Western guvs create Western Wildlife Habitat Council

It certainly sounds good.

Especially noted was the lack of effort by the BLM to do anything to protect wildlife habitat. So the states will have to take the initiative.

Also attending the Western Governors Conference was Dirk Kempthorne who agreed with the creation of habitat council. Doesn’t Kempthorne have something to do with the BLM 😉

Brokaw backs wildlife

Brokaw backs wildlife. By Noah Brenner, Jackson Hole News and Guide.

Former NBC news anchor Tom Brokaw urged the leaders of Western states and the Department of the Interior to protect wildlife corridors when considering energy and other development.

If you read the MSM, TIm Russert may have been a journalistic saint in his position as host of Meet the Press, but I am pleased that conservation conscious Tom Brokaw is the new host and is speaking truth to power at the Western Governors Conference.

Howl boxes: Scientists experiment with tracking wolves by recording howls

Scientists experiment with tracking wolves by recording howls. BY Joe Jaszewski. Idaho Statesman.

We, the Wolf Recovery Foundation, are one of the groups providing financial support to test this innovation. A lot of folks will be happy to see the gradual disappearance of the radio collars outside of Yellowstone National Park. However, it is important to get a pretty good wolf count, given that conservationists are not confident that states will do a good count. The suspicion is that they might overestimate their numbers.

Global warming prompts doubt about wildlife conservation in the West

Resistance to the scientific consensus of the existence of climate change is waning ~ politicized prescriptions for inaction and for the relaxation of public environmental laws takes its place.

Last week, federal and state wildlife and public land managers gathered to talk about global warming and the effects it will have on western land and wildlife management. The overwhelming theme, as conveyed to me by several in attendance and passed along by Rocky Barker in the Statesman was dismal. Federal and state managers are preparing to give up on many species in the west.

Warming world prompts change – Rocky Barker – Idaho Statesman

Related Update: Anti-science conservatives must be stoppedSalon.com

Read the rest of this entry »

Public’s call of the wild (on recent Mexican wolf survey)

Public’s call of the wild. The Arizona Republic.

Earlier on this web site. Southwesterners want wolves.

Wyoming’s Game and Fish chief doesn’t agree with the state vets on brucellosis

Good news! Endangered sockeye salmon beat projections in Columbia

Endangered sockeye salmon beat projections in Columbia River. AP. Idaho Statesman.

After the collapse of the spring chinook salmon run into the Sacramento River this year, there was fear it would be general; but the sockeye salmon run bound for interior Oregon, Washington, and Idaho is 6 times that of last year.

There are numerous species of salmon and runs of those species.  In many years some do well and others not. In others almost all are up or down.

The kind of development not needed with $4 going-on-$7/gallon of gas

Black Bear Resort. Big things are in store for Bear Lake. A planned development near the Utah-Idaho border would offer skiing, sailing and more. By Mike Gorrell. The Salt Lake Tribune.

This would create a huge new development in cold winter country 2 tanks of gas NE of Salt Lake City, Utah. Even if the second home resort can survive the mortgage problem and the price of energy, how can it be justified?

BLM plan calls for 4400!! more wells on the Pinedale Anticline

Senate to consider major public lands bill

It has over 90 titles. Some of these are very controversial with conservationists, such as the Owyhee Public Lands Management Act in Idaho.

News Release from Campaign for America’s Wilderness. Senate to consider major public lands bill.

Posted in public lands. Tags: , . Comments Off on Senate to consider major public lands bill

Gas Price Reduction Act of 2008 hits Congress

Politicians puffed up today in Washington over gas prices, each side with their own canned hyperbole-laden talking points at the ready. My pick of the day is House chairman of the Appropriations Committee, Rep. David Obey’s statements :

An Inexhaustible Energy Source: Heated Words. But Can It Be Tapped? NYTimes

“This is a con job,” he said. “It’s a diversion. These guys ought to be given a Mandrake the Magician permanent title, for pretending that this has anything to do with solving gas prices today.”

Explaining his decision to call off the hearing, he said: “We can spend our time on real things or we can spend it in a playpen with Jerry Lewis. The latter does not interest me.”

Read the rest of this entry »

The Doña Ana County Wilderness debate

The Doña Ana County Wilderness debate.

Wilderness bill deepens gap between groups. Las Cruces Sun News.

The good news is that Representative Steve Pearce is running for the U.S. Senate where he is going to be beaten badly. He has been a real problem for the sound management of public lands in New Mexico on many fronts.

Three-state talks focus on brucellosis strategy. State veterinarians to meet

Three-state talks focus on brucellosis strategy. Veterinarians from Montana, Wyoming, Idaho meeting Friday in Helena. By The Associated Press

This is a chance for a big change, but where are the wildlife people?  My experience with the state vets is that they are beholden to the cattle industrye. Therefore, they have a very narrow perspective.

Update. June 28. Just what you would expect, no recognition that the continuing source of brucellosis is not inside Yellowstone Park, but south on Wyoming’s elk feedlots. State vets: Yellowstone must eradicate brucellosis. By Matt Gouras. AP.

When they are this utterly compromised, it makes you worry what would happen if some serious threat to livestock and wildlife emerged, oh wait, it has. They are doing zip about bluetongue.

Want safe backcountry water? Avoid areas with cattle

This is from Wilderness and Environmental Medicine: Vol. 15, No. 4, pp. 245–249.

Also avoid areas with high human use.


