Mollies kills Hayden alpha pair

Mollies Pack has killed the well known alpha pair of the Hayden Valley Pack.

I don’t have the details as to how it happened yet, but the Hayden Pack was being increasingly pressed by the larger Gibbon Pack from the SW and west and Mollies Pack from the SE.

Remaining, but with their fate not bright, are the pack’s two sub-adults and the 5 pups.

In the past, Mollies has had numerous rumbles with other packs, including the Druids. Folks might recall they killed the long time Druid alpha female 42F.

The five Hayden pups-of-the-year. Photo copyright Kim Kaiser

Greater Yellowstone grizzly sow deaths close to upper limit

While it’s too soon to blame this on state management, the first year of state-run Greater Yellowstone grizzly management has seen too many deaths of grizzly sows, a very important parameter in keeping the delisted bear population from a relisting.

Story in the Jackson Hole News and Guide. Grizzly sow deaths close to upper limit. Though the population is thriving, a key indicator worries biologists. By Cory Hatch.

Is it a bear or Bigfoot?

Today’s blog by Rocky Barker in the Idaho Statesman. Is it a bear or Bigfoot?

It is about an odd photo from Pennsylvania, said to be a “bigfoot.” Yet bigfoot has been called a creature (real or not) of the Pacific Northwest.

Interest the Sasquatch is on the rise, and a biologist at Idaho State University has written a scientific book about the evidence. Sasquatch: Legend Meets Science. By Dr. Jeff Meldrum. Forge Books. 2006.

There is also a layer on Google Earth that gives the location and description of sightings, footprints, etc. If there is such an animal, it clearly lives not just in the Pacific Northwest, but also the Northern and Middle Rocky Mountains, judging from the location of the reports on Google Earth, of which there are many.

For example. 

Wyoming’s wolf plan draws negative comments

Those who commented on Wyoming’s wolf plan didn’t like it.

The analysis of the comments has been released. Whether they lived in Wyoming or elsewhere, a majority was against it. Inside Wyoming, those inside and outside Teton County (Jackson) opposed it.

Opposition was greater from those who did not live in Wyoming. Inside Wyoming, opposition was the greatest from Teton County; but even those in Fremont, Hot Springs, Lincoln, Park and Sublette counties expressed majority opposition.

Here is the story. Wyoming’s wolf plan draws negative comments. Associated Press in the Billings Gazette.

Here is the link to Wyoming Game and Fish’s page on the matter. It is a detailed analysis. You can read the individual comments, and I found doing so was quite informative.

Upcoming TV specials on Yellowstone and Paradise Valley wolves

Here is the info on when the two documentaries we have been discussing will appear on television.

I want to thank skyrim for gathering it. He emailed the following to me:

Excerpt from the Bozeman Daily Chronicle. . .

“Wolves in Paradise” will be aired on Montana PBS at 7 p.m. on Nov. 1 and on other public broadcasting stations afterward.

And . . .

Three days later, at 6 p.m. Sunday, Montana PBS will air the national premiere of another wolf documentary, “In the Valley of the Wolves,” by Gardiner-based producer Bob Landis.

The film will appear on the “Nature” program.

Landis spent more than three years tracking the Druid pack, and his film “is an intimate record of their lives and their great battles with rival wolf packs in the Lamar Valley of Yellowstone.”


NATURE’s In the Valley of the Wolves premieres Sunday, November 4 at 8 p.m. (ET) on PBS (check your local listings).

Brucellosis plan divides [Montana] state’s cattle groups

The Missoulian has this: Brucellosis plan divides state’s cattle groups. The Montana Stockgrowers Association and the Montana Cattlemen’s Association are split on Schweitzer’s thoughts of breaking the Yellowstone region from the rest of the state with regard to brucellosis-free status. Brucellosis has been used to stir up the annual slaughter of Yellowstone’s wild buffalo by Montana’s Department of Livestock.

One thing everyone seems to agree on is the need for a permanent solution to the Yellowstone Park brucellosis problem. The disease has been purged from Montana’s cattle herd for more than 20 years. The only reason it persists as a threat today is because bison and elk in Yellowstone Park carry the disease.“A lot of folks would like to see ranch practices applied to Yellowstone,” Seidlitz said.

I’d prefer to see wild buffalo and elk in America’s first national park.

Owyhee County feedlot gets large fine to settle Clean Water Act violation charges

Large feedlots, a.k.a. CAFOs, have become the bane of southern Idaho, polluting the water (as told by this story) and the air. . . . hold your nose as you travel about 150 miles of Interstate 80 across southern Idaho.

Feedlot agrees to pay fine to settle Clean Water Act violations. Idaho Statesman.

Oh, for identification purposes, Eric Davis, is the owner of the feedlot. He is a former president of the National Cattlemen’s Association.

New documentary out, “Wolves in Paradise”

Paradise Valley, Montana, that is.

Story:  By Martin J. Kidston. Helena Independent Record

Given to Texas as a Gift, the State wants to sell off the Christmas Mountains to highest bidder

The Dallas News doesn’t like the idea. Keep Mountains Public. Dallas News.

Neither does the San Antonio Express. Christmas Mountains sale should be delayed.

Proponents of the sale have drummed up a phony Second Amendment argument to justify not selling the mountains to the National Park Service to add to Big Bend National Park. Of course, if the mountains are private property they won’t be able to take their guns there because their person can’t go there.

Many in Boise, Idaho area hoping for mining reform to reduce local mining threat

The U.S. House of Representative may be close to passing long overdue reforms to the 1872 mining law. Many in the Boise, Idaho area [Treasure Valley] are hoping for changes that will stop the proposed pit mines Canadian mining companies want to excavate upstream at Atlanta, Idaho and other places in the central Idaho mountains.

“Atlanta Gold is the most unpopular proposal in Idaho,” said John Robison, who is leading the Idaho Conservation League’s campaign to stop the gold mine. “It’s even more unpopular than the nuclear power plant near Bruneau.”

Under 1872 mining law, mining is always the number one land use on public land. Other land uses and the waters have to give way.

Story in the Idaho Statesman. Valley’s eyes are on mining reform bill. As the House prepares for a vote, some see bill as a chance to protect Idaho’s water from toxins. By Rocky Barker

Update: The vote on the bill in the full House comes on Wednesday — Halloween. 

Missoulian does an overview of Montana wolves

This is a moderately good overview of the general wolf situation and history of wolves in Montana from the 1980s.

Wolf shot; animal had killed cattle. By Michael Jamison of the Missoulian.

On the other hand, whoever wrote the headline for Jamison’s story and the first three paragraphs (they are in boldface) was generally uniformed and wanted to make wolves sound at least somewhat out of control.

For example, a wolf getting shot after killing cattle is hardly news anymore. It doesn’t merit a headline. In the main part of the story goes on to describe how relatively few livestock have been killed in Montana by wolves . . . “With all those wolves, [Kent] Laudon said, ‘it is surprising there aren’t more livestock kills. During the entire decade from 1995 to 2004, he said, 167 Montana cows were confirmed lost to wolves, and 397 sheep.’ “

Western Watersheds Project takes a look a grazing conditions in Current Creek in the Owyhee

Video of the condition of Current Creek in the Owyhee.

Terry, Montana rancher fined $15,000 for eagle deaths

This guy set out an illegal poison for skunks and raccons. Coyotes ate the poisoned skunks and raccoons and died. Eagles ate the dead coyotes and died.

It was kind of like 1920.

He was fined for the value of the eagles; nothing about the use of an illegal poison.

Man told to pay $15K for eagles’ deaths. By Clair Johnson. Billings Gazette.

Terry, Montana has been in the news in the past.
A lot of wildlife violations at Terry, Montana. April 18th, 2007

 Terry, Montana man admits wildlife conspiracy. June 16th, 2007

Utility rescinds plans to build dam for southeast Idaho

This proposal for yet another dam on the Bear River stirred up unpreceded opposition in southeast Idaho.

