“Grazing-as-usual” ends on 600,000 acres of public land in southwest Idaho

 This is important news for management of public lands in sage-steppe country.

Sage grouse in flight, Bruneau uplands © Ken Cole 2008

Sage grouse in flight, Bruneau uplands © Ken Cole 2008

Judge rules in southwest Idaho grazing case – AP

A federal judge has directed the Bureau of Land Management to rethink the way it manages grazing across thousands of acres of southern Idaho, especially the impact livestock have on sage grouse and other threatened species.

Following the intense Murphy Complex Fire that swept through southern Idaho a couple summers back, wiping out 76 sage grouse leks, intense political pressure to turn the cows back out quick largely eclipsed consideration for sage grouse, pygmy rabbits, and other wildlife displaced onto the remaining habitat spared the blaze.  To give an idea of the regard for habitat in this part of the country, Ralph Maughan took photos of cattle grazing  post-burn – Bad practice when one hopes to restore the landscape.  

Given the critical importance of the remaining habitat in Jarbidge country, conservationists quickly filed suit to ensure wildlife wouldn’t take the short-end of the stick given BLM’s plan to fold and continue “grazing-as-usual” on over 625,000 acres following the fire.    

The question:

When fire (or any catastrophic event) wipes out huge swaths of wildlife habitat, how should that affect management of wildlife values versus livestock on those remaining landscapes so important to remaining wildlife ? 

Read the rest of this entry »

Former Interior Department official urges change to centuries-old mining law

Open Thread. Discuss what you want.

There have been a lot of off topic discussions recently so here you go. Have at it. Please keep it civil.

W&L Biologist’s Research Aims to Help Yellowstone Bison, Elk

Invasive species change soil ecology.

Besides making a few errors like saying that there were 3,000 buffalo killed last year rather than 1,700, and describing where the genetically pure buffalo are, this article is interesting and discusses some important issues which apply to a broader landscape.

W&L Biologist’s Research Aims to Help Yellowstone Bison, Elk
Washington and Lee University

Clean Coal Air Freshener

Now with a new and improved label! New Reality ad directed by the Academy-award winning Coen Brothers.

Jimenez says Jackson Hole wolf pack has mange

However it is only up to 11 of about 50-55 wolves that now inhabit Jackson Hole-

Federal wolf manager for Wyoming, Mike Jimenez, says the Antelope Pack, which inhabits the central area of Jackson Hole has contracted mange.

On various days as many as 4 additional wolf packs can be in or very near Jackson Hole: Pacific Creek, Buffalo, Hoback and Pinnacle.

Story in the Jackson Hole News and Guide.  “Valley wolf pack has mange, biologist says. Collaring operation sees 15 animals fitted with transmitters for research”. By Angus M. Thuermer Jr.

Spending bill nixes Bush endangered species rules

Spending bill nixes Bush endangered species rules. By Dina Cappiello. AP in the Washington Post.

The Bush weakened Endangered Species Act regulations would  be out and more polar  bear protection in with the budget  bill the House Democrats are considering for the rest of the year right now in the House.

Interior puts brakes on oil-shale leases — for now

This is a review of a Bush hurry up decision, not a decision to refrain permanently from leasing-

Story in the Salt Lake Tribune. By Patty Henetz.

Although Obama says oil shale is still being considered, I think they will conclude as others have in the past, that getting oil from oil shale is an energy loss, not an energy production program, and one with huge negative side-effects. Of course, by saying it it still being considered you can say maybe some radical new technology will come along.

Posted in energy, politics, Wildlife Habitat. Tags: . Comments Off on Interior puts brakes on oil-shale leases — for now

Yellowstone wolf visits Colorado

GPS collared wolf from Paradise Valley that roamed 1,000 miles through Southeast Idaho, Wyoming, Utah now in Colorado

Yellowstone wolf visits Colorado. Associated Press.

Today, February 26, 2009, Bighorn Sheep/Domestic Sheep Advisory Working Group Meeting

Meeting to decide the fate of bighorn sheep on public lands.


Rocky Mountain Bighorn Sheep © Ken Cole

There will be a meeting in Boise on Thursday to discuss formation of a policy which will more likely try to save sheep operators rather than the remaining bighorn sheep in Idaho. The interim policy calls for killing bighorn sheep that come into direct contact with domestic sheep but sheepherders want more.

I encourage anyone who might be interested to attend this meeting.

TO: Previous Participants in Governor’s BHS/DS Working Group and other interested parties
FR: Alison Squier (facilitator) on behalf of Brian Oakey and Jim Unsworth
RE: Draft Agenda for February 26, 2009 Idaho BHS/DS Advisory Group meeting

Hello everyone. Here is a draft agenda for the upcoming February 26, 2009 Idaho Bighorn Sheep (BHS) / Domestic Sheep (DS) Advisory Group meeting.

Here are some questions for you to consider to help you prepare to participate in the February 26th meeting activities (we will be discussing these topics and others in the context of developing a charter for the group):

— How do you define collaboration?
— What are you hoping the Idaho BHS/DS Advisory Group process can achieve — and in what time frame?
— What group guidelines and/or principles would help the BHS/DS Advisory Group to be most effective?
— What do you need from other participants in this process?
— What would you need to see in order to consider this a legitimate and worthwhile process?
— What do you think the outcomes of the process should be e.g., consensus recommendations; unanimous with one, two or three dissenters; majority/minority recommendations, or another approach?

Where: Idaho State Department of Agriculture, 2270 Old Penitentiary Road, Boise (Click for map)
When: Thursday, February 26, 2009 – 10 am to 4 pm (working lunch on site)

Here are the associated documents:

Idaho looks to remove wolves

Anywhere from 104 to 120 wolves will be killed in the first year under the weakened 10(j) rule.

The current version of the 10(j) rule reduces the burden of proof on wildlife managers so they don’t have to demonstrate that wolves are THE MAJOR cause of elk declines.

Wildlife Services is also seeking permission to kill an additional 26 packs of wolves in Idaho. This could amount to killing 200+ wolves.

Presently there are an estimated 824 wolves in Idaho and agencies seek to kill as many as 300 wolves overall.

The Idaho Fish and Game study to justify killing wolves in the Lolo area is yet to be released to the public.

Idaho looks to remove wolves
Ravalli Republic

Charges of meddling at FWS lead to expanded lynx habitat – NYTimes.com

Critical habitat expanded from 1,841 square miles to 39,000.

Julie MacDonald was involved in limiting lynx critical habitat to areas they already existed.

Charges of meddling at FWS lead to expanded lynx habitat
New York Times

Thanks to Virginia for pointing this story out.

Wyoming lawmakers want to test wolves for brucellosis

Are these people serious?

A cow would have to dig up a den to contract brucellosis from a wolf. This is ridiculous.

Wyoming lawmakers want to test wolves for brucellosis
By MATT JOYCE Of The Associated Press

Tom Strickland Picked To Oversee Park, Fish and Wildlife Services

The Coloradan is the first top selection for Salazar’s Interior.


The new Logo

Tom Strickland Picked To Oversee Park, Fish and Wildlife Services
By David Frey

Posted in endangered species act, national parks, politics, Wildlife Habitat. Comments Off on Tom Strickland Picked To Oversee Park, Fish and Wildlife Services

Idaho Legislature Takes Aim at Bighorn Sheep

Rancher & state senator Monty Pearce

Rancher & state senator Monty Pearce

Idaho state senator Monty J. Pearce, a rancher from New Plymouth, has introduced legislation that would effectively prevent transplant and relocation of bighorn sheep into the state of Idaho.  The legislation also instructs state managers to “relocate or control” bighorns that come into proximity of “any private, state or federal lands that have any domestic sheep use, or any domestic sheep allotments administrated by the bureau of land management or U.S. forest service”.

