Grouse summit: Status quo won’t do

FWSThe scientists say:
“Speaker after speaker emphasized that the status quo approach was not tenable — conserving sage grouse and sage grouse habitat while also developing the rich gas, oil and coal-bed methane fields of Wyoming.”

Industry turns it into:
“Ranchers, oil and gas men, biologists, conservationists and state and federal officials are meeting to consider a newer, smarter way of conserving sage grouse while tapping the energy wealth of the Cowboy State.”

Grouse summit: Status quo won’t do
By Brodie Farquhar. Casper Star-Tribune correspondent

A related story at WWPblog

Click the FWS photo for a short of the Sage Grouse.

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Bloodbath in Florida: Panther-vehicle fatalities hit record high

This is from the Carnivore Conservation blog. Panther-vehicle fatalities.

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Notice about this blog during the rest of the summer

From now on, I will be gone an increasing amount of time. During that period, this blog might have a guest editor such as “BE,” who will actively run it and post material. It will also be unedited from time to time.

If the blog is not being actively edited, the default setting is that you can post comments if you have posted before. Don’t put more than one hyperlink in your comments, however, or the spam filter may decide your comment is spam.

If you haven’t posted comments here before, they will go into the moderation queue and they will stay there, until I, or someone else approves them. That could be a while.

Sorry for the break in continuity, but the outdoors calls.

Ralph Maughan

Mountain Express picks up story on the illegal killing of Basin Butte wolf B313F

I told the story back on June 20. Now the Idaho Mountain Express has done a report on it.

Stanley wolf killed illegally. Lost River Valley resident charged with shooting. By Jason Kauffman. Idaho Mountain Express.

Cheney: Amending environmental laws to help business. Cheney left no tracks. . .

Vice President Cheney has been in the news a lot lately. One major reason is that he thinks he discovered something about his office that others have failed to see in over 200 years — it is not really part of the executive branch of government. As a result, laws applying to the executive branch don’t apply to him.

Most Americans are not willing to see the error of the past beliefs and the unique exemption of the Office of Vice President from the law, and down the at the Washington Post they are doing an unflattering 4-part series on Cheney. The most recent, part IV, is quite relevant to this blog.

Cheney has been the source of a good deal of the lawlessness of this Administration not just in military policy (e.g., torture, exposing secret agents like Valerie Plame), but in environmental policy too.

Amending environmental laws to help business. Cheney left no tracks as he steered policy moves to ease pollution control. Washington Post as reprinted in MSNBC.

Posted in politics. Comments Off on Cheney: Amending environmental laws to help business. Cheney left no tracks. . .

Corrupt former number 2 in Interior will do time.

Despite pleas from his buddies, such as Idaho’s governor Butch Otter, J. Steven Griles, the former second-ranking official in the U.S. Dept. of Department has been sentenced to 10 months in prison for lying to a Senate committee about his relationship with former lobbyist Jack Abramoff, who himself is now in prison.

Abramoff snitched on many of his past “associates.” These congressmen and other former federal government officials are now in prison too, heading there, or fighting federal charges.

The Washington Post today has an interesting story on Griles’ corruption, Abramoff, and his various female friends. Abramoff, Prison and a Crazy Little Thing Called Love.

Lastly, today Rocky Barker at the Idaho Statesman has a blog on the prison sentence. [Idaho Governor] Otter’s riding buddy gets prison sentence.

By Dana Milbank

Tahoe flames resume march. Fireline is breached.

Jumping a containment line, the fire forces another evacuation. By Tim Reiterman and Lee Romney, Times Staff Writers.

This fire will, as it should, increase the public perception of the problem of people building in areas where fires are expected and normally burn without great loss of property.

Update: Indeed the debate has already begun. Fires Ignite Debate on Urban Interface Development. Headwaters News. 

Posted in Wildfires. Comments Off on Tahoe flames resume march. Fireline is breached.

Rocky Barker says salmon have swimmed back into the consciousness of Idahoans

Barkers blog in the Idaho Statesman. June 26

Posted in endangered species act, Fish. Comments Off on Rocky Barker says salmon have swimmed back into the consciousness of Idahoans

Woman’s dog has run-in with wolves on South Fork of the Boise, survives!

This is a good article because for once it makes clear the wolves were interested in the dog, not the person.

I’m amazed that a small dog could chase a wolf and survive.

Story by Jason Kaufman in the Idaho Mountain Express.

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Big Hole River has already dropped to just 13% of normal

Story. Big Hole drops. By Nick Gevock of The Montana Standard.

A small snowpack last winter plus ranchers drawing out water to grow hay is drying up the river, the home of the river-dwelling grayling in the lower U.S.

Recently the Bush Administration refused to put the Big Hole River grayling on the endangered species list.



More on Big Hole River grayling. Montana Standard.

Posted in endangered species act, Fish. Comments Off on Big Hole River has already dropped to just 13% of normal

Rancher loses BLM fight in the US Supreme Court

Frank Robbins isn’t just any rancher. He moved to Wyoming from the South and purchased a large ranch north of Thermopolis. There has been controversy ever since. His lawsuit against BLM employees as individuals, rather than as agents of the government, was unprecedented. A different outcome would have made the BLM an even weaker agency than it already is when is comes to protecting the land from overgrazing and other abuses.

Story. Wilkie v. Robbins, rancher loses in high court. AP

Analysis June 27, by Brodie Farquhar. Rancher’s tactics didn’t fly. Casper Star Tribune.
p.s. The attorney from Advocates for the West and Western Watersheds Project is Laird Lucas, not Blair Lucas, as printed in the article.

Pinedale drilling plans draw 100,000 comments

The U.S. Bureau of Land Management (BLM)  got 100,000 public comments on their plan to guide oil and gas development in the upper Green River Basin. This is a wildlife rich and highly scenic area. People care about it in Wyoming and outside as well.

Story. Most favor conservation for Pinedale management area. By Whitner Royster. Casper Star-Tribune environmental reporter

Governor Freudenthal  wrote that he was “not confident” the preferred alternative will assure long term protection of the area’s resources. Wyoming Game and Fish was also critical of the plan’s “preferred alternative.”

The final plan and final environmental impact statement are due in December.

Posted in oil and gas, Wildlife Habitat. Comments Off on Pinedale drilling plans draw 100,000 comments

Grand Teton fights fire in NE corner of Park

The Uhl Hill fire inside Grand Teton National Park is burning near where the Teton wolf pack of days gone by used to den.

Meanwhile, outside Grand Teton, the Horse Creek fire in the Wyoming Range has grown from 800 to 1200 acres. The Nylander Creek Fire, south of the Horse Creek Fire, is 100 percent contained.

The illegal use of fireworks on the 4th of July could bigger challenge than usual this year.

Posted in Wildfires, Wildlife Habitat, Wyoming wolves. Comments Off on Grand Teton fights fire in NE corner of Park

Conservationists File Suit Over Illegal Sheep Grazing in Yellowstone Area

This lawsuit is over sheep grazing in the Centennial Mountains to the west of Yellowstone. The range forms the Idaho/Montana border.

-News Release-

Conservationists File Suit Over Illegal Sheep Grazing in Yellowstone Area
Groups Seek to Protect Bighorn Sheep and Other Endangered Species

SILVER CITY, N.M.— Two conservation groups sued the U.S. Department of Agriculture today over the illegal grazing of domestic sheep on more than 100,000 acres of public lands in and near the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem of Idaho and Montana. The presence of these domestic sheep, and management actions taken on their behalf, hurts sensitive and endangered native wildlife such as Rocky Mountain bighorn sheep, pronghorn antelope, lynx, gray wolves and grizzly bears.

