The latest toxic problems from the Wyoming gas wells.

From the Casper Star Tribune, Story about water wells in the Pinedale and Jonah gas fields being contaminated by benzene and other hydrocarbons. Well Probe Points to Trucks. By Whitney Royster.

Post 1075

Guest opinion (Tucson Citizen): Fee-for-all on public lands

More on the RAT. By Greg Lewis. Tucson Citizen.

Who are the interests behind the pay-to-use-your-public-land philosophy?

post 1073

Ebola-like virus killing fish in Great Lakes

This sounds very serious. It could spread.

Ebola-like virus killing fish in Great Lakes. USA Today. By Dennis Cauchon.

post 1072

More scary stuff from Bush Administration. EPA destroys its scientific library

This is a piece from Writers on the Range. Why would a federal agency trash its libraries? Jeff Ruch. The Bush Administration calls it “de-accessioning” their library.

There have been a lot of stories about this action. This is the first posting I have made.

post 1071

Yellowstone wolves again eating older elk

I’m a but unsure this is news because every winter and spring the class of elk that wolves find the easiest to kill in Yellowstone seems to vary, but here is the article

Yellowstone wolves again eating older elk. Jackson Hole News and Guide.

post 1070

Idaho officials call off coyote gunning from planes due to high rabbit population

State calls off coyote hunt. By Matt Christensen. Times-News writer.

The South Hills are not in South Central Idaho like the article says. They are in extreme southern Idaho.

Shooting coyotes by paid employees from aircraft to reduce their numbers is not properly called “a hunt”

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Posted in Coyotes. 1 Comment »

Grizzlies delisted

For delisted grizzlies, future is now. By Mike Stark of the Billings Gazette.

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Posted in Bears, Delisting. Comments Off on Grizzlies delisted

FS Digging Its Own Grave (with the recreation tax)

Wild Bill has another insightful article on the ill effects of the “RAT.” FS Digging Its Own Grave. By Bill Schneider. New West.

Being from SE Idaho, I don’t get hit with the RAT as much as most folks, but recently in Arizona I really felt its sting.

I wanted to explore Oak Creek Canyon. I expected to pay a RAT. At the rim it said $5 for a one-day “Red Rocks country” recreation pass, so I pulled into the “Call of the Canyon” parking lot and bought a day’s pass (the $5 had recently been replaced by $8). I walked a couple miles up the West Fork of Oak Creek (a Wilderness area) and came back and drove down the canyon.

There was another interesting looking place close to the mouth of the canyon, so I pulled in, pointed to my purchased sticker and began to pull off, when the angry fee collector told be I had to pay another $8! It seems every stop costs you another $8.

Irritated, I drove through Sedona and didn’t buy anything. I drove up into the less scenic, but free, ponderosa pine forest country near Happy Camp.

post 1067

Grizzly conflicts likely to rise: States take over management as bears, humans share same spaces

Rocky Barker has another story on the recent mauling near Tetonia, Idaho. He places it in the larger context of delisting, and the lack of preparation by Idaho to manage the Yellowstone area grizzlies, which, nevertheless, they are slated to do beginning May 1.

Grizzly conflicts likely to rise: States take over management as bears, humans share same spaces. Idaho Statesman. By Rocky Barker.

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Grizzlies in the Yellowstone area to lose ESA protection on Tuesday

On May 1, the grizzly bears of the Greater Yellowstone will lose their status as a “threatened species” protected by the Endangered Species Act.

They were one of the first animals listed — way back in 1975. Conservation groups have already given the USFWS a 60-day notice that they will be sued if they delist.

Story in the Casper Star Tribune. Grizzlies lose ‘threatened’ status. By Matthew Brown. Associated Press.

Much progress has been made in recovering the grizzly, but all habitat trends (food and space to roam) have turned negative. I won’t recount these threats again here. I have done it so many times already.

post 1065

Colony collapse disorder

Perhaps you’ve heard – the bees are missing… Being among other things a horticulturist, I am acutely aware of the implications. Entomologists, biologists, ecologists, and a host of other disciplines take note: The bees are missing ~ and no one knows why ~

Buzz Off
The Economist

Colony collapse disorder, as the phenomenon has become known as, was first reported in America in mid-November 2006. It spread rapidly, with beekeepers reporting heavy losses of between 30% and 90% of bees. Some 24 American states have now reported cases of colony collapse disorder. It has also been seen in Greece, Italy, Poland, Portugal and Spain.

No bees? Not just strange, but scary
by Dave Lindorff
The Philadelphia Inquirer

Die-off of bees an ominous sign – Canada

Researchers ponder where the bees be Minneapolis

Letters from the West: Owyhee coalition still standing

Rocky Barker has written about the Owyhee Initiative in the Idaho Statesman:

Letters from the West: Owyhee coalition still standing

Bold fight for control of rural West countryside

The Salt Lake Tribune has published an interesting story about public land disputes in Utah. Local authorities there are thumbing their noses at federal regulation of federal public land. The result of such localized insistance of authority is sadly predictable:

State Rep. Mike Noel, a Republican from the southern community of Kanab, said: It gets down to “sovereignty and autonomy. It’s Western independence. We own the water, we have the right to graze, the minerals are still available, and the roads belong to us. By dang, we are not going to give them up.”

It kind of makes me wonder whether these folk ever learned past the civil war.

Bold fight for control of rural West countryside
By Julie Cart
Los Angeles Times

Fluvial grayling denied species protection

FWS keeps on keeping on… purging ESA protections. Not surprising given the previous post. Wolves, Grizzlies, Slickspot peppergrass, Fluvial graylings, the list goes on and on – We are witnessing the political dismemberment of what is supposed to be an agency guided by science – instead plundered by political obstructionists and public land profiteers.

Link restored. Arctic grayling kept off endangered list. By Nick Gevock. The Montana Standard.

This is an outrage that irritates conservationists, ranchers (who support listing the fluvial grayling), and fishers. It is part of the Bush Administration’s new illegal interpretation of the ESA that if a species exists somewhere there is no reason to protect it elsewhere in its range. Ralph Maughan

New link April 29. Good, Bad Day for Grayling. From the Trout Underground.

post 1061

Luthi removes self from wolf issue

Here’s a hoot from the Billings Gazette:

Randall Luthi, a former Wyoming state House speaker who was recently appointed to the No. 2 spot at the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, said he will not be involved in the dispute between Wyoming and the federal agency over wolves.

Luthi is barred from involvement with the wolf issue in Wyoming as a result of Federal conflict of interest law – then, as Number 2 at USFWS, he says:

Republicans should do all they can to prevent animals from being listed as endangered, because once they are, it is hard to get them delisted, he said. Listing animals as endangered is the “death nail,” he added.

Read the article here…

Michigan men sentenced for killing wolves

The Mining Gazette out of Michingan tells of two men who get two sentences for killing wolves in Michigan. Both wolves were killed on the same day in different places. The two thousand and a bit of probation seems light to me, especially given their listed status –

Men sentenced for killing wolves
Mining Gazette

N. Arizona off-roaders fear near ban

ATV riders in northern Arizona’s Coconino NF are looking at a ban on off-roading as the scars of their less responsible take a toll on the land.

N. Ariz. off-roaders fear a near-ban
Published: Arizona Daily Star

Posted in Uncategorized. Comments Off on N. Arizona off-roaders fear near ban

Freudenthal kills proposed water rules

The Governor of Wyoming killed water regulations passed by a citizen board aimed at curtailing negative effects of coalbed methane water surges in the state. The board insisted the the methane-water increase in quanitity not implicate the quality of the water. Freudenthal claims the board over-reached. Some folks get upset when judges legislate, how about when politicians prematurely adjudicate?

Governor kills proposed water rules
Published : Billings Gazette

CHEYENNE – Gov. Dave Freudenthal on Monday rejected rule changes adopted by a state citizen board that would have regulated effects of coalbed methane water on soil, vegetation and landowners.