Idaho Senate Bill 1124

Idaho Statehouse representative for the Idaho Conservation League, Courtney Washburn, responds to the proposed legislation:

It is my belief that bills like SB 1124 are a result of the actions [Western Watersheds Project] is taking.  This has more to do with revenge against [Western Watersheds Project] than actual wildlife issues.  It is unfortunate that the intervention of the Idaho legislature in this issue will likely be harmful to wildlife but it is a consequence of the approach Western Watersheds has taken on this issues.

Read the rest of this entry »


Wolf experts say predators rarely indulge in surplus killing, but Orofino man who logs extensive time in Idaho’s backcountry is not convinced

Here is an article which discusses the “surplus killing” that all wolves must be doing. In reality it is a myth that is hard wired in many of those in anti-wolf crowd along with the myth about the 250 lb wolf and the “fact” that the Canadian wolves are larger than the wolves which previously inhabited the Northern Rockies.

Wolf experts say predators rarely indulge in surplus killing, but Orofino man who logs extensive time in Idaho’s backcountry is not convinced 
By Eric Barker / The Lewiston Tribune

Read the rest of this entry »

In Loneliness, Immigrants Tend the Flock

Sheep Ranchers Claim Paying Minimum Wage to Workers Would Put them Out of Business.

Domestic sheep carry disease dangerous to bighorns and humans

Domestic sheep carry disease dangerous to bighorns and humans

This is an important article :

In Loneliness, Immigrants Tend the FlockThe New York Times

* Also, check out Captive Labor.

Environmental Costs

Domestic sheep ranching on public land is subsidized in many ways – environmental costs associated with the activity are largely covered by you and I – our tax dollars to slaughter predators that feed on untended sheep, blade otherwise unnecessary roads, build fences, abate weeds etc;  Our public lands leased at remarkably below market value, our bighorn sheep herds decimated by disease spread from domestic to wild sheep, our stream-waters rendered undrinkable, our public landscapes denuded precluding/depreciating habitat that might otherwise support untold numbers of wildlife – including big-game.

There are also the direct subsidies collected by sheepman – millions of tax-dollars for wool and other Ag subsidies.  But despite all of the ways that you and I prop up this destructive use of public land, their industry groups continue to maintain that if held to the same environmental and fair-market standard as nearly any other industry – even minimum wage for workers – they’ll go under.

Costs to Human Health, Safety, and Dignity Read the rest of this entry »

What it was like to volunteer with Buffalo Field Campaign

Now is the time of year to volunteer.


Buffalo being chased by the DoL © Ken Cole

Jim MacDonald, who is a regular commenter here, has written an article to familiarize people about what to expect before volunteering for the Buffalo Field Campaign.

I’ve spent many winters there and now I am a board member of BFC. I would encourage anyone who is interested to volunteer for them. Over the seven winters that I have spent there I have witnessed many terrible and wonderful things. From witnessing the capture of hundreds of buffalo and their abusive treatment in the Stephens Creek capture facility to the incredible diversity of wildlife, and beautiful scenery, I have been privileged to spend so much time there and become a part of the Campaign.

Buffalo usually start to leave the western part of the Park towards Horse Butte near West Yellowstone to calve during the beginning of March.

What it was like to volunteer with Buffalo Field Campaign

New West Network

You can find the Buffalo Field Campaign on the web.


Read the rest of this entry »

Report estimates revenue loss from Idaho wolves

Study uses 1994 data-

Report estimates revenue loss from Idaho wolves

The Associated Press

The report relies heavily on a 1994 environmental impact statement related to the introduction of wolves to Yellowstone National Park, and then extrapolates those numbers.

*Update: Read the Report

– – – – – –

Additional commentary by Ralph Maughan.

This is the most simplistic analysis. Idaho Fish and Game assumes that every elk killed by a wolf is 1/5 fewer elk for hunters (they assume a 20% hunter success rate).

1. Wolf predation can be both additive or compensatory. Idaho Fish and Game is assuming it is all additive. This is known to be false. Compensatory predation is when is wolf kills an animal that would have died regardless before spring calving.

2. It is also well known that in many areas wolves almost stop hunting on their own during human hunting season. The gut piles are much more attractive to them. Moreover, wolves take down the wounded animals. Most of these would die without predation.

3. With outfitters telling how wolves have killed all the elk, beginning in about 1998 when there were not very many wolves in Idaho, with Idaho Fish and Game now joining the poormouthing chorus, is it any wonder elk tag sales are down? The numbers in a state could actually be up, but if the outfitters and the state wildlife agency says, “the hunting in our state has gone to hell,” what do they expect?

Captured jaguar 1st in US to get collar for tracking

GPS collar to provide location points every three hours.

Captured jaguar 1st in US to get collar for tracking
By Tony Davis and Brady McCombs
Arizona Daily Star

It’s the Wilderness, Stupid

Why can’t we understand that wilderness should be a big part of our economic future?

It’s the Wilderness, Stupid
By Bill Schneider

Texas May Let Hunters Shoot Pigs From Choppers

This method of hunting is rather difficult to enforce.

“You’re not going to have some bubba up there going, `Pass me a beer and ammo’ and hunting some hogs,” the legislator said. “We certainly want to do it right.”

Many are concerned that the temptation to shoot other animals by some who might engage in this “sport” might be hard to resist. It would be out of the reach of most people because of the expense involved to operate the helicopter.

Texas May Let Hunters Shoot Pigs From Choppers.
AP article on Huffington Post

Wild pigs are not native to North America, they were brought to Texas by Spanish explorers some 300 or more years ago. There have been issues with a more virulent form of brucellosis found in pigs, Brucella suis, which is a potential bioweapon. This is why Brucella abortis is classified as a potential bioweapon and the reason why the Department of Homeland Security escorts bison to slaughter.

Wild hogs also cause a lot of resource and crop damage and as many know, most of Texas is private property with little public hunting opportunity.  There are numerous other non-native species in Texas which were brought in for the pleasure of hunters.

– – – –

Addition  by Ralph Maughan on Feb. 23-

Ken C. posted this article. I want to add that I think folks might notice that feral hogs harbor the most dangerous kind of brucellosis. Where are the livestock associations that bemoan the brucellosis in Yellowstone area elk and bison?

Hunters are abiding by lead bullet bans in condor country

Maybe Condors Can Survive Afterall

As many recall there was a vigorous discussion here last week about the possibility of reestablishing California Condors to the Columbia Basin and Hells Canyon based on historical accounts and recent biological evidence.

One of the issues brought up in the discussion was the lead bullet issue. When game is shot using lead bullets the bullets disintegrate and leave small fragments that are consumed by humans leading to health problems. This is also the case with condors which scavenge gut piles left by hunters or carcasses of animals that died from their wounds and weren’t retrieved by the hunters.

It appears that hunters are using lead to a lesser degree in condor country. Is that a possibility in more reactionary parts of the country like Idaho?

Hunters are abiding by lead bullet bans in condor country
Rocky Barker, Idaho Statesman.

Call for end to USDA’s wildlife killing agency

115 groups call for the end of the agency which kills 1 million animals each year.

Call for end to USDA’s wildlife killing agency
The Associated Press

Wilderness Strategy Questioned

Current Creek, Owyhee Canyonlands © Brian Ertz

Current Creek, Owyhee Canyonlands © Brian Ertz

Wilderness ought be worth fighting for

George Wuerthner questions the quid pro quo strategy that a small number of groups have claimed necessary to promote wilderness designation – some even going so far as to nearly become cheerleaders for the very industries that threaten the wild.

Wilderness Strategy Questioned – Is the future of Wilderness simply more of the past? NewWest.net

“Compromise is often necessary, but it ought not to originate with environmental leaders. Our role is to hold fast to what we believe is right, to fight for it, to find allies, and to adduce all possible arguments for our cause.“‘– David Brower

When I think of wilderness, I imagine a place untrammeled by man.  But when looking at a quid pro quo “W“ilderness bill such as the Owyhee Initiative – it quickly becomes very unclear.  The “pros” and “cons” are measured as apples to oranges – is the release of existing protection for ‘X’ acres of existing quality habitat for wildlife worth gaining ‘Y’ miles of mystical/beautiful canyons even as they aren’t likely to be harmed anyway ?  Is ‘X’ acres of “W“ilderness worth release of so many more to its antithesis – logging, grazing, development, etc. ?  Who knows ?