House Natural Resoures Committee Invokes Rarely Used Powers to Block Uranium Mining Near Grand Canyon

House Natural Resoures Committee Invokes Rarely Used Powers to Block Uranium Mining Near Grand Canyon. Ascribe Newswire.

There is also an AP story on this unusual emergency action.

This is not only a threat to the scenic national park, but to the drinking water of 25-million people.

– – – – –

Update: Permanent protection. Arizona Republic. Not quite, but for 3 years.

“Uranium mining and the Grand Canyon. What a terrible combination. And now it’s prohibited – at least for three years.”

California forest fires puts air quality at dangerous levels in Reno, Nevada

California forest fires puts air quality at dangerous levels in Reno, Nevada. RGJ.com. By Steve Timo

These fires have reduced air quality as far east as Western Wyoming.

Rethinking the Country Life as Energy Costs Rise

Rethinking the Country Life as Energy Costs Rise. New York Times.

Higher energy costs may greatly reduce the housing sprawl into our wild country, which costs the taxpayers to much to provide services, increases the cost of forest fires, and uses a lot of energy (the emerging check on the sprawl).

New Mexican man killed and eaten some by a cougar

Man Killed by Cougar, Officials Confirm. By Rene Romo. Albuquerque Journal Southern Bureau.

This is near the country where they do all that worrying about Mexican wolves.

More evidence of wolves in Washington state

Wolves may be returning to Washington state. One or more packs of gray wolves may be living in north-central Washington’s Methow Valley, which would make them the first resident population… AP in the Seattle Times.

Despite the yanking of endangered species status from any wolves in NE Washington under the recent delisting of of wolves in the Northern Rockies, these wolves are in north central Washington and would receive full endangered species status. Moreover, the may have migrated down from B.C. on the own.

Tailpipes, cows expand Idaho’s carbon footprint

Tailpipes, cows expand Idaho’s carbon footprint. Greenhouse gas emissions grew 30% from 1990 to 2005, thanks mainly to dairy expansion. Idaho Statesman. By Rocky Barker.

Part of this “increase” is an accounting change — to include methane gas as well as carbon dioxide. Methane is a very potent greenhouse gas and cattle operations, especially CAFOs emit a lot of it.

California BLM pulls grazing plan after Western Watersheds Project appeal

Another WWP success in keeping the BLM and livestock industry in line.

California BLM pulls grazing plan after WWP appeal. WWP blog

Posted in cattle. 2 Comments »

Livestock industry’s true colors: decimate Yellowstone Park bison and elk

“U.S. Cattlemen’s Association said Monday that the federal government should reduce Yellowstone’s elk and bison populations to keep the animals separated from domestic livestock.”

They aren’t satisfied with pushing bison toward extinction, and at the same time care little for elk in the Park or in the Greater Yellowstone.

It’s all about the cattle industry showing us who is boss and maintaining their power and privileges.

Story: Cattle group’s brucellosis proposal draws fire. By Matthew Brown. Associated Press.

Can we hear from the group Sportsmen for Fish and Wildlife about this, or are the too tied to cattle to speak out?

Editorial: Offshore Oil Drilling Fixes Nothing

CBS News. Editorial: Offshore Oil Drilling Fixes Nothing.

CBS News goes through the economic and environmental arguments for drilling protected areas as any sort of a solution to energy woes.

In my view, this proposal which emerged suddenly (meaning it was politically carefully planned) shows that McCain and the Republicans have no idea how to deal with the energy problem, but are willing to appeal to peoples’ tendency for magical or wishful thinking that a problem years in the making has a simple, easy and quick solution.

During the 1970s energy crisis, President Ford announced “Project Independence” which would make the United States 100% free or foreign sources of energy in a decade using coal, drilling for oil and oil shale. Of course it was an utter failure. Now McCain and the Republicans reach back to the failed policy of 36 years ago.

Read the rest of this entry »

BLM holding public meetings on massive wind farm on Browns Bench

I was just in this country. It is not well known, but scenic and wildlife rich public land.

Given the abundance of windy private lands, why don’t they build their wind farms there and make the landowner some money.

BLM to hold public meetings. Idaho Statesman.

Jarbidge Mountains from site of wind farm proposal
Jarbidge Mountains from site of wind farm proposal. Photo June 16, 2008. Copyright Ralph Maughan

Related topic. At Montana’s Biggest Wind Farm, Bat Deaths Surprise Researchers. An ongoing study at Judith Gap suggests that birds may be in the clear, but bats are running into trouble. By Elizabeth L. Harrison. New West.

Big Oil told “use it or lose it” by House Natural Resources Committe chair

The oil companies and the President and McCain talk about the need for more leasing of your public lands to big oil, but big oil is appearently sitting on the leases it has.

Democrats Say Oil Companies Should Lose Leases They Don’t Use. By Susan Decker. Bloomberg.

Related. Drilling ban is a myth, figures show. By Ken Ward Jr. Staff writer. Charleston Gazette.

Out-of-state energy workers having a good time gunning down Wyoming wildlife

‘It’s pretty disgusting’. By Ben Neary. Casper Star Tribune.

Here’s another thing the oil companies don’t mention in their drilling propaganda.

Daniel, WY cattlegrower has 13 more with brucellosis

More cattle test positive for disease. By Cat Urbigkit. Casper Star Tribune.

If any show up in a second herd, Wyoming will lose its brucellosis free status once again.

Posted in cattle, Elk. Tags: . 5 Comments »

Feature on Idaho wolves tonight on Nightline

Wolves Running Wild in the West. Resurgence of Once-Endangered Species Means Renewed Tension With Ranchers. By Chris Bury and Ely Brow. June 20, 2008.

