folks have been wondering what these Wyoming state-run feedlots look like.

The photo is of the Grays River feedlot, a few miles south of Alpine, WY and near the Idaho border (menace to Idaho elk). This small feedlot is right next to a busy highway and it has a fence on 3 sides. The photo shows the foothills of the Salt River mountain range in the background. That’s the unfenced side.

The percentage of the elk that test postitive for brucellosis here is very high. Notice they are eating hay which they stand on, defecate on, and abort calves on, a very good way to spread disease.

Grays River elk feedlot (Wyoming). Photo copyright Ralph Maughan

Bush again proposes selling off national forest lands

Time for outdoor enthusiasts to step up and slap down an Administration privatization scheme again. Fortunately Congress is now a lot more unfriendly to overt privatization schemes than a a year ago. Idaho’s Senator Larry Craig rejected the President’s latest privatization scheme today.

Story in the Seattle Post-Intelligencer. Bush again proposes selling off national forest lands. By Matthew Daly.

Story in the Bozeman Chronicle. Bush budget includes increased funds for parks, but also forest land sales. By Scott McMillion Bozeman Chronicle Staff Writer.

From the Huffington Post. What is it about “no” you don’t understand? [Mr. President]

From Goat, the High Country News blog. “Forest Land Sales: Will it Fly this Time?”

Zimo: Support for canned hunts is really scary

Pete Zimowsky has written the hunting and fishing column for years at the Idaho Statesman. Recently he opined against shooting elk in a pen and calling it hunting. Zimo got hit from a web site where they think shooting caged animals is hunting.

Zimo: Support for canned hunts is really scary. Idaho Statesman.

I checked out this “Nuge” guy’s web site. . . . fascist.

Mange makes its first appearance in Yellowstone Park

The alpha male of Mollies Pack has been stricken with mange.

While mange has been a persistent problem around the Park to the north in Montana and to east between the Park and Cody, this is the first case in the Park.

Story in the Billings Gazette.

When a wolf gets mange, it tends to spread to the rest of the pack.

For Wolves, a Recovery May Not Be the Blessing It Seems

The latest NYT article on the ironic delisting of wolves — “they’re recovered now we can reduce their numbers again as close to zero as we can get away with.”

For Wolves, a Recovery May Not Be the Blessing It Seems. New York Times.  By Jim Robbins.

You’re going to pay more, but ranchers to pay less to use public lands this year

They’ve gone and done it again — dropped public land grazing fees as low as the law allows. For a buck, thirty-five a month ranchers can let a cow stomp all over the the public land trample the banks and shit in the streams. Oh, yes, and their calves get to do it for free.

For those not so favored, you will be paying more fees this year to access your land. For $80 you can get the card below that will let you into many public land areas.


The High Country News blog has some thoughts on the new grazing fees. Buddy can you spare a cow.

The Missoula Independent has an article too. Unfair warning. Scaling back recreation on public lands, quietly. By John S. Adams

Conflicting applications for grazing leases roil Wyoming Legislature

Conflicting bids over state land leases, and whether prior lease holders should get preferential treatment at the expense of public education revenues has spilled over into the Wyoming Legislature. House Bill 318 would generally point away from conservation groups willing to pay two-to-three times as much for state land leases than the livestock producers who have long held those leases. Read the read in the Casper Star Tribune. Conflicting Leases by Brodie Farquhar.

The Western Watersheds Project has applied applied for almost 20,000 acres of expiring Wyoming State School Trust Land grazing leases, including large acreage leased to Executive Vice-President of the Wyoming Stock Grower’s Association, Jim Magagna. Also included in the applications was over 6,000 acres of Wyoming school trust lands in critical Bonneville Cutthroat Trout habitat in the BLM’s big Smiths Fork grazing allotment located near Cokeville, Wyoming. Other leases include ones in the south end of the Wind River Range near Farson, Wyoming and in the huge Green Mountain Common Allotment south of Jeffrey City, Wyoming.