That’s not a clear way of communicating an advocacy.  George’s article is good because it calls for honesty.

Help Save Wild Bighorn Sheep

Your Comments Are Needed by March 3, 2009!


Rocky Mountain Bighorn Sheep Lamb © Ken Cole

Wild bighorn sheep are native to North America, and once numbered in the millions. But their numbers have drastically declined to just a few thousand. The biggest threat wild bighorns face is disease from domestic sheep.

Most experts agree that when wild and domestic sheep come into contact while grazing on the public lands, the wild sheep get sick and often die. What’s killing bighorns, they say, is a pathogen that is carried by domestic sheep. Bighorns with this pathogen can die or transmit a pneumonia-like disease to other bighorns. Lambs are especially vulnerable. Expert biologists and wildlife agencies recommend separating bighorn sheep from domestic sheep to minimize disease risk to the wild sheep.

Faced with declining Rocky Mountain Bighorn populations in Hells Canyon and the Salmon River regions of Idaho, the Payette National Forest is taking public comment on how to protect bighorn sheep from domestic sheep. Four ranchers have commercial grazing permits for about 20,000 head of domestic sheep on nearly 500,000 acres of public land in the Payette. To protect bighorn sheep, the Payette has proposed cutting nearly 60% of the public acres grazed by domestic sheep (called Alternative 7G).
Read the rest of this entry »

Bridger-Teton National Forest quickly moves to use stimulus money for anti-conservation logging

Traditional logging dwindled on the Bridger-Teton, Caribou-Targhee and Shoshone National Forests because it brought in only pennies on the dollar spent. Stimulus may be used to renew logging at a loss-

The stimulus bill has money for forests, parks, wildlife that can be used in a beneficial or negative way. It appears the supervisors for 3 national forests in the Greater Yellowstone country are quickly moving to use the stimulus money directed to wildfire reduction and forest health to restore traditional logging by means of “salvage” of dead timber. They have asked timber interests for projects. Why haven’t they asked wildlife and conservation groups?

As George Wuerthner points out, stands of dead timber are not particularly flammable. In addition, building new roads into these areas spreads noxious weeds and degrades wildlife habitat. If they wanted to create a lot of jobs, they would hire people to pull the noxious weeds. Because most of the timber mills in the area went out of business long ago, it will be long time before stimulus money will result in new timber mills and trained loggers. Logging is capital intensive nowadays and creates few jobs per dollar spent.

A word to these forest supervisors, use the money to truly improve forest health — eliminate weeds, rehabilitate erosion sources on the national forests, recut overgrown trails, reduce livestock grazing impacts, clean trash out of the forests, improve human degraded stream conditions, repair damaged roads you plan to keep open, close and obliterate vehicle tracks that are degrading the forest.  This is the way to create jobs in a hurry and improve rather than harm the environment.

What is taking place here is a warning to those who love the national forests and want jobs to get involved quickly so that the money does not go to old fashioned projects that create few jobs and actually degrade the forests. Contact your local national forest now!

Remember that forests are more than just the trees.

Story in the Jackson Hole News and Guide. Bridger-Teton asks loggers for wishes. Letter links logging industry, local mills with health of national forests. By Cory Hatch, Jackson Hole, Wyo.

Wildlife advocates condemn Challis coyote killing “tournament”

The “tournament” is scheduled for Saturday Feb. 21st, in Challis

After reading about the coyote killing contest this Saturday, Feb. 21st, in Challis, sponsored by the Bent Rod Sports, I guess I’ll not be doing any more business there. If you are willing, the groups that put out the press release below, encourage you to call Bent Rod Sports (208.879.2500) and register your protest over the coyote “tournament” described below. Perhaps suggest that a PHOTO CONTEST featuring the best LIVE photo of wildlife taken around Challis, would be a better idea.

*Update: Feb. 23, 2009 on Challis Rod and Gun Coyote “Tournament”:

Before dawn on Saturday, Feb. 21, an observer noted a small number of vehicles in front of Bent Rod Sports in Challis. Eventually about 13 men walked out and headed somewhere to find some coyotes to shoot. The number of coyotes killed is not known. The store isn’t saying, and the local newspaper says it won’t run a story, despite all the protest calls to the Bent Rod and the Challis Chamber of Commerce. There might have been more than 13 hunters, but the event became so secretive, no farther information is known. The location of the evening viewing of the dead coyotes and prize giving was not disclosed by the Bent Rod. There was no opportunity for observers to photograph the hunters and their coyotes.

*Update: Idaho wildlife advocates protest coyote hunt

Read the rest of this entry »

Montana wolf weekly for Feb. 6-13

Latest Montana wolf news from Montana Fish, Wildlife, Parks-

There is some interesting news here, mostly regarding research about to be published or recently published.

Ralph Maughan

– – – – – – –

To: Interested Parties
From: MFWP Wolf Program Coordinator, Carolyn Sime

Subject: Wolf Program Activities and Related Information, February 6-13, 2009

Contributors to the Montana Wolf Weekly are Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks (FWP), Universities, USDA Wildlife Services (WS), the National Park Service (NPS; Glacier NP; Yellowstone National Park will be reported in the Wyoming Wolf Weekly), US Forest Service, Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes, and the Blackfeet Nation.

Highlighted activities relate to: monitoring, wolf – livestock interactions, outreach and education, research, law enforcement, and other miscellaneous topics of public interest. The Weekly Report will be available on each Monday, covering the previous week. It and other wolf program information (including the 2007 annual report) can be found at: http://fwp.mt.gov/wildthings/wolf/default.html. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in Delisting, Montana wolves, politics, Wolves. Tags: , . Comments Off on Montana wolf weekly for Feb. 6-13

Parks and Wildlife Get Stimulus

Stimulus bill contains a lot of money that could be spent on parks, fish, wildlife, forest roads and trails-

The stimulus bill contains a rare infusion of major money for projects related to wildlife, fish, forest thinning, repair of decaying infrastructure, and more (folks are still looking).

If used correctly, this could create a lot of jobs and really improve the environment and local economies. If used wrong, long-lasting damage could result.

Bill Schneider thinks it will be positive. Parks and Wildlife Get Stimulus. Obama’s massive spending bill funds national park infrastructure and finds innovative ways to improve fish and wildlife habitat. By Bill Schneider. New West.

The devil is in the details, and what projects and what kind of projects get funded will depend on the competing wishes of green groups, brown groups, local and state public officials, individual activists, etc. So keep alert.

Posted in politics, public lands, public lands management, Wildlife Habitat. Tags: . Comments Off on Parks and Wildlife Get Stimulus

Debate Rages Over Elk Feeding

The most recent on Wyoming’s elk feedlot fiasco –

Debate Rages Over Elk Feeding – Kirk Johnson, New York Times

thanks jdubya

Can America’s West stay wild?

Bunnies, cowboys, culture, economics, demographics, the West

Can America’s West stay wild? Christian Science Monitor

Between 1970 and 2000, nonlabor jobs fueled 86 percent of this growth. Mining, timber, and agriculture (including ranching) contributed only 1 percent. Now, 93 percent of jobs in the West have no direct link to public lands, says Rasker. But wilderness areas, in conjunction with infrastructure like airports, correlated closely with areas that saw the greatest growth.

related: The Columbia Basin Pygmy Rabbit Is Now Genetically Extinct

Discovery of 408 New Mammal Species Gives Insight Into Our Dependency on the “Economy of Nature”

408 newly discovered species amount to approximately 10 percent of the known species of mammals

No Joy In Discoveries Of New Mammal Species, Only A Warning For Humanity, Paul Ehrlich SaysScienceDaily

“I think what most people miss is that the human economy is a wholly owned subsidiary of the economy of nature, which supplies us from our natural capital a steady flow of income that we can’t do without,” Ehrlich said.