I’ve got to laugh at the first paragraph . . . “In Idaho’s rugged ranch country, a young calf killed by predators is every rancher’s worst nightmare.”

The worst nightmare?  It must be a placid life. No, this is a bunch of TV reporters trying to make a dead calf into an atrocity, far more interesting to viewers than dead soldiers in Iraq.

You can comment on-line right now on this piece that apparently runs tonight. Check for the time.

Studies conflict on National Elk Refuge elk

The important lawsuit to rid the National Elk Refuge of artificial winter feeding of elk is underway. This article in the Jackson Hole Star Tribune touches on the testimony of two experts, one on each side.

If as the interest group, Sportsmen for Fish and Wildlife claims, closing feedgrounds will cause elk to transmit brucellosis to cattle, why does brucellosis keep showing up in the spring next to the elk feedgrounds rather than elsewhere?

This happened most recently near Daniel, putting Wyoming’s class A status in jeopardy once again. Several years ago cows caught brucellosis from elk at the feedground near Pinedale, Wyoming. Story on the Daniel infection Brucellosis now confirmed in cows near Sublette County, WY elk feedlot. June 17, 2008.

Posted in Elk, politics, wildlife disease. Tags: , , . Comments Off on Studies conflict on National Elk Refuge elk

Dead Nevada rancher wins property rights award

After a long battle the late Wayne Hage has won in the U.S. Court of Claims. Judge Loren A. Smith awarded $4.2 million to Hage’s estate. The defendant was the U.S. Forest Service.

Rancher Hage was a “sagebrush rebel” with a ranch in a remote Nevada Valley. He eventually married Helen Chenoweth, a controversial far right-wing Idaho congresswoman. Chenoweth-Hage was killed in an auto accident not long after Hage died.

The case was a high priority for right wing property rights advocates. I haven’t heard much of an analysis from conservationists as to what the decision really means. I do think it makes it more necessary, and could add momentum, to the proposal to have a voluntary paid retirement of the grazing leases on U.S. public lands — the national grazing buyout.

Hage had a grazing lease to 700,000 acres of your public land on the basis of his 7000 acres of private property. The Forest Service confiscated his cattle after repeated tresspass and bad management. The judge did not rule in Hage’s favor by saying that a grazing lease is a property right. The case revolved the meaning of the 1866 Ditch Act and property rights in water.

Nevada rancher wins property rights award. Forest Service took his water rights, judge says. LA Times from Associated Press.

Norway’s wolf population reduced by half to 8 -15 wolves

Wolf population cut in half. Illegal hunting and the apparent lack of any new breeding in the past year has cut Norway’s wolf population in half and seriously set back efforts against extinction.” Aftenposten.no

Wolves have faced a great political struggle in Norway.

Posted in Wolves. Tags: . 25 Comments »

Bush returns to orginal premise of his presidency — help oil companies

Brian Ertz posted a story several days ago about this topic. This is my take.

In the last week we have had the President’s answer to high energy prices, drill for domestic oil, and develop oil shale deposits.

The primary economic result of this will be to enrich the oil companies even more. They don’t know how to extract oil from shale and produce net energy. It’s like corn ethanol, only worse. It is not a matter of the price of a barrel of oil getting high enough to make oil from this rock containing a petroleum related substance a source of energy.

Read the rest of this entry »

Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership sues to halt drilling on Pinedale Anticline

Good for this basically Republican group, the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership.

News release from TRCP. “TRCP Sues Interior Department over Mismanaged Wyoming Energy Project.
Multiple violations of federal law drive sportsmen’s group to action on Pinedale Anticline, currently targeted for greatly expanded drilling and development”

Matthew Brown’s AP story.  Group sues to block drilling.

Project [Phantom Hill wolf pack] seeks peace among sheep and wolves

Project seeks peace among sheep and wolves. Diverse group says collaboration could be a model for other wolf-occupied areas. By Jason Kauffman. Idaho Mountain Express Staff Writer.

This high profile project is a semi-official attempt to keep both sheep and the very popular Phantom Hill wolf pack alive. The pack’s territory is mostly in the headwaters area of the Big Wood River inside the Sawtooth National Recreation area.

While I am usually very critical of Wildlife Services, Wildlife Services wolf management specialist Rick Williamson gets a lot of credit as one of the people setting this up. The same true with Carter Niemeyer, who so successfully managed wolves in Idaho when the federal government was running the show.

Credit goes to Defenders of Wildlife who is putting money on the ground and volunteers into this.

Last year this pack did get some short time help (the deterence in the midst of lots of sheep) both formally and informally.

In their official year end report, the Idaho division of Wildlife Services was very negative on this pack, saying it had gotten too many chances, but this project shows what local political support can do.

One reason there is public support for this pack is because, as in Yellowstone, it is visible.

Recent official Idaho and Montana wolf news

Below are the most recent reports put out by Idaho Fish and Game and Montana, Fish, Wildlife and Parks.



To:                   Idaho Fish and Game Staff and Cooperators

From:               IDFG Wolf Program Coordinator, Steve Nadeau

Subject:           Status of Gray Wolf Management, Week of May 31 – June 14, 2008

Wolves in the Northern Rocky Mountains (NRM) were delisted on March 28, 2008.  The USFWS successfully recovered and delisted the population with the help of state, federal, tribal and non government partners.  Management of these wolves now resides with the states of Idaho, Montana, and Wyoming.  The 2002 legislatively approved Wolf Conservation and Management Plan along with the March 2008 Idaho Fish and Game Wolf Population Management Plan, as well as the laws and policies of the state now govern wolf management in Idaho.  Wolves are now listed as a big game animal in Idaho and protected under the laws and policies of the State of Idaho.

