Bangs clears up some media confusion

I have seen both of these stories, and thought I should post and clarify, but haven’t had the time or incentive (lazy) to do it. Fortunately Ed Bangs sent out the following.

Not a wild wolf issue but was confused with one in media so…On the 28th, the Owyhee County Sheriff in ID requested ID WS [Wildlife Services] assistance with capturing a black privately-owned captive wolf that escaped from its enclosure late last month.  The wolf has reportedly been sighted west of Murphy, ID several times since it escaped. On 11/22, the wolf was seen attacking some sheep.  WS confirmed that one ewe had been killed by a wolf-like canid and two others had been injured.  While traps have been set, WS is focusing on trying to locate the captive wolf.  WS will work with the Sheriff and IDFG to resolve the problem.  

In a related story this week another captive wolf/hybird was repeatedly seen in a suburb east of Salt Lake City, UT.

Posted in Wolves. Tags: . 1 Comment »

More on the Idaho wolf that went to Yellowstone

It turns out to be true, but the identification of the particular wolf was wrong. Ed Bangs just sent this info out. The boldface is mine:

“Correction- The frequency for the collared Idaho wolf in Yellowstone NP thought to be B195 is actually coming from Idaho wolf B271M. The two wolves had frequencies close to one another and B271 was mistaken for B195. Turns out B195 has a bob-tail and this one doesn’t so the mistake was eventually discovered by Niemeyer [former FWS and now IDFG]. B271 is currently with a dispersing female from Slough Creek Pack on the northern range of YNP- possibly the beginning of a new pack. B271’s story is amazing. B271’s father is highly likely R241M (who dispersed to ID from YNP; heli-darted 10/13/01 near Dome Mtn.). His mother is likely B189F (origin unknown). B271 was trapped in rubber-jawed McBride #7 by IDFG near the Steel Mt. pack den site (Lost Man Ck.; Boise NF) on 5/3/06. He was estimated as ~ 1 yr. old at that time; so if born in 2005 he belonged to a litter of 4-7 pups. He was aerially located 10 times prior to disappearing from ID following the 12/19/06 flight. His ear tags are both 413. Wow- the son returns to his father’s homeland.

See earlier story I wrote on this. A First. Idaho Wolf goes to Yellowstone Park, joins Sloughs. Nov. 16. 2007

German survives quest to reach Yellowstone using only GPS

Dr. Jon Way reports on he and his students’ trip to Yellowstone wolf country

Jon Way just got back from Yellowstone, and he has a report on some of the same events covered by Kathie Lynch. He also has photos.

It is at his web page: Update November 28, 2007: Yellowstone trip with more pictures added Nov. 29!

Missoulian says the decision not to list river grayling smells “fishy”

Fluvial (river) grayling have been reduced to just one river in the lower 48 states. USFWS doesn’t want to list them. They say graying in the few lakes that have them are sufficient. Western Watersheds Project and other groups are suing over this refusal to list.

Editorial in the Missoulian.

Slow Montana hunting season ends with a bang

Slow Montana hunting season ends with a bang. By Perry Backus. Missoulian.

Just to remind folks how much difference weather makes in a hunting season.

Posted in Elk. Tags: . 7 Comments »

Hunting for wolves

Hunting for wolves. By Nicholas K. Geranios. AP

Posted in Wolves. Tags: . 1 Comment »

Report touts wildlife refuges

Here is another story touting the economic benefits of nearby public lands. Report touts wildlife refuges. By Brodie Farquhar. Casper Star Tribune.

These stories continually telling of the benefits of the public lands have in recent years help stave off the privatizers, but beware because their methods are getting more and more sneaky.

Dubois, Wyoming, hunters split on losses to wolves

Dubois hunters split on losses to wolves. AP.

This article says “Charles Kay, a Utah researcher who specializes in wildlife ecology, said there have been no comprehensive studies of how wolves impact big game because such a study would be complex, time-consuming and costly.”

In fact there have been many studies, although Kay may not think they were comprehensive enough. Then too, “big game” is a lot of different kinds of animals, all of which might respond differently.

More endangered species rulings reversed where Julie MacDonald had influence

Julie MacDonald, the one-woman endangered species wreking crew, figures in yet another case of “inappropriate influence.” The US Fish and Wildlife Service will now revisit the white-tailed prairie dog, Preble’s meadow jumping mouse,  the Canada lynx, the Hawaiian picture-wing fly, the Arroyo toad, and the California red-legged frog.

Story in the Denver Post. Endangered species rulings reversed. By H. Josef Hebert. Associated Press

Posted in endangered species act. Tags: . Comments Off on More endangered species rulings reversed where Julie MacDonald had influence

From reintroduction to statewide hunt? Fish and Game releases draft plan to hunt wolves throughout Idaho

From reintroduction to statewide hunt? Fish and Game releases draft plan to hunt wolves throughout Idaho. By Jason Kaufmann. Idaho Mountain Express.

One of the places Idaho Fish and Game won’t be holding a public hearing is the Wood River Valley: Hailey, Ketchum, Bellevue, Sun Valley, the largest population of mountain folks in central Idaho wolf country. Instead they opt for tiny Challis and Salmon for hearings.

Methinks the people in the Wood River Valley area are bit too educated, and not so easily scared by folk tales for about the vicious wolf for the Department to risk holding a hearing.

Yellowstone wolf notes. Kathie Lynch Nov. 21-25

Kathie Lynch has written another great update on her wolf observations on the Yellowstone Park Northern Range. Ralph Maughan

– – – – – –

Yellowstone wolf notes. Nov. 21-25. Copyright Kathie Lynch.

Five days in Yellowstone, November 21-25, 2007, brought unbelievably frigid temperatures and many, many wolves. Frost was definitely on the Thanksgiving pumpkin in Lamar Valley, with a dawn temperature of minus 20 F! I don’t think it got above zero at all on Thanksgiving Day, but, by 4 p.m., it had warmed all the way up to minus one!

My first day in the park started off with unexpected excitement in Little America as at least seven Agate Creek wolves, with tails flying high, barreled full blast south toward the road at the Lamar Bridge in pursuit of three members of the (unofficially named) “Silver” pack. The silver alpha female and the other two adults, one black and one gray, made it safely across the road to the south, and the Agates returned to the north.

A lone black howler, probably a “Silver” pack pup, cried its heart out nearby, but we didn’t see the “Silver” pack adults again, and the pup also disappeared. This small pack of six seems to have carved out a tenuous home in the Little America area, somehow sandwiched between the Agates, Oxbows, Sloughs and Druids.

Day number two was my first of two three-pack days, with the Druids, Sloughs, and Agates all making appearances. The Druids had to be admired from afar as they stood silhouetted in the early morning sunlight atop snowy Amethyst Peak, high above the Lamar Valley.

The Agates and Sloughs were destined to be the stars that day. Not too far south of the road from the Slough Creek parking lot/outhouse lay what appeared to be a small bison carcass, cause of death unknown. Ten coyotes were gathered around, happily enjoying a Thanksgiving feast. Nearby, a grizzly roamed the Crystal Creek drainage, perhaps having had one last snack before finding a nice warm den for the winter.

