“We are Making a Difference,” says the Buffalo Field Campaign

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Here is the latest news from Buffalo Field Campaign on the situation just west of the Park where the bison remain in dire threat, but were not captured for slaughter yesterday as DOL originally planned.

Buffalo Field Campaign
Yellowstone Bison
Update From the Field

May 31, 2007

View BFC Video Footage:
Make a Secure Online Donation to BFC:
Why are they killing the last wild buffalo?
Receive BFC’s updates or press releases.
Send your email address to bfc-media@wildrockies.org with “sub updates” or “sub press release” in the subject line.

In this issue:

* Update from the Field

* We are Making a Difference! KEEP THE PRESSURE ON!

* Buffalo in the News

* Livestock Notable Quotes

* Photo of the Week & Slide Show!

* Last Chance: BFC Handcrafted Father’s Day Cards!

* Earth Friends Matching Grant – We’re Getting Oh, So Close!

* Last Words ~ Ken Cole

* Update from the Field

Dear Buffalo Friends,

We’d like to start by saying *THANK YOU* to everyone who has been putting in calls, emails, and faxes to Yellowstone, Governor Schweitzer, and MT Acting State Vet Jeanne Rankin. You are making a huge difference for the buffalo! Your voice forced a stay of execution. The buffalo will not die today. Given the impact you’ve made and what still looms ahead, it is clear that *WE MUST KEEP THE PRESSURE ON.* Please don’t let up for one minute in contacting these decision-makers (listed below), and please continue to spread the word and share the buffalo’s story.

Yesterday the agencies met and decided that they would face a public relations nightmare if they went forward with plans to kill buffalo moms and babies. They felt the heat before they went through with their plans and the death sentence has been postponed. We are hugely grateful that buffalo will not be killed in the next few days, but they are far from being left alone. The agencies have decided, in lieu of immediate capture and slaughter, that they will resume hazing – with horses and helicopter – through the weekend. Border patrols will guard Yellowstone’s boundary to chase away any approaching buffalo. Come Monday, any buffalo – newborn calves included – found in Montana will be sent to slaughter. Slaughter or hazing? While the buffalo should not die, they shouldn’t be forced off of their native ground either. The hazing has begun and hundreds of buffalo calves, moms, and other family members are being hounded by helicopter and horsemen. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in Bison. 1 Comment »

Secretary Kempthorne taps an aide from Idaho to head the BLM

Dirk Kempthorne has gotten the President to nominate Jim Caswell to replace Kathleen Clarke as the head (the director) of the U.S. Bureau of Land Management. Caswell was the head of Kempthone’s Office of Endangered Species when Kempthorne’s was Idaho’s governor and has remained in that position since.

During Caswell’s time in the office, most conservation groups saw his role as making sure no Idaho species got put on the endangered species list. Prior to Caswell’s time in Idaho Office of Species Conservation he was the supervisor of the Clearwater National Forest, and earlier the Targhee National Forest.

Back in his Targhee days, I recall we battled with him over the excessive clearcutting on that forest, which is located west and south west of Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Parks.

Link fixed. Bush appoints Idaho official to run BLM. Jim Caswell, state species conservation director, will join Kempthorne at Interior. By Rocky Barker. Idaho Statesman.

The biggest issue before the BLM right now in terms of money and maybe habitat, is oil and gas with which Caswell has no experience (fortunately, for Idaho’s mountains and lands, no oil or commercial quantities of gas have been discovered in Idaho).

My personal experience with Caswell was that he is was easy to talk with.

Bison slaughter put off until maybe Monday

The outcry against Montana DOL’s slaughter plans probably had something to do with this bit of good news.

What DOL should really do is delay the slaughter permanently because there are are no cattle west of the Park near West Yellowstone. The Horse Butte (former) grazing allotment was bought out by a conservation group, and the Forest Service formally closed the allotment (a rare thing).  The purpose was to settle this conflict, yet DOL didn’t buy into the bargain, and so it goes on and on.

Bison slaughter postponed. By Jan Falstad. Billings Gazette.

Posted in Bison. 1 Comment »

Wyoming rancher finds not killing coyotes is a key to not losing livestock

Finally a little thought about coyotes and livestock. . . killing coyotes to protect livestock can have just opposite effect. Here Brodie Farquhar writes another on the Casper Star Tribunes explosion of articles on predator control.

Calling a truce. By Brodie Farquhar. Casper Star Tribune.

It seems Wyoming’s predator-fearing livestock politicians don’t realize that coyotes mostly eat rodents, and there is currently a rabbit explosion in Wyoming.

Posted in Coyotes, predator control. Comments Off on Wyoming rancher finds not killing coyotes is a key to not losing livestock

The public land recreation fee has become a shakedown of the public

Outdoor writer Ted Williams has weighed on the “RAT” in a Writers on the Range piece.

Writers on the Range: Fees have become a public lands shakedown. By Ted Williams.

A search of this blog will bring many more stories how a not very good demonstration project has become much worse as it  was made permanent without even a real vote in Congress. As Williams writes, “a rope to hang ourselves.”

Posted in privatization, public lands management. Comments Off on The public land recreation fee has become a shakedown of the public

Who to contact regarding the bison slaughter

This info came today from the Buffalo Field Campaign.


PLEASE CONTACT these three decision-makers TODAY demanding that they cease plans to capture and slaughter the buffalo who are trying to live wild and free!  Contact each by phone, fax, and email and let’s not let them forget that the world is watching!
* MONTANA GOVERNOR BRIAN SCHWEITZER:  Demand that Schweitzer keep his campaign promise to provide tolerance for bison in Montana.
(406) 444-3111 (phone)
(406) 444-5529 (fax)
governor@mt.gov (email)

* MONTANA ACTING STATE VET JEANNE RANKIN:  Urge her to withdraw her decision to slaughter Yellowstone bison calves and family groups.  Remind her you are boycotting beef and your friends are joining you!
(406) 444-1895 (phone)

(800) 523-3162 (phone)
(406) 444-1929 (fax)

jrankin@mt.gov  (email)

* YELLOWSTONE NATIONAL PARK SUPERINTENDENT SUZANNE LEWIS:  Ask her if it’s really worth the lives of 300 wild buffalo, including newborn calves, to have Montana ship them to slaughter rather than deeper into the Park.

(307) 344-2002 (phone)
(307) 344-2005 (fax)

suzanne_lewis@nps.gov OR yell_superintendent@nps.gov (email)

It’s crucial that we flood these offices today!  Capture could begin as soon as Thursday, with transport to slaughter beginning Friday.  Read BFC’s press release from Tuesday at:



Posted in Bison. 13 Comments »

Montana state vet details plan to slaughter up to 300 bison

State vet details plan to slaughter up to 300 bison. By Charles S. Johnson. Billings Gazette State Bureau.

Here is the msm’s story on the meeting and the slaughter to come. All the standard lies are repeated.

It is infuriating to sit here in Idaho and hear them talk in Montana about the disaster is was that Idah0 lost its brucellosis-free status, when the Idaho media don’t run any stories of woe about it — they run no stories at all.

Montana’s Governor Calls Emergency Meeting of the Board of Livestock for May 29

Governor Brian Schweitzer, along with Bill Hedstrom, Chair of the Board of Livestock and Christian Mackay, new Executive Officer of the Department of Livestock today called an emergency meeting of the Board of Livestock in light of 7 Montana cows testing positive for the disease brucellosis last week.

“This is a very serious issue for Montana,” said Governor Schweitzer. “We need to discuss and act upon alternatives to what we are doing today. Our livestock industry is too important to let this disease dictate its future.”

Read the rest of the governor’s office news release:

Montana to capture 260-plus bison for slaughter tomorrow.

They haven’t found any reason why the cattle at Bridger, Montana turned up with brucellosis. They know it wasn’t bison. But, they can’t just let scientific investigation run its course. They have to kill something.

So tomorrow they will be rounding up the approximately 250 bison that keep leaving Yellowstone Park to feast on the lush grass to the west of the Park. Then they will send them off to slaughter.

Isn’t it fascinating how the livestock industry and gratuitous violence and domination are tied together.

A wild bison calf on public land at Horse Butte, west of Yellowstone Park. The photo was taken Sunday. Of course this calf doesn’t know it will be Montana Dept. of Livestock buffaloburger in a couple days.


Here is the news release by the Buffalo Field Campaign

Department of Livestock to Capture and Slaughter Yellowstone Bison

Exclusive Video Footage Available Upon Request
Exclusive BFC Video & Photos Available Upon Request
For Immediate Release: Tuesday, May 29, 2007
Contact: Dan Brister 406-646-0070

WEST YELLOWSTONE, MONTANA. Montana Department of Livestock agents are currently erecting a bison trap near the West Yellowstone Airport, located just outside the western boundary of Yellowstone National Park. According to statements made by the agents and the Montana governor’s office, the state plans to capture and slaughter any bison in Montana starting as soon as tomorrow.

According to Bill Queen of the Hebgen Ranger District of the Gallatin National Forest, Forest Service lands and airport lands near the trap site will be closed to the public. However, members of the media and the public will be allowed to view operations from a nearby hillside.

There are approximately 250 bison grazing on National Forest lands in the area near the Madison River and Hebgen Reservoir. While the purported reason for the bison slaughter is to protect Montana’s livestock industry from the European livestock disease brucellosis, at no time of the year do cattle occupy these public lands. There has never been a documented brucellosis transmission from wild bison to livestock.

