The Human Body Is Built for Distance

Humans are built to run down prey over distance-

Most predators the size of humans are faster, so are the prey. This is not true over long distance, however. Primitive human hunters may well have simply run their prey to exhaustion. This is the idea in the article below.

The Human Body Is Built for Distance. By Tara Parker-Poper. New York Times.

I read this article about the same time I read about the crafty Montana ATV hunter getting his wolf. I immediately knew what I really didn’t like about his wolf hunt. His ATV! How we have fallen as hunters!

Because I’m 64, I do not jog anymore, but I walk and/or hike every day. After I read this and the ATV article, I went out, warmed up well and jogged a mile. I felt very good and not sore the next day.

As a people, too many of us need to get off our wheels and onto our feet.

Condos or Cows? Neither

This is an essay by George Wuerther on the topic whether we have to choose cows or housing development. I put it up in reponse to Wilderness Muse’s query on another post.

Note: this was written in 2003.

Condos or Cows? Neither! (1-20-03 edit)

by © George Wuerthner
Box 839
Richmond, Vermont


Ranching advocates present a false choice when they assert we must preserve ranching or suffer unrestricted sprawl.

Their ranching-as- land- preservation strategy is flawed in several ways.

First, livestock proponents vastly underestimate the ecological costs of livestock production. Growing cows in the West involves more than grazing grass, and the environmental impacts are countless and cumulative. Read the rest of this entry »

Vampires and werewolves. Would Forks want some real wolves?

Now is the time to speak up on Washington State’s wolf management plan-

Forks on the Olympic Pennisula, until recently best known for logging, is the home of Twilght, romantic vampires. Has anyone not seen this? Yes, people over 40.

To get you up-to-date, here is a video from the Seattle Times.

The Olympic Penninsula could probably support one or two wolf packs. They aren’t going to migrate there, but the Washington wolf plan could put them there so that all the wolves that migrate into Washington State from Canada and Idaho don’t pile up in NE Washington.

There are 5 meetings left on the plan. The next one is Monday, Nov. 2 in Seattle. There is even a meeting in Sequim, not far from Forks.

Be brave! 😉

Mon., Nov. 2 Seattle REI store
222 Yale AVE N
Wed., Nov.4 Mount Vernon Cottontree Inn Convention Center
2300 Market ST
Thu., Nov. 5 Sequim Guy Cole Convention Center
Carrie Blake Park, 212 Blake AVE
Mon., Nov. 9 Omak Okanogan County Fairgrounds Agriplex
Hwy 97 South
Tue., Nov. 10 Wenatchee Chelan County PUD Auditorium
327 N Wenatchee Ave.


Downed powerline electrocutes deer, wolf, other animals

Montana powerline down, had lethal juice in it for several months-

A snag fell across the line, bringing it the ground.

Downed power line near Eureka electrocutes more than a dozen animals. AP in the Missoulian

Long To-Do List for New U.S. Parks Chief

My view: Looks like the right people dislike the new chief-

Todd Wilkinson has a good article on Jarvis, the new director of the National Parks System.  Long To-Do List for New U.S. Parks Chief. By Todd Wilkinson, Christian Science Monitor. This is the first consolidated article on Jarvis I have seen.

As a regional director in the Park Service, Jarvis opposed the Bush Administration. He is also the first biologist to the Parks chief.

Yellowstone roads close Monday – Nov 2

Road from Gardiner to Mammoth to Cooke City remains open

Standard Yellowstone closing comes. Details.

After study, NPS alters fencing for pronghorns in Idaho

Jackson Hole herd is not the only long pronghorn migration-

Most people who follow wildlife news the West now know about the epic migration of the the pronghorn in Jackson Hole from summer to winter on desert south of Pinedale, WY and the big squeeze being put on this migration by the gas industry and subdivisions. They are also aware of the major effort to keep the migration route from being blocked.

Idaho has its own migrations too. They are not so long, but impressive. Finally some study is being done to map the routes and to use fencing to protect the route.

John Miller of the Associated Press has a good article on this.

Many more stories on “goodies” in the Interior Appropriations bill

Of course, Interior appropriations are not just for Montana

Here are a host more.

Interior and Environment Appropriations Bill benefits Minnesota. Review-Messenger.

Congress approves $475M to restore the Great Lakes. Deb Price / Detroit News Washington Bureau

Boxer Secures Funding for Key Investments Throughout California. California Chronicle

Funds for North Dakoka. Bismark Tribune.

Schumer: Additional $1 Billion Worth Of Critical Water And Sewer Grants across the country. News Channel 34

Funds for Oregon. My Central

Simpson gets money for Idaho. News release by Mike Simpson. Note that he also voted for a successful amendment not to monitor livestock shit in our air. . . . “Language to prohibit funds from being used to implement EPA rules requiring mandatory reporting of greenhouse gas emissions from livestock manure.  This language will protect farmers and ranchers from burdensome, unnecessary regulations at a time when the agriculture industry is struggling.”

Congress approves $1.9M to research mysterious disease killing N.J. bats. By Brian T. Murray/The Star-Ledger

Congress approves $4M in funding to preserve N.J. Highlands. By Lawrence Ragonese/The Star-Ledger

Folks might want to look this up for their own state and post in the comments. Most states got something.

Obama administration inches away from ‘time out’ for roadless forest logging

Is this a move away from Obama’s previous commitment to the Clinton Roadless Rule ?

In May, the Obama administration announced its intention to give Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack top level oversight over incursions into roadless areas.  The move was said to be Obama’s re-commitment to the Clinton Roadless Rule.

Obama administration inches away from ‘time out’ for roadless forest loggingThe Oregonian

Now it appears the administration is backing away from that directive, if only a little.

This month, the Agriculture Department returned to the Forest Service the authority to undertake certain projects in roadless forests without the secretary’s approval.

Bear Committee turns into jays; scolds Judge Molloy

Results of the Yellowstone Grizzly Coordinating Committee meeting Jackson, WY-

I think we see the real reason they are upset that the judge relisted the grizzly bear in this statement:

“Fremont County [Wyoming] Commissioner Pat Hickerson echoed Schwartz and several other commissioners when he said grizzly bears have begun to expand into areas where their presence is incompatible with activities such as producing livestock.[emphasis mine]. Once again, it’s the local noblemen who are upset.

Story on “the scolds” By Corey Hatch, Jackson Hole Daily.

Rocky Mountain Front, wildlife, and other projects get funded in Montana in Interior Appropriations Bill

Bill includes funding to reimburse for wolf kills, but may also contain money for proactive measures-

From what I’ve read, this sounds pretty good to me for wildlife and outdoors in Montana. Great Falls Tribune.

Mountain lion kills 2 alpacas. Ranch manager declines offer to kill predator

Ranch is between Ketchum and Hailey, Idaho-

Here is something you don’t read about very often, especially in Idaho.  A predator kills an animal on a ranch, and the owner or manager is not drooling for revenge.

Mountain lion kills 2 alpacas. Ranch manager declines offer to kill predator Idaho Mountain Express.

Posted in wildcats. Tags: , . 8 Comments »

Yellowstone Park wolves to decline for second year in a row

27 % decline in 2008 will be followed by another decline in ’09-

At the end of 2007 there were 171 wolves that lived primarily inside Yellowstone Park, but very high pup mortality due to disease (distemper) along with the natural attrition of adult and sub-adult wolves caused a 27% decline (124 wolves). Disease had hit the pups two other years since wolves beginning in 1995 were restored to Yellowstone. In each case, pups and the population rebounded the next year. Not so in 2009.

Once again pup mortality is very high. The Druid Pack lost all 8 of its pups, for example. There is one important pup mortality difference from 2008. This year the poor pup survival does not appear to be due to a distemper outbreak or other obvious disease.

