Three mountain lions were spotted on the Idaho State University campus the night of March 28-9.
There are a lot of deer in Pocatello, Idaho right now due to the prolonged winter.
Three mountain lions were spotted on the Idaho State University campus the night of March 28-9.
There are a lot of deer in Pocatello, Idaho right now due to the prolonged winter.
The Great Falls Tribure explains how Montana is resting its hope for tolerance of wolves on its state compensation program following delisting. 100% compensation will be distributed for both confirmed and probable losses and the state hopes to expand the program to include compensation for “broken fences” attributed to wolves in the future.
Four articles today on the 1872 General Mining Law.
“The law, signed by President Grant, allows patents for hardrock minerals on public lands to be mined for $2.50 or $5 an acre.” It’s time to end mining industry welfare. By Joel Connelly. Seattle Post-Intelligencer Columnist.
“Uranium mines don’t belong next door to one of the seven wonders of the natural world. Yet a British mining company plans to drill exploratory holes on federal land within three miles of the Grand Canyon.” We know the Drill. Arizona Republic.
Coalition calls for new mining laws. By John Cramer of the Missoulian.
Company wants to reopen Elk City gold mining claim. Idaho Statesman. Elk City is deep in north central Idaho’s backcountry. Mining from the early years still poisons the streams.
It’s hard for papers in the 3 states to say it so baldly as Jim Doherty does in Wolves are Back. Humans are Howling. Washington Post. If the judge sees it this way, delisting will be set aside.
Another related matter that needs to be covered so well nationally, because it is so similar, is this winter’s Yellowstone bison slaughter, the biggest in 115 years! It’s another tribute to a century of no progress in the thinking of Western politicians.
I haven’t posted on this before, although debating and planning for this has gone on for years. Yesterday, however, it came to fruition. The old Milltown Dam near Missoula was breached and two very important rivers were made free-flowing again.
There was some positive rhetoric from the politicians. “Sen. Max Baucus, Sen. Jon Tester and other officials told the crowd that the Milltown project represented Montana’s shift from an extraction to a restoration economy, creating jobs that protect the environment and use the state’s natural resources in sustainable ways rather than plundering them.” . . . Missoulian.
Into the breach – Clark Fork, Blackfoot rivers punch through Milltown Dam. By John Cramer. The Missoulian
Some folks may have seen the popular movie, A River Runs through It. It centered on the “Big Blackfoot” river, but was mostly shot on the Gallatin River as a standin because of the damage done to the Big Blackfoot over the years.
This is a local story (I live in Pocatello and know the field where this incident took place).
This was a brave young man (the way he confronted poachers in the act of poaching). It also shows the uses of technology in controlling poaching and similar outdoor violations.
A longer version of this story appeared in the Idaho State Journal, but it is not on-line. Associated Press story.
New era begins for wolves in Idaho. Under state management, life could change for the state’s 800 gray wolves but not right away.
By Roger Phillips. Idaho Statesman.
This is a look at the delisting with the primary emphasis on wolves in Idaho where about half of them live.
The article explains how the 30 day window emerged before a lawsuit can be filed. There are some pretty scary possibilities over the next 30 days.
Don’t take advantage of legal loophole. A Message to Wolf Haters. By Bill Schneider. New West.
The Pine Beetle And Forest Fires. By Brodie Farquhar. Wyomingfile.com.
The relationship between dead lodgepole pine and forest fires is not straight forward.
Wyoming Assumes Wolf Control. By Chris Merrill. Casper Star Tribune
Now lawful to shoot wolves at will in 87% of Cowboy State. By Chris Merrill. Casper Star Tribune
Wyomng wolves will struggle outside zone. By Chris Merrill. Casper Star Tribune
Endangered species: With wolves off the list, law suit on the way. By John Cramer. Missoulian.
Gray Wolf Officially Delisted Today. By Peter Metcalf. New West.
There have been a lot of Gillette.
Lynne Stone conducting “wolf education” All rights reserved.
There are cracker shells in the shotgun to scare away the wolves if they are near livestock. It has been highly successful, with essentially no lost livestock in the territory of the Basin Butte Pack despite thousands of AUMs from late spring, summer and fall. Proactive work can greatly reduce conflict between wolves and livestock.
Here is the latest update in the field. Buffalo Field Campaign in New West.
One important part of the update is the need to comment by April 2 on Horse Butte Bison Trap. Read the update for more information.
Related. YNP bison count has fallen from 4700 to 3000. Billings Gazette.
Wyoming ranchers outside wolf zone say they’ll only target offending animals. By Chris Merrill. Casper Star Tribune.
The ranchers in article say the Wyoming wolves in their new “vermin” zone come Friday won’t be immediately indiscriminately killed. It would cost too much.
These predator control boards that have been set up are in fact rolling in money given to them by the Wyoming legislature. They got $6-million from the legislature. This is many times what federal Wildlife Services now spends in Wyoming “controlling” wolves, which they have done even in the state’s small to-be protected or “trophy game zone” with increasing severity.
Related. Wolves trapped by shift in status. Salt Lake Tribune. Decision to delist animals allows them to be killed in most of Wyoming, stirs confusion in Utah. By Patty Henetz
Some people tend to forget that state management of wolves isn’t a responsibility exclusively reserved to the Idaho Department of Fish & Game, a department that’s allegedly insulated from politicization. I slip “allegedly” in there because anyone who’s been paying attention to wildlife issues in the state has a good idea that the Livestock lobby pretty much holds its will over the head of even our good ol’ boy governor “Butch” Otter, let alone the IDF&G (See: Idaho Interim Bighorn Management Plan). The lobby exercises its authority most prominently in the legislature, where last week House lawmakers passed SENATE BILL NO. 1374. The bill sets the bar for “disposal” of wolves, which we’ll see below the fold, but for this space we’ll set the mood with with a characteristic sampling of the mentality behind the governing body that will hold authority over “managing” wolves in the state of Idaho come Friday.
The bill starts :
10 […]any person may control, trap, and/or remove any
11 wild animals or birds or may destroy the houses, dams, or other structures of
12 furbearing animals for the purpose of protecting property from the
13 depredations thereof as hereinafter provided.