“Governor Schweitzer campaigned on promises of providing greater tolerance for bison in Montana,” said Dan Brister of the wild bison advocacy group Buffalo Field Campaign, “yet he bends to the irrational will of the Stockgrowers whenever they demand more dead bison. Since Governor Schweitzer has been in office, 1,177 Yellowstone bison have been killed.”

Brucellosis has been receiving great attention in the state since last week when seven members of a Bridger, MT cattle herd tested positive for antibodies to the disease. Because Yellowstone bison never came anywhere near these cattle, it is certain that they are not the source of infection and likely that cattle are responsible for the transmission.
Read the rest of this entry »

Battling the wily coyote

Wow this talk about coyotes and livestock, coming out of Wyoming just doesn’t stop.Battling the wily coyote.” By Jeff Gearino. Southwest Wyoming Bureau Casper Star Tribune.

The article is written from the viewpoint of “predator management supervisor” Rod Merrell.

In the article Merrell keeps saying the coyotes are incredibly smart. That’s because we have spent 120 years making them that way with high human mortality driving natural selection for the smartest coyotes at avoiding getting killed by humans.

Whitney Royster has an another article today too. Coyote control success demands precision. Casper Star Tribune.

How important are sheep in Wyoming compared to the money generated by the energy industry there? Ten times less? A hundred times less? Maybe a thousand?

Update . . .  more. Lethal predator control [the many ways to kill these “bad animals”]. Casper Star Tribune.

Helping the feds: USDA Wildlife Services benefits from increased state funding

Here Jeff Gearino describes how pleased Wildlife Services is to get this big boost from the state. Now they can use the federal money for other predator control projects.

Helping the feds: USDA Wildlife Services benefits from increased state funding. By Jeff Gearino. Jackson Hole Star Tribune.

It’s not a business for the squeamish. Tools of the trade include planes and helicopters for aerial gunning of coyotes, rifles, shotguns, and a variety of snares, traps and poisons. Birds constitute the overwhelming majority of animals exterminated, with about 2.3 million grain-devouring starlings killed at a national level last year.

I’m not concerned about the non-native starlings, but somehow I don’t think this is more than a sidelight.

Local [Wyoming] predator boards get boost

In this article Jeff Gearino explains how the increasing funding will allow local predator boards to expand killing to more species — skunks, starlings, and ravens. Somehow these species are menacing soda ash production in Wyoming and are a threat to the Jackson Hole airport.

There are already killing a lot of coyotes from the air. Judging from this practice and buildup.

I can just see how they might be able to wipe out most of the wolves and grizzly bears even if they get just a short window by a judge.

 Local predator boards get boost. By Jeff Geario. Casper Star Tribune

Predator control for Wyoming wildlife stirs debate

Here is another story on the big jump in Wyoming predator control money. This one focuses on predators killing “good wildlife.” Ironically, this story comes just a week or so after it was revealed that Wyoming Game and Fish officials think there are too many “good wildlife” (elk, deer, and pronghorn) at the present, and needed to be reduced.

Predator control for wildlife stirs debate. By Whitney Royster. Casper Star Tribune.

Kill or be killed (about Wyoming predator control)

Reporter Jeff Gearino and others have written a series of articles in the last few days about the $6-million the Wyoming legislature just put into state-funded predator control. That is a sudden infusion of big money, and I wonder what it’s really about? This is money on top of that appropriated by Congress for the predator control federal agency, Wildlife Services. I haven’t seen any reports on a large buildup of coyotes, even though that’s what most of the talk in the article is about.

Somehow I’m suspicious that the big dollar increase has something to do with the just delisted grizzly bear, and maybe, the soon to be delisted wolf.

Here is the first article “Kill or be Killed,” which begins with two foreign workers riding their “magnificent steeds, trailed by their equally magnificent Great Pyrenees sheepdogs” as they get instructions from their padrone to go out and kill a whole bunch of coyotes.

Posted in Coyotes, Grazing and livestock, predator control. Comments Off on Kill or be killed (about Wyoming predator control)

Conservation groups decry approval of thousands of new gas wells in SW Wyoming (Atlantic Rim area)

1,800 coalbed methane wells and 200 conventional  gas wells were just approved by the BLM. See story in the Billings Gazette.

The wells approved last week are in addition to 2,780 conventional gas wells previously approved by the BLM in south-central Wyoming. An additional 10,190 wells are pending approval. [!!] 

Kempthorne says he’s scapped big effort to eviscerate endangered species act

The Department of Interior’s plans to completely re-write the rules implementing the ESA were recently exposed by Salon Magazine. Now Secretary of Interior Dirk Kempthorne says he’s done away with that.

Nevertheless, the Department remains hostile as evidenced by its continuing efforts to delist the gray wolf in the Northern Rockies to unprotective state wolf management regimes. See the earlier story on how they caved to Wyoming.

Government Scraps Species Law Changes. CBS News.

Update (May 27). In an article about Secretary Kempthorne in the Idaho Statesman today this quote appears as the paper reported that Kempthorne has scrapped the plans to rewrite the ESA regulations: But White House officials, asked this week about the administration’s position on the Endangered Species Act, referred reporters to a proposal championed by ex-Rep. Richard Pombo, R-Calif., intended to give landowners more rights and reduce litigation. Informed of that, Kempthorne smiled and said, “That’s interesting.”

Big Lost River Whitefish conservation plan affirmed

Whitefish conservation plan affirmed. Plan approved by F&G Commission is specific to Big Lost River subspecies. By Jason Kauffman. Idaho Mountain Express Staff Writer.

The Big Lost River does not drain to the ocean or any other river. It sinks out on the Snake River Plain (actually it is almost always dried up by diversions long before reaching its sinks).

Because of its isolation, a sub-species of mountain whitefish has evolved, and it needs protection because of a multitude of threats (what is good for the whitefish will also be good for trout). Idaho Fish and Game Commission has adopted a plan, but it is unfunded and it needs the cooperation of the US Forest Service and BLM to work (such as keeping cows out of the hard pressed river and its headwater forks and their tributaries). In other words, don’t hold your breath.

The Western Watersheds Project wants more affirmative action to conserve the whitefish. They earlier petitioned for protection under the ESA as an endangered, not threatened species. Here is their petition. In the petition is a lot of information about the Big Lost mountain whitefish.

Posted in Fish, water issues. Comments Off on Big Lost River Whitefish conservation plan affirmed

More on the Montana brucellosis

While this article is a bit repetitive, it shows the evolution of the controversy. The Paradise Valley, in particular the Emigrant cattle ranch, seems not be the source of brucellosis. Some still suspect elk from somewhere, but some are thinking it came from infected cattle from somewhere else. Some folks who have posted have suggested this is completely a cattle industry outbreak, with nothing to do with the wildlife.

Cattle herd tests negative for brucellosis. By Scott McMillion. Bozeman Chronicle Staff Writer.

Governor Schweitzer is pushing his idea (although he did not originate it) that the Greater Yellowstone should be separated from the rest of State of Montana by the federal agency APHIS (Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service) in terms of brucellosis free status. They have the power to do this.
McMillion writes that Montana Cattlemen’s Association backs Schweitzer’s plan, but the apparently more powerful Montana Stockgrowers Association and the Montana Farm Bureau have criticized Sweitzer. “Federal officials have been lukewarm or nonresponsive.” Schweitzer said.

Hopefully, Schweitzer will repeat his earlier call to simply eliminate the few cattle that live adjacent to Yellowstone Park, but the cultural hegemony of livestock requires that people see Yellowstone and its wildlife as a negative thing, as a source of dangerous disease. That may explain the opposition of the more powerful ag political interest groups to his plan.

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Posted in Bison, Elk, Grazing and livestock. Comments Off on More on the Montana brucellosis

Deal [with Wyoming] removes obstacle to wolf delisting

I’m not sure what it means, but if it actually means wolves will be protected only in Yellowstone and Grand Teton Parks, and adjoining Wilderness areas. This really means wolves will be protected ONLY inside Yellowstone Park, and then only as long as they don’t step outside unless it is into a designated Wilderness. No packs live full time inside Grand Teton. In addition, Not a single wolf pack has its territory totally inside a Wyoming Wilderness area, much less those Wilderness areas adjacent to Yellowstone. Therefore, even Mollies Pack, the Bechler Pack, and even the Druids might be subject to being shot for fun because they sometimes leave the Park, and they leave in areas where a wilderness does not adjoin.

On the upside, this “deal” probably makes the delisting to contrary to law and the regulations that following, included changes in them that were procedural violations, that a federal judge has an increased change of slapping this down.

Story in the Idaho Statesman by Rocky Barker on the Deal.

Here is a link to a pdf map of the Greater Yellowstone wolf packs. Do you see a pack that lives entirely inside a designated wilderness area? Do you think that a judge will notice that there is no safe spot for wolves in Wyoming outside Yellowstone Park?

Update (May 27): Here’s a report on the latest view from Wyoming’s agricultural political eliteState eyes ‘ultimate’ predator. By Whitney Royster and Jeff Gearino. Casper Star Tribune.

The number of wolves in Wyoming outside Yellowstone National Park jumped by 31 percent in 2006, going from 134 to 175. With that increase, 123 cattle were reportedly killed by wolves, more than has ever been recorded in Wyoming since wolf reintroduction. In response, 44 wolves were killed, which is also a record for that time period

All the “ultimate predator” could do was kill 123 cattle?

