Western Watersheds Project’s comments on Idaho wolf population management plan

Many folks will like to read this, find a lot of good information and see how thoroughly political, rather than scientific the plan is. There is great information placing wolf caused livestock mortality into context with other kinds of losses.

The due date for comments was Dec. 31, 2007.

This  is an 8 page pdf document written by Debra Ellers, WWPs Western Idaho Director.
The comments.

Idaho elk, deer survival rate high despite growing wolf population

Idaho elk, deer survival rate high despite growing wolf population. By Rocky Barker. Idaho Statesman.

The survival rate for radio collared deer and elk females was over 85% and it increased in 2007 over 2006 despite the growing wolf population.


The same piece, with some editing and anecdote the day after.

Elk, deer survival high despite prowling wolves. By Rocky Barker. Idaho Statesman. Edition 01/01/08


2600 acres of Wisdom River Ranch has conservation easement donated and purchased

SW Montana cattle ranch protected from subdivision. By Nick Gevock. Montana Standard

Plum Creek subdivisions could strain fire budget in NW Montana

Plum Creek timber is the largest private landholder in Montana, and now since timbering no longer pays as much as remote subdivisions do, they are planning, asking and building a lot of them. Many are located in expensive-to-service, forest fire prone country. Most county commissions seem to think that they have to let developers do as they please with their land, but who pays for all this?

As long as the US Forest Service keeps fighting fires with the primary goal of saving homes, even the most remote, never-should-have-been built homes, the sprawl will never end (except perhaps now by financial collapse of the mortgage market).

This article explores the problem and suggests the reorientation of thinking of county commissioners will be when they have to assess their constituents the true cost of fire fighting.

Plum Creek subdivisions could strain fire budget. By Michael Jamison, Missoulian.

Kathie Lynch reports on the Druids and Sloughs as mating season nears

Kathie Lynch has another of her great northern range wolf reports. This one focuses on the fast approaching mating season, a time of year when new bonds are temporarily, and sometimes permanently formed, and as it has been discovered in recent genetic research on the Yellowstone wolves, there is much outbreeding from many packs (and no inbreeding). Ralph Maughan

– – – – – – – –

YNP WOLF Notes, December 22-29, 2007. By Kathie Lynch. Copyright.

The 16 wolves of the Druid Peak pack put on a great show over the holidays. The cast of characters includes the alpha pair (480M and 569F), plus everyone’s favorite beta male (302M). There are six yearling females (three grays: 571F, “High Sides,” and “Low Sides”—nicknamed for the depth of the dark saddle markings on their backs, and three blacks: “Bright Bar,” “Dull Bar,” and “Vertical Line”—nicknamed for their white chest markings). There are also four gray and three black pups.

Even though it is still a month before the breeding season, there is already a lot of jockeying for dominance position in the packs and interest in checking out the opposite sex. With six female yearlings who will be ready to breed for the first time in February, the Druids are already attracting a lot of attention. Read the rest of this entry »

Wood River Valley: Wolf howls and water woes. The state of the environment in 2007

The Wood River Valley is a long, many-forked drainage that rises in southern central Idaho mountains and flows southward across the Snake River Plain into the Snake River.

It drains a large area of very scenic backcountry, mountainous frontcountry, and contains the towns of Hailey, Ketchum, Bellevue and Sun Valley, giving the area a much higher average level of wealth than the rest of Idaho.

For environmental, economic and political reasons, it is a part of the state that gets more than average attention.

This article is an overview of “environmental” events there during 2007. Wolf howls and water woes. The state of the environment in 2007. By Jason Kauffman. Idaho Mountain Express.

The biggest story, however, was the Castle Rock forest fire, which threatened Hailey and Ketchum and had a perimeter of about 50,000 acres. Castle Rock Fire brought valley together. Lightning-sparked blaze burned for 20 days near Ketchum. By Jason Kauffman, Idaho Mountain Express.

At the north end of the Valley begins the Sawtooth National Recreation Area, a large parcel of public land, managed by the U.S. Forest Service and set aside by Act of Congress in 1972 primarily for use as recreation and scenery.

Photo of Big Wood River near the southern boundary of the SNRA.

Posted in Fish, Idaho wolves, Motor vehicles wildlife, water issues, Wildfires, Wolves. Tags: , , , . Comments Off on Wood River Valley: Wolf howls and water woes. The state of the environment in 2007

Guest Opinion: Public, private property lost to brucellosis policy

Finally an essay how Montana and Wyoming’s brucellosis policy tramples on private property rights. By Glenn Hockett. Billings Gazette. Guest Opinion: Public, private property lost to brucellosis policy.

He also points out the continuing frenzy over brucellosis  amidst the lackadaisical approach to other livestock diseases.

Wyoming drafts wolf population regulations

The story in the Jackson Hole News and Guide says “hunting regulations,” but they didn’t in fact set hunting regulations.

Wyoming drafts wolf hunting regulations. By Cory Hatch.

Western Watersheds Project sues Bighorn National Forest on grazing

Posted in Grazing and livestock, public lands, public lands management, Wildlife Habitat. Comments Off on Western Watersheds Project sues Bighorn National Forest on grazing

Only one wolf illegally shot in the recent Wisconsin deer hunt

Department of Natural Resources says only one wolf shot during deer hunt. By Robert Imrie. Associated Press writer in the Appleton Post-Crescent.

It wasn’t even a wolf; it was a hybrid.

It is true the wolves are much better accepted in the Great Lakes States than in Idaho, Montana or Wyoming.

Sun Ranch Slates 11,000 Acres for Conservation Easement

Sun Ranch Slates 11,000 Acres for Conservation Easement. New West. By David Nolt.

The Sun Ranch, which is at the base of the high scenic Madison Range, has played a major role in keeping this long, beautiful valley, not far from Yellowstone, from subdivision ruin.

Board mulls hearing on Upper Green River dam

Board mulls hearing on Upper Green dam. Water commission not convinced reservoir idea would fly, but may consider public views. By Noah Brenner. Jackson Hole News and Guide.

Aw the power to stupid ideas. That have such vitality! Like most proposals for new irrigation dams in the West, the economics are horrible. The environmental and pecuniary costs very high and the economic benefits very low.

Green River Lakes is regarded by many as perhaps the most scenic view in Wyoming and the upper Green is perhaps the best remaining moose habitat in a state that is rapidly losing its moose.