Earlier in the day, we had seen 13 Agates (nine grays, three blacks, and the black-turning-silver alpha 472F) bedded in the sage and then howling south of the road in Little America. We lost sight of them, but eventually picked them up again to the east of the Crystal Creek drainage, south of Slough Creek. All of a sudden, they broke into a run and arrived at the possible bison carcass, sending those wily coyotes scattering in all directions.

The Agates fed on the carcass for about an hour, finishing up with a nice rally and group howl. As they headed back to the west, a mighty chorus of howls rose up from behind the ridge near Dave’s Hill. We swung our scopes around to see the absolutely unforgettable sight of 16 Sloughs cresting the ridge. The 13 blacks looked like an advancing army as they rushed forward, fanned out in a united front to stand at attention and issue their challenge to the retreating Agates. Across the road, the outnumbered Agates made a silent getaway into the trees and disappeared to the west without answering the Sloughs.

The next morning found the Sloughs on a bull elk carcass near the Slough Creek campground/trailhead. The carcass was at the edge of the trees, and it was really hard to see the wolves clearly, but there seemed to 13 or so, including the pack’s three grays (the three-year-old female “Sharp Right” and two pups).

The Slough pack technically numbers 18 right now, but there are a couple of variables. The four-year-old Slough, 527F, sometimes travels alone and is often not with the Sloughs. However, she is still very much a part of the pack and was with them when they challenged the Agates on Nov. 22. She may, however, be getting ready to disperse, as she has recently been seen in the company of the mysterious “Idaho Wolf,” who may or may not be Idaho B195M. Although his collar frequency matches, the gray in Yellowstone does not have a bobbed tail, while Idaho B195M supposedly does. Regardless, it would be nice if 527F could hook up with this beautiful collared gray (who was previously so content with the Sloughs until he left the pack when the new alpha male took over in September).

Note: about this, check out this more recent story. He is an Idaho wolf, but not wolf B195M. . . . Ralph Maughan

The other variable is that one Slough black pup has not been seen recently. It may have been another victim of the Druids’ attack on Nov. 17, when they killed the uncollared two-year-old Slough female, “Slant.” A sleek, dark black wolf, “Slant” had endured so much in her way too short life. She was one of only three Slough survivors of the disease epidemic that killed most of the pups in 2005. A year later, she endured the siege by the Unknowns, trapped inside the den hole for days. Slant quite likely was a mother this year, so hopefully her indomitable spirit will live on in another shiny black pup.

My fourth day was another three pack day with the Sloughs close by and still at Slough Creek on their elk carcass, 16 Druids sky high and way, way, way far away up on the Cache/Calfee ridge, and 17 Oxbows way, way, way far away on a carcass up the Hellroaring slope. I think my total viewing distance for the Druids and Oxbows was about seven miles!

The last day brought a chance to see “The Jasper Male,” an uncollared black who frequents Lamar. He was alone and looking for morsels on an old carcass in Lamar. Sometimes he is in the company of a small, lovely gray female. They seem to have found a way to survive in the Jasper Bench area, but they will need to be especially wary now that the Druids are back in Lamar.

The big treat on my last day was a close up view of all 16 Druids! They started off the morning in the Rose Creek area, north of the road near the Buffalo Ranch, and proceeded west into the heart of Slough territory. Eventually, they got so far to the north and west that we had to go to Long Pullout in Little America and look back to the northeast to see them.

After finding the Sloughs not at home (they were up Slough Creek to the north) and chasing a couple of elk, the Druids stayed on the north side of the road and returned to Lamar. I never expected them to cross the road in plain view, but that’s just what they did, right between the Fisherman’s and Coyote turnouts!

They were funny in their different approaches to crossing the road. Some ran down the hill at full speed and crossed like a shot; a black and a gray actually stood posed on opposite sides of the road like crossing guards; two others never did have the nerve to cross. Those two, a black pup and a gray yearling (who maybe got stuck baby-sitting the reluctant pup) stayed on the north side of the road and continued east. Eventually they safely joined the rest of their family in what I’m sure was a joyful reunion.

As we reunite with our own families over the holidays and take time to count our blessings, we surely must reflect on and be thankful for the gifts of inspiration and renewal of spirit that Yellowstone and the wolves have given to us!

P.S. I don’t have any news about the Haydens. With the roads to the interior closed to cars for the winter, we will have to wait until the roads open to snow coaches and snowmobiles in late December before park visitors have a chance of seeing them. It is still not known if the four grays and one black who have been seen (since the Mollies killed 540F and 541M on Oct. 30) are all pups or if one gray may be an adult. I can only hope for quick development of the amazing instinctive hunting behavior I saw as the pups playfully stalked ravens last July across from the Otter Creek picnic area. Winter in the interior is a battle to survive anyway, and the Haydens will have to contend with other nearby packs, including the Mollies and Cougar Creek. However, if a small group like the “Silver” pack can make it surrounded by rival packs, perhaps the Haydens can too. We can only hope.

Bear Hunting Altered Genetics More Than Ice Age Isolation

The genetics of bears apparently has been changed more over time by hunting and other human activities than by natural macro-changes like ice ages.

 Story in Science Daily. 

Posted in Bears. Tags: . 1 Comment »

IDFG announces public meetings on Idaho Wolf Management Plan

UPDATE – The hours for the hearing in Jerome ID have changed to 6 – 9 PM. Also note that the current understanding is that no verbal comments are going to be taken at these meetings.

Originally, a meeting in Boise was set for this Thursday in Boise from 5 – 8 pm – announcement was to be issued yesterday (11/26) at 4 pm – that’s a 3 day notice for an issue as important and controversial as Idaho’s management of wolves.

This is no longer the case.

A cynic might wonder whether IDFG is genuinely interested in a full and complete public involvement. I guess that makes me a cynic on this one.

Following a complaint expressing concern with IDFG’s tendency to give relatively inconspicuous notice of opportunities for public involvement posted mere days before being held, a new schedule was agreed upon for meeting locations, dates, and times throughout the state of Idaho :

News Release
Idaho Department of Fish and Game
600 South Walnut
P.O. Box 25
Boise, ID 83707-0025

“To Preserve, Protect, Perpetuate”

Contact: Niels Nokkentved 208-334-3746
For Immediate Release

Fish and Game Sets Public Meetings on Wolf Management Plan

Read the rest of this entry »

Agencies that manage Yellowstone bison plan public meeting in Bozeman Dec. 4

The National Park Service, the USDA Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service [APHIS],  Forest Service, Montana Department of Livestock and Montana Department of Fish, Wildlife and Parks will hold this meeting. Story.

Scientists look for answers to Utah forests’ beetle epidemic

Scientists look for answers to state forests’ beetle epidemic. By Judy Fahys. The Salt Lake Tribune.

This is not unique to Utah. Various and vast death of conifers is happening all over the Rocky Mountains as well as British Columbia and Alberta. The cause of the beetle pandemic is not local and there is no solution except a change to colder winters.