Bill would block killing of wild horses, burros

Bill would block killing of wild horses, burros

“It is unacceptable for wild horses to be slaughtered without any regard for the general health, well-being, and conservation of these iconic animals that embody the spirit of our American West,” Rep. Nick Rahall, D-W.V., said in a statement.
By SANDRA CHEREB – Associated Press Writer

Meanwhile, back in Utah…

Resolution supporting horse slaughter passes
The Salt Lake Tribune

And in Wyoming…

Lawmakers decry interference in horse slaughter
By MARJORIE KORN – Associated Press writer

And in Montana…

House takes up bill to approve slaughterhouse
By JOHN S. ADAMS – Tribune Capitol Bureau

Hamburgers are the Hummers of Food in Global Warming: Scientists

Elimination/Reduction of Beef in your diet remains among the most potent personal choices you can make to help preserve our natural world

Hamburgers are the Hummers of Food in Global Warming: ScientistsCommonDreams.org

Buying local meat and produce will not have nearly the same effect, he cautioned.

That’s because only five percent of the emissions related to food come from transporting food to market.

“You can have a much bigger impact by shifting just one day a week from meat and dairy to anything else than going local every day of the year,” Weber said.


The facts : Livestock production …

  • is the largest land use in the western United States
  • Ranching in the West is the principle source of conflict resulting in tax-payer dollars spent to kill wolves, buffalo, coyotes, prairie dogs, and other wildlife [1]
  • is the most significant cause of non-point source water pollution [2]
  • is the most prominent factor resulting in wildlife imperilment/loss of biodiversity/listed species in the West [3]
  • is the most robust contributor to desertification of landscapes in North America [4]

Read the rest of this entry »

Conservationists: USDA should stop killing wildlife

Report: Wildlife Service’s “War on Wildlife” needlessly slaughters America’s valued wildlife costing taxpayers $100 million per year

Wendy Keefover-Ring, director of carnivore protection for WildEarth Guardians, and others have been compiling the facts, gathering the support of 115 conservation groups, and building a solid case to end the wasteful War on Wildlife currently being waged by the out-of-control ‘Wildlife Services’.

Conservationists: USDA should stop killing wildlifeAP :

Authors of the 108-page report being presented to USDA, members of Congress and the White House on Tuesday described it as the first comprehensive, national, independent assessment of the agency in 40 years.

View the ‘War on Wildlife’ Report (108 page pdf)

The View from the Divide

Wyoming wilderness outfitters Tory and Meredith Taylor share a rare treat ~

The View from the Divide: Four Decades in Wyoming Wilderness – Tory & Meredith Taylor Wyofile.com

Clearwater Wolves Targeted for First ESA 10(j) Rule Killings


Member of Mollies Pack next to Yellowstone Lake© Ken Cole

Friends of the Clearwater sent out this Action Alert:

In January 2008, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) adopted the revised regulations of section 10(j) of the Endangered Species Act (ESA). This new rule substantially supports justifications for killing reintroduced, endangered gray wolves to nominally protect herds of elk, deer, and other wild ungulates in the Northern Rockies. Prior section 10(j) regulations, adopted in 2005, allowed states and tribes to kill wolves if they caused “unacceptable impacts” on an ungulate herd or population. The involved agencies were required to document both a decline in ungulate numbers and wolf predation as the primary source of this loss. The revised ESA section 10(j) regulations, however, eliminate these requirements and instead hold as their major criteria only the failure of a wild ungulate population to meet management objectives and wolves as one of the major causes. The new rule greatly expands the definition of unacceptable impacts to include wolf effects on ungulate behavior, movements, nutrition, cow-calf ratios, and other characteristics beyond population size. State or tribal managers are authorized to kill wolves to accommodate “appropriate” ungulate management goals, even those developed to reduce or eliminate predators in areas with plentiful game animals. Moreover, the modified 10(j) regulations allow not just landowners and federally permitted agents but also any citizen to kill wolves caught attacking their livestock or domestic animals. Read the rest of this entry »

Point, Counterpoint : Wolf reintroduction in Rocky Mountain National Park

Buckle up folks, a standoff ! Rob Edward of WildEarth Guardians opines on Rocky Mountain National Park’s (RMNP) overabundance of elk, hoping to jump start a conversation about wolf restoration in the wider ecosystem including Colorado – as opposed to guns.  Vaughn Baker, superintendent of RMNP says it won’t work.  Both featured in Sunday’s Denver Post:

Wolf reintroduction: Guns aren’t the answer to culling elk – Rob Edward, Carnivore Recovery Program Director for WildEarth Guardians

Early this year, officials at Rocky Mountain National Park devised a plan to shoot as many as 100 cow elk within the boundaries of the park. They are taking this dramatic step because the park’s elk have grown too numerous and, more importantly, too sedentary. As a result, elk are browsing aspen and willow to the brink of extinction, leaving biologically important streamside areas trashed and impoverished.

Park biologists spent years studying the decline of the park’s wetland plants, and concluded that the elimination of wolves during the early 1900s had allowed the elk population to become so sedentary they could simply browse the plants to the ground. Notably, scientists discovered that the restoration of wolves to Yellowstone National Park in 1995 dramatically improved the health of young aspen and willow trees, pointing the way to an eloquent solution for Rocky’s lazy elk woes.


Wolf reintroduction: It won’t work here like in YellowstoneVaughn Baker, superintendent of Rocky Mountain National Park.

In an ideal world, Rocky Mountain National Park would contain an intact ecosystem with all its pieces present. However, the park is not a complete ecosystem, and native predators — including wolves and grizzly bears — have long been missing. As a result, the vegetation and other species in the park suffer because of an abundance of elk.

But reintroducing wolves into Rocky Mountain National Park is not the immediate answer.


Barker: Industry rolls over mercury initiative

Idaho Board of Environmental Quality Won’t Even Vote for Voluntary Rules.

Barker: Industry rolls over mercury initiative .
Rocky Barker – Idaho Statesman

Mercury is an element that does not degrade to anything less harmful. It causes developmental problems in children and unborn fetuses and it accumulates in fish and other food sources making them unsafe to eat.

Silver Creek, one of Idaho’s most famed flyfishing streams, has fish with unsafe levels of mercury.

Posted in Fish, mining. 1 Comment »

Nevada plans to remove “animals with big teeth in order to promote the animals hunters like to shoot”

State solicits Wildlife Service to do what it does best – slaughter wildlife

USDA National Wildlife Research Center

Cougar - photo: USDA National Wildlife Research Center

When wildlife like elk or deer numbers decline, that is usually indicative of something.  Often it can be a temporary decline – a response to a natural event such as a fire, drought, or really cold winter – the natural ebb and flow of things.  Sometimes it’s symptomatic of something else, like diminishing habitat or a game department that issued too many tags in a region.  Mostly, it’s likely a combination of many variables.

Whatever the reasons, one gets the lion’s share of the blame – and the retribution.  Predators are the proverbial ‘whipping-boy’ of wildlife managers (and livestock producers).  Much like the irrational management that is promised for wolves in Idaho, cougars are subjected to political decisions  made by state wildlife managers.  And when state managers decide to abate hunter’s competition, they call Wildlife Services.

Unfortunately, it is often more politically expedient to call for ‘control’ of wildlife that competes with hunters than to restrict the number of tags issued to hunters – by far the largest variable reducing elk and deer numbers – or to call for the patience it takes to put a decent amount of resource into habitat restoration – whether active or passive (passive restoration involves removing human causes of habitat degradation – such as livestock grazing, ORV access, fencing, etc.).

Nev. plans more lion hunts in effort to save deerAP

The Nevada Board of Wildlife Commissioners told agency staff last week to employ the help of sport hunters and contract employees from the U.S. Agriculture Department’s Wildlife Services for the state wildlife department’s new “program of intensive, sustained predator reduction.”