This is unsaid, most of “the cattle” were calves and almost all reimbursed. Recall that in recent weeks too, the supposed decimation of Wyoming wildlife has suddenly turned into a big surplus of elk. As a  result the Wyoming Game and Fish Commission wants to increase the take by human hunters.

Buffalo Field Campaign reports on more obnoxious bison hazing.

Instead of going along with this, hopefully the next Administration will charge Montana DOL with a criminal offense when they invade Yellowstone Park this way. They should be charged with the felony, not the BFC volunteers. The DOL thugs should remember the way Congress changed in 2006. There will be a new President in 2008.

Here is the latest from BFC.

Buffalo Field Campaign
Yellowstone Bison
Update From the Field

May 24, 2007

View BFC Video Footage:

Make a Secure Online Donation to BFC:

Why are they killing the last wild buffalo?

Receive BFC’s updates or press releases.
Send your email address to bfc-media@wildrockies.org with “sub updates” or “sub press release” in the subject line.


In this issue:

* Update from the Field
* Buffalo in the News
* Photo of the Week & Slide Show!
* Honor Father’s Human & Wild
* Flyer & Invitation: BFC 10 Year Anniversary & Family Reunion
* Last Words


* Update from the Field

Dear Buffalo Friends,

Wild buffalo are amazingly resilient creatures. In the face of harassment and death, they continue to demonstrate that Nature has no borders and that the livestock industry is not the owner of the land; this land is the buffalo’s land. After centuries of abuse and slaughter by the government and livestock interests (is there even a difference?), wild buffalo are still here and still walking the land the cattle industry tries to shut them out of.

This week the DOL’s helicopter has been flying all over our public lands, circling low, trying to scare buffalo out of the woods so the government cowboys can herd them with their horses deep into Yellowstone. This week, FWP fish biologists helped from a boat, after agents hazed the buffalo into Hebgen Reservoir. The hazing is happening again today as I write. Buffalo moms and babies, yearlings, aunts, big brothers and sisters – the whole buffalo family – are being shoved around, pushed out of Montana. The helicopter again got permission from Yellowstone National Park to fly into the Park. It’s terribly difficult for the buffalo, but even more so for the brand new babies who’s little legs are strong enough for moments of rambunctious play with other calves, but not for being hazed nearly 10 miles in fear, without rest or the ability to nurse. As we’ve seen before, these cruel operations can spell their doom. It’s hard to imagine how the buffalo moms must feel, trying to shelter their calves while fleeing from hounding horsemen and helicopter. But buffalo are strong survivors. One day they will be free to roam – the cattlemen will have to go home and tend to their livestock. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in Bison, politics. Comments Off on Buffalo Field Campaign reports on more obnoxious bison hazing.

Nature writer/photographer recovering in hospital after Hayden Valley grizzly with cub mauled him

Close encounters. By Brodie Farquhar. Caspter Star Tribune.

The man, Jim Cole, has been mauled before; and was later charged but found not guilty of approaching a grizzly too closely.

Update (May 27): Friend: Man mauled by grizzly had no time for pepper spray. AP.

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Posted in Bears. 24 Comments »

On the recovery of the Black-footed Ferret

This was posted at Carnivore Conservation blog. It links to the latest data (in papers). It is from a 2004 symposium, which was badly needly because the publicly available information was a decade old.

About the recovery of the Black-footed Ferret. (corrected link)

Like the wolf, the ferret’s endangered status is the result of the livestock industry which hates prairie dogs, the sole prey of the ferret. They don’t like the fact that the prairie dogs “steal” a little grass and make holes their slow-witted cows stumble on.

Posted in endangered species act, Grazing and livestock, Wildlife Habitat. Comments Off on On the recovery of the Black-footed Ferret

Huge B.C. coal mine that would drain into Montana gets attention from Condoleeza Rice

Here is the latest on the proposed Cline Mine, just north of the B.C. border. Montana’s senator Baucus got Secretary of State Rice to urge Canada’s federal government to ask for a more detailed environmental assessment than B.C. requires. However, the government in Ottawa has not taken any action yet.

The article below in the Flathead Beacon shows the immense coal reserves that could drain down into Montana, perhaps ruining the North Fork and main fork of the Flathead River, Flathead Lake and beyond into Idaho and the state of Washington.

The potentially affected part of British Columbia and Montana are very important wildlife habitat are portions very scenic. The North Fork of the Flathead is the western boundary of Glacier National Park.

Cline Mine: What’s Next? Flathead Beacon.

It’s a lot of crap that B.C. protects their environment better than Montana, despite Montana’s many lapses. The Liberal Party government in Victoria, B.C. is  corporate dominated and very hostile to the protection of land, water and wildlife. Note: outside the United States, the word “liberal” often means what would be called “economic conservative” in American political usage.

Oxbow pack in Yellowstone has 10 pups

The relatively new Oxbow Pack, which split late in 2005 from the Leopolds, had a double litter of eleven pups! One pup has died.

Dr. Doug Smith told me today that there is a pup count from just one other pack– the “new Swan Lake Pack” has 5 pups (plus 5 and maybe 6 adults).

The new Druid den has no pup count, nor the Sloughs or Agates. Currently the Druid Pack holds at 10 adults (that includes the surviving yearlings)

The Cougar Creek Pack in the Park, NE of West Yellowstone was not confirmed to have had pups last year, but its alpha female denned this year. At 9 years old she (151F) is the second oldest wolf in the Park. No pup count yet.

Lots of people have seen the Haydens on the road and nearby. They keep denning in that bad spot. Hopefully they will not be pressured so by the mass of people that an incident happens. About 800 people have looked at the photos of the pack that recently went up (that’s just my link).

Mollies has 9 adult wolves. No pup count. It is thought the new alpha male is 586M. Folks may recall that a large male from that pack was recently hit and killed on the highway near LeHardy’s Rapids.

The Slough Creek Pack has been seen a lot in Slough Creek and the lower Lamar Valley. The alpha male (folks will recall he was until recently an Agate Pack wolf) killed an elk in the Lamar River, then another nearby. He spent a lot of time around them. He had to cross the road to get to his food, and people made it hard for him to cross the highway. As a result he spent a lot of time near the road, including lying in the middle of the highway for a while (that made a big commotion!). The rest of the Slough Pack (still all females, I believe) are wary of the road, and wouldn’t join him at his kill.

It is not known if the Hellroaring Pack is still in the Park (or exists). They lost all their radio collars.

The Gibbon Pack, which vanquished the last remnants of the Nez Perce Pack, is now almost a duplicate of the once mighty Nez Perce. Like the Nez Perce, they are denned in Nez Perce Creek. Like the Nez Perce, they are a large pack with 11 adults and an unknown number of pups. Their territory is about the same as was the Nez Perce.

No one seems to have seen the “unknown pack” that besieged the Sloughs last spring, causing them to lose all their pups.

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On the trail of Idaho’s Basin Butte wolf pack

This wolf pack lives near Stanley, Idaho, in the heart of scenic Idaho. It has been a very successful pack, staying away (except once) from the thousands of livestock that are driven into the scenic area late each spring and often hang around until November.

I have heard that as of late, elk have been very abundant in the general area, although the number of big bulls is down due to human trophy hunting.

Story in the Idaho Mountain Express. By Jason Kaufmann. On the trail of the Basin Butte wolf pack: Work on wolf harvest plan could yield fall 2008 hunt.

This wolf pack and Buffalo Ridge Pack down the Salmon River Canyon about 10 miles from Stanley (and up the Squaw Creek tributary) are probably the two easiest Idaho wolves packs to see. The area around Stanley has lots of open meadows with lots of elk until late June (very much like Yellowstone’s Lamar Valley).

This is the summer to look for wolves in Idaho. This population is probably as high as it will every be, and they are slated for hunting. Whether the hunt kills a lot of wolves (the likely plan) or just a few, the wolves will become harder to see.

Unraveling brucellosis source isn’t simple matter

Unraveling brucellosis source isn’t simple matter. By Mark Stark. Billings Gazette.

In other news, or lack of it, Idaho media continue to be uninterested in the brucellosis story despite Idaho’s loss of brucellosis free status and a number of recent public meetings on rules to help regain that supposedly coveted status.

Posted in Grazing and livestock, wildlife disease. Comments Off on Unraveling brucellosis source isn’t simple matter

Little controversy over Wyoming Senator Thomas’ Wild and Scenic Rivers bill

A story today says the reason for the lack of controversy is that only the uncontroversial stream segments were included in the legislation.

Bill leaves out some waters.
By Whitney Royster. Casper Star-Tribune environmental reporter.

At the present only part of one river in Wyoming is in the National Wild and Scenic Rivers System. That is a portion of the Clarks Fork of the Yellowstone to east of Cooke City.

Posted in public lands management, wilderness roadless. Comments Off on Little controversy over Wyoming Senator Thomas’ Wild and Scenic Rivers bill

More on the Montana brucellosis

Here is the latest news as reported by the Bozeman Chronicle. By Scott McMillion. The infected cattle at Bridger, Montana, might have originated from near Emigrant (closer to Yellowstone Park, but still not an area where they would ever encounter bison).

[Governor] Schweitzer said last week that it doesn’t appear the infected herd ever commingled with bison from Yellowstone National Park, but [Montana Stockgrower’s spokesperson] Bodner said it’s too early to pinpoint the source of the disease. . . from the Chronicle.