Utility rescinds plans to build dam for southeast Idaho. Times News

Senaror Barrasso brings bill to protect Wyoming Range

Wyoming’s new US senator John Barrasso has picked up one of the priorities of the late Sen. Craig Thomas, R-Wyo.

It would stop oil and gas leasing in all of the 100 mile long Wyoming Range and buy back those leases already issued.

Senaror Barrasso brings bill to protect Wyoming Range. By Noelle Straub. Billings Gazette  Washington Bureau.

Posted in mountain ranges, oil and gas, Wildlife Habitat. Tags: . Comments Off on Senaror Barrasso brings bill to protect Wyoming Range

CA fires not global warming related, but northern Rockies fires are

California fires get caught up in global warming debate. By Rocky Barker. The same scientist who attributes the back-to-back big fire seasons in Idaho and the Northern Rockies as signs of human-induced climate change says the fires in California are not.

Posted in Climate change, wildfire. Tags: , , . Comments Off on CA fires not global warming related, but northern Rockies fires are

Wolf hunt is part of the package for Montana delisting

Wolf hunt is part of the package for Montana delisting. Opinion. Daily InterLake

Montana FWP is planning a wolf hunt after delisting, as the opinion happily indicates.

However, FWP has invited wolf conservation groups for their views along with other groups. That is very unlike Idaho.

I also get the impression that a first Montana wolf hunt may be quite experimental and limited in scope because the Commission understands there could be unanticipated side effects of a hunt, and ones not desireable from many points of view. So best to base plans on knowledge, not folk wisdom.

California’s age of megafires: Drought, housing expansion, and oversupply of tinder make for bigger, hotter fires

California’s age of megafires. Drought, housing expansion, and oversupply of tinder make for bigger, hotter fires. By Daniel B. Wood. Staff writer of The Christian Science Monitor.

Many factors behind the current California wildlfires are similar to those last summer in Idaho and Montana, except, of course, the sprawl into the “fire plain” is worse, and I haven’t head about a role of any invasive species like cheatgrass.

How Canine Distemper Virus Jumps Across Species

CDV is passed through close contact from domestic and feral dogs causing epidemics that often result in mass mortalities – and is pushing some species to the brink of extinction.

Rest of the story. How Canine Distemper Virus Jumps Across Species. Science Daily.

Posted in wildlife disease. Tags: . Comments Off on How Canine Distemper Virus Jumps Across Species

Wildlife Services, the misnamed federal agency killed 1.6 million animals in 2006

Federal wildlife agents killed 1.6 million animals in ’06. By Matthew Brown. Associated Press.

The federal agency Wildlife Services “serviced” 1.6 million animals last year. Numerically most of them were birds, but a lot of them were animals that many, perhaps most Americans, would rather not see killed to fatten the bottom line for ranchers and aggies.

This agency needs to be abolished and an Invasive Species Control Department created to deal with the plants and animals that really are a threat.

[Utah] Off-road activist says he’s tossed in the towel

Off-road activist [Huck] says he’s tossed in the towel. He declares, after ruling, he’ll no longer fight wilderness designations. By Patty Henetz. (link expired) The Salt Lake Tribune. Note the SLT link died, but a found an active link at an off-road activist site.

“It’s like battling the Borg: Resistance is futile,” Huck said during a phone call from Blue Notch, a desert region near Lake Powell’s Hite Marina where he was dirt-biking with his family. “We might as well just designate all of Utah wilderness now and get it over with.”

Fire, Water and Political Leadership in the West

In the view of Joan McCarter the problems of drought, lack of water for “traditional” uses and the fires have been aided and abetted by years of short-sighted political leadership in the West.

She doesn need to say it, but Idaho has got to be a prime example.

Fire, Water and Political Leadership in the West. By Joan McCarter. New West

House Natural Resources Committee passes a major reform of the 1872 general mining law

Groups have been trying to reform this for a couple generations. Bush has said he will veto it.

House panel OKs bill imposing mining royalties. By Noelle Straub. Billings Gazette Washington Bureau

Instead of the old nearly free mining clam/patent system, mining operations would have to pay a royalty on “hard rock minerals” like gold, silver, lead, zinc, etc. like they currently do on gas and oil, coal, etc.

For the first time the 1872 mining law would not trump all other land uses.

Posted in mining, politics, public lands. Tags: , . Comments Off on House Natural Resources Committee passes a major reform of the 1872 general mining law

More Nevada gold mines spew more toxic mercury than they reported

More Nevada gold mines spew more toxic mercury than they reported. By Rocky Barker. Idaho Statesman.

Three years ago hardly anyone thought of this, but the fact is southern Idaho waters and part of Utah too is being poisoned by the emissions from the rapidly growing number of open pit gold mines in Nevada.

Recent studies have also shown that forest and range fires emit a lot of highly toxic mercury. It isn’t a natural component of vegetation, but combustion of deposits from industrial sources on the grass and trees. I wonder how much Nevada mercury was spread around the United States from the Nevada and Idaho range and forest fires this last summer?

Posted in mining. Tags: , , , , . Comments Off on More Nevada gold mines spew more toxic mercury than they reported

Yellowstone Park objects to proposed 115-foot cell tower just outside north entrance at Gardiner

Alltel Corporation wants to build a giant cell tower at the Rocky Mountain Campground, a private campground in Gardiner.

Story. Yellowstone administrators object to Gardiner cell tower. Associated Press

White House edits Center for Disease Control climate testimony

More political manipulation of science by the Bushies.

White House edits CDC climate testimony. By H. Josef Hebert. AP Writer

The politics of Disaster: Idaho Congressman Mike Simpson seeks more grazing on Idaho’s burned rangelands

The politics of Disaster: Rep. Simpson Seeks Special Grazing For Fire-Riddled Idaho. By Brodie Farquhar. New West

Simpson is following a long tradition among Idaho politicians of using fire disaster to do exactly  the wrong thing, but something that pleases powerful constituents.

He seems to have taken the over the role of Larry Craig — a good fire is time for a good  feeding for the timber barons, and now increasingly big ranchers and corporate ranches.

Animal killed in western Mass. may be state’s first wolf, officials say

Animal killed in western Mass. may be state’s first wolf, officials say. By The Patriot Ledger. GateHouse News Service.

It might have been a wolf or a hybrid. If a wolf, it might have been a released pet. That’s what they are now saying about the Vermont canid shot a year ago and turned out to be a wolf. It was probably a pet.

I wouldn’t be too quick to believe that, given their strong incentive to hope these are not wild wolves.

Study: About 240 grizzlies live in Glacier National Park and immediate surrounding area

Study: About 240 grizzlies live in Glacier park. USA Today .

Earlier, we have discussed the DNA population size study for the entire NCDE (at least 550). This is the first breakout I have seen for just the Glacier NP portion of the NCDE.

Cows or Condos? Neither!

Cows or Condos? Neither! By George Wuerthner. New West.

It must have been 15 years ago when I was visiting Wuerthner at his place in Livingston that he outlined to me the argument he makes in the New West guest opinion above.

I’ve been thinking about it ever since, especially when I am out on the edge of the rural sprawl or in an especially nasty cow burnt, hell place, which may certainly be in the wide open spaces!

I think George is right on all counts. It is a false choice, especially if you are interested the conservation of wildlife. If you have to make the choice, it should usually be accept the development.

Next year’s cheatgrass is growing rapidly right now

It seems that this year produced a growing agreement on most sides of the issue that cheatgrass is just plain awful and is responsible in part for the range fires, small and large, that swept Idaho, Utah and Nevada beginning in late May.

Some ranchers and too many politicians have pushed, and are still pushing the notion that putting in cows early to eat the cheatgrass while it is still green and lacks the sharp seed heads, is much of the solution.