The Center for Biological Diversity and Western Watersheds Project filed suit against the Sheep Experiment Station, Agricultural Research Service and Forest Service, all agencies of the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

The Sheep Experiment Station itself manages about 48,000 acres, where it is grazing sheep without any environmental analysis or consideration of impacts to endangered species. The Sheep Station also grazes sheep on over 54,000 acres of Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management allotments, where its permits have expired, management plans date back to the 1960s, and little to no analysis has been completed.
“It’s not the 1870s anymore,” pointed out Michael Robinson of the Center for Biological Diversity. “But the federal government is allowing grazing in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem, with its world-class wildlife herds and rare animals, without permits — as if the West was still open range.”

“The Sheep Experiment Station is a relic of the past,” said Jon Marvel of Western Watersheds Project. “It is time to protect our wonderful native wildlife on these public lands lest we risk losing them.”
The conservationists point to systemic violations of the National Environmental Policy Act, the Administrative Procedure Act, the Federal Land Policy and Management Act, and the Public Rangelands Improvement Act. The conservation groups also sent the agencies notice of intent to sue under the Endangered Species Act.

The 100,000 acres of public land where the sheep are grazed include important connective habitat for any wildlife attempting to travel between the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem and the large wilderness and roadless areas of central Idaho.

Epizootic diseases transmitted from domestic sheep also threaten bighorn sheep herds.

Lynx, wolves and grizzly bears are further at risk from the sheep grazing by predator control measures, since steel leghold traps and strangulation snares, aerial gunning, and poisons are all typically used to prevent wildlife from preying on domestic sheep. Without environmental analysis the public has been kept in the dark as to impacts on wildlife.

The Center for Biological Diversity is a nonprofit conservation organization with more than 35,000 members dedicated to protecting endangered species and wild lands.
Western Watersheds Project is a nonprofit conservation group dedicated to protecting and restoring watersheds and wildlife in 11 western states.

Editor’s note. Recall that earlier this year the Western Watersheds Project was able to use the law to keep domestic sheep from passing diseases to bighorn sheep in the Hells Canyon area of the Idaho/Oregon border.

More on the plight of Montana’s river dwelling grayling

This is a guest editorial in the Montana Standard written by Derek Goldman and Chris Marchion. It was not written by “staff.”

More on Big Hole River grayling. Montana Standard.

Posted in endangered species act, Fish. Comments Off on More on the plight of Montana’s river dwelling grayling

Western wildfire season is well underway

As I sit and write this in Pocatello, Idaho, the high smoke passing overhead (from the Cow Canyon fire) heralds an early beginning of the summer wildfire season, but Cow Canyon is hardly the only fire.

Headwaters News today has a “roundup” on the fires. The most damaging one is near Lake Tahoe and has already burned 165 homes.

Update. Wyoming wildfires multiply. Jackson Hole News and Guide.

Update on the Lake Tahoe fire. June 26. Firefighters Gain Ground on Calif. Blaze. AP. Well over 200 structures have now burned.

Update June 27. Horse Creek Fire in Wyoming Range continues to grow. AP

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Posted in wildfire, Wildfires. Comments Off on Western wildfire season is well underway

Park Service regional director backs up Yellowstone Park on plan to close Sylvan Pass during the winter

Maybe the continuation of the incredible monetary subsidy per snowmobiler at the Park’s East Entrance during the winter will in fact be cut off. The NPS regional director is supporting Yellowstone superintendent Suzanne Lewis and the Park’s plan to close this little-used, avalanche prone pass.

Story. Park boss: Sylvan Pass danger palpable. By Ruffin Prevost. Billings Gazette (reprinted in the Casper Star Tribune)

Ex-Marine Kills 300-Pound Bear With Log

Ex-Marine Kills 300-Pound Bear With Log. The Incident Is the Latest in a String of Bear Attacks. ABC News

This was in Georgia . . . another 300 pound black bear. This story as written is a little bit contradictory because the article says the bear turned on his son, but at the bottom of the story, the ex-Marine was quoted “This one got a little too aggressive for me,” he said. “If the bear had gotten near my kids, I would have just jumped on it. Knowing me, that’s what I would have done, anything to make sure my kids were safe.”

Update: Man who killed bear with log is fined for improper food storage.  By Bo Emerson. The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

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Posted in Bears. 19 Comments »

About Alan Gregory

I have had some queries about the condition of Alan Gregory.

His blog has been updated by his spouse, Monica. Reading it makes me think he will not be resuming his blog in the near future. I’m sure we are all very sorry to hear of this. Alan Gregory’s Conservation News.

Posted in Uncategorized. Comments Off on About Alan Gregory

Kathie Lynch’s report: wolf watching slow; bear watching hot

Kathie Lynch has sent a report for June 17-23, 2007. It follows. Thanks Kathie!

There is not too much to report from Yellowstone right now as the wolf watching has been pretty quiet. We see the occasional Agate Creek adult traveling by in their traditional Antelope Creek den area. And, we have occasional Slough Creek wolf sightings in Lamar, but that’s about it. I did hear that the spotter plane finally saw Druid Peak and Slough pups, but I have not heard how many or where. We were all just glad to hear that both packs do actually have pups.

We have seen seven to eight Agate pups occasionally and at a very great distance. Sometimes they are chaperoned by good old 113M, who is looking very good! The pups are a joy to behold as they hop through the meadows and then disappear into the trees far, far away. We are hoping that the Agates will move closer for better viewing as they did last summer. We are very lucky to have them to watch since Slough and Druid viewing is so sporadic.

The bear watching has been unbelievable, however! People are often seeing more than 10 grizzlies a day–someone actually saw 17 grizzlies today! There seems to be every possible combination–sow with three cubs of the year, sow with two COY, sow with yearling cub, single boar…you name it. Most of them are seen up on Dunraven Pass; yesterday I saw a sow with two COY cross the road there and another sub-adult just lying stretched flat out right next to the road!

There has also been great bird viewing. Along the Tower/Dunraven Roads there are at least three active nests–peregrine falcon, osprey and redtail hawk. Today I saw the mother feeding chicks in each. There are also sandhill cranes on Floating Island Lake.

And, in the miscellaneous fauna category you can see an otter at Trout Lake (although one adult and perhaps two pups were killed, cause unknown), bighorn sheep near Yellowstone Picnic area, mountain goats on Barronette Peak, bison calves galore in Lamar Valley, moose in Floating Island Lake, a coyote den in Soda Butte Valley, and the usual assortment of black bears around Tower store and Tower Junction. But, best of all is the astounding spectacle of hundreds (thousands?) of spawning trout at Trout Lake. The seething mass is a sight guaranteed to astound anyone as they flash their fins and fight their way up the little rapids of the inlet creek. It is truly one of the miracles of nature!

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Grand Teton biologists euthanize problem black bear

Here is yet another bear killed because of the actions of bad campers.

Grand Teton biologists euthanize problem black bear. Billings Gazette.

Posted in Bears. 2 Comments »

Burgeoning Ravalli County [Montana] grapples with outlaw ATV riders

Burgeoning Ravalli County grapples with outlaw ATV riders. By Perry Backus in the The Missoulian.

Here is a recent opinion piece on the growing menace of ATV scofflaws in western Montana. I linked to it several days ago. Here it is again.

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Colorado wildlife officials kill black bear that people fed and even petted.

It is possible to pet black bears if they are full, happy and completely unafraid of humans. The same bear could injure someone a couple days later when it is frustrated, hungry, or maybe has something like a sore tooth.

Story from Colorado. Wildlife Officials Kill Bear In Contact With Human. Colorado DOW Wanted To Prevent Deadly Attack.

June 24. Bear feeding charges unlikely. Aspen Times. The couple who probably fed the bear are thought to be too poor to pay the fine.

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Posted in Bears. 1 Comment »

Half of the jobs in Pinedale, WY now are in the “patch”

The oil patch, or more properly the various gas fields west and southwest of Pinedale, are changing the social and economic complexion of the long time ranch-outfitting and tourist town at the base of the Wind River Mountains.

Gas infuses, confuses quiet cowboy community: In Sublette County, roughnecks seem to outnumber rough stock as energy boom transforms ranch lands. By Noah Brenner. Jackson Hole News and Guide.

