Why is Yellowstone destroying its bison herd? Editorial by Bob Jackson

Ed. note: Bob Jackson was a notable backcountry ranger in Yellowstone Park for 30 years. I covered a number of stories about him on my old web site.

Now he is a private bison rancher.


Why is Yellowstone Destroying its bison herd?

By Bob Jackson.

I spent 30 years in Yellowstone protecting its resources, which I carried out with all my heart. Yellowstone, for most of those years, enthusiastically supported me whenever I brought a poacher to court. But the black and white of whether a person is a poacher is not the same as managing the greater population of animals in the Park.

Yellowstone has always been prone to politics. But due to its mission, Yellowstone has always led the country, with science, in countering the detrimental political influence imposed on Park resources. Employees always rose to the occasion because they had the deep conviction to protect the Park’s resources. But not now with the bison issue. I wish one could simply say Yellowstone has rolled over and given up, but it is much worse. I see the Park actively ensuring the status quo of ignorance. Yellowstone IS CULPABLE in the destruction of its bison.

Read the rest of this entry »

USFWS greatly expands proposed critical habitat for lynx

This is a great improvement over their first proposal, which was pathetic, and, once again, this new proposal was strongly influenced by the effect of disgraced Julie MacDonald, the deputy assistant secretary of Interior who was far too friendly with industry lobbyists.

So many species have advanced, although not yet to the final stage since she was sent packing, that it almost seems like a good thing she was in her position, eventually serving to make the courts look into the corruption.

Story: Proposal would increase critical lynx habitat. By John Cramer of the Missoulian

Polluted starling males are preferred by female starlings

Here is a conterintuitive story.

Polluted Prey Causes Wild Birds To Change Their Tune. Science Daily.

Posted in Uncategorized. Tags: , . Comments Off on Polluted starling males are preferred by female starlings

Kathie Lynch reports on the wolf dating scene in Yellowstone Park

Here is another of Kathie’s Yellowstone wolf reports. For me these are a great antidote for all the bad news outside the Park.

The wolves’ season of romance (excuse me, “mating season”) is much more complex and extravagant than biologists used to think.

Ralph Maughan


YNP WOLF Field Notes, Feb. 16-24, 2008
By © Kathie Lynch

Two hundred and twenty six wolves in nine days—that’s an average of 25 wolves per day! From February 16-24, 2008, Yellowstone treated wolf watchers to a veritable bonanza of wolves—I saw an incredible 44 on my best day! Nowhere else in the world offers such a fantastic opportunity to share the lives of wolves in the wild.

The breeding season in February draws wolves from near and far. It always amazes me how they just seem to appear and then disappear. Interloping males materialize to try to lure females out of their packs, and females try to sneak away to rendezvous for a day or two. New groups may form for a few days and then just dissolve away.

Read the rest of this entry »

Mark Rey walks

U.S. Agriculture Undersecretary Mark Rey walked out of federal court a free man Wednesday in Missoula, wearing not an orange inmate’s jumpsuit but the gray business suit with American flag lapel pin he had donned for his contempt hearing.

Ag chief cleared of contempt. By John Cramer the Missoulian

The federal judge wasn’t happy, but apparently thought his contempt of court citation might bring the Forest Service around (a little bit).

More. Judge Clears Mark Rey and Forest Service of Contempt. By Dillon Tabish. New West.

U.S. to reconsider prairie dog status

U.S. to reconsider prairie dog status. By Clair Johnson. Billings Gazette.

Once again there is more endangered species fallout from the corrupt reign of Jule MacDonald’s period as a Deputy Assistant Secretary at the Department of Interior. A status review will begin for the white tailed prairie dog.

Nez Perce Tribe, Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks clash over hunt for bison

The tribe is unhappy that the bison hunt was ended Feb. 15, so that the serious slaughter of bison could be begin.

The solution to the entire controversy is to let the bison roam outside Yellowstone Park, but that will be over Montana Department of Livestock’s stinking corpse.

Story in the Billings Gazette. By Mike Stark.  Nez Perce Tribe, Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks clash over hunt for bison

Eleven Conservation Groups Challenge Federal Wolf Delisting (news release)

For release. February 27, 2008

Suzanne Asha Stone, Defenders of Wildlife, (208) 424-0932
Louisa Willcox, Natural Resources Defense Council, (406) 222-9561
Franz Camenzind, Jackson Hole Conservation Alliance, (307) 733-9417
Kristina Johnson, Sierra Club, (415) 977-5619
Michael Robinson, Center for Biological Diversity, (575) 534-0360
Jon Marvel, Western Watersheds Project, (208) 788-2290

Eleven Conservation Groups Challenge Federal Wolf Delisting.

Washington, D.C.— Eleven conservation groups are fighting to protect wolves in the northern Rockies. The groups notified the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service today that it violated the Endangered Species Act by removing the northern Rocky Mountain gray wolf population from the list of endangered species despite the genetic inadequacy of the present population and the refusal of Wyoming, Idaho, and Montana to make meaningful commitments to wolf conservation. The groups intend to challenge the Service’s decision in federal court. In an effort to overturn the Service’s delisting rule before hundreds of wolves can be killed in Idaho, Wyoming, and Montana, the conservation groups served their letter within hours of the publication of the delisting rule in the Federal Register. Under the delisting rule, states will assume legal management authority of wolves in the northern Rockies on March 28, 2008.

Read the rest of this entry »

Satan’s Dog. Is the gray wolf entangled in a war of symbols?

Satan’s Dog. Is the gray wolf entangled in a war of symbols? By Ben Cannon. Planet Jackson Hole.

This article shows the insular nature of the western anti-wolf cause, and it makes me resentful too in the other direction. How dare this old fool pretend to speak for the West?

. . . but then the article says “Brown is a member of an aging ranching population where financial and social influences have taken a heavy toll. The reintroduction of the gray wolf in the mid ’90s was perceived by some as the return of a nearly forgotten threat to the ranching livelihood.”. . . . “Brown does, however, represent a vestige of the strong political voice the ranching culture continues to have in a state where the ranching industry – long a powerful cultural influence in Wyoming – is diminishing”

Yes, but how much wildlife will left before this cultural influence diminishes enough that it can be overcome?

Howls of protest as America declares open season on grey wolves

A bitter row between US wildlife groups and the Bush administration has broken out over a federal decision to end protection for grey wolves in Montana, Wyoming and Idaho. Removal of protection means wolves can be hunted again.

This is from the U.K. newspaper, the Guardian Unlimited. There is nothing new in the article. I linked it because of the headline and lead paragraph they used.

Howls of protest as America declares open season on grey wolves.  By Robin McKie, science editor.  The Observer (Sunday section of the Guardian).

. . . turning from the northern Range, in Jackson Hole elk numbers high, mortality low.

Officials assess refuge herd at mid-winter. Mortalities are down, but officials worry about high numbers, warmer temperatures. Jackson Hole News and Guide.

An amazingly small number of elk have perished as of mid-winter at the National Elk Refuge. However, the snow is deep, meaning it will probably melt out late and will get dirty and infectious before the winter feeding ends. Therefore, some conclude that mortality rate may yet soar.

The wintering elk herd is regarded as too large by the management of the National Elk Refuge.

Northern Range elk count is in. Elk numbers down slightly

The annual, and always controversial count of elk on the Yellowstone northern range has been released. The northern range of Yellowstone extends well north of Yellowstone Park itself.

The news article concludes on the basis of speculation by a couple biologists that more elk are now living north of the Park due to the long term drought, lack of predators, and milder winters. A Montana state biologist says this makes the winter range north of the Park even more valuable. This is true. That range has always been invaluable and the state ought be buying more of it before it is completely filled with trophy homes.

