Is there a new pack of wolves near Lake Chelan?
By K.C. Mehaffey
World staff writer
Is there a new pack of wolves near Lake Chelan?
By K.C. Mehaffey
World staff writer
Here is the final outcome of the trial we posted about — the one on the Georgia father and son who left a dying horse and abused others in the Selway-Bitterroot Wilderness.
Ravalli County jury finds Georgia men guilty of abusing horses on wilderness trip. Missoulian.
They were convicted.
Populations of bighorn sheep are struggling with pneumonia throughout the west. Washington, Nevada, Montana, and most recently Utah are having outbreaks of pneumonia which have resulted in the deaths of 400 or more bighorn sheep.
Statements like the following are often made about the outbreaks.
“While domestic sheep carry pathogens that can infect bighorns, there’s no evidence linking them to any of the pneumonia outbreaks, wildlife officials said.”
But pneumonia does not just appear from nowhere, it has to come from somewhere. Were these diseases already in the herds from earlier exposures and have just become deadly due to winter conditions or have they been introduced to the wild sheep through contact with domestic sheep or goats recently?
Down to one wolf. I guess that means the end of the wolf pack. The Druid Peak wolf pack was formed in the release enclosure back in 1996. Most of the wolves came from the same pack in British Columbia, but not all. For example the big alpha male came from another pack. The Druids immediately set about trying, and then finally succeeding to dominate the Lamar Valley. It was a good 14 years with hundreds of thousands of people seeing them.
Kathie has all the details.
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By © Kathie Lynch. “And then there was one.”
And then there was one… From the Druid Peak pack’s beginning in 1996 and through its glory years as Yellowstone National Park’s most famous wolf pack (with an incredible 37 members in 2001), it has come to this: yearling black Druid 690F may be the sole survivor. Mange-ridden and alone, her situation is grim.
In the last few weeks, three others (691F, the “Thin Female,” and “White Line”) have been killed by other wolves, often as they scavenged on other packs’ kills.
Six other Druids are missing, including alpha 480M, “Dull Bar,” 571F, the “Female Yearling,” “Black Bar,” and “Triangle Blaze.” We can only hope that they are somehow surviving on their own, but they are ravaged by mange, and scavenging is a dangerous business.
Leaderless after the death of alpha female 569F last fall and the subsequent dispersal of alpha 480M, the once mighty Druid Peak pack may soon be just a memory.
If you are interested in the politics and history of government animal killing for the livestock industry, Robinson’s book, Predatory Bureaucracy is a must. I think this interview with its author is too. Also, interviews are easier to digest than a grim journey through a long history.
Interview: “Predatory Bureaucracy” author Michael J. Robinson.
Note that this replaces the second edition. That edition can be found slowly moving down into the “bowels” of the blog.
Anyone following this forum for a while knows the story of the plight of the whitebark pine. Now the Natural Resource Defense Council has sued to put in on the endangered species list.
Group sues over whitebark pine endangered petition. By Mead Gruver. Associated Press Writer
Story in the Salt Lake Tribune. Senate rejects move to bar new monuments. By Thomas Burr. The Salt Lake Tribune.
So our editor, Ken Cole, just got out of the Frank and the Salmon River Mountains. Very interesting news.
An ID Fish and Game helicopter was getting fueled at Corn Creek Bar. The two people in the chopper said they had seen some wolves but none collared. On the trail, Cole found a freshly-killed elk wolves had nailed. The next day he found it had been pretty much all eaten during the night. He said there’s no way they could collar wolves in the steep country where he was.
Next week Fish and Game is moving into the Middle Fork. Heads up to all the spotters there.
Ken saw lots of deer and elk and bighorn, but one very scary thing about the bighorn — four of them were coughing badly. That was on the slope near the confluence with the Middle Fork. Has the Montana plague spread into central Idaho? Does anything other than pneumonia cause them to cough? What a dismal development? He reported his observations to the ID Fish and Game office in Salmon.
I’m not sure if this report is about all human caused mortality or legal hunting. The existence of nearby paved road access makes a big difference regardless.
Grizzly Bear hunters target B.C. provincial parks, highways. Globe and Mail. Mark Hume
More bad news about the pneumonia in the big, bighorn population east and southeast of Missoula, MT.
FWP to let pneumonia take course with Rock Creek bighorn sheep
By Rob Chaney
Someone put up a version of this on our “have you run across any interesting news page.” Now for a full post.