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Today’s pattern of development requires planning for wildfires

George Wuerthner recently wrote an important piece in New West on the need to plan for those who build on “the fire plain,” just like planning should be done for those on a flood plain.

Land Use Planning Must Address Wildfire Plain. New West. George Wuerthner.

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Rocky Barker’s blog: Canadian wolves are wimps next to these guys

This is about the extinct “superwolves” that once inhabited Alaska, but died out because they became too specialized. He ends with a dig at that fraction current elk hunters whose techniques don’t change either.

Barker’s blog. Idaho Statesman.

Major forest fire breaks out in Horse Creek area (Wyoming Range)

Wildfire sending up 100-ft. flames. By Cory Hatch. Jackson Hole News and Guide.

Note: since posting this story, I have updated this story a number of times. Look for these articles above this post. The fire is at 3000 acres on June 27.

Posted in mountain ranges, Wildfires. Comments Off on Major forest fire breaks out in Horse Creek area (Wyoming Range)

Wolf pack confirmed to be living in the headwaters of the Wood River Valley.

Actually they are pretty far into the Sawtooth National Recreation Area (in the Boulder Mountains), not down by the houses miles downstream. This is pack of 3 and some pups. They were seen a lot near Idaho Highway 75 for a while as they fed on two road-killed elk.

Efforts were made to trap them for radio collaring, but that didn’t work. Domestic sheep roam the area in the summer, but the permittee is Lava Lake Land and Livestock, which is a very progressive sheep outfit. They will change their grazing pattern and have done so in the past to avoid conflicts with wolves. I would be greatif other sheep ranchers were like this.

Story in the Idaho Mountain Express. “Breeding pair establishes first den in area.” by Jason Kauffman. Express Staff Writer

Irresponsible ATV riders hurt everyone – Guest column in Missoulian.

Off-road vehicle interest groups say “it’s just a few bad apples.” So why don’t they support measures to cull these spoilers?

Opinion by Joe Hundley in the Missoulian. “[Hundley] is an avid hunter and horseback rider and a member of Backcountry Hunters and Anglers and life member of the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation and Ravalli Fish & Wildlife Association. He lives near Darby.”

Posted in Motor vehicles wildlife, Wildlife Habitat. Comments Off on Irresponsible ATV riders hurt everyone – Guest column in Missoulian.

Predator hunters for the environment, “Sportsmen for Fish and Wildlife”

This is a long feature on the interest group, Sportsmen for Fish and Wildlife, a group I have greatly criticized because of their anti-carnivore stance and ties to reactionary, anti-wildlife interests in the West like livestock associations. The name is misleading, some say Orwellian because Sportsmen for Fish and Wildlife’s various incarnations in a handful of Western states have one thing in common — they are only in favor of a fraction of the wildlife.

Each state’s SFW runs differently. The worst is probably Wyoming’s SFW, where they support continuing feeding elk in the winter on the state’s many disease ridden elk feedlots. In Wyoming SFW can’t even bring itself to oppose the statewide destruction of the scenic national forest land by the oil industry. They have not joined the coalition to save the Wyoming Range, for example. I suppose their solution to the destruction of wildlife habitat by the gas wells must be to sprinkle hay here and there between the wells.

They are also not clearly in favor of keeping wildlife public. The have failed to oppose the various elk farms and elk shooting operations in Idaho, which besides not being fair chase, represent the privatization of wildlife — the turning of wildlife into livestock. Their natural constituency is the rich person who doesn’t want to work hard to hunt, e.g., Dick Cheney, although no doubt some of their members are real hunters.

Having lived in Utah and Idaho all my life (except for graduate school), I didn’t realize that these shooting farms represent the model of the old aristocracy in Europe and also in states with little public land where the Dick Cheney kind of “hunters” have servants drive the game to the them. SFW has close ties to reactionary Republican power structure in Idaho and Utah (note, not all Republican office-holders are part of this).

In their favor, SFW, especially in Utah and Idaho, have carried out projects that protect and enhance habitat for mule deer.

Hal Herring has a long feature article on them in the latest High Country News. Predator hunters for the environment. Feature Article. June 25, 2007 by Hal Herring.

Note: in the past I gave the executive directors of SFW for Idaho, Nate Helm; and for Wyoming, Robert Wharff all the space they wanted to explain their positions.

Here is a link to the past discussion. It was last December. You can take it from there to read all their postings and my replies. My Reply to Nate Helm. Sportsmen for Fish and Wildlife-Idaho

Here is the sort of thing SFW-Wyoming doesn’t do. Groups challenge BLM well permits on the Atlantic Rim [WY]. Billings Gazette. The appeals came from the Wyoming Wildlife Federation, the National Wildlife Federation, Biodiversity Conservation Alliance, the Wyoming Outdoor Council, the Wyoming Wilderness Association, the Western Watersheds Project, the Colorado Environmental Coalition, the Center for Native Ecosystems and The Wilderness Society.

Senate votes to require improvement in vehicle mileage.

After 30 years of trying, the Senate has voted to raise the required fuel efficiency of American automobiles. In addition, the notorious SUV loophole was closed. The bill still must go to the House of Representatives.

Story in the LA Times.

Efforts to increase taxes on the oil industry failed due to a Republican filibuster. The industry has been raking in record profits due to the high price of gas, but not building new oil refineries (a guarantee that gas prices will remain high). The new oil taxes would have been used to subsidize the development of alternatives of wind, solar, and biofuels. As we have seen, there are substantial problems with wind and biofuels (especially corn ethanol), but the voters like the idea and the Republicans could take a beating for favoring oil companies over new energy alternatives.

Yes to CAFE boost, No to oil taxes. Grist Magazine. By David Roberts.

Note. I cover this issue because anything that reduces the need for fossil fuels reduces the threat the energy companies pose to the majesty of America’s West.

Forest Service seeks to decommission 19,000 miles of old logging and unauthorized roads in its Northern Region

This is great news for fisheries and clean water. Abandoned logging roads often don’t heal. In fact, they can generate more and more erosion as the years go by, the culverts wash out, and small disturbances turn into gullies. In addition, there are many “use” ways — roads never constructed that were made simply by people driving. Because they were never planned or located to fit the land, these too are major sources of erosion.

Unfortunately, the Service doesn’t have the money to to this, but there is a bill moving through the House that would provide the money. “The ‘Legacy Roads and Trails Remediation Initiative’ under consideration by the House would set aside funding for road decommissioning, road and trail repair and maintenance, and the removal of fish barriers.”

Story in the Missoulian. Forest Service seeks closure of worn-out roads. By Perry Backus.

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Basin Butte Pack thrives near Stanley, Idaho despite an illegal killing and thousands of cattle and sheep

In June 2006 the new Basin Butte wolf pack killed a cow calf near Cow Camp road north of Stanley, Idaho. I didn’t give it much of a chance; but today it consists of 3 adult wolves, 4 yearlings (5 until the other day) and 5 new pups. It has left the numerous summertime sheep and cattle in the area alone, and has been a source of great pleasure for many local folks near Stanley and elsewhere.

The pack begin in the late winter of 2005 when a dispersing female wolf from the Galena Pack to the south and a big male from parts unknown got together. Sometime later they were joined by another male who is today referred to by locals as “the uncle.” In April 2006 they had a litter of 5 pups somewhere near Basin Butte, a prominent ridge (but not noticed by most tourists) on the east side of Valley Creek. Tourists are looking at the Sawtooths to the west.

I learned about this well behaved pack, doing what it should — eating ground squirrels, killing elk (but not livestock) and eating the abundant road kill — by reading stories in the Idaho Statesman, Mountain Express, reports by Ed Bangs, a local resident of Cow Camp road area, the Western Watersheds Project, and Scott Bragoner of USFWS Law Enforcement.