If this is a trend, however, it takes more than one year to establish. One data point does not make a trend. This year’s elk count is two months late. As the winter progresses, these elk move to lower elevations, and that always means north. Until these “new” locations are replicated, we don’t know that elk are in general moving north.

It would certainly help if the agencies could get it together to count the elk at the same time every winter. That is what they are supposed to do — count at the same time each year. Otherwise, you end up with hard to compare figures.

Story. Count shows elk pushing north out of Yellowstone. By Mike Stark. Billings Gazette.

Six year study shows Western National Parks polluted by toxic chemicals from the outside

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Guns in national parks issue is a wedge to block an omnibus land protection bill

As I speculated in a number of threads, the hot new issue over guns in the national parks is indeed a political invention for this presidential campaign with the primary intent to stop a large number, over 60, relatively low controversy land protection measures that had been rolled into an omnibus bill.

Those promoting “the Coburn Amendment” were so effective in raising this wedge issue that few of media either knew or bothered to explain that it is an unrelated amendment to a public lands bill to designate wilderness areas, and enlarge a number of minor national park service sites.

Once Senator Coburn (R-OK) unwrapped this smelly fish of an amendment, it immediately became a partisan issue with McCain signing on as a co-sponsor and Senator Reid pulling the bill from the floor. It had already passed the House. Reid feared it would put too many Democrats in jeopardy with the upcoming election.

On most major Senate bills, senators bargain beforehand how many amendments and what kind of amendments will be offered to a bill when the bill is brought to floor. Senators of both parties generally do this is in good faith because they know their transgression of process today will come back and haunt them on their own bill tomorrow. The bargain between Coburn and majority leader Reid was that Coburn would get to offer five amendments, but this kind of amendment was not expected because Coburn had not raised this issue (guns) at all in the months leading up the floor action. Instead he had opposed the bill for being “bloated” and “too expensive.”

So Coburn will earn himself some payback, but for now he has probably blocked measures like the Wild Sky Wilderness near Seattle for yet another Congress.

Meanwhile, sensing an issue they can use, Republican Secretary of Interior Kempthorne is ordering the Park Service to see if he can allow guns in some national parks by administrative actions of the Department of Interior.

Story in the Missoulian by Michael Jamison. Park’s Gun Rules May Change.

This kind of amendment is called a “poison pill,” and Coburn and the Republicans carried it off with success.

Posted in national parks, politics, Uncategorized, wilderness roadless. Comments Off on Guns in national parks issue is a wedge to block an omnibus land protection bill

The Political Viability of NREPA

Michael Garrity gives a thoughtful account of The Political Viability of NREPA citing the Speaker of the House and Chairman of the Natural Resources committee’s support.

A lot of good things may be on the horizon for those willing to push.

Livestock industry looks for more money for wildlife killing agency

Livestock’s war on wildlife is heating up. One day after the final wolf delisting rule (2/21/08) the Capital Press, Ag’s favorite rag, published that

Producers push for more livestock protection [wildlife killing] funds (2/22/08 – Subscriber Only) :

The article reports that cattle and sheep industry people are asking the Subcommittee on Agriculture, Rural development and Related Agencies to increase appropriations for “livestock protection” (which means killing wildlife that these producers don’t like) by Wildlife Services.

Wildlife Services (WS) is the militant wing of the Department of Agriculture, and has done one thing well – it kills pubic wildlife for private livestock interests. In 2006 WS spent over $108 million federal dollars killing over 180 animals per hour. Ralph has recently shown us Wildlife Services doing their work by air and over at Sinapu’s blog they’ve described how WS covers the ground.It seems to me like less, not more money for the unpopular killing of America’s wildlife using chemical agents that’d make Saddam Hussein cringe would be a good start for a Congress looking to exercise real fiscal responsibility, moral authority, and prudently focused domestic security.

Defending the West is virtue

‘Barb’ commented on a post that Ralph wrote a year ago today. It deserves to be reposted on its first birthday.

Defending the West is virtue

At Potamogeton Park, Madison Range, Montana. Gallatin National Forest. Photo by Ralph Maughan

Citizen Takes Action To Shut Down Bison Trap

 A lot of bad news recently concerning buffalo being captured for slaughter to appease Livestock.

This press release from the Buffalo Field Campaign:

“I called, I wrote, and no response…This is my response.”

For Immediate Release, February 25, 2008
Contact:  Buffalo Field Campaign, Stephany Seay or Mike Mease 406-646-0070

WEST YELLOWSTONE, MONTANA – An unidentified man has made it impossible for Montana Department of Livestock agents to capture bison in the recently erected Horse Butte bison trap.  The man is perched upon a platform suspended from the top of a pair of poles that are standing on end and anchored to the walls of the trap.  A large banner hanging from the platform reads, “I called, I wrote, and no response…This is my response.”  Photos of the blockade. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in Bison. 30 Comments »

Approaching: Mark Rey’s court date

This has got to be one of my favorite stories. It is too rare these days that public officials are directly held to account. The court date for Rey is set for Tuesday.

Agriculture chief may face jail time

As the story illustrates, and we’ve gone over before, Rey spent much time with disgraced Sen. Larry Craig and as a former timber lobbyist before being appointed undersecretary for natural resources and agriculture by the Bush Administration. Rey moved to privatize your public land, dismantle the legal safeguards for wild places, and so much more.

Although I am skeptical about the possibility that Rey will indeed be thrown behind bars for this particular contempt, he should be – the lawlessness and public land profiteering personified by this man ought be reprimanded, he’d make a fine example.

Comment by Michael Robinson: Delisting Will Intensify Government War on Wolves on Behalf of Livestock Industry

Michael Robinson certainly knows about Wildlife Services. His book, Predatory Bureaucracy, gives the history of this agency’s war on wolves and other wildlife from the greatest to the least on behalf of the livestock history.

After you read this book and see how this agency has managed to survive under various names to go on and kill and kill, you can hardly feel good when you hear them announce they have killed some more wolves, but the wolves needed to be dead.

Robinson’s Opinion.

– – – – –

Around eighty-five percent of the vast region of the northern Rocky Mountains and adjoining grasslands in which gray wolves were removed from the endangered species list — comprising all of Wyoming, Idaho and Montana plus parts of Utah, Oregon and Washington — has no wolves in it. Wolves periodically show up in these areas, which include national forests and other public lands, but because most of these regions are severely grazed by livestock — so much so that deer and elk don’t find enough to eat and are very rare — the wolves end up killing stock and the federal government traps and kills them or shoots them from the air.

The purpose of the delisting is to kill as many wolves as the livestock-industry can get away with to ensure that fewer wolves enter these severely grazed regions, fewer show up anywhere where stock are pastured, and, on a broader scale, that no wolves survive to disperse outside of the “recovered” zone and establish themselves in states such as Colorado where they would enjoy full legal protection; they will be killed en route. Read the rest of this entry »

Some great Druid photos

Groups unhappy with Idaho Fish and Game’s bighorn plan

Groups unhappy with Idaho Fish and Game’s bighorn plan. By Sven Berg. South Idaho Press.

The plan was forced on Idaho Fish and Game by politicians and domestic sheep interests. If anyone thinks Idaho will do a good job managing wolves, look at the bighorn sheep issue (an animal everyone likes except for some livestock interests).

I remains my opinion that the livestock industry hates all wildlife.

Buffalo Ridge Pack to be wiped out, classic example of what’s wrong with Idaho state wolf management

On Friday, Ed Bangs reported the following.

On the 17th, ID WS confirmed that wolves from the Buffalo Ridge pack killed 2 calves and injured another on private land near Clayton. On the 18th, ID WS confirmed that the wolves killed another calf on the same ranch. There were four or five sets of wolf tracks at the scene and the telemetry signal of one of the collared wolves from the Buffalo Ridge pack showed that he was still in the immediate area. WS has already removed 3 members from this pack in the last 3 months after previous depredations on the same property. Further control efforts are being planned.