I took the photo below on Oct. 20 on the Fort Hall Indian Reservation in SE Idaho, but it could have been taken anywhere in perhaps a hundred million acres of the Western United States.

Dry and new green cheatgrass near Pauline, Idaho. Oct. 20,2007. Copyright © Ralph Maughan

As you can see, this pure stand of cheatgrass did not burn, but green cheatgrass from the seeds dropped in June and July are already sprouted and growing rapidly. They will continue to grow for a few more weeks, lie semi-dormant during the winter, and begin to grow rapidly again about March 1. After mid-April, it will be difficult for cattle to eat it because the sharp seeds form. Read the rest of this entry »

Tallying Up the 2007 Fire Season in Montana

New West has an article summarizing the severe wildfire season (long season) in Montana this year.

Of course, people should note the Idaho had the worst and the longest of any state.

Tallying Up the 2007 Fire Season in Montana. By Dave Loos.

Posted in wildfire. Tags: , . Comments Off on Tallying Up the 2007 Fire Season in Montana

Global Warming Delusions at the Wall Street Journal

The Wall Street Journal frequently runs articles that are skeptical about anthropogenic climate change or skeptical whether climate change will make much of a difference to anyone.

In years past, prestigious newspapers like the WSJ could just ignore their critics (as could the New York Times and the Washington Post)

Now scientists who represent another view, in this case the main stream view which business as usual hopes is not so, don’t have to confine their objections to obscure journals available only in hard copy at libraries.

Now climatologists can reply in a very frequently read blog.

Read: Global Warming Delusions at the Wall Street Journal. Real Climate.

More on “Convenient Untruths”

Global warming denialists have continued to try to make a big thing out of this U.K. court case about “An Inconvenient Truth.”

The Daily Kos has an article about the plaintiff in the lawsuit as well as many links about the case. There is also a link to Al Gore’s response.

Lost River Range: Pass Creek, Pine Creek, Wet Creek

This is from the WWP blog about a range inspection tour we went on back in early October on the Lost River Ranger District. That is in the Lost River Mountains. We looked at conditions at the end of the grazing season in Pass Creek, Pine Creek, and Wet Creek. The Forest Service district ranger (new to the area) came along with one of her range conservation officers.

Things did not look good.

I have been going to this scenic area since the late 1970s, and it was the worst I have seen it, probably due to the drought and heat this summer.

It is still scenic if you look at the mountain peaks and Pass Creek gorge, but you have to look down too.

This is potentially one of the nicest drives in the West (up Pass Creek and over the top down Wet Creek to the Little Lost River Valley), but the intensity of the grazing guarantees it isn’t. Then too on the Wet Creek side the private land has been fenced. They may be good in keeping public land grazers’ cows off private land, but the fence has eliminated the pronghorn that used to always be there, often racing and passing your vehicle.

Lost River Range: Pass Creek, Pine Creek, Wet Creek. From WWP blog.

Pickup truck kills huge grizzly bear near Lincoln, Mountana

A 700 pound grizzly (huge for the interior Rocky Mountains) was hit and killed by a pickup truck on Highway 200 not far from Lincoln, Montana.

This is in the NCDE grizzly recovery area, not the Greater Yellowstone ecosystem.

Story: Pickup truck kills 700-pound griz near Lincoln. By John Cramer. Missoulian

– – – – –

Update. Nov. 6. Grizzly Killed by Pickup: The Photos. New West. By Matthew Frank.

Update. Dec. 12. Folks in Montana have tug-of-war over display of giant grizzly. By Kark Puckett. Great Falls Tribune. It turns out the bear was not 700 pounds, but well over 800 pounds!

Update. Dec. 14. The big griz will be mounted and displayed in the Lincoln Ranger District Office (US Forest Service). By Larry Kline. Helena Independent Record.

Note: this is one of the most visited posts on the blog. There is a lot of misinformation about where this bear was killed. It was near Lincoln, Montana. That’s north of Helena. If you are old enough, you might remember the “unibomber” lived near Lincoln. The area has long been known as grizzly bear country.

Rockies wilderness bill gets mixed reviews at House hearing

The House Natural Resources committee gave NREPA, the Northern Rockies ecoystem protection act it’s first hearing yesterday.

You will read objections of people like Idaho governor Butch Otter, and Montana’s lone U.S. Representative Denny Rehberg. These people have opposed much smaller efforts too, even those with lots of local backing.

On the other hand, objections from possible, but not currently likely winning U.S. Senator candidate Larry LaRocco running for the seat of Idaho’s most “famous” senator are more significant because of his party (Democrat).

The comments by Idaho Republican congressman Mike Simpson are encouraging in that many say NREPA is really designed to make smaller efforts, like Simpson’s, politically feasible.

Story. Rockies wilderness bill gets mixed reviews at House hearing. Singer Carole King addresses Congressional committee. By Erika Bolstad –

Note: Songwriter and singer Carole King has lived in Idaho at the Robinson Bar Ranch, upstream from Clayton for many years.

Buffalo Field Campaign. Update from the field. Oct. 18, 2007

Buffalo Field Campaign
Yellowstone Bison

Update from the Field

October 18, 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 with “sub updates” or “sub press release” in the subject line.

In this issue:

* Update from the Field
* BFC Project Director Convicted in Montana “Justice” Court
* TAKE ACTION! Two Ways to Protect Wild Buffalo Now!
* Volunteers Needed for 07-08 Season
* Buffalo in the News
* Last Words ~ Roman Sanchez


Read the rest of this entry »

New Battle of Logging vs. Spotted Owls Looms in West

While Bush and Cheney (it seems especially Cheney) are gearing up for war with Iran, folks in this lame duck Administration are trying gin up the timber wars of the early to mid-1990s.

This should be a settled matter, especially because the whole thing was not really about the spotted owl but the conservation of irreplaceable “old growth” or “ancient” forests. It is a settled matter.

Nevertheless, the BLM wants to greatly increase logging in Oregon old growth forests even as the market slumps.

I’ll bet this has a lot to do with the ascension of Jim Caswell to the post of BLM director.  Before he became an aide to Idaho governor, now Secretary of Interior, Dirk Kempthorne, Caswell was supervisor the Clearwater National Forest, and earlier, the Targhee National Forest in Eastern Idaho.

I remember him well on the Targhee. He was responsible, I believe, for making the transition from the massive salvage logging of bug-killed trees on the Targhee to sustainable logging of the new green trees unnecessarily abrupt, hard on people, divisive.  His ways don’t change.

Story in the New York Times.  New Battle of Logging vs. Spotted Owls Looms in West. By Felicity Barringer.

“60 Minutes” to feature Idaho, all those forest fires and global warming

Rocky Barker wrote about this, this morning. It will be on TV this coming Sunday.

“60 Minutes” report on fires and global warming highlights Idaho. By Rocky Barker. Idaho Statesman.

Forest Service rubberstamps grazing in Mexican wolf territory

The Mexican wolf has many strikes against is restoration. The was allowed to become extinct in the wild, so every sucessfully “rewilded” wolf is very valuable. It’s territory has been artificially limited to “the box,” a relatively small area bestride the Arizona-New Mexico border. It’s restoration area, some of which is designated wilderness, is mostly full of cattle, many of them poorly attended to with dead cows allowed to fester and attract scavengers, including wolves.

Wild Again has a disturbing article how the US Forest Service is rubberstamping grazing permits on the Gila National Forest. Well, In the midst of New Mexico’s Wolf Awareness Week, Forest Guardians and Sinapu filed suit in federal district court . . . to overturn all decisions in which the Forest Service allowed livestock grazing on the Gila National Forest in New Mexico without public participation or consideration of impacts to endangered species.

Full Story at Wild Again (Sinapu)

New record number of visits today!

I guess going to a moderated blog pleased those who are likely to visit this blog.