Mortality of adult wolves is increasing from the mange infestation that seeped into the Park. Mollies Pack was the first pack known to have become infested, although Park border packs in Montana in eastward in Wyoming have suffered from the debilitating mite for years now. Doug Smith, Park wolf team leader, told me that Mollies still has mange, but is showing some improvment. Perhaps the most infested pack is the famous Druids. On the northern range, the Mt. Everts Pack also struggles with mange, but the Blacktail Pack, Agate Pack, and Quadrant Packs are mange free. It is expected that at the end of the year there will probably be 6 “breeding pairs” of wolves in the Park (the same as 2008).

For the first time there are more Park packs living south of famous Northern Range. Packs inhabit all corners of the Park, although the Bechler Pack in Park’s  southwest corner lost its only radio collar when its big white founding male finally died this summer. He originally migrated from the Northern Range all the way down. He was born to the once famous Rose Creek Pack, which was slowly driven northward out of the Park by other packs to eventually disappear as a discrete entity.

The decline of Park wolves has management implications for Idaho, Montana and Wyoming. Wolf managers in the states are generally quick to say,”Oh, studies show you can manage for 30% wolf mortality a year” (note that unlike with other animals, the word “manage” when used by state wolf managers always means to kill). Even some non-affiliated biologists say 30% wolf mortality a year and a stable population go together.

Data from Yellowstone Park shows this generalization has one big exception, and it would be wise to expect that more will happen on other places.

In other news, wolves have been visible inside Grand Teton National Park, with the Antelope Pack being particularly out in the open where visitors can watch them.

French Male [grizzly] Bears In Immediate Need Of More Females

The small population may be the cause of its own collapse without more females . . . STAT-

There aren’t many French brown [ursus arctos] bears left. What are have a badly distorted ratio in favor of males.  This might be the result of chance, the result of inbreeding, or male bears competing with each other by killing females’ cubs, but the only solution seems to be a quick trans-location of female bears into France.

French Male Bears In Immediate Need Of More Females. ScienceDaily.

Another grizzly found clawless

Poached bear found on the Blackfeet Indian Reservation of the Rocky Mountain Front-

Another grizzly found clawless. By Karl Puckett. Great Falls Tribune Staff Writer

Just for reference. This bear was part of the Northern Continental Divide ecosystem grizzly bear population, the largest grizzly population in the lower 48 states (more bears than greater Yellowstone).

Judge slashes Southern Nevada Water Authority

SNWA loses right to suck 6- billlion gallons of water a year from under Nevada desert valleys-

This is a blockbuster decision for the high desert of Nevada and western Utah and against the same old pattern of urban sprawl for Las Vegas. The state supreme court could yet rule for SNWA. It’s a big loss for Harry Reid and Pat Mulroy; and, of course, the developers.

PIPELINE PLANS: Judge kills water ruling. Permission for agency to tap three rural valleys rejected. By Henry Brean. Las Vegas Review Journal.

“Judge Norman Robison ruled that State Engineer Tracy Taylor ‘abused his discretion’ and ‘acted arbitrarily, capriciously and oppressively’ when he cleared the authority to pump more than 6 billion gallons of groundwater a year from Cave, Delamar and Dry Lake valleys.”


Ooops! Judge: No SNWA Pumping From Cave, Delamar, and Dry Lake Valleys. WaterWired.
Las Vegas loses water rights to key valleys. Chance of Rain

This decision and its importance was a little slow to dawn on the major newspapers. The Las Vegas Review Journal got it right from the start, however. The Las Vegas Sun, “sin city’s” “liberal newspaper” doesn’t seem to have covered it yet.
New 10/29. Nevada ruling could burst Las Vegas pumping plan. Snake Valley » Judge blisters official’s decision favoring Vegas. By Patty Henetz. Salt Lake Tribune. [this] “could doom Las Vegas’s plan to build a 300-mile, $3.5 billion pipeline from Snake Valley, which lies mainly in Utah, to the desert megalopolis.
Vegas water agency vows fight for groundwater plan. The Associated Press

Some photos ↓

Read the rest of this entry »

Toronto singer killed by coyotes

Cape Breton Highland National Park in Nova Scotia was site of the attack-

I’ve got to wonder if there weren’t really coywolves. On the other hand, there have been sporadic (non-fatal) attacks by coyotes on people in Yellowstone Park where it is just the original western coyote and occasional fatalities in other places.

Singer killed by two coyotes. The Star.

World’s tiger population is disappearing fast

Conferees from 20 countries gather to discuss strategies-

Talks over tiger extinction fears. The Press Association

In B.C.’s wilderness, where the wild things aren’t

Lots of grizzly bears have been killed in B.C.’s Bella Coola River valley-

Six years ago Jackie and I took a special trip to Bella Coola to see bears. We did, but it was clear the locals didn’t appreciate their value.

Mark Hume. In B.C.’s wilderness, where the wild things aren’t. The Globe and Mail.

Posted in Bears. Tags: , , . Comments Off on In B.C.’s wilderness, where the wild things aren’t

Paradise Valley hunter mauled by grizzly bear

This one may not have serious injury to the hunter-

I want to note that JerryB posted a version this story as a comment earlier, but it isn’t good to post an entire story because they are copyrighted.

Paradise Valley hunter mauled by grizzly bear. By Ben Pierce. Bozeman Chronicle Staff Writer. One hunter seems to have been mauled briefly as the bear was running from the other hunter. Back in the days of good whitebark pine crops at this time of year grizzlies would be up very high, not down among the gut piles. At least I think this might be part of what is going on here.

MT man poaches 2 wolves; pays $1135

Columbia Falls man cited for poaching two wolves-

Although it is wolf hunting season in Montana, one NW Montanan couldn’t wait. He shot two wolves along Whale Creek Road in the North Fork Flathead drainage on Oct. 9.  He plead guilty and paid a large fine for a wolf violation, a $1,135 fine.  A third wolf has been shot and left in the general North Fork Flathead area. That was in the Red Top Meadow area. Montana FWP is looking for info.

It isn’t clear if these poached wolves will be added to the quota of 75.

– – – – – – –

Someone sent me the photo below. This appears to be in the Lolo area NW of Missoula.



Wolf advocates submit brief in wolf delisting case

Plaintiffs (wolf advocates) file Memorandum in Support of Summary Judgment to overturn the Federal Government’s Delisting of Northern Rocky Mountain Wolves

For those interested in reading the legal filing submitted yesterday (10/26/09) :

Plaintiff’s Memorandum In Support of Motion For Summary Judgmentacrobat pdf

Area north of Gardiner closed due to bear activity

Too many griz were feeding on gut piles from past hunters-

The Beattie Gulch area on the Gallatin N.F. has been closed to hunting by the Forest Service. Larry Thorngren reported to us the other day that this gathering of grizzly bears was taking place. Hunters have been mauled before in Beattie Gulch, e.g., two in 2007.

Area north of Gardiner closed due to bear activity
. AP. Casper Star Tribune.

Photos of Wyoming Range

Protection of the Wyoming Range was one of the big achievements of 2009-

B. Henrie, who posts here under another name, provided the blog with some fine photos of these splendid mountains. He took them on a Sept. deer hunt. No doubt they are now covered with snow.

A million acres was withdrawn from oil and gas development by Congress in the Omnibus public lands bill supported by the Wyoming delegation.  Believe me these steep mountains so full of deer and elk would have been all slashed up. Thanks!


Toward Mt. Coffin from Wyoming Peak. View is to the north. Copyright B. Henrie

West from Wyoming Peak

West across the Greys River and Salt River Range from Wyoming Peak. Copyright B. Henrie


Ten wolves shot in Montana on opening day!

Montana’s wolf hunt did not have a slow start like Idaho’s-

Out of the quota of 75, already 23 wolves have been killed. In total eleven wolves were shot over the weekend.

