Bush pardons man who set out illegal poison and killed an eagle

Bush justice.

Man convicted in eagle deaths grateful for pardon. By Jim Salter. AP

The story implies his conviction was only for poisoning the eagle. The now pardoned man also set out illegal poisons to kill coyotes. He killed more than coyotes and the eagle. The article doesn’t relate the full toll, and it’s luckly nobody’s child or dog got poisoned.

New National Survey Says Public Reveres Bison

Americans love bison, but don’t know they are in trouble-

New National Survey Says Public Reveres Bison. From Science Daily.

EPA, Interior Dept. Chiefs Will Be Busy Erasing Bush’s Mark

Huge transformation expected-

EPA, Interior Dept. Chiefs Will Be Busy Erasing Bush’s Mark. By Juliet Eilperin. Washington Post Staff Writer.

Few federal agencies are expected to undergo as radical a transformation under President-elect Barack Obama as the Environmental Protection Agency and the Interior Department, which have been at the epicenter of many of the Bush administration’s most intense scientific and environmental controversies.

These are most hopeful words as the plunderers are doing their last minute worst.

Silent Fall: B.C.’s vanishing wild salmon means trouble for all

This will certainly take down the great bears and orca

The irony is that B.C. did not dam its salmon streams like the United States did.

Silent Fall. Posted By: Chris Genovali. B.C.’s vanishing wild salmon means trouble for all. Monday Magazine.

. . . more Saving Wild Salmon, in Hopes of Saving the Orca. New York Times. By Cornelia Dean.

The culprit may the infestation of salmon farms the B.C. government has allowed to crop up spreading disease and parasites.

– – – – –

Salmon are in trouble in Puget Sound too, and the orca there are perishing. These orca are not just hungry, but full of toxic chemicals.

Orcas are a call to action on Puget Sound cleanup. We have to act now to protect and clean up the waters in and around Puget Sound before all of the orcas are lost forever.” By David Dicks. Special to The Seattle Times

Bill Schneider: Beaverhead-Deerlodge Partnership: Right Idea, Wrong Bill

There could be 573,000 acres of new Montana designated Wilderness!! But the reality is the total price paid would represent a net loss-

Several mainstream groups have joined forces with representatives of the wood products industry in a grand attempt to end what I call the “Wilderness Drought.” But, the bill that has come out of one collaboration could extend, instead of end, the drought. Bill Schneider

Once again the pitfalls of collaborationism.

Story: Beaverhead-Deerlodge Partnership: Right Idea, Wrong Bill. New West.

Yellowstone wolf report. Enormous change in pack compositions

Are the Sloughs gone? Plus five new wolf groups-

As wolf mortality has increased there has been a general redistribution of wolves in the Northern Range. All the packs are affected, even the Druids.

The Slough Creek Pack may no longer be intact. Two more dead members of the pack have been found and the only male in the pack, who wears the only functioning radio collar has been seen traveling alone.

As Kathie Lynch reported in her last wolf update, five members of the Druids (all males) left that pack. Since then they have found 5 females of other packs (perhaps all Agate). Leaders for the time being seem to be the famous old lover boy, Druid 302M and either a 2 year old Agate female or another Agate female nicknamed “halftail” because she lost half of her tail when run over by a van last year. This new group is being called the 302/642 group (named after the wolves with radio collars). They are one of 3 groups of wolves that are part of this year’s winter study.

The Agate Pack has no more functioning radio collars, so their status is not known.

Read the rest of this entry »

A New West thanksgiving column. Giving thanks for burned forests.

Burns on private industrial forest lands versus multiple use national forest land-

Giving Thanks for Burned Forests. By Matthew Koehler. Guest opinion in New West.

If you want to see a real “moonscape,” check out burned over industrial forest lands that were already clearcut.

Posted in politics, public lands, wildfire. Tags: , , . Comments Off on A New West thanksgiving column. Giving thanks for burned forests.

Steve Cobble says lets have “Grijalva for Interior and Solis for EPA”

From the Huffington Post-

Grijalva and Solis. Column by Steve Cobble.

And from New West. Grijalva Obama’s Best Bet at Interior. By Joan McCarter.

Sage grouse decision looks like its going to be left for Obama

Ranch, gas interests had hoped Kempthorne would influence the results of “status review” on the disappearing bird-

I know that by last May Western Watersheds Project and Advocates for the West had pretty much figured out that the matter would go to the next Administration. Of course the Bushies had hoped to ram it through.

Sage grouse decision looks like its going to be left for Obama
. by Rocky Barker. “Letters from the West.” Idaho Statesman.

– – – – –

Note: a status review is a scientific process to determine whether a species should be listed as threatened or endangered under the ESA.

Did you ever wonder what happened to the cave bears?

A study says cave bears killed by Ice Age, not hunters-

I didn’t know that the huge cave bears were vegetarians. Changing climate wiped out their food.

Story on the extinction of cave bears. By Alister Doyle, Environment Correspondent. Reuters.

Conservation groups give Idaho’s congressionals low marks

Craig and Sali, the worst, will be gone in 2009-

Watchdogs give Idaho delegation low marks. Environmental group tracks votes. By Gregory Foley. Idaho Mountain Express Staff Writer.

Of the 4 Larry Craig has been the worst. For decades he has been very active about his anti-conservation views. Sali was too nutty to be effective. Simpson and Crapo are the best you can expect from Idaho Republicans.

Environmentalists [said to] draft bold roadmap for Obama

Perhaps, but where is the public lands grazing reform?

These are the establishment groups’ views.

Environmentalists draft bold roadmap for Obama. By Dina Cappliello. AP in the Huffington Post.