Endangered or threatened? Feds review pocket gopher protection request

Small Wyoming gopher only exists in a small area where it is outnumbered by oil wells.

Endangered or threatened? Feds review pocket gopher protection request
Casper Star Tribune

Tiny ‘Backpacks’ Yield New Data on Birds

Mysteries of Song Bird Migration Revealed

Tiny ‘Backpacks’ Yield New Data on Birds
Washington Post

One especially energetic purple martin, a member of the swallow family, flew 4,650 miles from its wintering grounds in Brazil to its breeding site in Pennsylvania in just 13 days.

Tracking Device Reveals Songbirds’ Travels

U.S. agrees to consider protections for pikas

“Boulder Bunnies” or “Rock Rabbits” are Under Threat from Global Warming

U.S. agrees to consider protections for pikas
San Francisco Chronicle

“Surveys in the Great Basin show that more than one-third of the populations are disappearing”


Parks and Wildlife Get Stimulus

Outdoor Recreation, Jobs and Economics Go Together

Parks and Wildlife Get Stimulus
Obama’s massive spending bill funds national park infrastructure and finds innovative ways to improve fish and wildlife habitat.

By Bill Schneider, 2-14-09

Posted in B.L.M., conservation, Forest Service, national parks, public lands, public lands management, Trees Forests, Wildfires. Comments Off on Parks and Wildlife Get Stimulus

Bill would allow Idahoans to sue over [non-existent, never before happened] wolf deaths

Is this the kind of political environment the federal government ought hand wolf management over to?

We are amidst a recession. The state of Idaho is cutting funding for social services across the board – including education for our children. For anyone who ever doubted the depth of the political dysfunction/delusion that afflicts the great statehouse in Idaho, I present to you :

Bill would allow Idahoans to sue over wolf deaths AP (via Idaho Statesman)

His bill would allow survivors of potential victims to sue and would make it a felony for people to protect killer wolves, punishable by up to five years in state prison and a $50,000 fine.

Added March 23. In addition, this is ham-handed attempt to try to somehow prosecute a person who supported the restoration of wolves to the state of Idaho. The bill is unconstitutional in a number of ways, but, nevertheless, very insulting. Ralph Maughan.

Where the Buffalo Groan

Vodpod videos no longer available.

Wyoming Legislature opts against new wolf rules

Can Delisting Occur Without Wyoming?

Legislature opts against new wolf rules.Casper Star-Tribune Online – Wyoming

The Wyoming legislature has decided not to change its wolf management plan which has not been accepted by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. For delisting to occur, among other things, Wyoming must submit an acceptable plan to the USFWS.

One other requirement is that wolves be able to exchange genes between metapopulations and no wolves from outside the Greater Yellowstone population have contributed to the GYE. Currently Idaho wolf B271 resides to the east of Yellowstone Park. Another wolf residing in SE Idaho (part of the GYE), incorrectly reported to be from NW Montana, actually came from the Paradise Valley which is part of the GYE.

With Idaho’s plans to kill 26 “chronic” wolf packs and its “Lolo Plan” to kill wolves in a futile effort to help elk there combined with Wyoming maintaining its stance on dual status it appears that delisting is a long way off.

Northern Rockies Wilderness Bill Back in Congress

Bill Would Designate 24 Million Acres of Inventoried Roadless Land as Wilderness.

Northern Rockies Wilderness Bill Back in Congress

After many years of failure, will this be the year?

By Bill Schneider, 2-11-09

This Bill is sponsored and presented by Raul Grijalva among others but is widely opposed by the usual suspects from Wyoming and Idaho…

Lummis should vote for public lands bill

Star-Tribune Editorial Board


Schweitzer appoints 2 to FWP Commission

Terms are up for Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks Commissioners Workman and Doherty, Colton reappointed.

Schweitzer appoints 2 to FWP Commission

By Gazette News Services


Bill in Montana Senate would prohibit bison relocation.

What would happen to all of the bison presently in quarantine?  Would they be killed?

Senator John Brenden (R-Scobey) has introduced Senate Bill 337. It “Prohibits FWP from relocating wild buffalo or bison as a result of the state/federal bison quarantine feasibility study.” The Senate Hearing is next week on 2/17/09 in Helena.

The true colors of the livestock industry are showing with the introduction of this bill into the Montana State Senate. This makes it painfully obvious that the issue is not about brucellosis but about control over people, wildlife and public lands.

The recent defeat of HB 253 also made it clear that the issue isn’t about brucellosis. The bill would have protected the private property rights of people living on Horse Butte and other areas who welcome the presence of bison and would have handed over the management of bison to Montana Fish Wildlife and Parks.

Famous elk found dead just north of Yellowstone

#6, who lost his antlers to the Park Service for attacking cars and tourists, tripped over a fence and suffocated.

Famous elk found dead just north of Yellowstone.
AP Seattle Post Intelligencer.

A Line in the Green Sand

Although this essay is international in scope, it being written about a river in Britain, it gets at the heart of a tension among environmental issues coming to a head in so many localities all over the West – all over the world.  Paul Kingsnorth hits the point in a way that many activists have been hoping to hit it for some time :

A Line in the Green SandThe Guardian

When I climb a mountain, then, and find that the detritus of civilisation has followed me, in the form of giant wind turbines, my reaction is not to jump for joy because it is zero-carbon detritus. My reaction is to wonder how anyone could miss the point so spectacularly. And when I hear other environmentalists responding to my concerns with aggressive dismissal – particularly if they have never visited the mountain in question – I get really quite depressed

Fifteen or so years ago, as an excitable young road protester, I tried to prevent the destruction of beautiful places. To me, building a motorway through ancient downland, or a bypass through a watermeadow, was a desecration. To me today, a windfarm on a mountain is a similar desecration. A tidal barrage that turns a great river into a glorified mill stream is a desecration. Carpeting the Sahara with giant solar panels would be a desecration. The motivation may be different, but the destruction of the wild and the wonderful is the same. Read the rest of this entry »

Grizzly advocates see policy shifting

Policy review touches on Grizzly Bear management.

Grizzly advocates see policy shifting

By BRETT FRENCH –  The Gazette Staff

Columbia salmon plan goes before judge for third try

Is the Third Time a Charm?

Perhaps no person has more control over the fate of Columbia River salmon and dams today than a 79-year-old Red Sox fan who doesn’t fish or much care for the taste of salmon. U.S. District Judge James Redden is expected to rule as early as next month in the long-running case over whether dams on the Columbia River system are doing enough to protect endangered fish.

Columbia salmon plan goes before judge for third try

By Warren Cornwall – Seattle Times environment reporter

The Judge has threatened to take over management himself if he is not satisfied with the latest recovery plan.


NW council approves Columbia River management plan

Feds pare Colo. gas-lease sale – 67,000 acres nixed

By Mark Jaffe – The Denver Post

Feds pare Colo. gas-lease sale
67,000 acres nixed

Posted in conservation, Forest Service, mining, oil and gas, politics, public lands, public lands management. Comments Off on Feds pare Colo. gas-lease sale – 67,000 acres nixed

Utah’s dirty air problem is growing

Filthy winter air gets worse. Developments in Nevada could compound problem-

Utah’s air quality overall is relatively good. The problem is that it is bad, has been for a long time, and is getting worse where most of the people live — the Wasatch Front and Cache Valley.

Utah’s dirty air in population centers goes back to the days of primitive metal smelters located right in Salt Lake Valley. As all but one has closed, the problem has shifted to the emissions from and associated with the seemingly endless strip city from Brigham on the north to Payson on the south (where I am in a motel typing this story).

The EPA may soon impose sanctions on the state. If it stops the sprawl, that might be a good thing. See the story below.

Dirty-air problem is growing. EPA set a deadline. It won’t be easy. In fact, the state says, ‘It’s going to be really hard.‘ By Judy Fahys. The Salt Lake Tribune.