350 cows are under quarantine. This includes 50 that had already been shipped to Iowa.

I suspect the origin will turn out to be Montana elk (which have a low, but non-existent incidence of brucellosis), or cattle shipped from Wyoming, which lost its brucellosis free status in 2005 due to infected elk from the Muddy Creek elk winter feedlot mingling with adjacent cattle.

Wyoming has since regained its brucellosis free status, but I suspect will lose it again due to the high elk infection incidence which perpetuated by winter feeding of elk.

Meanwhile Idaho held hearings on new rules so it can regain its brucellosis free status. I’ve seen no media on it yet, another indication that how serious or not this matter is thought to be depends on the activity level of political interest groups

Update. May 23. Brucellosis tests of cattle herds near Yellowstone come up negative (so far). By John Falstad. Billings Gazette.

It was suspected that the brucellosis at Bridger, Montana might have come from cattle purchased closer to Yellowstone Park — at Emigrant, Montana in Paradise Valley. Testing at the ranch at Emigrant showed no brucellosis. Other ranch herds are being tested.

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Instead of slowing down, CO2 is increasing at an increasing rate.

I guess it’s redundant to say this, but this very bad news. The headline is misleading because it’s not just a rise, but steepening rise.

Scientists report rise in levels of carbon dioxide. By Robert S. Boyd. McClatchy Newspapers

If we are lucky the rising rate is due to increased human use of fossil fuels, and/or increased deforestation in the topics. If we an unlikely, the change is the result of positive feedback mechanisms kicking in — natural mechanisms are spiraling out of control.

Update. More on this. Alarming Acceleration In Carbon Dioxide Emissions Worldwide. Science Daily.

Addition for skeptical Monte and those of similar views, read this from the Real Climate Blog, and here is a very good FAQ.

Montana preps for wolf hunting

Montana and Idaho, both with federally approved wolf plans, are now gearing up for hunting wolves. Most expect Montana wolf hunt is more likely to be an real hunt rather than a hunt serving mostly as a dramatic reduction in the wolf population. However, this is not assured.

Montana has about half as many wolves as Idaho at the present, mostly because Idaho has better wolf habitat in terms of wolf security (the mountains ranges are less developed and the backcountry that is good wolf habitat is deeper).

Story by Susan Gallagher. Associated Press.

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23 years after historic water pact, Idaho Power Co. sues state

Idaho irrigators, boaters, fishers, commerical trout farmers, conservationists, anyone with a water right on the Snake River, and electrical power users have come to view the Swan Falls agreement of 1985 as a turning point in Idaho politics and water law. Now Idaho Power is going to court to claim that the pact didn’t leave enough water to satisfy all the uses (in their case hydropower). Idaho Power is correct. The 1985 agreement was overly optimistic (especially in view of the drying climate).

This is a huge political/economic/conservation development.

Story in the Idaho Statesman. Be sure to read the sidebar “Analysis” by Rocky Barker.

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Brucellosis confirmed in Montana cattle herd

Well surprise, brucellosis has actually shown up in Montana livestock, and it didn’t come from bison. The news article says there is a possible link to elk. Well duh! Elk passed brucellosis to cattle in Wyoming and Idaho, and both states lost their “brucellosis free status.” I predicted it for years, while they were yelling about bison. In the Montana case, however, elk are only a possibility.

The article makes is sound like a catastrophe has happened, but that seems negotiable. In Wyoming the state’s loss of brucellosis-free status generated some newspaper attention and a governor’s task force which basically advocated doing nothing effective about the brucellosis in the state’s elk population. They tried an elk test and slaughter program at winter elk feedlot near Pinedale. My earlier story on that: Test and Slaughter a failure.

In Idaho, it barely made the news. I actually thought Idaho had regained its brucellosis free status about 6 months ago. Now we learn from this article that it hasn’t. That’s how big a deal it is in Idaho.

Story by Matthew Brown. AP (in numerous newspapers). Brucellosis confirmed in Montana cattle herd.

Today, was the first in a long time there was a news article about brucellosis in Idaho. Meetings set to discuss battle against brucellosis. Idaho Statesman staff.

Note: Baker, Montana isn’t anywhere near the Greater Yellowstone. It is a few miles west of the North Dakota border!

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Check out this paper on carnivore-livestock conflicts.

Rocky Barker’s blog: Don’t plan on a lot of campfires this summer

Rocky Barker’s blog today fleshes out what a lot of people are talking about right now in Idaho, Nevada, Montana, and Utah — the coming forest fire season.

The winter had below normal precipitation and the spring was generally dry. Dry springs actually reduce the range fire potential because the flammable seasonal grasses don’t grow as tall, but the the heavy fuels — logs and standing trees, will be very flammable beginning in mid-June. Couple this with the many insect attacks on the forests, and things could explode.

Rocky Barker’s blog: Don’t plan on a lot of campfires this summer.

Barker wrote an excellent book on forest fires and their role in the development of the public land agencies and their philosophies. I used it in my public lands politics class one semester. A review of his book and similar ones appeared in the Washington Post.

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Posted in Trees Forests, wildfire. Comments Off on Rocky Barker’s blog: Don’t plan on a lot of campfires this summer

Trust Fund for Grizzlies, Wolves Weighed

Trust Fund for Grizzlies, Wolves Weighed

International Business Times. By Matthew Brown.

The idea is that Congress would provide most of the initial money and create a quasi-governmental fund, to which states, individuals, non-profit and for profit corporations, could add. The fund would take the burden off of state departments of fish and game, and reduce resentment by some hunters for the diversion of funds for these animals. It would also shield the management from the political instability of direct congressional appropriations and keep a national presence in the management of these animals despite their delisting.

On the down side, I can see a lot of money going for “management” that simply leads to dead wolves and bears, and is yet another subsidy for the public lands livestock industry. Most of the current management money for wolves simply goes to collar wolves so that they can be easily shot if a couple of dead sheep or cow calves turn up.

Reproductive Speed Protects Large Animals From Being Hunted To Extinction

The slower their reproductive cycle, the higher the risk of extinction for large grazing animals such as deer and antelope that are hunted by humans.

Story in Science Daily.

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Buffalo Field Campaign Update

Post 1030

Here is the latest update from the Buffalo Field Campaign. Below I have posted my condensed version of their email alert.
I do disagree with BFC that the solution to the bison imprisonment inside Yellowstone can be solved by boycotting beef. I have come to believe the actions of the Montana Department of Livestock have nothing to do with brucellosis and little to do with beef because there are so few cattle in the area. The forage is just waiting for bison to eat — there is no forage competition with cattle.

Perhaps it’s my career as a political scientist, but I see the whole matter as an attempt to maintain a political and cultural hegemony by the livestock industry over the area. It isn’t a matter of dollars. To use common terms, this fight isn’t over grass, or money. It’s over a grudge against newcomers and change held by politically influential parts of the Montana livestock industry.

For example, they haze the bison through the neighborhoods not because they have to or because they are unconcerned with safety. Montana DOL hazes them through the neighborhoods to show that they can. They are the boss, and the residents are at best second class citizens.

Ralph Maughan


Buffalo Field Campaign
Yellowstone Bison
Update from the Field

May 17, 2007


View BFC Video Footage:


Make a Secure Online Donation to BFC:


* Update from the Field
* Take Action for Wild Buffalo ~ Boycott Beef!
* BFC Family Reunion: Celebrate Ten Years on the Front Lines!
* Support BFC: The Earth Friends Challenge Grant

* Update from the Field

Dear Buffalo Friends,
Thank you all so much for your letters and phone calls of encouragement
and solidarity after hearing about the unjust arrests of two BFC family
members. We are exploring every option and are feeling positive and
strong given the wealth of information we have received regarding these
unwarranted arrests and the unsolicited police brutality.

Read the rest of this entry »

Some great photos of the Hayden Pack wolves.

These are from the web page of Walking Shadow Ecology.

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Montana Department of Livestock fills executive post

The Board of Livestock hired Christian Mackay, a real estate agent and feed salesman whose background includes work in the beef industry and the labor movement, to succeed Marc Bridges. Bridges retired at the end of 2006.

Read the rest in an AP story in the Billings Gazette. These little reported things can be critical. Does anyone know about this Christian Mackay?

Posted in Bison, Grazing and livestock. Comments Off on Montana Department of Livestock fills executive post

Fight to save the fluvial grayling in Montana is not over yet.

Groups are going to court to try to force the Bush Administration to list the fluvial grayling.  This has become normal and expected as the Administration neither belives in the Endangered Species Act or adding any more species to the list. Do they believe in the rule of law regarding anything ❓

Story in the Helena Independent Record.

Posted in endangered species act, Fish. Comments Off on Fight to save the fluvial grayling in Montana is not over yet.

Resistance and the Recent BFC Arrests Outside Yellowstone

Jim MacDonald did an analysis of the arrest of the BFC members that I reported and has recently been in the news.

Resistance and the Recent BFC Arrests Outside Yellowstone. By Jim MacDonald. Portland Independent Media Center

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Posted in Bison, politics. Comments Off on Resistance and the Recent BFC Arrests Outside Yellowstone

Bison get final push into Yellowstone; laggards face slaughter

Bison get final push into Yellowstone; laggards face slaughter. By Matthew Brown. Associated Press Writer

BILLINGS, Mont. (AP) — Wildlife officials made a last push Tuesday to get bison back into Yellowstone National Park before they face possible slaughter if caught outside park boundaries.