Update. Bison protesters arrested at Yellowstone National Park. Bozeman Chronicle.
This is a news release from the Buffalo Field Campaign. The women have been arrested. Ralph Maughan.
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Two Women Protest Bison Slaughter In Yellowstone Park. Mammoth Visitor’s Center Temporarily Closed
Mammoth Hot Springs, Yellowstone National Park – Two West Yellowstone women, Miriam Wasser, 20, and Cat Simonidis, 22, locked themselves together around a post inside the Mammoth Visitor’s Center in Yellowstone National Park at approximately 10:30 this morning to call attention to the Park Service’s slaughter of nearly 1,000 bison since February 8. Upon discovering the women, Yellowstone officials closed the visitor’s center to members of the public and the media, including reporters from CNN, CBS, and an independent film maker. The women were extricated, arrested, and taken to the Mammoth jail at approximately 12:30 this afternoon.
Pine beetle infestation impacting salmon runs. Derrick Penner, Vancouver Sun.
Just a reminder to those politicians and others who say we need a rapid plan to save the pines in Colorado, Idaho, Wyoming, etc. The pine beetle infestation covers the pine forests from Alaska south to northern New Mexico. It will have varying impacts such as the salmon story above throughout the entire Rocky Mountains and many adjacent mountain ranges. No statewide or local program can save them, and in many places most are dead already.
Note: I am not speaking of pine in a generic sense (not to mean conifer). I mean lodgepole pine, white pine, whitebark pine, etc.
Yellowstone Park hit with 4.1-magnitude earthquake.
By Brett French of the Billings Gazette.
I notice that this quake was a little bit unique in that it is east of the location of the big majority of YNP earthquakes. RM
Giant Antarctic ice shelf breaks into the sea. UK Guardian. By Claire Truscott and agencies
Photo of collapse from National Geographic News.
Forest Service May Move to Interior. Some See Agency As Out of Place Under the USDA. By Christopher Lee. Washington Post Staff Writer.
While this may seem new, this is one of the oldest controversies in the history of American conservation.
The Forest Service began at the end of the 19th century as the Division of Forestry in the Department of Interior. President Theodore Roosevelt and his key advisor, forester Gifford Pinchot, pushed to move the Division of Forestry to the Department of Agriculture. USDA was then a new department. Many felt it was progressive and science-minded compared to the old line Department of Interior, then properly regarded as a site of corruption. The Division was moved, renamed the U.S. Forest Service, and Pinchot became the first Chief Forester. He had a very close relation with President Roosevelt during his time in office.
Pinchot was the father of the concept that the national forests should be used for many things (multiple use), not protection of wildlife and scenery alone. In fact, he devalued these latter ideas, causing a split in the early conservation movement between the utilitarian and development minded conservationists and those who sided with John Muir — “esthetic conservationists.” Both were disliked in places like Idaho. In fact, Idaho’s senator Heyburn (an early day Larry Craig) successfully pushed legislation to stop the creation of more national forests by the President.
“Anti-wolf activist arrested for assaulting wolf advocate. Anti-wolf activist Ron Gillett allegedly attacks wolf activist
Lynne Stone says she took pictures of the Anti-Wolf Coalition director, then he grabbed and shook her.” By Rocky Barker. Idaho Statesman.
Added 3-28. Anti-wolf activist charged with assault and battery. Ron Gillett arrested for allegedly assaulting wolf advocate Lynne Stone. By Jason Kauffman. Idaho Mountain Express Staff Writer
Added – Video of Ron Gillett at Anti-Wolf Fundraiser :
Divide develops over dam. A proposed $431 million dam and reservoir project north of Fort Collins riles those who see it as a disastrous strangling of the picturesque Cache la Poudre River. By Michael Booth. The Denver Post.
The dam is said to be justified by projected growth of new homes. Instead it is a massive subsidy for the continuation of a bad idea and an economy destroying practice.
The governments in this country are having a hard time adjusting to the fact that the home building boom is over. Now they should take a “time out” and consider all they have done to facilitate the creation of an unsustainable hosing market directed at the upper class and the upper middle class* — how many resources were unnecessarily sacrificed. They also need to consider their ethics, or more likely lack thereof, and get out of bed with the developers.
The dollar’s international value is now a joke and the inventory of unsold homes is at least a year from being filled. Nevertheless, we keep hearing proposals for more big developments, ones the average American never could afford to buy into. Many in the West are located in or near scenic mountainous areas where they take a toll on wildlife and require a huge new infrastructure (such as this dam).
If the American economy is to ever prosper again, there needs to be much less investment in housing for the relatively well off and much more in science, technology, environmental protection and remediation, efficient health care, education and reeducation, new energy sources and especially efficient use of energy, etc.
This dam is an illustration of the wrong mentality, and it shows the striking decline in this country is not the work of the Republican Administration in Washington alone.
Related story. Fen-ced in: Protected peat bog blocks growth plan for Grand Valley, Colorado. Grand Junction Sentinel.
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*Ironically, despite the huge number of new homes, few are within the reach of the lower middle class and those with fewer means.
Bighorns facing smaller habitat. San Diego Union Tribune
This is not an overview of all of Wyoming, or even NW Wyoming. It’s a story mostly about the country southwest of Jackson Hole — the Fall Creek elk herd. Ironically, this herd is in the area where all wolves can be killed by anyone at will beginning March 28.
Elk herd prolific in latest census. By Angus M. Thuermer Jr. Jackson Hole News and Guide.
There will not be a lawsuit filed to stop delisting on March 28. Plaintiffs will wait (will have to wait) until April 28. They might seek an injunction, however, if one or more of the states uses the period to kill a lot of wolves.
I would urge everyone to be vigilant, especially in Wyoming.
Wolves on schedule to leave the endangered list Friday. Advocacy groups plan to sue in April but say they’ll act sooner if too many wolves are getting killed. By Rocky Barker. Idaho Statesman.
Story in the Casper Star Tribune. End of the Trail. By Chris Merrill.