I want to add that developing problems in Nevada will only make it worse in the long run, such as the huge coal plants set to be built near the state’s western border at Ely and dewatering of Nevada valleys to feed continued growth in Las Vegas.

– – – – – – –
Update on the Ely Energy Center (Ely coal plant). Coal plant debate intensifies. In Ely, feelings about the environment and the economy overwhelm the agenda. Las Vegas Sun. By Phoebe Sweet

Still more on the Ely project. Nevada Energy delays Ely coal plant, hastens transmission line project. By Jeremy Twitchell. Las Vegas Sun

Posted in politics. Tags: , , , , , , . Comments Off on Utah’s dirty air problem is growing

Idaho Fish and Game submits revised fee increase proposal

Projected revenue increase revised from 20 down to 15%-

Under the proposal basic fish and hunting licenses would not change. Tags, however, would increase by varying percentage amounts.

Story in Idaho Statesman.

Posted in politics. Tags: , , , , . Comments Off on Idaho Fish and Game submits revised fee increase proposal

New Grid for Renewable Energy Could Be Costly

The Wall Street Journal Reports on a study that indicates a new grid could cost $100 billion.

This article says that 15,000 miles of new transmission lines would be required and that federal intervention might be used due to lawsuits.

New Grid for Renewable Energy Could Be Costly – WSJ.com.

My feeling is that we might want to consider other models before plunging headlong into this decision.


Chasing the condor’s shadow

Could California Condors Soar the Skies of Oregon Again?

David B. Moen is searching for evidence that might indicate that condors once inhabited Hells Canyon.  There is already evidence that they once bred in the Columbia Gorge and even farther north into British Columbia.  Is Oregon and Hells Canyon still suitable habitat for recovery?

Chasing the condor’s shadow – OregonLive.com.

Note: I was lucky enough to see a pair of California Condors on the Coast of California at Big Sur in 2003.  As we were driving away one flew 50 feet above us.  That is when you realize how immense they are with their 9 1/2 foot wingspan.


So far this winter bison remain inside Yellowstone Park

No Montana slaughter yet-

Thus far,bison stick to the park. By Brett French. Billings Gazette.

Posted in Bison, Yellowstone, Yellowstone National Park. Tags: , . Comments Off on So far this winter bison remain inside Yellowstone Park

An important new website about wolves in the West

It’s the Western Wolf Coalition-

This consists of a large number of groups, including the one I am President — the Wolf Recovery Foundation.

Go to Western Wolves.

Montana FWP study finds mixed impacts of wolves on ungulate populations

Finally, a real study, and released to the public-

Not surprisingly (to me anyway) the effect of wolves on elk populations varies by area and presence of other predators such as grizzly bears. In addition hunters affect elk more than wolves. When considering wolves and ungulates alone, I take this report to be generally quite positive for the effects of wolves on ungulates.

Here is the news release, but there is the much larger report available to for those interested. Here is the 90+ page full report. Ralph Maughan

Added. Notice how the MSM immediately gives the results of this an immediate spin by means of the headline. Wolves tied to elk decline in parts of state. By EVE BYRON – Independent Record

Contact Ron Aasheim, 406-444-4038; Justin Gude, 406-444-3767; or visit FWP’s Web site
at fwp.mt.gov

Study Finds Mixed Wolf Impacts On Elk Populations-
Not all elk populations respond in the same manner when faced with sharing the landscape with wolves, a new report by Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks suggests.

Researchers who spent the past seven years measuring the populations and behavior of elk in Montana found that elk numbers in some areas of southwestern Montana have dropped rapidly due mostly to the loss of elk calves targeted by wolves and grizzly bears that inhabit the same area. The same study, led by FWP and Montana State University, also suggests that in some areas of western Montana elk numbers have increased while hunter-harvests of elk have decreased, with little apparent influence by local wolf packs on elk numbers.

“One-size-fits-all explanations of wolf-elk interactions across large landscapes do not seem to exist,” said Justin Gude, FWP’s chief of wildlife research in Helena.
The 95-page report contains two sections. The first section summarizes research efforts in the Greater Yellowstone Area and southwestern Montana, with a primary focus on wolf-elk interactions. The second section summarizes FWP data collection and monitoring efforts from the entire range of wolves in Montana. Read the rest of this entry »

The National Parks: America’s Best Idea

Popular Documentary Filmmaker Ken Burns Explores the National Parks.

The Canadian Press: Ken Burns’ latest TV series explores America’s national parks.

Ken Burns has made a 12-hour, 6-part series that will air in September. He made the epic documentary about the Civil War and changed the way that documentaries are viewed. Other documentaries of his include Jazz and Baseball.

Agency denies request to protect 165 species

Agency denies request to protect 165 species
The Associated Press

WildEarth Guardians petitioned the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to list 165 species under the Endangered Species Act.  They denied the request but said that some may warrant protection.

Here’s the link to WildEarth Guardians’ web site.  Currently there is no press release in response to this decision.

Posted in conservation, endangered species act, politics, public lands, public lands management, Wildlife Habitat. Comments Off on Agency denies request to protect 165 species

Legislator takes aim at feds and ‘eco-terrorists’

Yet another example of legislators vs. the public they claim to represent-

Legislator takes aim at feds and ‘eco-terrorists’
By Bob Bernick Jr.
Deseret News

Idaho Fish and Game Director alleges big game drop due to wolf pack increase

Without providing a shred of evidence Cal Groen says wolves are decreasing big game numbers-

Here is the brief story, rife with contradictions and no evidence except his own say so. It would be great if some reporters asked him where he got his figures, disentangled the confusion outlined below, and were actually given a study or some sort.

Big game drop attributed to wolf pack increase.  The Associated Press

– – – –

“He says big game populations are decreasing by as much as 15 percent a year.”

This is new news, and notice he uses the plural — populations — meaning other populations did not decrease by 15%. Some, or even most might have increased. If you give one end of a range in statistics, you need to give the other end. It would be nice if he defined “population,” and perhaps the species.

He said, “Without the wolves, Idaho’s deer and elk herds would be increasing 7 percent a year.”

Both deer and elk, 7%?  How was this determined?

“Groen says the wolf packs have become overcrowded and wolves have begun to kill each other.”

This hasn’t shown up in the Idaho wolf reports, but if they have, then the wolf population has reached a natural limit and the problem, if there is one, is probably solved.

“Idaho Fish and Game officials say the state’s wolf population is moving south and getting into trouble.”

Ken Cole’s analysis of new population figures say no, the wolf population growth is in Idaho’s Panhandle. That’s way up north.

– – – – –

One conservationist said, “. . . since Idaho’s elk population in 2007 was reported to be 20% above objectives, it would appear that wolves have now helped lower that to only 5% above carrying capacity. Old Cal out to be thanking them for helping his department avoid damage to the habitat!”

Vilsack Says USDA is for “Eaters” Too.

New USDA Secretary gives some indication he won’t be agribusiness as usual-

Here is the story from New West. Vilsack Says USDA is for “Eaters” Too and He Gets a To-Do List. By Courtney Lowery, 2-06-09

Posted in politics. Tags: , . Comments Off on Vilsack Says USDA is for “Eaters” Too.

2008 Mexican wolf count official — 52 wolves

2008 was a year of no growth. It ended with 2 breeding pairs of wolves-

Update (2/6/09) Feds: Killings hamper Mexican wolf populationAP

Update (2/6/09) CBD Press Release – Mexican Wolf Breeding Pairs Drop to Two in 2008: Federal Trapping and Shooting Brings Reintroduced Population of Endangered Species to Brink of Collapse

~ be

Here is the news release from USFWS

– – – – –

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

Southwest Region (Arizona ● New Mexico ● Oklahoma ●Texas) http://southwest.fws.gov

Public Affairs Office; PO Box 1306

Albuquerque, NM 87103


505/248-6915 (Fax)

News Release

For Release: February 6, 2009

Contacts: Jeff Humphrey, 505-248-6909 or 602-680-0853


A total of 52 Mexican wolves were counted in the wild in Arizona and New Mexico at the end of 2008, according to the annual survey conducted by the Interagency Field Team for wolf reintroduction. There were also 52 Mexican wolves recorded in the 2007 survey. Surveys are conducted in January of each year. Pups born in the summer must survive to December 31 to be counted as part of the Mexican wolf population. Fixed-wing aircraft and functional radio-telemetry were used to confirm five wolf packs on New Mexico’s Gila National Forest, five packs on the Apache-Sitgreaves National Forest and Fort Apache Indian Reservation in Arizona, and six lone wolves – two in Arizona and four in New Mexico. The survey indicated that there were only two pairs that met the federal definition of breeding pairs at year’s end.