Posted in oil and gas, water issues. Comments Off on Freudenthal kills proposed water rules

B.E. Green to edit Wildlife News for a while

I won’t be available for about 4 days, so I’m pleased that BE is going to edit this web page for the next little while.

Anyone who hasn’t posted to this blog before goes into moderated comments first, and will have to be approved by BE, who will probably check the page once or twice a day.

Ralph Maughan

Posted in Uncategorized. Comments Off on B.E. Green to edit Wildlife News for a while

M44 kills Utah Man’s Dog. He sues Wildlife Services for $100,000

Too many dogs are lost to the M44 Cyanide devices the federal agency Wildlife Services puts out to kill coyotes, and too often they are non-target species. A Utah man is bound to teach them a lesson, and they really need to learn because the dog’s owner suffered some symptoms of cyanide poisoning too.

Story from Wild Again (Sinapu’s blog).

Post 1055

Wyoming sheep show up with the dread disease scrapie

Scrapie was the first discovered prion disease. There are those who believe it was the origin of both mad cow disease and chronic wasting disease, including the human variant of mad cow disease.

Sheep kill planned after rare disease found. By Kathleen Miller. Associated Press writer

post 1053

‘Drilled full of holes?’

The gas boys are closing in on the Bridger Teton National Forest and people’s homes now. This is a story about the drilling to come at Bondurant, Wyoming.

Drilled full of holes?‘ By Whitney Royster. Casper Star Tribune.

post 1052

Senator Baucus Berates Recreation Fee Policy

Good News! A major Western Democrat is going after the “RAT.”

In my view the RAT is just another Bush Administration effort to slowly privatize the public lands.

Senator Baucus Berates Recreation Fee Policy. New West. By Bill Schneider.

While a number of Western Senators have spoken against the RAT, such as Idaho’s Senator Craig. They have taken no action.

post 1051

Air pollution a growing concern in Gallatin Valley (Bozeman, MT)

Story in the Bozeman Chronicle by Scott McMillion. Air pollution a growing concern in Gallatin Valley

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Posted in Uncategorized. Comments Off on Air pollution a growing concern in Gallatin Valley (Bozeman, MT)

Coal bed methane drilling causes appearance of eery methane springs in SW Wyoming area.

A massive escape of methane gas is underway near Baggs, Wyoming as the result of drilling coal-bed methane wells.

Coal bed methane is obtained by drilling into the aquifer in a bed of coal. Water rushes out, with lots of dissolved methane. The methane is captured. Very nice, except for the dirty water and now what at first looked like a natural geological phenomenon — emergence of methane springs.

Medium concentrations of methane are both poisonous and highly explosive !!

Methane is also a much more potent greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide on a basis of equal volumes.

This is a big waste of a valuable resource.

Story in the Casper Star Tribune. What Lies Beneath.

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Posted in oil and gas. Comments Off on Coal bed methane drilling causes appearance of eery methane springs in SW Wyoming area.

Wolves & Elk: The overriding issue in delisting

Rocky Barker has a major story in today’s Idaho Statesman. “Wolves and Elk: The overriding issue in delisting.

The wolves-killing-livestock-thing has never amounted to much despite efforts by some to make 30 to 50 dead cows (mostly calves) a year in a state look like a unparalleled catastrophe.

The real issue is the perception that wolves are reducing elk herds. Ace Idaho Statesman reporter Rocky Barker looks at this and as most, finds it isn’t really true. However, wolves do change elk behavior, and human hunters have to adapt. That is something many don’t like to do because, in my view, they aren’t real hunters — for them the hunt is just the shot, not the planning, the stalking, the position, the waiting.

Barker’s quote of Nate Helm, Executive Director of the misnamed group “Sportsmen for Fish and Wildlife, Idaho” is very telling:

“The reality is the wolves are competing with us,” said Nate Helm, executive director of Idaho’s chapter of Sportsmen for Fish and Wildlife. “Hunters’ visions are they can return to the same location year after year and have a positive experience with elk. Wolves threaten that.”

I don’t really have to explain the quote. Helm believes, probably correctly, that some (does he think all?) “hunters” don’t want to hunt very hard and don’t want to do anything new.

Helm is further quoted:

“But for hunters, the numbers are misleading,” Helm said. “Wolves have changed elk behavior. They have pushed elk out of traditional haunts and made them harder to find.”

He is right. That’s the main reason wolves were reintroduced, to change things. It wasn’t just to put an extinct animal on the ground. It was too make elk and deer more wild, and to shake-up the whole ecosystem which has been wolfless for about 80-90 years.

Sportsmen for Fish and Wildlife did not join with other sportsmen groups to try to shut down the elk shooting farms growing all around Idaho. I think it’s significant. That’s the next step for the lazy shooter, just drive to a farm and shoot as big an elk as you can afford. Mount the rack on your wall, and the bigger the rack the richer you are. Elk antlers are just another symbol for having money.

Hunting is one of many outdoor experiences. A lazy elk hunter doesn’t want a real outdoor experience, and that why he or she doesn’t like wolves, and doesn’t care about other animals, and doesn’t know much about biology. This kind of hunter really doesn’t like the outdoors.

post 1048

Spring coming slowly to SE Idaho


Spring is coming slowly to southeast Idaho. After a warm and dry March and early April, the weather has turned cool and rainy.

I took this photo today on CRP land in lonely Arbon Valley. Those are the Deep Creek Mountains.

Several of the big valleys of southern Idaho have more CRP (conservation reserve program) land than just about anywhere else in the United States. As you can see, sagebrush is invading the former wheat field. That is a happy sight to see.

As a sidenote: Arbon Valley suffered severely during the Dust Bowl days of the 1930s.

Gray wolf population in Wisconsin has ‘taken off’

The wolf population continues to grow in “the badger state.” Story in the Green Bay Gazette. It’s getting close to 600. The state is now taking over management.

Wolves have been treated much more gently in the Great Lakes states than in Idaho, Montana or Wyoming, and I think it’s really too bad that three animal rights groups have sued to stop the delisting.

It certainly doesn’t help us in Idaho and Wyoming where wolves have been killed almost from the start for minor livestock depredations (there have been a couple big ones), and where Wyoming wants to basically kill all the wolves outside Yellowstone. Idaho’s new governor wants to kill 4/5 of the Idaho wolf population, which is about the same size as Wisconsin’s. Anti-wolf extremists can point to this lawsuit and say conservationists are never satisfied, when we would be thrilled in Idaho to have the kind of management Wisconsin is planning.

post 1045

Playing Politics with Endangered Species: Beginning of the End for the Yellowstone Grizzly?

Essay by Doug Peacock in Counterpunch.

To most Doug Peacock needs no introduction.

post 1044

Posted in Bears. 3 Comments »

600 people show for Cody’s delisting hearing.

The largest of any of the wolf delisting hearings was held in Cody, Wyoming on Thursday. The Billings Gazette said 600 people were there.

Although anti-wolf folks were the majority, I’m proud of those who spoke for reasonable wolf management. It took guts to go to and speak in a meeting carefully crafted by Wyoming politicians to showcase anti-wolf sentiment, especially because those who spoke against the anti-wolf plan were harassed by the audience, and the local politicians did nothing to keep order or the democratic process. In fact they forced the hearing officer to continue the hearing, although she wanted to close it down due to the impossibility of the situation.

Story. Cody hearing on delisting draws passionate views. By Ruffin Prevost. Billings Gazette Wyoming Bureau

post 1043

Kathie Lynch’s detailed report on Yellowstone northern range happenings, April 7-15, 2007

Post 1042

When I posted my short update on what had been happening on the Northern Range yesterday, I didn’t know that Kathie Lynch was about to send a report. It follows, and answers some of the detailed questions people had.

Thanks for another excellent report, Kathie.