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Related. Rocky Barker’s blog, “Letters from the West,” has a story about Jemenez coupled with discussion that wolves were moving southward into Idaho and NW Montana prior to the wolf reintroduction. Note that Barker does not say wolf reintroduction in Idaho was, therefore unneeded. He correctly says it was going nowhere because of poisonings and shootings of the in-migrating wolves.
The delisting of the wolf is scheduled to go into effect March28. The boundaries of the delisted zone are “generous,” wiping out federal protection in Eastern Oregon, Eastern Washington and Northern Utah as well as Idaho, Montana and Wyoming.
A radio-collared wolf from Idaho’s Timberline pack dispersed into the NE Oregon Wallowas last winter. This wolf and all others in the entirely of Oregon will continue to be protected because Oregon has a fairly strong state wolf plan.
Meanwhile the wolf is being watched closely, and there is evidence of more single wolves and a least one group in the state.
Wolves get federal delisting in Eastern Oregon. Wallowa Chiefton.
Earlier story. Radio-Collared Gray Wolf from Idaho is Verified In Northeast Oregon. Jan. 24, 2008.
Later story. Wolf actions elsewhere won’t affect Oregon rules. Wyoming, Montana and Idaho have ended endangered status. Statesman-News. This story describes the Oregon state wolf plan.
Since ’01, Guarding Species Is Harder. Endangered Listings Drop Under Bush. By Juliet Eilperin. Washington Post Staff Writer.
The Bush Administration has not taken the initiative to list a single species. Two have gone extinct waiting during its “watch.” As far as not having enough resources to do the job or handle the petitions, it is a case of feigned constraint. The Administration asks for a pittance for the USFWS. While Congress increases the President’s request, the President’s budget request almost always sets the range.
For example, if the President asks 30-million, Congress may give 40-million; but if the President had asked 175-million, even a budget-cutting Congress might give 130-million dollars.
Almost no one in this Administration gives damn about endangered species, or just plain fish and wildlife.
Anger Over Culling of Yellowstone’s Bison. By Jim Robbins. New York Times.
Finally, coverage of the bison slaughter by the national media — the New York Times.
Governor Schweitzer says Republican Montana US Representative went out of his way to kill the congressional appropriation to buy up cattle grazing on CUT’s Royal Teton Ranch. So the lone Montana US House race could be near term outlet for people’s energy and resources, but it would be unwise to let the Democrats (the rest of Montana’s major politicians) off the hook.
For deep inlanders, steelhead are sea-run rainbow trout — big anadromous fish like salmon. Unlike salmon, steelhead don’t spawn and die, but return to the ocean (although in reality few fish survive to run and spawn a second time). Steelhead lose the characteristic red band (the rainbow) that freshwater rainbow trout have.
Idaho’s steelhead runs have held up a lot better than its salmon runs, and they provide a lot of income to small central Idaho communities in late March until the end of May.
Steelhead counts indicate good fishing. By Jason Kauffman. Idaho Mountain Express Staff Writer
Ray Liable is a wildlife watcher and great photographer who lives not far from me in Pocatello. I run into him yesterday, and he told me of his photo page.
He really has some fine photos, including ones this January of the Druid pups. His page also has lots of earlier wolf photos.
First, the Las Vegas Review Journal. OHV misuse criticized in U.S. House .Off-road fans, critics face off: Even riders see damages left by few.
House panel told public lands overrun by ORVs. Deseret News (Salt Lake City, UT).
“. . . the 300 arrests and 37 injuries at a gathering of 1,000 ORV users at the Little Sahara Recreation Area in Utah last year to illustrate how bad things are getting.”
Experts: Off-road vehicles threat to public lands. By Noelle Straub. Missoulian D.C. Bureau
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New and related. Colorado wildlife officers can now ticket for illegal riding. Grand Junction Sentinel. This will be a great help to the too thinly spread Forest Service and BLM enforcement officers.
The killing of the Buffalo Ridge Pack in Idaho prompted an inquiry bringing forth some interesting information about the cost of wolf control.
The information is in a letter by Gloria Carlton in the most recent Idaho Mountain Express.
I wonder what the dollar loss of livestock to the rancher (said to be Wayne Baker) was and the cost of measures that would have made the pasture less attractive to wolves?*
I imagine direct expenditures by conservation groups to keep this wolf pack out of trouble plus volunteer time was easily $50,000. The efforts were mostly in Squaw Creek where the pack denned each year and was quite easy to see in the winter until about the end of May.
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* Note it was never proven the Buffalo Ridge pack killed the several small calves that were confirmed to be killed by wolf. The East Pass Creek pack is in the area and their are other scattered wolves.
Ranchers worry about meat packing consolidation. Rocky Barker’s blog, “Letters from the West.” Idaho Statesman
So much of politics is about diverting the attention of those affected by policies onto something not very relevant. The wolf is pointed to in order that hunters won’t see the destruction of habitat by livestock, mining, oil and gas and developers. The efforts by Western Watersheds are pointing to so that livestock producers won’t see the threat of international consolidation of meat packing.
If you turn to other areas of politics, there are thousands of examples.
Ranch agrees to end grazing near Park. Depredations pushed Diamond G to accept deal on federal land. Ranch agrees to end grazing near park. Billings Gazette. By Mike Stark.
This is great news! While it hasn’t been in the news much lately, in the late 1990s and early 2000s, this ranch was a hot spot for complaints about wolves. I had written many times about the wisdom of trying to raise cattle in a drainage full of every large predator in North American save jaguar and polar bear.
The Dunoir isn’t really very close to Yellowstone Park (despite the headline). It is adjacent to the Washakie Wilderness.
New West is putting up the BFC’s reports now.
Wild Bison: BFC Update from the Field 3/20/08
In this issue (above)
* Update from the Field
* Unfortunate Opportunity: BFC Sees Inside Bison Trap
* Comment by April 2 on Horse Butte Bison Trap
* Church Universal and Triumphant Land “Deal” Bad Deal for Wild Bison
* Photo of the Week
* Last Word
Alaska Judge Upholds Aerial Wolf Killing But Limits Extent. Environment News Service.