These forests burn more almost every summer and this will continue until there is a change in the vast regions. The people I talk don’t debate that this is going to happen, the question is what will replace the dying and dead forests?

Montana knapweed researcher sees work paying off

Montana knapweed researcher sees work paying off. By Perry Backus. Missoulian.

Aside from cheatgrass, the spread of the knapweeds: spotted knapweed, diffuse knapweed, Russian knapweed, and yellow starthistle, is probably the biggest exotic noxious plant problem in the West.

Like cheatgrass, its adverse effects are often unappreciated by the casual observer of wildlife or those into single cause explanations of wildlife population sizes.

So this is good news except that noxious annual cheatgrass often replaces the dying knapweed because the seeds of native perennial plants have decayed away.
Image of spotted knapweed.

Image of yellow starthistle

Avalanche danger will be high this winter after big wildfires.

Idaho Fires lead to higher avalanche danger. KTVB 7.

Much of the vast area burned is steep and turns into avalanche country when the trees are removed, even partially. The same will be true in parts of Montana where there were many fires.

Right now snow pack is generally low.

Avalanche center current reports.

Wolf in the Rockies: Carnivore recovery or token effort?

Guest Opinion. Billings Gazette. Wolf in the Rockies: Carnivore recovery or token effort?

Finally, someone who doesn’t mention the “poor ranchers.” Of course, it’s a guest opinion.

Canada creates huge protected forest reserves. Area is as big as 11 Yellowstones.

 Some good news for the vast, but increasingly threatened boreal region of Canada.

Canada creates huge protected forest reserves. Area as big as 11 Yellowstones offers buffer from oil, mining. AP in MSNBC.

Matthew Brown wolf article reveals MSM assumptions about wolves, West.

Wolf debate hits close to home for ranchers. By Matthew Brown. Associated Press

This story has appeared under a number of headlines, but whatever it is titled, Matthew Brown’s recent piece on wolves reveals the difficulty the public has getting information because it has to cut through cultural hysteria and bad statistics on the wolf issue.

Brown begins his piece by telling us of rancher Randy Petrich of Pray, Montana (that’s the Paradise Valley) who has legally shot 7 wolves over the years, and insists “I believe that any wolf on any given night, if there happens to be a calf there, they will kill it.” Brown doesn’t say how many livestock Petrick has actually lost (Brown doesn’t really confirm that Petrich has lost any), only that he has killed 7 wolves.

Is this typical of Paradise Valley? Given the number of wolves killed, my guess is he interviewed the person who has killed the most wolves. So the reporter begins with an extreme case, not the typical person, and someone who might have the right to worry but does not seem in touch with reality. For example, the article says Petrich sees wolf tracks almost every morning. Were Petrich’s belief true — wolves will kill any calf that happens to be there, then he must have lost thousands of calves over the 7 years he has been shooting wolves.

Do we know anything else about this supposedly hard pressed rancher? Were his non-ranching neighbors interviewed? (if you have been to Pray, Montana, you know that most of the people there are not ranchers). Well of course they were not interviewed, because to most of the media, you don’t count in the West unless you are part of 1% of the population that meets their cultural assumptions.

Then Brown talks about the growth of the wolf population since restoration began. 66 wolves have grown to an estimated 1,545 in a three state area. Brown uses Ed Bang’s figures, which were released in mid-year when wolf population is at its annual maximum, not the year end, when the figures are official and always lower than mid-year. This allows him to say the population is growing at 20%.

Anyway is 1500 wolves a lot? Is it too many? What if elk had become extinct in Idaho, Montana and Wyoming and 66 elk were released in 1995-6 to try to restore the elk population. If there were 1500 elk after 12 years, would reporters say the number of elk is astonishing, “exploding,” “ballooning?” Would the states call a hunting season to knock this “huge population back” to 450 elk? Would conservationists be condemned for suggesting 2000 might not be too many elk?

Going back to the rancher(s) for a moment, how many coyotes, bears, cougars, and feral dogs are there in the area and how many calves have they lost to these? This is never mentioned. This kind of reporting is like a story on homicides where only the those committed by one ethnic group is mentioned. It think people quickly call that “racism.”

Finally we get to “environmentalists” who, of course, condemn the current plans, but more interesting, it is never reported how many generations the attorney quoted has lived in the West. We always learn right off that rancher Petrich is “third generation.” We always learn that about other ranchers (except then they have not been here for land). I suppose this is intended to prove ranchers have some special claim and at the same time all others a newcomers.

I get quoted in the news. No ever asks how many generations my family lived in the area.

For the record, the Maughans settled in Utah the early 1850s, and my other relatives were all in the area well before 1900. Does that make me and all of them genius’, OR only those who went into livestock?

Finally we learn that biologist Dave Mech thinks maybe the “wily animals will prove too smart for hunters”.

I don’t really know, but I do know a man who has actually managed wolves and shot far more over the years than this rancher. He told me they were very easy to locate and kill.

This article is typical of those written about Western issues.

Western issues have a peculiar character. Students of policy call them “wicked problems,” meaning there is never a clear point where they are settled, and efforts to solve them spawn new problems. There is rarely even agreement on what exactly the problem is or that there is even a problem at all (are 1500 wolves a problem?). The issues are also tied together because the conflict is cultural, not economic. Money is not a solution. We see that in lack of rancher appreciation of Defender’s compensation program and the failure of the MSM to even mention it most of the time.

We will be fighting over “western issues” 50 years from now.

Idaho issues draft “Wolf population management plan.”

Yesterday Idaho issued a draft plan that is being called a plan to provide for “limited” hunting of wolves (would they call it anything else?). And of course, the media will buy that phrase, at least for a while. In fact my home town newspaper has just such an on-line poll this morning. “Do you favor a plan to allow limited hunting of wolves in Idaho?”

No doubt the Governor was told or figured out that his early statement about wolves that was extremely hostile, was not helpful in the cause of reducing wolf numbers in Idaho, so he has a nice statement included for this plan .

A quick glance once over of the plan indicates to me that it is a plan to kill as many wolves as possible under the disguise of hunting, while allowing the state to claim they still have 15 breeding pairs of wolves or more. It is a plan to cause maximum disruption of wolf packs and one that will probably increase the number of livestock killed by wolves as disrupted packs and females with pups try to feed their offspring.

It is not a hunting plan; otherwise management would be to keep the population nearly stable (as they do for deer and elk) and the hunt would be in the winter when wolf pelts are at their finest. Nevertheless, they are saying it is to manage wolves like other big game and the person who digs no further will probably say “that is OK; it makes sense.”

While Defenders of Wildlife and the Idaho Conservation League are being promoted as seeing this plan as acceptable, this is not true. It was more like they were merely handed the plan slightly in advance of release. Yesterday a Defenders spokesperson told us this is just a flat out lie. It is not acceptable to them.

The plan does provide for having an area or two where management will be so people might view wolves, but no specific areas are suggested, nor size.