BLM, NPS to settle? Utah parks may yet escape oil drilling

Lease sale for Dec. 19 might exclude parcels adjacent to national parks-

Utah parks may yet escape oil drilling. Land lease » BLM and Park Service may settle their dispute today.

By Patty Henetz. The Salt Lake Tribune
– – – –
Original story in this blog from Nov. 9Utah oil and gas lease sale riles Park Service.

– – – –

Update 11-26. BLM backs off plan to issue drilling permits in Utah’s redrock country. Shoddy » Conservation groups criticize agency’s haste in issuing plans for 11 million acres. By Patty Henetz. The Salt Lake Tribune.

Rep. Raul Grijalva, D-Ariz., sent a letter to Kempthorne saying, “this ill-advised fire sale of leases, which could irreparably harm the air, water and wildlife of three beloved national parks, should be halted.”

Grijalva, chairman of the House Subcommittee on National Parks, Forests and Public Lands, has been mentioned as a possible candidate for Interior secretary in the Obama administration.

Yellowstone Club goes under. Are we sad?

Saga of the Super-Rich-

Yellowstone Club Returns to Bankruptcy Court, to Sink Further Into Debt. By Robert Struckman. New West.

Man building fence for WDFW paralyzed in fall

Washington governor’s program to put cows on state wildlife areas results in a second serious injury-

A second man has taken a fall while building fence for the Washington Department of Fish & Wildlife.

Family asks for help after man is paralyzed in canyon fallklewtv.com

Susan Perez said she had been fearful for her husband’s safety when he first started working on the fence along George Creek Canyon about two weeks ago.

“He said, ‘You should see the hill I work now. It’s 2,000 square feet straight up,’ ” she said. “They have no safety harnesses. They have no cleated boots. They have no safety devices whatsoever.”

The steep slopes, the cliffs, in the area are inappropriate for the livestock grazing, the whole reason the fence-building is going on – and it’s dangerous for the people involved.  Another man fell into a canyon on the other side of Pintler Creek in February doing the same thing – building fences so WDFW can put cattle on lands purchased for wildlife.  This is the third injury the Department has sustained for these grazing projects, projects which cost the state of Washington $800,000 when the state is already $6 billion in debt.

Some background on Washington grazing:

Grazing on Washington state wildlife lands, and an ugly political deal by governor Christin Gregoire

Questions arise over tallies of wolf depredation figures in Montana

Claim is that more are killed than reported-

Yes, and given Wildlife Services’ seeming intent to reduce wolf populations by control after “depredations”, it seems just as likely the depredation figures are inflated.

At any rate, the cost is small. Many people as individuals have lost far more in the decline of their retirement funds, stock portfolios, etc., than the cost of entire wolf depredation in the state of Montana. Of course, the 120,000 dollar losses to many John Does in Missoula somehow is not news, but the loss of a $1000 heifer somewhere in rural Montana is news.

How about equal time?

Questions arise over tallies of depredation figures. By Eve Byron. Helena Independent Record

Latest Bush outrage: Ease up controlling airborne lead

Wyoming wolf report – Nov. 10, through Nov. 21, 2008

Latest report says mange too is now hitting the Yellowstone Park Wolves-

Ed Bangs just sent out the Wyoming wolf report. It is below. I cut off the redundant “blah, blah” about delisting, etc. that is at the outset of every report.

The key is news is that mange it now hitting Yellowstone Park wolves. Other news is that research indicates the decline in moose in NW Wyoming is not due to bears or wolves, but mostly to the nutritional condition of female moose probably due to declining habitat.

Here is the actual news-

Nothing to report at this time.

Yellowstone Park began its annual winter study on November 15. Research objectives include: 1) documenting kill rates of wolves; 2) determining prey selection; and 3) estimating annual wolf population numbers. Park biologists suspect that the number of wolves in YNP in 2008 has decreased due to adult wolf mortality from conflicts between packs, increased pup mortality, and mange. Mange has been documented in >8 wolves from four different packs (Oxbow Creek, Mollies, Leopold, and one unnamed group of 4 wolves).

Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in Bears, Moose, wildlife disease, Wildlife Habitat, Wolves, Wyoming wolves, Yellowstone National Park, Yellowstone wolves. Tags: , , . Comments Off on Wyoming wolf report – Nov. 10, through Nov. 21, 2008

Do you remember the chant Drill, Drill, Drill?

It was important to drill everywhere even if it would only reduce gas prices by a penny or two over 20 years-

That’s were the Republicans were saying just a couple months ago. It was the only solution, they said. In Pocatello, Idaho the price of gasoline is $1.89/gal. $1.75 (11/25). This summer it hit $4.09. The same is true in general everywhere.

Of course, the price will rise again, but it’s important to remember how they stampeded many Americans and how one political party, in particular, made this a campaign cry. Drilling was to take precedence over wildlife and everything else. 11/25, in reality it was leasing, not drilling they were after.

Oil Closes Below $50, Lowest Price Since May 2005. By Jad Mouawad. New York Times.

The long-time exclosure near Cinnabar, Montana

In the post about degraded land in Yellowstone across the Yellowstone river from Gardiner, I mentioned an already long-existing exclosure.

I found my photo of it. It was taken about 8 months ago. I think it’s quite amazing.


Fees keeping people off their lands-

The RAT Drives the Public Away-

Fees Keeping People Off Their Land: When the public stops using public lands, who will be there to protect them? By Bill Schneider. New West.

Even many western Republicans hate these fees — the RAT (Recreation Access Tax). The new Congress should eliminate them quickly. The amount of revenue could be made up with an hour’s worth of spending in Iraq.