Despite the grumblings of local anti-wolf activists Ron Gillet and a few of his pals and ranchers, I sense a growing level of support among Stanley residents. A resident of Cow Camp road described how pleased he and his spouse were when the pack killed an elk on their property and they were able to watch it slowly disappear as the wolves dismantled all of it except the stomach, which they strictly avoided (but other scavengers took it). Apparently numerous residents are looking out for the pack and scaring them off if they are near cattle. This type of community effort could represent a bright spot in a state where the governor and the Fish and Game Commission hold attitudes that should have died off decades ago.

Amazingly the only mortality the pack has suffered was the other day when “range rider” George Gilbert illegally shot a yearling female who (according to the federal complaint) was minding her business. Gilbert has been charged with a class B offense. Although it hasn’t been adjudicated, Scott Bragoner of USFWS in Idaho Falls told me the likely outcome would be a $275 fine.

With thousands of cattle pouring into the area, and soon sheep, which will turn the beautiful meadows to dust by the end of the summer, let’s hope the good luck of this pack will continue.

Wolf 313F, “Angel.” Photo courtesy of Lynne Stone. Copyright. 313F was illegally shot.

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Elk herd reduction inside Rocky Mountain NP remains hot issue

The large population of elk, and whether and how to reduce it inside Rocky Mountain National Park, continues to be a political controversy. There is pressure to use “qualified sportsmen,” but, on the other hand, a substantial number of elk migrated out of the national park last year, and of those that left quite a few were taken in the elk hunt.

Herd reduction remains hot issue. By Charlie Meyers. Denver Post Outdoors Editor

Two campgrounds in Wasatch (Northern Utah) closed until troublesome bears caught

It looks like the Forest Service is being super careful now. Story in Salt Lake Tribune.

.  . . and here is a Tribune editorial. Wildlife encounters: Develop and learn strategies for survival 

Posted in Bears. 4 Comments »

Senate rejects coal-to-liquid fuel amendment

Most conservationists are celebrating the defeat of two amendments to the new energy bill that would have authorized $200 million in grants or $10 billion in direct loans for coal gasification/liquefaction projects.

Coal state senators are pushing this as a “clean” method of using the vast coal deposits, many believe use of coal, is not the solution to energy woes due to the high emission rate of of carbon dioxide when coal is used. Proponents of coal liquefaction in Montana and elsewhere have been saying the CO2 can be captured and injected into deep wells, where it will remain. Other doubt this, saying the carbon dioxide will leak out.

Coal mining also has severe environmental impacts, although federal law requires the reclamation of coal surface mines.

Story in the Casper Star Tribune. Senate rejects coal-liquids plans. By Noelle Straub.

Story in the Charleston Gazette. Senate rejects liquefied coal. Backers split over proposals; environmentalists hail votes. By Ken Ward Jr. Staff writer.

Here is a news release the Sierra Club just put out:

Senate Says Firm No to Liquid Coal. Vote Puts the Public Interest Ahead of Special Interests.

Statement of Carl Pope, Sierra Club Executive Director

“In spite of Herculean efforts by the coal industry and its friends in Congress, the Senate today delivered a very important victory in the fight against global warming by decisively voting against jumpstarting a new massively expensive, massively polluting liquid coal industry–twice.

Senators showed that they understood that we need to leave behind the failed policies of the past–and past Congresses.

“At a time when we need to get on the path to achieving an 80 percent reduction in our global warming emissions by 2050–an achievable annual reduction of 2 percent–the level scientists tell us is necessary to avoid the most catastrophic effects of global warming, business as usual is no longer acceptable. Liquid coal produces nearly twice the global warming pollution as conventional fuel and Senators were right to turn their backs on it.

“Though Senators successfully blocked these damaging liquid coal provisions, they now need to turn their attention to breaking a filibuster led by Senator Domenici that is preventing a fair up or down vote on the Bingaman Renewable Electricity Standard amendment. Senators must also block attempts by Senators Levin, Bond, and Pryor to further weaken the CAFE compromise in the bill.

“We thank Senators for their leadership on this important vote and hope they will continue to make the changes necessary to make this bill one that we can truly be proud of.

Posted in Climate change, Coal. Comments Off on Senate rejects coal-to-liquid fuel amendment

Corrupt number 2 at Dept. of Interior trying to get out of doing time

I have been reporting for some time about the corruption in the Bush Department of Interior, the major land-management department of the federal government. One of those reported was J. Steven Griles, number two in DOI under Gale Norton. He was recently convicted for has dealings with corrupt lobbying Jack Abramoff. Now he is trying to get out of doing time for his crime. Instead he wants to do public service for an anti-conservation group involved with those recreation fees we are being changed to use our public lands.

Story. J. Steven Griles did the crime but doesn’t want to do the time. Former Interior Department Deputy Secretary who pleaded guilty earlier in connection with Jack Abramoff looking for ‘sentence’ of working for anti-environmental group instead of five years in the pokey. Bill Berkowitz. Media Transparancy.

Rocky Barker’s blog today tells how Idaho’s largely anti-conservation governor, Butch Otter, is going to bat for Griles. Rocky Barker’s blog: Otter asks for leniency for riding buddy. By Rocky Barker – Idaho Statesman

Oregon: Man stumbles upon bears killed during tree damage season

There is an emerging controversy in Oregon. Hundreds of bears are killed each year for the timber industry because some bears damage trees.

A man stumbled upon what they had been hiding. Man stumbles upon bears killed during tree damage season.

. . . and the followup

Oregon to bury remains of bears killed for damaging trees. AP. It looks like the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife has a stupid public relations person. The department said they will see that the bears are buried, but the department expresses concern for the poor coyotes and buzzards who won’t have the bear carrion to feed on. . . gag me.

More from Goat, blog of the High Country News. Kill a bear, save a … pine tree??

The right thing to do is not to give the timber industry a free ride on this. They should develop methods of deterring the tree damage. Because it appears this bear behavior is learned, they should hire researchers to develop methods of non-lethally stopping this behavior.

It is so typical of livestock and timber to just shoot whatever gets in the way of their corporate profits.

Update 6/21. There is an article about the killing of bears to appease the timber industry at the Daily Kos. “Green” Oregon’s Timber Industry Slaughters Bears Cubs. By Nulwee

Posted in Bears. 3 Comments »

Grandfather of Utah bear victim blames feds for “surreal nightmare”

“The grandfather of an 11-year-old boy who was killed by a black bear blamed authorities today for not warning that the hulking animal was believed to have harassed another group of campers at the same site hours earlier.” Story in the Statesman-Journal.

Posted in Bears. 4 Comments »

Arctic spring’s ‘rapid advance’

Warming in the Arctic is proceeding at a dramatic rate. This article describes many changes and dangers. Spring is coming 6-8 days earlier.

Arctic spring’s ‘rapid advance BBC News.

and earlier

Arctic ice no barrier for plants. BBCNews

Posted in Climate change. Comments Off on Arctic spring’s ‘rapid advance’

Population study accidentally captures huge griz in northern Montana

 While the Alaskan (Kodiak) brown bear (Ursus arctos middendorffi) tops a thousand pounds, that size is very rare for the interior grizzly, but Montana Bear Management Specialist Mike Madel just snared the second largest ever recorded in the Northern Rockies near Choteau, Montana. The bear weighed 750 pounds and could reach 900 by fall. The biggest bear (Griz No. 175) might be this one’s father.

Rocky Mountain Front grizzlies tend to be larger than Yellowstone grizzlies because of better food sources.

Story. Capture of big grizzly raises paternity questions. By Karl Puckett. Great Falls Tribune Staff Writer

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Posted in Bears. 12 Comments »

Colorado’s Rep. Udall to sponsor amendment to kill abusive use of RS 2477 law.

RS 2477 is remnant of the mining law of 1866, which was repealed in 1976 when the Federal Land Policy and Management Act was passed. The intent of rs2477 was to grant access to miners on the public domain way back when, and its purpose had long expired.

