WWP, Advocates for the West post another victory regarding land baron grazing

Judge Winmill largely rules in favor of plaintiffs on the Nickel Creek case-

From Western Watersheds Project v. Department of Interior:

“For the reasons explained below, the Court will grant WWP’s motion in part, finding that the decision of the Interior Board of Land Appeals is arbitrary and capricious, and remanding the matter to the BLM to (1) include the Management Guidelines as mandatory Terms and Conditions, and (2) render a new decision on the Nickel Creek FFR allotment.”

Doubtful many here have heard of the Nickel Creek allotments in the Owyhee Country of SW Idaho, but this is cause for New Year’s cheers. WWP might have a news release by the end of the day. Here is the decision.  Winmill Nickel Creek decision 12-30-09

The battle over Mt. Jefferson in Tester’s Wilderness bill

Continuing fight by Idaho snowmobile interests to keep a small area in Montana out of Senator’s Tester’s Wilderness bill-

We have covered this battle before. Dec. 13, 2009. Idaho Senators try to pressure Tester to remove an area from his “wilderness bill”

Photo of Mt. Jefferson from the Montana side. It is the highest mountain in the Centennial Range. Photo of Lilian Lake at the top of Hellroaring Creek.

Mount Jefferson access rises to forefront of forest bill controversy. By Ben Pierce. Bozeman Chronicle “Out There” Editor

From the standpoint of wildlife, the Centennial Mountains have long been know for terrific elk hunting. They are also a key corridor of wildlife migration from the Greater Yellowstone area to central Idaho. The biggest problem is the Sheep Experiment Station, but very high snowmobile use causes damage too. See photo of how busy it is at high elevation.

More about the Thanksgiving Wolf Massacre of the Basin Butte Pack

Alpha female’s body retrieved

Last week I received a fundraising email from Living With Wolves, a 501c3 non-profit group run by Jim and Jamie Dutcher, who’s mission is “dedicated to raising awareness about the social nature of wolves, their importance to healthy ecosystems, threats to their survival and the essential actions people can take to help save wolves”. In the email was a story about the massacre of the Basin Butte Pack over Thanksgiving which shed some light on the aftermath of the incident. I asked them to put this on their website so that I could post it here.

Warning there are graphic images of a dead wolf.

The Thanksgiving Wolf Massacre
Living With Wolves

Update: Lynne Stone writes this:

I was part of the “recovery” team on Dec. 11th that found B171 Alpha Fe in Goat Creek Meadows in the Sawtooth Wilderness. I put my wolf tag on her, hoping that one less wolf would be killed in the Sawtooth Zone. I phoned the IDFG wolf kill number and reported it. Several days later I called local IDFG to “process her”.

Unfortunately, IDFG took her away from me, saying that any wolf killed by Wildlife Services is property of the state. IDFG has not heard the end of this yet. Alpha Fe is in Jerome. I am filing state records request every few days to know what IDFG has planned for her … if I can’t get her back (lawyers are being consulted since WS left her in the woods, not wanting her), then maybe eventually she will go to auction. She was a magnificent, beautiful wolf, even when the life had gone out of her. I am so heartsick over this. I tried for four years to keep this pack alive and it’s a miracle they lasted as long as they did – due to the hatred of wolves of Challis ranchers who run a sloppy cattle business near Stanley from June to Nov. Read the rest of this entry »

Looking Back Two Decades On Managing The Greater Yellowstone Ecoystem

Todd Wilkinson remembers how far we’ve come . . . not all that far-

Looking Back Two Decades On Managing The Greater Yellowstone Ecoystem. By Todd Wilkinson. National Parks Traveler.

I was at that meeting in Jackson in 1983 to form the Greater Yellowstone Coalition. It is such a struggle against the entrenched bureaucracy with their ties to extractive interests!

Detailed summary of the Montana wolf hunt

Here is a detailed report. Will Idaho do the same?

Montana FWP just released a detailed summary of their wolf hunt with a lot of numeric data — good.  I hope Idaho has a report with this much information, but it probably won’t come until June when it might be too late to be used to adjust the 2010 wolf hunt, if there is one.  It is my impression that it is easier to hunt wolves in Montana than in Idaho.

Here it is (pdf). 2009 Wolf Hunting Season Summary

Cougar shot after killing Utah family’s dog

This should so much not be news!

Park City, Utah (up in the mountains). Cougar shot after killing Utah family’s dog. AP.

This event is so common. People build in cougar habitat and stock their yards with tasty morsels.

There is a similar story in the Bitterroot Valley (actually foothills) of Montana. It seems a cougar killed a pooch on a porch in a Bear Creek dispersed subdivision that is (I looked on Google Earth) hard up against the Selway-Bitterroot Wilderness, which with the Frank Church Wilderness, is the largest (save one dirt road) Wilderness area in the lower 48 states. That story full of twists and turns and neighborly conflict.

North America’s biggest freshwater fish slips toward extinction

Harmed by the effects of the Libby Dam, the Kootenai River sturgeon haven’t spawned for 35 years now-

North America’s biggest fish slips toward extinction. By Matthew Brown. Associated Press.

The Libby Dam on the Kootenai River, Montana. Copyright Ralph Maughan