Because it is Thanksgiving, a full analysis of the plan will have to wait, but you can read the plan at the Idaho Fish and Game website

Because I haven’t read it fully, it will probably have to correct some mistakes.

Trout Unlimited protests planned BLM leases in NW Wyoming

The BLM is intent on turning even more prime wildlife habitat and trout streams over to the tender mercies of the oil companies.

This story tells of their effort to retard this. By Ruffin Prevost. Billings Gazette.

Posted in B.L.M., Fish, oil and gas, public lands, public lands management, Wildlife Habitat. Tags: . Comments Off on Trout Unlimited protests planned BLM leases in NW Wyoming

Page for discussing Wildlife Watchers

There needs to be a special page of this important topic.

Go to it.

Record number of elk in Montana, but poor elk hunting season due to warm weather

Story in the Missoulian. The gang’s all there: Elk season progressing slowly, but warm weather is main culprit. By Perry Backus of the Missoulian.

Latest issue of the newsletter of the Western Watersheds Project

It’s called the “Watersheds Messenger.” I think most people will find it an interesting and valuable read.

Nov. 2007 issue.

Posted in Elk, Grazing and livestock. Tags: . Comments Off on Latest issue of the newsletter of the Western Watersheds Project

Entire wolf pack of rare Mexican Wolves Missing in Gila National Forest

Wolves Missing In Gila Forest. By Rene Romo. Copyright © 2007 Albuquerque Journal; Journal Southern Bureau

Update: Governor Richardson: Disappearance of wolf pack is ‘disturbing.’ As we know, Governor Richardson is running for President. One way to show leadership in the area domestic terrorism would be to clean up the long-term trouble-makers in the area. The Catron County area has been dangerous for a long time, which threats and assaults on federal land management officers, local conservationists, violation of grazing, ESA and other public land laws.

Sylvan Pass will stay open

The final decision for winter use for Yellowstone and Grand Teton national parks has been signed. Sylvan Pass will remain open this winter with the use of howitzers and helicopters for avalanche control despite the huge cost of doing so for a trickle of snowmobilers.

The Park Service, however, will not send personnel up to shoot shells into the snow if they deem it too dangerous, as has been the case in the past. So at least Park employees will not be expected to sacrifice their lives for the perceived benefit of a few Cody, Wyoming businesses.

Once again, I think this illustrates what I said about Cody, Wyoming as Wyoming town most negative to wildlife and sound management of Yellowstone Park in the public rather than a parochial interest.

Story in the Casper Star Tribune. Sylvan Pass will stay open. By Whitney Royster.

EPA initiates first steps to ban two nasty wildlife poisons

Sodium cyanide and sodium fluoroacetate — Compound 1080 — are both used to kill wild mammals. They frequently kill non-target species and they have been used to illegally kill wolves in Idaho. Both would be excellent weapons for terrorists to use. 1080 causes a painful, awful death. Please help get them banned.

I have a personal reason too. Much of the supply of this stuff for the Western United States is in a building in Pocatello only a mile from my house. It is near the center of the city and close to the Idaho State University campus. . . talk about a proposal that would improve homeland security! There has been a little comment about this in the local newspaper (the Idaho State Journal). In it local employees suggested the supply is not safely secured.

Read the rest of the story, and how to take action at Wild Again.

Update (11-22-2007): Story Casper Star Tribune. EPA looks at poison ban. By Brodie Farquhar.

Regeneration of ungrazed sagebrush steppe

The photo below was taken on Nov. 18 on a hillside that in late August was dusty, brown, apparently dead, but not grazed by cows. It is about a 2 by 3 foot area just below a sagebrush (not shown) in the Bannock Range south of Pocatello.

Where cattle have not destroyed the structure of the soil, cool weather and rain quickly brings an amazing proliferation of moss, lichens, and sprouting plants. Since the 18th there has been the first cold snap, and the area is probably frozen, but it will serve to collect and retain moisture, stop erosion, repel invaders like cheatgrass next spring and summer. No doubt by August 2008 it will again look dusty, brown and dead, perhaps not terribly different from cowed out country.

Similar photos could have been taken under most sagebrush and bitterbrush plants on the hillside.

Photo copyright Ralph Maughan. Nov. 18, 2007.

Wyoming Game and Fish passes final wolf plan

The wheels greased for its acceptance by the Bush Administration, the Wyoming Game and Fish Commission met in Thermopolis, Wyoming and passed the much criticized Wyoming state wolf management plan, which is bad for wolves in almost every way.

Only two conservationists testified, Franz Camenzind of the Jackson Hole Alliance and Lisa Upson of the Natural Resources Defense Council.

One who was there wrote by email: “This was really a pretty grim meeting. Virulent and ugly group of antiwolfers, with derogatory and threatening comments directed at Franz, who was essentially the only pro wolf participant. GYC, the imitation conservation group, didn’t bother to have anyone testify; Franz took a lot of abuse. On the other hand it was ugly enough [it] sounds like [it] may have even embarrassed some of the commissioners.”

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

Note: it looks like the person who emailed (quoted above) did not hear or forgot to mention Lisa Upton.

Update 11-20-07: By telephone, I received what I thought was probably a good explanation why the GYC did not publicly testify. 

Study links wolves, coyotes of Bay State

Study links wolves, coyotes of Bay State.  By Stan Freeman. The Republican

Dr. John Way (who frequently comments on this blog said) “The results seem to show that, on average, roughly 10 to 15 percent of the genetic makeup of our Eastern coyotes is Eastern wolf. . . . However, some of the individuals studied were almost pure Eastern wolf.”

To best understand what Dr. Way found, go to his web page”

I reopened for comments the thread “So what about the Idaho wolves”

There was a request to continue. To comment go to: if you want to continue this discussion.

Posted in Uncategorized. Comments Off on I reopened for comments the thread “So what about the Idaho wolves”

Outdated approach used to fight [Greater Yellowstone] brucellosis

Billings Gazette. Guest opinion by Don Woerner.  Outdated approach used to fight brucellosis.

This veterinarian pretty much demolishes the agencies’ approach to brucellosis in elk and bison in the greater Yellowstone area as well as demolishes myths such as that the Greater Yellowstone bison and elk are the last reservoir of brucellosis in the United States, e.g., “We have significant infection of feral swine all across our southern and eastern border. The swine brucellosis issue is yet another case of domestic livestock diseases contaminating our wildlife. How do we ever find, identify and slaughter every single infected feral swine? The brucellosis species is a widespread microorganism found everywhere from pet dogs to marine mammals.”

Dr. Woerner practices veterinary medicine in Laurel, Montana.

A first: Idaho wolf migrates to Yellowstone Park. Joins Sloughs

It is said all the time that Yellowstone Park is a source of wolves — wolves don’t migrate into the Park, only out of it. This has been demonstrated to be true . . . almost.

