Washington wolves and cows

For quite some time news of wolves moving into Washington state has excited many wolf supporters and Washington residents.  A couple photos of the Washington wolves.

As is usually the case, news of Washington wolves has also prompted local ranchers’ to kick up controversy and concern that their livelihood won’t be able to compete with these conditions of the natural world – on our public land. Recently, a dead cow was found near Twisp, Washington – and although wolves almost certainly had nothing to do with the kill, invariably – that’s where local media put the attention first.

What are managers doing to protect the Lookout wolf pack ?

The “Lookout pack” resides on the Wenatchee-Okanogan National  Forest.  These wolves migrated from Canada, they are not dispersers from Idaho. One (or more)  Washington wolves has already been killed by a poacher, a local hobby rancher whose family was allegedly caught trying to ship the wolf hide to Canada for tanning into a rug – the mail was identified as suspicious when the wolf’s blood began leaking from the package in transit. That violation of the ESA is still “under investigation” by US Fish & Wildlife Service. Wolves in Washington are still protected under the Endangered Species Act, and are fully protected, not being subject to the 10(j) Rule that allowed for liberal killing of wolves in the Northern Rockies “Distinct Population”.  Conviction of killing a fully protected endangered species (as are the wolves in Washington state) could result in a $100,000 fine.

While individuals may be prosecuted for illegal take of a fully federally protected Washington wolf after the fact, managers whose legal obligation it is to protect wolves and manage public land-use to avoid potential conflict remain largely unwilling to make meaningful changes in lieu of the altered circumstances given the Lookout pack’s recent presence on the landscape.

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Helicopters continue harassing all kinds of wildlife inside Yellowstone National Park

bufffamilia.jpg

Buffalo Field Campaign
Yellowstone Bison
Update from the Field

May 28, 2009

In this issue:
* Update from the Field
* Help BFC Help the Buffalo
* Ground the DOL’s Helicopter: Contact the FAA
* Traditional Prayer Ceremony on Horse Butte May 31
* Support the Northern Rockies Ecosystem Protection Act
* BFC Needs Summer Volunteers in Yellowstone
* Last Words
* Kill Tally

NOTE: This will be the last weekly Update from the Field of this season. Updates will come every other week or as often as necessary to convey urgent news. Thanks for being with us for the buffalo!
~ Buffalo Field Campaign

——————————

* Update from the Field

These buffalo calves, hazed yesterday inside Yellowstone, are struggling to make it across the Madison Rivers strong spring currents.  Some barely made it.  Photo by BFC volunteer Lake.

These buffalo calves, hazed yesterday inside Yellowstone, are struggling to make it across the Madison River's strong spring currents. Some barely made it. Photo by BFC volunteer Lake.

Since our last update, agents have been harassing bison every day. As I write, bison are once again being chased off of cattle-free Horse Butte, forced off of private lands where they are welcome, and off of public lands habitat where there will never be any cattle. Today, DOL agents again violated the private property rights of the Galanis family, using their helicopter, flying extremely low, to haze bison off the 800-acre buffalo safe zone. Buffalo have even been repeatedly shoved off of grassy meadows within Yellowstone National Park, deeper into the park’s interior to “make room” for the bison being hazed off of surrounding Gallatin National Forest lands.

Using U.S. tax dollars, Montana livestock inspectors bask in their assumed taxpayer-funded power while all the involved agencies cooperate, betraying the public trust and the wildlife and wild lands in their care, as they terrorize this unique facet of the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem. Neither buffalo-friendly private lands, Gallatin National Forest, nor Yellowstone National Park are safe places for buffalo – livestock interests, including Yellowstone National Park, are seeing to it that buffalo have no sanctuary.

BFC documents Yellowstone National Park rangers hazing wild bison within the park.  Photo by BFC volunteer Lake.

BFC documents Yellowstone National Park rangers hazing wild bison within the park. Photo by BFC volunteer Lake.