The issue may be settled this August by Alaska voters or by Congress with the proposed PAW Act.*
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* “The Protect America’s Wildlife Act, or PAW Act, was introduced by California Congressman George Miller along with Congressman John Dingell of Michigan, the floor manager of the debate on the original Airborne Hunting Act; and Congressman Norm Dicks of Washington state, chair of the Interior Appropriations Subcommittee.
Now before the Committee on Natural Resources, the bill, H.R. 3663, would close a loophole in federal law that Alaska officials have used to permit hunters to shoot wolves from aircraft”
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Related story: Lack of snow hampers Alaska predator control program. NewMiner.com. They’ve only killed about 1/6 as many wolves as they wanted tol
Is there an opportunity for a lawsuit here?
Conservationist says federal agencies renege on bison plan Associated Press in the Great Falls Tribune.
The great thing about Yellowstone Park wolf packs is that they are never “controlled.” The largest source of wolf mortality is other wolves. Yellowstone wolves don’t rely much on smaller prey like deer, and so we find large and complex wolf packs that show behavior not seen elsewhere.
This article in the JH News and Guide is about these big YNP wolf packs. YNP wolf packs large, old versus other wolves. By Cory Hatch.
Regarding USFWS biologist Mike Jimenez’s comments that “smaller packs do just fine anyway,” it depends on what you are interested in.
We want to be able to study wolves in a natural setting, and Yellowstone Park may not be representative of how wolves behave naturally in other places. Yellowstone, for example, is not really very productive elk country. The large visible elk herds are the result of little human interference, just as are the large wolf packs.
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I should add there there are some large and complex wolf packs in central Idaho. They are not systematically observed, with one exception.
This is posted as a comment by Joe (thanks!!), and was mentioned earlier by another comment (and Ed Bang’s included it in his latest report).
This Utah wolf pack is near Colorado, and also near Wyoming where they will get to kill every wolf outside a small area in the NW corner of the state come March 28. There could be a flashpoint on this pretty quick.
Wolf pack sighted in Utah for the first time in almost 80 years. KSL News.
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Added at bedtime. 3-20-2008. Wolf pack may be trotting around Flaming Gorge. By Melinda Rogers. The Salt Lake Tribune
The use of non-lethal aversive and proactive techniques with wolves is discussed in this article in Plenty Magazine. Story by Nicole Scarmeas. I hope both states continue to use non-lethal because the case of the Buffalo Ridge Pack in Idaho seemed a bad omen.
Then there’s Wyoming . . . such a sad case!
A Bid to Lure Wolves With a Digital Call of the Wild. By Kirk Johnson. New York Times.
I have mixed feelings — every wolf tracked by the authorities just like those protecting us from the terrorists want to track our every move.
State wildlife agencies wait to take over wolves. 2007 also saw record number of wolves killed in the region. By Mike Stark. Billings Gazette Staff.
The record number of wolves killed did seem to reduce reduce, or was at least associated, with fewer losses of livestock in Wyoming. Sheep are more likely to be killed than cattle. Of course they are smaller are worth less. Stories rarely mention that a high percentage of the dead cattle are calves, and usually late winter, spring and early summer calves — small or smallish.
I need to calculate the rates, but my perception is that in Idaho the livestock losses per wolf are consistently lower than in Wyoming and Montana, probably due to the larger cow-free backcountry.
Except for an occasional large sheep kill, I must admit my perception is that wolf losses are trivial and the perception of high losses is an opinion artifact created by the livestock industry and politicians. They can tell me 75 cows is a lot of cows, but then I know they were mostly calves and Western Montana is a huge place, but if you report each lost calf and a tearful livestock operator (at least while the video is recording) . . . “how I loved that little gal. Now she’s hamburger (Ooops, I mean she was viciously hamstrung),” it will have the desired effect.
Glaciers Are Melting Faster Than Expected, UN Reports. Science Daily.
Earlier. Hundreds Of Antarctic Peninsula Glaciers Accelerating As Climate Warms (June 6, 2007). Science Daily
While the New World Mine proposal (once a very serious proposal) above Cooke City was pretty much defeated in 1996-7, there are a group of outstanding patented mining claims that could potentially cause trouble.
These will be purchased by the Trust for Public Land, ending forever the development threat they pose.
Group makes plans to buy up old mining claims. By The Associated Press
Here is the final agenda for our annual wolf conference, April 8 -9, 2008. We are back at Chico Hot Springs this year after a successful event last year at Flagstaff, AZ.
We have a large registration this year.
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Winter ’07-08 Snowmobile Use in Yellowstone National Park Dips Slightly, Snowcoach Use Up. National Parks Traveller.
One of the most interesting parts of this story is the snowmobile use of the East Entrance, bitterly kept open by political agitation from Cody business interests who say it is vital. Keeping the entrance open is a big diversion of Yellowstone Park financial resources.
Only 1.3 snowmobiles used the East Entrance per day.
A similar thing happened 20 years ago when they (Cody business politicians) agitated to keep the Fishing Bridge RV campground open even as other Fishing Bridge facilities were being closed due to severe conflicts with grizzly bears. They claimed hardly anyone would use the East Entrance if people couldn’t use this wonderful RV campground. At the time, I never had visited it. When I did I found an parking lot completely surrounded by small lodgepole pine.. No view at all — completely unattractive.
Wyoming senators intervened and kept the RV campground open.
Although not as bad as several years ago, 48 elk have died from eating a deadly lichen that grows in the Red Rim area near Rawlins.
Deadly lichen killing southern Wyoming elk. By Chris Merrill. Casper Star-Tribune
The slaughter is based on what amounts to a lie about brucellosis and cattle, but there are a few cattle north of Gardiner on the land of the Church Universal and Triumphant – locally called CUT.
They stubbonly winter cattle on their land, and I think they have have not received the criticism they deserve.
This slaughter could go on until May.
Story. Bison slaughter sets record. 25% of Yellowstone population dead with 2 months of killing still ahead. By Mike Stark.
In a Warmer Yellowstone Park, a Shifting Environmental Balance By Jim Robbins. New York Times.