The entire state was open to hunting for just 3 days. Southern Montana’s quota was filled on Sunday with the hunt ending at sunset today (Monday). Nine wolves in southern Montana had already been killed near Yellowstone Park before the general wolf, deer and elk season opened this weekend, so it took just 3 dead wolves to fill the quota for district 3, which takes in most of southern Montana. Note: district 2  which is still open includes SW Montana, a much smaller area than district 3. See map.

Story: Ten wolves in Montana shot on opening day. Great Falls Tribune.

Mont. shuts down wolf hunting in one of three districts

Remainder of the wolf quota was filled on the first day of the general hunt in district 3 (southern Montana)-

Mont. shuts down wolf hunting in one of three districts. By The Montana Standard News Services – 10/26/2009

Tracking science: Biologist’s findings show forest diversity, health influenced by wolves

Strong evidence that aspen groves are becoming healthier with presence of wolves.

Healthier aspen groves support more bird species, which may in turn help the overall health of forests. One thing mentioned in the article is that the pine beetle infestations seen throughout the west could be impacted with greater diversity and larger populations of birds. This has been well documented in Yellowstone Park, but it is interesting to see it happening in other wolf range too.

Discussion about wolves often focuses on how wolves impact elk populations and behavior and how that affects hunting.  Should wildlife management agencies focus solely on this or should they focus on the ecological benefits of wolves as well?  One could argue that the focus on wolf management is too narrow and that people should look beyond their narrow interests and look at systems as a whole.

Here is another question to ponder.  Can these benefits be realized on public lands impacted by heavy livestock grazing?

Aspen grove with new growth © Ken Cole

Aspen grove with new growth © Ken Cole

“Her findings: Wolves increase biodiversity; wolves affect elk behavior more than elk populations; and aspen growth in elk winter range is directly related to wolves.”

Tracking science: Biologist’s findings show forest diversity, health influenced by wolves. By Michael Jamison. Missoulian.

Most wolf occupied country, however, shows such a great impact from cattle, it is probably hard to sort out indirect effects of wolves on the vegetation. Cattle eat from half to 90% of the forage on most grazing allotments, leaving little for the elk, deer, pronghorn. As a result, the effect of changed elk behavior due to the wolves will probably be hard to document.

B.C. cull led to hybrid ‘monster wolves,’ study shows

Genetic study shows remaining gray wolves mated with dogs to produce dangerous hybrids-

Vancouver Island now again has real wolves, but could this explain some of the “wolf” attacks on hikers in the 1980s?

B.C. cull led to hybrid ‘monster wolves,’ study shows. Nicholas Read, Vancouver Sun

Do Dams Make A Difference? Similar Survival Rates For Pacific Salmon In Fraser And Columbia Rivers

Big surprise. Dams don’t matter?

Because they haven’t compared enough rivers, there are plenty of other hypothesis. I propose the Fraser River stocks do poorly because of all the disease breeding salmon farms the B.C. government has allowed between the mouth of the Fraser and the open ocean.

Do Dams Make A Difference? Similar Survival Rates For Pacific Salmon In Fraser And Columbia Rivers. ScienceDaily

Wolves in hunters’ sights as Montana big-game season opens

Until now only limited parts of the state have been open of wolf hunting-
Now many hunters will be looking for wolves statewide along with many elk and deer hunts-

Hunters being given chance to manage wolves. By Rob Chaney. The Missoulian

Montana’s wolf quota of 75 is small compared to Idaho’s 220, despite Idaho’s 1/3 larger wolf population.

Controversy continues over the death of Yellowstone Park wolves that were north of the Park during the early wolf hunt. Montana wolf hunt is stalked by controversy.  The demise of a much-studied pack raises questions about lifting the hunting ban in areas bordering Yellowstone park. By Kim Murphy. Los Angeles Times. The article confirms what I have been saying, “Wolves often stalk elk outside the park and are attracted by entrails the hunters leave behind. But this year, the elk season coincided with the opening of the state’s first wolf hunt in modern times.” [emphasis mine]

Some preliminary data on Montana wolf hunt

It’s good to know some data is actually being collected-

This is interesting although based on only 9 kills and all in the A-B Wilderness north of Yellowstone.

Details provide insight to first hunts. Billings Gazette.

Posted in Montana wolves, wolf hunt, Wolves. Tags: . Comments Off on Some preliminary data on Montana wolf hunt

Investigation under way after ranchers build fence in national forest

New path essentially creates a new road near Bear Lake

Rancher admits that they departed from the approved route, which had an old fenceline already cut, because they didn’t want to go through the Forest Service process of getting it changed.

“It’s just completely ridiculous, the process they have,” Wamsley says.

The new route cuts a 40-65 foot swath through the forest for 3 1/2 miles.

Investigation under way after ranchers build fence in national forest (video included)

Opinion about “Pipelines to Desert for Pumping are Bad Idea and should be scrapped”

Great Basin Water Network tells the “real reason” why Utah politicians laid down for Las Vegas water steal-

The Great Basin Water Network says Utah will give up Snake Valley and state’s air quality to Las Vegas for support of their own urban sprawl pipeline — Lake Powell to St. George, UT.

Pat Mulroy (image), the Southern Nevada Water Authority executive director (said to be the most powerful woman in Nevada).

Anti-wolf dominates at Yakima Washington wolf plan meeting

Some professed “hunters” at meeting fear they will be eaten-

Another state; same fairy tales. Yakima, of course, isn’t the same as on the west side of the Cascades.

Community voices wolf concerns at WDFW forum. Some residents say hunting animals might be necessary to preserve human safety. By Scott Sandsberry. Yakima Herald-Republic
Someone just commented that the link was broken. The link above is now fixed.  Sorry and thanks!

This is a meeting on Washington’s wolf management plan. This is not the federal government.

Once again, here is the link to the plan.

SW Montana nobleman locks out hunters out of his duchy because he doesn’t like MT wolf policy

Big livestock operator says there are too many wolves; so bans hunters in protest-

Rancher halts public hunting. Hirschy protests wolf policy, withdraws from state program. By Nick Gevock. Montana Standard.

The Big Hole country is mostly very nice, but there ought to be a public land access program started where access for the public is condemned across the land of the local earls, barons, and dukes.

Shot grizzly bear was 399’s cub

Bear shot next to gut pile near Ditch Creek, WY was one of the famous cubs of GB399.

There has already been one post on this, long debates, and one person removed from posting over this incident. The dead cub (no longer a cub when shot) was confirmed as one of 399’s three cubs.

Story. Jackson Hole Daily. Dead bear was 399 cub. By Cory Hatch, Jackson Hole, WY. October 23, 2009

– – – – –

For newcomers. Why was grizzly399 famous?

The Saga of bear 399. By Todd Wilkinson.
There is also a premium article in the Wildlife Art Journal.

Grizzly mom No. 399 ready to send cubs packing. No. 399 finds a new mate, meaning kids have to fend for themselves. By Cory Hatch. Jackson Hole News and Guide. May 21, 2008.

Debate arises whether Montana wolf hunt wiped out Park’s Cottonwood Pack

Four pack members were killed. Which pack or packs did the other 5 wolves come from?

Defenders of Wildlife is disputing with Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks. It does appear that at least some pups from the Cottonwood Pack are left. Maybe some adults survive too.

Strictly speaking the Cottonwood Pack has pretty much always been a Park transboundary Pack, a backcountry pack to be sure, but it is often north of the Park. However, I do think Park wolves, like Park bears, have learned to move north during the the elk hunt to clean up the remains of the hunt. This makes them vulnerable to being killed in the Montana wolf hunt.

There has been a lot of misinformed talk about a hunt on Park wolves, but, of course, there is no legal hunting of anything inside Yellowstone Park.  However, could what are normally Park wolves be effectively hunted the rest of the wolf season or in the future if Park wolves, being smart like bears, move north when the elk hunt begins.

Story. Wolf pack adults killed by hunters, group says. Billings Gazette. By Brett French.

Montana resumes big-game wolf hunt on Sunday

Rest of state opens up as well as Absaroka-Beartooth Wilderness which had an emergency closure-

The quota is 75, of which12 have already been killed.