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More news from Wyoming where wolves have killed all the big game. Not!

Of course, wolves haven’t and these recent articles indicate. This new info is just short of incredible given all the ranting and raving by Wyoming politicians and some hunting organizations over the last ten years about how the wolf had decimated the elk.
April 26. Wyoming Game and Fish proposes additional hunting licenses to offset forage shortage. By Brodie Farquhar. Jackson Hole Star-Tribune correspondent.

The drought has greatly reduced the forage and so the number of animals needs to be reduced, but the elk and most other ungulate populations are well over objectives. Of course, the drought is not a happy situation because it will reduce the number of elk and deer, and pronghorn, but the point here is the problem is not wolves. We can imagine, however, that once drought and hunting have reduced the numbers, wolves will be blamed for the reduced numbers.

May 12. Wyoming Game and Fish predicts good hunting. By Ben Neary. Casper Star Tribune. “”Elk are probably at an all-time high historically,” said Bill Rudd, assistant chief for of the wildlife division for the Wyoming Game and Fish Department in Cheyenne.”

New. May 17. Elk numbers soar as hunting seasons set. Wyo. population grows to 99,867 animals, 17 percent above objectives. By By Angus M. Thuermer Jr. Jackson Hole News and Guide.

Rural Electrification Administration is an old, New Deal program that has become little more than program for polluters

The REA was created during the New Deal to bring electricity, light and hope to poor rural areas that private utilities did not find it worthwhile to electrify.

Many years later the agency is still around and uses your taxpayer money to subsidize the construction of polluting coal-fired power plants to areas that are now neither poor nor rural.

The REA should be abolished.

Story. U.S. loaning billions for carbon-spewing plants. By Steven Mufson.The Washington Post

Bush presents a minimal climate change plan

The President announced a plan to reduce reliance on foreign oil and reduce emissions, but almost all of it would take place after he has left office, and it is very modest.

In fact, one part of his plan might seek to reverse what states have already done on their own to tackle the climate change problem.

Critics aren’t convinced by Bush’s carbon plan. MSNBC.

Cutthroat rapidly losing out to lake trout in Yellowstone Lake

Cutthroat losing out to lake trout in Yellowstone Lake. Native trout numbers lowest since counting began. By Mike Stark. Of The Billings Gazette Staff.

The situation is more dire than I thought possible. It is a catastrophe for Yellowstone wildlife and all those who enjoyed fishing the tributaries to the lake. Those is in boats, who fish deep, may not be as unhappy.

It appears to me from what I have read, that the introduction of the voracious lake trout, which does not make itself available to surface predators because it lives deep, was an accident resulting from fighting the 1988 Yellowstone Park forest fires. That’s about the date (1988) nailed down for the oldest Yellowstone Lake, lake trout.

The firefighting involved large helicopters dipping huge buckets into the lakes and pouring them on the fires. Nearby Lewis and Heart Lakes had no trout before the Park was established. Lake trout were stocked in them.

Because Lewis Lake is close to Yellowstone Lake and fires were raging the in subtle topography around and between the two lakes, I think a helicopter dipped water from Lewis Lake (with lake trout) included, and dumped it in on a fire in a tributary of Yellowstone Lake. A few lake trout survived and took up residence in West Thumb, the part of Yellowstone Lake closest to Lewis Lake. This is also the place where high lake trout numbers were first observed.

I had thought the Park’s deep net fishing for the lake trout in Yellowstone Lake was making progress, but apparently not, despite pulling in thousands of lake trout.

The lake trout eat the cutthroat trout. The cutts feed at or near the surface, and make spawning runs up creeks to lay their eggs. This used to be of great importance of many kinds of Yellowstone wildlife. The lake trout are born, live and die in the deep.

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Glaciers are gone; so why not rename Montana’s Glacier National Park?

Group wants to rename Glacier. By Bill Schneider. New West.

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230 plus US scientists sign letter opposing wolf delisting in Northern Rockies

Scientists oppose delisting. By Cory Hatch. Jackson Hole News and Guide.

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Posted in Delisting, Wolves. Comments Off on 230 plus US scientists sign letter opposing wolf delisting in Northern Rockies

Cattle vs. wildlife at Whisky Dick Wildlife Area

The news about Gov. Gregoire’s deal with the cattle association to put cattle as a “wildife habitat improvement” technique into the state wildlife areas (purchased with public money) for free grazing is now reached westward across the Cascades.

Here is a story by Joel Connelly, the well-known columnist at the Seattle Post Intelligencer. “Cattle vs. Wildlife at Whisky Dick.”

I had thought maybe the governor had gotten something in return from the cattlegrowers, but it looks like she is doing this just to make herself more popular in eastern Washington. This is a move that shows how little she understand the area, the people, and the fact that the cattlegrowers can’t and wouldn’t deliver the votes to a Democrat.

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Sonoran pronghorn makes a comeback.

Their numbers have grown from just 21 to over 100.

Using the Kempthorne/Otter logic, I guess we should butcher 4/5 of them now.

Story. Associated Press. (with the original silly headline). Deer-Like Animal Rebounds in Arizona. By Arthur R. Rotstein.

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Posted in endangered species act, pronghorn. Comments Off on Sonoran pronghorn makes a comeback.

The great Canadian pine forest die-off and grizzly bears

Despite the headline, the article says isn’t clear what the huge pine die-off in Alberta (and, not mentioned in the article, nearby B.C.) will have on the grizzly bear.

Scientists using bears to battle bugs. By Jeff Holubitsky, CanWest News Service

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Latest Yellowstone wolf capture data

Here are the data on the annual winter capture of Yellowstone Park wolves.

While the weight data of 2 packs is missing, but just two of these giant “canadian wolves” that were measured topped 100 pounds.

Wolf # Date of Capture Pack Sex Pelt Color Age Class Weight pounds

Added May 14. Past years’ capture data.

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On the Snake River, the Dams’ Natural Allies Seem to Have a Change of Heart

On the Snake River, Dam’s Natural Allies Seem to Have a Change of Heart. By Felicity Barringer. New York Times.

Given enough years and enough losses in court, the political support for the four salmon-killing dams on the lower Snake River (in the state of Washington) may be showing cracks.


One point I’d like to clarify is the contention that these 4 dams’ hydopower provides 5% of the BPAs electricity. The dams were built primarily as navigation dams, not hydropower dams. The generation of electricity is not the number one priority.

Some contend that the constant filling and emptying of the locks has the result of greatly reducing the net amount of hydropower these dams actually deliver. In addition, the demand for electricity in the region is the highest at the time of year the amount of water in the river (and so capacity to generate electricity) is at its lowest. You can’t just look at “installed capacity” of the powerplants and estimate the dams’ electricity contribution.

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Conservationists Request Suspension of Mexican Wolf-Killing “Predator Control” Policy

This important story on the Mexican wolves is from Wild Again, the Sinapu blog.  The story has also been in a number of newspapers the last day or so.

 Conservationists Request Suspension of Mexican Wolf-Killing “Predator Control” Policy

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Local Papers Spin BFC Arrests, As Expected

Bay Area Indymedia has the following report in the BFC arrests. Local Papers Spin BFC Arrests, As Expected.

While I’ll post what the Montana media reports, I think we are going to have to rely on blogs to get at a lot of the facts, given the local domination of people and the media by the livestock politicians.

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Buffalo Field Campaign says volunteers wrongfully arrested

 Post 1111

Here is more about the arrest of two BFC volunteers who were filming Montana Department of Livestock’s pointless hazing of Yellowstone bison. If Brister’s account is true, it seems the livestock industry bureaucrats and their irregular police force are notching up the level of harassment. It could also be that MHP stumbled into the situation. It is typical, however, that lawless “law enforcement” generally likes to go after those with the cameras. RM

Note: this was written by Dan Brister.

On Wednesday, as I documented the harassment of hundreds of bison and newborn calves near the Madison River, I was tackled head-first into the gravel by a Montana Highway Patrol (MHP) officer, arrested on false charges, and had my video camera and tape confiscated.

I was out that afternoon, as my friends and I have been for hundreds of days during the past ten years, to document government actions against the Yellowstone bison, America’s only continuously wild herd. It was a particularly troubling day as more than 400 bison were being incessantly run for more than eight miles from National Forest lands to Yellowstone National Park. As you will read below, newborn calves and pregnant cow bison are the primary target of these operations and one newborn collapsed due to exhaustion and the inability to nurse while being pursued by the helicopter. In the past we’ve documented bison giving birth during the chaos of a haze, and newborns dying due to the incredible stress of running for miles without rest.

Read the rest of this entry »

Writers on the Range. Balancing act: How development trumps conservation on our BLM land.

This issue of the popular on-going series was written by Ann J. Morgan. Balancing act: How development trumps conservation on our BLM land

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Posted in oil and gas. Comments Off on Writers on the Range. Balancing act: How development trumps conservation on our BLM land.

Police Bloody & Arrest Field Workers Filming Bison Haze On Public Lands

There has been a very unpleasant development near West Yellowstone where a massive show of force was used to haze bison back into the Park (to protect the non-existent cattle from brucellosis).

In doing so, the Buffalo Field Campaign, who instead deserves a paycheck from Montana Highway Patrol for trying to protect motorists from frightened bison running out of the forest across the highway (US 191) was instead denied their civil liberties and brutalized.