Grizzlies encroach on polar bear territory
By Doreen Walton
Science reporter, BBC News
Seems like I read polar bears are a more recently evolved species than the big brown grizzly bear (called by other names in Asia and Europe)
Don’t know how many caught the article posted on the sudden heart disease death of Obama’s director of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service? Anyway, the decision whether to put the sage grouse on the list has been delayed briefly. It was to come this Friday.
A year ago federal judge Lynn Winmill ordered USFWS to reevaluate their earlier denial to list this bird.
Sage grouse are “sagebrush obligate”. I learned this word a couple years ago. It means “depends on, cannot exist without” — the bird needs sagebrush absolutely for sure.
This shrubby emblem of the West isn’t doing well, at least in healthy continuous stands with the right kind of open spots, called “leks.”
Judge Winmill responded in favor of a suit by Western Watersheds project and Advocates for West because former assistant secretary of interior Julie MacDonald (under Bush) had admitted manipulating the findings of DOI scientists — changing their recommendations on a whole bunch of species. She admitted it herself. Many species have since gotten a new look by USFWS. The real biggie though is the sage grouse. That’s because it involves so much public land. Putting the bird on the list will impact off-road vehicles, grazing, oil and gas, geothermal, wind power development, electric transmission lines, and road building.
Livestock grazing is probably the biggest on-going problem. To public land grazers the colorful bird must seem like a strutting version of the devil.
Range fires fueled by cheatgrass and BLM plantings of non-native crested wheatgrass have destroyed several million ares of good habitat in the last 5 years.
Whatever outcome, this is major stuff.
Fish and Wildlife director’s death prompts week delay in sage grouse decision. By Rocky Barker. Idaho Statesman.
This map gives you an idea of magnitude of land affected.
On 2/2/10 Montana’s wildlife agency, Fish, Wildlife & Parks (MFWP) announced their decision to send all 88 quarantined Yellowstone bison to the private lands of billionaire Ted Turner. The Yellowstone bison were part of a state-federal Quarantine Feasibility Study, which had the stated goal of placing brucellosis-free bison on public or tribal lands.
Vets, ranger, backpacker testify horses in Bitterroot abuse case were in bad shape. By Perry Backus. Ravalli Republic (as published in the Missoulian)
Ohh . . . . here’s more on this. Georgia men back in court appealing Ravalli County horse abuse sentence. By Perry Backus. Ravalli Republic (republished in the Missoulian)
I’ve been really worried about the Supreme Court. In January they turned Toyota, Walmart, AT and T, and all for-profit corporations into people. It was only fair, they said. Corporations need to be able to fight back. Too many average Americans take them into the alley every day and beat the hell out of them.
“Common sense” is a word I don’t like much. That’s cause my common sense is different than my friend who runs the antique shop and rancher who trespasses all over my property. Still, the Supreme Court doesn’t seem to have common sense.
So I was worried when I read “Supreme Court Denies 3 High-Profile Environmental Cases” in the New York Times (By GABRIEL NELSON)
Surprise though. Turns out when they decided not to look at these cases it was a victory for the environment. Two of them were a big victory for our health . . . one for wildlife habitat.
“There may come a time — and it may come sooner rather than later — when a corporate logo on a front gate of a public park in Idaho doesn’t look so bad.
In any case, let’s keep our minds open.” Times-News
Buy a Coke, save a park? It could happen in Idaho
This recession is being used not to test out money-saving ideas, but to steal things and get things done that would never have a chance. I’d say there are plenty politicians and groups that are OK with our misery. It’s not just that we have lemons and they want to make lemonade.
People killed 20 grizzly bears in western, north-central Montana in 2009. AP
There are about 200 special agents nationwide, and they investigated over 12,000 cases in 2007.
The story is mostly about the Montana agent and his 20 cases including 3 grisly, grizzly killings.
Wildlife G-men on patrol: Outdoor scofflaws keep agents busy. By Karl Puckett. Great Falls Tribune.
Last week Fox News reported with bells and whistles that the President might create a large number of new national monuments on federal land in Western States. I didn’t bother to link to the story because the leaked document clearly looked some odd page out of an EIS appendix. The areas listed were all areas that I think deserve more protection, but it was obvious to me that this leak was part of the contiuing partisan battle in Washington. The short excerpt from ?? document had been sent to Fox News for a political reason. Western Republicans quickly responded with expected outrage, calling it a “land grab.”
Today there is a story in the Salt Lake Tribune that Interior Secretary Salazar’s office said it was just a brainstorming document.