Montana resumes big-game wolf hunt on Sunday. By the Associated Press.

Although only 3 more wolves can be taken in the Wilderness area just north of the YNP boundary, if wolves do come northward out of the Park to eat the remains of the elk kills in the Wilderness area (likely I think), having this area in the wolf hunt has the clear effect of legally killing what are normally Park wolves.

Here is the Montana wolf hunt map.

Nevada’s Jarbidge Wilderness, cleanest air, quietest in country

They forgot about the mercury pollution from nearby gold pits-

A scenic hike. By Mike Cothern – Times-News correspondent

State and federal bear offcials to meet and discuss Molloy’s ruling adding griz back to list

Meeting on how to respond to the relisting of Yellowstone area griz set for Oct. 28-9-

Hopefully they will do more than complain and say the judge was wrong.

Story. Associated Press.

A second story. Pheasant hunter shoots grizzly sow

The 3 cubs were in good shape and couldn’t be trapped. In addition, there is yet another sow with 3 cubs in the area!

Rather than some marginal glade far from grizzly country (the Eldorado Grove), this sounds like grizzly central at this time of year where the bears are fat and cubs do well.

Here is a followup story in the Choteau Acantha. Pheasant hunter shoots grizzly sow

Idaho Fish and Game prepares to close wolf hunt in 3 zones

Hunters are nearing the quota in three Idaho wolf hunting zones-

Sixty-nine wolves have been shot now, 151 are left in the quota, but their are  sub-quotas — quotas for each wolf zone.

Palouse-Hells Canyon, McCall-Weiser, and Upper Snake have only 3 wolf tags left to fill.  Two of the three had only 5 tags to start with. McCall-Weiser had 15 tags and 12 have been filled.  The most wolves have been killed in the Sawtooth Zone, 17; but the quota is 55.

No wolves have been shot in Southern Idaho where the quota is 5.  In fact, there might not any wolves there.   The only real surprise to me is the Lolo Zone where Idaho Fish and Game and hunters have been crying for years now that there are huge number of wolves, and they say have had a big impact on elk.  However, only 3 wolves have been taken out of a quota of 27.  I never believed there were all that many wolves in the area, and have stated my opinion time after time.

An interesting question will be will the Idaho Fish and Game Commission increase quotas in some areas if as the hunt goes on, it becomes clear that certain hunting zone quotas will not be filled.  Alternatively they might call on that band of killers, Wildlife Services, to go in and make sure the quota is filled. Both possibilities will create a lot of controversy.

Story. Idaho F&G prepares to shutter wolf hunt in 3 zones. The Associated Press.

Map and table giving Idaho wolf hunt info to date.

Nevada threatened Utah on Snake Valley

. . . and Utah officials had no backbone-

This gets more and more disgusting the longer the story goes on.

Today’s article in the Salt Lake Tribune has a handy sidebar with links to past articles.

Did Utah blink in Snake Valley talks? Water » New documents show Beehive State’s position changed after Nevada’s threats. By Patty Henetz. The Salt Lake Tribune

– – – – –

Don’t forget to read this High Country News feature as background. Silenced Springs? Great Basin waters face threats big and small. By J. Madeleine Nash. High Country News.

BLM won’t fight grazing ban on Idaho allotment

Domestic sheep will not return to allotment in bighorn sheep habitat.

The Partridge Creek allotment in the Salmon River Canyon near Riggins is closed to domestic sheep grazing after Western Watersheds Project, The Wilderness Society, and Hells Canyon Preservation Council filed suit in Federal Court.

This is a huge victory for bighorn sheep which have declined in number to 3500 statewide, half of 1990’s population.

BLM won’t fight grazing ban on Idaho allotment
Associated Press

Earlier: Federal judge shutters Idaho grazing allotment

Washington State wolf plan out for public review*

Plan contemplates a possible large state wolf population-

Plan contemplates floor of 15 breeding pairs. Wolves to be distributed all around the state. AP

The preferred alternative sounds like an advanced plan with a much better distribution pattern of wolves than we find in Idaho, and especially better than Montana or Wyoming. Currently the state has two wolf packs. One, near Twisp, falls fully under protection of the Endangered Species Act and consists of wolves that migrated in, not from the Rockies, but from the B.C. Coastal ranges.

Here is the plan. 4.5mb pdf

– – – – – –

*Whoever wrote the headline in the PI story didn’t seem to sense the real story in the story.

B.C. grizzly, possible predatory attack on 2 men in tent

Hunters survive night attack in Purcell Mountains. Hiked 5 kilometers back to truck after attack-

Two lucky hunters survived what sounds to me like a half-hearted predatory attack by a female grizzly. There is evidence that they had been followed by two grizzlies earlier that day.

I say “half-hearted” because they would not have survived a full scale attack. Although they had a rifle in the tent, during the struggle they couldn’t chamber the bullet. Fortunately, they were able to chase the bear away.

B.C. hunters on the mend after grizzly bear attack. By Sunny Dhillon (CP)

Utah wildlife: Leave it to the beavers

Utah gets a beaver management plan-

Restoring beaver to a creek changes just about everything, mostly for the good, especially if there are no buildings or needed roads near the creek.

Story on Utah’s first beaver management plan. Plan looks to use the large rodents as a watershed restoration tool. By Brett Prettyman. The Salt Lake Tribune

Here at Pocatello, in SE Idaho where I live, there has been active beaver restoration in Bannnock and Portneuf Mountains ranges to the south and southeast of town. A number of the streams have been transformed. The flow of water in them has generally stabilized over the year, the creek areas are greener and the humidity of the drainage increased. They are also a magnet for other wildife, especially birds, and I have seen fish large enough to catch for the first time in several creeks where I wasn’t sure there even was a fish population.

Beaver management is necessary if there are roads and structures. Fortunately, the attitude is changing from kill a problem beaver, to transplant it.

It looks like Utah is ahead of Idaho, however, in beaver management.


New beaver pond floods a former area of vandalism and stream degradation. East Fork Mink Creek, Idaho. Copyright Ralph Maughan

NRA wants to join lawsuit on delisting

NRA members tell phantasmagorical story to try to gain standing-

If this really happened, most people would regard it as the highlight their trip, not the basis of a lawsuit. Three blood dripping wolf packs, driven off by snowballs!  They should be denied standing to intervene.

NRA wants to join lawsuit on delisting. By Eve Byron. Helena Independent Record.

Gordon Haber feared dead

Friend of the Toklat pack in Denali National Park thought dead in air crash-

Gordon Haber feared dead. By Craig Medred. Alaska Dispatch.

“Biologist Gordon Haber loved wolves. Most of all, he loved the wolves of the Toklat pack in Denali National Park, and it now it appears that love has cost him his life.”

Wildlife Services Montana kills twice as many wolves on Blackfoot Reservation than entire wolf hunt so far

23 wolves in pack killed for some reason-

So far 12 wolves have been killed in Montana’s wolf hunt. It has generated a lot of controversy because most were taken in a small area just north of Yellowstone Park. Montana’s wolf hunt quota is 75.

I read in the latest Montana Wolf Weekly Report today that in contrast to the 12, twenty-three wolves in the Livermore Pack on the Blackfoot Indian Reservation were killed by Wildlife Services this year. Fifteen were killed in September alone. These wolves were said to be responsible for an unstated number of livestock losses. I read a number of their past wolf weeklies and could find no information why 23 wolves had to die for killing something.

Here is the URL of the wolf weekly that reports this

While the focus remains on the wolf hunt, I must emphasize again the real threat to wolves is not hunters, but Wildlife Services with its huge budget, high tech gear, and a mandate to aid and comfort the noblemen of Idaho, Montana, and Wyoming.