Everyday WordPress tallies the number of visits to each blog and each post on the blog. That happens at 6 PM mountain time. It is now 3:46 PM mountain time and a new daily record of visits has been set.

I think the acrimonious comments were driving people away.

“Canid” shot a year ago in Vermont was a wolf, genetic tests say

One of the most viewed articles on this blog has been the post of a year ago about what seemed to be a wolf, the first in over 100 years, shot in Vermont. Story from Oct. 2006.

Finally, genetic tests are in and indicate it was a wolf.

Genetic test confirms wolf shot in Vermont. By Peter Hirschfeld. Times Argus Staff

It’s “National Wolf Awareness Week”

New Mexico governor Bill Richardson went to far as to declare this unofficial week.

“Wolf Awareness Week” declared in New Mexico .

Wild Bill: Should new Wilderness areas allow mountain bikes as a way of gathering political support?

This is a pretty controversial topic. When the Wilderness Act was passed in 1964, there were not really any mountain bikes. The Act clearly bans motorized recreation, but it is somewhatunclear about muscle powered mechanical. I think it is clear enough that the judgment is against bikes.

The regulations written to flesh out the Act prohibited mountain bikes. The government’s interpretation has been very purist. Some really like that; others don’t; but it surely makes it harder to pass a Wilderness Bill.

Some mountain bike organizations have supported Wilderness anyway, but others have teamed up politically with the real target of the Wilderness Act, motorcycles, ATVs (although they didn’t exist in 1964), 4 x 4s, aircraft (except for some grandfathered backcountry airstrips), motorboats.

Allowing mountain bikes will probably require an explicit statement that they are allowed in future legislation.

Wild Bill: Are We Ready for Wilderness Lite? By Bill Schneider. New West.

Here is the text of the Act regarding “prohibited uses,”

(c) Except as specifically provided for in this chapter, and subject to existing private rights, there shall be no commercial enterprise and no permanent road within any wilderness area designated by this Act and, except as necessary to meet minimum requirements for the administration of the area for the purpose of this Act (including measures required in emergencies involving the health and safety of persons within the area), there shall be no temporary road, no use of motor vehicles, motorized equipment or motorboats, no landing of aircraft, no other form of mechanical transport, and no structure or installation within any such area.

Montana bird hunter mauled by grizzly bear

This was not a greater Yellowstone grizzly, but a NCDE griz.

He apparently came across the grizzly who was in a “day bed.”

Story. Billings Gazette News Services.

Posted in Bears. Comments Off on Montana bird hunter mauled by grizzly bear

Gill-netting culls 73,000 lake trout from Yellowstone Lake

Gill-netting culls 73K lake trout from Yellowstone Lake. By Mike Stark.Billings Gazette. The more nets they throw into Yellowstone Lake, the more pesky lake trout they seem to catch.

Despite the increase haul of this introduced cutthroat trout-eating predator, the Yellowstone cutthroat are just barely holding their own, if that.

Announcement: all posts must now be approved.

Because too many comments are now contributing little new about wildlife, etc., that is, there is little information, analysis, or reasonable discussion. There are too many personal attacks. This is becoming a moderated forum, at least for a while.

If you send a comment, I will have to approve it before it appears. That might be quickly or take several days because I do enjoy the outdoors and I am involved with two conservation organizations.

I am also thinking of some other devices WordPress allows that might return the blog to a more reasoned discussion of these matters.

Ralph Maughan, webmaster

Convenient Untruths

Al Gore has obviously done a great deal to increase concern and interest in reducing the change in climate. While the polls show a large majority are now basically on his side, much of the pro and con derives from other political positions rather than any real scientific analysis before opinions of the average person are formed.

Recently an article was written that made sense to me saying that Republicans disbelieve Gore because he is the “un-Bush,” turning out to accurate in almost every case where Bush was not, from global warming to the outcome of invading Iraq.

Fewer and fewer scientists questions that climate change is largely human caused, but “the skeptics,” who have much more than just a cottage industry in sowing confusion on the issue, seize on just about anything to advance their defense of business as usual. Most recently, it has been a court case in the United Kingdom.

Real Climate looks at the court case, but more about the accuracy of the points in “An Inconvenient Truth.” Convenient Untruths. By Gavin Schmidt and Michael Mann.

Tim Lambert in his Deltoid blog is one of the few who seems to have actually read the court case. An ‘error’ is not the same thing as an error.

Wyoming hunters kill 4 grizzly bears . . . all related to elk hunting

Here is a shocker from the Casper Star Tribune today.

Wyoming hunters kill four [or more] grizzlies. By Whitney Royster. Casper Star-Tribune environmental reporter.

The grizzly no longer has federal protection in Wyoming (delisted). Wyoming’s penalties are lighter (on paper), but the high federal penalties were almost never levied. The outcome of this, assuming it was not self defense, will tell us a lot about how delisting is going to affect the greater Yellowstone grizzly bear . . . a slap on the hand and likely 20 grizzlies will be killed next year.

Huge number of mining claims being staked around national parks and wilderness areas of the West

The antiquated 1872 mining act is not just a rip off of the taxpayer, but with rising mineral prices, it is a great threat to our most scenic areas because that law says mining always comes first, and thousands of claims are being staked.

Here is an article from the LA Times, and you can find many similar ones on-line.

Mining claims near wilderness areas in state [California] seen as threat. Wilderness areas in the state could be affected by pollution, public land analyst says. By Margot Roosevelt, Los Angeles Times Staff Writer.

More than 21,300 mining claims have been staked within 10 miles of California’s national parks and monuments and federal wilderness and roadless areas, according to an analysis of U.S. Bureau of Land Management records released Monday.

As Logging Fades, Rich Carve Up Open Land in West

As Logging Fades, Rich Carve Up Open Land in West. New York Times. By Kirk Johnson.

This is something that needs to be slowed or stopped if possible.

Hardly any existing residents seem to like this trend, but hardly anyone suggests anything effective in stopping it.

Repealing regulations protecting the environment from logging and grazing won’t stop it because it clearly hasn’t stopped where it has been tried. You just get rural sprawl mixed with livestock and logging abuse.

Today, the land is worth more as a residence than for grazing or timbering when the county provides services.

So, the key to minimizing this is to zone the county and not provide services to properties not zoned for residential occupation.

1. This does not violate the owner’s property rights because a private property owner has no right to reach into your wallet and extract tax-supported service unless the county permits it. Your money is private property too.

2. Some rural counties are so foolish they that give agricultural exemptions if the owner of a rural palace lets them run a few cattle or sheep on their 50 or so acres . . . talk about redistribution of wealth from the average person to the better off! Clearly people need to think about who they election to county commission.

3. The fire fighting agencies need to draw the line on protecting these places from wildfire. Now before Bob Caesar or someone so situated who has had a rural residence for many years writes about it being unfair, we need to obviously grandfather places like his. This is a policy for future construction, not for past.

4. Private insurance needs to segregate these residences and make them pay full cost rather than once again spreading the cost to people who have built where so many tax dollars need not be consumed. In order words, no private wealth redistribution to these places either.

5. Private communities should be discouraged by local ordinance as a violation of the US and various state constitutions. Traditional access where it is not harmful to the environment needs to be enforced by the county (not abandoned). I am not thinking, however, that ATV trails going straight up the mountain or through a marsh should be kept open. Here private closure can actually be of great benefit.

6. I believe in private property rights. If the person still wants to build on his or her remote property after it is clear no services will be provided from the local, state, or federal government taxes, then that’s their right. Everyone with property has property rights, but money is just as much private property as land.

7. Finally, because many of the rich newcomers are conservation-minded, It might be possible to enlist them to stopping more of what they did. Some people will say it’s not fair to lock the door behind you. I say it is fair because it is strongly in the interest of the public and the conservation of land and water, it is more than fair.