Last spring Dr. Doug Smith spotted a new wolf in the Slough Creek Pack. After a while, and I’m not sure when, they noticed that while he had a radio collar, it didn’t seem to work. Eventually they noticed he had blue ear tags (given to wolves collared in Idaho). Finally they discovered the collar did work and was close to the frequency of Idaho wolf B195M, who originated in the central Idaho White Cloud Mountains (Lynne’s Stone’s country). They made the call apparently, and decided he is that wolf from Idaho.

Folks might recall that last summer the Slough Creek Pack got a new alpha male, when the old alpha male was hit by a car in the Park. The aggressive new Slough alpha, wolf 590M (who came from the nearby Agate Creek pack) seems to have forced B195M out of the pack.

Dan Stahler told me today that B195M now seems to be “associating” with a Slough female (527F) who has left the pack.

– – – –

Several wolves from Wyoming (not from the Park, however)have dispersed to central Idaho; and one is known to have come from Idaho to Wyoming. He joined in the formation of the Greybull Pack. B195M, however, seems to be the very first wolf from anywhere outside the near vicinity of Yellowstone Park to enter and find a place with a pack.

There is concern that the wolf populations, especially the Yellowstone Park wolf population, and maybe others if there is a big state sanctioned wolf slaughter could lose its fine genetic diversity. Interstate migrations might mitigate this. Of course, the migrants have to breed and the pups survive and breed for this to happen.

A paper or two is currently underway to investigate if there has been identifiable genetic exchange between the 3 wolf population segments — central Idaho, Montana, and Wyoming.

Hayden Pack found near 7-mile Bridge!

The Haydens have largely survived are have been found nowhere near their old territory, where yesterday 15 !! Mollies were hanging out.

The remnants of the pack were near Sevenmile Bridge on the Madison River about 10 miles east of West Yellowstone. There were 5 Haydens spotted, the only clearly identified one was the black pup. There is probably one adult Hayden with them. So it seems the Mollies probably nailed one more adult Hayden and one pup, although perhaps they just dispersed elsewhere alone.

The Haydens are not home free, however. They are not far from the Cougar Creek Pack which holds down the territory north of Madison River between about Sevenmile Bridge and West Yellowstone.

Even more interesting, several Bechler wolves have moved way north of their territory in Bechler Meadows in the SW corner of the Park. They are probably dispersers from this rarely seen wolf pack, and one or more of them could hook up with the adult-poor Haydens.

This information came from Dan Stahler of the Yellowstone Park wolf team.

Good letter in Casper Star Tribune on Wyoming wolf plan

CST had opined that because in the public comments, opposition to the Wyoming wolf plan was general, this showed that because no one was pleased compromised had been struck.

This letter disagrees. Avoided decisions bite back.

Posted in Delisting, Wolves, Wyoming wolves. Tags: . Comments Off on Good letter in Casper Star Tribune on Wyoming wolf plan

Federal judge upholds sheep grazing ban in western Idaho [to protect bighorn sheep from disease]

Another big win for Western Watersheds Project and Advocates for the West in conserving and restoring Idaho’s wildlife heritage.

Story in the Magic Valley Times-News. By Keith Ridler. Unfortunately the link to this story on the great victory is dead.

First-ever ‘State Of The Carbon Cycle Report’ Finds Troubling Imbalance

Sadly many carbon sinks (natural processes that remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere) appear to be turning into carbon sources. The effect of this is to increase the rate of increase of carbon dioxide in the air — a positive feedback, the kind of thing that causes system to spin out of control and change irreversibly. In other words, the the opposite of a thermostat, the well known simple negative feedback mechanical device installed to keep temperatures within a certain range.

“State of the Carbon Cycle Report” for North America not does have good news. Science Daily

Posted in Climate change. Tags: , . Comments Off on First-ever ‘State Of The Carbon Cycle Report’ Finds Troubling Imbalance

At Banff highway underpass fences designed to help predators kill elk

There is a huge problem at Banff NP because of the 4-lane Trans-Canada highway that bisects the Park. There are also way too many elk in the Bow River Valley near the town of Banff.

An experiment is underway to try to make fences and highway underpasses tilted in favor of elk predators.

Use of underpass fencing sets up Banff elk for predators. Officials hope experiment will reduce numbers. Cathy Ellis, Calgary Herald

Rocky Barker: gold glitters into the billions for mercury emitting Nevada mines [and maybe poisoning Idaho]

Yesterday it was announced that one of Idaho’s most famous fishing streams, Silver Creek, had high levels of mercury contamination in its fish.

This is a real shocker because Silver Creek is a spring fed creek, indicating to me that the mercury blowing up from Nevada’s gold pits into Idaho (and over to Utah) might be enormous.

Today, Nov. 15, Rocky Barker writes about it. Gold glitters into the billions for mercury emitting Nevada mines. Idaho Statesman.

Update Nov. 16. Study: Silver Creek trout tainted with mercury. Idaho Mountain Express. Folks outside of Idaho may have no idea how much money, paid and volunteer effort has been put in to protect this fishing stream. This is major bad news and a lot of people are talking about it.

Druids retake Lamar from Sloughs. More Yellowstone Park wolf news from Kathie Lynch

YNP WOLF Field Notes, Nov. 10-12, 2007. Copyright Kathie Lynch.

“Quite a day!” is the only way to describe Saturday, Nov. 10, 2007—the day the Druid Peak pack took back Lamar Valley! Almost four years after the reign of the Druids started to unravel with the deaths of the great alphas 21M and 42F, the Druids are finally back home!

Early that morning, the entire pack of 16 Druids (eight blacks and eight grays) visited an old bull elk carcass near their former rendezvous site at the eastern end of Lamar. At the same time, the Slough Creek pack was on a new bull elk carcass across from the Buffalo Ranch, about a mile west of the Druids.

The Druids headed in the direction of the Sloughs, although they didn’t seem to be aware of the Sloughs’ presence at first. But then, the Druids’ tails went up, and with alphas 480M and 569F in the lead, the Druids went into full attack mode. Fifteen Druids (one gray had stayed to the east) descended upon the 18 Sloughs (16 blacks and two grays). The Sloughs scattered and ran for their lives, some to the southwest toward the river, some to the east, and some north toward the road.

Read the rest of this entry »

Cougar attacks a Montana hunter

Lion pounces on hunter. By Jim Mann. Daily Inter Lake. Backpack saves man from more serious injuries.

This is said to be the first mountain lion attack in many years in Montana.

80 mph winds drive rare November wildfire in Montana

Winds whip Montana wildfire into a November inferno. By Lance Benzel of the Billings Gazette.

The fire is north of Big Timber, burning on the plains in grass, juniper, and pine.

Update Nov. 14, 2007. Wind-whipped Chichi fire leaves erratic trail of destruction. By Mike Stark and Linda Halstead-Acharfy. Billings Gazette. It burned 30,000 acres, 3 homes and other structures before snow calmed its advance. Gusts from 80 to 100 mph made this both unusual and very dangerous to fire fighters and others in the area.

Note that a gust of 127 mph from this cold front was recorded in northern Wyoming near the Montana border!