Yellowstone plan sharply curtails snowmobiles

Up to 318 snowmobiles and 78 snow coaches allowed into the Park each day

Yellowstone plan sharply curtails snowmobiles
Associated Press

Summary: It was a very modest fire season in Idaho

2009 third-smallest fire season since 1970. By Todd Adams. The Challis Messenger.

Posted in wildfire. Tags: , . Comments Off on Summary: It was a very modest fire season in Idaho

Do you ever wonder about the threats to Canadian Rivers?

South Saskatchewan is the most threatened-

Canadian rivers in trouble, study warns. By Mike De Souza, Canwest News Service

Detailed Report. Canada’s Rivers at Risk. pdf file with lots of photos and charts

Western Watersheds wins a second legal case today

The focus has been on the bighorn sheep versus domestic sheep case, but Greta Anderson of the WWP’s Arizona office won an case before an administratrive law judge today — Western Watersheds Project v. Bureau of Land Management and intervener Byner Cattle Corporation.

Here is the order. Byner Complex Order October 2009

Idaho Public Broadcasting Focuses on Wolves and Wolf Hunt in Idaho

Two Programs and an interview.

Wolf © Ken Cole

Wolf © Ken Cole

Tonight (Thursday, October 15th) Idaho Public Television will focus on wolves in Idaho. They will start off the night with an episode of Outdoor Idaho and open up discussion about wolves following the program on Dialogue where you can call in to ask questions of the panelists.

Panelists include:
Jon Rachael, wildlife manager, Idaho Department of Fish and Game
Suzanne Asha Stone, Defenders of Wildlife
Carter Niemeyer, former wolf recovery coordinator, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
Mike Popp, hunter and outfitter, Kamiah, ID

This morning Boise State Radio played an interesting interview with Carter Niemeyer.

Wolves in Idaho
Idaho Public Television Outdoor Idaho

Wolf Hunting
Idaho Public Television Dialogue

To Catch a Wolf an interview with Carter Niemeyer about wolf trapping in Idaho.
Boise State Radio

Federal judge shutters Idaho grazing allotment

Ruling protects bighorn sheep in the Salmon River Canyon.

Bighorn Sheep © Ken Cole

Bighorn Sheep © Ken Cole

The BLM Partridge Creek Allotment has been closed to sheep grazing to protect bighorn sheep from domestic sheep disease. This is a big victory for bighorn sheep in the Salmon River Canyon. These sheep are native sheep and have seen drastic declines over the years due to domestic sheep diseases.

This decision follows victories for bighorn sheep on US Forest Service allotments in the area.

Federal judge shutters Idaho grazing allotment
Associated Press UPDATED STORY

acrobat pdfRead the order here

From Western Watersheds Project:

WWP expands bighorn sheep protection to Bureau of Land Management lands

~ Jon Marvel Read the rest of this entry »

Conservation Targets Too Small To Stop Extinction

Study indicates 5000 mature individuals are needed for population viability

Conservation Targets Too Small To Stop Extinction

This determination could have profound implications for the protection of many species. Many biologists use a number of 2000 individuals in a population for maintenance of viable populations over the long term. In the Northern Rockies the USFWS believes that 1600 (and declining) wolves represent a viable population that can persist over the long term. The National Park Service presumes that maintaining only 2300 bison in Yellowstone will maintain the genetic diversity needed for long term viability. According the USFWS even fewer grizzlies are needed for recovery with 500-600 bears in the Yellowstone DPS.

According to the new study:

“populations of endangered species are unlikely to persist in the face of global climate change and habitat loss unless they number around 5000 mature individuals or more”

Grizzly Bear, Buffalo, Wolf © Ken Cole

Grizzly Bear, Buffalo, Wolf © Ken Cole

Noise pollution threatens animals

Noisy and getting noisier

Noise pollution threatens animals

“Sounds produced by vehicles, oil and gas fields and urban sprawl interfere with the way animals communicate, mate and prey on one another.”

Great Gray Owl © Ken Cole

Great Gray Owl © Ken Cole

Alone on the Range

Just one wild horse left on Flathead Lake’s Wild Horse Island, but there is no shortage of horses that could repopulate the island-

The Missoula Independent did a feature on the contentious issue of the management of the wild (or feral) horses of the West.

Alone on the Range. Only one wild horse remains on Flathead Lake’s Wild Horse Island. As officials look to repopulate the park, the government wrestles with the larger challenge of managing these icons of the West. By Erika Fredrickson.

Interview with new director of the National Park System

Wants to get kids into nature, great! Otherwise interview is a lot of nothing-

New director: All of us should visits parks. Jarvis ranks protection, management of resources among his core values. By Cory Hatch, Jackson Hole Daily.

ID officials fly state plane, mining industry pays

Will there be a similar flight for opponents of the mining? No.

A state owned plane carrying Lt. Gov. Brad Little, Attorney General Lawrence Wasden, House Assistant Majority Leader Scott Bedke, deputy Attorney General Clive Strong, and mining lobbyist Jack Lyman for a tour of eastern Idaho phosphate mining areas was paid for by mining lobbyists. People aren’t too happy about it and some are crying foul because there was no one with differing views of the mining operations on board.

ID officials fly state plane, mining industry pays
John Miller – Associated Press

Our View: Officials should be careful with lobbying
Idaho Statesman

Bird hunter kills sow grizzly north of Choteau

Unfortunately she had three cubs-

Choteau (show toe). This took place on the plains on the Rocky Mountain Front. Despite the mention of Teton County, it is Teton County, Montana not Teton County, Wyoming or Idaho. This pheasant hunter was from Alaska.

Story: Bird hunter kills sow grizzly north of Choteau. Choteau Arcantha.

The grizzly cubs won’t likely make it.

Boa constrictors, anacondas and pythons — slither wild in southern Florida.

Warming climate means these escaped exotics will likely populate northward-

With all the escaped animals from all over the tropics finding a home in Florida, things are getting exciting. Studies show some large snakes could survive as far north as Oregon.

Giant snakes warming to U.S. climes. By Janet Raloff . Science News.

Mule deer gores Colorado woman

Motorist saves woman as she was being stomped by the buck-

Florissant, Colorado area deer gores woman who tried to pet it. By Daniel Petty. The Denver Post

Montana wolf-hunt quota could change after 9 shot near Yellowstone

The remaining quota might be adjusted or other changes made-

Montana wolf-hunt quota could change after 9 shot near Yellowstone. By Matthew Brown. AP

Teton Dam now less likely to be rebuilt

Like the undead, there was movement to rebuild the disastrous Teton Dam in Eastern Idaho. Maybe now it will stop-

Idaho Department of Water Resources director, a big supporter of rebuilding the Teton Dam, retires. Salt Lake Tribune

If you are not old enough to have heard of, or remember the Teton Dam, here is the Wikipedia article.


A few years after the Teton Dam collapsed this sarcastic t-shirt made the rounds in Eastern Idaho as some fools started talking about rebuilding it. As you can see, I wore mine quite a bit. Ralph Maughan

UI questions prof’s attendance at bighorn meeting

I’ve been traveling for the last week but while I was in Nevada I was contacted by John Miller about this story.

On September 29th the meetings of the Bighorn Sheep/Domestic Sheep Advisory Board restarted after a several month hiatus.  They will continue to meet into the future.

UI questions prof’s attendance at bighorn meeting
John Miller – Associated Press

– – – – –
In past about Bulgin. Story June 17,2009. Univ. of Idaho puts Marie Bulgin on Leave during course of bighorn investigation

African big cats are picky about where they live

It’s not just a mater of available food-

Maybe they think cropland is just plain ugly?

No Place Like Home: Africa’s Big Cats Show Postcode Preference. ScienceDaily

Griz attacks hunter; hunter’s companion shoots at bear, hits other hunter

No word on the condition of shot hunter in incident near Cooke City, MT-

I’m surprised this hasn’t happened more often. The news story so far is sketchy.

Here is a little more (newer) information. Man Attacked by bear near Cooke City, MT.