YNP WOLF field notes, April 7-15, 2007:

My spring break trip to Yellowstone, April 7-15, 2007, started off with a bang when I stumbled upon the entire Hayden Valley wolf pack only 10 minutes after entering the Park and near the road, right in Mammoth Hot Springs! To say that I never expected a sight like that would be putting it mildly! Many of you know that it took me over a year and 16 long trips all the way down to the Hayden Valley before I finally succeeded in seeing the famous white alpha female, 540F. And now, unbelievably, she had come to see me!

Read the rest of this entry »

Sundles finally sentenced

A lot of folks had wondered whatever happened to the charges against now-convicted and sentenced would-be wolf poisoner Tim Sundles.

Here is the story from Reuters. Man sentenced for seeking to poison wolves. By Laura Zuckerman.

post 1041

Photos and video of cattle in the Joseph Creek Wildlife area. Washington State.

The new cattle put into a Washington State Wildlife area are posted as a Google Flash video (please rate the video).

This is an outrage. These areas were purchased to restore wildlife, and salmon and steelhead habitat using your dollars. Now they have been opened to cattle in some kind of shady deal. Get the cows off of Mother Natures face (from song accompanying video)!

Here are still photos, with a detailed analysis of what each shows.

See my earlier story. Another victory for Western Watersheds Project. Cattle turnout on Washington state Wildlife Areas stopped!

Unfortunately, not all of the cattle turnout onto these non-grazed lands was stopped.

post 1040

Idaho grizzly bear shot near Tetonia did not have rabies

This story drew a lot of attention last weekend. Today the Pocatello, Idaho State Journal ran a story about how the grizzly bear did not have rabies.. The story quoted Scott MacButch of Pocatello who was there and owned the adjacent property. Neither he, nor the victim wanted the grizzly bear killed. The original story has now disappeared, but here is a short version. Officials defend decision to kill Idaho grizzly bear

I thought the notion that the bear might have rabies was absurd because the mauling was a classic grizzly bear defense of its meal (the winter-killed moose).

I have posted three earlier stories about the grizzly incident.

1st Tetonia, Idaho area man mauled near his home by a grizzly with a moose carcass

2nd E. Idaho neighbors disagree on response to grizzly bear attack

3rd Idaho Man who survived mauling by grizzly recounts ordeal (with April 15 update)

post 1039

Posted in Bears. 5 Comments »

Winter ticks invade Yukon elk herds

The Yukon Environment Department believes the infestation may be due to the warming climate. The winter tick doesn’t hurt elk much, but often greatly weakens moose.

Story Winter ticks invade Yukon elk herds. CBC News.

post 1037

Posted in Climate change, Elk, Moose, wildlife disease, Wildlife Habitat. Comments Off on Winter ticks invade Yukon elk herds

Grand Teton National Park OKs big “pathways project”

This 45-million dollars worth of foot and bicycle trails is a really big national parks project. It will be very popular and may save lives by taking bicycles of the Grant Teton National Park roads, which can be very crowded and have to accommodate huge RVs.

On the other hand it may damage wildlife habitat and provoke confrontations with bears.

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

Post 1036

Yellowstone northern range wolf packs have all denned

It is the season when pups are born in Yellowstone and across NW Wyoming, half of Montana and most of Idaho.

All of the northern range wolves have denned. It looks like only the Agate Creek Pack will have a den area visible from the road. It’s the same one as last year — visible by scope with a lot of space between it and the road. The Slough Creek Pack did not den again where they met disaster last year. Their densite was put under siege by the “unknown” wolf pack. All of their pups were lost. They chose a new den site for 2007.

So far it looks like none of the interior Park wolf packs have denned.

This winter there was a big fight between Mollies Pack and the Druids. Mollies was probably was looking for country with more elk and fewer grizzly bears to defend their kills from. On paper, it would seem like Mollies would take the Druids. Mollies had 5 big adult wolves and five pups. The Druid adults were only the now-long time alpha male, 480M (once known as “the new black), the new alpha female 569F, and 302M who has never been a fighter. The Druids have 7 pups still with them.

The Druids won, however, sending Mollies back to the Pelican Valley. Doug Smith told me the difference was probably due to the immense ferocity of the Druid alpha male 480M, who rallied the troops so to speak. He had been in wolf fights below, including some of the Mollies that are now dead. It isn’t clear the Mollies had fought another wolf pack despite their reputation for killing bison and battling grizzly bears.

Smith said the Hayden Pack of 4 very light colored wolves is “a pack on the run.” The have been forced out of the Hayden Valley by Mollies on one side and the Gibbon Pack on the other. The Hayden pack has been on the northern range. He said they are currently in Leopold Pack territory, a big pack against which they would have little chance.

post 1035

Another victory for WWP. Cattle turnout on Washington state Wildlife Areas stopped!

News Release

Western Watersheds Efforts In Washington State stop Cattle Turn-out on the Whiskey Dick Wildlife Area and bring an Early Stop to Cattle Grazing Already Underway on Pintler Creek In The Asotin Wildlife Area.

Western Watersheds Project’s efforts in Washington State to influence the grazing of cattle in Washington State Department of Wildlife owned Wildlife Areas has proved successful, at least for the moment. The Whiskey Dick Wildlife area near Ellensburg now will not have cattle grazing on it in 2007 after work carried out by WWP members Dr. Steve Herman, Dr. Don Johnson and Bob Tuck as well as WWP’s biodiversity director, Katie Fite who traveled to Ellensburg and Asotin in the last ten days. In addition the Pintler Creek watershed in the Asotin Wildlife Area has had cattle removed after Dr. Don Johnson and Katie Fite visited the watershed and documented damage by cattle already grazing on the land.

For follow-up stories on this effort please review these articles by Scott Sandsberry from the Yakima Herald-Republic:

Readers will also be able to review photos of both Whiskey Dick and Pintler creek in the Asotin Wildlife Area on the WWP web site on a new Washington State page to be posted shortly.

Here is my earlier story on the Whiskey Dick Wildlife area situation.

post 1034

Oregon State U. “Large carnivores promote healthy ecosystems by keeping browsers on edge”

Here is a good article about the benefits of cougar populations in Zion National Park. The deer have nearly eliminated cottonwood reproduction in Zion Canyon, the main tourist attraction. It is full of people and deer. The large number of people in this congested canyon have scared away the cougar. There are a huge number of tame deer, which anyone who has been there has seen. There are no cottonwood seedlings, few flowers, and not many other species either except wild turkeys.

In nearby, unvisited canyons the biodiversity is much greater due to the indirect effects of the presence of cougar.

The hypothesis, called the “Ripple effect” is still controversial. It is named after OSU Professor William Ripple’s hypothesis that the presence of large predators creates a “landscape of fear” among ungulates, serving to keep them from eating so much in riparian zones. The improved conditions in riparian zones ripples throughout the ecoystem leading to many important secordary and third level changes.

Wolves have been reported to be having a similar effect in Yellowstone on aspen, willows, and cottonwood.

Large carnivores promote healthy ecosystems by keeping browsers on edge From Terra, the world of research at Oregon State University.

post 1033 

Posted in Deer, The Great Outdoors, wildcats, Wildlife Habitat. Comments Off on Oregon State U. “Large carnivores promote healthy ecosystems by keeping browsers on edge”

Groups sue to keep gray wolf on endangered species list in Great Lakes

post 1032

This is regarding the delisting in Wisconsin, Michigan, and Minnesota. The parties suing are the Human Society of the United States, the Animal Protection Institute, and Help Our Wolves Live.

Groups sue to keep gray wolf on endangered species list
Minnesota Public Radio (AP)

St. Paul, Minn. — (AP) – Three animal advocacy groups sued the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service on Monday over its decision to remove gray wolves from the endangered species list in Minnesota, Wisconsin and Michigan.


Gannett Peak, WY may lose all its glaciers in 20 years

The highest mountain in Wyoming, Gannett Peak, in the Wind River Range is famous for its snowy top and its many glaciers, but they are melting fast.