Posted in Wildfires. Tags: . Comments Off on 80 mph winds drive rare November wildfire in Montana

Although the Great Lakes gray wolf is officially recovered, new genetic analysis indicates it is not a pure wolf

~I think this is the most important wolf story in quite a while~

– – – – –

Perhaps the greatest success story in terms of numbers is the recovery of the wolf in Minnesota, Wisconsin, and Michigan.

Recovery began, however, before genetic analysis had advanced. Far more is known today, and the recovered wolf in the Great Lakes area is a mixture of the orginal wolves of the Great Lakes area, the Eastern Timber wolf (which seems to be a separate species very closely related to the red wolf) and coyotes.

Nevertheless, I think the restoration is a successful and important program because these large canids are on the ground fulfilling the same ecological function as the wolves of 200 years ago.

Genetic purity is important, nonetheless, and the only restored wolf population that clearly is all wolf are the wolves of Idaho, Montana, and Wyoming which came down from Western Canada beginning in the 1980s on their own accord and were also captured and reintroduced to Yellowstone Park and central Idaho in 1995-6.

The story below does not mention this, but what it means is that the most vital wolf population from the standpoint of conserving and restoring endangered speices is the wolves in these three states — the very states which are going to be given a nearlly free hand to kill them once they are delisted as long as each state maintains a token population of about 10-15 packs (how these will be counted is a matter of controversy).

Off Endangered List, but What Animal Is It Now? By Mark Derr. New York Times.

Whose Sheep? How wild sheep lose out to their domesticated brethren

Earlier I linked to the WWP blog story “Bighorn Sheep Threaten Western Way of Life?

Now the Boise Weekly has reprinted an article from High Country News giving more background into the controversy that led to the successful lawsuit this spring that kept the Payette National Forest from ignoring its court ordered duty to keep the domestic sheep and bighorn sheep apart.

Whose Sheep? How wild sheep lose out to their domesticated brethren. By Nathaniel Hoffman, High Country News.

This issue will be back next spring.

Just a few domestic sheep and bighorn sharing the same country could set off disease that would undo a generation of efforts to restore bighorn to the Idaho/Oregon border at Hells Canyon.

Yellowstone Volcano Inflating With Molten Rock At Record Rate

For the last 3 years the floor of much of the Yellowstone caldera has been rising at 3 inches a year, much faster than previous uplifts. In the past, of course, the uplift has always stopped and then fallen.

This time will probably be the same.

There have been many versions of the story the last week. This one is more detailed than most, and a touch more scary.

Yellowstone Volcano Inflating With Molten Rock At Record Rate. Science Daily

USGS Map of the Yellowstone caldera and older calderas. 

Motion triggered cameras show benefits of timber road obliteration on Clearwater N.F. in Idaho

Story by John Cramer. Missoulian.

One of keys to restoring the elk population in the upper Clearwater may be removing unneeded and “bleeding” logging roads than killing native bears, cougar and wolves.

Posted in Wildlife Habitat. Tags: . Comments Off on Motion triggered cameras show benefits of timber road obliteration on Clearwater N.F. in Idaho

Dept. of Interior top official tours Murphy fire area and says climate change a large factor

Assistant Secretary of the Interior C. Stephen Allred has visited the area of the huge Murphy rangefire this summer. Afterwards he talked with local politicos. He announced reseeding would be 80% native seed. Fortunately a considerable portion of the area is not invaded with cheatgrass yet and doesn’t need reseeding (or so I’ve been told).

My first impression is that 80% is pretty good given the lack of seed. My opinion (is supported in my mind) by the fact that powerful politicican-rancher state Rep. Burt Brackett, R-Rogerson wanted more foreign species planted.

I’ll take the native blue bunch wheatgrass, Idaho fescue, sagebrush and bitterbrush.

– – –

Climate change! A rare nod to it from the Bush Administration.

Story: By Matt Christensen. Times-News writer

Wyoming Rep. Barbara Cubin Will Not Seek Eighth Term

Cubin has long been the worst member of the Wyoming congressional delegation, a complete enabler of the energy industry in opposition to private property rights, protection of Wyoming public lands and wildlife, and against making sure the energy industries pay the legally required amount of royalties.

My view is good riddance, but she would have probably been defeated anyway. This is also an effort by the Republican Party to save the congressional seat.

Story:  Wyoming Rep. Barbara Cubin Will Not Seek Eighth Term. By Brodie Farquhar. New West.

Bold bruins bedevil hunters

Bold bruins bedevil hunters. By Mark Henckel. Billings Gazette (reprinted in Helena Independent Record).

One critical point Henkel makes is to be sure you hang your carcass well away from the gut pile. Bears actually prefer the organs. Their tastes are not the same as ours.

I don’t buy the notion that the grizzly bears are bold because they haven’t been hunted. The bears are hungrier because their traditional food sources have slowly disappeared just as predicted by those who protested their delisting.

Just as future Montana summers are almost always going to be filled with forest fire smoke, the bears are going to be hungry, and you will have to worry about West Nile virus from the mosquitoes. . . . just a few changes in the exciting world of the warming climate.

Bighorn Sheep Threaten Western Way of Life ?

Over at the Western Watersheds blog, there is an important story how sheep growers are organizing to hit back at the slow recovery of bighorn sheep. Oh! Not to speed it up, but to stop it and reverse it.

Domestic sheep are lethal to bighorns because domestic sheep are full of diseases. Bighorn are also worth a lot more economically than domestic sheep are on these marginal rugged rangelands.
This summer Western Watersheds Project and Advocates for the West probably saved all of the bighorn in Hells Canyon from incursions of sheep bands by making sure the US Forest Service lived up to the orders of the courts and kept them apart.

Bighorn Sheep Threaten Western Way of Life? WWP blog

As a sidenote, I think ranchers are gearing up for a major assault on Western Wildlife, not just wolves, but many other species too.

For those hunters who say wolves have decimated the Yellowstone elk herds, did you notice the Montana Stockgrowers Assn. has slipped back into their pre-wolf stance that Yellowstone Park has TOO MANY ELK!

Tribal Takeover Of National Parks And Refuges said by PEER to be on a Fast Track

I can hardly believe this to be a real initiative, if only because the politics of any real push for this would be just devastating to the Democratic Party. Nevertheless PEER, Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility, has issued this news release.

As a side note, does anyone know about this controversy over the National Bison Range — the Indians versus the federal government? I read some headlines, but I didn’t get around to reading the story.

Update 11-9: This story from a Montana TV station gives a somewhat different view of the hearing. Proposed bill that would effect management of National Bison Range debated.

– – – – –

Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility
For Immediate Release: November 6, 2007
Contact: Carol Goldberg (202) 265-7337

TRIBAL TAKEOVER OF NATIONAL PARKS AND REFUGES ON FAST TRACK — Legislation Would Set “Targets” for Transferring Jobs and Funds to Tribal Control

Washington, DC — This week, Congress will consider legislation that directs the Interior Department to turn over many national parks, wildlife refuges and other operations to tribal governments under virtually permanent funding agreements, according to Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER). National parks such as Redwood, Glacier, Voyageurs, Olympic and the Cape Cod National Seashore are among the 57 park units in 19 states listed as eligible for tribal operation, as are 19 refuges in 8 states, including all of the Alaska National Wildlife Refuges and the National Bison Range in Montana.