Researchers looking for grizzlies in the Bitterroots (and central Idaho)

Could a few griz have made it into this great country?

This season’s efforts have found no positive evidence, although a few bears could be there. Efforts will continue, including analysis of hair (fur) collected.

Grizzlies continue to elude in the Bitterroot. By Perry Backus. Ravalli Republic

T. Boone Pickens spouse has plan to prevent killing of wild horses rounded up by the BLM

Plans to buy a big Nevada ranch as “retirement” for the horses-

This is quite a proposal . . . perhaps a million acre ranch in Nevada where these to-be-gelded horses and burros.

Unfortunately, while such large ranches are available, Nevada is so arid; and the ranches generally so devastated from years of cattle grazing, the horses may well starve and further damage the land, even with a million acres. Maybe 7-million acres?

Story in the Washington Post. Retirement Ranch Planned for Wild Horses. Rescuer Sees Tax Credits As Key to Luring Donors.

– – – –


Here is a sympathetic television clip on Picken’s plans

Unusual grizzly bear attack on B.C. coast

Attack on timber worker came next to an operating helicopter-

Grizzly attack on forest worker baffles experts. Bear was not deterred by helicopter at logging camp; victim is in hospital. Sandra McCulloch, Times Colonist

Grijalva emerging as top choice at Interior !!?

Terrific News if true-

He’s our favorite.

Story in Politico. By Erika Lovely. Arizona congressman to interior?

Update: Arizona congressman Raul Grijalva is leading contender for Interior. AZcentral.com

Read the rest of this entry »

News on the Washington state wolf pack

Pack immigrated from British Columbia-

We have followed the story of Washington’s first wolf pack for about 6 months now. Here is the latest.

These wolves did not migrate into Washington state from the reintroduced wolves in Idaho.

Lookout Pack returns to lower elevations. By Joyce Campbell. Methow Valley News.

Posted in Washington state wolves, Wolves. Tags: . Comments Off on News on the Washington state wolf pack

Degraded land just north of Yellowstone Park to be restored to native prairie

Land at the site of Cinnabar to be restored-

Story in the Billings Gazette. Yellowstone Park land to be restored to native vegetation. By Brett French.

I found this quite interesting. I had seen the name “Cinnabar” on a lot of old maps. I didn’t know what it had been or what had happened.

The article has interesting sidebars.

– – – – –

Update: this land is actually inside of Yellowstone Park. I’ve driven through it many times and marveled at how hard hit it is by wintering wildlife. Without fencing, restoration of any part of it would have no chance.

Pronghorn graze on essentially nothing near site of Cinnabar. Copyright Ralph Maughan

Pronghorn graze on essentially nothing near site of Cinnabar. Copyright Ralph Maughan

Longtime Head of House Energy Panel Is Ousted

Clean air champion Henry Waxman will be installed-

John Dingell of Michigan has chaired the powerful Energy and Commerce committee for many years (when the Democrats have controlled the House). This powerful committee has jurisdiction of the Clean Air Act as well as many other matters.

He has been the “Big 3” auto’s point man in Congress and bears much responsibility for the automakers fossilized and perhaps terminal conditional.

Finally some change. . . Waxman has been Dingell’s intraparty nemesis for years. He will move quickly to push through measures Dingell opposed.

Story in the New York Times. Longtime Head of House Energy Panel Is Ousted. By John M. Broder.
– – – –

Note: Over the years Dingell was helpful with some wildlife issues.

– – – – –
Update 11-20-08: Henry Waxman’s victory is the biggest gift Obama could have asked for.
By Christopher Beam. Slate Magazine.

Update 11-21-08: Waxman win has ripple effects. Politico. By Patrick O’Connor and Ryan Grim

Energy and Commerce Subcommittee chairs are now pleading with Waxman to let them prove they are environmentalists.

Omnibus public lands bill is not truly dead.

Early resurrection planned in the next Congress-

Although it was supposed to move in the lame duck session, that session fizzles and the bill was pulled under threat of filibuster by Tom Coburn (R-OK).

Senator Reid, the major leader, has announced that an unrevised version of the massive public land bill (pieces of public lands legislation all over the United States inside) will be brought up early in the next Congress.

This is good news. This is also horrible news because of the the content of the various individual items. One of the worst is the Owyhee canyonlands a.k.a. Owyhee Initiative in SW Idaho.

Rocky Barker traces its origins in his blog today and Begreen has a fine response.

Will Bush’s midnight rules be reversible?

Some for sure. Final rules are very hard to undo short of congressional action or successful legal action-

Will Bush’s midnight rules be reversible? By Joaquin Sapien. Politico.

Undoing them is of the utmost importance.

Another grizzly bear killing in NW Montana-

Most recent grizzly death is 11th this year. By Vince Devlin of the Missoulian

EPA Moves to Ease Clean Air Rules for National Parks

Another massively offensive attempt to gut the outdoors by the outgoing Administration-

EPA Moves to Ease Air Rules for Parks. Regional Administrators Decry Decision. By Juliet Eilperin
Washington Post Staff Writer. Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Trying to keep the air around and in the national parks has been a 30-year battle. One that is being lost. This just gives up and encourages the opposite.

Fortunately, this new regulation will probably not be completed by the end of the Administration and then dropped by Obama.

A very important recent development, in fact might kill off almost all new coal plants in the short run. I posted it the other day, but it got few readers probably because I billed it as a Nevada issue when it is actually a national victory for clean air.

Here is the Nevada story I posted. “Good news. Three coal plants planned for Nevada may have been killed.” It should probably read “EPA’s Environmental Appeals Board drives a nail into the heart of traditional coal plants.”