Of the 52 wolves, 45 were born in the wild. One captive born female wolf (F836) was released to the wild in 2008. In 2008, one wolf was temporarily captured twice after dispersing outside of the Blue Range Wolf Recovery Area, but the animal was translocated back into the recovery area on both occasions. In previous years, wolves were removed because of livestock depredation, for dispersing outside of the Blue Range Wolf Recovery Area or repeated nuisance behavior. No such wolves were removed in 2008. Illegal shooting was the leading cause of documented loss of wolves in 2008. Read the rest of this entry »

New Yellowstone Country group created to inspire Greater Yellowstone residents

People want to be proud to live in such great country, but they need to be inspired-

It’s a sad day when a small economic activity can such as running cattle on the range can trump wild buffalo, elk, trout, grizzly bears, and can continue to dominate and desecrate the Yellowstone country’s great mountains, rivers, and valleys, and people who love the call of the outdoors usually can’t seem to get together to defend what they cherish.

There is a reason for it — the Hollywood myth that made cowpersons into some kind of icon, when their real goal is to make the West, and Yellowstone as well just as tame as a pasture in the middle of Indiana.

As a Yellowstone Park naturalist and later bear education ranger, young Michael Leach saw how visitors, including local people, would come alive when he helped them open their eyes, ears, hands and hearts to the absolutely unique country they were in.

Seeing the change that usually came over local people when they were given just a little information, Leach left the park service in October of 07 and founded the Yellowstone Country Guardians.

Read the rest of this entry »

Lawmakers shoot down new bison plan

Opposition to bill brings out the real issue — cattle industry’s control over the rest of us-

The cattle industry won’t even support property rights (except their own), much less wildlife. As this country runs into hard times how much abuse on the part of a small segment of population will the average Montanan put up with?

Lawmakers shoot down new bison plan. By Daniel Person. Bozeman Chronicle Staff Writer

Black wolves are the result of mating with black dog maybe 15,000 years ago

Introduction of domestic dog genes into wild wolves long ago gave us black wolves-

Traits from domestic animals are usually thought to be harmful to their wild cousins, but in the case of the black dog or dogs mating with wolves long ago, a beneficial trait was passed on and conserved. “Apparently, natural selection has increased the frequency of black coat color dramatically in wolf populations across North America,” Co-author Robert K. Wayne said. “It must have adaptive value that we don’t yet understand. It could be camouflage, or strengthening the immune system to combat pathogens, or it could reflect a preference to mate with individuals of a different coat color.”

The pedigrees of the Yellowstone wolves were instrumental in discovering the inheritance pattern of this genotype.

There were many stories about the finding in the news today.

New World Wolves and Coyotes Owe Debt to Dogs. New York Times. By Mark Derr.

Black Wolves the Result of Interbreeding With Dogs. By Michael Wall. Wired.

Biologists solve mystery of black wolves. UCLA newsroom.

Wolf In Dog’s Clothing? Black Wolves May Be First ‘Genetically Modified’ Predators. Science Daily

I received a copy of the full scientific article from one of the authors.The title is: “Molecular and Evolutionary History of Melanism in North American Gray Wolves.” By Tovi M. Anderson,1 Bridgett M. vonHoldt,2 Sophie I. Candille,1 Marco Musiani,3 Claudia Greco,4 Daniel R. Stahler,2,5 Douglas W. Smith,5 Badri Padhukasahasram,6 Ettore Randi,4 Jennifer A. Leonard,7 Carlos D. Bustamante,6 Elaine A. Ostrander,8 Hua Tang,1 Robert K. Wayne,2 Gregory S. Barsh1. Science Express.

Republican Senator Wants to limit NEPA Review.

From American Lands Alliance:

The Senate is currently debating the economic stimulus bill, the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (HR 1), that recently passed the House. Senators are offering amendments to make changes to the bill. We are very concerned about an amendment offered by Senator John Barrasso (R-WY) that waives the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) review process for projects funded by the economic stimulus bill. Senator Barbara Boxer (D-CA) has filed an amendment to counter Sen. Barrasso’s NEPA waiver amendment.

You can read more here:  American Lands Alliance – Calls to Senate Needed Tonight!.

Open thread. Discuss what you want.

Since I just closed the thread on Wyoming wolves, I thought I had better open a general discussion.

Ralph Maughan

New US office takes fresh approach to carbon

One possibility: Industrial emitters of CO2 partner with landowners to plant forests-

By Todd Wilkinson
New US office takes fresh approach to carbon. Christian Science Monitor.

– – – – –
Added by RM. Related article. It’s cold. Does that debunk global warming? By Eoin O’Carroll. Christian Science Monitor.

Posted in Climate change, energy, Trees Forests. Tags: . Comments Off on New US office takes fresh approach to carbon

Wyoming House committee recommends a new state wolf bill

Little change from the past-

By Matt Joyce. Associated Press writer

House Bill 32 would emphasize protecting livestock and wild ungulates from wolves and would continue to classify wolves as predators in most of the state. The bill also authorizes the Wyoming Game and Fish Commission to work in cooperation with Idaho and Montana to move wolves as necessary to assure genetic interchange among the states’ wolf populations.

Wyoming House committee had five Bills offered this week and only one, with little change and a seemingly obstinate set of intentions to derail any progress or offer any acceptance of the federal role in this ongoing saga was agreed upon.  Read More…

Salazar Pledges ‘Balance’ to Scandal-Plagued Interior

Salazar promises reform, but is it enough?

Since Ken Salazar took over as Interior secretary, his first order of business has been undoing the last business done by the outgoing Bush administration.   Read More…

By David Frey, 2-04-09

Posted in conservation, endangered species act, mining, politics, public lands, public lands management, Uncategorized. Tags: . Comments Off on Salazar Pledges ‘Balance’ to Scandal-Plagued Interior

Three new Montana “wolf weeklies”

Here are the three latest reports on Montana wolves from MT Fish, Wildlife and Parks-




Posted in Montana wolves, Wolves. Tags: . Comments Off on Three new Montana “wolf weeklies”

Possible Wolf Sighting in Central Oregon

A wolf in the Cascades?

Possible Wolf Sighting in Central Oregon | KOHD.

Photos of what appears to be a black wolf and its tracks were taken near Highway 20 at Santiam Pass in the Cascade Mountains.

Santiam Pass is between Bend and Salem, Oregon.  Here is a link to Google Maps showing the general area.

Salazar Cancels Oil and Gas Leases on your public land in Utah

Bush Administration Had Opened 110,000 Acres Near Pristine Areas to Energy Exploration-

Interior Secretary Cancels Leases on Federal Land in Utah. Bush Administration Had Opened 110,000 Acres Near Pristine Areas to Energy Exploration.By Juliet Eilperin.Washington Post Staff Writer.

April Clauson reported this in a comment earlier. Above is the full story.
– – – – – –

This is sale the brave University of Utah student disrupted. See below.

Scrapped Utah drilling-lease sale thrills Redford, monkey-wrencher. On hold » While actor, U. activist cheer, industry laments Salazar’s decision to shelve auction of 77 redrock sites.
By Patty Henetz. The Salt Lake Tribune

Bondurant, WY Eagle-killer fined $7500

Incident creates a row over Wyoming Outfitters and Guides-

Eagle killer fined $7,560. Outfitter will keep his license but won’t guide on the Bridger-Teton. By Cory Hatch, Jackson Hole News and Guide.