This Thursday, November 8th, HR 3994 by Representative David Boren (D-OK) is slated for hearing before the full House Natural Resources Committee, just nine days after it was introduced. The committee is chaired by Rep. Nick Rahall (D-WV), the bill’s lead co-sponsor. Read the rest of this entry »

Report: Despite Mexican wolves, elk OK

The number of elk in the part of New Mexico where the Mexican wolves have become reestablished has increased.

Of course the number of wolves is trivial — only 59 in the entire recovery area due to the defective recovery plan, and the many mistakes and political blockages placed on the Mexican wolf restoration program.

Story: Report: Despite wolves, elk OK. By The Associated Press as published in Las Cruces Sun-News.

Yellowstone Bison: Madison Valley Landowners Get Tough with Montana DOL

A couple just bought much of the top of Horse Butte, a place bison love to come when they leave Yellowstone Park searching for grass, and where Montana DOL loves to capture them for slaughter and haze them back in the Park to “protect” the non-existent cattle from getting brucellosis from the bison.

The new landowners will not tolerate the DOL trespassing on their property (we will see if DOL cares about private private rights. I’ve said they don’t. Hope to be proven wrong). There will be a confrontation this winter because a lot of bison are going the leave the Park because this summer’s drought has left the range in bad condition according to biologists I have talked with.

It will be winter of starvation for elk and bison . . . worse if the bison are confined to the Park.

Here is the story in New West.  Yellowstone Bison: Madison Valley Landowners Get Tough with Montana DOL. By David Nolt.

Elk are duping Jackson Hole hunters. Study confirms how wily Grand Teton elk survive.

Here is the story in the Jackson Hole News and Guide. By Corey Hatch.

Elk from Grand Teton National Park where there is no general elk hunt migrate out of the Park early and seek refuge at the southern end of the National Elk Refuge near small city of Jackson. Most elk on the refuge do not summer in Grand Teton National Park and come down from the adjacent mountains later and are subject to the elk hunt.

Montana Board of Livestock refuses to split Montana to solve brucellosis legal problem

The Montana Board of Livestock voted not to adopt a plan that would free the rest of Montana from being held hostage on brucellosis status because some of the bison and elk in Yellowstone Park are infected with brucellosis.

“Gov. Brian Schweitzer said the decision represented ‘misinformation’ spread by the lobbyist of the Montana Stockgrowers Association”

We all know the controversy has little to do with brucellosis and a lot to do with the Stockgrowers insisting Yellowstone be treated like one big ranch as well as showing they can push local people around and disrespect their property rights.

Panelists nix split zone for cattle. Brucellosis plan opposed by Montana Stockgrowers. By Jennifer McKee. Billings Gazette State Bureau

Texas school land board delays action on Christmas Mountains

This is a followup on the earlier story on the Texas state school land board’s attempt to sell the Christmas Mountains (given to them 16 years ago as a gift). They are adjacent to Big Bend National Park.

Story: Action delayed in land dispute. Board declines to accept a bid for the Christmas Mountains site. By Gary Scharrer. Houston Chronicle Austin Bureau

So what about Idaho wolves, anyway?

Lynne Stone suggested a post where folks could discuss Idaho wolves. So if they do, here it is.


Notice. Upon request. I have reopened comments on this thread. Please keep the discussion relevant. Webmaster

Writers on the Range: A wolf tale that’s all too true

Writers on the Range: A wolf tale that’s all too true. By Brian Connolly. Writers on the Range.

Most folks who follow the wolves in Yellowstone know Brian Connolly, many by sight, and by reputation from his fine novels for teenagers, Wolf Journal from several years ago, and his latest, Hawk. VirtualBookWorm Publishing. College Station, TX. 2007.

The condition of grizzly bear and woodland caribou populations Banff National Park rated as “poor”

Woodland caribou population is down to ten or less and grizzlies only 60 in Banff in 80 in the Kananaskis country to its south.

Grim for grizzlies. Gloom and doom’ for Banff’s ursine residents, says park report. Cathy Ellis, Calgary Herald.

By contrast both Glacier NP and Yellowstone NP each have over 200 grizzlies with about 300 more nearby outside these national parks.

The Opal mountain range in the Kananaskis country. Grizzlies struggle here and northward in Banff. Photo copyright Ralph Maughan

Putting the “public” back in the land

This is a link to an article by Mcjoan in the Daily Kos. It is about the importance of public land, and the need for the Democrats to be smart about this issue, which they often were not over the last 20 years. A stance defending the public lands can be a winner for them, but to use the tired phrase, “the Democrats have often snatched defeat from the jaws of victory.”

First a comment of my own. Have you noticed Bush never uses the word “public,” and rarely “citizen.” It’s always “the American people,” as in “I’m working to defend the American people from the terrorists.” This is an important difference from past Presidents because “a people” can also be the subjects of a king or a dictator, while citizens are never subjects. With a king there is no public, and the people are his subjects.

I don’t think this is just a matter of Bush’s rhetorical style.

Wolf story from Specimen Ridge

Most good wolf sightings are from the road in the Lamar Valley area. Wolves hear hikers and move out of sight, but not always. Trent Morrell sent me this most interesting account of a recent hike on Specimen Ridge in Yellowstone Park.

In early October, me and two of my friends traveled from Portland, Oregon to explore the Lamar Valley for three days of day hikes.

The first day, Friday 10/12/07, we chose to hike the Specimen Ridge Trail. We had hiked it the summer of 2006 and were looking forward to doing it in the fall.

As we climbed up the first mile, we saw over 100 elk hanging on the ridge line with many big bulls still bugling. Amped up, we continued to the top of the ridge glassing the elk frequently and listening to the never-ending bugles. Once on the ridge line, we followed the trail along the top admiring the huge elk antlers that had been shed. We saw more and more elk.

About three miles in from the trail head we rounded a corner to a flat point. Here we had a herd of about twenty elk about 40 yards at 12 o’clock, about fifty bison 250 yards below us in a meadow at 2 o’clock, about 20 bison 60 yards below us at 9 o’clock and next to them a herd of about twenty elk. In the area between the elk herd at 12 o’clock and the bison and elk herd at 9 o’clock was a thicket of trees. We had not even been there a minute when out of the thicket shot a wolf up a small hill and into the herd of elk at 12 o’clock. Then shot another wolf and another up into the elk. It was hard to tell, but at least six wolves came out of the thicket.

We watched in disbelief as two of the wolves separated a young cow elk from the herd and chased it down a hill to the bison at 2 o’clock. The young elk ran into the herd of bison. It ran back and forth from each side of the bison herd as the two wolves tried to get to it. The bison would not allow the wolves to get to the elk, but eventually the elk ran out of the herd of bison. Read the rest of this entry »

Known grizzly bear deaths increase, but it’s no crisis

This is another story on the high grizzly mortality rate this year. Known bear deaths increase, but it’s no crisis. By Mike Stark. Billings Gazette.