They never name the ranch where these events transpire. Federal regulations prevent that, but everyone knows it’s the Broken Wing Ranch near the confluence of the East Fork and the Main Fork of the Salmon River a few miles downstream from the hamlet of Clayton.

Over the years, probably more wolves have been killed due to “depredations” on the Broken Wing Ranch than any in Idaho. Does this mean that the owners are heartless wolf haters? Not at all. That’s the story, and that’s why Idaho state wolf management is so faulty.
Read the rest of this entry »

The “green” rating of Montana’s congressional delegation released

The League of Conservation voters has released its 2007 congressional vote rating.

New US Senator Jon Tester is the greenist with an 80% rating. Long time Senator Max Baucus is above the middle (typical place for him is near the middle). Baucus got 67%. The lone Republican, Denny Rehberg got 10%.

Story in the Helena Independent Record. Tester rates greenest. By IR State Bureau.

British Petroleum’s plans for thousands of coal bed methane wells near Glacier NP are dropped

This is great news! BP drops Flathead coal-bed plan. By Michael Jamison. Missoulian.

I recently did a story on the grave threat of these wells to the water, air and land in British Columbia just NW of Glacier National Park.

The plans for the huge mountaintop coal mine (the Cline Mine) remain, however.

Here is the most extensive article. BP Drops Coal-Bed Methane Exploration Project North of Glacier Park. Flathead Beacon. By Dan Testa.

Loaded for politics, not bears or criminals. Guns in the national parks

“Wild Bill” has a good opinion piece on this.  As I said earlier, this was an issue created for the election. It is not from the grassroots . . . . “This amendment and, it seems, most other gun legislation, isn’t about guns or the Second Amendment. It’s all about politics, and the gun lobby is panicked about who might be living in The White House next year.”

More Guns in National Parks. By Bill Schneider. New West.

With global warming, pythons! could squeeze lower third of USA

Pythons could squeeze lower third of USA. USA Today. By Elizabeth Weise

Ethanol Boom Saps Water in the West

Corn ethanol production not only fails to produce much net energy, it is depleting water supplies.

Ethanol Boom Saps Water in the West. By Jim Moscou. Newsweek Web Exclusive

Bush Administration Plan to Remove Wolf Protections Draws Criticism

 “If a wolf turns up in Rocky Mountain National Park, it will be protected by the Endangered Species Act. But plans by the Bush administration to remove ESA protection from Yellowstone’s wolves could make it incredibly hard for the predators to migrate down to Colorado.”

The above is from an article on delisting in National Parks Traveller.

6.3 quake shakes Wells, Nevada area

This was a fairly strong quake.

I felt it for about 10 seconds at my home in Pocatello, Idaho. That is in SE Idaho

Northeastern Nevada Hit by 6.0 Quake. AP (with a photo of damage)

Update: Nevada earthquake ripples through Treasure Valley [Idaho]. More than a dozen aftershocks were reported Thursday from a 6.0-magnitude temblor. Wells, Nev., was hit the hardest. By Kathleen Kreller. Idaho Statesman.

Related. Experts: Utah’s big one inevitable. Salt Lake Tribune. By Patty Henetz. The Salt Lake Tribune 

Western Watersheds, allies win again. This time on Mono Basin sage grouse

Below is the news release. These folks seem to win or make a favorable settlement on a lawsuit almost every day. Ralph Maughan


For Immediate Release, February 21, 2008Contacts:
Lisa Belenky, Center for Biological Diversity, (415) 385-5694 (cell)
Katie Fite, Biodiversity Director, Western Watersheds Project, (208) 429-1679
Mark Salvo, Director, Sagebrush Sea Campaign, WildEarth Guardians, (503) 757-4221

Sage Grouse Protection to Be Revisited: Bush Administration Agrees to Reassess Endangered Species Act Protection for Mono Basin Population

San Francisco– Conservation groups today announced they have reached a settlement in a lawsuit challenging the Bush administration’s decision not to consider the groups’ petition to list the sage grouse under the Endangered Species Act. Under the settlement, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service agreed to a voluntary remand of the earlier decision and must provide a new “90-day” finding by April 25, 2008.The Center for Biological Diversity, Sagebrush Sea Campaign, Western Watersheds Project, and Desert Survivors filed a lawsuit against the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in federal court in August 2007, challenging the agency’s December 2006 decision not to consider listing the Mono Basin area sage grouse under the Endangered Species Act.

Conservation organizations petitioned the government to recognize the Mono Basin area sage grouse as a distinct population segment and list the population as “endangered” or “threatened” under the Endangered Species Act in 2005. In December 2006 the Fish and Wildlife Service denied the petition, acknowledging that Mono Basin area sage grouse are genetically distinct from other greater sage grouse but holding that the petition did not demonstrate sufficiently that the species was at risk of extinction. Conservation groups contend that the Service ignored or dismissed significant evidence of impacts from increasing habitat loss and fragmentation from development, livestock grazing, off-road vehicle use, increased fire frequency and intensity, the spread of invasive, nonnative plants, and drought.

Read the rest of this entry »

Final wolf delisting rule

Here is the link to the final delisting rule published today.

Rocky Barker: Wolf battle heats up in the next few weeks

Wolf battle heats up in the next few weeks. This is Rocky’s blog today in the Idaho Statesman. It summarizes the legal situation.

Posted in Delisting, politics, Wolves. Comments Off on Rocky Barker: Wolf battle heats up in the next few weeks

Montana approves wolf hunting season

This was expected, and it isn’t really the news.

Story in the Casper Star Tribune. Montana approves wolf hunting season. By Eve Byron. Lee News Service

The news is that Montana rejected things like trapping wolves (a grave danger to grizzly bears and dogs) and the use of artificial lures, baits, scents, electronic calls, aerial hunting, and night vision hunting. Moreover, the wolf hunting season does not go on for an extended period of time. Idaho’s proposed season goes on through the winter and will maximize the disruption of wolf packs and replacement of the wolves that packs loose due to the hunt.

Ed Bang’s statement, however, is as usual, superficial but popular crap public relations that “It’s time. It’s past time, and the sooner we just start treating wolves like any other animal — mountain lions, black bears, deer or elk — the better it will be for everyone, including the wolves.”

Each of the animals he names is different and in terms of hunting they are not treated the same. Moreover, there are far fewer wolves in Montana than cougar and bears.

Montana knows that they are the state that could most easily slip to an insufficient number of breeding pairs of wolves, and I think a hunt is premature on a statewide basis, so if they misjudge, emergency relisting of the wolf will quickly be on the agenda.

I think Idaho and Wyoming are going to be the real problem states when it comes to wolf killing.

HJR002: amending Idaho constitution to make hunting preferred means of wildlife management

It appears that the Big-Game interests are pushing hard in Idaho. House Joint Resolution No.2 (HJR002) would amend the state constitution to :

provide that the people have the right to hunt, fish, trap and harvest wild game

Fair enough, I mean, it’s not like the state doesn’t already exercise this ‘right’ as it is. People can hunt. But what’s this about ? :

Public hunting, fishing and trapping shall be the preferred means of managing and controlling species under state control.

This on the eve of wolf delisting…

Read the rest of this entry »

Western wolf delisting looms

This article says it may be Feb. 28, but I just heard it will be tomorrow.

Story in the Idaho Mountain Express.

I see what might appear to be two rival strategies emerging among conservation groups to deal with delisting. In fact, I think this might be a good idea even though it will leave some bruised feelings, but more about that when I learn more.

One other item, Montana set up the details of a wolf hunting season today (as expected). Reaction to the details are still coming in.


Regarding the Mountain Express article above, I have to take issue with the reporter’s statement that the reintroduced wolf population in the 3 state area grew by “leaps and bounds” from 66 wolves to 1500.