Story in the Jackson Hole News and Guide.

post 1031

Posted in Climate change, mountain ranges. Comments Off on Gannett Peak, WY may lose all its glaciers in 20 years

Western Watersheds Project files federal lawsuit to protect bighorn sheep in Hells Canyon.

A couple weeks ago I posted a news release from the Nez Perce Tribe how the Forest Service was not living up to their committment (mandated by an earlier court ruling) to keep domestic and bighorn sheep apart in Hells Canyon.

Now the Western Watersheds Project has gone to court. Here is their news release.

Western Watersheds Project Files Litigation To Protect Rocky Mountain Bighorn Sheep

On March 30, 2007 Western Watersheds Project filed a Complaint in federal District Court in Idaho against the Payette and Nez Perce National Forests for violations of their Forest Plans, the National Environmental Policy Act, the Hells Canyon National Recreation Area Act and the Administrative Procedures Act charging that the two Forests have failed to protect Bighorn Sheep from disease transmission from domestic sheep permitted to graze on the two Forests in locations that risk die-offs of hundreds of Bighorn Sheep because of direct contact between domestic sheep and bighorns. The case was assigned to Chief Judge B. Lynn Winmill.

On April 16, 2007 WWP was joined in the litigation by the Hells Canyon Preservation Council and The Wilderness Society through an amended complaint. Also filed on April 16 was a Motion for a Temporary Restraining Order and/or preliminary injunction to prevent the turn-out of domestic sheep on five grazing allotments (Smith Mountain, Curren Hill, Marshall Mountain, Bear Pete and French Creek) on the Payette National Forest and one grazing allotment (Allison-Berg) on the Nez Perce National Forest.

Since turn-out on the critical bighorn habitat on the Smiths Mountain allotment is scheduled for May 15, 2007, the court has set a court hearing on the Motion for injunctive relief for May 3, 2007. WWP and the other plaintiffs are very ably represented by lead attorney, Laurie Rule of Advocates For The West’s Boise Office. Also representing WWP and the other groups and supporting Laurie with their excellent work are attorneys Jennifer Schemm of La Grande, Oregon and Brett Brownscombe of Portland, Oregon.

For more information including all the filings in this important case please visit the WWP web site legal pages.

post 1030

A lot of wildlife violations at Terry, Montana

Outfitter denies wildlife charges. By Billings Gazette Staff. The outfitter was cited for illegally killing and arranging transport of 11 mule deer bucks.

Terry man accused of killing eagles. By Billings Gazette Staff. Another man has been charged with killing 3 golden eagles.

I had never heard of Terry, Montana until I read this article. It is way downstream on the Yellowstone River. Link to TopoZone.

post 1029

Wolf delisting to procede with or without Wyoming

Wyoming has until May 1 to come up with an acceptable wolf management plan. However, even without a Wyoming wolf management plan, the wolf will be delisted in Wyoming outside of a corner in the Northwest part of the state. So the politicians will get much of what they want anyway.

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

post 1028

Climate change called a security threat

Story in the LA Times. Climate change called a security threat. By Karen Kaplan and Thomas H. Maugh II, Times Staff Writer

It is a security threat. It’s a political threat too. You can trace Bush’s decline to the summer of 2005 when Katrina hit, although she only tipped over an edifiice that was already starting to crumble.

Does anyone want to take bets about the hurricane season this summer now that El Nino has dissipated. Will there be another Katrina and a similarly inept response?

How many forest fires in the West this summer? The heavy wood is very dry outside the Pacific Northwest?

post 1027

Rocky Mountain Front gas lease ban is working

So far just one place has been saved from all the gas development in the West. It’s the Rocky Mountain Front in Montana.

Story in the Great Falls Tribune. Rocky Mountain Front lease agreement starts something good.

– – – –

Here is the earlier story from Dec. 10, 2006. Rocky Mountain Front (MT) finally protected from oil and gas in massive catch-all bill

post 1026

Freudenthal calls for grizzly lawsuits to be filed in Wyoming

People can file the lawsuits in Idaho, Montana or Wyoming. It depends on where it is convenient for the group. Why should an Idaho group have to file in Wyoming? This is a federal issue and there is a federal court in Idaho, one in Montana, and one in Wyoming. It’s plainly obvious there are grizzly bears in Idaho’s part of the Greater Yellowstone. Everyone read about the mauling last weekend near Tetonia, Idaho.

The number of bears in the state doesn’t make any difference legally. Furthermore, the threats to bears are not all in Wyoming and some of the threats, like global warming, are diffuse.

Here’s the story about Dumb Dave the governor and his views on the issue.

post 1025

Posted in Bears. 15 Comments »

New Colorado Wildlife Commissioners bring hope for conservation

For wildlife there are few appointments as important as the commissioners of Fish and Game, Game and Fish, Wildlife, or Wildlife and Parks, and various other names in states.

Too often those people have no formal training or experience in what they will be overseeing. They tend to be “good ol boys and gals” instead. Sinapu reports a hopeful change in Colorado.

New Colorado Wildlife Commissioners bring hope for conservation. Wild Again

post 1024

Zimo: Sage grouse habitat needed to survive is disappearing

The vast sea of sagebrush in the West has been badly disrupted by livestock grazing, the spread of highly flammable cheat grass, and developments. The sage grouse and many other sagebrush species are in trouble.

Story in the Idaho Statesman.

post 1023

Red Alert on Energy Leases in Montana

We’ve already seen it in Wyoming. The state is going to be pretty much destroyed and now the energy companies are beating a path to Montana.

Bill Schneider sounds the warning from Helena. Red Alert in New West.

post 1022

Posted in Coal, oil and gas, Wildlife Habitat. Comments Off on Red Alert on Energy Leases in Montana

Public comments say Slow the gas development around Pinedale

The BLM has held public hearings around Sublette County, WY as well as Rock Springs, and the public wants the massive pace of natural gas development slowed.

Story in the Casper Star Tribune by Whitney Royster.

– – – –

Watch the video on the Upper Green River Valley: the view from above. From Skytruth.

post 1021

Posted in oil and gas, Wildlife Habitat. Comments Off on Public comments say Slow the gas development around Pinedale

Open topic-What do you want to talk about?

Because people want to write about something where the post may closed or whatever. I’m putting up this comment as a post, and removing from the Climate Rally story.

mikarooni wrote
April 15th, 2007 at 8:52 pm e
I didn’t see a way to post a comment on post 1013, “Fencing, range riders, guard animals show some promise in safeguarding livestock;” but, my experience has been very, very good in raising Texas (actually they’re hybridized, feral, naturalized Spanish cattle that the Texans found and sold, almost to extinction) longhorn cattle in wolf and lion country. I only have black bears and not grizzlies; but, the longhorns have a completely different behavior pattern than northern European breeds. First, longhorns have about a third of the muscle fat of northern European breeds, To achieve all that fat, the northern European breeds were selected to be sedentary and they stand around in a stupor waiting for predators to move in on them. Longhorns keep moving and grazing more evenly, like bison. Second, longhorns are much more athletic and thus harder for a predator to take on. Third, when you approach a northern European herd that has cows with new calves, the herd, including the mother cows, scatters. The mothers may leave reluctantly; but, they do leave and leave the calves to fend for themselves. Do the same thing to a longhorn herd and the mothers will bawl and call the herd to move in on you, which they will do, surrounding the calf and you. The closer that you get ot the calf the closer the herd moves in. Some of my older herd cows are nearly six feet tip to tip and, when they snap their heads from side to side, the horn tips really get moving at rapier speeds. Finally, most of America now has a weight problem, with morbid obesity at record levels. Yes, without the fat to boil the meat in, you do have to eat your steak rare; but, a rare steak is a good trade for one third the fat, actually more usable protein, and far less need to persecute predators.

So whatever anyone wants to write about. Add comments below.

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Satellite Technologies Detect Uplift in the Yellowstone Caldera

Most people who read this blog know that the Yellowstone Caldera rises and falls, sometimes as much as several feet, due to movements of the magma not far below.