Here is the story in the Bozeman Chronicle by Scott McMillion.
Here is BFC’s news release.

It has been suggested I put a link to contact Montana Governor Brian Schweitzer. Here it is.

Exclusive BFC Video & Photos Available Upon Request
For Immediate Release: May 9, 2007
Contact: Stephany Seay (406) 646-0070
Watch it on YouTube. http://www.youtube.com/v/COEpF463PKQ

WEST YELLOWSTONE, MONTANA. Two members of the Buffalo Field Campaign (BFC) were arrested today Montana Highway Patrol (MHP) and U.S. Forest Service law enforcement. One BFC volunteer was taken to the hospital due to injuries caused during arrest.

Here Montana Highway Patrol and Forest Service make sure Dan Brister doesn’t take any more video

The volunteers were arrested for exercising their civil rights attempting to document today’s Montana Department of Livestock (DOL) and Interagency Bison Management Plan (IBMP) bison hazing operations.

The first volunteer arrested had witnessed the DOL and other agents hazing wild bison across U.S. Highway 191. Highway patrols failed to warn motorists or shut down traffic. Chased by agents on horseback and a helicopter, another group of bison were close to crossing the road the BFC volunteer urged a Montana Highway Patrolman to shut down the highway and warn traffic. The MHP responded to the volunteer’s request by arresting him in the heated exchange.

The second BFC volunteer was arrested after attempting to document the first volunteer’s arrest. The MHP attempted to take the camera away and forcibly placed the volunteer into handcuffs, slammed him to the ground, injuring his face. U.S. Forest Service law enforcement officer assisted the MHP officer with the arrests. The two arresting officers confiscated two Buffalo Field Campaign video cameras.

Last week, the same MHP officer was filmed being hostile and aggressive to BFC volunteers documenting a bison hazing operation along Hwy. 287. Video footage of this incident is available at http://www.buffalofieldcampaign.org.

“Today’s arrests were completely without warrant,” said BFC volunteer Jessie Patterson who witnessed the arrests of both volunteers. “These officers acted in a violent way when the volunteers were well within their rights to document government actions on public lands.”

Government officials, including law enforcement, routinely attempt to prevent BFC from filming bison hazing operations.

Freelance photographer, Barbara Michelman, was on the scene of the arrests. A photo attached with this press release, or is immediately available by contacting BFC.

Last night, Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks held a public meeting in West Yellowstone regarding Montana’s infamous bison hunt and the agency’s involvement in the Interagency Bison Management Plan. Many BFC members and residents of the community were present to voice their opposition to the current mismanagement of wild bison.

“The rights of American citizens are being infringed upon and today’s behavior is utterly unacceptable and will be challenged,” said BFC spokeswoman Stephany Seay. “Government agencies are ignoring the voice of the American people and acting as rogue entities who answer to no law but their own.”

The Montana Department of Livestock (DOL), Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks, National Park Service, U.S. Forest Service and U.S.D.A. Animal & Plant Health Inspection Service, Gallatin County Sheriffs, and Montana Highway Patrols all participated in today’s bison hazing operation.

The government agents harassed approximately 400 members of the United State’s last wild herd of bison within the Gallatin National Forest today using horses and a helicopter. This is the bison’s calving season, a very sensitive time for the species. Pregnant bison and day-old newborns, as well as other bison, were run off of public land in an aggressive manner by agents on horseback and a DOL helicopter. Wild bison were forced for over eight miles from the northern tip of the Horse Butte Peninsula along the Madison River back towards Yellowstone National Park.

One baby bison fell injured and sick from the aggressive and relentless nature of today’s hazing operation. The protective mother was forced to charge a NPS hazer while he aggressively approached them as her baby buffalo was attempting to nurse. The bison, with numerous calves, were run for over 8 miles without rest, food or water.

Hazing bison off of public lands runs contrary to a November 2006 agreement signed by all Interagency Bison Management Plan officials, which is supposed to allow native wild bison access to public lands though May 15. This is the third time in three weeks that the IBMP agencies have ignored their agreement. The IBMP adaptations memorandum can be viewed at: http://www.buffalofieldcampaign.org/legal/adaptivemanagement.html.

The purported reason for the government’s aggressive management of wild bison is the perceived threat of the cattle-born disease, brucellosis. There has never been a documented case of wild bison transmitting the European livestock disease brucellosis to livestock, even prior to implementation of Interagency Bison Management Plan.

American Bison once spanned the continent, numbering between 30 and 50 million. The Yellowstone bison are genetically unique and are America’s only continuously wild herd, numbering fewer than 3,600 animals, .01 percent of the bison’s former population.

1,912 bison have been killed since 2000 under the Interagency Bison Management Plan. Last winter Federal and State agencies killed or authorized the killing of more than 1,010 bison. So far this winter two bison were captured and sent to slaughter by Montana Department of Livestock agents and hunters have killed 58.

Buffalo Field Campaign (BFC) is the only group working in the field, every day, to stop the slaughter of the wild Yellowstone buffalo. Volunteers defend the buffalo and their native habitat and advocate for their lasting protection. BFC has proposed real alternatives to the current mismanagement of Yellowstone bison that can be viewed at http://www.buffalofieldcampaign.org/actnow/solutions05.html. For more information, video clips and photos visit: http://www.buffalofieldcampaign.org.

Someone ought to get this story up on Kos or Crooks and Liars because Kos, especially has lionized Montana Gov. Brian Sweitzer.

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House Hearing finds Political Manipulation has Completely Corrupted the Endangered Species Act

Today in Congress the House Natural Resources Committee held an oversight hearing on the administration of the Endangered Species Act. They found what everyone has suspected and feared. Decisions on endangered species have become completely politicized. The findings of scientists are ignored and even rewritten to favor development and agricultural interests.

Story. Interior Dept. ripped for political meddling. By Noelle Straub. Helena Independent Record Washington Bureau.

It is damn frustrating for the many people who have spent recent hours commenting on wolf delisting and similar matters that their work will probably be judged by Bush political flunkies who deserve to be wearing prison stripes.

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Montana, an accomplice to grayling extinction

As was recently reported, the Bush Administration has refused to list the fluvial form of the arctic grayling in Montana, but the fish is already functionally extinct there. So I guess DOI can say “mission accomplished.”

George Wuerthner, writing in New West, points the finger for the on-the-ground conditions that felled the grayling to stream dewatering, the livestock industry and the complicency of Montana, Fish, Wildlife and Parks. Montana, an accomplice to grayling extinction.

Oh well, there are plenty of grayling in Alaska (something we will hearing more often given the Bush Administration’s new illegal policy that if there is a population of a species somewhere that is not endangered, we don’t need to conserve one that is).

Closely related. “Scientists Protest New Reading of ESA.” WWPblog

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Posted in endangered species act, Fish. Comments Off on Montana, an accomplice to grayling extinction

Hayden Pack finally dens; Druids get bumped from their den site.

The wandering Hayden Pack finally denned. They went back to their traditional den near the Hayden Valley, which is also near the busy Canyon area in the Park.

People and wolf wise, this has never been a good den site because there is a lot of traffic nearby. The pack has always produced small crops of pups, although that doesn’t mean small numbers were necessarily born. It is possible, but just speculation, that all the human disturbance is the cause of the small number of pups seen come each June.

A Hayden pack member. I think it is the alpha male. Photo copyright by Jennifer Porter. April 2007

The Druids denned up towards (or maybe it was in) the Lamar River. That is well away from the highway. Unfortunately, human campers inadvertently camped too close and bumped them off their den. Doug Smith told me he has identified a new den they have dug. It isn’t known if the move caused pup mortality.

In other park news, Mollies 497M was hit on the highway near LeHardy’s Rapids and died.

There is a new wolf pack denned at one of the old Swan Lake Pack’s den sites, but it is not the Swan Lake Pack. They left the Park, probably for good. The new pack is 4 black wolves and 2 gray wolves.

It looks like every pack inside the Park denned this year. A few pups have been seen so far, but no good counts.

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Small-town Utahns fight proposed large coal-fired power plant

If all goes according to plan, Utah will expand electrical production in the next several years by more than 2,000 megawatts. Almost all of it will come from coal-burning power plants, according to the DAQ. Three of the state’s largest plants are slated to expand: Hunter in Emery County, Bonanza in Uintah and IPP in Millard County will add 1,720 megawatts to the state’s electrical production. Sevier County’s is the only new plant planned. If these expansions are realized, more than 10,000 tons of sulfur dioxide will enter the air yearly and the state’s carbon footprint will increase by thousands of tons, according to the DAQ.This spate of coal-plant proposals is part of national trend, says Ananth Chikkatur, a research fellow at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government. In the Rockies alone, more than 12 new coal plants are proposed. Energy companies want to get in under the wire before the George W. Bush Administration’s free-wheeling regulatory atmosphere disappears, said Chikkatur. From Killer Coal: proposed power plant in Sevier County threatens a local lifestyle and the air all of us breathe. By Jonah Owen Lamb. Salt Lake City Weekly

This is really a story about all of the rural West, not just Sevier County, whose clear skies have been targeted as wonderful places to add legal amounts of pollution from new coal-fired power plants to generate electricity for far away places.

Coal plants spew out not just sulfur, nitrogen oxides, and small particles (particulates, they also are the source of mercury pollution and they often emit more radioactivity than nuclear power plants (due to uranium ore traces in the coal that is burned). Already many stream in Utah have mercury in the trout that is above the safety limits.