A little background is in order.

Upon statehood most of the states got one section (a square mile) of land from the public domain for the support of the public schools. Some states like Idaho and Wyoming got 2 sections, and a few got 4 sections (Utah, New Mexico).

Today most of these lands do provide, as intended, money for the public schools. However, in almost all cases the money comes from timber cutting and mineral leases on these lands, even though the dominant use in terms of acres and environmental impact is grazing.

These state school land grazing leases are awarded on the the basis competitive bids, but generally speaking, they are passed around to good ‘ol boys and often don’t raise a dime for the public schools.

The Western Watersheds Project (once named the Idaho Watersheds Project) was organized in part to increase the amount bid on these leases by outbidding the good ‘ol boys and then not grazing the land, allowing it to recover from perhaps a hundred years of grazing abuse. So it was a win/win situation — the school kids get more and the land is rested from maltreatment.

In Idaho, the livestock politicians yelled like stuck pigs. Read once again Molly Ivins 1998 column on it. Western Watersheds got a bad name for taking on and exposing those who were abusing the state school lands and shortchanging Idaho’s school children.

Not with me, however, I joined WWP as an Idahoan who wanted better funding of the schools and also one tired of being a second or third class citizen.

Now Western Watersheds is bidding on expiring state school land leases in Wyoming, and can anyone guess how the overprivileged segment of the ranching industry is reacting?

The “End Times” have come; Bush wants funding increase for National Parks.

I know it’s hard to believe, but here it is in USA Today. President pushes boost in funding for national parks. $100 million a year would help restore services. By Richard Wolf

Idaho’s governor: Build dams

Idaho’s new governor has another brand new idea fresh out of the 1940s — build more dams in Idaho to impound water.

It might sound great if you haven’t followed the issue for a generation.

Yes, there are dam sites left in Idaho, but there is not enough flow in the rivers to fill them.

Secondly he argues that rapid urban growth requires these dams, but most of Idaho’s extraordinary per capita consumption of water is from agriculture, not cities. There is plenty of existing storage and water in Idaho to accommodate future urban use.

Third, he wants Idahoans to pay for the new dams, forgetting the Idahoans have almost never paid for the many dams in the state, especially the irrigation dams. They were paid for by the taxpayers of the Unites States or private companies. They stopped building public dams in Idaho after the Teton Dam collapsed in 1976 as it was being filled for the first time, drowning 14 people and doing a billion dollars worth of damage. Most Idahoans and American taxpayers were fed up with with paying for these boondoggles.

Story in the Magic Valley Times-News. Governor Otter with a new idea from the distant past: build storage dams in Idaho.

Posted in Dams. 7 Comments »

BLM pulls gas lease offerings after WY citizen protests. Says offering was mistake.

The BLM has pulled 8 of ten lease offerings on a key wildlife migration route in Sublette County, WY after protests by local citizens and many groups. The BLM is trying to claim the areas they planned to offer were really a mistake. Yeh right!

Story. BLM pulls Sublette lease parcels after glitch. By Whitney Royster. Casper Star-Tribune.

Posted in oil and gas, Wildlife Habitat. Comments Off on BLM pulls gas lease offerings after WY citizen protests. Says offering was mistake.

Time is running out for Wyoming to create acceptable wolf plan.

It looks like Wyoming may not act in time to use the “window of opportunity” to get its wolf plan approved by USFWS, and so get the wolves delisted in Wyoming.

The legislature keeps coming up with perfectly awful plans that even the new wolf-hating head of the USFWS knows can’t pass muster. With luck the Wyoming legilature will continue down its stubborn parth a couple weeks more.

Story. Billings Gazette.  Time running out on wolf dispute [for Wyoming]. By The Associated Press

Posted in Delisting, Wolves, Wyoming wolves. Comments Off on Time is running out for Wyoming to create acceptable wolf plan.