Squaretop Mountain from upper Green River Lake. Copyright Ralph Maughan

Note: I could use a more scenic photo. This is a fairly common one. I would greatly appreciate a contribution. Ralph Maughan

Louisa Willcox: Hope of recovery of grizzly bears in central Idaho is not lost

It is growing increasingly obvious the major threat to grizzly bears is lack of habitat. As the quality of their food sources declines, the same amount of country will support fewer bears. As a result they range more widely and get into trouble as Western development continues to expand into their habitat.

Well there’s not much that can be done about that, right?

Wrong. There’s central Idaho, a huge grizzlyless expanse full of good habitat and not many people. Plans were to begin to restore them them to the area in the early 1990s. Then came governor Dirk Kempthorne, a man of almost no outdoor experience. He protested so loudly about the danger they posed, almost as if they would attack his home in Boise that the plans to restore them were shelved. Now he is Secretary of Interior, but this awful regime will only last one more year, then maybe things can get back on track.

With grizzlies occasionally migrating to the area, Louisa Willcox writes that there is hope yet.

Louisa Willcox: Hope of recovery of grizzly bears is not lost

Border fence raises concerns about wildlife. Environmentalists say barrier will do a better job stopping animals than undocumented workers

Tufts of grizzly fur being used to determine genetic health of population

In particular, researchers are looking to see if bears from the northwest corner of Montana have wandered into the Yellowstone ecosystem. To date, no,” [Charles] Schwartz said. Getting those genes into the greater Yellowstone ecosystem could provide a needed boost for the 550 to 600 grizzlies that live in and around the park.

“The GYE has the lowest diversity of the populations in the lower 48,” Schwartz said.

– – – – –

As a result they are doing DNA analysis of bits of grizzly fur to see if the Yellowstone population needs genetic augmentation.

Story by Mike Stark. Billings Gazette.

Alaskans Weigh the Cost of Gold. Huge mine Could Imperil Salmon, Way of Life

This blog has covered this proposed gold mine earlier. Here is an overview and the latest. Alaskans Weigh the Cost of Gold Mine Could Imperil Salmon, Way of Life. By Karl Vick. Washington Post Staff Writer.

Unlike most other metals, gold is store of monetary value as well as a useful metal. As such, it is not clear that the world economy  benefits from additional mining, processing, and production of gold.

Imagine, for example, what would happen if the amount of refined gold sitting in the world’s vaults suddenly by magic doubled? Would we be better off? Millions of people would lose hundreds of billions (perhaps trillions) of dollars of investments in gold.

As an Idahoan living in a state downwind and slowing being poisoned from the huge gold pits of Nevada (mercury poisoning from them), I have no enthusiasm for gold production. Hopefully Alaskans can save their jobs and lives from this monstrosity.

Posted in Fish. Tags: , . Comments Off on Alaskans Weigh the Cost of Gold. Huge mine Could Imperil Salmon, Way of Life

Possible wolf sighting in Rocky Mountain National Park called “credible” by officials

This may be very good news. Of course, much better new would be two large “canids.”

Colorado does have wolf management guidelines in place. Rocky Mountain National Park is overfull of elk, so many the Park Service wants to start shooting them.

Story in the Estes Park Trail-Gazettte. By John Cordsen.

Wolves aggressively trail dogs with owners near Elmendorf, Alaska

This video is making the rounds. It seems that a wolf pack near Elmendorf, Alaska has become very aggressive toward local dogs; and this means the wolves have gotten very close to people in their effort to attack the dogs.


I can’t understand why this wolf pack has not been shot by local Game and Fish or whoever.

There are a number of points that need to be made here.

The wolves after the dogs, not their owners. There have been several similar incidents in the Northern Rockies. People tend to think the wolves are after them, but dogs interest wolves a lot more than people do. Nevertheless, a person could be attacked by a wolf if he or she gets between the wolf and the dog.

The women in this video had good reason to worry. The safest course would have been to abandon their dogs, but fortunately other than a scare, only a dog was injured.

If anyone knows this area, I would like to know why this wolf pack has not been controlled?

Update: It looks like this is a military area. Fort Rich closes wolf range. adn.com. The wolves seem to have moved on.

Further update 1-2-2008. This story is really all about dogs and wolves as the comments below reveal. Proponents of wolf fear/hatred are still trying to get this story rolling. The latest is this tear-jerker from a local TV station that made it to MSNBC, Wolves attack area dogs. by Rebecca Palsha. KTUU-TV.

Contrast the hysteria over this with the story on the coyote attacking 2 people in Yellowstone and the bobcat attack in Death Valley.

Coyote bites two in Yellowstone (my post on 1-1) 

“Bullshit” Gazette op-ed from Stockgrowers

The headline came from an email sent my one of the folks who reads this blog.

Below is a guest opinion from the Montana Stockgrowers who recently sacrificed their friends in the Montana Cattle Association on the false god of brucellosis control.

Guest Opinion to the Gazette: Brucellosis policy must protect ranchers. By Steve Roth (Stockgrower dude). Roth writes: “The May 2007 disclosure of brucellosis was the most fearsome event in Montana’s livestock industry in over 20 years.”

I guess the Montana livestock industry must not have had much to worry about the last 20 years. When Idaho lost it’s brucellosis free status (since regained) the media and the livestock associations could hardly motivate themselves to even write a news release.

Remember, the Montana Stockgrowers only speak for a portion of the Montana livestock industry. They are going to hype this all winter long as they kill bison and probably violate the property rights of local residents.

Montana wolf hunt gets preliminary approval

Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks has set up a framework for a Montana wolf hunt once the wolves are delisted. Story. Montana wolf hunt gets preliminary approval. Great Falls Tribune.

Montana’s wildlife commission has been proceeding somewhat more cautiously than Idaho’s.

With 40 breeding pairs (“37” according to this story), it might seem Montana can easily keep its population above 15 breeding pairs, but the breeding pair count in Montana has been pretty unstable in the past, so caution seems warranted if they want to avoid a relisting. Breeding pair numbers are less stable than total population figures.