Once wolves were delisted, the USFWS decided to discontinue the publication of the NRM wolf weekly.  Instead, for the time being, Idaho will continue publishing the Idaho specific wolf weekly.  IT IS NOT POSSIBLE TO PUBLISH A WEEKLY EVERY FRIDAY THEREFORE AT TIMES WE WILL BE PUBLISHING A BIWEEKLY THAT WILL BE POSTED ON THE WEBSITE.  Along with the USFWS, contributors to the weekly historically have included the USDA APHIS Wildlife Services, the Nez Perce Tribe, and the states of Idaho and Montana.  Wyoming was reported on by the USFWS.  You may review past wolf weekly publications on our wolf webpage and links along with all pertinent and updated wolf information and publications at: http://fishandgame.idaho.gov/cms/wildlife/wolves/


Isaac Babcock (NPT) verified a min. of 6 gray pups with the B315 group, making them a newly documented pack (Snake River pack).  He also has recorded 3 pups (2 black, 1 gray) with the B290 group (newly documented Hornet Ck. pack).  Finally, Blue Bunch pack has a min. of 4 gray pups.

Read the rest of this entry »

Photo of cattle on the Murphy burn

The land needs to rest from cattle grazing for several seasons after a range fire, but here they are on the tablelands above Jackpot, Nevada, grazing part of the Murphy burn.

The sagebrush area is unburned, the rest is obviously burned. Grazing a burn weakens the newly sprouted perennial grasses — the good grasses — in favor of the fire prone annuals. I did notice the cows left the lupines and death camas completely untouched. I had to wonder if the future of this draw will be pretty poisonous flowers?

Cattle grazing the Murphy burn
Grazing the Murphy burn the very next year. Photo Ralph Maughan. June 16, 2008

I saw quite a few pronghorn in the general area, and it is also obviously important deer and elk transitional and maybe winter range, but cows seem to come before everything else.
– – – –

Update. June 24. The BLM is going up to the area to get the cattle off the burn. They are not supposed to be there.

Pygmy Rabbit (Brachylagus idahoensis)

Udder failure: The politics behind Montana’s brucellosis discovery

Some would say it was the massive bad karma from killing more than 1,600 of the nation’s last wild buffalo by state and federal agents—the largest bison slaughter since the white man’s extinction of the millions-strong herds that once roamed the Great Plains. Or maybe it was the on-going and vicious political struggle between Gov. Brian Schweitzer and the Montana Stockgrowers Association. But whatever or whomever one blames, the reality is that Montana will now lose its “brucellosis free” status with this week’s discovery of yet another herd infected with the disease that can cause cows to abort. Ironically, bison caused neither the latest nor the former infections.

Read the rest of this interesting article — Udder failure . . . by George Ochenski. Missoula Independent. I didn’t know about Schweitzer’s unsuccessful efforts to win support for change with the Montana Stockgrowers Association.

Back from the backcountry

I’m back from the backcountry. I saw a lot of interesting things near the Idaho/Nevada border, especially on the edge of the Owyhee, part of where the giant Murphy fire burned 13 months ago.

Lupine in bloom, NW of Devil Creek in the Owyhee country. June 16, 2008. Copyright © Ralph Maughan.

This photo was not taken where the fire burned, although the fire does not eliminate the lupines, only the sagebrush and bitterbrush (that’s a bad joke). Lupine is poisonous, especially to sheep. It is a nitrogen fixer, closely related to peas. The wonderful smell permeates an area with blooming lupines.

Brucellosis now confirmed in cows near Sublette County, WY elk feedlot

Brucellosis again in Wyoming, and, surprise, surprise, most likely from the nearby elk winter feedlot.

Brucellosis in Montana too, for the first time in a long while. it came from either elk or other cattle.

So what’s the government’s brucellosis policy directed toward? — killing thousands of bison.

Story in the Casper Star Tribune (with usual the typical scare tactics about human and other brucellosis). Tests confirm disease in cows in (WY) cows. By Chris Merrill.

One error that should be pointed out. The articles states: “Personnel at the Wyoming State Veterinary Laboratory have confirmed that two black Angus cows from one Daniel herd were infected with what scientists call brucella abortus, a bacterium that causes animals such as bison, elk, cattle and swine to abort their fetuses, and can cause undulant fever in humans.” [boldface mine]

There are many kinds of brucellosis. Not just brucellosis abortis. Brucellosis in swine is brucellosis suis, a more dangerous disease. It is spread by feral pigs and its incidence is increasing in the United States because of spread of these non-native animals. Feral pigs, however, have a hunting constituency.

Read the rest of this entry »

Southwesterners Want Wolves !

WWPblog links to a poll released today which demonstrates that Southwesterners Want Wolves – by a hefty margin no less !

Update : Reconquistas !Demarcated Landscapes

As many know, the restoration of the Mexican wolf to the southwest has been obstructed by Fish & Wildlife Service’s unabashed placation of the livestock industry – a policy which has spurred environmental groups to file a couple of important lawsuits recently. Hopefully, the law and the public support will be enough to spur FWS to take a long look at its policy, change it, and get on managing for the public rather than just for a tiny interest group in the Southwest.


Western Watersheds was a co-sponsor the poll. It was one of a large number of groups.