This is really about the spread in the Lamar Valley of what is usually regarded as a noxious weed (I certainly hate it) — the Canada thistle. It seems grizzly bears and pocket gophers love it, and the griz, ever in search of new sources of food, have learned to love Canada thistle. They eat it both fresh and stored (with the industrious pocket gophers mixed in for a little extra protein and fat).
Story in the Seattle Times. Is cougar hunting breeding chaos? By Sandi Doughton. Seattle Times science reporter.
Hunting large carnivores does not have easy, predictable effects; and a recent law passed and signed in Washington state due to increasing cougar attacks on livestock and pets in NE Washington appears to have had the opposite effect and was based on false assumptions (increasing cougar population). The result of the emergency hunt has been even more attacks (young, inexperienced, and not-too-bright cougars), and a big drop in the cougar population in the Selkirk Mountains.
Actually Washington has had a cougar hunt. It was a particular method of hunting that was banned years ago by the citizens. The method of hunting probably has as much of effect as the mere fact of hunting.
I should add that governor Gov. Christine Gregoire (Democrat) just signed a bill to expand the unsuccessful program. She is not wise about these issues. She is also behind letting livestock operators into state wildlife areas in NE Washington to graze (often for free!!!). These areas are mostly formerly private land purchased by taxpayer and ratepayer money. Western Watersheds Project has sued over the program.
I have posted a number of stories in the past about her “graze-the-wildlife-areas-for-free” program.
The biggest significance of this story is that the federal judge is not buying the “Kempthorne doctrine” that the term “distinct population segment” of the ESA means almost nothing.
Federal District Judge Mary Murguia thinks it does, and she reversed the FWS’s 2006 bald eagle delisting decision as applies to desert-nesting bald eagles, calling it ”arbitrary and capricious, and contrary to law.” When an agency loses a case for this stated reason, it is a major legal rejection because judges defer to “agency expertise” when the issue is at all close. The agency did what did, it appears, because they “got their marching orders” from Washington.
Judge Orders Renewed Protection for Desert Bald Eagle. Environment News Service.
Although articles about the now-shuttered Jerritt Canyon mine have said it was the worst mercury polluter in the United States, a more recent article says that 6 other Nevada gold mines pump out more mercury into the air, with Barrick Goldstrick mine (a huge series of pits) alone putting out 30 times as much as Jerritt Canyon.
Ninth Largest Source of Toxic Mercury Shuttered. What About Polluters 1 Through 8? By Dan Shapley. The Daily Green.
Photo1. Part of the Barrick Goldstrike mine north of Carlin, Nevada.
Photo2. More of the Barrick Goldstrike mine.
A lot of these Nevada mines let ranchers graze the nearby rangeland for free (after all they are going to become pits and they want to have good relations). Do you think these mercury cows are being tested before they enter the beef food supply?
Web page on mercury poisoning. Residents of Idaho, Utah and Nevada should read this, especially if they have children.
Here’s a real story. It’s about the poisoning of Idaho. Nevada and this mining company should be paying we Idahoans reparations.
Nevada closes mine for mercury releases. Idaho officials say Jerritt Canyon has tainted Gem State waters and fish. The mine will have to fix its pollution control equipment. By Rocky Barker. Idaho Statesman.
This gold mine was the worst single source of mercury pollution in the United States, but it is just one of scores of gold pits releasing mercury across Nevada.
Talk about over-the-top bias . . . !
Would this story make any local news if the sheep were killed by something other than a wolf? Eight dead sheep is normally not news.
The fact that the owner won’t seek reimbursement indicates this is not about economics, but social hostility, aided and abetted by the reporter.
Not seen for century, wolf kills sheep. Predator makes kills in Two Dot area. By Brett French. The Gazette Staff
You can contact Contact Brett French at email@example.com or at 657-1387.
Idaho wolves are moving into Oregon, but soon wolves in Eastern Oregon will no longer be a federally protected species (assuming delisting actually happens). However, Oregon has its own strict, but only partially completed state wolf plan. So wolves will remain legally protected in Eastern Oregon (but by the state).
According to the Wallowa County [Oregon] Chieftain, the situation is one of uncertainty that might cause ranchers to get more friendly with Defenders of Wildlife and also hope that the conservation groups opposing delisting win their suit.
Making friends with the enemy. By Kathleen Ellyn. Wallowa County Chieftain Reporter
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Note that should any wolves make it to western or central Oregon, they will remain a federally protected endangered species (not an experimental population) as well as have Oregon state protection.
The President of Westland/Hallmark Meat testified to Congress that he got sick viewing the secret video of his employees maltreated sick cows so they could be slaughtered. He reluctantly said the sick meat got into the food supply.
The video prompted the largest meat recall in U.S. History.
Story in the New York Times. Meat Packer Admits Slaughter of Sick Cows
My earlier story. USDA will step up inspections at slaughterhouses
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In a related matter, as the President tries to scare us in accepting his illegal spying on us (to protect us from “the terrorists”), what do you fear the most. 1. Terrorists will poison the food supply? 2. The food supply will be poisoned by lack of standards and inspection?
A real black mark will be set today as Yellowstone Park sends 200 more bison to slaughter. Below is part of an update from the Buffalo Field Campaign.
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Buffalo Field Campaign
Update from the Field
March 13, 2008
AMERICAN BISON ELIMINATED from the last wild population in the U.S.
2007-2008 Total: 1,014
2007-2008 Slaughter: 848
2007-2008 Hunt: 166
Total Since 2000: 3,740*
*includes lethal government action, quarantine, hunts
In this issue:
* Update from the Field
* Horse Butte: Bison Trap or Buffalo Sanctuary? YOU Decide.
* Volunteers Needed on the Front Lines!