Here are the past numbers (breeding pairs)-

Year 2000 8 breeding pairs
Year 2001 7 breeding pairs
Year 2002 17 breeding pairs
Year 2003 10 breeding pairs
Year 2004 15 breeding pairs
Year 2005 19 breeding pairs
Year 2006 21 breeding pairs
Year 2007 37? breeding pairs

Forest Service is writing rules to help privatize your lands in favor of outfitters

We could see it in the Idaho wolf population management plan, and now we see in the rules the Forest Service is developing regarding allocation of recreation on public lands.

Story in the Casper Star Tribune. Sweet deal for outfitters? By Brodie Farquhar.

Ever since the Pombo-Gibbons bill to give away our public lands to the mining companies was slapped down in December 2005, there has been an upsurge in interest in keeping and protecting our American public lands from the special interests who want to privatize (steal) them from us.

Because citizens are more watchful now, those who want to grab our lands are getting more sneaky. Senator Larry Craig has always been one of the biggest land-grabbers, and the Forest Service still marches to his tune because his former aide Mark Rey oversees the FS.

Update: thanks to Robert Hoskins, here are the proposed regulations 

Tainted rainfall affecting parks, Agency’s report finds more ammonia in Yellowstone, Glacier

Key members of House Natural Resources committee rebuke Kempthone on wolf delisting

Congressmen Nick Joe Rahall (D-WV), George Miller (D-CA), Norm Dix (D-WA), Wayne Gilcrest (R-MD), Jim Saxton (R-NJ) have written a fine letter to Secretary of Interior Dirk Kempthorne opposing Northern Rockies wolf delisting.

Please thank them. It is rare when we have had political leaders to thank on this issue.

Here is the letter


Catron County ranch hand deliberately sacrifices livestock so Mexican wolves can be killed

This long story below in High Country News describes an illegal tactics being used to make sure the “dangerous” dozen or so Mexican wolves in this lawless county don’t fare well. Last chance for the Lobo. John Dougherty. High Country News.

The federal government should step up, pull grazing permits, take away radio telemetry, and make sure their personnel are protected. This isn’t just about wolves, it is about a place in New Mexico which for years has been allowed to violate the wildlife and public land laws of the United States and New Mexico, abuse your public land, and get away with it.

I first learned about Catron County in the 1990s when they were in the news for violating grazing laws and asserting the bullshit doctrine of country supremacy to the laws of the United States. An “environmentalist” who had stood up to the local strongarm tactics attended a political science conference in Colorado Springs. She gave a presentation on the lawlessness of the area. She actually had to live in a safe house.

Presidential candidate Bill Richardson, governor of New Mexico, would do well to send sufficient law enforcement into the area to maintain order and restore the rule of law.

News Release from the Center for Biological Diversity asking for action.

Ranch hand disputes claim that he lured endangered wolf. Fox11AZ.com

Wyoming US Senator’s bill claims to target beetle kill in Wyoming; others say he is really interested in a public lands giveaway

Barrasso bill targets beetle kill. By Brodie Farquhar. Casper Star-Tribune correspondent.

Whatever his motives, logging has never stopped any of the current beetle kill which is taking place all over the Rocky Mountains. That’s because beetles are not the ultimate cause; it’s the warming climate. The winters are no longer cold enough to kill beetle infestations.

People don’t realize it, but most of the coninferous forests are going to die and then burn to be replaced by something else — what is not clear.

The Ameya Preserve: The Rural Subdivision, Deluxe

This unique and controversial subdivision is being planned for the edge of Paradise Valley, between Livingston and Yellowstone Park. It is being built on Wineglass (Canyon Mountain) where a number of wolf packs have formed in the past.

Its design is far superior to the development that is already going on in the Paradise Valley. It might even by compatable with wildlife; but the fact that it is intended to be a place for socially conscious rich people makes it a lightning rod.

Story in New West. The Rural Subdivision, Deluxe. By David Nolt.

Another story in New West. Montana State Land for Sale. By David Nolt.

One more story in the series New West. Private Property, Public Access and Montana Values. By David Nolt.

The last in the series. New West. The Race to House the Super-Rich. By David Nolt. 

Here is the promo for the “preserve.”

Federal Officials Embrace Wyoming Wolf Killing Plan

There have been a number of stories on this. Here is the view of Earth Justice, who might possibly represent any litigants of the killing plan.

Many Wyoming politicians have long tried to confine nature to Yellowstone Park, and they are succeeding, and the rest of the wide open spaces are being industrialized for oil, gas, and coal.

Federal Officials Embrace Wyoming Wolf Killing Plan. Earth Justice. Press Release.

Suzanne Asha Stone: [Idaho] Wolf management plan is more of a wolf extermination plan

Suzanne Stone had a prominent “readers view” in the Idaho Statesman today. Wolf management Plan is more of an extermination plan.

[Blaine County] Locals denounce [Idaho] state’s wolf plan

Last night, the Idaho Department of Fish and Game held it’s Idaho Wolf Population Management “Open House” followed by a hearing conducted by Blaine County commissioners in Hailey Idaho. For wolf advocates in attendance this night proved to be a remarkably uplifting experience. A diverse group of wolf advocates, hunters, and citizens of Blaine County joined in overwhelmingly condemning the plan and in giving wolves in Idaho a robust advocacy.

Idaho Mountain Express’s take

and my take below the fold…
Read the rest of this entry »

Idaho “wolf viewing area” language is a menace to hunters and wildlife watchers.

You might say, “how’s that? I know it is awful language and a fraud, but how is it dangerous to wildlife watching and hunting in general?

It is dangerous because it arguably transfers ownership of the state’s wildlife to outfitters. Let me write that again, it implicitly transfers ownership of Idaho wildlife from the state of Idaho to private outfitters. Read the rest of this entry »

Wuerthner: Idaho’s wolf plan panders to hunters and ranchers

George Wuerthner writes his usual kind of essay — sustained argument based on, logic, and data from scientific papers — the kind of material politicians usually ignore 😦

Idaho’s wolf plan panders to hunters and ranchers. George Wuerthner. New West.

One thing Wuerthner doesn’t quite get right is that the plan is not a pander to hunters. It is a pander to outfitters, a subclass of hunters, whose interests are increasingly at odds with the average Idaho hunter. I will write more about this today. . . . here it is, see: Idaho “wolf viewing area” language is a menace to hunters and wildlife watchers.

Utah’s “bear problem” won’t be solved by hunting

That dead boy surely seemed to scare a lot of Utahans, and not surprisingly the quota on bears is to be increased by 20% — good news for bear hunters in short run, but it will do little or nothing to reduce “problem bears” because the wrong bears will be killed.