– – – –

More Bush giveaways

A Christmas present for oil shale developers. Oil shale frenzy. Bush rules a gift to oil companies. Salt Lake

WY Game and Fish Commission passes revision of wolf plan

Commission adopts new state rules (only minor changes)-

Commission passes revision of wolf plan. Game and Fish officials hint that lawmakers might need to eliminate unregulated killing area. By Corey Hatch. Jackson Hole News and Guide.

These changes are supposed to help with the feds latest effort to delist the wolf, although hardly anyone thinks they will because the fundamental Wyoming state law is so flawed that it permits little in the way of regulatory change.

For a couples years I’ve thought that Wyoming politicians don’t really care if the wolf is delisted, especailly since they have such friendly federal wolf management. The last minute run at delisting is to appease Idaho and Montana politicians and livestock interests.

Longtime Schweitzer friend tapped to run Montana Fish, Wildlife, and Parks

Schweitzer’s old roommate will run the state’s wildlife agency-

Maybe someone from Montana could tell us if this is a hopeful appointment.

Because the old head of the agency was appointed by the right wing Governor July Martz, I’d speculate that this will be an improvement.

Story: Longtime Schweitzer friend tapped to run FWP. By Jennifer McKee Of The Billings Gazette Staff

Green Old Party: What would a conservative environmentalist agenda look like?

Conservation and conservatism are not opposites, although the present day Republican Party has made them so-

Slate Magazine says that to come back the Republicans have to green up, and it spells out how.

I especially like the section of the article “Don’t cap, don’t trade—tax.:

Taxes on pollution and the depletion of non-renewable resources could be used to dramatically change the way business and personal decisions are made and yet not expand government regulations or increase the government’s share of the revenue pie, IF these new revenues go to replacing existing taxes.

Bark Beetles Kill Millions of Acres of [Pine] Trees in West

Beetle kill is hardly a local issue-

This is not the first I’ve posted articles about this, but it needs to repeated because of the continuing local perception that is an issue for a particular national forest or state without the recognition that pine trees (but not necessarily other kinds of conifers) are dying by the billions from the British Columbia and Alberta mountains southward to New Mexico.

Story in the New York Times. Nov. 17, 2008. Bark Beetles Killing . . . By Jim Robbins.

– – – –

Update. George Wuetherner has some important additions, clarifications, and corrections that need to be made to Robbins’ article above. Context and Perspective Needed in Bark Beetle Discussion. By George Wuetherner. Wuethner on the Environment (blog).

Bush political appointees burrow into permanent posts

Partisans moved from replaceable positions to unfireable career civil servants-

A number of these are in the Department of Interior. You can never get rid of these assholes.

Administration Moves to Protect Key Appointees. Political Positions Shifted To Career Civil Service Jobs. By Juliet Eilperin and Carol D. Leonnig. Washington Post.

Conservation groups lose big-time on YNP snowmobiles for this winter

720 snowmobiles a day for Yellowstone Park this winter-

A month ago there was a question whether there would be any snowmobiling at all this winter in Yellowstone after a victory by conservation groups in DC Federal Court.

Then the groups agreed to a temporary plan for 318 snowmobiles a day. However, a ruling by Wyoming’s Federal Judge Clarence Brimmer allowed the Park Service to restore levels to 720 snowmobiles a day, a figure not seen since 2004.

Park to go with 720 sleds per day. By Cory Hatch. Jackson Hole News and Guide.

– – – –

Update: you should read Jim McDonald’s comment on this post.

Here is another story on it from Wyoming File dot com. Wyoming Ruling Complicates Snowmobile Scene, Pro-Snowmobile Group Declares Victory. 11/17/2008. By Brodie Farquhar

Bush’s Final Days: ‘Interior Revamps NEPA Procedures’

The Bush Administration keeps that steady rush of anti-environmental administrative action in its final days.  Here’s the latest  :

In addition to adding the procedures to the CFR, DOI has made the following key changes to its NEPA regulations:


Interior Revamps NEPA Procedures

Posted in politics. Tags: . 1 Comment »

Wyoming disbands its wolf team

Jimenez goes back to the feds-

Story: Wyo to disband wolf team. By Chris Merrill. Casper Star-Tribune environment reporter.

I’ve got to wonder if this move indicates the feds don’t really think their latest delisting attempt will work.

Massive Omnibus public lands bill killed by filibuster threat

Senator Coburn (R-OK) threatens filibuster. Reid pulls omnibus public lands bill-

There was a lot of good and bad in this bill, but it is dead; and some of the good areas won’t be around to save in a year or two when this comes up again in some form.

Public lands bill looks dead for year. By Matthew Daly. Associated Press Writer

Kathie Lynch: Northern Range wolf upate

The Druids are doing well . . . the rest, not-

Kathie Lynch just wrote one of her detailed and descriptive wolf updates. It follows below.

Please note her plea for donations to the Park’s wolf program.

Thanks Kathie!

– – – – – – – –

Yellowstone wolf notes posted on Nov. 16, 2008. Copyright © Kathie Lynch

An early November trip to Yellowstone provided close up views of the Druid Peak pack and the Canyon group. I had the good fortune to be at Curve pullout (west end of Little America) when 20 of the 21 Druids crossed the road nearby. They all looked great, including, of course, our 8 ½ -year-old hero, the dashing 302M!

Read the rest of this entry »

Bush admin screws bighorn sheep

Mark Rey orders APHIS testing of bighorn sheep reintroductions-

This is a slap at Western Watersheds Project for shutting down disease spreading domestic sheep operations in bighorn territory of Idaho.