Yellowstone National Park willingly plays into the DOL’s hands, ignoring their mission “to protect park resources unimpaired,” and allowing these atrocities to occur within park boundaries. Yellowstone allows agents on horseback and the DOL’s helicopter to force wild bison off the ground they choose to be on, right in front of the eyes of park visitors. They create hours-long traffic jams, and when questioned by park visitors they misrepresent the issue and act as if they are doing the buffalo a favor, claiming that if hazing didn’t occur, the DOL would kill the buffalo. But Yellowstone participates in slaughter as well as hazing, and last year, of the 1,600 killed, they were responsible for the death of 1,400 wild bison. Hazing can also kill, and it certainly causes intense stress and injury to the buffalo. Injuries have been numerous, and the overall condition of the buffalo we have seen has been deteriorating since hazing activities began.

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Sick bighorn reported near domestic sheep

One, possibly more, bighorn sheep to be killed.

Update 5/31/09: It gets worse. Sick, wandering bighorn trailed near Salmon River. Idaho Statesman.

Bighorn Sheep ©Ken Cole

Bighorn Sheep ©Ken Cole

A bighorn sheep ram has interacted with domestic sheep on private property upriver from Riggins, Idaho and is reported to be sick. It is now associated with several other bighorn sheep. IDFG officials have decided to kill the sick ram but officials have not decided how to handle the situation regarding the other sheep. There is the possibility that the remaining sheep may be killed as well.

The Nez Perce Tribe has been closely monitoring bighorn sheep in the Salmon River Canyon in recent years in an effort to document how bighorn sheep use the canyon. This monitoring shows that this kind of interaction can and does occur.

The owner of the domestic sheep holds permits on nearby BLM and Forest Service allotments but has been prevented from running sheep on the Forest Service allotments but the BLM continues to allow grazing on their allotments at the expense of bighorn sheep which are very susceptible to pneumonia that are carried by domestic sheep. There have been numerous die-offs of bighorn sheep around the country that are due to these types of interactions.

It is particularly negligent for the BLM to allow continued domestic sheep grazing in this area but they have resisted efforts to close the allotments and it is contrary to their own recommendation and that of Western Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies (WAFWA) of maintaining a minimum 9-mile separation between bighorn sheep and domestic sheep. Read the rest of this entry »

Open Thread

I was blessed with the opportunity to take a flight with LightHawk this morning.  Man, what a great group.  

It was a clear and smooth flight over central Idaho ranges with watersheds in full expression of spring.

North Fork Big Lost River Watershed © Brian Ertz, WWP

North Fork Big Lost River Watershed © Brian Ertz, WWP (click to enlarge)

Time to open the forum up … I hope you’ll contribute.

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Glacier National Parks rangers accidentally kill black bear with a cracker shell

How could this happen?

You don’t try to hit the bear/wolf, whatever. Did the shell not explode and the bear ate it? !

Bear killed after hazing effort. By the Associated Press

Nez Perce Tribe quits Idaho bighorn working group

New state law on bighorn undermines the working group process, tribe says-

This is good news about the sorry situation. Everyone should quit this group set up to make it appear that the Otter Administration gives a damn about bighorn.

Bad news!

And on top of this a bighorn mixed with domestic sheep (on private land), but adjacent to one of these troublesome BLM sheep allotments near Riggins the other day. Then the bighorn went back to its herd.

I understand that today they are deciding whether to kill the bighorn herd of ten bighorn rams because of this interaction likely to spread sheep disease back to the bighorn.

Story: Nez Perce Tribe pulling out of bighorn work group. AP

East Fork Salmon River Watershed wildflowers

A lot of neat wildflowers happening right now

Bitterroot blooms © Brian Ertz 2009

Bitterroot (Lewisia rediviva) © Brian Ertz 2009

Pediocactus © Brian Ertz 2009

Pediocactus © Brian Ertz 2009

fad © Brian Ertz 2009

Paintbrush (Castilleja spp.) © Brian Ertz 2009

Lupine © Brian Ertz 2009

Lupine (Lupinus argenteus) © Brian Ertz 2009