Elk will not be fed near Sun Valley, ID this winter

Long time private feeding by Wood River Elk Trust terminated-

It looks like some wisdom has seeped in. Feeding elk on the edge of town disrupts elk natural patterns and attracts wolves, cougars, coyotes into town. This problem will not be resolved immediately, however, because the elk now expect food. They will come to the edge of town, find no food laid out and probably attack the shrubbery.

No elk feeding in Elkhorn this winter. SV Elkhorn Association denies proposal. By Jon Duval. Idaho Express Staff Writer

What happens to ranchers’ pet cows – not for faint-hearted

I found this shocking piece on the Yellowstone Net forum-

Here it is. You have been warned.

Obama’s Environmental Policies Reflect Bush

Obama’s environmental policies reflect Bush’s. By John H. Weis. Op-ed in the Salt Lake Tribune

My opinion. Ralph Maughan. Obama is interesting in abating climate change and some high profile issues, but as we have complained many times he doesn’t seem to have any feeling for the public lands of the West, except maybe for the national parks. In that, he is a typical American who doesn’t live in the West. He might not even understand what the BLM is. I think he’s a smart man, but with a big hole in his knowledge.

Into the Wild

Camping deep in Yellowstone Park’s backcountry-

Although titled after the movie about the young man who perished in Alaska’s Wilderness, this feature is by a man who ventured into the Park’s deep backcountry. For those of us who have done this multiple times, such as myself, this is hardly extraordinary, but for those who haven’t the account may be quite interesting.

Into the Wild. By William Powers. Special to The Washington Post

Cow flop? No, an unusual fungus

Out walking in cow country in the mountains above Pocatello, ID the other day, I came across this large fungus. Does anyone know what it is?


In the Bannock Mountains. SE Idaho. Copyright Ralph Maughan. Oct. 2009

Wildlife advocates irked by wolf tally next to Yellowstone

More reaction on the “unexpectedly” large number of wolf hunt kills next to Yellowstone Park-

Wildlife advocates irked by wolf tally. By Daniel Person. Bozeman Chronicle.

USFWS Wolf news Oct. 5- 9

Here is a smattering of official wolf news, mostly Wyoming, from Ed Bangs-


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
WYOMING WOLF WEEKLY- Oct 5 through Oct 9, 2009

Web Address – USFWS reports (past weekly and annual reports) can be viewed at . Weekly reports for Montana and Idaho are produced by those States and can be viewed on the Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks website ( and Idaho Department of Fish and Game website All weekly and annual reports are government property and can be used for any purpose. Please distribute as you see fit. Read the rest of this entry »

Savage Rapids Dam gone. Oregon’s Rogue River closer to freedom

All sides win as 90-year-old salmon killer is demolished-

When Gold Ray Dam (further upstream) is taken out next year, over 150 miles of the magnificent Rogue River of SW Oregon will have been returned to freedom.

Story in the LA Times. Oregon dam’s demise lets the Rogue River run. By Kim Murphy.

Open thread. Discuss what you want

I don’t know if we can have a productive open thread during the wolf hunt, but folks often like open discussion threads, so let’s see.  I know emotions are high right now about wolf hunting, but a reasoned comment is more effective than a burst of emotion.

Servheen: Grizzlies in more danger on threatened species list

Greater Yellowstone Coalition’s attorney calls Servheen’s statement to the court “absurd”-

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is asking judge Molloy to reverse his decision to put the Yellowstone area grizzly back on the threatened species list. The coordinator of the federal grizzly recovery program, Chris Servheen, controversial long-time coordinator of the Yellowstone grizzly record program, argued that relisting bears would somehow hurt them. This seems silly on the surface. I’d like to read his declaration to see how he makes this argument.

Servheen: Grizzlies in more danger on threatened species list. Matthew Brown. AP

Salazar gives a mixed decision on reanalysis of tracts wrecked in gas auction by Tim DeChristopher

Eight tracts will not be auctioned; 52 studied more, 17 given up to oil and gas interests-

Tim DeChristopher’s brave disruption of the December 2008 oil and gas lease auction in Utah has resulted in a new decision by the new Secretary of Interior. Politicians and groups are characterizing it in differing fashions according to their political party and interest.

I’d call the decision mixed.

Interior boss says no to drilling on 8 Utah parcels. Auction fallout » Salazar vows to develop oil, gas ‘the right way.’ By Patty Henetz And Thomas Burr. The Salt Lake Tribune

Update. LA Times story on Salazar’s decision. Few Bush-era energy leases are valid, report finds. By Nicholas Riccardi

Idaho Scenic Beauty. Boulevard Springs Cattle Exclosure

Comparison photos are fun!


The exclosure protects the springs from grazing. This is on BLM land in the Mountain Springs grazing allotment. Copyright Ralph Maughan

Kathie Lynch on the Yellowstone Park wolves shot in Montana wolf hunt

Details revealed how Park wolf pack was eliminated in Montana wolf hunt-

The more you think about it, it is amazing how stupid it was for Montana to begin their wolf hunt right next to Yellowstone Park in the very place most of the wolves live.

Kathie Lynch has a lot of detail I was not familiar with. Park wolf watchers may not be pleased that they shot wolf 527F and eliminated a Park pack — the Cottonwood Pack.

– – – – –

Yellowstone National Park’s Cottonwood wolf pack is gone. By Kathie Lynch. Copyright

Yellowstone National Park’s Cottonwood wolf pack is gone. The graying-black seven-year-old alpha female (527F), the jet black four-year-old beta female (716F) and at least two others (adults or pups?) were all recently reported killed outside of the Park boundary in the Montana wolf hunt. For all who study, advocate for and have worked tirelessly to restore grey wolves to their keystone species role in nature, the loss is profound.

The death of wolves like 527F and 716F is a great loss, not only for the Cottonwood pack, but also for science. Researchers have spent countless hours, days, weeks and years recording observations of their behavior, habits and genealogy. The value of such long-term data is immense.

Because they are so highly visible, the Yellowstone wolves have contributed mightily to our understanding of the species. Peering through the window of a spotting scope or binoculars, we have come to better understand the daunting challenges of living life in the wild and the importance of preserving wilderness. Over the years, thousands of park visitors have had a chance to share in the challenges of life in the wild for 527F and 716F.

Here are the stories of these two true champions at heart…

Cottonwood alpha female 527F was born into the Druid Peak pack in 2002, the offspring of legendary alphas 21M and 42F. Independent and full of initiative, she left the Druids as a yearling and joined their archenemy, the Slough Creek pack. With the Sloughs, she endured the distemper epidemic in 2005 and the siege by the Unknown pack in 2006.

In the fall of 2007, 527F moved on yet again and founded the Cottonwood pack. Resourceful and secretive, she made a home for her new pack high on the Hellroaring slopes.

During the summer of 2009, 527F led her pack back to her old territory near Slough Creek. Park visitors gathered eagerly every morning in Little America for the chance to watch 527F’s family of seven adults tend their four pups, one of which even had a white tip on its tail, just like its mother!

Five twenty-seven was a survivor. She stayed out of the way, and she stayed out of trouble…until the day in early October when she stepped outside of the Park boundary and a wolf hunter’s gunshot killed her.

Just a few days earlier, Cottonwood beta female 716F had met the same fate. From the very start, 716F–known for years as simply “The Dark Female”–epitomized the essence of what it means to survive in the wild.

Born to the Slough Creek pack in 2005, 716F was one of only three Slough pups to survive that year’s distemper epidemic. As a yearling in 2006, she heroically helped in the futile struggle to save the pack’s pups during the siege by the Unknowns.

In 2007, she was the only one of the seven Slough females who did not get pregnant. She and the young gray Slough alpha male (a recent immigrant from the Agate Creek pack) stayed “busier than bird dogs” hunting and providing for the six new mothers and their pups. I so vividly remember seeing her sleek black body jetting back and forth between Jasper Bench and Slough Creek, bringing food to the growing family.