* Keep BFC Healthy & Happy ~ Coffee & Food Donations Needed
* Photo of the Week
* Last Words
* Update from the Field
Dear Buffalo Friends,
1,014 wild buffalo have been killed so far this season. This week, Yellowstone National Park captured 11 more buffalo, and sent another 120 to slaughter from inside the Park’s northern boundary. Along the western boundary, on Tuesday, the Montana Department of Livestock captured a group of 13 wild buffalo. One was a lone calf who had been orphaned during the hunt. Patrols said he gave the agents a run for their money. The thirteen were captured in the trap on cattle-free Horse Butte, transported to the Duck Creek trap, and shipped to slaughter Wednesday morning. There is no doubt that this year will constitute the biggest wild buffalo slaughter since the 19th century. Why does the American government bother trying to save a species from near-extinction only to turn around and kill it off again under the guise of “wildlife management?” If it doesn’t make sense, favors industry, goes against the public’s will and ecological integrity, the government is sure to enact it as a policy. Please consider contacting your House and Senate members and urge them to invoke legislation that will stop the slaughter, protect wild bison and their habitat, and also let them know about the lack of response you have been getting from all the agencies involved: http://www.buffalofieldcampaign.org/actnow/politicians.html
Park trespassing raises flags. By Daniel Person. Bozeman Chronicle Staff Writer
Earlier I posted articles about the ozone pollution spreading across the open spaces of Wyoming, but also that the EPA was about to tighten the standards nationwide. The EPA did a little bit, but President Bush personally intervened to block tighter seasonal standards, which are the most important because air pollution varies greatly by season due to dispersion pattern changes.
Story. Bush ‘Intervened At The 11th Hour’ To Kill Climate Protections. Think Progress.
New air quality rules could affect Pinedale, Wyoming area. By Chris Merrill. Casper Star Tribune.
Revised smog rules put six Utah counties in air pollution spotlight. By Judy Fahys. The Salt Lake Tribune
Alberta gives the wolf no protection to begin with. Elk populations in the area are high, and it is questionable whether this is research. This is not a huge wolf killing/sterilization project, but it could devolve into such a project.
The major newspapers don’t like it.
Wolves targeted to boost elk hunt. Sterilization part of Alberta experiment to shrink packs. Cathy Ellis, For the Calgary Herald.
Editorial. Culling wolves so hunters can cull elk. The Edmonton Journal.
Keep researchers at bay. Calgary Herald
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The first wave of wolves to Yellowstone and Central Idaho (1995) came from this area.
W.R. Grace agrees to $250-million dollar cleanup for past asbestos mining near Libby, Montana. New York Times.
Note that this notorious health hazard has been the subject of hundreds of of articles since 2000. Many people in the area have died from the asbestos contamination in town and from working the now closed mine.
As the price of gold and other “hard rock” minerals rises, the need to change the 135-year old law that established the claim and patent system on public lands grows.
Key U.S. Senate Committee hears about the need for mining reforms. By Staci Matlock. The New Mexican.
Mining claims rise near Western cities. By Judy Pasternak, Los Angeles Times Staff Writer
The New West: Mine Claims Crowd Booming Cities. Mining Industry, Still Regulated by 1872 Law, Is Nation’s Top Polluter. Environmental Working Group.
Here is a map of the thousands of mining claims. Environmental Working Group.
Wyoming ozone warnings point to gas fields. Tougher ozone standards expected from EPA today. By Cory Hatch. Jackson Hole News and Guide.
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Seattle Post-Intelligencer. The EPA might announce new ozone rules nationalwide today. This is not just a Wyoming issue.
“Buffaloed” posted this information in an earlier thread, but so everyone interested can find it, here it the link to the 2007 Rocky Mountain Wolf Recovery 2007 Interagency Annual Report.
I suppose this will be the last federal report one unless delisting is set aside. Each state might produce one each year in the future (at least I think it likely and it is certainly desirable).
Government denies protected status for wolverines in mainland U.S. By John Cramer of the Missoulian.
From the Seattle Post-Intelligencer. . . “Enviros are most worried that the Bushies now appear to be saying they don’t have to protect animals inside U.S. borders if lots of them are living in Canada or Mexico. Defenders of Wildlife called the administration’s move ‘a stunning interpretation of their responsibilities under the Endangered Species Act.’ Defenders’ Jamie Rappaport Clark, who used to run the agency that made the decision, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, had this to say:
This sets a new low in a long line of irresponsible, disturbing decisions made of late by the Bush administration. The Endangered Species Act was designed to protect and preserve imperiled wildlife populations — not so that we can pass our responsibilities off onto our border neighbors, who may not have the resources or protections that we have here.
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This interpretation of the ESA has been firmed rejected in the past (as with gray wolves), but this old rejected argument has become the new Bush Administration party line, guaranteeing that every ESA listing will have to be litigated.
Fortunately these people will be gone in 9 months.
Well maybe . . . the article is more of a hope than report of the facts.
Victoria shifts away from development of Flathead Valley. But permanent protection still needed for rare treasure. Kathryn Molloy, Vancouver Sun
Montana’s Rocky Mountain Front seems to be the only place in the Rocky Mountains where the oil companies are not getting what they want.
That’s good news, but unfortunately the exception that proves the rule.
Energy company cedes its oil, gas leases along Front to Trout Unlimited. Kohlman Co. gives 33,411 acres to Trout Unlimited for preservation. Karl Puckett. Great Falls Tribune Staff Writer
McCain Sees Pork Where Scientists See Success. Candidate Criticizes Ambitious Bear Study. By Joel Achenbach. Washington Post Staff Writer.
In fact, if this $3-million project was a total waste and there are 1000 projects out there that are of the same cost, that’s only 3-billion dollars out of a budget of $2 ½ trillion.
McCain is hardly the first to take a minor project that might sound silly and hold it up as an example why the federal budget is so out of balance. This is a frequent tactic by both congressional Republicans and Democrats. Unfortunately, it is a sign they don’t have a plan, or are not willing to say what their plan is to deal with the out-of-control deficit.
It’s doubtful that one in hundred people have any idea what are the relative sizes of the components of the federal budget. They are military spending, social security and related programs like veterans benefits, Medicare and interest on the national debt. Any spending reduction that would make a perceptible difference has to come from these areas, and in the short run (meaning annual appropriations), only military spending and part of Medicare are available for cutting.
If cutting these areas is not acceptable, then the government has got to start taxing more. That means dropping the belief that you raise revenues by taxing less and less.