Idaho’s Delegation backs Craig’s salmon water rider. Lawmakers want to ensure Idaho’s voice in the salmon debate won’t be muted.

With Larry Craig’s loss of power, the other three of Idaho’s congressional delegation have taken up has efforts to make sure nothing is done to help the salmon and steelhead that still manage to migrate (just barely) from the ocean back to where they were hatched to lay eggs and spawn.

The delegations’ position has always been hard to fathom because the things that have done the most to destroy the runs in recent years are the 4 dams in the Lower Snake River. These are in Washington State, not Idaho. They are navigation dams, not water storage dams, and they produce very little net electricity, because the navigation aspect of the dams conflicts with electrical generation.

Their stance, as far as I can tell is cultural. That’s was makes so many of these “Western” issues hard to deal with. They are not really about economics. So rational discourse is not possible.

Except for the far inland seaport of Lewiston, Idaho which was made possible by these pork barrel dams, these lower Snake River dams harm Idaho economically, especially the towns on the spawning streams like Riggins, Salmon, Challis, and Stanley. They also harm Idaho agricultural water users because the alternative to tearing down the 4 dams is to run a lot of water down the Snake and Clearwater rivers to create a current in the reservoirs so the salmon smolts don’t get lost on their way to the ocean.

Fortunately, it looks like Democrats may block the Idaho delegation’s plans. Advice to these Republicans . . . maybe you should vote for things children’s health insurance and to redeploy the American troops in the Iraq civil war. . . you get favors by doing them.

Story: Delegation backs Craig’s salmon water rider. Lawmakers want to ensure Idaho’s voice in the salmon debate won’t be muted. By Rocky Barker. Idaho Statesman.

Governor Otters keeps Idaho out of national mercury pollution permit trading program — good news!

Otter: Pollution trading program still unfit for Idaho. The governor also wants the DEQ [Dept of Environmental Quality] to expand its efforts with surrounding states to reduce mercury emissions. By Rocky Barker. Idaho Statesman.

Gov. Butch Otter wants to keep Idaho out of a mercury pollution trading program promoted by the Bush Administration. The program would allow companies to build mercury polluting coal-fired power plants in Idaho simply by buying pollution rights. Former Idaho Gov. Jim Risch first pulled Idaho out of the program in 2006, helping to kill a proposed coal-fired plant near Twin Falls.

Idaho has few mercury pollution rights to sale because it has few sources of mercury pollution. Instead it faces a steady rain of mercury pollution from Nevada’s open pit gold mine and adjacent refineries. Numerous lakes and reservoirs already have too much mercury in the fish to safely eat.
Read the rest of this entry »

Idahoans must adapt as wildfire seasons become increasingly treacherous

This is hardly the first time this has been discussed, but this article goes into detail about what may be the new summer reality in Idaho and other Rocky Mountain states. I have found the good time for outdoor recreation is May and June, not July to mid-Sept (too much smoke). Folks will need to learn to enjoy the “shoulder seasons” (March-April) and (Oct-Nov) in addition to the winter. Of course, that is not feasible for many.

Idahoans must adapt as wildfire seasons become increasingly treacherous. By Heath Druzin and Rocky Barker. Idaho Statesman

Of course, there is far more to the longer fire season than outdoor recreation, nor is the increasingly long fire season just a phenomenon of Idaho and Montana (the two major fire states in the West this year), but many other states in the U.S. and in other countries. Greece, is a good example, where unprecedented large wildfires have become a big political issue. Read: WWF in despair over Greek fire damage. Rare species of animals and plants lost in flames. Anger rises as developers move in on stricken area. UK Guardian.

It looks like in Greece anti-conservation forces are just as ready to take advantage of the fires as they are in the U.S.

Here is an article about the continued wildfires in the U.S. that are continuing outside of the West where the season is over. Officials see no quick end to the drought and wildfires in Eastern Kentucky. Associated Press

I would not expect many quick innovations. It’s clear the federal and state agencies are not about to change livestock grazing as usual. I don’t see a slow down in the building of homes in remote, expensive to defend locations. Invasive flammable weeds continue to spread. Timber companies will use the fires as an excuse to go in and log the wrong way because they have to make money, not lose money by conducting a fire reduction project such as cutting only the small, crowded trees.

Posted in Climate change, wildfire. Comments Off on Idahoans must adapt as wildfire seasons become increasingly treacherous

Climate Change Likely to Increase Fires from Invasive Weeds

Yesterday begreen made a detailed post here about the U.S. Senate subcommittee hearing on wildfires in Las Vegas.

Here is the first article I found about the testimony.

Climate Change Likely to Increase Fires from Invasive weeds. Associated Press. By Kathleen Hennessey.

Related story. Sagebrush recovery efforts under way. By Emily Simnitt. Idaho Statesman.

Cheatgrass and one bunch of a native grass (Great Basin Wild Rye). Photo copyright Ralph Maughan

Yellowstone Wolves: Embattled Again

Time Magazine sounds the alarm!

The headline is misleading because Yellowstone National Park’s wolves are not embattled except indirectly by gradual deterioration of their genetics if adjacent non-Park wolf packs are eliminated.

Nevertheless, the article makes it clear the 1200 or so wolves outside the Park are probably threatened with a large reduction in their numbers. The effect of a Time Magazine article is on a national audience, not the local, and it’s good to see the alert go out.

Congressional legislative action is the very best way of preventing large wolf reduction.

Yellowstone Wolves: Embattled Again. By Pat Dawson. Time Magazine

Massive Wilderness Bill Inches Forward—13 Years Later

This is a report in New West on NREPA, which is getting its first ever hearing in Congress.

Opponents have always argued that the grand Northern Rockies Ecosystem Projection Act isn’t’ politically feasible, but bills that are commonly hailed as “feasible” have not been enacted either. There are a few exceptions in greener places like California, or where very unpleasant trade-offs were made like White Pine County, Nevada. There also some places where that nasty slug Richard Pombo (now oozing his way around D.C. as a lobbyist) held up bills despite support by the state’s congressional delegation (Oregon and Washington).

Bison advocate convicted of obstructing peace officer while filming hazing

Folks might recall when Dan Brister was injured and arrested last winter while videoing the Montana DOL haze bison north of West Yellowstone, Montana. He is project director for the Buffalo Field Campaign.

He had a jury trial and was convicted of obstructing a peace officer after a one-day trial in Gallatin County Justice Court. He was fined $585 and sentenced to six months probation after the jury found him guilty. I guess that will keep him safely away while the DOL does its dirty work this winter.

Story in the Bozeman Chronicle.

Senate Subcommittee considers Great Basin management

The Senate Public Lands and Forests Subcommittee is holding a hearing in Las Vegas today ~ Thursday, October 11 ~ to discuss threats to the Great Basin. From what I gather, fire and cheatgrass will be highlighted on the agenda. Subscription only article from E & E :

The Senate Public Lands and Forests Subcommittee looks at environmental threats facing rangelands and forests in the Great Basin at a field hearing Thursday in Las Vegas.

The Great Basin includes much of Nevada, western Utah, the lower third of Idaho, the southeastern corner of Oregon and a narrow strip of eastern California. It has been under assault recently by a combination of invasive species, wildfire, drought and climate change.

The hearing has the potential to alter the current momentum of the debate over how best to manage habitat in the West that continues to diminish ~ habitat that is critical to the almost listed pygmy rabbit, sage grouse, and a host of other species including pronghorn, a variety of beautiful birds, fish, and other wonderous plants and animals.

Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in Climate change, invasive species, Las Vegas, public lands, public lands management, wildfire, Wildlife Habitat. Tags: . Comments Off on Senate Subcommittee considers Great Basin management

Global Warming, Western Ranching, and the Bovine Curtain

Global Warming, Western Ranching, and the Bovine Curtain. This is from the WWP blog linking to an opinion by George Wuerthner as to how cattle contribute mightily to global climate change.