Nevertheless, some crafty lawyers with help from the first Bush Administration seized on it as a method for claiming that any old track or even sled trail on public lands was in fact “a highway,” and could be turned into an ATV runway or even a paved highway by a county contrary on any other law. Some even want to use it to attack private property rights to assert RS 2477 claims exist on private property where a way has been abandoned.

Some rural counties and lawless off-road groups have used it as a cudgel to attack proposed wilderness areas, national monuments and even national parks. The second Bush administration has been only too happy to accommodate them.

Now Rep. Mark Udall, D-Colorado is sponsoring a measure to the Dept. of Interior’s appropriations that would forbid the BLM from spending money to validate rs2477 claims by counties or states. Putting it in the budget largely protects it from filibuster, thus only a majority of the Senate needs to approve it rather than the 60 votes needed to kill the filibuster.

Here is the story in the Denver Post. Udall wants BLM not to surrender roads to locals. By Thomas Burr (originally from the Salt Lake Tribune). I should note that RS 2477 abuses have been most common in Utah.

Utah black bear rips open tent, carries off boy in sleeping bag, kills.

About 11 PM last night, a rouge black bear tore open a tent an 11-year old boy was sleeping in. A half hour later searchers found his remains 400 yards away. Dogs are tracked down the large black bear and it was shot.

The killing took place in American Fork Canyon in the Wasatch Mountains NE of Provo, Utah.

Story by By Nate Carlisle in the Salt Lake Tribune.

Update June 19. Boy Killed by Black Bear in Utah. CBS News.

June 23. Avoid the blame game in bear attack. Michael L. Wolfe. Salt Lake Tribune guest editorial.

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Posted in Bears. 50 Comments »

Elusive and adaptable, coyotes thrive in Pa.

It is estimated that 20,000 coyotes live in Pennsylvania today. A hundred years ago there were none.

Story in the Pocano Record.

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Caswell, Tripping Trampling Triggers & Leadership

WWPblog has a post evaluating a few demonstrative leadership decisions Jim Caswell has been involved in. Caswell’s been tapped to lead BLM.

Check out Caswell, Tripping Trampling Triggers & Leadership

Hunter mistakenly kills grizzly far south in Wind River Range, WY

This is the southernmost record for grizzly bears in many years. The bear was in poor shape.

Story by Cat Urbigkit in the Casper Star Tribune. Hunter Mistakenly Kills Grizzly.

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Posted in Bears. 47 Comments »

Mountain pine beetle slows down in Sawtooth National Recreation Area

The wave of dead lodgepole and whitebark pine has mostly passed in the Sawtooth National Recreation Area (SNRA). However, the primary reason is that most of the pine are now dead.

The epidemic began just downriver from Stanley, Idaho in the late 1990s. While the Forest Service tried cutting affected trees and also did proactive thinning, it did little to stop the epidemic. The Service’s “red tree” program (named after the color of the pine needles when the tree first dies) helped reduced the fire danger to residences somewhat, but the mountain pine bark beetles moved on just like they almost always do until a very cold winter stops their march.

What happened in the SNRA is currently taking place on a much larger scale in British Columbia and now Alberta. No amount of logging can keep ahead of the die-off.

The end result will be big forest fires. These will renew the forests unless the climate has changed making the area too hot or dry for lodgepole pine. Lodgepole regenerates easily because the cones lie in the shade for years and, which one kind of exception, open only when exposed to direct sun or fire.

Whitebark pine is not so fortunate because is grows on the high slopes, just below timberline, where growth is slow under the best conditions. It is also beset by whitebark pine blister rust, an exotic fungal disease.

The Idaho Mountain Express recently wrote of the epidemic wave. Mountain pine beetle slows down. years-long infestation is past its peak, forester says. By Greg Stahl. Idaho Mountain Express Assistant Editor. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in Wildfires. Comments Off on Mountain pine beetle slows down in Sawtooth National Recreation Area

Lynx decision protects habitat in Idaho, Montana, and Wyoming

Eighteen national forests across the West are adopting “management direction” to protect the Canada lynx. I got a copy of this decision on Friday. The maps shows the “core” lynx habitat to be pretty much the same as the Greater Yellowstone grizzly bear and Northern Continental Divide grizzly bear habitat.

Except for two tiny areas, Idaho is classified as “secondary” or “peripheral habitat,” although the map shows huge areas on Idaho national forests that are “unoccupied lynx habitat,” which is a bit puzzling to me.

Here is the story in the Jackson Hole News and Guide. Lynx decision. By Cory Hatch.

The major impacts on human use will be on the type and areas where forest thinning takes places and a prohibition of new snowmobile routes (but not on open snowmobiling). Packed snowmobile trails give a winter advantage to coyotes and bobcats, animals that have relatively smaller feet than lynx.

Posted in wildcats, Wildlife Habitat. Comments Off on Lynx decision protects habitat in Idaho, Montana, and Wyoming

Terry, Montana man admits wildlife conspiracy

Here is another case a lot like the Nevada bobcat case, although it involves animals valued much more highly by the authorities.

Terry man admits wildlife conspiracy. By Clair Johnson. Billings Gazette.

In both cases a major factor was violation of the Lacey Act, a federal law that backs up state laws regarding the illegal transport of wildlife across state boundaries.

Disparate groups help develop Idaho wolf kill plan

Story in the Helena Independent Record. Disparate groups help develop Idaho wolf kill plan. Link fixed.

I think Idaho and Wyoming are going to end up getting whopped by a federal judge like the BLM just did on their bogus new grazing regulations.

There’s never been another just recovered endangered species where the first order of business is a plan to dramatically reduce their numbers to the bare minimum. This is absurd except as a try to reverse the recovery and foster endangerment.

Wyoming wants to reduce the state’s wolf population to less than a hundred wolves, which is fewer than live inside Yellowstone Park. The reintroduction rules clearly said the goal was to have a meta-population of wolves that interbred among the three states, not little pockets here and there.

Cut the corn: Energy bill should not put any money into corn ethanol

This is an editorial in the Salt Lake Tribune today.

Congress is currently considering a big energy bill. It could end up as bad as what the Republicans proposed (different from a bad Republican bill, but bad just the same).

There should be no subsidies for corn ethanol which takes your tax money instead of your pocket money as you fill up. Corn-based ethanol (alcohol) produces almost no NET energy and it has many negative side-effects such as soil erosion and an increase in the price of food.

Big wind farms and solar farms are going to have a huge effect on the land and wind turbines on birds (they will knock them out of the sky).

The quickest, cheapest method of addressing the energy problem is energy conservation technology. When conservation is done that way it is relatively painless.

Here is more from the Washington Post. On Capitol Hill, a Warmer Climate for Biofuels. By Steven Mufson. Washington Post Staff Writer. Biofuels mostly means ethanol made out of corn. They have a powerful lobby. Lots of rural towns are getting ethanol plants, which will provide years of employment in what amounts to running in circles as far as the production of more energy goes.

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More mudbogging photos

Mike Beagle sent these photos of the results of mudbogging trucks in the Greentops of SW Oregon.


“The ravine that my son is in was created winter of ’05-’06 as a result of the damage. It did not exist prior. All of this drains into Kanutchan Creek, a seasonal but important summer steelhead spawning trib in the upper Rogue basin.” Mike Beagle

This is post 1213 

Peregrine falcons make dramatic 30-year comeback in Idaho and elsewhere

Grizzly mauls Lander, WY man in Grand Teton NP

He is in good condition. He came upon a sow and her three cubs feeding on an elk carcass near Jackson Lake Lodge.

The bear and her large cubs (they’re yearlings) have been seen a lot this spring to the delight of most people.

Story in the Jackson Hole News and Guide. Grizzly bear attacks visitor in Grand Teton. By Cory Hatch

Update: photos of this bear, no. 399, and her cubs.

2nd Update. June 15, 2007. ‘I was in big trouble’: Grizzly mauls lodge guest on morning walk. By WHITNEY ROYSTER. Casper Star Tribune.