. . . it’s official line that it’s no crisis unless it happens two years in a row. With the rapidly growing loss of whitebark pine, is there any reason to think next year will not be as bad?

Haydens outrun Mollies! For now anyway.

This latest information again comes courtesy of Kim Kaiser who has been in contact with Leo Keeler who has been in the area. This is the email he got today. Thank you, Kim!

This will be about it for the year, because they will be closing the roads, so I hope they make it.

Keeler wrote:

This morning I found the Hayden pack near the road junction at Canyon. After seeing the old Beta, ­ now alpha ­ female and the 5 pups, I noticed the Molly pack coming out of the draw to the east ­ at full speed. The wolves of the Molly pack are significantly bigger than the Haydens, but the Haydens are much faster and they outran the Mollies.

The Molly pack remained in the area for about 20 minutes, checking for the scent markings of the Hayden’s. With the Molly wolves so focused on finding and catching the Hayden’s, the common belief is the only way the remaining Hayden’s can survive is to leave the area. When they leave, it will complete the takeover of their territory by the Molly pack.

I am saddened by the loss of viewing/photographing opportunities provided by the Haydens (likely the best in Yellowstone) and the take over of their territory by the Molly pack (the least seen group of wolves in Yellowstone). But as we all know, photographing opportunities change and in this case we can all be glad it is a natural change.

Unless something significant happens in the next two days, this will be my last post on the changing of territories by these wolves.


Note: Keeler has a photo of the Mollies on the chase. However, to see it you have to register with

Professor: Fires in West will worsen

WASHINGTON — A Montana expert testified Thursday that climate change will increase and intensify wildfires, while members of Congress and U.S. Forest Service officials grappled with how to pay for the increased costs of fire suppression

Story: Professor: Fires in West will worsen. By Noelle Straub. Casper Star-Tribune Washington bureau.

This should be obvious, but it isn’t.

Some people will want to argue that we can’t say because global warming isn’t real. Regardless, the critical fact is this: conifers, especially pine, are already dead and are dying at unprecedented rates in the northern Rockies, B.C. and Alberta.

They are burning, and they are going to burn every summer that is not unusually wet. Thinning them is too late now, and often useless anyway, even if there was enough money.

This means that almost every summer is going to be awful smoky in Montana and other places that are downwind of large forest areas.

My advice to anyone with property in these areas is to unload it now before potential buyers figure this out. Move to a cleaner place like a city far from the forests.

This will not go down well, and one of those who will have to adjust to this new reality is Plum Creek Timber, which is trying to become mostly a real estate company that will sell land in “the fire plain.” Timber Giant Takes a Hit: Plum Creek’s Risky Businesses. By Myers Reece, Flathead Beacon (republished in New West).

Strange beast found near Cuero, Texas is a coyote

There have been scary stories about the “goatsucker” for some time.

It turns out it is a hairless coyote, but the story doesn’t answer if it was a mutation, deformity, sick, or if there are more than one.

Strange beast found near Cuero, Texas is a coyote. Roger Croteau. San Antonio Express-News

Posted in Coyotes. Tags: . 7 Comments »

House passes reform of 1872 mining law

The U.S. House easily passed reform of the 1872 mining law that still governs the discovery and extraction of “hard rock” minerals on public lands.

The bill did not pass it by enough, however, to override President Bush’s veto.

A weaker bill is expected to pass the Senate, one more in line with some of the President’s objections. However, Bush has a tendency to move “move the goalposts” in terms of his objections on bills, making him essentially impossible to negotiate with.

Story by Brodie Farquhar, House Passes Mining Reform, White House Threatens Veto. New West.

A look the voting pattern of U.S. Representatives from the West shows Republicans against reform and Democrats in favor, almost without exception. Even “Blue Dogs” like Utah Democrat Jim Matheson voted for the bill.

Three wolf packs in elk migration corridor probably set conditions for the Mollies/Hayden conflict

Earlier story: Mollies Pack kills Hayden alpha pair

– – – –
Dan Stahler of the Yellowstone Park wolf team told me today that Hayden, Mollies and Gibbon packs have all been in Hayden Valley the last weeks because it is a major elk migration corridor from summer range to the south to the northern range. The packs are well aware of this and show up every October.

He said about a week ago Bob Landis saw the Mollies chasing the Haydens. Mollies and Gibbon have also been howling back and forth a lot.

No one is known to have seen the actual attack.

The bleeding alpha female was spotted first. She retreated to the trees in a spot she knew was comfortable. Stahler spotted her body the next day from the air with ravens on it.

Wondering about the Hayden alpha male, he soon spotted him dead in Cascade Meadow. This is where the Haydens, at least probably the Haydens, had killed an elk. At the time a grizzly was on the carcass and now he has buried it. Also at the time Mollies Pack was only a mile away.

Reports are today Mollies is chasing the remaining Haydens and could finish them off.

Stahler did say, however, that if the Haydens survive the next while it is possible a Mollies wolf or two could come and join with the Haydens. He said there is pack aggressive behavior that often disappears when several weeks pass and the pack is more spread out. One or more wolves might then return and engage in quite different behaviors, such as join the pack.

Currently there are 8 Mollies being seen, although earlier this summer 9 adults were counted and 6 Mollies pups. Perhaps some dispersed or are simply not with the eight.

It is not hopeless for the Haydens if they are not killed today or the next several days.

Young man thought to be victim of wolf really killed and eaten by bear, expert says

It has been the common view that 22-year old Kenton Carnegie was killed by a wolf pack northern Saskatchewan back 2005, becoming the only documented victim of such an attack in North America.

Testimony from carnivore expert Paul Paquet has now cast doubt on that belief. Paquet says it was most likely a bear that got him. Another expert, representing the young man’s parents disagreed.

Story: Expert says man killed by bear, not wolves. Chris Purdy. CanWest News Service

Update. Student’s death confirmed as continent’s first fatal wolf attack. (bad link restored) Chris Purdy. CanWest News Service. The jury in the coroner’s inquest decided the evidence indicated Carnegie died from a wolf attack.

“Now that Carnegie’s wolf-related death is official, his father said he hopes people will give up any notion that wolves are cute and cuddly wildlife.”

I don’t think many people think wolves are cuddly. It would be interested to know more about Carnegie’s father, such as if he has an axe to grind. As for myself — wolves or bear — he got caught in bad situation in a place were wild animals had learned to associate people with food.

Update Nov. 5. The debate over what killed Kenton Carnegie continues. Wolf experts disagree with inquest, blame bear for mauling. By
Larissa Liepins , CanWest News Service; with files from Saskatoon StarPhoenix

Reid confirms Laverty while Wyden welcomes twins


Oregon Senator Ron Wyden’s hold on Lyle Laverty’s appointment as assistant Interior secretary for fish, wildlife and parks was broken when Senator Harry Reid pushed the confirmation through while Wyden was away from the Senate welcoming the arrival of his newborn twins


Read the rest of this entry »