Editorial in the Salt Lake Tribune.

Posted in Bears. Tags: . 7 Comments »

Local church/blue collar alliance protests drilling south of Green River, WY

People of faith have joined with hunters and blue-collar workers in southwest Wyoming to protest a small exploratory drilling project proposed south of Rock Springs.

Rest of the story. By Jeff Gearino. Casper Star Tribune.

Anyone think Wyoming SFW will help these folks, or will they cry “wolf!”?

Utah wildlife officers encounter un-bull-eviable scene

Wildlife officers encounter un-bull-eviable scene. By Brett Prettyman. Salt Lake Tribune

Posted in Elk. 7 Comments »

Arizona Republic says concern for cows has been too much in the Mexican wolf recovery

This is exactly what I think needs to be said. Finally someone realized that preventing extinction of this small wolf is more important than the cows, whose owners lose little if anything.

Let wolves prosper. Editorial. Arizona Republic.

“Wolf watching areas” in Idaho wolf plan are meaningless tokens

Those who are promoting Idaho’s wolf population management plan as some kind of compromise like to point to its provision for “wolf watching areas” as proof that it is a true compromise and a balanced plan.

The reality is these areas are what students of politics term “symbolic rewards,” more commonly called “tokens” or even “chump change.”

The plan really does provide for wolf watching areas. However, none are designated by the plan, and no permanent wolf watch areas will be. Here are the actual criteria for the watching areas (direct quote from the draft plan) : Read the rest of this entry »

Arrest made in blatant antelope killing

Arrest made in blatant antelope killing. By The Associated Press. Billings Gazette.

Gruesome work keeps Montana FWP on top of wildlife disease

Gruesome work keeps FWP on top of wildlife disease. Technicians testing deer to see if chronic wasting disease is present in state.  By Mike Stark. Billings Gazette Staff.

So far no CWD in Montana, probably a tribute to the  insistence by Montana FWP that wintering wildlife in the state  not be fed and the tough stance Montana voters took on “game farms,” and, as someone commented below because Wyoming wolves have been killing CWD-infected deer and elk before the reach in Montana border. Of course the wolves will be gone if Wyoming’s wolf plan, now just approved, is actually implemented.

Rocky Barker: More laughter than anger at Fish and Game wolf meeting [in Boise]

I didn’t write a report on all of the wolf population management plan meetings. I didn’t get news about some of them.

These are Idaho Statesman reporter Rocky Barker’s impressions on the Boise meeting where wolf supporters predominated.

More laughter than anger at Fish and Game wolf meeting.

It is absolutely true that the wolf issue is as the meeting moderator said,  “social,” that is,  in my view a culture clash, having little to do with wolves, which are but a symbol for reaction to change in the West.

Posted in Delisting, Idaho wolves, Wolves, Wolves and Livestock. Comments Off on Rocky Barker: More laughter than anger at Fish and Game wolf meeting [in Boise]

Bush Administration trying to charge fees to photo and film on the public lands.

Now the Bush Administration wants to charge fees and require permits for people who commercially take photos or film in the national parks, national forests, BLM lands and wildlife refuges.

This is another attempt to steal your rights to use your public land right out from under you, and also to prevent coverage of what is going on on the public lands. It is also a clear violation of your First Amendment Rights.

I can see a ranger asking you for your permit to photograph the pollution running out of oil well on the national forest.

– – – – –

Closely related to this new attempt to take away your natural rights as an American is the growing citizen movement to fight back against the RAT (Recreation Access Tax). Story: Turning Back the Clock to the Good Old Days. What the Baucus-Crapo Bill Does. New West by Bill Schneider.

Breaking story: Fees proposed by Bush Administration for filming and photography on public lands. By Les Blumenthal.

Salmon Farming May Doom Wild Populations, Study Says

Salmon Farming May Doom Wild Populations, Study Says. By Juliet Eilperin and Marc Kaufman. Washington Post Staff Writers.

Salmon farms spread disease and sea lice among wild populations.

ID Fish and Game: Don’t count on Idaho wolf hunts soon

John Miller of AP wrote this: ID Fish and Game: Don’t count on Idaho wolf hunts soon.

The federal government may lift protections from northern Rocky Mountain gray wolves by March, but a state wildlife manager said Thursday he expects environmentalists’ lawsuits over Idaho’s management plan will delay legal wolf hunts for the foreseeable future. [emphasis mine]

You can always file a lawsuit, but if you are wrong on the law or the facts, you will soon find you have your case dismissed and you are out of money. If Idaho Fish and Game is saying this in advance, it seems like evidence they know their wolf population management plan is defective. I’d argue the plan is arbitrary and capricious.

This is just a feeling. No one let me into a secret meeting, but I think most F & G folks know this is just a wolf killing plan, not a hunt similar to that of other game animals. They are saying what they have been directed to say from higher authorities such as certain entrenched lobbying groups and high state officials.

Reject Idaho state’s proposed wolf plan

Opinion by Kelly Weston.

Reject state’s proposed wolf plan. (Kelley Weston is a Hailey resident). Idaho Mountain Express.

News on Montana wolf management

News From Montana
by Salle Engelhardt, vice president
Wolf Recovery Foundation

On December 9, 2007 Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks reconvened the original wolf management plan citizen advisory council in order to discuss their views on parameters for a future season on wolves after delisting takes place.

The State of Montana Fish Wildlife and Parks functions on a biennial calendar. Therefore, in order to establish all hunt regulations for all game animals for the next two years, sessions during the next several weeks will be held to accomplish this objective. Since wolves are, currently, anticipated to be delisted this coming February, the agency is mandated by the legislature to establish the regulations for them as well.

Ten of the original members attended two sessions held in Helena on Dec. 9 and 10. Public comment was allowed during the official all-day session on the tenth. The session on the ninth was an evening event during which the committee was briefed on the current status of wolves in Montana and some discussion concerning the other two states involved in the reintroduction of the specie, Idaho and Wyoming. Discussion and MTFWP presentation by Carolyn Sime, state wolf program director, included a comparison of what they thought would happen back when the state’s management plan was developed with what is known at present.
Read the rest of this entry »

Judge Redden tells feds to fix damage to salmon from dams or else

The federal judge pressing the government to remedy the damage Columbia River dams wreak on protected salmon warned Wednesday of “very harsh” consequences if federal agencies fail to find a solution.