It was 12 years. If deer, elk, jackrabbits, fox, etc. had been reintroduced into good habitat and protected, would 66 to 1500 in 12 years be considered “leaps and bounds,” “remarkable,” or any of the common terms many writers use? Wolves are short-lived species capable fast reproduction, but also quick depopulation if a pup year fails or the habitat declines.

If a long-lived species like humans, elephants, or tortoises had grown from 66 to 1500, that might be “leaps and bounds.”

Some Yellowstone Park wolf news

Although I expect Kathie Lynch may soon have a detailed report, I got information about a few items today.

The Bechler Pack of SW Yellowstone (the only pack down there) was finally seen. It had eleven members and was several miles south of the Park near the Idaho/Wyoming border. While they will go back to the Park, this points out a serious problem with Wyoming wolf management, the Bechlers, a Yellowstone Park wolf pack could be shot during a Wyoming trophy hunt season when they leave the Park as many Park packs sometimes do.

There has been a pretty wild mating season, with a lot of cross pack mating. In a first, an alpha male (of the Leopold’s 534M) was seen mating with the beta female of the rival Agate Pack (471F). He had already mated with his “mate,” the Leopold alpha female.

302M has left the Druids, at least temporarily, and is probably doing his favorite thing, searching for love.

Genetic research by Dan Stahler, and others,* has shown that the Park wolves have gone to great lengths (although I doubt they are thinking of genetic diversity as they check each other out) to avoid inbreeding.

The Haydens might have found a new home range. It is the territory left abandoned as the new Swan Lake Pack disintegrated — from Mammoth, north to Norris Geyser Basin. Two of the five Hayden’s got radio collars — the new adult male of the pack, who will be 639M and the well known black pup, who is now 638M. Dan Stahler finds the black pup very ineresting in that his is likely the son of the pack’s former beta or subordinate female and a black interloper. If he came from the alpha pair, he should be gray or light gray like the other 2 surviving pups.

Recently a Druid pup, among other Druids was radio collared. While still somewhat under the effect of the drug, two gray wolves, unseen by the darters and collarers, came down, and one tried to attack the pup. The pup is apparently not hurt and is seen looking perfectly fit now among the rest of the Druids.


* The genealogy and genetic viability of  reintroduced Yellowstone Gray Wolves.  Molecular Ecology (2007).  Bridgett M. Vonholdt, Daniel R . Stahler, Douglas W. Smith, Dent A. Earl, John P. Pollinger, and Robert K. Wayne

EPA slams new plan for gas field near Pinedale, WY

Wow, if Bush’s EPA doesn’t like it, it must have a really terrible environmental impact.

EPA slams new plan for Sublette gas field. Watchdog agency rips BLM proposal, says past study underestimated pollution by factor of 5. By Cory Hatch, Jackson Hole News and Guide

“The EPA letter comes in response to the Bureau of Land Management’s proposal for two options to develop 4,399 new wells on 12,278 acres of the Pinedale Anticline, late last year. The anticline is a tight-sands gas reserve beneath the Pinedale Mesa, located about 70 miles southeast of Jackson.

The windswept mesa is winter range to mule deer that summer as far away as Snow King Mountain and rises on a migration route for antelope that summer in Grand Teton National Park.”

Settlement Reached in Lawsuit Challenging Illegal Sheep Grazing in Yellowstone Ecosystem

For years the U.S. Sheep Experimental Station, headquartered at Dubois, Idaho (not Dubois, Wyoming) has been grazing sheep in the top of the Centennial Mountains and elsewhere in the general area, and with no environmental analysis.

After yet another successful lawsuit by Western Watersheds and the Center for Biological Diversity, represented by Advocates for the West, they have agreed to do their first environmental analysis.

I recently found out they winter the sheep at the base of Lemhi Mountains in high semi-arid country. I had wondered since 1972, when I first went there, why this country looked so beaten out come spring.

Ralph Maughan

For Immediate Release, February 20, 2008


Michael Robinson, Center for Biological Diversity, (575) 534-0360
Jon Marvel, Western Watersheds Project, (208) 788-2290
Todd Tucci, Advocates for the West, (208) 342-7024

Settlement Reached in Lawsuit Challenging Illegal Sheep Grazing in Yellowstone Ecosystem: U.S. Sheep Experiment Station Agrees to Conduct Environmental Analysis

Boise, Idaho – The Center for Biological Diversity and Western Watersheds Project have reached a settlement agreement with the U.S. Sheep Experiment Station in eastern Idaho to resolve a lawsuit filed last summer. The settlement requires the U.S. Sheep Station to analyze the environmental effects of the sheep grazing under the National Environmental Policy Act and to consult with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service regarding the impacts of the sheep grazing on threatened and endangered species. The Sheep Station is part of the Agricultural Research Service within the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

The presence of these thousands of domestic sheep, and management actions taken on their behalf, harms sensitive and endangered native wildlife such as Rocky Mountain bighorn sheep, pronghorn antelope, lynx, gray wolves, and grizzly bears – and yet these impacts have never been examined on the thousands of acres that are directly managed by the U.S. Sheep Station in southeastern Idaho and southwestern Montana. Analysis of impacts on the even larger tracts of national forest and Bureau of Land Management public lands is decades out of date and was cursory.

Read the rest of this entry »

Tiger Breeder looks at Eastern Idaho for his facility

There are elk farms, and now a tiger breeder wants to build a facility in Eastern Idaho. Unlike elk, to which Idaho’s Department of Agriculture hands out permits like politicians hand out brochures, the Dept. is fighting this and the proponent fighting the denial of a permit in court.

Tiger breeder eyes Idaho. Jackson Hole Star Tribune.

Defenders of Wildife gives Montana a grant and Montana takes over wolf compensation

Here is the version of the story from the Missoulian. State set to take over wolf kill payments. By Perry Backus of the Missoulian.

“Over its 20-year history, the Defenders of Wildlife have made 276 payments to Montanans totaling more than $317,000 for 336 cattle, 689 sheep, 16 livestock dogs and 15 other animals, including mules and llamas”

$317,000 over 20 years. I read that and I am shocked at how little direct economic damage wolves have done. Some might say $317,000 is a lot of money, and yes, consider this . . . if you extrapolate, then over 200 years wolves might do over 3-million dollars damage, and 2000 years, 30-million dollars.

Defenders expects, and Montana says they will use part of the state fund to provide for new mitigation efforts that help keep wolves separated from domestic animals. This in fact might be the least cost solution, especially when social conflict is factored in.

When a popular wolf pack is terminated by the government because of minor livestock losses, and especially when there are volunteers or people that would work for expenses or a small stipend to patrol and keep wolves and livestock apart, citizens can make the killing of that pack quite costly.

Right now we stand at the brink of an era of decreasing conflict on this issue, working these problems out, or one of escalation of ill feeling. I’m not just, or even especially writing about Montana.

Addition: Montana wants to build this fund up to $5-million, which is far more than any conceivable losses from wolves given the 20-year record above. This means they should have plenty of money to employ people and techniques to keep wolves and livestock apart — fewer dead cows and sheep, and fewer dead wolves. I think a majority of people would find this to be a better solution than to have to compensate after the fact.

Montana leaders to get update on Canadian energy plans just north of the border

“Congress is coming to Kalispell [Montana] this week for a town hall meeting to discuss the proposed industrialization of Canadian wilds bordering Glacier National Park’s northern edge.”

US Senators Baucus and Tester are holding a meeting to discuss British Columbia’s plans to tear the hell out of upper Flathead river which drains directly into Montana.

Story in the Missoulian.