Update much later. This grizzly, no. 399F and her three cubs, remained a popular subject until she drove them off in the late spring of 2008.

Utah man sentenced for poaching Nevada bobcats

Utah man sentenced for poaching Nevada bobcats. The Ely (Nevada) Times.

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Relatively dry Yellowstone braces for fire season

It could be a bad fire season in Yellowstone Park (and, of course, outside it too). I would say especially in Idaho and Western Wyoming.

Relatively dry Yellowstone braces for fire season. By Brett French. Billings Gazette.

Update June 15, 2007. Fire potential in Grand Teton and Yellowstone parks worse than last year. By Cory Hatch. Jackson Hole News and Guide.
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Posted in Wildfires, Yellowstone National Park. Comments Off on Relatively dry Yellowstone braces for fire season

Penalize mud-boggers who rip up the land

This is a guest opinion from Writers on the Range published inHeadwaters News. Penalize mud-boggers who rip up the land. By Mike Beagle.
June 13, 2007.

The essence of the argument is that because law enforcement is sporadic in the hinterlands, these increasingly and deliberately destructive people need to be dealt with harshly in order to put an end to this.

The writer’s perception is that they are generally young men who deliberately destroy the land and waters of the backcountry. My perception is that they usually get a bit drunk too.

Because they are often men who can barely afford their huge tricked up pickups, confiscation would probably be a huge deterrent.

Boulders erected on the Caribou National Forest (SE Idaho) to prevent further mud-bogging. Photo by Ralph Maughan. May 2007

Clinton legacy, chapter 243: One of his judges stops Bush’s deregulation of livestock grazing

This is by Ray Ring in Goat, a High Country News blog. It provides the most information so far on the defeat of Bush’s new public land grazing regulations, an analysis what these people are up to, and thoughts of the public lands and the federal courts and judges.

One of Clinton’s judicial appointments stops Bush on grazing. Ray Ring. Goat.

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Congress should defund predator control by Wildlife Services from aircraft

Sinapu and many other groups want this annual massive assault on our native carnivores stopped.

It is excessive, it’s not cost effective, it is an undue subsidy to a small group and kills animals that many would like to see live. There are many other ways of achieving valid results without using this method.

I have reported on a number of “wolf controls” where perhaps a thousand dollars or less of livestock was killed, and the operation to shoot the wolves from the air cost many times more. Several years ago I was told Wildlife Services spent over a hundred thousand dollars going after one Montana wolf pack that sporadically killed a few head of livestock here and there, and while some wolves were eventually shot, it was never determined if they were the ones killing.

I suspect the wholesale gunning of smaller predators like coyotes is even less effective because almost all that are killed are completely blameless for killing livestock, and the benefits they produce in keeping the rodent populations in check are never even counted.

As fuel prices surge, aerial gunning becomes even more wasteful.

Here is a story from the Wild Again blog (Sinapu). Call to End Aerial Gunning of Wildlife. Two More Federal Agents Killed in Questionable Program

Two ecosystems, two cultures [and wolves]

Brodie Farquhar writes an essay for the Casper Star Tribune on why wolves are more controversial in the West than in the Great Lakes States.

Two ecosystems, two cultures.

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Dozens of bison pushed back inside Yellowstone

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Rather than slaughter the bison it just captured, public opinion has once again forced Montana to once again push them into the Park. The push continues today.

Yesterday Park visitors witnessed the unprecedented hazing of bison all the way to 7-Mile Bridge and beyond (on the West Entrance road).

Associated Press story.

Next page has photos

Read the rest of this entry »

Alberta grizzly census finds only 100 left south of Calgary/Banff

The grizzly had faded greatly in Alberta in the Rockies and foothills in the southwestern part of the province (the southeastern portion lost its grizzlies long ago — plains). Massive energy industrialization of the North is also taking the great bear down.

Story in The Globe and Mail. By Geoff Nixon

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Posted in Bears. Comments Off on Alberta grizzly census finds only 100 left south of Calgary/Banff

Rocky Barker’s blog: Cowboys and loggers lose in two courtrooms

Here is more on the big victory, slapping down the Bush Administration’s new grazing regulations. Rocky Barker goes on to tie it with the recent Bush defeat on the roadless issue ruling.

One point about the headline — ” Cowboys and loggers.” Cowboys and loggers are the employees. Like so many of us, they are the ones who get the “short end of the stick.” It’s ranchers and forest developers who lost in two courtrooms. The condition of injured or “retired” loggers and cowboys is often not a happy one.

Barker’s blog in the Idaho Statesman.


Information on the big victory on roadless areas- June 8, Rocky Mountain News. Roadless rule survives challenge By Todd Hartman.

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Montana goes back on its word, to send bison to slaughter June 11

-Important update. See the June 12 story on bison-

I don’t like to step on the story that federal Judge Winmill just overturned Bush’s bastardized BLM rules because it is the more important story, but folks will probably be more likely to read that Montana has doublecrossed folks and captured the bison and sent the bison bulls, which can’t transmit brucellosis, to slaughter.

Here is the Buffalo Field Campaign’s news release, but remember this is not really about a disease or even about who gets the grass, the purpose is to show folks who are not in the grazing industry who is boss. Idaho lost its “brucellosis free status” due to infection from Wyoming elk, and in Idaho brucellosis is a total non-issue in media and among the public.


Agencies Deceive Public, Go Back on their Word Not to Slaughter

For Immediate Release, June 8, 2007
Exclusive Video Footage and Photos Available Upon Request
Contact: BFC, Stephany Seay 406-646-0070

WEST YELLOWSTONE, MONTANA – Going back on their word not to slaughter wild bison, state and federal agencies to do just that. Today they have hazed about 50 wild bison off of cattle-free National Forest land and captured them in a bison trap constructed near the West Yellowstone Airport.

According to livestock officials, bulls will be transported to slaughter facilities on Monday. Yearlings may be transported to a state-federal quarantine facility as part of a scientific experiment. Calves and mothers will be transported over 150 miles to the Stephens Creek bison trap located within Yellowstone’s northern boundary and released after a few days.

“None of these buffalo are a brucellosis-transmission risk,” said BFC campaign coordinator Mike Mease. “There are no cattle in this region right now, and there never are any on the public lands where the buffalo are migrating.”

Last week, public pressure forced Montana and Yellowstone to call off the slaughter of 300 wild buffalo that remained in Montana. Following the no-slaughter decision, agencies stated they would capture and transport to Yellowstone’s northern boundary any buffalo found in Montana this week.

However, a DOL press release and confirmation by a Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks official today stated the agencies intend to slaughter bull buffalo caught in today’s operations. Read the rest of this entry »

Stunning victory over Bush’s proposed new grazing rules!!

An Idaho federal judge has slapped down the Dept. of Interior’s proposed new grazing regulations which would have greatly limited public comment and public oversight of grazing on hundreds of millions of acres of BLM land. They would have also greatly weakened the standards grazers are supposed to be held to while telling the public to just shut up!

Judge Lynn Winmill, issued a permanent injunction on the regulations, handing yet another defeat to this lawless regime’s attempt to turn the public lands over to a small cadre of land-abusing livestock owners.

Here is the story from the Associated Press. Judge blocks rules on grazing, saying government caved in to livestock industry. By Rebecca Boone. Associated Press.

I am pleased that I was one of the winning plaintiffs on this case. Western Watersheds Project v. Joe Kraayenbrink, et al. defendants; and Ralph Maughan, et al. v. Dave Rosenkrance, et al., defendants.

There will be more on this later . . . .


Here is the best part of the ruling NOW THEREFORE IT IS HEREBY ORDERED, that the motion for partial summary judgment (Docket No. 112), and the motion for summary judgment Docket No. 114) are GRANTED.
IT IS FURTHER ORDERED, that the motions for summary judgment Docket Nos. 109, 113 & 110) are DENIED.
IT IS FURTHER ORDERED, that the BLM regulations set forth in the Federal Register of July 12, 2006, 43 CFR Part 4100 et. seq., are ENJOINED in all
[emphasis mine]

Read the entire legal opinion.