I have linked to a number of newspaper articles about this.

Here is a technical paper from the USGS that is fairly easy to read. Satellite Technologies Detect Uplift in the Yellowstone Caldera
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Posted in national parks. Comments Off on Satellite Technologies Detect Uplift in the Yellowstone Caldera

Fencing, range riders, guard animals show some promise in safeguarding livestock

Story by Mike Stark in the Billings Gazette. The same story in the Jackson Hole Star Tribune is “Ranchers get creative with Wolves,” but as I reported earlier the idea came from Montana FWP, Wildlife Services, and a USU graduate student who are doing this as a semi-controlled experiment. Non-traditional livestock operations will be tried too. It was not a rancher initiative.

It’s always good to see the misnamed federal agency, Wildlife Services helping with something that isn’t lethal.

– – —

Look at the graph on livestock losses to wolves in Montana (from the Gazette article). Notice there is not a linear relationship between the number of wolves and the number of livestock killed. Earlier there were many predictions, including the USFWS, that there would be a losses in direct proportion to the number of wolves (a linear relationship). There were even predictions that the curve on the graph would rise as the number of wolves increased.

Graph of wolf depredations by year (and lethal control).

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Step It Up Climate Action Day was a big success

I went to Pocatello’s. There were 150 to 200 people, a big crowd for the “Gate City.” I can assure folks that a lot of new conservation networks were formed.

National reports.

Rally for the Earth: Missoula’s Step It Up demonstration urges action against global warming. Bt Tyler Christenson. The Missoulian


A great afternoon with speeches, music, and lots of food and drink at Pocatello, Idaho

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BFC says Montana DOLs bison hazing threatens motorists

 Post 1011

It should be obvious that harassed bison running out of the lodgepole pine forest across US 191, where most vehicles travel at least 60 mph, is very dangerous.

Montana DOL is going to get someone killed. When that tragedy happens, maybe the multi-million dollar lawsuit will make the Department of Livestock change their ways.

Here is a news release from the Buffalo Field Campaign on this issue which has become very immediate with DOL’s recent hazing of 500 bison back into Yellowstone Park.

Here is BFC’s news release

Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in Bison. Comments Off on BFC says Montana DOLs bison hazing threatens motorists

Idaho Man who survived mauling by grizzly recounts ordeal (with April 15 update)

Man who survived mauling by grizzly recounts ordeal. Despite the brutality of the attack, Timothy Henderson says he doesn’t blame the bear. By Rocky Barker – Idaho Statesman

This story gives us valuable information about what happened. The man who was mauled is a good guy and the newspaper tells how you can help him and his family.

Idaho Fish and Game efforts to trip the grizzly bear have not been successful, and many hope they won’t be.
– – – – –

Update late on April 14: The grizzly bear has been killed. Scott MacButch tells the story. He was there. He also clears up a lot of other information about the area where this happened which has not been made clear by the media. Scott sent this as a comment. I moved it to part of the post. It follows:

This morning around 07:30 am the Grizzly that was involved in the recent mauling was killed by Idaho Fish & Game. It had been caught in a leg snare during the night and was bellowing most of the night, as my cabin is right next to where it was caught. When the Id Fish & Game arrived (along with the Sheriff & deputy) I expressed my hope that it could live and wished that it would have left. Do note that even Tim, the guy that got mauled wished it no harm, but they told me the decision had been made, that there was a remote chance that it might have rabies and that tests would be performed on the tissue. The bear was 350-400 lbs and it took 5 of us using all our strength using a sled to haul it up the wooded hill on the back of my property. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in Bears. 19 Comments »

Bush efforts to wreck environmental laws meet more and more resistance

Bush still poses a great threat to our air, water, land and wildlife. Increasingly, however, the courts block his Administration’s efforts to rewrite regulations and anti-conservation zealots now longer control key committees in Congress. Scandal too has slowed down the Administration’s efforts.

In general I’d say this Administration has a real problem with obeying the law, from international treaties barring inhuman treatment of prisoners of war, the administration of student loans (the student loan scandal), management of federal buildings (the GSA scandal), prosecutor purge scandal, to the turmoil and corruption in the Dept. of Interior whose policies are the prime focus of this blog.

They have believed that if they don’t like the law, ignore it; or rewrite the regulations that interpret and implement the law. Not so any more!

Many new constraints for Bush on the environment.” By Brad Knickerbocker. Staff writer of The Christian Science Monitor

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Posted in politics. Comments Off on Bush efforts to wreck environmental laws meet more and more resistance

Idaho Statesman calls for expanded shooting ban in Birds of Prey Area

Last week I posted an article how the Idaho National Guard was taking incoming fire at its training grounds at the Birds of Prey area near Boise.  A lot of people read the article probably because we figure incoming fire comes from hostile military units. There was also the odd statement from the rancher who didn’t seem minding losing a cow to recreational shooters every so often.

The Idaho Statesman today called for an expanded ban on shooting in the Birds of Prey Area, which was created by Secretary of Interior Cecil Andrus to protect a unique area for raptors in, and adjacent too, the Snake River Canyon.

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E. Idaho neighbors disagree on response to grizzly bear attack

This is a follow-up to the story yesterday on the mauling of a man adjacent to his home in a rural subdivision in grizzly habitat near the Idaho/Wyoming border.

E. Idaho neighbors disagree on response to bear attack. Residents acknowledge bears come with the territory, but some still want the grizzly killed. By Rocky Barker – Idaho Statesman

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Major road reconstruction around Yellowstone Grand Canyon area next 2 years

They are going to reconstruct the roads at Canyon Village and the access roads to the trails leading to the views of the falls.

Story in the Billings Gazette.

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Posted in national parks. Comments Off on Major road reconstruction around Yellowstone Grand Canyon area next 2 years

The Montana stream access issue becomes a three-front war

From New West. Montana stream access issue becomes a three-front war. By Dan Testa; and from the Missoulian. Legal questions surface about governor’s stream access move
By Charles S. Johnson. Missoulian State Bureau

Here is an earlier story on the issue from early April 1 that I posted.

Update. April 18. Editorial in the Missoulian. “Public will have its stream access. “ “SUMMARY: Governor’s gambit may or may not work, but make no mistake about the eventual outcome.”

Post 1004

Posted in Fish, privatization, public lands. Comments Off on The Montana stream access issue becomes a three-front war

Tetonia, Idaho area man mauled near his home by a grizzly with a moose carcass

There aren’t a lot of grizzly bears in Idaho, but other than the rare northern Idaho Selkirk grizzly, the hot spot is the Targhee National Forest vicinity, immediately south and south by southwest of Yellowstone, generally between Yellowstone Park and the west slope of the Teton Range.*  In recent years, subdivisions have been growing in this lovely forest area along the Idaho/Wyoming border on the edge of the West Slope. Grizzly bears have been slowly expanding their range down the west slope of the Tetons as well.

The two collided yesterday and a man was seriously injured just outside his home in the forest and sagebrush.

Story in the Idaho Statesman. By Rocky Barker and Patrick Orr. Bear protecting moose carcass in E. Idaho mauls man who went out to see why his dog was barking

* There is another small area of grizzly bear concentration in Eastern Idaho — the Henry’s Lake Mountains area on the Idaho/Montana border, SW of West Yellowstone.

Post 1003

Slim Pickings for Wolves on Isle Royale

Moose and wolves have been studied on Isle Royale for 50 years now. It is of great scientific interest because the number of variables affecting predator and prey are much smaller than on the mainland (Isle Royale is a large island in Lake Superior, and a national park). Wolves are the only large predator and moose are they prey, and the populations of each have gone up and down many times of the fifty years. They do not move in in exact concert.

Now unusually warm summers have increased the tick population that debilitates moose in the winter on the island (and pretty much whereever moose live). Moose numbers are declining due to their weakness, and the wolves are getting hard pressed for food with interpack strife and they are declining in numbers too.