Residents near Horse Butte (NW of West Yellowstone) tell MT governor that Montana DOL trashes their property rights

Note. This was posted to Yellowstone.net. I modified it a bit.

Private landowners near Horse Butte, a peninsula of public land a few miles west of Yellowstone Park, have had to band together to protect their property to try to stop the thuggish tactics of the Montana Department of Livestock. The created HOBNOB–Horse Butte Neighbors of Buffalo. Bison love to use the Butte in the spring because grasses and forbs sprout early on the south side of the butte.

HOBNOB wrote this letter to Governor Schweitzer of Montana, and Montana’s two US Senators Max Baucus (up for reelection in 2008) and John Tester:

We are very angry about the lies, deception, and cruel treatment of the bison during hazing operations.

We, the residents of Horse Butte, have been watching this everyday for the last two weeks, and it continues. Bison, who have naturally migrated out of Yellowstone National Park to feed on grass and give birth to calfs, are repeatedly being run and chased. This includes, obviously, pregnant cows and newborn calves. Some construction workers watched in horror as two hours-old calves were repeatedly run into the barbed-wire fence by two hazers who were obviously enjoying watching the calfs bawl as they were being poked by the barbs. So much for “hazing the bison humanely and safely”.

The agencies, who carry out the IBMP especially the DOL, DO NOT KNOW THE MEANING OF THE WORDS “HUMANE” OR “SAFE”. The interesting thing is, the minute these hazers (members of the IBMP) realize they are being watched or photographed, their inhumane and unsafe demeanor changes. They no longer run the bison. They start walking them, and the hazers back off their harassing and cruel behavior. Tourists have been watching this too. They tell us our state looks “stupid”. We have encouraged them to call, write, and complain. It’s time for all this to stop.

There are no CATTLE OUT HERE!!!! The grazing allotment was lost. The land is in contract to be sold to a conservation-minded private developer. THIS IS A PENNINSULA!!!! Where are the bison going to go? Of course, we did watch in horror a year ago in the winter as the IBMP hazers ran bison out onto the ice, the ice broke, and several drowned. BISON ARE NOT LIVESTOCK!!!!!! Yet, the DOL, repeatedly strong arms their way into controlling these wild bison.

Letter in the West Yellowstone News: http://westyellowstonenews.com/articles/2007/05/04/opinions/letter1.prt

Posted in Bison, politics. Comments Off on Residents near Horse Butte (NW of West Yellowstone) tell MT governor that Montana DOL trashes their property rights

Julie MacDonald’s actions face House Natural Resources Committee probe today

Folks will recall that MacDonald was, until May 1, a high-ranking Interior Department political appointee who has been implicated in rewriting scientists’ reports about endangered species, changing their substantive content.

I think the whole point of her job was to make sure species didn’t get listed as threatened or endangered.

Legacy of Scientific Fraud Honed by Bush Administration. Julie MacDonald Scandal Symptomatic of Broad Pattern of Mendacity. By Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility

. . . more. Bush official’s meddling could backfire, benefit prairie dog protection. By James W. Brosnan. Albuquerque Tribune.

. . . still more. [MacDonald’s] Resignation casts doubts on lynx, boreal toad rulings. By Bob Berwyn. The Aspen Times.

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Posted in endangered species act, politics. Comments Off on Julie MacDonald’s actions face House Natural Resources Committee probe today

Guest Opinion: How best to manage wolves in Wyoming

This is by Dr. Franz Camenzind, executive director of the Jackson Hole Conservation Alliance. It appears in today’s Billings Gazette.

His summation reads:

We can either come together and manage wolves like other wildlife species, or we can continue to argue and waste time and money in court and get nowhere. For now, I urge everyone to ask the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to NOT delist wolves until Wyoming has a management plan that incorporates the points mentioned above.

The deadline to comment on wolf delisting is at 5 p.m. today. Please visit www.jhalliance.org/whatsnew.html for information.

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“Ich” hits Idaho state fish hatchery for the second year in a row.

May 9th is the deadine for your wolf comments!!


Comments on the wolf delisting rule for the Northern Rockies are due May 9.

One of the best summaries of what you may want to write is at the Sinapu blog. » Action Alert » Government aims to strip wolves in Wyoming, Idaho and Montana of their legal protections.

Idaho state government is very serious about making a big wolf reduction. It wasn’t just a one-day mouth-off by Governor Otter. Idaho Fish and Game recently had a “stakeholders” meeting where they wanted people to sit down and draw circles on areas where hunters would reduce the wolf population 35 to 40%. This is on top of an unspecified general wolf reduction to be carried out by the federal agency Wildlife Services (formerly more appropriately named, “Animal Damage Control”).

Conservationists refused to draw any lines.

Email your comments to WesternGrayWolf@fws.gov. Include ”RIN number 1018–AU53” in the subject line of the message.

The more detail you can provide in your comments, the better. The government has to take new information in comments seriously, and no doubt a federal judge will soon see if they have done so. Duplicate comments from a “click here, and send your message site” are useful, but nearly as good as an original email.

At our recent recent North American Wolf Conference in Flagstaff, AZ, a geneticist at UCLA presented detailed DNA analysis showing the genetics of the current wolf pack population in Idaho, Montana and Wyoming is excellent, but she also showed that with wolves limited to Yellowstone Park, inbreeding will increasingly take its toll. Of course, this is the true goal of Idaho Governor Otter and Governor Freudenthal of Wyoming.

Defenders just put up a video on YouTube starring Govneror Otter and that great anti-wolf rabble-rouser Ron Gillet.

If you would rather send in hard copy, the address is: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Western Gray Wolf Recovery Coordinator, 585 Shepard Way, Helena, Montana 59601. Include ”RIN number 1018–AU53” in the subject line of the letter.

If you want to click and send, here is Defenders action web site.

Posted in Delisting, Wolves. Comments Off on May 9th is the deadine for your wolf comments!!

Cut by loss of timber payments, Oregon counties curb services

Western Republicans should really take a political hit for this, although they probably won’t.

Idaho’s Senator Craig, for example, has been braying how he got money for the rural schools and rural county services (formerly dependent on timber revenues funded). The Bush Administration had wanted to do it by selling off national forest land around the country. A public opinion firestorm stropped that bad idea.

Because the Republican Congress failed to pass a budget for FY 2007 budget, the school funding was about to expire and the only legislative “vehicle” available that would stop these schools from running out of money was the military appropriations supplemental which President Bush just vetoed, claiming it contained a “surrender” date and “pork barrel spending” (spending such as this).

Now the funding is gone, and it won’t come back easily, if at all. How did Senator Craig and the other Western Republicans vote? Yes, to defund the schools and rural counties so the President could continue his occupation of of Iraq.

The New York Times tells part of the story in this article, but it is not just a rural Oregon disaster. Timber (and Its Revenues) Decline, and Libraries Suffer. New York Times.

The Challis Messenger tells the story more directly. Challis is about the most Republican place in Idaho, although they do have one Democratic county commissioner.

School, county road funding again in limbo. Challis Messenger. By Todd Adams.

Note that Custer County got far more than its share of radioactive fallout during the days of open air atom bomb testing in Nevada. Bush also vetoed the money for the “downwinders.” No doubt more pork barrel 😡

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Posted in Logging, politics, public lands. Comments Off on Cut by loss of timber payments, Oregon counties curb services

Wyoming Governor Makes a good Case to Protect the Wyoming Range

Gov makes good case to protect Wyoming Range. By the Casper Star Tribune Editorial Board.

Once the gas companies have a public land oil and gas lease, they have purchased not just the right to drill, but the right to develop; and now they have leases near the Hoback River on the Bridger-Teton National Forest.

To the local residents the gas companies low-ball the chances of hitting a big field, but as the editorial says, to the their investors it is a different story.

Former Forest Service chiefs say fire costs eating budget

The way it is going, fire fighting costs will eat the entire FS budget.

Congress does need to keep fire fighting costs in hand, but the present system could defund the national forest system entirely. This article goes well with Rocky Barker’s recent blog, which received some excellent comments here.

Note: this system was installed by the old Republican Congress which failed to pass a federal budget last year for perhaps the first time in congressional history (I don’t know about the 19th century).

Note also that the FS could easily win fire fighting money by letting some “high end” forest subdivisions burn because “they were out of money.”

Story in the Missoulian by Perry Backus.

Posted in politics, public lands, public lands management, wildfire. Comments Off on Former Forest Service chiefs say fire costs eating budget

Weather, fuel costs favored the lives of hundreds of wolves in Alaska

Alaska didn’t come close to killing the number of wolves it wanted. What a pity.

Weather, fuel costs favored the lives of hundreds of wolves. FEWER KILLS: State’s goal was 664 dead; reports put number at less than a third. By Alex deMarban. Anchorage Daily News.

At our North American wolf conference recently in Flagstaff, the Keynote Speaker was Dr. Victor Van Ballenberghe, a professor in Biology and Wildlife at the Univ. of Alaska. He has twice served on Alaska’s Board of Game. He explained the fundamental problem with the Board is their belief that the historical high populations of moose, caribou, etc. recorded in many areas of Alaska are the normal, usual and expected number. This problem is compounded by 1990s state legislation that mandates “intensive management” for certain “depleted” populations of ungulates deemed important for consumptive use by humans.

