Sen. Udall sponsors bill to attack pine beetles

Colorado Democrat Udall says his bill will combat a great natural disaster-

Yes there are millions of  acres of beetle killed pine trees in Colorado, but also Wyoming, Utah, Idaho, Montana, eastern Oregon and Washington, New Mexico, British Columbia, Alberta and the Yukon. Local politicians respond to local demands to do something, but rarely do they realize or at least tell their constituents that that beetle kill is unstoppable by humans. The pine trees over hundreds of thousands of square miles are vulnerable to attack due to their age, but more due to winter’s failure to have sustained cold temperatures below -20 F.

I have never seen a large pine bark beetle infestation stopped anywhere by human means. I have been following mountain pine beetle kills since 1974 when I was first hired as consultant on the Targhee National Forest to help with the big mountain pine bark beetle infestation there, west of Yellowstone Park.  The current infestation is much large, it almost spans the Continent from north to south.

As far as the alledged fire danger of vast tracts of dead trees, it isn’t high, except for the year or two right when the tree dies and the needles have turned red, but not fallen off. At that time they might as well be soaked in gasoline. I have set fire to red-needled branches that were soaking wet.

After the needles have dropped forest fires can no longer crown, because the dead trees have no crowns. The only extreme fires that can happen are in gullies or other places where the dead trees are windthrown.  This means they pile on top of each other like the way you would arrange sticks and logs to get a campfire going. However, that is the exception.

The big, extreme forest fires take place in “red” timber and green timber during a drought, especially if it is hot and there is wind.

Yes, the forest has turned ugly, but the little bit of treatment humans can do at this late date is like pouring a glass of water on a house fire.

Sen. Udall sponsors bill to attack pine beetles. By Judith Kohler. Associated Press.

Sour economy may be a boon to Boise Foothills preservation

With many landowners eager to sell, much of the $5 million left in a fund to buy property could go to land deals-

Link is now fixed. Sour economy may be a boon to Boise Foothills preservation. Bethann Stewart. Idaho Statesman.

Bitterroot Valley: 3-way easement makes Upper Miller Creek ranch an elk haven

Critical elk migration route protected by easement-

3-way easement makes Upper Miller Creek ranch an elk haven. By Rob Cheney.  Missoulian

Wildlife Services blasts away Basin Butte wolf pack at Stanley, Idaho

Is there an explanation for this in the middle of the scheduled wolf hunt?

Right in the middle of the wolf hunt and in the zone where there is the highest quota, Wildlife Services took to the air this week in their gunships and blasted away the long-standing Basin Butte Pack at Stanley, Idaho. This is one of 26 wolf packs Wildlife Service has labeled as a “chronic depredating” pack, which seems to mean a pack that at one or more times killed some domestic livestock.

It doesn’t mean killed recently, however. All the livestock left the area for the winter in October.

This pack has lived around Stanley, mostly in Stanley Basin for about 5 years now. Even summer and part of the fall thousands of cattle and sheep are trucked into what many regard as Idaho most scenic valley.  Every year or so the pack kills a calf or two.  Amazingly it stays near the town of Stanley, even within city limits. If this was a pack that was going to be taken during the wolf hunt, this would seem to be it.

I think there needs to be some explanation why Idaho Fish and Game’s regional supervisor approved the killing of this pack of 7-10 wolves in the middle of the wolf  hunt 7 months before the cows show up again.

You might want to call Jim Lukens, the Salmon area regional supervisor and ask him. (208) 756-2271. Approval of Wildlife Services wolf kills has been parceled out to the regional supervisors, like Mark Gamlin (who seems to have few to no wolves in his district).

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The real wolf hunt is about to begin?

One possibility is they just got too frustrated watching this pack avoid wolf hunters. I have heard through the grapevine, however, that from now until the wolf population is down to the 500 they view acceptable (for now), Idaho Fish and Game and Wildlife Services is going to reduce the wolf numbers by any means possible. In fact, they admit it. They have spoken on the public record time and time again that they have lots of other “tools in the their toolbox.” The meaning should be clear. It is just the start date they haven’t announced.

Read the rest of this entry »

WildEarth Guardians Seeks End of Aerial Gunning, Poisoning of Wildlife on Public Lands

Obama asked for executive order-

This is clearly something the President could do quickly to rehabilitate his tarnished image on wildlife. Ironically, it was President Richard Nixon who in 1972 issued Executive Order 11643 banning the use of poisons to control predators on Federal land. Reagan later weakened this. In addition, there is plenty of poison available. Much of it is left over from the 1970s.

While in the Senate, now Interior Secretary Salazar was one of those who opposed efforts to ban the use of compound 1080, an extremely poisonous, colorless, tasteless, odorless, substance that creates an agonizing death, and which would be an ideal poison for use by terrorists to put in a municipal water supply.

Meanwhile, as far as aerial gunning goes, USFA’s Wildlife Services killed off a famous Idaho wolf pack this week (more on this later). They used one or more of their aerial gunships.

Update 11-28.2009. A lot of newspapers picked up the AP story by John Miller on the petition.

Petition from WildEarth Guardians-

WildEarth Guardians Seeks End of Aerial Gunning & Poisoning of Wildlife on Public Lands

Denver, CO. The U.S. Department of Agriculture should stop sending its agents up in aircraft to shoot coyotes and planting lethal cyanide booby traps on the nation’s forests and other federal lands, according to a formal request filed today by WildEarth Guardians with the Obama administration.

“Federal wildlife-killing programs are unsafe, illegal, and reckless,” said Wendy Keefover-Ring, Director of Carnivore Protection for WildEarth Guardians. “We call upon the Obama administration to protect our native carnivores on the Nation’s public lands.” Read the rest of this entry »

The Urban Deerslayer

NYT says more urban folks learning to hunt for safe, low carbon-impact meat-

The Urban Deerslayer. By Sean Patrick Farrell. New York Times.

Fewer and fewer people have been learning to hunt, to the dismay of many. Hunting is generaly taught as part of a family tradition or with young friends while growing up.

The article writes of what might be an unexpected source of new hunters — urban adults who want a more honest connection to their food and/or worry about the hormones, fat, and other contaminants of factory farmed beef and pork.

My personal belief is that unless you have killed and eaten an animal, caught and gutted a fish, you don’t understand the value of meat. You don’t understand the difficulty getting high quality protein, nor what much of human history has been like.

Much of Eastern United States is overrun with whitetailed deer due to environmental changes that have lifted natural restraints on deer populations. Some urbanites are well situated to shoot a deer.

There should be a word of warning, however. First, if you can’t shoot your deer locally — if you travel many miles — your meat acquisition does not save a lot energy. Secondly, if the deer graze contaminated zones, the meat might not be safe. Third, bullets fragment. If you use lead bullets, there will be lead in your venison.  Use of ground venison maximizes the amount of lead. The type of bullet makes a big difference. Lead shotgun slugs and encased (jacketed) lead bullets leave the fewest fragments. If you hit large bone, there will be more fragmentation. Best, use copper bullets or go bowhunting.

Thanksgiving. 3-million visits to this blog.

On Thanksgiving Day, this blog should record its 3-millionth visitor.

Thanks for reading and participating.

Ralph Maughan