Guest column in Headwaters News. Montana has a lot at stake in B.C. mining proposal. By Dave Hadden, President
Flathead Coalition

When you have a President like George W. Bush, you don’t have much moral status to complain about another country wrecking its environment, but the negative impacts of this will be almost entirely felt in Montana, Idaho, and Washington State as the poisons pollute the pristine Flathead River and ruin Glacier National Park. It’s an international incident, and British Columbia’s government needs to get the message.
Not many Americans have seen this country. A road leads south from Elko, B.C. past huge ugly coal pits and then into the relatively undisturbed (except for some logging) headwaters of the North Fork of the Flathead River. The road then crosses into Montana. I drove the road about 15 years ago. I planned to go back last summer to photograph what they are up to, but I found this border crossing had been permanently closed a long time ago, not long after I crossed through (maybe just a year or two). So now there is no direct route into the currently wildlife rich and scenic country in BC,* and even on Google Earth the resolution of the area is very low. Update I notice that in the last month Google Earth has finally put in higher resolution photos.

They are trying to sneak this through.

North Fork of the Flathead River, British Columbia. Photo taken back in 1992 by Ralph Maughan

*I do notice that recent Google Maps shows a growing web of minor road, cuts, and exploration pits.

Wolf advocates say predators, not sharpshooters, best for Rocky Mountain National Park

The better to hunt elk, my dear. Wolf advocates say predators, not sharpshooters, best for national park. By Bill Scanlon, Rocky Mountain News.

WildEarth Guardians will sue over the plan to shoot 200 elk a year to control elk overpopulation in Rocky Mountain NP rather than introduce wolves to keep the elk population in check.

Montana FWP meets Feb. 20 to set details of wolf hunting season

Despite all the awful decisions at a general level made by the federal government and Idaho, Wyoming and Montana regarding their management of wolves after delisting, Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks is meeting in Helena on Feb . 20 to set the details of the hunting seasons, including wolves.

The FWP Commission could (I stress “could”) come up with a regulation that provides for a sustainable wolf population in Montana. Not a big decrease in wolf numbers.

Idaho Fish and Game commission will meet in early March to do the same.

Posted in Delisting, Montana wolves, Wolves. Comments Off on Montana FWP meets Feb. 20 to set details of wolf hunting season

USDA will step up inspections at slaughterhouses

A huge scandal has emerged regarding the slaughter of “downer” cows — cattle that can’t walk to their slaughter. This is a problem because it is believed, and known in Europe, that cows that can’t walk are more likely to have mad cow disease.

USDA will step up inspections at slaughterhouses. By Julie Schmit, USA Today.

The WWP blog has some graphic video. Have a burger and watch!

When I criticize the “cattle industry” some might read “ranchers.” This is not what I mean. I am referring to the industry, not necessarily a particular part of it.

Wolves are bringing tourists and money to Montana

This is based on the work of University of Montana economist John Duffield.

Wolf tourism in Yellowstone region. Wolves are bringing tourists and money to Montana.

Update: Here is Duffield’s original paper in the Jan. 2008 issue of Yellowstone Science.


Robert Fanning has his say

I can see that Robert Fanning is hot to have his say about the terrible terrible trouble he thinks wolves have done to the northern range elk.

He added the comment below to the jackrabbit thread, but let’s give him a post.

Ralph Maughan


Subject: Northern Yellowstone elk older and fewer

Friday, December 16, 2005 the last time this herd in “crisis ” was counted by those entrusted by the public ; what do they have to hide? Why did they stop counting a herd that up till now was audited each year since 1895?

This article was Archived on Monday, January 16, 2006 @Mt.FWP
The nationally known Northern Yellowstone elk herd, numbering about 9,500 animals, is notably smaller, about half the size it was in the mid-1990’s. Wildlife managers recently learned that its members are notably older, too. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in Elk. 63 Comments »

Jackson Hole, Wyoming hunters take 266 bison

I generally think this is a good thing. The Jackson Hole bison herd, unlike the Yellowstone bison, are not constrained by a shortage of winter range because they, like the Jackson Hole elk, are artificially fed during the winter. The result is a herd that is only constrained by its summer range unless there is a periodic reduction.

It should be noted (for about the 500 th time on this blog) that almost 100% of the Jackson Hole bison have antibodies to brucellosis, but, nevertheless they are pretty much allowed to wander where they want, showing the lies of the Montana Dept. of Livestock and the federal agency APHIS that keep the Yellowstone bison bottled up inside Yellowstone National Park using the propaganda that some of them have brucellosis.

Herd managers deem bison hunt a success. By Jeff Gearino, Casper Star Tribune.

Rocky Barker: Bighorn sheep strategy won’t resolve bitter controversy

Barker writes about Idaho Fish and Game’s decision to continue its policy to move or kill bighorn sheep that have contact with domestic sheep.

My view is the woodgrowers are getting more publicity than is good for them, but there yet needs to be some national news attention on this. The woolgrowers are also getting overconfident. Change is coming.

Corn Fuel = CO2 Emissions

The latest Science Magazine shows that certain biofuels (especially corn-based) make climate change even worse. They do not help fix it.

Story in New West. Corn Fuel = CO2 Emissions. By Richard Martin.

Posted in Climate change. Tags: , . Comments Off on Corn Fuel = CO2 Emissions

Craig crony criticized in US Senate on Forest Service budget cuts

Senators rip Forest Service over wildfire budget cuts. By Noelle Straub. Casper Star-Tribune Washington bureau.

Mark Rey is a protege of disgraced Senator Larry Craig. Currently he lords over the Forest Service

Scientist says jackrabbits are gone from the greater Yellowstone

“A jackrabbit found throughout much of the West has disappeared from the Yellowstone area, although the reason why remains a mystery, a new study concludes.”

Scientist says jackrabbits are gone from Yellowstone. By Matthew Brown. Associated Press writer.

Dr. Joel Berger seems to be doing a lot of newsworthy research.

Alberta’s oil sands development is the most destructive project on Earth

Yes it produces oil, but also more negative externalities (environmental and other damage) than any other on-going project on the planet, according to an Canadian environmental group.

Environmentalists’ report to call for Ottawa to act on oil sands. By Bill Curry. The Globe and Mail

View. Toxic Alberta. Part of a 15 part series.

Energy saving seen most effective in CO2 cutting

People argue over coal versus wind, versus solar versus nuclear, but the least cost source of new energy is greater efficiciency of use. This isn’t really a brand new finding. It has been known since the 1970s. It may seem new to decision-makers, however, who out of ignorance or intent, choose to focus only on generating more energy.

Energy saving seen most effective in CO2 cutting. Reuters.

Idaho F&G will move to kill bighorns to keep them from mixing with sheep

F&G will move or kill bighorns to keep them from mixing with sheep. Interim strategy to prevent domestic herds from passing disease to wild ones has woolgrowers’ support but draws fire from sportsmen, Nez Perce and environmentalists. By Rocky Barker. Idaho Statesman.

So the outrage forced upon Idaho Fish and Game has been officially announced. This is basically how the state’s wolf policy was created too, and by many of the same lobbyists.

“The buffer zones, let’s call them extermination zones, are to be determined without public comment,” [Jon] Marvel [of Western Watersheds Project] said. “Even if you thought they were a good idea, creating them with secret meetings between ranchers and Fish and Game is wrong when it affects wildlife owned by all Idahoans.”

Where does self-styled “Sportsmen for Fish and Wildlife-Idaho,” stand on the “let’s-kill-bighorn-sheep” to appease woodgrowers plan?

Wolves at the Door of a More Dangerous World

Wolves at the Door of a More Dangerous World By Virginia Morell. Science Magazine. Feb. 15, 2008. “Weeks away from being removed from the endangered species list, wolves in the northern Rockies may soon be hunted once more.”

This will cost you $10 to purchase online. You can also find it at most libraries. It is a so much better analysis of the upcoming state wolf management than you find in most publications, it may be worth it.