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Idaho wolf gets free lunch at elk farm

Rocky Barker reports in his blog that an Idaho wolf entered one of those controversial elk farms in Idaho and killed an elk. Folks may be surprised, but in the case of the elk farm the onus is on the elk farmer, not the wolf.

The elk farmers are supposed to keep wildlife from leaving or entering their “farms,” but, of course, they are hardly secure as this free lunch for the wolf once again shows.

The recent Idaho Legislature refused to enact legislation to make these operations secure or to stop what many think is the odious practice of shooting elk in a pen.

Barker’s blog.

First forest fire of the season in Wyoming begins in Grand Teton NP

A lightning strike began the first forest fire of the season in Wyoming.

Wildfire season starts early for Grand Teton. Jackson Hole News and Guide. By Corey Hatch.

It should add that the last several days have provided substantial rain in Eastern Idaho and much of Montana, but overall the area remains far below normal precipitation and the heavy fuels (those that sustain forest fires, rather than range fires) are very dry.

Stephen Colbert analyzes the NASA director’s view on global warming, and related agencies

You may be amused.

I tell my students you will learn more of what’s going on by watching the “fake news” by Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert than watching Fox News, CNN, etc.

Recent stories about the bison issue near West Yellowstone

This came from a Buffalo Field Campaign news release today.

Buffalo in the News
6/5/07 LTE: Golden Pen Award ~ Right a wrong, preserve wild bison.
Billings Gazette (Montana)

6/5/07 LTE: Bison wrong target for DOL slaughter.
Billings Gazette (Montana)

6/4/07 Officials hopeful they won’t have to truck renegade bison
Billings Gazette (Montana)

6/2/07 Montana, under pressure, to take bison back to Yellowstone
New York Times

Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in Bison, politics, Yellowstone National Park. Comments Off on Recent stories about the bison issue near West Yellowstone

Gov. Freudenthal asks Congress to keep alive late Senator Thomas’ bill to save Wyoming Range from the drillers.

Freudenthal: Keep Thomas’ proposal alive. Before his death, senator worked on Wyoming Front bill. Billings Gazette. By The Associated Press.

Hopefully for the great scenery and wildlife in the area, this plea will turn out to be more than an nice sentiment upon the death of Senator Thomas.

The Exterminators (about Wildlife Services)

The Missoula Independent takes a look at Wildlife Services, formerly more transparently named Animal Damage Control (and earlier misnamed the Biological Survey). Wildlife Services is the federal government’s killer of “problem” wildlife. They have been controversial for years, with major opposition emerging to them among scientists as early as 1930.

It is their preemptive (non-targeted killing) that most people find most offensive. In some cases they are beginning to use non-lethal methods of preventing or stopping damage done by wildlife, but there is also a strong backlash among their constituency — ranchers — who would like to see more animal carcasses.

No all ranchers like Wildlife Services, so among ranchers the greatest support comes from the sheep farmers.

The Exterminators. By Jessie McQuillan. Missoula Independent.

No more brucellosis found in Montana cattle; bison herd remains inside Yellowstone

The repreive given the bison has worked so far,  and no more brucellosis has been found in testing of cattle around Montana.

I wouldn’t be surprised if it is never determined how the cattle at Bridger, Montana got brucellosis.

Story in Billings Gazette. By Jan Falstad

Wild Bill: The Sage Grouse Dilemma

Bill Schneider writes about the dilemma wildlife managers have in conserving the sage grouse, a species that absolutely depends on large, and largely undisturbed tracts of sagebrush for survival.

It it clear the energy companies are driving the beautiful bird to extinction and the ESA clearly should stop them. However, these are the oil companies — the people who stage coups in foreign lands, extract obscene profits from hard pressed drivers, and support and are supported by people like Dick Cheney. Are state wildlife managers going to stand up to them?

 The Sage Grouse Dilemma. New West. By Bill Schneider.

Posted in endangered species act, oil and gas, Wildlife Habitat. Comments Off on Wild Bill: The Sage Grouse Dilemma

Grizzly bear attack victim released

Jim Cole, who was mauled by a grizzly bear near Trout Creek in Yellowstone Park’s Hayden Valley, has been released from the hospital.

Bear attack victim released. By Gazette News Services

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Posted in Bears. 22 Comments »

Coyotes enjoy the good life in exclusive Arizona neighborhood

The headline above was written at Headwater News for a link to a story in the Arizona Republic’s, “Brazen coyote attacks alarming pet owners, even in Biltmore area.” John Faherty.

It’s amazing how a change in a headline affects the impression the casual reader obtains. I think Headwater News picked up the tone of the story better than whoever wrote the Republic’s headline.

Posted in Coyotes, politics. Comments Off on Coyotes enjoy the good life in exclusive Arizona neighborhood

Estimated number of wolves living in Wisconsin is adjusted downwards slightly

Posted in Wisconsin wolves, Wolves. Comments Off on Estimated number of wolves living in Wisconsin is adjusted downwards slightly

US Senator Thomas’ death hurts Wyo. Range efforts

Thomas had been expected to soon introduce legislation protecting the Wyoming Range from oil and gas leasing. Now he is dead. Story in the Jackson Hole News and Guide by Cory Hatch.

As if to underscore the importance of not granting these leases unless you are willing to see complete field development, the Fish and Game Commission is seeking a buyback or a give back by the oil companies.

The article says the leading sportsmen groups in the state are behind saving the the Wyoming Range from an awful fate, but I didn’t see the name of Sportsmen for Fish and Wildlife, WY. Are they on board, or do they want to established feedlots between the gas rigs?  I will remove my sarcasm if they are signed onto the move to keep the gas wells off these splendid mountains.

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Posted in Coal, mountain ranges, oil and gas. Comments Off on US Senator Thomas’ death hurts Wyo. Range efforts

Wyoming G&F: Spare Wyoming Range

Wyoming’s Commissioners of Game and Fish are yet another Wyoming group to weigh in against leasing the wildlife rich and scenic Wyoming Range for natural gas exploration and development. However, a lot of the game is already over. Once a lease is issued, it is a property right. The government has to buy it back if it thinks it made a mistake (they are not going to buy any of them back).

Unfortunately for Wyoming too, all the players, Dirk Kempthorne, Mark Rey, and now Jim Caswell, are connected to Idaho, and don’t know much about oil and gas.

Wyoming G&F: Spare Wyoming Range. By Whitney Royster. Jackson Hole Star-Tribune environmental reporter.

There is Wyoming’s congressional delegation. Their US Senators may help, but their lone US Representative, Barbara Cubin, is a watergirl whore for the oil industry.

Oops Wyoming’s Senator Craig Thomas just died of cancer! Story. Thomas dead at 74.  By Mary Clare Jalonick. Associated Press writer. Casper Star Tribune.

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Posted in oil and gas. Comments Off on Wyoming G&F: Spare Wyoming Range

Lawsuit filed to halt grizzly bear delisting in the greater Yellowstone ecosystem

Now the other shoe has dropped, and a number of conservation groups have filed a lawsuit to halt the delisting of the grizzly bear in the greater Yellowstone. The grizzly was delisted on May 1, 2007. The greater Yellowstone is in NW Wyoming with substantial portions extending into Montana and Idaho.

The full name of the lawsuit is Western Watersheds Project, Sierra Club, Natural Resources Defense Council, Alliance For The Wild Rockies, Center For Biological Diversity, Great Bear Foundation, And Jackson Hole Conservation Alliance, Plaintiffs,

Christopher Servheen, U.S. Fish And Wildlife Service Grizzly Bear Recovery Coordinator; H. Dale Hall, U.S. Fish And Wildlife Service Director; Dirk Kempthorne, Secretary Of The Interior; And United States Fish And Wildlife Service, defendants.