I was away in Nevada. Brian Ertz, serving as webmaster, began this thread with the post above. He linked to the WWP blog, as you can see above.

When Janet White said WWP cosponsored the poll, I hadn’t heard about it, and I couldn’t see our name on it anywhere, I said no we didn’t. I should have checked more carefully because the story was right there on the WWP blog.

So yes WWP put some resources into the matter. The poll was done by a well regarded polling firm. The groups that sponsored the poll did not ask the questions.

I was wrong, but so what? Seems like an important story to me.

. . .  and a lesson to me, not to be sloppy.

Ralph Maughan

Brucellosis in the West

Dan Brister examines the possible connection between Corriente cattle and the recent brucellosis outbreaks causing the loss of Montana’s brucellosis-free status. He questions whether cattle may be the source of the outbreaks rather than wildlife.

Montana to lose brucellosis-free status
Dan Brister from Buffalo Field Campaign
West Yellowstone News.

Meanwhile, Bill Schneider is busy Debunking Brucellosis Myths over at New West.

Winter Kill in Idaho

The long winter has had an effect on ungulate populations in Idaho so hunting permits, especially moose permits, will be reduced so as not to effect the populations as much for the coming winter.

Winter Kill in Idaho
KPVI TV – Pocatello, Idaho

Be Sure to watch the attached video as well as it contains more information than is in the article.

Dale Toweill, Fish & Game Wildlife Manager: “This has been an unusual year. The winter was not especially tough. The problem with over winter survival is more how long the winter lasts.”

This is a story which follows an IDFG press release from June 2.

Long Winter Hurts Big Game Survival

Posted in Deer, Elk, Moose. 7 Comments »

Oil Companies Get OK To Annoy Bears

As suggested in an earlier post (or two), the Bush Administration’s Fish & Wildlife Service is doing its best to take its decision to list polar bears and extend federal protections to oil companies with it :

Oil Companies Get OK To Annoy BearsAP

Posted in Bears, Climate change, endangered species act, oil and gas. Tags: , . Comments Off on Oil Companies Get OK To Annoy Bears

More Drumbeat to Drill on Federal Lands

With relatively high gas prices, oil companies, their political puppets, and media continue the reverberation suggestive of the idea that drilling for oil on federal lands will bring prices down. Framing policy issues in the media is the first step – the take comes shortly after. It seems logical that drilling on federal lands would alleviate price, especially when we’ve got better things to do than think about it. But the drop in the bucket supply on federal lands compared to world demand puts it into better perspective. The high gas prices ought be telling us it’s time to start diversifying and reducing our energy consumption – especially with as far as we’ve come with Global Climate Change. Instead, we’re still having the same tired arguments about whether or not to exploit our public land to hypothetically bring prices down for a few more months.

Drill on the HillGrist

Quest For Oil : Where to Look Is the QuestionWS Journal

Update : Opinion – Political Ploy: Cannon’s oil-shale bill wouldn’t lower gas pricesTribune Editorial

WildEarth Guardians files Emergency Petition to list 32 species

WildEarth Guardians continues its actions to protect species en masse in filing an Emergency Petition to list 32 of the most imperiled species among the nearly 700 for which the groups has filed suit to protect already.

Bid aims to protect 32 speciesChicago Tribune

“Bush prepares parting shots”

On the eave of Bill Clinton’s leave from office his administration, among other things, issued orders protecting 60 million acres of public lands from further road development as well as protections for lands by designating National Monuments.  Robust moves like these are made at the hind-end of an administration as there is little threat of political consequence to a departing president.

The same is so with the Bush Administration – though you can imagine who’s benefiting this time around.

Bush prepares parting shots – Mark Jaffe – The Denver Post

Greater Sage Grouse (Centrocercus urophasianus)

Another Possible Case of Brucellosis in Livestock, This Time in Wyoming.

There have been reports today of another possible case of brucellosis in two cattle from Daniel, Wyoming. The tests don’t confirm brucellosis infection, that will require a culture test to determine if the brucella abortus bacteria is present which will take another two weeks.

Wyo may have new brucellosis case
Casper Star Tribune

Here is the Wyoming Livestock Board Press Release

Brucellosis confirmed in Sublette herd
Cat Urbigkit, Pinedale Online!

Appeals court reopens long quieted Jarbidge road fight

Appeals court reopens long quieted Jarbidge road fight. Rocky Barker. Letters from the West. Idaho Statesman.

Significantly Mother Nature sent a huge boulder crashing down on road the other day. Hopefully that is a good omen for the future.

Copyright © Katie Fite

Posted in Forest Service, Motor vehicles wildlife, public lands, public lands management, Wildlife Habitat. Tags: . Comments Off on Appeals court reopens long quieted Jarbidge road fight

Withdraw from the Interagency Bison Management Plan

This news release was just issued by Buffalo Allies of Bozeman.

– – – – –

Contact: Chris Klatt
June 12, 2008

Buffalo Allies of Bozeman Calls on Governor Schweitzer to Withdraw from Interagency Bison Management Plan.
Brucellosis outbreak where there are no bison shows that IBMP is not working for buffalo or for cows.

(Bozeman, Mont.) – The grassroots citizens group Buffalo Allies of Bozeman responded to the Monday announcement of brucellosis in a cattle herd in the Paradise Valley with a challenge to Montana Governor Brian Schweitzer to withdraw from the Interagency Bison Management Plan (IBMP).