The Slough alpha female, 380F, never appreciated 716F’s efforts and persecuted her mercilessly, eventually driving her out of the pack. We lost track of her for a while, so it was a wonderful surprise to rediscover her last February. As we watched the capture (collaring) procedure from Hellroaring overlook, it slowly dawned on us that the sleek black body jetting around below us was indeed “The Dark Female” (soon to become 716F)!

It was great to see that she had a last found a home and had risen to the status of beta female. With her enthusiasm and great spirit, she would have made a worthy alpha, if 527F had preceded her in death–and if she had had the chance.

But, it was not to be. The lives of both of these extraordinary wolves, who had each contributed so much to research and our knowledge of the species, were snuffed out. They had stayed out of trouble; they did not prey on livestock. Their only mistake was in stepping over the Park’s invisible boundary line.

What can we learn from their mistake–a mistake that cost them their lives? Nothing will bring back 527F, 716F, the two other Cottonwoods and the many other wolves who have been shot. The fact that wolves have been so easily hunted and killed during the legal hunt is testimony to the fact that wolves need increased and continuing protection. So that their deaths will not be in vain, we, as wolf advocates, must ask what we can do to further protect the species we have worked so hard to bring back from the brink.

We are at the crossroads. Wolves in the Northern Rocky Mountains are currently delisted. Wolf hunting is a reality in Montana and Idaho. Wolf advocates need to find new ways to protect and preserve the species. Unless we do, the years of effort and research that went into reestablishing this keystone species will have all been in vain as we continue to watch wolf after wolf die.

Controversial Grizzly Bear Death A Family Tragedy

An Obituary For Bear 615-

This is a story about the recent killing of the grizzly in Ditch Creek. For several reasons that posting caused quite a stir on the blog

The feature article below is written by Todd Wilkinson who has a new web site I was not aware of — Wildlife Art Journal It looks interesting.

Controversial Grizzly Bear Death A Family Tragedy. An Obituary For Bear 615. By Todd Wilkinson.

Montana suspends wolf hunting near Yellowstone Park

3/4 of the quota was reached quickly, and all very near Yellowstone Park-

Montana suspends wolf hunting near Yellowstone Park. AP

Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks likes to think that a wolf hunt will decrease wolves killing livestock, but if all the wolves shot are wolves that have never even seen a cow, that argument isn’t valid.

Montana’s backcountry wolf hunt criticized after surprisingly quick kills. By Pete Thomas. LA Times.

Phantom Hill wolf killed

The first of Idaho’s only, sort of, semi-protected only by private money, wolf pack is shot in the wolf hunt-

Lynne Stone reported this earlier in a comment

Phantom Hill wolf killed. 29 33 wolves shot in Idaho this season. By Jon Duval. Idaho Mountain Express Staff Writer.

Protecting this locally popular wolf pack has been a project by Defenders of Wildlife. It has cost a lot of money because there are so many bands of domestic sheep that invade the area — are trucked in — every June to October, but it shows it can be done with minimal losses of sheep.

The protection of the pack has been controversial. Wolf haters don’t like it on general principle. Some conservationists pointing to the inherent tokenism of the effort and the irony of spending money to protect weak animals (domestic sheep) that don’t belong in the rugged mountains and graze on taxpayer’s dime, decry the Phantoms as a “boutique” pack.

Prey often have a very specific vocabulary for the type of predator giving them the “eye”

‘Leopard Behind You!’ By Olivia Judson. “The Wild Side” in the New York Times.

Silenced Springs? Great Basin waters face threats big and small.

High Country News does major feature on the proposed draining of Nevada desert valleys, including Snake Valley on the NV/UT border-

For some time now I have been posting stories on the diversion of desert valley aquifers to provide more water for glitter and sprawl at Sin City. These posts are but most modestly read. Now High Country News has produced a major feature article on this growing issue.

Hopefully this will be some kind of turning point in interest on the issue.

Silenced Springs? Great Basin waters face threats big and small. By J. Madeleine Nash. High Country News.

Update Oct. 8. Snake Valley. First, do no harm. Salt Lake Tribune editorial.

Folks should also consider that this polluted dust from desert valley dewatering is not just going to blow into Utah. It will hit Idaho, Oregon and Wyoming too. Nevada has been one hell of a dangerous state to its neighbors — radioactive pollution from open air A-bomb tests, huge amounts of mercury from the open pit gold mines, and now this scheme that will make us suffer and maybe ruin our health to help Sin City grow.

Posted in Las Vegas, politics. Tags: , , , , , . Comments Off on Silenced Springs? Great Basin waters face threats big and small.

Endangered-species lists may be broadened

State, feds take a fresh look at once-rejected protections-

Endangered-species lists may be broadened. State, feds take a fresh look at once-rejected protections. By Bruce Finley. The Denver Post

Recent stories on the blog have indicated this is happening. This article puts it all together. Many of these are continuing “gifts” from disgraced Bush deputy secretary of Interior, Julie MacDonald who couldn’t keep her industrial hands off of the work of agency scientists.

Not all, however.

I have always liked Colorado’s own preemptive effort to restore the lynx on its own, even though some conservation groups objected.

– – – – –
Update. Related story.

Alaska sea otters get a lot of help from Administration. Critical habitat designated for them.  By Mary Pemberton. Associated Press Writer. Fact sheet on this from US Fish and Wildlife Service. PDF file.  This file is a vast amout of information. The news story by the AP above is brief.

Wyoming Game and Fish: Grizzly Bears doing well

State game agency says grizzlies will find something else to eat even though whitebark pine are mostly dead-

State: Bears doing well. By Cory Hatch. Jackson Hole Daily.

“Game and Fish officials acknowledged that mountain pine beetle activity continues at relatively high levels and many whitebark pine trees have died. But they said bears usually find alternative foods such as deer and elk meat.”

WY G&F fails to note that grizzly bears in the area are already the most carnivorous in North America. They are right, however, there really are other foods, of course. The local landed noblemen will probably object to grizzlies eating the livestock.

Montana Wolf overseer surprised by high harvest

A premature NYT article about the Idaho wolf hunt had made it appear the hardly any wolves were being killed, now a different view from Montana-

Actually it is still too early to know if the states’ wolf  “harvest” quotas will be meet, although the sudden jump in Idaho numbers as general elk season opened as well as all wolf hunting units open in Idaho, makes it more likely the quota will be filled.

The fact that wolf hunters are doing well in the backcountry has important implications if the trend continues. The reason is the deliberately propagated belief that hunting would disproportionately eliminate “problem” wolves in the front country where there are livestock.

Story: Montana Wolf overseer surprised by high harvest. By Brett French of the Billings Gazette.

I should add that Montana set a more cautious wolf quota than Idaho. Montana has a shorter wolf season too. Therefore, there is less chance of an overshoot than in Idaho.  Idaho is also expected to use Wildlife Services, a quasi-federal agency to stage a pogrom against wolves after the hunting season to eliminate wolves in areas where the landed noblemen of the state have been disturbed by their presence.

– – – –

10/7. Update. Looking at the quick rise on hunter success as more deer and elk seasons open, coupled with snow, I think Idaho and Montana will meet their wolf quotas. Ralph Maughan
10/7. Story spreads to LA Times.
Montana’s wolves surprisingly vulnerable during inaugural hunt. By Pete Thomas.

Breathtaking and misleading fire story in the Missoulian

“Red and dead” forests make extreme fires; but most bug-killed forests are not in this stage-

Beetle-ravaged trees change wildfire behavior in western Montana. By Rob Chaney the Missoulian

Beetles are changing the fire regime in Western Montana. Unfortunately, this story did not get to the key until the end – – “Dead trees will lose those red needles within three to five years. The bare-branch trees tend to be less burnable than either green live trees or red dead ones.” . . . Rob Chaney

These needles are so flammable that they will burn when dripping wet and a cold temperature! In fact, most just killed, and, therefore red lodgepole pine, the most common beetle killed tree, are red for just one year. Then the needles drop. As a result, most dead trees present less of a fire danger rather than more. There are exceptions, such as piles of windthrown, jackstrawed dead timber.