DEQ issues ozone alert for Pinedale, WY

Gas development makes small rural town and surrounding area full of unhealthy air-

DEQ issues ozone alert for Pinedale. By Jeff Gearino. Casper Star Tribune.

Dept. of Interior felon gets slap on wrist by judge

Interior Department official named in a scathing report gets a $2000 fine-

This is incredible. “The judge said he felt Dial [the defendent] . . . had been ‘selected out for prosecution’ on a conflict charge that  ‘high executives in our government violate all the time.’ ”

Hence the small penalty. I’ll bet the Bush crooks pretty get away with everything. America’s double, or is it triple, standard of justice. 😦

Former federal minerals official gets probation. By Ken Ritter. Associated Press Writer

WWP win in Washington state underscores politicized wildlife management

Thurston County Superior Court has ruled in favor of Dr. Steve Herman and Western Watersheds Project deciding that the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) violated the State Environmental Protection Act when issuing grazing permits on its state wildlife areas without undergoing environmental analysis.  The state and Washington Cattleman’s Association had claimed that such analysis was not required as the lands had been grazed in the past under a ‘verbal lease’ – a handshake, and that this arrangement exempted the parties from the need to undergo the analysis.

Court faults Fish and Wildlfie for granting Kittitas grazing leaseYakima Herald-Republic :

Steve Herman, the Thurston County resident who filed the suit on behalf of the Western Watersheds Project, a regional conservation group based in Idaho, called last week’s ruling “a very clear-cut victory for those of us who would preserve some wildlife areas for wildlife.”

The Whiskey Dick/Quilomene Wildlife Area was acquired by the people of Washington as critical wildlife habitat to preserve steelhead fisheries, big game, and other wildlife including the state-listed Greater Sage-grouse and other sage-steppe obligate species.

The Wildlife Area is particularly critical for Greater Sage-grouse in Washington, whose populations have been significantly diminished given fragmented and degraded habitat, leaving the bird teetering on the brink of extinction in the state.

The Wildlife Area is located directly between the two remaining populations of sage grouse in Washington state, providing a critical link, a habitat corridor.  Grazing the area threatens this habitat, potentially exacerbating the isolation between the two remaining sage-grouse populations.

Read the rest of this entry »

Transmission lies

Against the so-called ‘need’ for new long-distance, high-voltage transmission lines

Transmission lies Grist Environmental News and Commentary

Carol A. Overland posits the idea that a new electrical grid is “an enabler of dysfunctional energy planning and profit-driven projects that are against the public interest.”

Don Simon Art: Unnaturalism

Don Simon Art: Unnaturalism. “Images of an evolving world” by artist Don Simon

This is an interesting perspective on the human affect on wildlife and wilderness. (Audio/Visual).

Vet urges ranchers to adopt brucellosis plan

Groups sue to stop timber sale on shore of Hebgen Lake

Groups cite harm to habitat occupied by grizzly bears-

Groups sue to stop timber sale on shore of Hebgen Lake. Billings Gazette. AP

Ashley Judd Slams Sarah Palin For Promoting Aerial Killing Of Wolves

Judd helps kick off Defenders Action Fund’s new web site, EyeonPalin.org-

Ashley Judd Slams Sarah Palin For Promoting Aerial Killing Of Wolves. Huffington Post. Marcus Baram.


Posted in predator control, Wolves. Tags: , , . Comments Off on Ashley Judd Slams Sarah Palin For Promoting Aerial Killing Of Wolves

Researchers are watching Minnesota wolves to help Mexican wolves.

Researchers are watching Minnesota wolves as they seek ways to rebuild packs of endangered Mexican wolves in the Southwestern United States.

By Tom Meersman. Star Tribune

after all the human disruption in nature, it has finally come to this…

You can read the article here.

Posted in conservation, endangered species act, Mexican wolves, Wildlife Habitat, Wolves. Tags: . Comments Off on Researchers are watching Minnesota wolves to help Mexican wolves.

Online Poll in the Bozeman Chronicle

This is a non-scientific Poll concerning the management of wild bison in Montana…

To vote in this online poll in the Bozeman Chronicle:

Scroll to the bottom of this link to find the question:

Do you think the Montana Department of Fish, Wildlife and Parks should take over sole responsibility for managing wild bison in Montana?
Then vote.

Update: Poll results.

Cheatgrass to expand its range northward with climate change

Yellow star thistle, knapweed to do likewise-

On the plus side, it will get too hot for cheatgrass in some places, but it may be replaced by another invasive — red brome.

Cheatgrass will migrate with climate change. LA Times.

Omnibus Public Lands bill held up in U.S. House

Paleontology provisions threaten bill-

This is a big surprise.

Because the House leadership wants to pass the bill under suspension of the rules, it requires a 2/3 majority. If it can’t muster that, it goes to regular order, perhaps pushing the bill’s consideration months into the future.*

Folks will recall that the massive measure recently passed the U.S. Senate.

Story: Paleontology provisions threaten bill that includes Dominguez conservation area. By Mike Saccone. Grand Junction Sentinal.

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* Major bills in the U.S. House must obtain a rule (a set of procedures for debate) from the House Rules Committe) before they go to the floor, unless they are brought up under suspension of the rules. Under suspension,  a bill is debated for only 20 minutes with time divided equal between for and against. No amendments are allowed, but the bill must get 2/3 or better in favor. If it does not get this, the bill is not dead, but it must then first get a rule from the House Rules Committee and be considered in the way the “rule” specifies. This can be done quickly, or if there is a long stack of legislation of higher priority, it can take a long time to get a rule.

Wildlife refuges can provide shovel-ready green jobs

20,000 jobs in 90 days for a billion dollars doing what has needed to be done for decades-

A proposal from Defenders of Wildlife.

* $443 million for removing non-native, invasive species and restoring native habitat: 5,644 jobs

* $243 million for dramatically improving the energy efficiency of existing facilities: 5,103 jobs

* $201 million for new “green” construction of visitor centers, environmental education and equipment storage facilities: 5,025 jobs

* $60 million for increasing renewable energy capacity, such as tapping solar, wind and geothermal energy to power refuge facilities: 1,260 jobs

Searchlight, Nevada versus Wind Goliath

The folks in Harry Reid’s hometown are not thrilled about plans for wind turbine development-

An interesting story from basinandrangewatch.org.

Government Scoping Meeting: Residents React to Industrial Wind Farm Proposal. By LMC

Searchlight, Nevada area map.

Wildlife Services Seeks “Flexibility” to Kill 26 Idaho Wolf Packs

Ranchers and Wildlife Services are asking for county tax dollars to do it.

Ralph Maughan posted about this recently when it was a big secret, but now it is out in the open. Wildlife Services in Idaho is seeking flexibility to kill wolves several months after depredations have occurred. They have identified 26 packs which they say are “chronically depredating” packs, or packs that have killed at least 3 domestic animals. This definition begs this question; what is the timeframe of the 3 depredations? Could these depredations have occurred over the course of several years and Wildlife Services just wants to settle the score?

This information is confirmed from several sources. The USDA-APHIS IDAHO WILDLIFE SERVICES WOLF ACTIVITY REPORT FISCAL YEAR 2008 states:

If WS efforts to remove depredating wolves during the summer months are unsuccessful, and it may reasonably be expected that depredations will reoccur during the next grazing season, then WS would like to have the flexibility to reinitiate control efforts several months later, during the winter months when implicated wolves may be more vulnerable to removal.

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Wolf Shot in South Dakota

Shooting of wolf reported
Argus Leader, Sioux Falls, South Dakota

The wolf was shot by a coyote hunter.

Scientist see holes in glacier on Redoubt volcano

Parts of glacier high on the mountain begin to melt-

Scientist see holes in glacier. By Dan Joling. Associated Press Writer

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Keep up with all the Alaska volcanoes at the Alaska Volcano Observatory