Feds Propose Expanding Bush’s Bull Trout Habitat

This is the second good Administration wildlife decision in recent days-

Bull Trout © Ken Cole

The other one is the protection of the jaguar.

Feds Propose Expanding Bush’s Bull Trout Habitat. Fish and Wildlife proposes another reversal of Bush policy, this time on bull trout habitat. By Jeff Bernard. AP Environmental Writer

Montana Wolf Attacks Spike in ‘09, Sparking Backlash

There might be a backlash, but it is doubtful related to a spike in wolf attacks on livestock-

Matthew Brown from AP wrote this story. It has some good facts in it and a lot of wild anger from livestock owners.

I think what sparks backlashes are not the number of livestock killed. It is the number of news stories about it.

I think if someone did a content analysis of the news about wolves and livestock and compared it to the number of wolf-killed livestock each year since the reintroduction, there would be no relationship.

Matthew Brown points out that “The sharp increase over 2008 livestock losses, reported Thursday by state officials, was fueled largely by a wolf pack ravaging 148 sheep in southwestern Montana near Dillon in August.”

This single story got a lot of media attention, and I never read a single good account from the media or the Montana government giving the details of how this happened. At the time on this blog, I complained day after day about the lack of facts, except that a lot of sheep were dead.

As far increasing the hunt quota next because of the perception of large livestock losses, Montana FWP’s report was very clear that the hunt removed far fewer wolves in areas with livestock than they hoped, and more in livestock-free parts of the backcountry.  Therefore, increasing the quota would be purely a political move unrelated to wolf depredations in fact.

Wolf supporters have got to win the delisting case, as the state wildlife agencies are nothing but political pawns. I am sick to death and furious!

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The statement that there are 8 dead livestock by wolves for every one found is often repeated as in this story. It seems to me they used to say “1 in 5,” but at any rate in checking, this all seems to come from one small study by John Oakleaf.  The area studied was hardly representative — a remote section of public land leased for grazing that was  known to have a high density of wolves. No doubt in less rugged and accessible country the number not found would be less.

If you think about it, the broad statement is absurd. The percentage of livestock killed by wolves and not found would vary everywhere. Every season cattle and sheep are simply missed (not rounded-up). They linger and die of the cold. They are also lost to accidental injury, sickness, poison plants, and other predators. Most carcasses would be scavenged by many scavengers, including wolves.

To sum it up, this “one in eight” figure appears to be an effort to inflate a relatively small problem for political purposes, and is based on a single unrepresentative study.

FWP kills seven bighorn sheep after pneumonia confirmed in Bonner herd

Second outbreak in Montana this year.

Bighorn Sheep from the Bonner herd © Ken Cole

Bighorn Sheep from the Bonner herd © Ken Cole

This is near an area where domestic sheep have been grazed to control weeds during recent years. The New York Times wrote a story about it here.

FWP kills seven bighorn sheep after pneumonia confirmed in Bonner herd. By Rob Chaney of the Missoulian

1-16-10 5 more bighorns killed in West Riverside in effort to stop pneumonia. By Rob Chaney. Missoulian

Victory for Jaguars: Obama Pledges Recovery Plan, Habitat Protection

Good news below in the press release from the Center for Biological Diversity-

Capping a 13-year battle to save the American jaguar from extinction, this week the Center for Biological Diversity won a decision from the Obama administration to develop a recovery plan and protect essential habitat for North America’s largest and most endangered cat.

The Bush administration had twice declared that it would not recover, reintroduce, or do anything to protect jaguars in the United States. Twice the Center’s legal team filed suit and struck down the illegal decisions. This left the final decision up to Obama, but until the last moment, we were uncertain he would do the right thing as he has not made endangered species a priority to date.

Now that the Obama administration has committed to developing a federal recovery plan and mapping out the jaguar’s critical habitat, the long, hard work of saving the American jaguar can begin.

Read more in the Arizona Daily Star.

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Earlier we had reported bad news. U.S. Fish and Wildlife misses deadline on jaguar recovery plan

Trapped on public lands

Montana ballot initiative (I-160) would outlaw trapping on public lands-

A grassroots effort to protect pets from traps set on public lands has grown into a larger movement to ban trapping (by ballot initiative) on public lands.

Trapped on public lands. By Martin J. Kidston. Helena Independent Record

Badger-Two Medicine motorized travel ban upheld

Judge denies an injunction request from off-roaders in a key wildlife area just south of Glacier National Park-

There have been a lot of battles fought over the use of the Badger/Two Medicine area on the national forest just south of Glacier National Park. A good portion of this is roadless, but vehicles use some trails and old roads. All of the area is important for wildlife, especially because it is more gentle than Glacier National Park (better habitat, at least in principle).

Recently the Forest Service adopted a new travel plan for the area. Like most travel plan revisions nowadays, the revision has been heated and the off-roaders went to court alleging violations of the law and the U.S. Constitution. The judge has now rejected some, but not all of the off-roaders’ claims and refused to give an injunction on the new travel plan.

Badger-Two Medicine motorized travel ban upheld. By Karl Puckett. Tribune Staff Writer. Great Falls Tribune.

Posted in Forest Service, public lands, wilderness roadless, Wildlife Habitat. Tags: , . Comments Off on Badger-Two Medicine motorized travel ban upheld

Advocates push change in working conditions for isolated immigrant sheepherders

Workers only paid $750/month to live in extremely isolated conditions and are exposed to many dangers

Public Lands sheep grazing not only creates conflict with bighorn sheep, wolves, grizzly bears, black bears, mountain lions, coyotes, numerous other wildlife species, habitat degradation, weed proliferation, human conflict with guard dogs, and disease spread, it is responsible for the exploitation of migrant workers who “don’t speak English, don’t know where they are, and depend entirely on their employers for food, water and contact with the outside world.”

A job search for the word “herder” brings up a list of 10 jobs in Idaho and Wyoming which pay $750/month except for the job in Wyoming which pays $650/month.

There is another, less talked about, issue relating to sheepherders. Q-fever, which is carried by sheep, is known to cause infections in humans and possibly result in death. The spores can persist in the environment for years and people and livestock can become infected by breathing dust. These immigrant workers are disproportionally exposed to Q-fever and are at risk of becoming infected.

Advocates push change in working conditions for isolated immigrant sheepherders
Associated Press Writer in the LA Times