The story also failed to mention that this is not a problem limited to Western Montana. The great die-off extends from the Yukon to New Mexico, making local efforts to deal with the problem with salvage logging or spraying of no use.

I’d mention global warming but all the tea partiers will probably jump down my throat. It’s really too late to do much. The pine forests are pretty much all going to die.

– – – –

Related. Weather wipes out wildfires in Montana. Great Falls Tribune.

Posted in Trees Forests, Wildfires. Tags: , , , , . Comments Off on Breathtaking and misleading fire story in the Missoulian

Wylie Coywolf: The coyote-wolf hybrid has made its way to the Northeast

Wylie Coywolf: The coyote-wolf hybrid has made its way to the Northeast. By Carina Storrs. Scientific American.

This is hardly new news on this blog, but important for newcomers.

It does show that where there is a major ecological niche, it will be filled. Canids evolve rapidly and are the epitome of a generalist predator.

Idaho again wants to land choppers in wilderness

Landing helicopters in wilderness violates the Wilderness Act

This article contains more information about something I posted a while back.

I don’t think the rational behind this plan is to kill wolves inside the wilderness but rather to document the minimum number of 150 wolves the state thinks is required so that they can kill more OUTSIDE of the wilderness.

Jon Marvel has the same perspective.

Idaho could use information gleaned from wilderness helicopter missions to accelerate wolf killing where conflicts with ranchers and hunters are more common, he said.

“If all of those breeding pairs are found inside the Frank Church, then you can kill all the wolves outside the wilderness with impunity,” Marvel said.

Idaho again wants to land choppers in wilderness
John Miller Associated Press

Charges in grizzly bear death near Ditch Creek (WY)

Although this has been discussed in comments on other threads, here is the news story-

Charges in grizzly bear death near Ditch Creek. By Cory Hatch, Jackson Hole Daily.

This bear might have been the cub (now a sub-adult) of locally famous grizzly bear 399.

Although this story has already been discussed in some comments, I think it merits a full post.

Researcher: Yellowstone wolves distinct

With influence by humans not a factor, packs have older, experienced hunters-

The wolves of Yellowstone Park are different than other wolves (even though they all originated some generations ago from Alberta or British Columbia). The reason is lack of human-caused mortality.

Doug Smith of Yellowstone Park spoke of this Thursday (story in Billings Gazette) to a capacity crowd at the Buffalo Bill Historical Center. Hey, that’s in Cody, WY!

Arnica Fire Update. Oct. 1, 2009

Post Labor Day Yellowstone construction and fire have made an unnecessary hardship-
Now this in combination with snow has all but closed the Park early-

Yesterday you enjoyed Dusty Road’s photos of the Arnica Fire taken from Yellowstone Lake (on a boat), but Dusty, a local resident, has more to say. Ralph Maughan

– – – – –
Road Closure Intermittent Due to Arnica Fire
Incident: Arnica Fire WildfireReleased: 9 hrs. ago

On Thursday, October 1st, the road from Bridge Bay to West Thumb will be open for visitor travel with a pilot car between 6-8 a.m., 1200-1 p.m., and 6-8 p.m., delays may be expected. Other area roads are impacted by weather. Dunraven Pass is closed due to snow. Madison to Norris is closed due to construction. Snow tires are required from East Entrance to Lake.


Arnica Fire Update  October 1, 2009.

10,700 acres.
By Dusty Roads. copyrighted.

The major problem with this whole situation is a display of questionable management decisions on the part of the park administration.  Since August 17th of this year the eastern portion of the north loop in the park has been closed for the construction of the new bridge at Gibbon Falls which means that ALL traffic through the park must travel around the Grand Loop via the eastern side to the southern segment from the northern portion to get to Old Faithful  or the west and south.  The eastern and southernmost portions of the route had become the only way  to access any of the northern part of the park from the west gate.  For those who visualize by landmarks: to get to the west entrance from Gardiner, instead of going from Mammoth to Norris to Madison Jct. you have to go over Dunraven Pass and then on over Craig Pass via West Thumb and past Old Faithful to get to Madison Jct. or south to Grand Teton NP.  It’s 49 miles from Gardiner to West Yellowstone otherwise.  At this point travel from the West and South Entrances ore cut off from the rest of the park except when the pilot action is taking place.  With Dunraven closed, well, I think most can figure that out.

Read the rest of this entry »

Loss of top predators causing surge in smaller predators, ecosystem collapse

There are going to be predators. Do you want a few big ones, or lots of smaller ones?

Loss of top predators causing surge in smaller predators, ecosystem collapse. Oregon State University news lease on research by Dr. William Ripple.

My comments . . .

Although in a few places such as Idaho and Montana large predators like wolves and grizzly bears are being increased against formidable political resistance, the worldwide trend is for them to disappear and be replaced by a larger number of medium sized or smaller predators.

Most people don’t understand that predators will never disappear, nor will parasites, etc. Human pressure to exterminate them shifts the advantage to another animal that tends to fill that ecological niche, although often with many unanticipated and undesirable side effects.

Idaho man illegally shot at wolf pack from the sky

Idaho Department of Game declines to prosecute.

Domestic Sheep © Ken Cole

Domestic Sheep © Ken Cole

Aerial gunning of wolves by private individuals is strictly forbidden under the Airborne Hunting Act of 1956. Even though states are allowed to issue permits to individuals to shoot coyotes and foxes from aircraft there are no permits which allow the shooting of wolves.

In Idaho, the Idaho Sheep Commission, which acts under the Idaho Department of Agriculture, issues aerial hunting permits to ranchers. The Executive Secretary of the Idaho Sheep Commission is Stan Boyd who also is listed as the Executive Director of the Idaho Wool Growers Association, an industry group. Robert Ball, who is part owner of Ball Brother’s Sheep Inc, as is Carl Ball, is also listed as a commissioner for the Idaho Sheep Commission as well as a member of the board of directors of the Idaho Wool Growers Association.

Wolf © Ken Cole

Wolf © Ken Cole

The incident happened over the lands, and under the authority, of Idaho State Senator Jeff Siddoway who is the sponsor of the Bighorn Sheep Kill Bill 1232. The Siddoway Sheep Company Incorporated, which is partially owned by the Senator, received $865,952 in agricultural subsidies between the years 1995-2006.

It would seem that the Idaho Department of Fish and Game should prosecute issue citation[s] in this case and, from my understanding, the US Fish and Wildlife Service can prosecute issue citation[s] in this case as well since Federal law is involved.

Idaho man illegally shot at wolf pack from the sky
John Miller Associated Press

UPDATE: Here is the report. acrobat pdf

Big Victory for Slickspot Peppergrass!

Rare plant will receive protection across its entire range.


Slickspot Peppergrass (Lepidium papilliferum) © Ken Cole

Slickspot Peppergrass (Lepidium papilliferum) © Ken Cole

October 1, 2009


Todd Tucci, Advocates for the West (208) 342-7024
Jon Marvel, Western Watersheds Project (208) 788-2290
Katie Fite, Western Watersheds Project (208) 429-1679


Boise, Idaho – Conservation groups applauded the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and Secretary Salazar for living up to their promise to let science – and not politics – determine whether Slickspot peppergrass warrants protection under the Endangered Species Act, when the Service announced its intention to protect Slickspot peppergrass as a threatened species.

Read the rest of this entry »

Beginning today all of Idaho is open to wolf hunting

So far 15 have been killed-

Here is the story with a local angle from the Idaho Mountain Express. By Jon Duval. Idaho Mountain Express Staff Writer.

With colder weather and more elk hunts open too, the pace of the wolf hunt will probably pick up.