Posted in Wolves. Comments Off on Wolves at the Door of a More Dangerous World

Wyoming Range bill to get US Senate panel hearing this month – (Feb. 2008)

 There is good news on efforts to protect the Wyoming Range from the drillers.

Wyoming Range bill to get February hearing. By Cory Hatch. Jackson Hole Daily.

The Public Lands and Forests Subcommittee of the Energy and Natural Resources Committee will hold the hearing on the Wyoming Range Legacy Act of 2007 at 2:30 p.m. on Feb. 27.

Posted in mountain ranges, oil and gas, politics, Wildlife Habitat. Tags: . Comments Off on Wyoming Range bill to get US Senate panel hearing this month – (Feb. 2008)

Idaho elk ranchers push new “cervidae council bill” to punish Democrats and protect elk farms

Idaho elk ranchers push new cervidae council bill. Council would be for public relations. By Matt Christensen. Times-News writer.

Idaho’s livestock industry has really been showing its fangs this year.

Senator David Langhorst, Democrat of Boise, who his introduced a bill to make illegal the shooting of elk behind a fence is no doubt one of the targets of their ire.

He has a blog. You might be interested in his post “Elk for sale,” and the subsequent comments.

Posted in Elk, politics. Tags: , . Comments Off on Idaho elk ranchers push new “cervidae council bill” to punish Democrats and protect elk farms

Chair of House Appropriations Committee calls Bush’s proposed Forest Service budget an “unmitigated disaster”

“The plan could mean the loss of more than 2,700 jobs – nearly 10 percent of the agency’s work force – as well as reductions in dozens of non-fire related programs, from road and trail maintenance to state assistance, land acquisition and recreation, lawmakers said.”

Forest Service could lose 2,700 jobs. By Matthew Daly. Associated Press in the Missoulian

Posted in Forest Service, politics, public lands, Trees Forests. Tags: , . Comments Off on Chair of House Appropriations Committee calls Bush’s proposed Forest Service budget an “unmitigated disaster”

Alberta protesters furious over wolf kill

Alberta protesters furious over wolf kill. By Jim Farrell. Edmonton Journal.

The government wants to kill wolves to protect caribou, but the caribou have been disrupted by all the natural gas development and exploration in the Rocky Mountain foothills.

Senate Ethics Committe chastises Larry Craig

Ethics panel chastises Larry Craig. In a rare public chastisement, letter from the 3 Republicans and 3 Democrats cites senator’s ‘improper conduct’ and attempt to ‘evade legal consequencesIdaho Statesman. By Erica Bolstad.

The truth is that his personal conduct, attempted coverup, his false resignation, and his resulting lack of influence in the Senate was remarkably good luck for Idaho and America’s outdoors. He was a one-man environmental wrecking crew.

Yellowstone Bison Slaughter a Sham

Montana DOL in complicity with Yellowstone Park is at it again, corraling bison, from inside the Park, and sending most to slaughter. Rather than repeat my past reasoning about this, or my rants, there is a good article by George Wuerthner in New West.

Yellowstone Bison Slaughter a Sham. By George Wuerthner. New West.

Bighorn advocates butt heads

This is a long summary of where the bighorn sheep controversy in Idaho stands and who is saying what. I think it’s a useful article for bringing folks up to date.

Bighorn advocates butt heads.

Climate Change Impacts More Than Glacier’s Glaciers

Idaho environmental pioneer Ernie Day dies

This from Rocky Barker’s blog today, Idaho environmental pioneer Day dies..

I’m sad to learn of the passing of Ernie Day. Ernie taught me that premature compromise with the resource extraction industry never protected anything. I remember his anger when he found us sitting around in one of the early, and of course unproductive meetings with . . . I can’t remember if it was cattle, timber, or off road vehicle people.
Learning to photograph Idaho’s landscape in those cherished and all-too-rare sessions with him was really learning from a master.

When Ernie was in his prime (fortunately for Idaho, that was a long time), it took real bravery to speak out against mining, timber, and ranching. Most people who dared would quickly lose their job.

While saving the White Cloud Mountains from the open pit moly mine was a great group effort, Ernie was foremost among the leaders. One of his photos of Castle Peak, in particular, had influence for many years.

Idaho Conservation League scolds Otter for bighorn sheep policy

ICL scolds Otter for bighorn sheep policy. Environmental group calls it a ‘top down approach’. By Matt Christensen
Times-News writer.

The governor’s bighorn sheep policy is supposed by announced Feb. 15.

Wildlife showing strains of winter [in south central Idaho]

This is surly true a lot of other places too with the deep snows, . . . and we should remember the vast wildfires that burned not just summer range, but winter range as well last year.

Wildlife showing strains of winter. Deep snows are pushing big-game species into harm’s way. By Jason Kauffman. Idaho Mountain Express.

Posted in wildfire, Wildlife Habitat. Comments Off on Wildlife showing strains of winter [in south central Idaho]

Sublette County, WY supports Green River dam

A stupid program designed to help a tiny number of people in a vain attempt to “help to safeguard the County’s economic and cultural viability” (the purpose, according to the County Commissiors).

If these people wanted to safeguard their economic and cultural viability, they should have opposed the massive natural gas industrialization of Sublette County. Talk about a day late and 50-billion dollars short!

Sublette County supports Green River dam. Booster says Warren Bridge site is best location for impoundment on main stem of river. By Angus M. Thuermer Jr., Jackson Hole, Wy. Jackson Hole News and Guide.

Wolf Tales (in the rural West)

Felice Pace argues that fear of predators in the rural West is real due to constant propaganda. Wolf Tales. Goat, a High Country News blog.

I think Pace is right. Based on my long experience in Idaho, while there are those who stand out in any community, faint-heartedness seems to be the norm in many “Old West” rural communities . It’s just pathetic! And it is these people who say they are tired of “Easterners” (who seem to be everyone outside their community) telling them what to do.

When Grizzlies Ruin Eden, Moose Take to the Road

Dr. Joel Berger has become notable for his research on Greater Yellowstone moose. In this interview with the New York Times he talks about how the growing presence of grizzly bears in the Grand Teton NP area is related to, may result in moose moving closer to roads to escape grizzly bear predation on their calves.

 When Grizzlies Ruin Eden, Moose Take to the Road. By Claudia Dreifus. New York Times.

Wyoming Stock Growers Association backs bill to prevent Wyoming Game and Fish from holding grazing leases

This is another attempt by this powerful livestock interest group to lock Wyoming Game and Fish into their awful feeding regime, keeping Wyoming elk like livestock in during the winter months.

Story in Wyomingfile Network. By Brodie Farquhar.

Note that Wyomingfile is a new experiment in news coverage in Wyoming. It looks like an important source of news. I linked to it in my blogroll.

Little sign of wolves in Lower Michigan

Michigan has a fairly large recovered wolf population (over 500 wolves), but essentially all live in the UP, that part of the state which, geographically speaking, is upper Wisconsin. Despite reports of wolves in Lower Michigan, the Michigan DNR finds them so scattered they are stopping intensive monitoring for wolves in that part of the state.

DNR: Broad wolf search ends. But officials will continue case-by-case efforts. Bu Sheri McWhirter. Traverse City Record-Eagle.

Alert on Idaho roadless areas. Meetings in I.F. and Pocatello Feb. 20 and 21

Alert on Idaho roadless areas-

On December 26, 2007, the Forest Service released its Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) that seeks to weaken protections for much of Idaho’s 9.3 million acres of roadless lands. Nearly 6 million acres of those lands would be opened to potential logging and mineral development. An additional 600,000 acres in Southeast Idaho and the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem would be virtually unprotected, opening these backcountry lands to phosphate mining.