Just like the old Iron Curtain that squelched any critical discussion of Communism’s failures, we in the West live behind a “Bovine Curtain.” The Bovine Curtain is—like the Iron Curtain—operated by the state, using taxpayer dollars to continuously broadcast propaganda about the virtues of ranching in the West and suppressing any negative or critical information. . . . Wuerthner.

NCDE grizzly bear study deserves assured funding

The Northern Continental Divide ecosystem in northwest central Montana is the second largest grizzly population in the lower 48 states. It consists of Glacier National Park, the Great Bear, Bob Marshall, Scapegoat, and Mission Mountains wilderness areas and several million acres of adjacent roaded and unroaded, public and private land.

A sophisticated population size study has been underway in the area using DNA analysis of bear fur snagged on numerous scent posts in the NCDE. One conclusion has been that the population size is well over 500 (good news). It seems to be more accurate and less expensive than older methods of counting grizzly populationsl

Unfortunately the funds for continuing this are not assured, and for next year they were cobbled together at the last minute.

Grizzly research deserves funding. Daily InterLake. Opinion (you can comment on this in the InterLake).

Posted in Bears. 12 Comments »

Wolves in the fold: Ranchers struggle to co-exist with an old Montana predator

This story appeared Oct. 6 and is fairly moderate in tone, despite the headline — “their struggle” isn’t much compared to the multitude of other things that kill cattle and sheep.

Montana’s Department of Fish and Wildife and Parks, which does just about all on-the-ground decision making about wolves today, is also moderate. Montana’s Department and its commissioners are much more inclusive, willing to try new things, and open to the public than Idaho. I won’t even talk about Wyoming’s Game and Fish Commission where total darkness reigns.

The odd thing is this, despite Idaho’s harsh rhetoric, and backward ranchers with political pull, Idaho has far more wolves than Montana, kills fewer wolves than Montana, and in many years has fewer so-called “depredations” on cattle and sheep (note that I am being conscious of George Wuerthner’s article on language that I posted today).

So I am puzzled.

Wolves in the fold: Ranchers struggle to co-exist with an old Montana predator. By Kim Briggeman. The Missoulian

Related story. Wyoming wolf conflicts decline: Aggressive control actions limit livestock kills. By Whitney Royster, Casper Star Tribune. When you factor out the large number of wolves in Yellowstone Park, a much higher percentage of wolves are killed in Wyoming than in Montana or Idaho by the government — in this case the federal government.

Another puzzle, does killing a lot of wolves improve the political situation with ranchers? Are they going to be more pleasant in Wyoming now, or does that kind of management just raise their expectation level? The question needs to be asked and answered, and wolf conservation groups decide their tone in the future on the basis of the answer.

Working Wilderness and Other Code Words

George Wuerthner has a good piece how metaphors affect the way we perceive our natural resources.

Working Wilderness and Other Code Words. New West. By George Wuerthner.

In fact my use of the term “natural resources” implies a point of view, namely that elements of the natural world exist just for our use and have no intrinsic value.

I shudder when organizations use the word “human resources,” for it implies that people are like mineral ore, trees bound for the sawmill, animals sent to be slaughtered and fully utilized. It also implies that people are subjects, not things valuable in their own right. The phrase “human resources” is both anti-democratic and anti-individualistic.

Conservationists would do well, as Wuerthner says, not to adopt these words. When you start talking about “working rivers” (meaning dammed and/or dewatered), predator control (killing an animal that somehow offended the owner of livestock), you are adopting a language that says “I accept your cultural and economic dominance.” You should only use these words if you can somehow decenter it — redefine it and get people to use it in a way that implies an alternative view.

I always told my classes that most of the process of politics consists of the manipulation of language.

Note that “livestock” strongly implies a view about the status of an animal, and cattle, sheep, horses have no value other than to us. 

Posted in politics. Tags: . 2 Comments »

Yellowstone moose use roads to outsmart grizzly bears

Rocky Barker has a short and interesting blog as to how the presence of roads affects the interaction of predators and prey.

Yellowstone moose use roads to outsmart grizzly bears. By Rocky Barker. Idaho Statesman.

Update: I just found this. It’s the same story with a somewhat different slant on the matter. It’s from Science Daily Study: Moose move toward humans for safety.

10-13. More still on the moose/grizzly bear/roads story. Mother moose know best. Bears avoid park roads, so expectant ungulates stay close. By Mike Stark. Billings Gazette Staff

Posted in Bears, Moose, wilderness roadless, Yellowstone. Comments Off on Yellowstone moose use roads to outsmart grizzly bears

The Western Watersheds Project has been out there, and in court, winning more battles.

From the the WWP blog. Good News.

There are victories on the pygmy rabbit, the desert tortoise, Nickel Creek and video of the recent tour of the Pass Creek grazing allotment in the Lost River Range which I went on.

“Everyday Idahoans” suggest possible new national monuments

This list and story were the result of a comment by Secretary of Interior Kempthorne followed up by publicity and work by the Idaho Statesman with help from Dr. John Freemuth, a political scientist, at Boise State University.

I certainly like the idea of a Mesa Falls National Monument of 200,000 acres which would correct omissions made by Congress back in 1872 when Yellowstone Park was established.

The Lewis and Clark National Monument for the Clearwater country is a much needed proposal.

I doubt we will get any national monuments from Bush, although some of his “black site,” currently unlocated prisons (where they do not torture) may be eventually declared national historic sites like they did some of the Japanese-American interment camps from the 1940s.

Story by Rocky Barker.

A correction to the Idaho Statesman story . . . while it is true no more national monuments can be designated in the state of Wyoming by any President (part of the legislative settlement on Grand Teton NP in 1950), Cave Falls is not unprotected. It always has been inside Yellowstone Park (although not far).

Photo of Cave Falls on Google Earth. It’s safely inside Yellowstone Park.

Alberta said to be ready to save its grizzly bears

Gov’t to launch grizzly recovery plan. Long-awaited action comes as surveys suggest Alberta home to fewer than 400 bears. Darcy Henton, The Edmonton Journal.

Montana and Wyoming both have more grizzlies than the entire province of Alberta.

Posted in Bears. Tags: , . Comments Off on Alberta said to be ready to save its grizzly bears

Wildfires: Should taxpayers pay for those who build mansions in ‘the stupid zone’?

The increasing cost of wildfires and their decimation of the Forest Service’s budget for other things is raising more and more controversy.

The Salt Lake Tribune has a story on it. Wildfires: Should taxpayers pay for those who build mansions in ‘the stupid zone’?By Patty Henetz. The Salt Lake Tribune

Drilling backlash ‘overblown,’ BLM chief says

Caswell, the new BLM chief, thinks Democratic Party gains in the West are not due to a backlash from all the oil and gas drilling in prime wildlife and scenic areas.

Drilling backlash is overblown according to Jim Caswell, new BLM head. By John Heilprin. Casper Star Tribune.

I don’t see evidence one way or the other from this article. It’s just Caswell’s opinion.

Two more hunters mauled by grizzlies, with one griz dead, north of Yellowstone Park

This makes the third and the fourth incident of the year between grizzlies and hunters just north of Yellowstone Park.

All four have been separate incidents. The toll is 4 mauled hunters and two dead female grizzlies with cubs.

One attack was west of Beattie Gulch, and was probably the same bear that mauled Dustin Flack of Belgrade near Beattie Gulch on Sept. 15. A hunter in the party fired on the bear, which had three cubs, but seem to have missed.

The second case was in Sunlight Creek. This is near Tom Miner Basin. Here the grizzly charged and was briefly repelled by a big blast of pepper spray, but she quickly returned and was shot twice with a .44 magnum pistol. She is probably dead.

All of the incidents have been grizzlies with cubs who were probably surprised.