It is also another attempt to try to subordinate Forest Service authority over wildlife to APHIS, the livestock friendly agency that should concentrate on foreign pests, not native wildlife.

Fortunately Mark Rey, another Bush Administration plunderer, will soon be gone. He is trying to create a controversy like the bison/brucellosis controversy where bighorn sheep become the problem instead of livestock.

Bighorn sheep don’t bring diseases. Domestic sheep bring diseases.

Link to story from Wilderness Sportsman. Bush admin screws bighorn sheep

Western Watersheds Project beats plan to increase grazing in Arizona’s Whetstone Mtns.

Water developments for cows are beaten back-

Water developments on public lands may sound good, but the reality is they are almost always intended to increase grazing of livestock.

These encasements, troughs, tanks, and pipelines do not benefit wildlife. Instead they often turn a spring, or an area of small springs or seeps, full of wildlife, into manure-mud, disgusting ponds that are surrounded solely by cattle.

Story in the Western Watersheds Blog. Win for the Whetstones.
Map of the Whetstone Mountains

Cattle ranchers declare a new ‘War on the West’

Rocky Barker takes note :

Two months before Obama’s inauguration, cattle ranchers declare a new ‘War on the West?’

This aggressive political posture in response to the prospect of change has been characteristic of livestock associations throughout the West since the beginning of their history.  The survival of their influence, relative to the public’s interest at large, is stoked by their self-inflated sense of victimization – wolves, coyotes, even bighorn sheep and pygmy rabbits – i.e. the natural world, become a perceived threat to their ‘livelihood’ and exclusive political influence (a hyper-influence Ralph Maughan has aptly likened to a Western anomaly of political feudalism – a closed system of power practiced right here in these ‘democratic’ United States).  The prospect of a president who stands behind a science objectively describing the natural world’s imperiled state is a threat.

Livestock has been Waging war on the West for a very long time

Livestock has been "Waging war on the West" for a very long time

If we’re to be honest about it – Livestock has been waging ‘War on the West’ for a very long time.  Take a look at these photo galleries compiled by WWP monitors – documenting the condition of your public lands this year :

Gallery 1

Gallery 2

Gallery 3

Read the rest of this entry »

Good news. Three coal plants planned for Nevada may have been killed

The worst of the three is the 1500 megawatt plant slated for Ely, Nevada-

Up in Smoke: Environmentalists say future of three proposed Nevada coal plants in jeopardy. By Phoebe Sweet. Las Vegas Sun.

An EPA decision and the bad economy probably means they are dead.

– – – –

Perhaps most importantly, the EPA decision also has very important national ramifications. EPA Coal Decision Levels Playing Field for Wind, Solar. By Alexis Madriga. Wired Magazine.

Posted in politics. Tags: , , , , . Comments Off on Good news. Three coal plants planned for Nevada may have been killed

West Yellowstone: Grizzly and Wolf Discovery Center opens new River Valley Wolf Habitat

Center has become important tool for teaching about wolves and grizzlies-

Grizzly & Wolf Discovery Center in West Yellowstone opens new River Valley Wolf Habitat. West Yellowstone News.

Genetic study on Greater Yellowstone grizzlies in the works

GYE grizzlies are probably not very diverse-

Unlike the wolves, which currently have fine genetic diversity, Greater Yellowstone grizzlies are likely not diverse. Nevertheless, a study is underway to see if any unrecognised interbreeding between GYE bears and those from the north has taken place.

Bears to get study. By Cory Hatch. Jackson Hole News and Guide.

Break the Cycle: Bring Interior Back to its Roots

A guest opinion by Rick Bass says Terry Tempest Williams for Dept. of Interior-

Bass, a well know writer about the western landscape and wildlife makes an unusual suggestion.

Break the Cycle: Bring Interior Back to its Roots. By Rick Bass. Guest opinion. New West.

Grizzlies feasting on gut piles getting too much lead?

Blood levels of toxic lead are elevated in grizzlies eating the remains of the hunt in the Greater Yellowstone-

Lead in grizzly blood during hunt season. Researcher wonders if preliminary results show a danger to bruins from hunters’ bullets. By Cory Hatch. Jackson Hole News and Guide.

Rocky Barker: Goodbye Larry Craig, Bill Sali, Gordon Smith. Hello salmon solution?

Pacific NW political retirement and defeats may break 20-year logjam on saving the salmon-

Rocky Barker points out that the election outcome may have removed the obstacles to the conservationists’ solution of the sorry condition of salmon runs into Idaho, but breaching the navigation dams on the lower Snake River in Washington is still far from certain.

Election sets the stage for regional forum on salmon and dams
. By Rocky Barker. “Letters from the West.” Idaho Statesman.

Congressional Dems eye reversal of recent and pending Bush anti-environmental regs

Maybe we won’t have to wait for Obama-

This would be incredible! Dems eye midnight regulations reversal. By Eria Lovely and Ryan Gram. Politico.

Bison management riles folks, again

25- 100 bison to be allowed to wander north of YNP this winter-

Most folks will remember this, but if not, last winter a very expensive deal with made to allow a limited number of bison to leave Yellowstone near Gardiner to wander northward.

The female bison will be fitted with vaginal transmitters to warm us of conditions there (“cyberbison? !!”).

Then, to recap, bison will allowed to migrate west of the Park to Horse Butte for the first time.

The deadenders in the Montana Stockgrowers Assn. are suing to try to stop these modest reforms.

