In a Warmer Yellowstone Park, a Shifting Environmental Balance

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).

Special Washington cougar hunt backfires

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.

Federal judge orders return of ESA protection to a “distinct population segement” of bald eagles in Arizona

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.