Webmaster note: The Bozeman Chronicle has fallen into the “pay to view archives” category. So links to their articles soon disappear. I wonder if newspapers that do this really make enough money to outweigh the publicity they get from long-term links to their articles?

Bow hunters attacked by bears in separate incidents. By Scott McMillion. Bozeman Chronicle Staff Writer

Update 10/8: Grizzly Bear in Tom Miner [Sunlight Creek] mauling found dead. By Scott McMillion. Bozeman Chronicle Staff Writer.

The grizzly that got pepper sprayed and then shot was found dead. The female near Beattie Gulch was apparently not hit. She did inflict some puncture wounds on the one of the hunters. The Beattle Gulch area is now closed to all human entry.

– – – –

Update 10/10: Elk hunters warned: Beware of hungry bears. By Mike Stark. Billings Gazette (link still active)

Idaho big game outlook: Expect stable deer and elk populations this year

Big game outlook: Expect stable deer and elk populations this year. By Roger Phillips. Idaho Statesman. This is a detailed look for all the areas of the state of Idaho.

If wolves were destroying Idaho’s elk and deer population, the populations should be declining. In fact, they should be declining at an increasing rate as the wolf population has grown.

Northern Rockies Ecosystem Protection Act to finally get a congressional hearing

NREPA is by far the best Wilderness Bill out there, but it has always been criticised as politically infeasible.

Now, however, the political climate has changed, although NREPA hardly has a steady and strong political wind behind it.

Songwriter, singer Carole King who has lived near Clayton, Idaho (between Challis and Stanley) for many years has been a leading supporter and financial backer of the legislation.

Rocky Barker as a blog on it. Carole King and supporters finally get House hearing on ambitious wilderness bill. Idaho Statesman.

Anandromous fish from hatcheries have poor survival rates.

“Steelhead turned out by hatcheries quickly evolve into a kind of swimming livestock with a poor chance of surviving in the wild and may carry their inferior traits into wild populations that biologists are trying to save, a new study of fish in Oregon’s Hood River has found.”

Read the rest of the story: Hatchery fish found to be poor at survival. A study indicates steelhead are so bad at surviving that they are little help to wild runs. By Michael Milstein. The Oregonian.

New Rocky Mountain Front travel plan emphasizes solitude rather than ATVs

The Lewis and Clark National Forest issued a new travel plan governing the lower two-thirds of the Rocky Mountain Front for the next 20 years.

It came after a full environmental impact statement and receipt of 46,000 comments. It looks like good news for wildlife.

Story originally from the Missoulian and reprinted in the Billings Gazette. By Perry Backus.

Posted in public lands, public lands management, vehicles. Tags: . Comments Off on New Rocky Mountain Front travel plan emphasizes solitude rather than ATVs

Changes in weather, environment outpace forest fire policy, panelist says

Changes in weather, environment outpace policy, panelist says. By Perry Backus. Missoulian.

This is story is from a panel at a two-day conference set up a group named Western Progress, a progressive policy group. The focus is on building a “restoration economy” to fit the conditions of the interior West.

Posted in wildfire. Tags: . Comments Off on Changes in weather, environment outpace forest fire policy, panelist says

Grizzly that mauled Yellowstone Park employee while he was hunting has been found dead

He did shoot the bear, and many assumed it would die. They were right.

It was found in Little Trail Creek near Gardiner, Montana with part of its jaw blasted off. It had one or two year cubs which are still in the area.

Story in the Billings Gazette.

Servheen impressed by Selkirk grizzly’s journey to north central Idaho

Chris Servheen is the grizzly bear recovery coordinator for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Here is the story in the Missoulian. By Michael Jamison.

Craig Says He’ll Stay in Senate, Defying the G.O.P.

Craig Says He’ll Stay in Senate, Defying the G.O.P. By Carl Hulse. New York Times

This is a huge story in Idaho, and, of course, nationwide too.

Update. Editorial by the Idaho Statesman. Our view: Craig’s broken promise is unfair to Idahoans.

Idaho GOP divided as Craig says he’s staying. By John Miller. Associated Press Writer. Craig says his accumulated seniority will help Idaho, but his party has effectively taken away the power that comes with seniority — he is no longer “ranking member” on his Senate committees.

For Craig, legal fight gets tougher if he presses Minn. case. By Patrick Condon, Associated Press Writer

CBS station recreates events before Sen. Craig’s arrest. USA Today.

Text of Larry Craig’s Statement. Associated Press.

Finally, I should add that if Craig’s obnoxious anti-wildlife amendments make it into law, it won’t be the Republicans’ fault. It will rest on Senator Dianne Feinstein (Dem-CA) who chairs the committee.

Larry Craig’s True Crimes Against Nature. By Lee Patton. Op-ed Note that begreen had an article with the same headline in New West back on 9-02-07.

Uranium exploration likely in Salmon River Mountains between Challis and Stanley

Forest Service to decide on uranium exploration this month. Challis Messinger. By Todd Adams.

“Forest Service officials probably will approve a drilling project to explore for uranium in the Harden Creek area between Sunbeam and Stanley, . . . “

Idaho Statesman says “Luring bears goes against common sense”

After all the bears coming into town and the very rare shooting of a central Idaho grizzly over bait, Idaho’s biggest newspaper comes out against the continuation of bear baiting. Luring bears goes against common sense

Posted in Bears. Tags: . 29 Comments »

Idaho’s Mike Simpson picks up Craig’s range ideas

There is an important story in the WWP blog. Idaho’s one kinda moderate member of Congress (Rep. Mike Simpson, 2nd district) is stepping in to fill Craig’s stance on grazing and wildfires.

The Greater Yellowstone brims with grizzly cubs this year

As posted some weeks ago, this was a fine year for the whitebark pine nuts in the Greater Yellowstone area. So was last year, and one result is a lot of grizzly bear cubs born and survived.

Yellowstone brims with grizzly cubs. By Mike Stark. Billings Gazette.

The article above and Rocky Barker’s blog both briefly discuss the sow with 4 cubs story we have been following most of the summer. Apparently wolves were a factor in the adoption of the cub.

Rocky Barker’s blog: Grizzly mother adopts neighbors’ cubs after wolf chase. By Rocky Barker. Idaho Statesman.

Lost River Mountains sure are pretty except . . .

. . . . when you look down at your feet in the meadows.

We went on a range inspection tour Oct. 2, 2007. We inspected the Pass Creek Grazing Allotment. The photo below shows a headwaters tributary of Wet Creek, an important Bull Trout stream.

The little stream (Pine Creek) gradually gained water — burbling and splashing along as it carried a fine mixture of mud and manure down from Pass Creek pass toward the Little Lost River Valley below.

The humps are long lasting features caused by cattle standing on a wet meadow.


Read the rest of this entry »

Judge Orders Pygmy Rabbit Endangered Species Consideration

This is pretty amazing because federal judge Edward Lodge of Idaho rarely rules in favor of conservation groups. Once again this shows how compromised the Bush/Kempthorne USFWS is.

News Release

For more information

Katie Fite, Western Watersheds Project, (208) 871-5738
Todd Tucci, Advocates for the West, (208) 342-7024
Duane Short, Biodiversity Conservation Alliance, (307) 742-7978 or (270) 366-3415
Josh Pollock, Center for Native Ecosystems, (303) 546-0214
Bill Marlett, Oregon Natural Desert Association, (541) 330-2638
Mark Salvo, Sagebrush Sea Campaign, (503) 757-4221

BOISE, ID – Wednesday September 26 Federal District Judge Edward Lodge of the District of Idaho struck down a decision from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service that the agency lacked sufficient scientific information to warrant Endangered Species Act listing consideration. The judge ordered the Fish and Wildlife Service to reconsider this small sagebrush mammal for listing and to issue a new 90-day finding.

“Under this decision, the FWS can no longer ignore the plummeting pygmy rabbit populations”, said Todd Tucci, attorney with Advocates for the West. “The Service must put politics aside, and let science dictate the outcome of its review.”