The details of the roadless plan for Idaho are available on the National Forest Service’s website:
More information about roadless areas, and their importance to the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem, is available on the Greater Yellowstone Coalition’s website.
A more comprehensive web site for all the roadless areas (it’s an interactive site) is at http://roadlessland.org/index.php
Please attend and participate in the upcoming public hearings in your area. Times and locations of meetings in northern Idaho are below.
And finally, feel free to contact me if you have questions.
Kit McGurn
GYC Conservation Coordinator- Idaho
208 522-7927
Forest Service Public Meetings to hear comments on proposed management of Idaho’s roadless lands:
February 20, 2008
Idaho Falls
Shilo Inn
Grand Teton Room
780 Lindsey Blvd
Idaho Falls, ID 83401
6:00 PM
February 21, 2008
Holiday Inn
1399 Bench Road
Pocatello, ID 83201
6:00 PM
Posted in Forest Service, public lands, wilderness roadless, Yellowstone. Tags: , , . Comments Off on Alert on Idaho roadless areas. Meetings in I.F. and Pocatello Feb. 20 and 21

Bill banning elk shooting farms introduced. Idaho state lawmakers say bill has no chance of passing

Here’s the story, but the interesting thing is why it has no chance of passing.

It’s because of the dominance of livestock lobbyists in Idaho. It won’t pass for the same reason the legislators rail and rave about wolves. The wolves are a diversion to keep hunters from seeing the privatization of wildlife in favor of lazy, Dick Cheney kind of “hunters.” It is also to wipe out the news about how the woolgrowers want to kill of most of Idaho’s bighorn sheep so to expand their disease ridden domestic sheep operations.

Wyoming Game and Fish is creating a new elk feedlot under guise of “emergency”

In a state overrun with disease spreading feedlots for wintertime elk feeding, we would think Wyoming doesn’t need more, but they seem to be slowly establishing yet a new one. This is in the Buffalo Valley, a very sensitive spot from standpoint of wildlife and Grand Teton National Park.

The Buffalo Valley is a scenic, and deep snow, side valley near the north end of Jackson Hole. It is one of the places where moose have continued to hold out as Wyoming’s moose population continues to slide. It bounds both Grand Teton National Park to its west and the national forest’s Teton Wilderness to its north.

The area has had quite a few wolf packs, including some that live most of the time inside Yellowstone Park and Grand Teton National Parks. Because Wyoming has said they are going to shot wolves this disrupt elk feedground operations (makes it hard for those who pitch the hay), this new feedlot could be a significant source of human mortality of Park-based wolf packs.

Here is the sad story.

A Winter’s Tale (about wolf watching and Druid wolf 302M)

There haven’t been as many stories in the MSM the last few years about the Yellowstone wolves. Instead the stories have been about how the states are going to get “management flexibility” so they can stop using a variety of methods of management and just kill them.

Today, however, the Jackson Hole Star Tribune has a great story about the Druids and especially famous wolf 302M. The tables have turned on him after 5-6 years from when he was the interloper to now when he chases and attacks the young males who come courting Druid females.

A Winter’s Tale.  By Wes Smalling. Jackson Hole Star Tribune.

Very deep snow at West Yellowstone

They haven’t had a winter like 2008 for years. Sal sent these photos.

Motel with only the second level above the snow.


Read the rest of this entry »

Forest Service OKs Harden Creek uranium exploration near Stanley, Idaho

This mine would be in a scenic and steep tributary to the Salmon River, certainly a threat to water quality.

Forest Service OKs Harden Creek uranium exploration. By Todd Adams. Challis Messenger.

Approximate location of exploration.

Mexican Wolf Population Survey is complete for 2007. The population is low and declining

The government has produced its 2007 Mexican wolf population survey. It shows a slight downtrend in the already too low figures — 52 wolves down from 59 in 2006.  “Altogether, 22 wolves were removed from the wild in 2007 compared to 18 the previous year; 19 for depredating livestock.”

They are going into 2008 with only 3 breeding pairs! There is no indication that controversy about a ranch hand baiting in a wolf so it could be “legally” killed by the government for killing a cow calf has made any difference at all.

Firedoglake blog takes an eco-view of the Presidential candidates

They don’t even bother with McCain — too horrible to contemplate, but there isn’t much with Barrick or Hillary either, although the author concludes that Hillary is better than the rest.

An Eco-View of the Dem Contenders. By Kirk Murphy. Firedoglake

Speaking personally, I spent a lot of time any money on past presidential campaigns, but this time I am hardly inspired. Obama’s messge of change, hope and unity is thrilling a lot of people, but because I’ve followed campaigns since 1964, a promise of renewal and change stated in such generic terms is hardly new.

And, after all, the President who made the most changes, although he give little hint of it during his campaign, was George W. Bush.

Part of the problem is, once again, the MSM concentrates on personality and tactics in it’s coverage, e.g. can McCain convince conservatives? Is Hillary too cold (or, alternatively, too emotional)? Does Barrick’s spouse remind us of Jackie Kennedy? The war, the economy, the environment, seem to have disappeared.

Forest Service could quash Wyoming Range leases

This doesn’t meant they will, but Sen. John Barrasso, R-Wyo has a bill to stop leasing and buyout and permanently retire areas already leased.

Story in the Casper Star Tribune. By Chris Merrill.

Update Gov. Freudenthal seeks delay on Wyo. Range drilling plan. AP

For those folks who love the mountains adjacent to the Tetons and Yellowstone, don’t overlook the 700,000 acre Wyoming Range. It is truly a beautiful place.

Background. Wyoming Range Legacy Act Introduced!

For interactive map and photos of the roadless areas in the Wyoming Range, go to roadlessland.org and select the Grayback Ridge and/or the South Wyoming Range roadless areas. Direct link to Grayback. Direct link to South Wyoming Range. Direct link to the Commissary Ridge roadless area.

Posted in Forest Service, mountain ranges, oil and gas, public lands, public lands management. Tags: , . Comments Off on Forest Service could quash Wyoming Range leases

Federal Government Releases Public-Lands Grazing Fee For 2008 is Lower Than Ever, Despite Rising Costs To Taxpayers

New on Feb. 8.  Rocky Barker. Low federal grazing fees lie at heart of calls for reform. Idaho Statesman.

Feb. 6. This news release came from the Arizona Office of the Western Watersheds Project. The subsidy to cattle and sheep growers on our public lands just keeps getting worse. $1.35 an AUM is the lowest the law will permit, but with inflation, in real dollars it keeps getting lower and lower. Now it is only about 40% of the minimum permitted when PIRA was passed back in 1978.

Contact: Greta Anderson, WWP Arizona Director 520-623-1878

February 6, 2008– Today, the federal government announced the public lands grazing fee for 2008: a mere $1.35 per cow, per month to graze on our National Forests and BLM lands on 235 million acres in the West.

A report by the Government Accountability Office in 2005 showed that BLM and Forest Service grazing receipts fell far short of their expenditures on grazing by almost $115 million. The fee decreased from $2.36 per AUM (animal unit month) in 1980 to the current Read the rest of this entry »

Preserving the pronghorn corridor into Jackson Hole

The Bridger-Teton National Forest may alter its forest plan to make sure its portion of this 350 mile long migration route is conserved. Story in the Jackson Hole News and Guide.

The biggest worry, however, is at Trappers Point just west of Pinedale, where BLM gas developments and private land have almost squeezed off the migration corridor.

Posted in pronghorn, public lands. Tags: , . Comments Off on Preserving the pronghorn corridor into Jackson Hole

Mega-wind project south of Twin Falls, Idaho progresses. Bulk of electricity likely to go out of state

Mega-wind project south of T.F. progresses. Bulk of electricity likely to go out of state [to Nevada]. By Matt Christensen
Times-News writer.

I’m sick and tired of Idaho being raped and Idaho poisoned for the sake of making money in Nevada.