This is from the story in the Oregonian by Michael Milstein on the federal judge’s views on the biological opinion that is emerging from the federal government on their latest plan (their 6th “BO”) to save the salmon protected by the endangered species act. We can do better’ for fish, judge says. Columbia salmon: A federal judge promises “very harsh” measures if a solution is not found The previous five haven’t done well.

Rocky Barker has a story on Redden’s warning too today. Get serious about salmon, judge says. Redden tells federal officials he can drain water if they don’t look at all the ways to save fish. Idaho Statesman. He has followed the issue for many years and has a blog entry on it. Redden still holds out hope region can bring him legal salmon plan.

For those who haven’t following this issue, this is the other long-standing wildlife controversy in Idaho (the first being wolves). Unlike the wolves, there is real money at stake here, not a couple million, but billions. Read the rest of this entry »

More on the RAT, privatization, and the last year of dirty deeds by the Bushies.

David Neiwert wrote this insightful piece.

Neiwart, I should add is an expert on the ideas of the Western extreme right wing. Everyone should read his book In God’s Country: The Patriot Movement and the Pacific Northwest. WSU Press. 1999.

The Phonies in the Woods. By David Neiwert. Common Sense. He discusses the RAT tax, the end days of the Bush Administration (it looks ugly for the outdoors), turning the woods over to private outfitters, and how old western establishment, typified by Larry Craig, keep Westerners confused and disorganized.

This article has a lot of excellent links to earlier material.

Posted in politics, public lands management. Tags: , . Comments Off on More on the RAT, privatization, and the last year of dirty deeds by the Bushies.

Pinedale, WY provides cautionary tale for Colorado communities

Pinedale provides cautionary tale for Colorado communities. By Gargi Chakrabarty, Rocky Mountain News.

One thing the article doesn’t mention is that when all these gas leases were let and plans made was that the attention of the keepers of the local traditions was diverted by talk about “the menace” of the 2 or 3 wolf packs that had formed at the north end of the Green River Basin. . . the classic politics of diversion.

Senators Baucus and Crapo trying to repeal the R.A.T.

Federal Lands Recreational Enhancement Act (FLREA) was passed in the dark of night in 2004. It has become known to its opponents as the Recreation Access [to public lands] tax, or “the RAT,” for helping us remember it.

By “dark of the night,” I mean it was added to the omnibus appropriations bill with no debate, by Republican US Representative Ralph Regula of Ohio. This came on the heels of the 2-year Recreation Demonstration Fee Program which had proven unpopular, but limited in extent. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in public lands, public lands management. Tags: , . Comments Off on Senators Baucus and Crapo trying to repeal the R.A.T.

Resisting Delisting – Idaho Wolves & Livestock’s Influence

Interagency Grizzly Bear Committee to look at claim it unintentially endorses CounterAssault

CounterAssault is probably the number one grizzly bear pepper spray, but UDAP spray is very good too (some say better). Mark Matheny, who invented the large “bear size” pepper spray after being mauled and saved by a small can of spray, is claiming the IGBC is promoting CounterAssault in its education materials.

Story: Grizzly bear committee to examine spray claim. By John Cramer. Missoulian.

Posted in Bears. Tags: . 34 Comments »

Drilling operations reshape Colorado’s landscape

Drilling operations reshape landscape. By Todd Hartman, Rocky Mountain News

Drilling and production are also reshaping Wyoming (the most), Utah, New Mexico, and soon, Montana, and North Dakota. All attempts in Congress so far to tighten up the the drilling have failed. In fact, they were dropped from the recent massive energy bill to try to gather one more vote, that of Domenici of New Mexico. Bush says he will veto the bill anyway.

Two Colorado House members put BLM on notice about Roan Plateau plans. By Bobby MaGill. Grand Junction Sentinel.

National Geographic (photos) on drilling the Roan Plateau.

Skytruth looks at the Roan Plateau. 

Evidence of very serious mercury contamination of southern Idaho continues to build

Rocky Barker writes about it again today in his blog in the Idaho Statesman.

New mercury reports pile on more data that dangerous toxin is spread all over. Rocky Barker. Idaho Statesman. 

Posted in Uncategorized. Tags: , . Comments Off on Evidence of very serious mercury contamination of southern Idaho continues to build

Dick Cheney goes hunting again

This story is about Cheney’s recent “hunting” trip.

The Alternet headline is about the slaughter of animals. It does appear not to be a fair chase hunt, but the thing that I think should impress most folks the most, especially those who live in the West, is that guys like Cheney have no need for public lands. Private clubs are just fine . . . even better because there is no chance of running into some average American like me or you.

Story by Martha Rosenberg, AlterNet.

Note: I posted this to indicate the threat to public lands and wildlife men and women like Cheney pose with their exclusive private hunting clubs

Some very good comments were posted about this, but mostly they are about other aspects of the Chief.

. . . . no I don’t like him either, and for many reasons. Ralph Maughan

Wolf open house finally scheduled for Wood River Valley. County Commissioners to take oral testimorny.

After numerous complaints that Idaho Fish and Game did not schedule an open house on their proposed wolf population management plan in the Wood River Valley (Ketchum, Hailey, Bellvue, Idaho), one has been set for December 17.

The open house will begin about 5:30 PM with an ID Fish and Game Powerpoint presentation. Then the Department will take questions for about an hour. At 7 PM, in a first, an actual public hearing will be held, not by Fish and Game, but the the Blaine County Commissioners. That will go for about an hour with each person getting 2 minutes or so to speak.

The meeting will be held at the Community Campus in Hailey.

Public discusses new Mexican wolf-recovery plan

Currently on the brink of failure due to low population numbers and excessive killing due to alleged conflicts with livestock, the rule governing the management of the Mexican wolves is being updated and your comments are needed. Right now they are in the part of the NEPA process called “scoping” — to determine the scope and range of issues and opportunities.

Here is the notice in the Federal Register.

Defenders of Wildlife is recommending the following changes:

Allow wolves to roam beyond the current artificial boundaries to find suitable habitat and prey.