According to a recent U.S. Government Accountability Office report, the IBMP “lacks accountability and transparency.” The IBMP has also been criticized by Gov. Schweitzer. Despite criticism, federal and state government agencies acted under the IBMP to sanction the slaughter of over 1,600 wild bison this past winter under the guise of preventing the spread of disease to cattle. However, the largest slaughter of buffalo since the 19th century did not prevent cattle in Greater Yellowstone from being afflicted. “There has never been transmission of brucellosis from bison to cattle in the wild, and it is clear that no link can be made between the current outbreak in Pray and Yellowstone’s buffalo herds, which haven’t been that far north in the Paradise Valley since they were extirpated for livestock interests. It’s time to scrap the useless IBMP, which treats buffalo as diseased, domesticated animals instead of as wildlife,” said Buffalo Allies member Jim Macdonald.

Read the rest of this entry »

Montana Fish Wildlife and Parks looks at hunting quota of 75 wolves for this fall

Oil and gas leases on Montana’s Rocky Mountain Front pulled from auction

Oil and gas leases on Montana’s Rocky Mountain Front pulled from auction. AP

A tremendous effort has been made by conservationists, the state, even oil companies to keep drilling off of Montana’s Rocky Mountain Front. So it only makes sense for the Montana Lands Department not to auction the small acreage of state land, especially because it is in very sensitive wildlife country.

Unfortunately, they only deferred the plan to auction.

Earthquake swarm near Reno, NV begins again

Posted in Uncategorized. Tags: , , . Comments Off on Earthquake swarm near Reno, NV begins again

Former Larry Craig aide and timber lobbyist, uses federal position to help access to trophy home sites deep in the forest

We’ve talked about Mary Rey before. He is under secretary for natural resources and environment in USDA, and thus oversees the U.S. Forest Service. Before that he learned the ropes from none other than Larry Craig and became a lobbyist for the timber industry.

In the past, he has barely escaped jail for defying court orders, and most recently is busy trampling on states rights to open national forest logging roads as acess to proposed and under constrution trophy homes deep the the forests.

These energy sucking, hard-to-service palaces are being built over the objections of states and counties that will have to pay the bills.

Rocky Barker discusses Rey today. D.C. political appointee flouts states rights and local control. Letters from the West. Idaho Statesman

– – – –
Earlier. Rey to explain Plum Creek deal. By Michael Jamison. Missoulian.

Collaboration on the Clearwater

Another local conservationist adds his voice to a growing chorus of activists on the ground who are learning first hand the consequences to wildlife and wild places when a particular model of conservation sets its backdrop of hand-picked participants at a table, satisfied with quid pro quos rather than strict adherence to the law.

Gary Macfarlane writes of the looming process of “collaborative” land management in the Clearwater :

Collaboration on the Clearwater – via Counterpunch

A reminder of what appears to be the point of these exercises ~ access and capital to play politics : An Open Letter to the Conservation Community Calling for a Moratorium on Damaging Public Land & Wilderness Legislation 9/12/06 – Read the lettersigned by over 80 local & regional conservation groups.

Posted in public lands, public lands management. Tags: , . Comments Off on Collaboration on the Clearwater

High Noon On The Range

This is an insightful look at the implications of the recent U.S. Climate Change Science Program’s report by one of Wyoming’s leading rangeland experts.

High Noon On The Range. By Deb Donahue. Wyomingfile.com

Montana’s Brucellosis-Free Status Lost

Another cow has been found to be infected with brucellosis costing the state of Montana its brucellosis-free status :

Sick Cow Costs Montana Its Brucellosis-Free Status – Mathew Brown – AP

The cow in question was among a herd in Paradise Valley south of Livingston.

NewWest’s coverage reveals the state’s astonishment :

Montana veterinarian Marty Zaluski said the loss of brucellosis free status is particularly frustrating given efforts by livestock producers and the industry to mitigate risks and increase disease surveillance.

“Producers in the Paradise Valley have been involved and diligent, and they have taken it upon themselves to be proactive in regard to managing the risk of brucellosis transmission,” Zaluski said. “In this particular case, the owner did everything right. The cow had been vaccinated twice and was part of a herd management plan.

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Leopold Pack has 18 – 24 pups!

Pup counts are coming in from Yellowstone Park, but slowly because of the long cold wet season.

I thought perhaps 2008 might be another pup crash year because the Slough Creek Pack had a number of apparently pregnant females yet has only one surviving pup. Moreover no pups have been seen yet with the Druids.

On the other hand pups have been seen with Oxbow and Agate. The Leopolds might have as many as 24 pups! These pups clearly are from multiple litters because they are of differing sizes. No more than 18 pups have been seen at once, but photographic studies of the Leopold Pack show as many as 24 different pups.

All of the other packs seem to have denned, but pups have not been seen yet due to the long spell of bad weather which will probably rejuvenate the Park after a decade of drought.

There are no new packs, but two possible ones, both Leopold split-offs — the “469 group,” seen most recently in Swan Lake Flats and the “470F group,” which has no radio collars.

Mollies Pack has occupied the former territory of the Hayden Pack and are seen a lot further south in Hayden Valley as well as the Pelican.

The Hayden Pack is near Hebgen Lake, outside the Park. The wolf that was recently shot by Montana FWP near West Yellowstone after numerous close approaches to people and buildings had the coloration of a Hayden Pack wolf (light), but was not with the pack. It might have been an odd lone wolf from who knows where, but suspicion is that it was a dispersed Hadyen. I understand a tissue sample was taken to determine the matter.

