Norm Bishop on wolves and the northern range elk population-

Bishop, below responded to Montana State Sen. Joe Balyeat who has proposed legislation cut off relations between Montana and the federal government on wolves.
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Sen. Joe Balyeat [Bozeman Chronicle Dec. 30] proposes legislation to sever Montana’s ties with federal agencies on wolf management. He fears that allowing the wolf population to keep growing will doom the northern Yellowstone elk population, and elk throughout the state (where elk populations are 14% over goal).

Montana wolves increased to 394 in 2007, but the mid-year 2008 estimate is down 9%, to 360. Northern Yellowstone’s wolf population is down 21% 35% from 81 in 2007 to 64 53 in 2008. As the density of wolves increased in past years, interpack killing joined disease as a limiting factor.

Sen. Balyeat’s rationale for his bill appears to be based on a one-time count he made of the ratio of calves to cows of the northern Yellowstone elk herd. From dozens of peer-reviewed journal articles on the effects of restored gray wolves on their prey in Yellowstone, we can pick two to enlighten us on these complex issues.

Vucetich et.al. (2005. Influence of harvest, climate, and wolf predation on Yellowstone elk 1961-2004. OIKOS 111:259-270) studied the contribution of wolf predation in a decline of elk from 17,000 to 8,000. They built and assessed models based on elk-related data prior to wolf reintroduction (1961-1995), and used them to predict how the elk population might have fared from 1995 to 2004 had wolves not been restored. Climate and hunter harvest explained most of the elk decline. From 1995 to 2004 wolves killed mostly elk that would have died from other causes.

Wright et al. (2006. Selection of Northern Yellowstone Elk by Gray Wolves and Hunters JWM 70(4):1070-1078), documented that hunting exerted a greater total reproductive impact on the herd than wolf predation. The article’s authors were university, federal, and state wildlife biologists working cooperatively. No legislation is needed to improve on that.

Norman A. Bishop
Bozeman, MT

Note: Bishop was a leader and supporter of wolf restoration interpretation in Yellowstone.
He has received numerous awards for his Park Service work with wolves. Among other
organizations, he is a director of the Wolf Recovery Foundation.

Bush midnight regulations charted by ProPublica

Here is the whole dirty list-

Midnight Regulations. By Joaquin Sapien and Jesse Nankin, ProPublica .

This is depressisng to see, but they have to be dealth with.

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Shedding limbs – U.S. Forest Service morale sinks to a new low

From Writers on the Range-

The essay is by By Laura Paskus.

Posted in Forest Service, politics, public lands, public lands management. Comments Off on Shedding limbs – U.S. Forest Service morale sinks to a new low

The Trust for Public Land. 2008 achievements.

62,000 acres of land in 32 states-

Actually that’s not a very large acreage, but the acres were generally quite exceptional.

What the land trusts are doing is mostly quite beneficial, but what we need from Obama is a large government land acquisition program for wildlife habitat and other conservation purposes. Non-profits are going to have less money with the bad economy (although they may be able to pick up important remote parcels for which the developers had ugly plans).

The Trust for Public Land’s 2008 Parks and Conservation Achievements. News release.

The bulk of the national wildlife refuge system in the lower 48 states came from purchases, donations (often from distressed county governments) during the Great Depression.

A Monumental Decision George W. Bush becomes the conservation president, at least at sea

“The Conservation President?” That’s a joke, but he did do one good last-minute thing-

A Monumental Decision. George W. Bush becomes the conservation president, at least at sea. Washington Post editorial.

Bush has declared about 333,000 square miles of ocean, including scattered rocks and islets to be national monuments. This is an important innovation, especially because the world’s oceans are in rapid decline. It’s not clear how these will be managed to protect them.

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The story: Bush to create huge ocean sanctuary in Pacific. Grist Magazine.

Kempthorne struggles to construct clean image… and bathroom

Department of Interior Secretarty Dirk Kempthorne swung into Boise, Idaho in a fleet of black Escalades yesterday to attend a luncheon in honor of his “public service”.   While industry leaders met with Idaho’s politicos to celebrate Kempthorne’s ‘achievement’ Western Watersheds Project’s Katie Fite, Ken Cole and indie rock band Built to Spill bassist guitarist Brett Netson stood in the snow to bring attention to Kempthorne’s dismal record at Interior :

The protesters called attention to unethical actions of staffers in the department, which they say occurred during Kempthorne’s leadership and under the direction of his predecessor Gale Norton.

Yeah, let’s not forget all these midnight regulations, the attempt to gut the ESA (in a number of ways), the free-for-all oil & gas extravaganza and any number of other transgressions that occur(ed) under Kempthorne’s watch.

But Dirk, like any crafty politician, has never been one to let the truth stand in the way of a good talking point double-speak :

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