Obama Repackages Bush Salmon Plan

Calls Dam Breaching a “Last Resort”

Chinook Salmon © Ken Cole

Chinook Salmon © Ken Cole

“The administration’s passing reference to dam breaching as a ‘contingency of last resort’ defers all necessary economic, infrastructure and other studies, making this ‘contingency’ an illusion,” said Samuel N. Penney, the chairman of the Nez Perce American Indian Tribe, which has traditionally fished the Columbia.

New Federal Plan for Fish-Dam Harmony
New York Times

Obama administration backs Columbia salmon and dam plan
Rocky Barker – Idaho Statesman

Six poachers in Idaho sentenced

24 misdemeanor counts put one Blackfoot, ID man in jail; others fined-

The men “involved in hunting in closed areas, transferring tags, purchasing resident licenses while residing outside of Idaho, hunting without the proper tag, killing elk in excess of the bag limits, and hunting with the use of motorized vehicles.”

Idaho Fish and Game news release.

Posted in Elk, Poaching. Tags: . 18 Comments »

More trouble for deer. Endocrine-disrupting compounds make weird genitals

Bitterroot Valley resident tracks growing deformities by examining road kill-

New West has a story today about the likely effects of endocrine-disrupting chemicals on deer.  Bitterroot Rebel With a Cause. Genetic, Genital Damage in Montana Wildlife? (bad link is now fixed). By Joan Melcher. New West.

Almost half of the bucks had structural abnormalities.

Montana wolf hunt: Hunters not obligated to eat wolf kills

Article on what do you do with a wolf you shoot this time of year-

Hunters not obligated to eat wolf kills. By Rob Chaney. The Missoulian.

Want more elk? Then take back the public grass that cattle eat

Elk numbers depend not just on birth minus mortality, but on square miles of area where they can find something to eat-

There are many places in the West where elk could live and thrive if they had something to eat, but they don’t. Livestock is the reason.

Aside from those areas of continuous forest with little for elk to eat and the hot desert, the typical case is where cattle and sheep eat up to 90% or more of the forage. Unlike with deer which are browsers, elk are more like cattle and sheep. Elk do browse many kinds of brush and trees. They are “mixed feeders,” and need grass and forbs as about 50% of their diet.

Most of the Forest Service and BLM public lands are broken into grazing allotments for cattle and sheep. Repeated visits and data collection by Western Watersheds Project and others show that livestock often eat 90% of  the grasses that elk could eat and sometimes more. In addition, this heavy grazing temporarily or permanently reduces the productivity of the grass and forbs by weakening them and allowing poorly edible and non-edible plants and shrubs to increase. This includes alien invaders like cheatgrass and medusa head. Cheatgrass changes the fire regime serving to create frequent fires eliminating other grasses and the browse, often creating a near mono-culture.

Where alien plant invasion has not been too severe, reduction or elimination of livestock can sometimes create a quick bounty for elk. Other places will take much longer to restore from abusive grazing by livestock.

But how about an example?

Twenty miles south of Pocatello, Idaho and just west of Malad City, Idaho are the Pleasantview Hills. The Pleasantview grazing allotment of about 60,000 acres has very few elk, and some deer. Every canyon bottom save two recently reclaimed from cattle is trashed, grazed down to dirt, with even the stream channels trampled out. The typical bad example below is of West Elkhorn Canyon in these hills (actually mountains).

west-elkhorn-sept

West Elkhorn Canyon after cattle season. Sept. Pleasantview Hills. SE Idaho. PHOTO Ralph Maughan

 

Not much left for elk, although you can see it would be elk habitat if the canyon was lush with grass.
What could the canyon look like?  Don’t take my word as mere speculation.
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