Yellowstone Road Crews Struggle with Late Season Snow Storms

News release from Yellowstone Park. Yellowstone Road Crews Struggle with Late Season Snow Storms.

Doug Smith told me today that he had never seen so much water in the Park’s backcountry. The Yellowstone Delta’s den site, which is in the River delta, is basically a swim-to den, and would be flooded with any more rise of the Yellowstone River.

Did wolf pose threat to bear hunter?

This story made some news in Montana. It was discussed briefly in this forum (no post, however). No doubt it will enter anti-wolf legends library.

Here is the standard story by the outdoors editor of the Billings Gazette. Truly a blast from the wolf past
By Mark Henckel. Billings Gazette.

Brian Peck, however, did some investigating of his own.

Peck reported:

Over the last several days, I’ve spoken to Kent Laudon (FWP Wolf Specialist) and Lee Anderson (FWP Chief Warden) regarding the wolf killed last week near Olney in “self-defense.” Here’s the latest info.:

The hunter was walking along a USFS road when the 2 wolves emerged from the brush about 15-20 yards away. The larger wolf continued across the road and up a hill. The smaller wolf – a 1-2 year old female – made a 90 degree turn toward the hunter and trotted toward him on the same side of the road he was on, until she was about 10 feet away. The hunter felt afraid for his safety and shot the wolf from the hip at that distance. The deliberate movement in his direction, rather than any other clear aggressive posture or sound from the wolf, was the only reason given by the hunter for feeling threatened.

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Obama opposes B.C. coal mine near Glacier National Park

Rescue may be on the way to the threatened wild country just north of the U.S. border in British Columbia. It depends on the outcome of the U.S. election.

Some folks on this forum, including myself, have complained about the failure by the candidates to talk about specific conservation issues. Obama’s positiion was announced when he was campaining in the Montana primary election.

These open pit coal mine/coalbed methane plans in the North Fork of the Flathead River don’t seem to have support anywhere in Montana because all of the costs flow into Montana and none of the benefits. Many, of course, are concerned about the inherent value of this wonderful wild country.

Story in Canada.com. Obama opposes B.C. coal mine. Canwest News Service

Posted in Coal, energy, politics, Wildlife Habitat. Tags: , . Comments Off on Obama opposes B.C. coal mine near Glacier National Park

Human caused deaths driving grizzlies toward extinction in Banff N. P.

The train route through the Park is the major killer, but hardly the only human source of mortality.

Story. Grizzly bear decline blamed on humans. Trains top killers in Banff, Jasper parks, says report. Cathy Ellis, The Calgary Herald

Underpasses for deer built on U.S. 30 northwest of Kemmerer, WY

The Wyoming Range’s deer herd is not doing well. A lot of deer are killed on the highway. This is an fairly ambitious effort to reduce highway mortality. I’ve had some close calls on U.S. 30, and I don’t drive it very often.

Taking the low road. By JEFF GEARINO. Southwest Wyoming bureau. Casper Star Tribune.

EPA Cites USDA For Wildlife Poison Violations

Update: The story as told by the Associated Press. Dog died at cyanide trap set in an off-limits area
EPA: Coyote poison wrongly placed on public road in Utah.
By Mike Stark. The AP fails to mention that the dogs’ owner was poisoned too.

Unfortunately too, so far he has failed to get compensation from USDA.

– – – –


News release from Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility.

Contact: Carol Goldberg (202) 265-7337

Sodium Cyanide Device Killed Dog and Sickened Hunter

Washington, DC — The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency cited a
federal wildlife eradication agency for violating safety rules
governing a highly lethal poison, according to records released today
by WildEarth Guardians and Public Employees for Environmental
Responsibility (PEER). EPA’s action was sparked by placement of a
deadly sodium cyanide device on federal public lands in Utah, causing
the death of a family’s dog and the illness of its owner.

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Posted in predator control. Tags: , , . Comments Off on EPA Cites USDA For Wildlife Poison Violations

Senate Republicans block a global warming bill

Vote on climate bill is blocked in Senate. By H. Josef Hebert. Associated Press Writer.

The next Congress will look a lot different.

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U.S. Senate Abandons Global Warming Bill. By J.R. Pegg. Environmental News Service

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Republicans thwart McCain ‘greenwash’. By Leonard Doyle. The Independent (U.K)

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What Will the Next President Do About Climate Change? By Mark Hertsgaard. The Nation (on the left)

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A Qualified “Yes” to Cap-and-Trade. By William Tucker. The American Spectator (here a right-winger deviates from the party line to a degree).

Big Western Watersheds Project victory on Slickspot Peppergrass

There have been a lot of posts here on the failure to protect and add the beautiful range plant, slickspot peppergrass to the endangered species list.

Once again, the federal courts have told the Administration to get off its butt. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service was ordered by Idaho federal judicial district to reconsider its decision not to list slickspot peppergrass as an endangered species.

Judge: Feds must reconsider protecting Idaho plant. By Rebecca Boone. Associated Press Writer.

Legal counsel for WWP was Advocates for the West, Todd Tucci, senior staff attorney.


Rocky Barker: Will judge Molloy issue a split decision on wolves?

Will judge Molloy issue a split decision on wolves? Barker’s blog is in the Idaho Statesman.

I wouldn’t be surprised if this was the outcome.

Judge Molloy limits late snowmobiling season in favor of Flathead grizzlies

Late season, high altitude snowmobiling has been a contentious issue for a long time on the Flathead National Forest. Here is a victory for bear conservationists.