There are fox on Isle Royale too, and they are suffering as well.

I can’t help but hypothesize that some elements of this are present in the elk number decline and wolf number decline on the northern range of Yellowstone.

Story from the International Wolf Center. Slim Pickings for Wolves on Isle Royale

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Public comments on listing of polar bear reach record number

The number of people commenting on U.S. government conservation action proposals has been increasing over time, with hundreds of thousands commenting on roadless areas, snowmobiles in Yellowstone, and wolves.The comments on the Bush Administration’s study whether to list the polar bear as “threatened” has set a record.

Story. Polar Bears Draw Record Public Response to Endangered Species Listing. Ewire.

Post 1001

Posted in Bears, endangered species act, politics. Comments Off on Public comments on listing of polar bear reach record number

George Wuerthner, We Ought Not Grow Cows In Dry West

George Wuerthner, a prolific naturalist, author, photographer and activist, has this guest column in New West today. We Ought Not Grow Cows In Dry West

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“Step it up 2007” to be largest grassroots climate action to date. It’s set for April 14

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Step it Up 2007” is planning thousands of local events across the United States. There are 13 events planned in Idaho. Here where at I write, Pocatello, Idaho, the mayor will give a speech at the festivities.

This will be a significant political event even though Bush won’t listen and many politicians in Congress and the states won’t either. I can see it has already generated new activists, and they are networking.

Posted in Climate change, politics. Comments Off on “Step it up 2007” to be largest grassroots climate action to date. It’s set for April 14

Kempthorne offers 402K to offset energy impacts on Wyoming wildlife

Post 998

The amount is so small it is a total insult, but they even break it down into sub-categories to try to impress us. 😡

Story in the Jackson Hole News and Guide. Cash to offset boom? Critics say it’s not enough to alleviate drilling damage. By Cory Hatch

Montana DOL conducts massive hazing of bison contrary to new regulations.

 Post 997

Law, private and public property, human safety, and the welfare of Yellowstone area animals mean nothing to these lawless brutes.

Here is the news release from the Buffalo Field Campaign.

– – – – – –

Buffalo Field Campaign
P. O. Box 957
West Yellowstone, MT 59758
406-646-0070 (phone)
406-646-0071 (fax)


Department Of Livestock Ignores IBMP Adaptive Change Agreement

Exclusive BFC Video & Photos Available Upon Request

For Immediate Release: April 10, 2007

Contact: Stephany Seay (406) 646-0070

WEST YELLOWSTONE, MONTANA. The Montana Department of Livestock (DOL) conducted a massive hazing operation today of approximately 250 wild Yellowstone bison along public lands just outside the western boundary of Yellowstone National Park. The Yellowstone bison herd is the last continuously wild herd in the United States. Genetically and behaviorally unique, the Yellowstone herd currently numbers fewer than 3,600 individuals.

The hazing operation runs counter to adaptations made to the Interagency Bison Management Plan (IBMP) in November 2006, which were supposed to adjust bison management operations. According to the Adjustments to 2006-2007 IBMP Operating Procedures memorandum, the agencies agreed that “based upon collective evaluation of prevailing management activities and consideration of the IBMP objectives, the partner agencies have agreed to incorporate the following into the 2006-2007 IBMP Operating Procedures:

Read the rest of this entry »

Speak Out for Wyoming’s Wolves at Cody Hearing, April 19

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Because anti-wolf forces were unable to dominate the delisting discussion at any of the regular public hearings around the West, a special hearing at Cody was asked for by Wyoming officials. They kept the date a secret for a long time, but it’s announced — April 19.

If a big majority doesn’t savage the wolf in Cody, where can they win except among the corrupt state and Department of Interior politicians trading favors back and forth?

This is your chance in Wyoming to get up from under their boot and tell them what you think. I know there are a lot of good conservationists in the Cody area, so show up and exercise your right of free speech.

– – – –

Here is an alert on the hearing from WOC, the Wyoming Outdoor Council.

On Thursday, April 19, 2007 the US Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) is hosting a public hearing in Cody, Wyo. on a proposal to begin delisting the gray wolf in the Northern Rockies. Please consider joining us at the meeting. Wyoming’s wolves need public support..

The Wyoming Outdoor Council agrees with many that it is time for the gray wolf to be delisted. However, the proposal under consideration will not ensure sustainable wolf populations into the future. The USFWS is considering accepting Wyoming’s dual-status management plan, which calls for trophy game management of wolves in a designated area in northwestern Wyoming and predator status for the animals elsewhere. Predators can be shot on sight. Furthermore, Wyoming’s plan proposes reducing the state’s wolf population to 100 individuals. Such management does not protect wolves, therefore, we do not support delisting under these conditions.

We encourage you to attend the public meeting and speak up in support of wolves. If you cannot attend the meeting, please consider writing a letter to the USFWS.

What: USFWS Public Hearing on gray wolves

April 19, 2007

Open house from 3 – 5 pm
Public hearing 6 – 8 pm

Where: Cody Auditorium, 1240 Beck Avenue, Cody, WY 82414.
Read the rest of this entry »

A ringing victory for salmon in the Ninth Circuit

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It must gall Kempthorne and Idaho’s water politicians, but the Ninth Circuit Court has upheld an earlier decision on salmon that could lead to the tearing down of the pork barrel salmon and steelhead-killing dams on the lower Snake River.

Significantly, “The court also called flawed the Bush administration’s standards that said Endangered Species Act protection does not need to meet goals that would recover salmon, but must only keep their numbers stable. ‘Under this approach, a listed species could be gradually destroyed, so long as each step on the path to destruction is sufficiently modest,’ ” [Judge] Thomas wrote for the court. ‘This type of slow slide into oblivion is one of the very ills the ESA seeks to prevent.’ ”

I think think these court interpretation of the ESA could doom many of the Bush Administration’s plans for endangered species.

Story. Appeals court: Federal dam plan is illegal. Salmon advocates say ruling should force agencies to consider removing lower Snake River dams. By Rocky Barker. Idaho Statesman

Background. On the dams and the salmon, from Rocky Barkers book, Saving All the Parts: Reconciling Economics and the Endangered Species Act

WWP goes to federal court demanding the listing of Slickspot Peppergrass

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“KT” has written a lot on this blog about about cows, slickspot peppergrass, and Idaho politicians lapping up the political cream. It is hardly surprising that former Idaho Governor Dirk Kempthorne’s US Fish and Wildlife Service is not willing to list this Idaho native plant, so the Idaho-founded WWP is going to sue the Service.

Who would have thought that Idaho issues like species reintroductions, peppergrass, and dam-blocked salmon would have been so moved onto the national political arena by the appointment of the outdoors indifferent Kempthorne?


Todd Tucci, Advocates for the West (208-342-7024)
Jon Marvel, Western Watersheds Project (208-788-2290)
Katie Fite, Western Watersheds Project (208-429-1679)


On Friday April 6, 2007 Western Watersheds filed litigation in federal district court against the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service over its continued refusal to protect Slickspot peppergrass – a rare desert flower found only in southern Idaho – under the Endangered Species Act.

“At the end of the day, we want to see science – and not politics – control the Service’s listing decisions,” said Todd C. Tucci, attorney for Advocates for the West who represents Western Watersheds. “Unfortunately, Secretary Kempthorne has proven as incapable of faithfully applying the ESA as his predecessor.” Read the rest of this entry »

‘Wolf Man’ Lives With Pack in the Wild

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Here is a most unusual story about a man who pretty much functions as a pack member with his three wolves.

‘Wolf Man’ Lives With Pack in the Wild. AOL News.

There is going to be a National Geographic Channel documentary on it April 16.

Update on April 10. Here is a more complete story. A Man Among Wolves. By Bob Brown. ABC News.

Wolves in Illinois?

 POST 990

There is no doubt wolves do venture down from Wisconsin to Illinois. They don’t last because of poor habitat, especially because of all the people and agriculture. Dead wolves have have found in Illinois and even crossed the state and made it through most of Indiana, almost to Ohio.