The pygmy rabbit weighs about a pound and a half and can fit in the palm of a hand. This unique rabbit climbs high into the branches of sagebrush to browse on the leaves, making it the only arboreal rabbit in North America. Pygmy rabbits require areas of tall, old sagebrush, typically found in valley bottoms.

“The BLM in 2007 is still relentlessly mowing, chopping, burning and herbiciding pygmy rabbit habitats, said Katie Fite of Western Watersheds Project. “Remnant thick and old growth sagebrush is being destroyed in BLM and Forest Service projects dubbed ‘hazardous fuels reduction’ or wildlife habitat projects. In reality, these are the same as the old livestock forage projects that have already obliterated so much of the Sagebrush Sea.”

“Sagebrush dependent wildlife, from pygmy rabbits to sage grouse, are under siege from the dual forces of livestock grazing and cheatgrass-driven fires, turning thousands of acres of the West into a barren moonscape,” said Bill Marlett, Executive Director of the Oregon Natural Desert Association. Read the rest of this entry »

Wolf kills Labrador in Ninemile [Valley]

I made a brief note of this earlier, but the Missoulian did a full story on it.

The Ninemile Wolf Pack goes way back to 1990, well before the wolf reintroduction. This has happened before there. Of course, as time goes by people forget. Most years the Ninemile Pack kills a few livestock or pets. Every once and a while the government then kills a few of the pack.

Fortunately (from my view, anyway), NW Montana wolves are still classified as endangered and are not managed under the once-protective, now not-so-good 10j rule for the reintroduced wolves and their offspring.

Wolves attack dogs because they see (or maybe I should say “smell” dogs) as territory-trespassing wolves.

If a person is outside in the woods with a dog and he/she sees wolves following, they are interested in the dog, not them.

Wolf kills a yellow Labrador in the Ninemile Valley. By Kim Briggeman. Missoulian.

Arctic Melt Unnerves the Experts

Arctic Melt Unnerves the Experts. By Andrew C. Revkin. New York Times.

The rate of melt was faster than almost all the model simulations had predicted. What about the near future?

Rocky Barker’s blog: Roadless rule resolution may wait for next administration

Rocky Barker’s blog: Roadless rule resolution may wait for next administration. Rocky Barker. Idaho Statesman.

Barkers writes about the latest chapter in the struggle over national forest roadless areas. This is a battle that has been going on since the early 1970s, but especially since President Bill Clinton gave an executive order to protect all remaining roadless areas over 5000 acres in size on the national forests and President Bush replaced it with a much less protective rule.

Grizzly Bear killed in north central Idaho came from the Selkirk Mountains

The grizzly bear that was killed by a bear hunter in a vast backcountry area near Kelly Creek migrated there from the beleaguered bear population in the Selkirk Mountains of extreme northern Idaho. That’s the part of Idaho called “The Panhandle”.

DNA tests showed that the big healthy bear came from the Selkirks. Grizzlies there, and in central Idaho (where none were thought to be) are still on the threatened species list, and were not affected by the recent delisting of the grizzlies in the Greater Yellowstone ecosystem. Many, including myself, hope this bear was not the only grizzly in vast central and north central Idaho mountains.

Here is the news release from Idaho Fish and Game.

Bluetongue spreads in Montana with high pronghorn mortality in places

Hunters advised on bluetongue death toll. By Mark Henckel. Billings Gazette Outdoor Editor

Probe Clears Idaho elk rancher on disposal of remains from his elk shooting compound

This is from the Casper Star Tribune. I made a update on it last night, but it was way down to a past post on the matter, so I decided to move it to the top.

Probe Clears Elk Rancher. AP. Casper Star Tribune. Perhaps Ferguson, who owns the ranch, was obeying Idaho’s law, but it seems like an incredibly weak law, as has been the case in all respects about Idaho elk ranches and shooting pens.

This kind of burial would hardly deter a grizzly bear from digging up a great meal, and the bears will remember and likely just dig a little deeper. What happens now if the bears are cut off from food? The area is not great bear habitat, and they are hungry, getting ready to den in about a month or so.

It looks like local residents of the “Island Park area” are not convinced the problem has been abated and are undertaking some political action.

Posted in Bears, Yellowstone. Tags: , , , . Comments Off on Probe Clears Idaho elk rancher on disposal of remains from his elk shooting compound

Photos of Idaho’s Phantom Hill Wolf Pack

The Phantom Hill wolf pack is considered by some as Ketchum, Idaho’s own. First discovered this year, the pack has been around for more than a year, however, because it has yearlings.

Its range is in the Boulder and Smoky Mountains, bisected by scenic Idaho Highway 75, about 25 miles north of Ketchum. On one side of the Highway is the grazing allotment of Lava Lake Land and Livestock, a very wildlife friendly outfit that decided not to put its sheep in this year to help the wolf pack. On the Smoky Mountain side the rancher is not progressive.

Somehow they survived the summer with some help from a person hired by the Forest Service, or Idaho Fish and Game (not sure). This person’s job was to haze them away from livestock.

At any rate, a lot of folks have seen them crossing the road.

Lynne Stone of Stanley sent the photos below of the alpha female and a yearling. She caught them other day on her way through. They aren’t the greatest photos, but we don’t get many photos of Idaho wolves, despite there being 700 of them. Thanks Lynne!

The alpha female has a limp.

See photos: all copyrighted

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Montana ranch favored by conservation groups gets cited for upleasant kind of wolf killing

The email and phone lines have been buzzing about this one.

Last July a ranch hand at the Sun Ranch ran down and ran repeated ran over an injured female wolf, the alpha of the pack. The Sun Ranch on the east side of the Madison Valley has long been favored by many conservation groups as one place where they are trying to do it right. Because the wolf had not chased or attacked the cattle and was in fact moving away from them, they were cited for a violation, an “illegal wolf take” under the current 10j rule.

The 10j rule states that the wolf must be attacking, or actively molesting, harassing or chasing livestock before it can be killed. The method used stirred controversy. The ranch hand did not have a gun. Wolves can also be legally shot for molesting or attacking livestock guard or herding dogs.

Here is the most recent story about it in the Bozeman Daily Chronicle. Sun Ranch issued citation for wolf killing. By Scott McMillion. Bozeman Chronicle Staff Writer.

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All-terrain vehicles restricted to only some terrain. Government limits off-road recreation

All-terrain vehicles restricted to only some terrain. Government limits off-road recreation. By Patrick O’Driscoll. USA Today.

The days of legal, recreational cross country travel on public lands of the United States (that is, off road or off trail) are just about over. Of course, there is little money to enforce it right now due to the failure of the Bush Administration to seek adequate funds for the agencies. On the other hand, the inexpensive way to write the rules if you have little money is to say “nothing off-trail” and a route is closed to motor vehicles unless a sign says it is open to them.

Related story in southern Idaho. Geared for conflict. Public land use evolves with high ATV traffic. By Matt Christensen. Times News.

Note: Congress actually appropriates the funds, but last year they could not produce a budget. So the government has been running for a year on a “continuing resolution,”or “CR.” which keeps the old budget figures intact (except for the “supplemental appropriations” Congress has since passed, mostly for the civil war in Iraq).

This year Congress has given the land management agencies a big increase, but Bush is threatening a veto and his stated that a CR might be OK for the second year a row.

Natural Resources Defense Council criticizes 10j rule; has TV ad

This AP story by Matthew Brown appeared in the Seattle Times and many other newspapers. Control plan labeled threat to survival of wolf population. It is about the proposed new 10j rule for state wolf management prior to total delisting.

The NRDC also has a national television ad running beginning today (not just a YouTube video). Here is a link to the ad via YouTube.

Posted in Delisting, Wolves. Tags: , . Comments Off on Natural Resources Defense Council criticizes 10j rule; has TV ad