Update March 12. Editorial in the New York Times. McCain Misfires at Grizzlies
The story on howlboxes had the latest map [link now dead] of the location of Montana wolf packs.
The Montana wolf population has been improving rapidly (my view) the last several years, with lots of areas with gaps filling in, but Idaho plans to decimate the wolf population in the upper Clearwater River area along the Idaho/Montana border could have a large effect on Montana wolf packs because many of the packs cross back and forth over the state line or are derived from Idaho wolf packs. Given a big wolf reduction effort in Idaho’s upper Clearwater, the Montana wolves would continually migrate back into the killing zone in Idaho.
Audio device uses howls to keep track of wolves. By John Cramer of the Missoulian
A lot of people don’t like radio collars on wolves. These “howlboxes” could eliminate much of the incentive to collar them. It ought to make photographers happy and elminate the impact a collar has on wolf behavior.
On the other hand, they might be able to find every wolf pack making Wildlife Services’ killing activities even more lethal.
As far as counting wolves goes, in the past wolf conservationists have argued that the official count is fairly accurate and maybe a bit high. Anti-wolfers have spun stories that the actual numbers are twice, even ten times the official count. With state management this could be reversed with wolf conservationists saying the states overestimate the population so they can pretend they are conserving the wolf.
Perhaps the howlbox could make the process of counting more objective.
There is often something or things out there people want to talk about, but there is no relevant thread.
That is the purpose of this post — to provide an open forum
Montana biologist revokes his claim that white-tailed jackrabbits have disappeared from Greater Yellowstone. Casper Star Tribune. By Matthew Brown.
According the the article, Dr. Jim Halfpenny of Gardiner has reported a lot of jackrabbit sign inside Yellowstone Park on the northern range. Five other biologists also reportedly contacted Dr. Joel Berger who had made the claim in a scientific publication.
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As a side note, when this story was first posted on this blog (that the jackrabbits had disappeared) it generated a very long thread of comments!
Robert Hoskins has a very good guest column in New West today (Feb. 7, 2008). The True Cost of Brucellosis. I fixed the link. RM
It’s just amazing from a benefit/cost standpoint (assuming wolves have no benefits).
Wolves do maybe $200,000 damage and state appropriates more than ten times that to monitor them, collar them and kill them, and of course give oh so generous reimbursement (7x) to livestock operators who are lucky enough to have a wolf kill a lamb or a calf in the trophy game area in the NW corner of the state.
Story in the Jackson Hole News and Guide. By Cory Hatch.
Barker thinks cutting funds to Wildlife Services (WS) is “low hanging fruit.” I don’t think it will be that easy. They have been very resilient in the past 80 years. He also argues that in the Southwest, WS is viewed as a barrier to wolf recovery not just by wolf conservationists, but by state wildlife agencies. Not so quite so in the Northern Rockies.
My view of WS in the Northern Rockies is that their behavior has deteriorated over time. Six years ago they were engaging in non-lethal control, trying to keep wolves and livestock apart before something was killed, and they were doing research on alternative methods. Now that has almost ceased. Standard procedure is to get in an aircraft and shoot.
In the past when they were under political attack, they survived by reforming themselves (for a while). This would probably be the prudent thing for them to do now because their political patrons who currently have so much power are likely to be seriously out of power at the both the congressional and executive level come 2009.
Barker’s blog. Idaho Statesman.
A coalition of conservation organizations and individuals is calling on Congress to de-fund Wildlife
Services [Killers] Predator Eradication Program.
This directly confronting attempts of the livestock industry to gain more money for Predator Control.
Read the exceptional letter the coalition sent to congresspeople linked to at the end of this Press Release, the other links are very informative as well.
This promises to be a drawn out battle with the Livestock industry. I think it’s an important one at bringing attention to what exactly it is that Wildlife
Services‘ [Killers] does and why you shouldn’t have to pay for it anymore.
For Immediate Release: Thursday, March 6, 2008
Drive to Axe Federal Predator Eradication Program
$100 Million Agriculture Program Slaughters 1.6 Million Wild Animals a Year
This article in New West is a good update on the status of the National Forest roadless area issue. Roadless without a map. Hazy Horizon for West’s Roadless Lands. By David Frey.
In fact there is a very good map of the roadless areas on-line. It is an interactive map to which you can contribute photos and comments. Roadlessland.org.
This open letter to Cal Groen, director of Idaho Fish and Game, was published in the Challis Messenger today.
Cost of control. By Gloria Carlton
Opinion in the Seattle Times. By Brenda Peterson.
Major guest opinions like this are very helpful reminding Americans and others why the wolves were restored and what is at stake with state management.
A 60-hour flood of water is being released from Glen Canyon Dam on the Colorado River in what is supposed to be renewal of the Grand Canyon’s dwindling sandbars, beaches, vegetation, and habitat for rare and endangered fish.
This is the third time such a flood has been created since the giant dam and reservoir was built in the 1960s. The project turned the warm, silt-laden Colorado into a cold and clear river that eroded away the beaches and backwaters during the artificial daily rhythm of generating hydropower.
It was felt that major releases of water every so often would mimic the floods that now longer occured and restore the river, but many who were once-hopeful say the floods have failed because they are too rare and not big enough. Others say no manipulation can restore the river from a dam that should have never been built.
Nevertheless, Secretary of Interior Dirk Kemphthorne is making a big show of the big release of water.
Questions on Grand Canyon ‘Blow Out’, By Mike Nizza. New York Times.
Eleven conservation groups have notified the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service they will be sued for issuing their rule delisting the wolf in the Northern Rockies. Story (one of many similar).
This, of course, has been expected for a long time. So to try to shore up what might be a losing action on their, the federal agency earlier issued a new “10j rule.” This is the critical list of regulations as to how the federal government will manage the wolf if they lose on delisting. Their latest 10j rule is essentially the same as delisting. So the conservation groups have sued over it too.
To win, the conservation groups need to prevail on both the 10j and the delisting suits, and they also need to get the judge to issue an injunction preventing these two rules from going into effect while the litigation goes on. In order words, a number of legal victories must be won to protect the wolf from what they say will be lethal state management.