Story in the Rockford Register Star. Wolves among us? By Doug Goodman

Court victory over Bush forest planning rules causes halt in Shoshone National Forest plan

The March 30 court victory settting aside Bush’s new forest planning rules, which trivialized forest plans, and excluded them from full environmental analysis, has caused a temporary halt in the progress of the Shoshone National Forest Plan in Wyoming. The Shoshone is one of America’s most prized national forests for scenery and wilderness.

Planning on the adjacent Bridger-Teton National Forest continues.

The court decision, Defenders of Wildlife, et. al. v. Johanns, which came on a summary judgment, has thrown confusion into the agency, and each forest is too some degree deciding how to procede.

One particularly significant part of the opinion, the judge wrote, “Additionally, because the 2005 Rule may significantly affect the quality of the human environment under NEPA, and because it may affect listed species and their habitat under ESA, the agency must conduct further analysis and evaluation of the impact of the 2005 Rule in accordance with those statutes.” This might provide some additional protection on the Shoshone and other forests for endangered species. However, the judge did not address the content of the new rules, only the flawed procedure by which they were promulgated.

Shoshone National Forest in the Absaroka/Beartooth Wilderness. Photo from Clay Butte Northward toward Montana on the skyline. Photo Copyright Ralph Maughan

Here is the story in the Casper Star Tribune, Ruling halts forest planning [on the Shoshone NF]. By Whitney Royster, Star-Tribune environmental reporter with wire reports.

Mislabled cougar photos cause confusion in Great Lakes States

You might have seen them on the Internet — photos of cougars stalking deer in North Woods of Wisconsin or looking at Michigan children through the windows. At least that’s what the captions to them say.

Sometimes things like a stray sagebrush in the photo reveal the truth that the photos were taken in usual cougar country in the West or even photo-shopped. Every once and a while, however, a photo seems genuine and makes scientists think a few have re-inhabited the Great Lakes states.

Read cougar photo intrigues experts. Green Bay Press-Gazette. Column by Pat Durkin.

Related. Are cougars back in Michigan? Scientists say they’re here but don’t know how many, where from. By Jeff Kart. Kalamazoo Gazette.

The Cougar Network is the best place to find out about these reports and which are credible.

Posted in wildcats. Comments Off on Mislabled cougar photos cause confusion in Great Lakes States

Deadline today for comments on 4000 new gas wells on the Pinedale, WY anticline

It’s kind of sadly amusing that the article says “Today is the last chance for people to comment on a proposal for the Pinedale Anticline that would add up to 4,400 new wells in a part of Sublette County that biologists say is crucial habitat for pronghorn, sage grouse and mule deer.” [boldface mine]

As though there was a real mystery as whether this is crucial to pronghorn, sage grouse and mule deer, and it takes a biologist to figure it out.

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

Feds eliminate wolves that killed cattle

This is a run-of-the-mill story about wolf control in the Big Hole Valley of Montana. About 90% of the incidents like this get no media attention. The interesting question is why do some get a news story, especially now 12 years after wolf reintroduction, when there is little news in such news?

Generic wolf control story from Montana. Associated Press.

Related update. Here is a similar story, but one that is a lot more troublesome. “Idaho wolf conflicts rise.Casper Star Tribune.

The essence is this story is that about 3 weeks ago a wolf was harassing cattle near Picabo, Idaho (the town is not mentioned in story). As is accorded by law, a rancher shot the wolf. Later, 2 more wolves harassed his cattle and on March 27 a calf was found dead (calves are very small this time of year, and Defenders of Wildlife will pay the fall value of the calf — a big profit for him). Now Wildlife Services is trying to find and kill the 2 other wolves.

There is no information in the story at all that wolf conflicts are rising in Idaho. This is one farm. How can you generalize from one farm to a statewide trend? You can’t.

This sloppy headline writer, is the kind of person who creates misinformation in the public about wolves and misinformation about many other subjects when headline doesn’t match the story.

Idaho shooters target National Guard

This is amazing, and check out the quote from the rancher.

Idaho shooters target National Guard. By John Miller. AP

More scandal in the Dept. of Interior

Interior flap trickles down. By Christa Marshall. Denver Post Staff Writer.

More on Abramoff, Griles, Norton, and now Italia Federici, a girlfriend who also created a fake conservation group, Republicans for Environmental Advocacy.

Grist Magazine also has a story on this. Never underestimate the power of sleeping around

Posted in politics. Comments Off on More scandal in the Dept. of Interior

Wolves may return to Eastern Washington state

This article in the Olympian says Wolf population growing in Eastern Washington. By Chester Allen. The Olympian. That is an exaggeration, but wolves could show up at any time and Washington state is developing a wolf management plan.

Return of the Bubbleheads

This blog about the approval of a new Yellowstone snowmobile plan. It is in the Western Watersheds blog.

Although there is the perception of strong support for snowmobiles in West Yellowstone, there is actually less than meets the eye. Yes, it provides a lot of winter employment, but many people perceive their presence might be preventing quieter winter visits; and in fact, the town is diversifying. Hopefully, this new plan will not really ramp up the number snowmobiles again and kill off the new initiatives people are undertaking in West Yellowstone.

Posted in Motor vehicles wildlife, national parks. Comments Off on Return of the Bubbleheads

Grizzlies no safer than average bears.

“Grizzlies no safer than average bears: The Yellowstone park population is coming off the endangered list and might be hunted again.” By Bettina Boxall. Los Angeles Times Staff WriterThis story is about the delisting controversy too.

A thing I should point out is that while in principle and probably in actuality, there will be some limited grizzly bear hunting. Hunting ought not to be the problem with the delisting unless Wyoming goes nuts like they have on wolves. The problem is the secure protection of grizzly habitat.

I do worry that Wyoming will want not just have a hunt, but one to significantly reduce the grizzly population; but the long term problem is habitat loss with the dying off of the whitebark pine, the spread of whirling disease in trout, the decline of cutthroat trout in Yellowstone Lake because of lake trout, and potential threats to the army cutworm moths that provide an incredible amount of grizzly bear nutrition at very safe high attitude sites every summer. Of course too, the gas drillers are waiting to move in and the ATV riders are hoping to open up places to ride in the middle of prime grizzly bear habitat . . . . if only ATVs were edible, a lot of problems would be solved 😉

Grizzlies faced with loss of food potentially could do just fine if people let them eat their livestock, rummage their orchards and gardens, and raid their refrigerators, but that’s not going to be allowed.

– – – –

Related. Here is a story from back in 2006, that the Idaho Statesman recently re-ran. The life of grizzly bear 346. By Rocky Barker – Idaho Statesman

Posted in Bears. 22 Comments »

Conservation groups send USFWS 60-day notice to sue over Yellowstone grizzly delisting

Unless they reverse the delisting of the greater Yellowstone grizzly population, 8 conservation groups have told the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service they will be sued.

Although the grizzly bear population of the area has no doubt doubled since they were “listed” as “threatened’ in the 1970s soon after the Endangered Species Act was passed, the grizzly population increase was mostly done by “picking low-hanging fruit.” The things needed for real grizzly bear conservation, such as securing enough future habitat and the failure to recognize that every future trend points downward, has prompted this 60-day notice to sue.

Here is the story by Matthew Brown of the Associated Press.  Groups plan grizzly lawsuit

Much-debated stream access bill in Montana is tabled

Much like the proposals to regulate or eliminate elk shooting enclosures in Idaho, which had much public support, but were defeated anyway, efforts in Montana to secure the right to access the streams of the state, which belong to the people, has been killed in the Montana legislature.

Much-debated stream access bill tabled. By Charles S. Johnson. Billings Gazette State Bureau

Experts say Yellowstone area grizzlies could suffer from inbreeding

Experts say grizzlies could suffer. Some biologists worry that bears aren’t genetically diverse enough for delisting. By Cory Hatch. Jackson Hole News and Guide.