Wolves making comeback in SW British Columbia after century of bounties, poisoning

Wolves making comeback in SW British Columbia after century of bounties, poisoning. Larry Pynn. Vancouver Sun.

Grizzly bears are increasing too.

U.S. is declared “brucellosis free” (except for wildife).

Let’s all cheer. USDA has declared U.S. brucellosis free except for Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Park elk and bison.

“We must now focus our efforts on eradicating brucellosis from the free-ranging elk and bison populations in the Greater Yellowstone Area in order to protect our national cattle herd against future outbreaks of this disease.”  These are the words of some Bush USDA undersecretary.

Lies. Lies. The disease is not perpetuated in these national parks.

As we comb Bush’s phony budget, I think we can find some funds to cut here unless they start to focus on real disease threats.

USDA News Release 

Land agencies could endure heavy cuts under new Bush budget

Bush released his proposed FY 2009 budget yesterday. It cuts just about every domestic government agency and program. Defense would get a 7% increase.

Land management agencies get the ax again. The National Park Service is said to be one exception, although the story in the Missoulian as an update indicates even this is slight-of-hand. The oil and gas portion of the BLM’s budget will go up. Land agencies could endure heavy cuts. By Noelle Straub. Billings Gazette Washington Bureau.

His budget received heavy criticism in Congress. I found the Republican National Committee had good things to say about the budget on-line, but the National Republican Congressional Committee (the Republican caucus in the House) and the National Republican Senatorial Committee were silent.

The major newspapers I read were critical. There will be a big battle over this budget.

Update. National Parks budget falls short, critics say. By Michael Jamison. The Missoulian

Update. Congress Looks Askance at Bush’s Budget. By Jim Abrams. AP.

Congress authorizes $30 million to protect the Yellowstone River

This is part of a much larger water resource bill Bush vetoed. He said was too expensive. Congress overroad his veto.

This is from the Greater Yellowstone e-news.

“Congress authorizes $30 million to protect Yellowstone River – It’s been over a decade since the historic floods of 1996-97 spurred an unprecedented wave of environmentally-destructive bank stabilization activity along the Yellowstone River in Montana. Now, thanks to the new Water Resource Development Act (WRDA), passed by Congress over the objections of President Bush, $30 million has been authorized for restoration projects to repair and protect the river from further damage.”

Full story. Yellowstone River Floodplain Protection. GYC e-news. The project is to prevent further harmful kinds of bank stabilization on the Yellowstone River and repair some of the mess already made to protect trophy homes and other developments, mostly in Paradise Valley.

Forest Guardians and Sinapu merge

Two prominent regional groups have merged to form WildEarth Guardians.

Here is the generic AP story. Green groups combine efforts.

Here is the longer story as written on Wild Again (Sinapu’s blog).  Conservation Groups Merge To Create a Force of Nature for the American West’’s Wild Places, Wildlife and Wild Rivers.

Posted in Mexican wolves. Tags: , , . Comments Off on Forest Guardians and Sinapu merge

Grizzly found in polar bear country

A grizzly bear has been found in what is polar bear country, and he is thriving.

Folks may recall that about a year ago a hunter shot a grizzly/polar bear hybrid.

This may be yet another effect of the rapid warming at the poles.

Story in the Edmonton Journal. Ed Struzik. Grizzly found in polar bear country.

Posted in Bears, Climate change. Tags: , . Comments Off on Grizzly found in polar bear country

How come: A wolf’s howls aid canine communication

How come: A wolf’s howls aid canine communication. By Kathy Wollard. Special to Newsday

Posted in Wolves. Tags: . Comments Off on How come: A wolf’s howls aid canine communication

Arctic wolf photographed swimming after waterfowl prey

This has never been observed before.

Story. Elusive wolves caught on camera. (bad link fixed) By Rebecca Morelle. Science reporter, BBC News.

This an interesting story about Arctic wolves on Ellesmere Island.

One sentence bothers me — “The team was also amazed by the wolves’ boldness.” When wolves don’t run but come and examine something new, they are often called “bold.” This is a completely anthropocentric view. We don’t if wolves they haven’t seen humans (or who have, but haven’t been harmed) are fighting an urge to flee or not.

Deep snow this winter!

Yellowstone Park wolves. Mange is showing up (and more news)

Here is the latest update on the wolves of Yellowstone Park. As usual there is a lot of news, especially interesting to those who follow the Park wolves closely.

Perhaps most important, however, is that the non-native parasitic mange infestation has finally spread from either Wyoming, or more likely Montana into the Park.

The first mangy wolf was discovered last year, a member of Mollies Pack who was old and soon died.

The closest source of mange outside the Park has always been from Gardiner, MT north, especially the Paradise Valley where many packs have battled mange. Just last week two mangy wolves in the area were put down. Of this, Ed Bangs wrote in his weekly wolf update report,

On the 24th, MFWP responded to a call of a sick wolf hanging out near a livestock feedlot in Paradise Valley, MT. The wolf was bedded in a stackyard and was extremely mangy. It was euthanized and found to be a disperser from Yellowstone Park’s Leopold pack.

On the 25th, MFWP set up over a mile of fladry around a calving pasture in the 8-Mile pack’s territory in Paradise valley. The wolves have been frequenting this area and the producer had started calving. Cracker shells were also issued and the producer will randomly fire these off during his night checks. The producer has also reported seeing a mangy collared wolf sleeping in his haystacks. The collar does not seem to be working.

On the 30th MFWP/MT WS euthanized a mangy wolf seeking refuge in a hay barn in Paradise Valley, MT. The collar was not working but the serial number indicated it was once a member of the Swan Lake pack (205M).

Uphill to the south inside the Park, several mangy wolves have been hanging out in the Mammoth area. In fact, mange is suspected as a possible reason why the new wolf pack that formed last winter in the Swan Lake flat/Gardiner’s Hole area fizzled.

Mangy wolves are susceptible to dying from the cold, which is why they are often found seeking shelter in barns. It is thought, but not proven, that very cold weather and, thus altitude, will limit the spread of mange deep into the Park.

A starving mangy wolf a few miles west of Tower Junction. Photo Jan. 2008. Copyright and courtesy Matt and Sarah Lewis. Apparently the wolf looked much worse from the rear.

The first phase of the winter study and wolf radio collaring is over. There are some surprising results.

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Sage Grouse need more help, biologists agree

“Wildlife biologists from five Western states have reached consensus on the latest science regarding sage grouse and energy development.
Despite much bristling from those in the oil and gas industry in recent months, the science does indicate that the current level of federal restrictions on the industry is not enough to adequately protect the iconic bird.”

Sage Grouse need more help, biologists agree. By Dustin Bleizeffer. Casper Star Tribune.

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Here is the report Bleizeffer’s news story is based upon.

Sage grouse best science2008-energy.pdf

Posted in oil and gas, Wildlife Habitat. Tags: . Comments Off on Sage Grouse need more help, biologists agree

Pygmy rabbits try to hold on

You can imagine how the livestock industry feels about protecting pygmy rabbits . . . they aren’t game, you can’t raise them in pens and sell them. What good are they?

Pygmy rabbits try to hold on. Diminutive rodent species considered for federal ESA listing. By Jason Kauffman. Idaho Mountain Express Staff Writer

George Wuerthner Gets it Right on Fire, Ecosystems, Management

This analysis is from Forest Policy – Forest Practice, an interesting blog on forest policy written by a number of academics and “practitioners.”

George Wuerthner Gets it Right on Fire, Ecosystems, Management. By Daver Iverson.

This is a summary of George Wuerthner’s recent letter to Oregon’s Senator Ron Wyden who believes that legislation putting more effort into forest thinning is going to have a substantial effect on the growing size and length of the wildfire season in the West.