Judge Molloy limits late snowmobiling season in favor of Flathead grizzlies. Daily InterLake. By Jim Mann

Finland’s Wolf Population Drops; More Bears Sighted

Suit Opposes Elk Feeding in Wyoming

The New York Times details a recent lawsuit filed yesterday by environmentalists to stop the feedlot-like conditions of the National Elk Refuge in Wyoming.

Suit Opposes Elk Feeding in WyomingNew York Times. By Jim Robbins.

The spread of Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) threatens wildlife given its recent proximity to the “refuge” and is of particular concern given the congregated conditions fostered by feeding wild elk and the catastrophic potential for massive spread.

The feedlot-like conditions are maintained to keep wild elk off of land livestock producers covet as their own – the herds’ native winter range. When elk eat the forage, cows don’t have as much.

Opportunity for elk feedlots serving as de facto baiting-grounds for killing wolves post-delisting has also been a concern.

Story added. Jackson Hole News and Guide. Refuge feeding fought in suit. Conservation groups say practice threatens elk with disease; critics argue animals will starve. By Cory Hatch.

PEER tells Senate hearing off-road vehicle regulation going badly on public lands

There is a “showdown” hearing before the Senate Energy and Natural Resources committee June 5 on the regulation of off-road vehicles on public lands.

This is a news release from Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility. No doubt off-road groups will have a different view.

– – – – – –

For Immediate Release: June 4, 2008
Contact: Carol Goldberg (202) 265-7337

OFF-ROAD VEHICLE ROUTE DESIGNATIONS GOING BADLY OFF TRACK — U.S. Senate Hearing Grasping for Solutions to Rising Toll of ORVs on Public Lands

Washington, DC — The national effort to minimize mounting off-road vehicle damage on federal lands by designating routes for motorized traffic is going badly off course, according to congressional testimony released today by Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER). As a result, the U.S. Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management are wasting substantial time and money without benefiting streams, wildlife, eroding landscapes and the public who hike, fish and camp on these lands.

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GM Finally Admits SUVs Are a Dead-End

SUVs were the equivalent of the long, low, automobiles with tail fins and “port holes” in their sides of the 1960s — a waste of resources that, in the end, greatly damaged the American economy, the environment, and will hardly be missed.

GM Finally Admits SUVs Are a Dead-End. Wired.

Christian Science Monitor looks at the awful winter for Yellowstone Bison

In Montana, bison plan paused. Ranchers and conservationists are increasingly at odds, as Yellowstone herd numbers plunge. By Todd Wilkinson. Correspondent of The Christian Science Monitor.

Actually, I think the genetically pure bison is now in danger of extinction and should be added to the endangered species list.

State of Washington prepares to return of wolves

Washington prepares for wolves’ return. The state won’t introduce the animals, but wants to be ready when they arrive. By John Trumbo. Tri-City Herald.

One good thing about this plan is that as the wolf population builds up in NE Washington (where they are expected to enter the state), after 5 packs the wolves would be trapped to distribute them across the entire state.

Update. Here is an AP story on Washington state wolves that goes beyond ranchers as the source of information. Washington State Prepares for Return of Wolves. AP

In fact, Kim Holt, our Wolf Recovery Foundation secretary-treasurer, is one of the volunteers sitting on this state wolf committee.

Fields of Overkill. Conservation, farmers scorched by food safety concerns

In response to recent E. coli outbreaks, corporate buyers are pushing California farmers to rid their fields of all wildlife and wild vegetation – despite the fact that this could make the food supply even less safe.

Link to Fields of overkill.
WESTERN ROUNDUP. By Li Miao Lovett. High Country News. You may to subscribe to read the entire article.
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We know the likely real source of E. Coli outbreaks, and it isn’t wildlife. It’s nearby CAFOs.

Vegas seeks still more rural Nevada water

Now it’s Snake Valley, the next valley to east from Spring Valley, discussed in an earlier thread. This water sucking plan would actually take water from under Utah.

Story: Vegas seeks rural Nevada water. Associated Press

Great Basin National Park from Spring Valley
Great Basin National Park from the Snake Valley near Baker, Nevada. Photo Copyright © Ralph Maughan

Rural West going to the dogs.

Rural West going to the dogs. WESTERN ROUNDUP. High Country News. By Troy Anderson. Note that this is a partial article. You need a subscription to High Country News to read it all.

This article is a useful corrective for those who can only worry about wolves, cougars and bears, although I don’t particularly like the descriptions because only again a dead animal doesn’t look so good regardless how it died.

Study looks at central Idaho wildlife-vehicle collisions

This is a short stretch with a lot of commuting and tourist traffic. Story. AP

The study found that at least 134 collisions between vehicles and deer or elk occurred in 2007 on the 26-mile stretch from Ketchum south to the intersection of state Highway 75 and U.S. Highway 20.

Scientists divine secrets of Old Faithful geyser

Scientists divine secrets of Old Faithful geyser. By Paul Rogers. Mercury News

It’s pretty simple, the more precipitation, the more frequent the eruptions.

Posted in Yellowstone National Park. Tags: . Comments Off on Scientists divine secrets of Old Faithful geyser

A visit to the “National Elk Soup Kitchen” at Jackson, WY

Too many elk and not enough tough love in Wyoming. By Jeff Welsch. Writers on the Range.

Utah woman scalded by a hidden YNP hot pool

Utahn scalded by hidden pool. Woman was walking with family members on established dirt trail. By Lindsay Whitehurst. The Salt Lake Tribune