• Resolve livestock-wolf conflicts in ways that keep wolves in the wild and achieve progress toward reintroduction objectives.
• Revise the service’s 25-year-old recovery plan.
• Allow opportunities to expand wolf reintroduction to other areas in the future.

Your comments are due Dec. 31. You can email them in to: r2fwe_al@fws.gov

Defenders page on “recovery of the Lobo

Western Watersheds Project on commenting on the Mexican wolf.

Mexican wolf population statistics (government page)

Pair of wolves moves into Eastern Oregon

At least it looks like a pair of wolves, rather than a single wolf has moved into Oregon. The tracks of the pair (and there could be more) have been repeatedly seen in the canyon and high peak country of the Wallowa Mountains.

Story in the Baker, Oregon (Baker City Herald). newspaper. Local wolves not all lone. By Jayson Jacoby.

When the wolf is delisted, slated for late February, any wolves in Eastern Oregon will lose their federal protection because the USFWS was careful to draw the delisting lines to more sure good wolf habitat adjacent to Idaho in other states would not be protected. Fortunately, Oregon does have a state wolf protection plan in place.

Bad air: Reason to leave Utah?

The air in northern Utah in the winter is just plain dirty, and has been for a long time.

Story in the Salt Lake Tribune. Bad air: Reason to leave Utah? Expert says breathing pollution is like smoking five cigarettes a day. By Judy Fahys

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Yellowstone: Giant Geyser erupts back to life

Giant Geyser erupts back to life. By Mike Stark. Billings Gazette.

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Interior secretary Kempthorne surpass’s Watt’s record for not listing endangered species

For those who remember or who have read of him, Ronald Reagan’s Secretary of Interior, James Watt, was infamous for his hostility toward protecting wildlife and the public lands. Kempthorne has done even less to list endangered species while he cries false poverty.

Rocky Barker at the Idaho Statesman, who has been writing recently about the Bush salmon policy, points this out.

Idaho anti-wolf coalition suggests there are really over 9000 wolves in Idaho and over 900 packs!

This is the kind of thinking we have to face among some in Idaho. Idaho Anti-wolf Coalition.

Buffalo Field Campaign Update. Things OK for now. Awful DOL slaughter expected in March

Here is the latest alert/update from the Buffalo Field Campaign. I usually post them to help this hard working and group of brave volunteers. In the winter they have to confront daily the brutal Montana Department of Livestock, but in recent years also the Bushified Forest Service, and the Gallatin County Sheriff’s Department. Sometimes they get beaten or arrested for non-violent observation, video, and documentation of the harassment and pointless slaughter of Yellowstone’s bison which are confined to Yellowstone Park’s artificial boundary under the myth that they are a brucellosis disease threat to cattle which are now almost non-existent in the areas the bison try to leave the Park to roam. Ralph Maughan

First here is a story from New West on Park bison this winter. State and Federal Agencies Predict Busy Winter for Bison Management. By David Nolt.
– – – – –

Buffalo Field Campaign
Yellowstone Bison
Update from the Field

December 6, 2007

View BFC Video Footage-
Make a Secure Online Donation to BFC-
Why are they killing the last wild buffalo?

Receive BFC’s updates or press releases. Send your email address to bfc-media@wildrockies.org with “sub updates” or “sub press release” in the subject line.
NUMBER OF AMERICAN BISON ELIMINATED from the last wild population in the U.S.
Total Since 2000: 2,028
*includes lethal government action, quarantine, state and treaty hunts


In this issue:

  • Update from the Field
  • Lots of BuffaLove and Praises
  • BFC Newsletters and Notecards Available Soon!
  • Ski, Shop, and Surf to Save the Buffalo and Support BFC
  • Last Words


* Update from the Field

Dear Buffalo Friends,

We are very happy to report that no wild buffalo have been harassed or killed since we wrote to you last week.

Last Friday BFC met with Yellowstone National Park administrators and on Tuesday we attended the Interagency Bison Management Plan open house. At both meetings the news from the agencies wasn’t good. They told us that it will likely be a very bad winter for our friends the buffalo.

One of the reasons given by the government agencies is the increased paranoia instilled in Montana’s cattle producers since brucellosis was detected in a Montana cattle herd last spring. While it is widely known that wild buffalo were not responsible for this transmission, and while there is no substantial evidence that the source wasn’t domestic cattle, the cattle industry is looking to blame Yellowstone wildlife, in particular the elk and buffalo. The industry fails to take responsibility for bringing brucellosis to this continent and infecting native wildlife. Read the rest of this entry »

Nation’s Largest Sitka Spruce Dies In Oregon Storm

The largest Sitka Spruce broke off in the latest severe storm to hit Oregon. This article tells of it and what happened with things that affect the environment during its 700 year life, e.g., it was a sapling when The Plague struck Europe.
Story. New West. By Joseph Friedrichs

Added. Related from the Oregonian. Big, wet storms may become new ‘normal’. Global warming – Faster-than-expected tropical expansion could bring more tempests to the Northwest By Michael Milstein.

Added. More on more rain in the Pacific Northwest. Climate change could mean more massive downpours. By Lisa Stiffler and Tom Paulson. Seattle Post-Intelligencer Reporters.

Democrats drop drilling restrictions from energy bill

This energy bill keeps getting worse. This concession is certainly bad news for many ranchers who own what is called “split estate” land as well making sure the more sensitive parts of public lands are not drilled.

I don’t like the emphasis on renewables as written because much of this is corn ethanol which isn’t really a renewable, and produces little net energy and a lot of erosion while raising the price of all foods. There needs to be much more emphasis on energy efficiency, which is often the least cost source of new energy and the most benign.

The concession is to attract the support of Republican Pete Domenici, who is retiring next year due to a brain disorder. He will probably be replaced by a conservation-minded senator (Udall). Perhaps it would be better to wait for a bigger Democrat majority and new President.

Democrats drop drilling restrictions from energy bill. Casper Star Tribune.

Update: Corn prices have doubled as ethanol production has soared. Protests from livestock and food makers resulted in an amendment to order no more than 15-billion gallons of the energy-intensive fuel. The other 21 billion gallons of ethanol are supposed to come from “cellulosic” sources like switchgrass and wood chips by 2022. It is not clear yet how to economically convert cellulose into alcohol. Maybe the termites can teach us. 

Bush has now said he will veto. 

Bush’s Forest Service losses a big case

Wow! the legal kickback on the Bush Administration’s lack of attention to the laws is coming fast and furious.