The wolf is not delisted yet. Unless the courts rule against the USFWS, it will be delisted March 28, 2008.
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Here is the news release issued by the litigating groups, although with supporting materials.
This is hillarious article, although not by intent. The “wolf kill” is not about dead wolves, but the shocking realization by some rural north Idaho folks that wolves kill and eat deer and elk. Lucky there was at least one “avid outdoorsman” among them so these appalling facts could be uncovered.
We also learn that wolves howl, and when wolves make a kill they leave tracks and blood in the snow.
Story: Fish & Game investigate Mullan wolf kill. By Ty Hampson. Shoshone News Press.
The news release below was posted March 4. This morning, this article appeared in the Billings Gazette. Activists try to stop bison hazing. By Mike Stark. Billings Gazette. The headline is poorly descriptive.
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For release. March 4, 2008
Timothy Preso, Earthjustice, (406) 586-9699
Michael Mease, Buffalo Field Campaign, (406) 646-0070
Buffalo Field Campaign and Horse Butte landowners seek increased tolerance for bison in cattle-free zone outside western boundary of Yellowstone National Park
West Yellowstone, Montana – A coalition of bison advocates and local landowners today called on federal and state officials to stop capturing and slaughtering Yellowstone bison in a cattle-free zone outside the western park boundary pending a review of options to give bison more room to roam in the Horse Butte area.
“The government has been killing our nation’s last remaining wild bison, claiming it is necessary to prevent the spread of brucellosis to cattle on the Horse Butte Peninsula,” said Michael Mease, campaign coordinator for the Buffalo Field Campaign. “There are no more cattle on Horse Butte, so that excuse rings hollow. It’s about time the people in charge get behind the locals who support wild bison being on Horse Butte without harassment by the government.”
First wolf found in Mass. in 160 years. By Beth Daley, Boston Globe Staff
Update: Here is a more detailed story. Boston Globe.
Are Wolves The Pronghorn’s Best Friend? Wolves benefit pronghorn by keeping coyotes in check. Coyotes are a very serious predator of pronghorn fawn, whereas wolves pretty much ignore them.
ScienceDaily. Mar. 3, 2008 — As western states debate removing the gray wolf from protection under the Endangered Species Act, a new study by the Wildlife Conservation Society cautions that doing so may result in an unintended decline in another species: the pronghorn, a uniquely North American animal that resembles an African antelope. Rest of story.
Last summer, the Murphy fire burned a huge swatch of the Owyhee country in SW Idaho (and northern Nevada). Ever since the BLM has been under intense pressure to do the wrong things such as graze lands that burned rather than let them recover.
Some of the ranchers here have very high political connections. The BLM can’t stand up to them. Litigtion is needed to uphold the law.
March 3, 2008
Katie Fite, Western Watersheds Project 208-429-1679 (W); 208-871-5738 (C)
Todd Tucci, Advocates For The West 208-342-7024 ext. 202
Jon Marvel, Western Watersheds Project: 208-788-2290 ext. 11
Western Watersheds Project Files Expanded Litigation To Stop New Fencing And Close Critical Sage Grouse Habitat To Livestock Grazing On 56 Grazing Allotments In The Jarbidge Field Office Of The BLM
On Monday March 3, 2008 Western Watersheds Project (WWP) filed a series of legal motions in federal district court in Boise, Idaho to reopen and expand litigation against the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) for taking illegal management actions on hundreds of thousands of acres of public lands in Twin Falls and Owyhee Counties after the 500,000 acre Murphy Complex Fire burned through the area in the summer of 2007.
According to Ed Bangs and observations on the ground, probably all of the Buffalo Ridge wolf pack near Clayton, Idaho have been now been shot for repeatedly picking off a few tiny cow calves born in the bone chilling winter and pastured next to the vast central Idaho wilderness.
Lynne Stone of the Boulder White Clouds Council has created a photo essay on this predictable but avoidable tragedy. It’s truly disheartening for those who might think these matters can be solved proactively in a way that keeps both wolves and livestock alive rather than opt for dead wolves, dead livestock, and bruised feelings.
Buffalo Ridge Wolf Pack Under Siege. Sunday, Feb. 24 2008. By Lynne Stone.
Stone updated the story today (see her explanation among the comments below on this post). Five Wolves are “Lethally Controlled”
By Lynne Stone. Feb. 26 -28.
For a long time this wolf pack was the easiest one to see in Idaho. This backwards direction of Idaho’s newly found wolf management and Wildlife Services, the federal agency that seems determined to lock the states into 1920s style thinking about predators, is likely to be repeated many times in the near future.
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My earlier story on this. Buffalo Ridge Pack to be wiped out, classic example of what’s wrong with Idaho state wolf management.
U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service has wanted to back out of a court mediated deal to conduct and complete a “status review” on the sage grouse by May 2009. A status review looks at the the scientific literature to see if adding a species to the endangered or threatened species list is warranted.
Earlier the USFWS had denied listing the rapidly declining bird, but that was during the Julie MacDonald period at the Department of Interior. Western Watersheds Project, represented by Advocates for the West sued and Idaho federal judge Winmill overturned their denial due to MacDonald’s political meddling on behalf of her industry friends.
USFWS has wanted to make a decision before Dec. 2008 because then it would be under control of the Bush Administration.
A status review is supposed to use the best scientific information available in making a decision, and a major scientific report on the sage grouse is due to come out in late 2008. Cynics would say they would like to make a decison before then not just because Bush will still be in office, but they won’t have to consider these new findings.
Story in the Casper Star Tribune. Judge holds feds to grouse deal. By Todd Dvorak. Associated Press writer
Park’s winter season wrapping up. Yellowstone Park news release
British Petroleum has withdrawn their plans for massive industrialization of the area across the border, but adjacent to Glacier National Park, but B.P. other companies and the British Columbia government have lots of other awful plans for this general area.
Bordering on Catastrophe. Montana’s opposition helped kill a Canadian mining plan last week. But has the real war just begun? By Gordon Sullivan. Missoula Independent.
Link to the North Fork Landowners Association. Much more information on the fight over the Canadian Flathead River area.