Story in the Bozeman Chronicle. Bison management riles folks, again. By Jessica Mayrer staff writer

A roundup of possible Cabinet picks for environment-related positions

Grist Magazine compiles a list based on “wild rumors”-

It might be based on wild rumors, but I have heard many of them from other sources. Ralph Maughan

A roundup of possible Cabinet picks for environment-related positions. Grist

Salon Magazine releases a shocking report on Bush’s EPA

The EPA’s Stalin era-

“It’s absolutely shocking what’s going on,” say insiders. Secretive changes have diluted science and jeopardized public health. Will Obama overcome Bush’s toxic legacy? . . . Salon Magazine

The EPA’s Stalin Era. By Rebecca Clarren

Posted in politics. Tags: , , . Comments Off on Salon Magazine releases a shocking report on Bush’s EPA

‘Management removals’ top cause of NW Montana bear deaths

Grizzly bear managers are the largest source of bear mortality in NW Montana-

‘Management removals’ top cause of NW bear deaths. AP. Bozeman Chronicle.

One third of the deaths came at the hands of the managers. In second place was illegal shootings, about 15% of the deaths.

– – – – –

Other Montana bear news. Two grizzlies drown (natural deaths). One shot way out on the prairie. Great Falls Tribune.

Bush-Kempthorne geothermal plan won’t protect Yellowstone Park

190-million acre geothermal opening of public lands doesn’t protect Yellowstone-

The other day,  Secretary of the Interior Dirk Kempthorne ordered the opening of 190-million acres+ of your public lands in the West for development of geothermal energy.

He claimed national parks were protected, and, in fact, he didn’t open Yellowstone Park to geothermal leasing. However, all the land around the borders of the Park are open to development.

Development near, if not in geyser areas, throughout the world has usually destroyed them. In the guest opinion below Amy McNamara says Congress should protect the boundaries of Yellowstone.

Guest Opinion: Geothermal plan won’t protect Yellowstone. By Amy McNamara. Greater Yellowstone Coalition. Guest opinion in the Billings Gazette.

– – – –
A bit of history, the same thing happened during the Carter Administration back in the 1970s, and a huge battle was fought to protect the boundaries of Yellowstone. This was never resolved.

– – – – –

Related: How the Bush Administration steals your money. This has nothing directly to do with geothermal, but it shows how this Administration is little better than thieves. They just stole an extra $140-billion for the banks. In the meantime President-elect Obama’s tax cut plan for the middle class, said by critics to be too expensive, would cost about $65-billion.

A Quiet Windfall For U.S. Banks. With Attention on Bailout Debate, Treasury Made Change to Tax Policy. By Amit R. Paley. Washington Post Staff Writer

Wyoming Wolf Weekly- Oct 27 to Nov 8, 2008

Report says 16-17 “packs” in WY outside Yellowstone-

Here is the latest official Wyoming wolf news sent out by Ed Bangs.

The number of wolves “controlled” this year is down a lot, but total WY mortality down just slightly from 2007. The report says 16 -17 “packs” have been observed over the year with an average litter size of 4 wolves.

Of course, at year’s end, we will see how many are still around with 2 or more surviving pups and the same breeding pair of wolves in the pack. Ralph Maughan

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WYOMING WOLF WEEKLY- October 27 through November 7, 2008.

To:        Regional Director, Region 6, Denver, Colorado
From:         USFWS Wyoming Wolf Recovery Project Leader, Jackson, WY
Subject:    Status of Gray Wolf Management in Wyoming and the NRM

Web Address – USFWS reports (past weekly and annual reports) and Wyoming weekly reports can be viewed at http://westerngraywolf.fws.gov  .  Weekly reports for Montana and Idaho are produced by those States and can be viewed on the Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks and Idaho Department of Fish and Game websites.  Information concerning wolf management in Wyoming from 3/28/08 through 7/18/08 can be found on the Wyoming Game and Fish (WGFD) web site at  http://gf.state.wy.us.  Beginning 9/15/08, the USFWS will publish weekly wolf reports for Wyoming.  All weekly and annual reports are government property and can be used for any purpose.  Please distribute as you see fit.

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Utah oil and gas lease sale riles Park Service

BLM dropped routine consultation to rush sales-

Bureau of Land Management didn’t alert agency to drilling bids near national park. By Patty Henetz. The Salt Lake Tribune.

U.S. to Open Public Land Near Parks for Drilling. By Felicity Barranger. New York Times.

The sales are set for Dec. 19. The BLM refuses to move the date back (of course, because Bush would not be in  office). If you have ever been to Arches National Park, or Canyonlands National Park or any of the backcountry adjacent to Moab, Utah, you’ll know how awful this would be.

– – – –

Added later. It gets worse. Bush officials plan to dial back environmental protections. By Renee Schoof. McClatchy Newspapers.

Bush’s seven deadly environmental sins

How Bush made a mockery of the nation’s environmental laws and values — and what Obama must do to get us back on track-

Story in Salon.com (Salon Magazine). By Katharine Mieszkowski

The article doesn’t just speak of Bush sin, but how Obama can redeem on the environment.

Cody, WY comments on new wolf plan

Outcome of meeting on Wyoming’s proposed revisions to their state wolf plan-

Cody comments on new wolf plan. By Ruffin Prevost. Billings Gazette in the Casper Star Tribune

Posted in Delisting, politics, Wolves, Wyoming wolves. Comments Off on Cody, WY comments on new wolf plan

Delisting wolves is Idaho Fish and Game Commission’s no. 1 priority

Residents voice concerns about the protection of steelhead and bighorn sheep, but Commission chair says reducing protection of wolves more important-

Fish and Game: delist wolves again. KLEW-TV. Lewiston, Idaho

Oregon wolves “Wolves prowl, howl, don’t growl”

Oregonian update on the state’s wolves indicates a population growth-

Wolves prowl, howl, don’t growl. A state biologist reports the predators are spreading but without conflict. Friday, November 07, 2008. By Michael Milstein.The Oregonian Staff.