Two days ago, it was the big sage grouse case (which impacts way more than this beautiful upland game bird). Now is it his administration’s misnamed “Healthy Forests Initiative.

Story. Associated Press. Appeals Court Blocks Bush Logging Rule

From the Sierra Club on the decision. Sierra Club Victory in Ninth Circuit Deals Blow to Bush Administration’s So-Called “Healthy Forests” Initiative.

The case is Sierra Club v. Bosworth.

Study: Climate change will endanger trout.

“. . . fish die-offs and fishing closures in Yellowstone and Montana as a probable sign that global warming is already affecting trout populations”

This is from today’s Jackson Hole News and Guide. Study: Climate change will endanger trout. By Corey Hatch.

Sage grouse decision may have big consequences

The decision could have widespread ramifications for sage grouse habitat, which includes portions of at least eight Western states, including large swaths of Montana and Wyoming and the Powder River Basin, where there’s intense interest in energy development. Brodie Farquhar has an article about the politics of it in Wyoming. ‘Wyoming officials say listing the sage grouse would be a ‘grave concern.’ Casper Star Tribune.

More on 12-7. Birds come home to roost. Federal judge: former U.S. official’s handling of sage grouse decision improper. By Jason Kauffman. Idaho Mountain Express.

Note that Idaho sage grouse numbers declined further during 2007. 

Wolf population management plan not supported at Pocatello meeting

The Idaho wolf population management plan open house at Pocatello was a low key affair with about 45 people (excluding the Idaho Fish and Game staff). There were a lot of skeptical questions about the plan — how it was constructed, whether it would really maintain a large population of wolves, the length of the wolf hunting season, why the wolf tag price was so low, and I thought most interesting, the fact that the whole thing is based on the notion of conflicts between wolves and livestock and big game.

When Steve Nadeau, large carnivore coordinator for Idaho, said the wolf conflicts with livestock were on the rise with 200* dead sheep and 23 dead cattle (mostly calves) in 2006, it seemed no one was impressed that this was any sort of conflict level about which to base a hunting plan. When Nadeau replied that maybe 7 times as many cattle were really killed by wolves but not confirmed, it still didn’t seem to impress folks as very many cattle, and because Nadeau couldn’t point to any elk problems outside the Lolo and Selway, conflict between wolves and big games seemed like an odd way to base a plan. Nadeau then said the foundation of the plan (on conflict) was due to the earlier Idaho Wolf Conservation Plan.

I asked why all DAU’s (the wolf management areas) were slated for a decrease in wolf numbers or of stabilizing their numbers? Wouldn’t a balanced plan have some increase numbers goals too, especially in areas adjacent to SW Montana and Wyoming so that genetic interchange could take place?

A member of the audience and the interchange made it clear the plan was not supported by Defenders of Wildlife or the Idaho Conservation League, although both were among the “stakeholder” groups that participated. Nadeau said he assumed that when the wolf was delisted in March, Defenders would then sue.

Many other issues were raised, but neither the television station nor the newspaper did anything more that report what Idaho Fish and Game said. Note. The Idaho State Journal will be doing a followup on the Pocatello meeting.
To me, and I would guess most others, it was apparent the important decisions will be made at the March Idaho Fish and Game commissioner’s meeting, such as how large the first hunt will be — number of tags and whether the hunt will be general or limited to areas so they can test the effects and side-effects of a hunt before going for a statewide hunting season?

– – – –

Addition, Nadeau said he thought maybe having a wolf hunt would reduce the anti-wolf feeling among many. Those who got good at killing wolves, and he stressed how valuable a pelt is, would lobby for keeping more wolves around. Of course, if you want good pelts, you don’t hunt them August through November. The season should be December, January, Februrary


* Nadeau said the sheep figures were probably accurate because shepherds watch and know when a wolf has been in the sheep.

Judge Winmill: Government must reconsider giving the sage grouse protection under the ESA

Talk about a blockbuster decision!

Once again Julie MacDonald’s corrupt procedures at Interior have rebounded. The lawsuit was filed by Western Watersheds Project, and was represented by the conservation law firm, Advocates for the West.

Story by Rocky Barker in the Idaho Statesman. Judge: Government must reconsider sage grouse

I see where this is the big, or a big story, in most of the western newspapers on Dec. 5.

I wonder if the Bush Administration will ever figure out there are consequences to not obeying the law?

– – – —

Update. Statement from the Western Watersheds Project

Western Watersheds Project Wins Court Order Overturning Bush Administration Decision Not To List Greater Sage Grouse !

Tuesday December 4, 2007 Read the rest of this entry »

Defenders statement on stakeholders.

Defenders of Wildlife sent out the news release below November 26, 2007 because Idaho and Fish and Game was saying that they were part of the “stakeholders” and strongly implying that they, therefore, had actually helped build the wolf population plan and agreed with it. I imagine that Fish and Game did this because it was politically helpful to suggest that only a handful of conservation groups opposed what is actually a very unbalanced plan. In fact, I think all do.

Ralph Maughan


To: Northern Rockies editorial page editors and writers
Fr: Suzanne Stone, Northern Rockies representative for Defenders of Wildlife, (208)424-9385
Re: Idaho’s wolf harvest plan will decimate wolf population

Datet: November 26, 2007


On Thursday, the Idaho Department of Fish and Game will hold its first public open house on a just-released wolf harvest plan intended to go into effect once wolves in the Northern Rockies are removed from the endangered species list. Unfortunately, this plan is more about extermination than management.

The plan’s primary goal is to reduce Idaho’s wolf population and would allow hundreds of the wolves currently in the state to be killed. This goal was not accepted by all of the stakeholder groups.

While Idaho Fish and Game claims the plan was accepted by all stakeholders, that is simply not true. Defenders of Wildlife and the Idaho Conservation League were two of the stakeholder groups that openly disagreed with the state’s management direction. Read the rest of this entry »

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IDFG Wolf Plan public meeting – Jerome

The first in a series of Idaho Department of Fish & Game public meetings on Idaho’s Wolf Management Plan took place in Jerome last night. The plan, IDFG maintains, is the result of a series of stakeholders’ meetings that included Livestock interests, sporting interests – including Sportsmen for Fish and Wildlife, and conservation interests represented by the Idaho Conservation League and Defenders of Wildlife.