Here is the story as covered by the Bozeman, MT newspaper. Lawsuit seeks to reverse grizzly delisting. By Scott McMillion, Bozeman Chronicle Staff Writer.

Here is the original news release. Lawsuit Filed to Restore Protections for Yellowstone Grizzly Bears

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Posted in Bears, endangered species act, Yellowstone National Park. Comments Off on Lawsuit filed to halt grizzly bear delisting in the greater Yellowstone ecosystem

Slough Creek Pack may have six litters!!

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Kathie Lynch just sent me her Memorial Day wolf watching report, actually it is a couple days old because I went driving, hiking, and camping in the Beaverheads/Lemhis on, and near the Idaho/Montana border. No wolf observations, but lots of elk and pronghorn.

I want to thank “BE” for watching my web page in the interim.

Below is her report, including the fact that the new alpha male of the Slough Creek Pack may have impregnated essentially of of the pack’s females. The Sloughs had become an all female pack. That certainly makes up for last year when they lost their pups to the “Unknown Pack.”

I wonder if the multiple litters are the result of there not really being an alpha female when the former Agate Pack male saw his opportunity?

– – – – –

Here is the report.

Memorial Day weekend in Yellowstone brought sunshine and snow to go with the crowds of wildlife watchers eager to jump start summer. With the opening of Dunraven Pass (delayed half a day due to 3”-4” of snow!), visitors could travel past the Tower store to see the Agate Creek pack on Antelope Creek and the Hayden Valley pack south of Canyon.

Actually, wolf sightings were in somewhat short supply. I did see wolves from the Agate Creek, Slough Creek and Leopold packs. I also saw the black male of a duo unofficially referred to as the Jasper pair (because they are often seen near the Jasper Bench in Lamar Valley). The Druid Peak and Oxbow Creek packs were not around and must have been home minding the dens. And, as usual, the Haydens escaped my detection. All in all, I only saw 12 wolves, and some sightings were brief.

The Agates seem to be using the same general den area around Antelope Creek as they did last year. This is great news for summer wolf watchers. Last year they were just about the only show in town and delighted all by staying in view until late summer. They are thought to have two litters, with perhaps 11-12 pups total. The mothers are probably alpha 472F and beta 471F. After his injury last winter, now 10-year-old former alpha 113M has handed over the reins to his son, four-year-old 383M. I didn’t get to see 113M, but he was around. His new role seems to be that of beloved grandpa. Read the rest of this entry »

‘We have to develop’

A short AP piece published in the Casper StarTribune – ‘We have to develop’ – outlines how Kathleen Clarke’s potential replacement as head of BLM, Jim Caswell, sees your public lands as a sea of untapped resources ready for the taking !

“We just have to develop the resources that we have,” Caswell told The Associated Press during an interview from his office Friday. “You can’t just write this stuff off. It’s a terribly important activity for the good of the country.

Fortunately, Caswell’s appointment requires the approval of the Senate – an opportunity/forum to critically evaluate and elevate this administration’s conservation record – if taken.

I will publish a list/link of Senate votes on this confirmation when they become available.

Things to Think About :

Read the rest of this entry »

Censorship and Cop Brutality in the New Bison Wars

Eric Stewart of BFC has published an article in CounterPunch:

Notes of a Buffalo Campaigner
Censorship and Cop Brutality in the New Bison Wars
By Eric Stewart

It is certainly worth a read and may shed light on what BFC activists perceive coming from agencies.

Posted in Bison. Comments Off on Censorship and Cop Brutality in the New Bison Wars

Far-reaching roadless legislation introduced in Congress.

Far-reaching roadless legislation introduced in Congress. By Jason Kaufmann. Idaho Mountain Express.

The bill, which affects the entire United States, not just Idaho, would make President Clinton’s roadless area protection rule into law, thus voiding President Bush’s weaker protection of roadless areas administrative action. The bill would not change the current use or non-use of these roadless areas by off-road vehicles.

There are many other stories about this.

The best web site for detailed information about this and other roadless area issues is The Heritage Forests Campaign

Renewed hazing of bison produces results

There is good news! The public protest got all the way to the Secretary of Interior, and it’s clear the governor’s office got plenty involved too.

Story in the Billings Gazette. Renewed hazing of bison produces results. By Jim Gransbery.

The Buffalo Field Campaign has its news release.

Dear Buffalo Friends,
This afternoon, Montana Governor Brian Schweitzer and Yellowstone National Park held a joint press conference in Helena, Montana, to announce that they WILL NOT SLAUGHTER any wild buffalo that remain in Montana come Monday! All those buffalo babies, their moms, and their families will live on!

This is a major victory for wild buffalo and their advocates worldwide! THANK YOU!

While the larger issue is far from being resolved, we should all take a deep breath and give thanks for this incredible news that we all helped make happen. The power, prayers, energy, spirit, love, and ACTION of all the people who care about the buffalo made this happen!
Here are the buffalo you helped save:

The word from Montana and Yellowstone is this: any wild buffalo found in Montana come Monday would be transported (captured and hauled in trailers) into Yellowstone National Park. They would be taken north, to Stephens Creek, and let go. This transport could be very hard on the buffalo, especially the small calves, so we are hopeful that it will not have to occur at all. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in Bison. 5 Comments »

Bush’s Climate-Change Feint

You’ve probably all heard that the President suddenly is interested in climate change and he even wants to have an international conference to set caps on emissions to establish “aspirational goals” on the emission of greenhouse gases.

Every week Washington Post’s Dam Froomkin writes a long and detailed column about the White House — White House Watch. Today he examined Mr. Bush’s apparent change of heart in excruciating detail. Bush’s Climate-Change Feint. By Dan Froomkin. Washington Post. Most of detail is near the end of this long piece. To sum it up, almost everyone is very skeptical of Bush making any real change.

Alan Gregory seriously injured in bicycle mishap

We have all enjoyed Alan Gregory’s conservation news, and Alan has been a regular poster to this blog.

I’m very sad to report “Alan was struck while cycling by an elderly driver turning left who failed to look in his oncoming direction on 4/29. He was within several hundred yards of being back home. He has been in the hospital since with TBI (traumatic brain injury, no broken bones.) His prognosis is uncertain but he is responding in various ways, trying to talk and is alert a good part of the time but agitated, with periods of quiet.”

The above is from his spouse. She responded to my query. I noticed his page had not been updated for some time. Another blogger also told me he had been injured in a cycling accident.

I greatly hope that he will recover fully from the TBI, and be back blogging and enjoying the outdoors soon.

NASA Administrator Questions Need to Fight Global Warming

NASA Administrator Questions Need to Fight Global Warming. By Marc Kaufman. Washington Post Staff Writer.

NASA Administrator Michael Griffin says that although global warming is changing Earth’s climate, he’s not convinced that is “a problem we must wrestle with.”

The NASA chief — whose agency has come under fire in Congress for cutting several programs designed to monitor climate change — also says it’s “rather arrogant” for people to take the position that today’s climate is the optimal one.

This is a unique new argument for not doing anything about global warming, and it is a silly one. Those who want to stop global warming are not acting out of hubris, but recognize that humanity and the rest of life on Earth is adapted for cooler temperatures than we have now and certainly lower ones than what we will see.

The fact that this Bush Administrator would make such a specious argument shows the politicization of yet another agency.

Copper Basin: A secluded bastion of the Old West

Jason Kauffman wrote a fine story on Copper Basin, a beautiful mountain valley hemmed in between the Pioneer and White Knob Mountains about 20 miles east of Hailey, Idaho.

Copper Basin could be Idaho’s Lamar Valley with similar wildlife, and even better scenery, but it has a big problem . . . cows, lots of them . . . all the way to timberline and right up into the rocks at the end of the alpine tundra.

Story. Copper Basin: A secluded bastion of the Old West. Sun Valley Guide. Summer 2007.

Pronghorn in Copper Basin. Photo copyright Ralph Maughan

Copper Basin and the Pioneer Mountains. Copyright Ralph Maughan