I should add that Oregon is a place where the failed delisting of wolves by the feds had a positive effect, making killing them a federal as well as a state offense.

Posted in politics, Wolves. Tags: . Comments Off on Oregon wolves “Wolves prowl, howl, don’t growl”

A cougar again on Idaho State University campus (Pocatello, ID)

This winter begins like last with cougars on campus-

The cougars haven’t harmed anyone, but, of course, their presence on campus worries people.

The following announcement came over Idaho State University email Nov. 4.

Idaho Fish and Game officials have set a cougar trap on campus after a possible sighting Tuesday afternoon, Nov. 4.  The trap is set in the area of the sighting, above the jogging trail on Red Hill above Davis Field.  Public Safety is advising people to be careful in the secluded areas of campus between  Red Hill, the cemetery and other areas.

Any sightings should immediately be reported to ISU Public Safety at 282-2515.

Cougars were in other parts of Pocatello last winter.


I have a pretty good idea. If you travel to the Caribou National Forest and the BLM lands that directly adjoin the city, with the exception of a “beauty zone” along Mink Creek, these public lands have been increasing abused by livestock grazing. There is little for the deer to eat, they come into town (indeed they sleep next to my house) where there is some pretty good forage. Of course the cougars follow.

I am increasingly of the view that we need a major push at change on range on these public lands. If any friends in Pocatello, Chubbuck or Inkom want to help with bringing grazing under control on your public land please contact me. Ralph Mauighan rmaughan2@cableone.net

Agencies to let more bison outside Yellowstone

Bison will be able to occupy the Horse Butte area for the first time-

Finally, the bison will be able to leave the Park and occupy this now cow-free area area for the first time this winter.

Conservation groups and the couple who bought Horse Butte have prepared the way, and it looks like the plainly obvious right thing to do will finally be allowed.

One caution, this is still a draft.

Associated Press story. Agencies to Let More Bison Outside of Yellowstone in winter. This is a much longer version of the story than the one first posted.

Obama’s government transition web site


We have been talking a lot about the new government, and today the government transition web site appeared.

Maybe your ideas and objections can be sent there. APPLY FOR A JOB IN THE NEW ADMINISTRATION !

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Updated (11-7). Transition Site Echoes Campaign Pledge of Open Government. Personal Democracy Forum

Time to Codify the Roadless Rule

This may be a good idea-

In New West, Bill Schneider wrote: “We Americans have high expectations for President-elect Obama and the bluer-than-ever Congress, and a good way for them to convince us we did the right thing is immediately codify the Roadless Rule.”

Rest of the story. Time to Codify the roadless rule. New West

Schweitzer: Don’t Read Too Much Into GOP Legislative Victories

Since we’ve been talking about Schweitzer and his setbacks in the legislature-

Schweitzer: Don’t Read Too Much Into GOP Legislative Victories.  By Robert Struckman. New West.

Democrats swept the elective state offices, but the Republicans have now claimed both chambers of the Montana legislature.

Democrats won governor, secretary of state, attorney general, state auditor and superintendent of public instruction. Like many Western states, these officials make up the powerful Land Board.

Posted in politics, Wolves. Tags: , , , . Comments Off on Schweitzer: Don’t Read Too Much Into GOP Legislative Victories

Local environmental groups ask a federal judge to halt the expansion of phosphate pit mine on Idaho/Wyoming border

This is a big issue in Pocatello and the southern part of the Greater Yellowstone-

Environmental groups want E. Idaho mine injunction. AP. Idaho Statesman.

It’s a classic jobs versus obvious, long lasting environmental damage spread over a wide area issue.

The major environmental issue is not the pit but the spreading leakage of selenium poisoning in the Snake River watershed. This potent toxin is already directly killing fish in and downstream from the SE Idaho phosphate field.

A fair number of good paying jobs in Pocatello (my home) depend on Simplot’s Smoky Canyon phosphate mine.

I have had the conservation viewpoint on my blogroll for some time. Caribou Clean Water Partnership.

Posted in Fish, mining, public lands management, water issues, Wildlife Habitat. Tags: , , . Comments Off on Local environmental groups ask a federal judge to halt the expansion of phosphate pit mine on Idaho/Wyoming border

Wyoming influence in Washington reduced as former rodeo queen beats back Democratic challenge

Lummis Beats Trauner for Wyoming Congressional Seat
By Charles Pelkey and Reese Jenniges, WyoFile.com

Democrats had their best shot in 30 years at winning Wyoming’s lone U.S. House seat, but Dick Cheney showed up and helped Cynthia Lummis hold the seat for the GOP (the seat was once Cheney’s) as unpopular Republican Barbara Cubin retired.

Ironically, Cheney also took the occasion to endorse John McCain which probably gave a last minute boost to Barrack Obama (they quickly made Cheney’s endorsement into a campaign ad).

So Wyoming has only Republican representation in Congress and Dick Cheney will be retired. Cheney won’t be around to intervene on Cody’s perrennial efforts to turn Yellowstone Park into a mere cash register for the right wing town.

Follow-up. Let Obama’s transition team know, no Governor Freudenthal as Secretary of Interior.

I don’t think he has much of a chance with Wyoming voting the second most Republican state in the U.S., but rancher US Senator from Colorado Ken Salazar is promoting the anti-wolf, anti-environment Democrat for Secretary of Interior.

There could hardly be a worse pick. Will gov get look for Cabinet? By Chris Merrill. Casper Star Tribune.