What the Board does is play on the natural sympathy for Native consumptive use in setting ungulate population targets, and then adds another generous portion for non-Native hunters.

These ungulate population targets are impossible to obtain. In an effort to do it anyway, the Board is now not only targeting wolves but black bears and brown bears over an increasing portion of Alaska (now 60,000 square miles).

Despite the reprieve for wolves this winter, the Alaskan campaign against all large predators is only going to get worse.

National Park Service to increase entrance fees

Story in the New York Times.

A big question is whether the fees will stay at the Parks, or will they be siphoned off, like the Forest Services fees, to do the bidding of industrial recreation groups who want to close minimal campgrounds and herd people into high end developments that separate them from nature.

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Rocky Barker’s blog: Changing climate in Idaho

Barker writes about Idaho farming and the changing climate. He suggests legislation that would pay farmers for “sequestering or capturing carbon in the soil through new farming practices and by planting trees.”

I would suggest that one of the most cost effective measures would be to retire public grazing allotments in order to sequester carbon, because livestock-grazed range is usually a carbon source, rather than a desirable carbon sink because the cattle wipe out native plants, erode the carbon rich top soil, and indirectly promote range fires by opening the land for for invasion by flammable weeds like cheat grass.

Barker’s blog.

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Wyoming Senator Craig Thomas wants wild and scenic rivers protection for portions of Wyoming rivers.

This is the first time in memory that I recall a Wyoming member of Congress wanting to do anything like this. Many of these streams are already mostly protected by virtue of being in designated Wilderness Area (regarded as near perfect protection anyway), but the Wilderness Act has a little known provision that has never been used that allows a President to authorize the development of dams, etc. inside designated Wilderness areas. No one has every worried about this in the past, but there has never a President like George W. Bush. So this action would not be redundant.

In addition the proposed segments of the Gros Ventre, Snake River, Hoback River, Willow Creek, Bailey Creek, and Wolf Creek, currently have no protection.

Story in the Jackson Hole News and Guide. Bill to protect Snake. By Noah Brenner.

Notice. On June 2, Senator Thomas died of cancer. This is almost certainly end this bill for the duration of this Congress.  

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With grizzly delisting, Idaho, Montana and Wyoming will no longer be able to blame the feds.

Grizzly Delisting Will Test States, Forest Service. By Bill Schneider. New West.

Bashing the federal government for excessive restrictions, unneeded to truly protect the grizzly, has been a popular activity among state politicians in these 3 states. They won’t have this issue to use anymore says Schneider, who goes on to fear for the future of the island grizzly population in the Greater Yellowstone.

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Report: Drilling squeezes hunters, habitat in the West

Report: Drilling squeezes hunters, habitat. By Matthew Brown. Associated Press writer. Casper Star Tribune.

In the old sense of the phrase, the real wolf at the door in the West is the energy industry.

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Rocky Barker’s blog: Firestorm at the Forest Service

Rocky Barker writes about the funding crisis at the Forest Service. Their budget is way down. It used to be kept up by big appropriations for timber cutting and forest fire fighting, but the timber lobby has gone away, and appropriations to fight fires are no longer a blank check.

Barker says that no interest groups have emerged yet to lobby for the funding the Service needs to carry on its new missions.

I should add that the recreation tax is turning into a public relations disaster.

8:15 a.m. May 3: Rocky Barker’s blog: Firestorm at the Forest Service. By Rocky Barker – Idaho Statesman

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It could be another big forest fire year in much of the West

Posted in Climate change, wildfire. Comments Off on It could be another big forest fire year in much of the West

Ask Zimo: Officially, there are no grizzlies in Central Idaho

Pete Zimowsky, outdoor writer for the Idaho Statesman, deals with the persistant rumor that there are grizzly bears in Central Idaho.

Ask Zimo: Officially, there are no grizzlies in Central Idaho.

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Posted in Bears. 4 Comments »

Bison pushed back into Yellowstone

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Article in Billings Gazette. The Gazette article gives the standard line, meaning it doesn’t mention there are no cows near West Yellowstone for the bison to infect with brucellosis.

Below is the story as seen by the Buffalo Field Campaign. “Livestock Interests Spin Lies to Public, Media; IBMP Agencies Again Break ‘Tolerance’ Agreement.’ ”

For Immediate Release: May 1, 2007
Contact: Stephany Seay (406) 646-0070

WEST YELLOWSTONE, MONTANA. Today, the Montana Department of Livestock (DOL), Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks (FWP), the National Park Service, and the U.S. Forest Service abandoned their short lived adherence to the adaptive changes to the Interagency Bison Management Plan by hazing nearly all of the buffalo that are currently in Montana back into Yellowstone National Park, including very pregnant females and many newborn calves.

According to a DOL press release issued by the Montana Dept. of Fish Wildlife and Parks, the DOL’s new public relations agency, the purpose of the hazing operations is to “limit the risk of brucellosis transmission from bison to cattle”. However there are no cattle currently present in the West Yellowstone nor will any cattle arrive for well over a month.

Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in Bison. 7 Comments »

DOI Deputy Assistant Secretary Julie MacDonald resigns a week prior to her scheduled congressional testimony

Accused by many of rewriting and manipulating scientific data on endangered species, the controversial MacDonald has resigned eight days before a Congressional oversight committee hearing on political interference by Bush Administration officials in scientific decisionmaking.

Story from Science Blogs. Julie MacDonald quits

Story from the Union of Concerned Scientists. Interior Official Who Censored Federal Scientists Resigns But Political Interference Remains a Serious Problem, Scientist Group Says.

My blog has a number of earlier stories about her that you can find using “search.”

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Catron County targets new wolf

This is an attempt to remove yet another of the very endangered Mexican wolves who are now down to just 4 breeding pairs in the wild. Removal of this wolf would make it just 3 breeding pairs. Worse still, this female wolf is pregnant.

Because the Mexican wolves were derived from just 8 wolves, (they were that close to extinction) lack of genetic diversity is a serious issue. It is not just the small population size.

Catron County, NM has passed a county ordinance that they say trumps the federal government. They say they can kill a wolf if they please. This is flat out unconstitutional. This particular county has a habit of arguing the county is supreme to the nation-state. Catron County has long been the home of the county supremacy movement and assorted militia types. They need to be taught a lesson in jail, but it won’t happen under the weak-kneed Bush Administration.

Brief news story. County wants female wolf removed from the wild. Free New Mexican.com.

Added May 2. Here is more on the county supremacy movement. County Supremacy – Just Another Wise Use Ruse. by Ted Williams. The article emphasizes the rule of Catron County.

Added May 8. USFWS will leave the wolf in the wild. KVOA News.

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Idaho quietly assumes control over grizzlies.

A recovery program started in 1975 ended without fanfare Monday as Yellowstone’s grizzly bears were removed from the federal threatened species list. For most people, the major change is the maximum fine for shooting a grizzly bear. Read the rest: Idaho quietly assumes control over grizzlies. By Rocky Barker. Idaho Statesman.

More: View of the Idaho Statesman. Long-term grizzly recovery depends on us.

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Posted in Bears, Delisting. Comments Off on Idaho quietly assumes control over grizzlies.

“Call order” may shut down all groundwater pumping in Snake River upstream of Twin Falls

Idaho groundwater pumpers could lose water. By Matt Christensen. Times-News writer.

This is of huge importance in Idaho, politically, economically, environmentally. It began with “a call” for water from two of Idaho’s many trout farms.

Most Western states follow the “prior appropriation doctrine” for water rights — the first persons to put the water “to beneficial” use, has the first rights when a shortage comes. Idaho is no exception, and it is one of the biggest irrigation states.

Until recently, when the water court ruled out the plain facts, it was a common belief that river flows and pumped groundwater were not related! When the Snake River (water rights) Adjudication Court ruled in favor of geological truth, millions of acres of land that had been put into irrigated production via pumped ground water upstream of Twin Falls, fell into the junior water rights category.

Now the pumpers day of reckoning may have finally come.

They have tried to put it off by various schemes such as a plan to divert the Snake River so it flows and sinks into the desert in the winter (to recharge aquifers), and even plotting to tax Idaho’s urban residents to pay for it.

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Absence of losses to grizzlies prompts Defenders to spend more on proactive measures

Because loss of livestock to grizzly bears has been so low, Defenders of Wildlife has free money to go further and act proactively. Here is a news release announcing this.

Defenders of Wildlife Expands Proactive Predator Conflict Prevention Program. Grizzly compensation funds reallocated to minimize grizzly-related conflicts before they occur

Statement by Jamie Rappaport Clark, executive vice president of Defenders of Wildlife

“In light of the successful recovery of the Yellowstone grizzly bear population and its subsequent removal from the endangered species list, Defenders of Wildlife will be shifting its focus in the Yellowstone ecoregion to the prevention of grizzly-livestock conflicts and will be devoting our resources towards more proactive projects to prevent livestock depredations.

Read the rest of this entry »

Freudenthal’s opposition to gas drilling in the Wyoming Range

As gas wells spread like cancer across across the upper Green River basin, Wyoming’s governor is listening to public opinion and seems to be hardening his stance against the drive to drill the adjacent mountains on the Bridger-Teton National Forest.

 Freudenthal skeptical of Range drilling. By The Associated Press

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Posted in mountain ranges, oil and gas, Wildlife Habitat. Comments Off on Freudenthal’s opposition to gas drilling in the Wyoming Range