This has been known for quite a while. The solution seems simple to me, although the anti-introduction extremists who now dominate the Dept. of Interior, and the grizzly bear purists, won’t like the answer. Bring in female bears from British Columbia at the rate or one or two a year, for a decade. There is a plan to truck down a grizzly from Glacier NP every decade or so , but the Glacier bears are not sufficiently different genetically from the Yellowstone bears. One per decade won’t solve the problem for a hundred years or more, and the livelihood of mortality of one new bear not familiar with the area is very high before she mates, bears and rears cubs.

SLT editorial hits uplifting chord

The Salt Lake Tribune published a welcome editorial about a federal court decision regarding forest plans. The editorial also boldy illustrates the importance of wildness and its uplifting affect.
Value of a forest: Federal ruling is a victory for conservation
Salt Lake Tribune Editorial

Court says Scientists’ views on NW forest plan illegally suppressed by the Bush regime

It seems like every day another unethical or illegal act of this Administration’s handling of our wildlife and land is revealed.

Forest plan’s critics suppressed, judge rules. By Gene Johnson. The Associated Press.

Posted in politics, public lands management, Wildlife Habitat. Comments Off on Court says Scientists’ views on NW forest plan illegally suppressed by the Bush regime

Over 4000 more gas wells to go onto the Pinedale Anticline, pretty much spelling the end to wildlife in the area

How fast on the Anticline? By Whitney Royster. Casper Star-Tribune.

The demands of the oil and gas industry are endless and their assurances meaningless, as this vast increase shows. It’s the end of wildlife and clean air in the Green River Basin. Their will be far more gas wells in the county than people (at least before the gas workers came in).

BLM Silent as Agency Criticized. Guest columnist asks. Have We ‘Nuked’ Pinedale’s Big Game Herds? By William Alldredge. New West.

Posted in oil and gas, Wildlife Habitat. Comments Off on Over 4000 more gas wells to go onto the Pinedale Anticline, pretty much spelling the end to wildlife in the area

Moose pop. collaspses in Northern Minn, likely due to indirect effects of global warming

Parasites and disease have greatly reduced northern Minnesota moose population. Studies indicate its not hunting or predation, but parasites, disease and malnutrition. These are probably due to the change to a warmer climate.

Outdoors: Scientists look for moose clues. By Glen Schmitt. St. Cloud Times outdoors writer

Copper Basin, Idaho

This high valley, surrounded by sky-raking mountains for about 330 degrees is one of the most scenic in Idaho if you don’t look down. Link to Google Maps.

For a hundred years it has been abused by livestock. The situation is so bad that they even range far above timberline in the adjacent Pioneer Mountains, Idaho’s second highest mountain range. It have seen them crapping in Idaho’s highest lake — Goat Lake — beneath Standhope Peak.

All of Idaho’s native wildlife persists here (except grizzly bears), but in small numbers. For a number of years various Copper Basin wolf packs have formed and taken a few cattle (mostly calves) now and again. They have been controlled and controlled, but they keep coming back much to the apparent dislike of Idaho’s new governor Butch Otter, who apparently had a “show me” tour at the courtesy of livestock politicians last summer.

He emerged vowing to wipe out the wolves.

More and more people are thinking we should (legally) wipe out the cattle. This valley could dwarf Yellowstone’s Lamar with the abundance of fish and wildlife and beauty if the cows were gone.


Pronghorn in Copper Basin. Numbers are not large, but the variety of wildlife is great. Photo © copyright Ralph Maughan

I’ve seen pronghorn at 9800 feet in the adjacent Pioneer Mtns. (beneath Scorpion Mountain). There are moose despite the trashed out condition of the beaver ponds from cattle. I predict the moose population would explode in a few years, if the cows were gone.


Goat Lake, elev 10,438 feet with Standhope Peak on the far side (just short of 12,000 feet). Cattle are allowed to graze the "lush" pastures 😉 in the photo. © copyright Ralph Maughan

Read the rest of this entry »

Great Victory!! Supremes say EPA can legally limit emissions of carbon dioxide

In a huge blow to George Bush, the fossil fuel industry, and the backwards-looking US auto industry, the Supreme Court, in a much watched case, has ruled 5-4 that the Clean Air Act “clearly allows the Environmental Protection Agency to regulate carbon dioxide as a form of air pollution.”

As we all know, CO2 is not a traditional pollutant. It is harmless to breathe. It is part of our basic biological processes and that of all almost all plants and animals. Unfortunately, the “carbon cycle” in nature, as it’s called, is out of whack. More carbon from combustion of fossil fuels is added to the system every year than is removed. Thus, it builds up in the atmosphere.

Court rules against Bush in global warming case. Reuters.

By James Vicini

. . . And this on the politics of Global Warming. From The The Hill is a non-partisan partially subscription magazine that covers events on Capitol Hill exclusively. GOP should catch up with constituents [on global warming]. By Mark Mellman. The Hill.

NYT Times tells Kempthorne the ESA is a law Not to be Trifled With

Editorial in today’s New York Times.

Posted in politics. Comments Off on NYT Times tells Kempthorne the ESA is a law Not to be Trifled With

Zimo: Idaho Wolf-watching is a hit-and-miss game

There are a lot of wolves in central Idaho, and not especially hard to find if you have watched wolves in Yellowstone (unless you find them in the Park by looking for large crowds of people with scopes). You have to be a bit woods wise. Don’t expect to see them run across the highway in front of your in the middle of the day.

I haven’t been giving locations of Idaho wolves with the governor out there gunning for them, so to speak, but south central Idaho is probably the the best because the country is more open like Yellowstone’s northern range.

Pete Zimowsky of the Idaho Statesman tells of his recent experiences near Stanley where there are two wolf packs with more down the Salmon River Canyon.  This is the spring and summer to watch because next year the governor might have the majority killed off. After there is a wolf hunt, they will be less visiable regardless.

Gutting the Endangered Species Act, or how a law becomes policy

This is from one of the Science blogs (Thoughts from Kansas) and explains how regulations are derived from laws in general (a key point every student of policy must know) and the endangered species act in particular. Gutting the Endangered Species Act, or how a law becomes policy. By Josh Rosenau. Rosenau, like so many others in the last week, writes of how Julie MacDonald as a deputy secretary of Interior rewrote the findings and recommendations of scientists on endangered species.

The Bush Administration has changed or tried to change the regulations for almost every major law on the books, but they have often been rebuffed by the courts. Their most recent loss was on the national forest plans and their implementation. They also had their BLM grazing regulations enjoined, and they have lost repeatedly on the ESA. However, they are about to go after the ESA again.

Fortunately the new and greener House Natural Resources Committee will soon look at the matter of the ESA in hearings.

The Bushies* keep hacking away, however, and they have done a lot of damage to conservations and many other laws.

* Actually the attack on the ESA has the flavor of former Idaho governor, now Secretary of the Interior, Kempthorne. He hated endangered species reintroductions and the rules they are working on say no reintroductions. If you the read the ESA, I can’t imagine how they think they can defend these changes in a court of law.

Governor Schweitzer says public stream access needed to keep Montana’s economy humming

In the last several years Montana’s economy has turned really turned around after years of stagnation and growing inequality. During that time too more and more landowners have tried to block off the public from their streams.

Now Gov. Brian Schweitzer has come out strongly in favor of a proposed law that would require landowners who attach fences to county bridges to provide some form of access to the streams they cross, such as a gate, and stated that public access is essential to a strong economy. He is talking about “public property rights,” a word western Republicans are not fond of, and had fallen into disuse in the years of Republican control in Montana.

Governor says strong economy, public access linked. By Walt Williams. Bozeman Chronicle Staff Writer

More . . . Update from the Denver Post. Unhappy to be stuck with you. Wealthy landowners want to bar fishing on Montana stream. By Charlie Meyers. Denver Post Outdoors Editor.

The stream access controversy has had a big internal impact on Trout Unlimited.

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