There is no measure of the restorative niche that this predator contributes throughout Western ecosystems planned to be taken by IDFG, nor does the wolves’ important role inform management in any way other than to trip measures of “control”. State management’s posture maintains wolves as problematic and seemed to pay little heed to any interest other than Livestock and big docile game. Even in maintaining 10 – 15 packs in the state, the motive was characterized in terms of protecting Livestock and big game interests from future federal protection of wolves.

Read the rest of this entry »

Rumor of high level Idaho meeting to conspire against recent bighorn sheep victories

There is a rumor that top Idaho state legislators met today in Boise with the Governor’s office of Species Conservation, the Bush Forest Service, the Bush BLM, Idaho Fish and Game, and perhaps one member from the Federation for North American Wild Sheep to strategize how they can stop the spreading legal victories by Advocates for the West and Western Watersheds Project to protect bighorn sheep in the Hells Canyon and lower Salmon River areas from contact with the deadly (to bighorn) domestic sheep.

This is rumor, but most of these agencies can’t be happy they keep losing cases and getting orders that insist domestic sheep be kept away from the bighorn. Rumor is they will try to get the Forest Service and BLM to drag their feet more slowly than ever and shut up those folks in Idaho Fish and Game who think wildlife (bighorn at least) come first.

Story about the issue from High Country News. “Sheep v. Sheep”. By Nathaniel Hoffman. My link to the recent news story in the Times-News has gone dead, so Sheep v. Sheep is a substitute.

“Hay Day” at Jackson, WY yields 55 tons of what many say is unneeded hay for Elk Refuge

The National Elk Refuge feeds its elk alfalfa pellets, which are easy to distribute around the Refuge, and so reducing the concentration of elk. They think this might reduce the spread of elk and bison diseases. Nevertheless, a sportsman group (SFW-Wyoming) has taken to delivering hay to the Refuge the last two years on the assumption that the Refuge doesn’t understand that the elk are starving.

On the other hand, the long term average winter mortality for elk on refuge is only 0.05% — spectacularly low and not compatible with the notion that the elk starve

SFW had their hay day in Jackson, Wyoming on Saturday. This article describes what happened. Hay Day nets 55 tons. By Cory Hatch. Jackson Hole News and Guide.

The Elk Refuge phased out the feeding of hay some time ago because it concentrates elk, is unsanitary, labor intensive, insufficiently nutritious, and spreads weeds into the refuge. Read the rest of this entry »

Private effort launched to bolster funding for Yellowstone Park rangers

“The Yellowstone Park Foundation has launched a Ranger Fund initiative, to raise $2 million in two years.”

Story in the Casper Star Tribune by Brodie Farquhar.

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Spray vs. gun bear deterrent debate rages in Montana

Spray vs. gun bear deterrent debate rages in Montana. By John Cramer, Missoulian.

The other day one of the Montana FWP commissioners was out bird elk hunting, got charged by a grizzly. He had no pepper spray and might have killed the grizzly with his rifle. Since then (and it looks like before too) he has been saying guns are best and that hunting of grizzlies needs to resume so they will learn to fear humans, although the dead bear so far hasn’t interacted with any of its fellow bears telling how dangerous people really can be.

In truth, the facts are almost entirely against this guy. It is also true that in the face of a charging grizzly you are not safe whatever you are carrying. Common sense tells you that a sprayed bear that lives has learned a lot more about people than a dead bear.

Note that this is another one of those stories that tries to establish a person’s credibility by how many bones of his ancestors are in the local cemetery.

I’ve got lots of bones there too, and a lot of experience — two backpacking guides to thick grizzly country. I was so grateful when I could stop carrying my .41 magnum revolver and carry spray. After walking a thousand miles that gun gets heavy.

Note that I think it is highly likely that the grizzly is dead because the bear was shot in the chest from a close range and then apparently shot at least one more time. This is based on the news account.

Haydens probably down to three wolves

Tom Mazzarisi, ranger at Madison in YNP told me that things have not gone well for the 5 remaining Haydens who had been hanging out in the Madison River since being attacked and driven from the Canyon area by the larger Mollies Pack.

He told me something I didn’t know — last winter they spent much of their time in the Madison River area. So it is only natural that the one remaining Hayden adult led the 4 remaining pups to the Madison after being attacked by the Mollies.

The Madison isn’t safe country, however. Some believed they would be attacked by the nearby Cougar Creek Pack, but instead it appears they were attacked by the much larger Gibbon Pack which recently moved up through the area and back into the Gibbon Meadows area. Now it looks like the Haydens are down to three — the adult female, a gray pup and the black pup (who has become pretty large and an effective hunter).

They were last spotted near Old Faithful and moving south toward Craig Pass .

Local residents strongly oppose new transmission line proposed just north of Craters of the Moon National Monument.

Talk about a visual imposition as well as spread of weeds and off-road vehicle tracks! This powerline would destroy the view of the Beaverhead, Lemhi, Lost River, and Pioneer Mountain ranges — hundreds of miles. It’s not just the national monument.

Carey residents: ‘No!’ to power line. Hostile crowd raps plan put forth by South Dakota energy giant. By Jason Kauffman. Idaho Mountain Express Staff Writer

Freudenthal gets more time on Idaho phosphate pit mine review

The JR Simplot Company wants a 1300 acre (2 square mile) expansion of its huge phosphate pit mine in Idaho on the Wyoming border. The federal government BLM just put out a fat environmental impact statement on the Smoky Canyon Mine enlargement, which they seem ready to approve. There are many other phosphate pits in SE Idaho.

The impacts of these phosphate mines extend far beyond the pits because rainwater seeping through the spoils picks up huge levels of toxic selenium which runs into the springs, creek and rivers in Wyoming (and eventually in the Snake River in Idaho). More sheep have died of poisoning while grazing on the “rehabilitated” mine spoils than have been killed by wolves in eastern Idaho.

There is a website that is trying to alert the public to the problem. . . . Caribou Cleanwater Partnership.

Story in the Casper Star Tribune. Gov. Freudenthal wants more time on phosphate mine review.

The selenium also concentrates in some native plants such as gumweed.

The phosphate rock ore is processed in Pocatello, ID into phosphate for fertilizer. Another large phosphate plant is in Soda Springs, Idaho. This mine is to feed the Pocatello plant.

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