Democrat Minnick ousts whackadoo Republican incumbent in Idaho’s first congressional district

Silly Sali goes down-

Walt Minnick has served on the Board of the The Wilderness Society.

Minnick was elected to Congress yesterday with a big Republican crossover who were embarrassed and fed up with “The Idiot.”

Minnick was at one time a CEO of wood-products company Trus Joist International. That might worry people, but at that time he was one of the first woods product leaders who said the Forest Service did the industry and America no service by selling sub-marginal timber at a loss to the taxpayers to keep mills alive in places they never should have been built. His statements and activity on this helped a lot bringing down these environmentally ruinous timber sales.

Minnick will probably tend toward the “let join hands and talk (with people who don’t want to talk with you and vice versa)” viewpoint; but Sali was offensive in so many ways, I celebrate.

Note: “That idiot [Sali] is a real idiot,” the phrase that has been following Sali around, was uttered by the Idaho State Speaker of the House, a typical conservative Republican.

Story in the Idaho Statesman. Minnick defeats Sali in 1st Congressional District. John Miller. Idaho Statesman

. . . and a bit more on Silly Sali . . . Democrat Minnick Wins Idaho’s First District, Sali Refuses to Concede Minnick 51%, Sali 49% with all precincts in, but Sali says he’ll wait “until things turn out” before conceding. By Jill Kuraitis. New West. Note. Sali finally conceded that he lost.

New. More on Minnick beats Sali. Idaho: Change in Congressional District 1? by Randy Stapilus.

Idaho Bi-weekly wolf report Oct.18 – Nov. 3, 2008

Idaho’s Latest Wolf Bi-weekly-


To:  Idaho Fish and Game Staff and Cooperators
From:  IDFG Wolf Program Coordinator, Steve Nadeau
Subject: Status of Gray Wolf Management, Weeks of October 18- Nov 3, 2008.

Delisting: FWS – Northern Rocky Mountain Wolf Status (WY, MT, ID): The U.S. Federal District Court in Missoula, Montana, issued a preliminary injunction on Friday, July 18, 2008, that immediately reinstated temporary Endangered Species Act protections for gray wolves in the northern Rocky Mountain DPS pending

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Does anyone want to comment on the election?

Any comments?

7:44 PM. MST. Looks like Obama to me. Ive going to the local election central for a while. RM

Posted in Bears. 74 Comments »

Grizzly bears relocated to endangered population in NW Montana Cabinet Mtns. both dead

Population augmentation program struck blow-

Second Cabinet grizzly killed. Published: Tuesday, November 4, 2008. By JIM MANN. The Daily Interake

One was hit by a train; the other one was illegally shot.

It was not all for naught. They had offspring and their offspring had offspring.

In light of Judge’s ruling, a temporary plan is set for YNP snowmobiles this winter

Temporary snowmobile plan has a low limit on snowmobiles-

Plan issued for snowmobiles in Yellowstone. Temporary measure sets limits lower than plan rejected by judge. The Associated Press. LA Times.

Plan: 318 snowmobiles. Jackson Hole News and Guide. By Cory Hatch.

This came out very close to the opening of the season. The Park closed to wheeled vehicles this morning (Nov. 3).

Update (Nov.5):Plan for snowmobiles satisfies green groups. But temporary solution will mean less business. Bt Cory Hatch. Jackson Hole News and Guide.

Critically Endangered Fruit Bat Make Dramatic Return From Brink Of Extinction

Over 140 public land measures are now in the Omnibus public lands act

Lame-duck public lands blockbuster legislation expected-

Assuming there is a lame duck session of Congress (very likely), this bill could designate a lot of public land areas “this” or “that.”

53 new measures were added to the omnibus bill on Oct. 31. It is hard to figure out what is in this bill.

Here is an article about it with a focus on Wyoming from today’s (Nov. 3) Jackson Hole News. By Noah Brenner.

Regarding Oregon. Omnibus land act includes wilderness designations. Senate next month will vote on creation of Oregon’s Soda Mountain and Copper Salmon wilderness area. By Paul Fattig. Mail Tribune.

In Colorado, New senator-elect Udall (I’ll call the race) favors adding wilderness acreage to Rocky Mountain National Park.

Reason for the omnibus bill was Senator Coburn’s (R-OK) “holds” on individual measures. Lame-duck will take up Coburn bill. By J. Taylor Rushing. From The Hill.

It may be best to let the omnibus bill die. There are too many half-assed measures like the Idaho Owyhee Canyonlands bill by Senator Mike Crapo (R-ID) in it.

Moose enter Oregon, so are grizzlies next?

Probably not-

Nevertheless, an Oregon paper asked the question.

Trouble is there is no grizzly bear corridor into Oregon. Grizzlies would first have to fill up central Idaho where there are probably none.

There have been sightings of “grizzlies” for years in NE Oregon, but not one verified.

Moose enter Oregon, so are grizzlies next? By Richard Cockle, The Oregonian

Greater Yellowstone grizzly deaths pass lethal limit under delisting

Hunter shoots a Montana grizzly sow, charging to protect cub. Her death one too many for the year-

The other day I predicted that the mortality limit for the year would be passed. It was unfortunately an easy prediction. About 10% of the grizzly population has died or been killed this year. If this happens next year, a petition to relist the Yellowstone grizzly will be in order.

Grizzly deaths reach legal ‘trigger point’. By Brett French. The Billings Gazette Staff

Cause of the great bat die-off found. It’s a fungus

Bat White-Nose syndrome is caused by a fungus-

Bat Disease Fungus Identified. By Henry Fountain. New York TImes.