Global warming ‘very likely’ man-made

A definitive report says that global warming is caused directly and indirectly by human activities. This report was known to have been in the works for quite a while and would have very negative conclusions. Today there are many stories about it.

I notice that the greatest warming in the United States is predicted for the Midwest and for Utah, western Colorado, southwestern Wyoming, and southern Idaho.

From Time Magazine. Global Warming ‘very likely’ man-made.

USA Today. Report says global warming very likely man-made, to continue ‘for centuries’

The Guardian (U.K.) Bush administration accused of doctoring scientists’ reports on climate change. By Suzanne Goldenberg in Washington
· Inconvenient conclusions censored, hearing told
· Researchers warned not to talk about global warming

Discussion on the Real Climate blog.

Is momentum building to rip out salmon and steelhead-killing dams?

There is finally movement to rid the Klamath River in northern California of its salmon-killing dams and probably those on the Snake River in Washington State which have greatly reduced salmon and steelhead runs upsteam in Idaho.

While the dams generate some hydropower and a bit of barge traffic to Lewiston, Idaho, the ruination of these fish runs cost far more than the benefits of the dams. I mean yes, Lewiston, Idaho is a seaport! But when you get your barge to Lewiston, where are you? (at the base of hundreds of miles of mountains with poor [two-lane] highways).

Story in the LA Times. Fate of Klamath River dams in play. Federal officials call for upgrades to four of them to help salmon get upriver. But it may be cheaper to take the barriers down. By Eric Bailey, Times Staff Writer

Background on the issue from Grist Magazine. “The River Dry. David James Duncan rows through a wheat field to save salmon — and we’ve got pictures.”

Fewer elk to be fed on National Elk Refuge

In response to a past lawsuit, the National Elk Refuge at Jackson, Wyoming has announced it will feed fewer elk, probably, therefore, reducing the size of the Jackson Hole Elk Herd. The plan is to also reduce the Jackson Hole bison herd by half, a good idea because, unlike Yellowstone Park bison, the Jackson bison are not controlled by conditions of winter severity and threaten to grow beyond all bounds expect for the availability of summer range.

Naturally, Sportsmen for Feeding and Whining (a.k.a. “Sportsmen for Fish and Wildlife-WY”) didn’t like the plan. Conservationists said it didn’t go far enough to reducing the disease spreading nature of feeding elk and bison in the the winter.

Story in the Casper Star Tribune. By Whitney Royster. Note that the headline is a bit misleading.

The Jackson Hole Daily (edition of Jackson Hole News and Guide) has a more accurate heading and a slightly different take on the story. Refuge to cut herd. By Corey Hatch.

Posted in Bison, Elk, wildlife disease, Wildlife Habitat, winter range. Comments Off on Fewer elk to be fed on National Elk Refuge

Montana Bill favors wolf, grizzly hunts

The state of Montana has moved quickly to authorize wolf hunting and grizzly hunting (the grizzly bear in the Greater Yellowstone is expected to be delisted soon too).

While most folks expect Montana to be much more moderate than Idaho, the bill sets a low tag fee for wolves (lower than Idaho’s), and apparently doesn’t value grizzly bears much either ($50 to bag a grizzly). Tags will be awarded in a lottery. Whether Montana is more or less like Idaho will depend on the number of tags issued.

Grizzly bears are much harder to grow than wolves, so any depression in the grizzly population will be hardler to correct than with wolves.

AP story. Montana Bill favors wolf, grizzly hunts.

Molly Ivins told how the Western Watersheds Project came to be.

Once upon a time it was the Idaho Watersheds Project. Now on the occasion of her losing battle with breast cancer, in the honor of the late Molly Ivins, here is her 1998 article as to how the Idaho Watersheds Projects was born (with colorful characterizations of Idaho politicians present and past . . . buckling your seat belt is not a government plot, Helen!)

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