The list 021810_monumentlist.pdf
Herbert gets word: feds won’t do land grab in Utah. Interior Secretary Ken Salazar tells the governor a memo identifying potential land monuments was merely a “draft.” By Thomas Burr. The Salt Lake Tribune
It’s a high bar to get a judge to rule against an agency that claims expertise and say “this is ridiculous.” That is my first take.
I think, the U.S. Forest Service needs to be told to revise their general regulations for Wilderness Areas. The last revision was a Bush update giving more leeway for machines for this kind of thing.
The judge did warn the Forest Service to make sure Idaho Fish and Game does not run amuck.
“The Forest Service must proceed very cautiously here because the law is not on their side if they intend to proceed with further helicopter projects in the Frank Church Wilderness. The Court is free to examine the cumulative impacts of the projects, and the context of the use. Given that this project is allowed to proceed, the next project will be extraordinarily difficult to justify.”
This story appeared last week while I was gone and there was a little discussion about it on the open thread but I think it deserves its own thread.
The significance of this story is not so much that wolves are being released into the wild but that it is happening in Mexico close to the border and that if any of these wolves or their progeny enter into the U.S. they will have full protection under the Endangered Species Act and cannot be legally killed even if they are preying on livestock.
This would have significant implications for the floundering Mexican wolf recovery program in Arizona and New Mexico which announced that there are only 42 wolves in the wild, down from the 52 last year. These wolves are considered an experimental, non-essential population.
One of the main hinderances of the current recovery program in Arizona and New Mexico is that there are arbitrary boundaries inside which the wolves must stay. Wolves reintroduced into Mexico would not have these boundaries because they wouldn’t be considered an experimental, non-essential population under the Endangered Species Act.
Mexico to place 5 wolves near AZ
Tim Steller – Arizona Daily Star
This report has a fair amount of news — numbers for 2009, etc. It is the first time I have seen any real description of their Lolo wolf/elk study with numbers and a bit about methods. I think it’s worthwhile read.
Judge finds fault with federal salmon plan. Conservation groups optimistic about order. By Jon Duval. Idaho Mountain Express.
These dams are on the lower Snake River. That’s in the state of Washington, but they greatly harm salmon and steelhead migration to and from Idaho to the ocean. For years, steelheaders and other conservationists have wanted these nagivation dams breeched and the government has opposed it. Judge Redden (see article) has been monitoring government efforts to comply with the Endangered Species Act on the matter, and he is not pleased.
Entire books have been writing about the issue.
Those of you who know Kathie Lynch will probably know Laurie Lyman, and vice versa. Lyman has amazing talent for spotting wolves and getting that data.
She Runs With The Wolves. A tale of devotion from Yellowstone National Park. By Todd Wilkinson.
A long time ago I tended to be the kind of conservationist who grudgingly thought we had to give all kinds of perks to livestock interests so they wouldn’t sell and subdivide the West. I was becoming disillusioned with the results of helping the livestock elite, and Wuerthner’s thinking helped me see appeasing them was not necessary, but counterproductive.
Now he has updated his landmark essay: “Cows or Condos, a false choice.”
Cows or Condos: A False Choice Between Public Lands Ranching and Sprawl. By George Wuerthner in New West.
Chief District Judge B. Lynn Winmill is set to hear oral arguments on the Frank Church Wilderness/Helicopter Landing litigation this afternoon. The “Wilderness Wolf Watchers” Coalition seeks an Injunction/Temporary Restraining Order preventing the landing of helicopters in the Frank Church Wilderness before they take place, while the merits of the case are considered.
The Idaho Department of Fish & Game and the US Forest Service each filed briefs against the Wilderness Wolf Watcher coalition’s request :
Among their arguments, the government belittles several advocates’ declarations describing their trips to the Frank this winter and their potential for their wilderness experience to be harmed by the helicopter incursion.
Laurie Rule, Wilderness/Wolf advocates’ esteemed attorney, replied to the governments’ argument with this excellent brief :
Earlier I reported data from the Fish and Game Comission meeting a couple weeks ago with the largest Idaho wolf at 109 pounds. One in extreme Northern Idaho was 130 pounds. The Spokesman Review has a new article on this.
Actual wolf weights often skimpier than hunters estimate. Becky Kramer. The Spokesman-Review
This interesting article appeared in print maybe 5 days ago. I’m glad they put it online.
After 15 years. By Ben Pierce. Bozeman Chronicle OutThere Editor
House Concurrent Resolution 43, now before the Idaho Legislature says that “existing conditions relating to wolves define an emergency condition for all rural Idahoans and, in the face of this emergency, the Legislature encourages the Governor of the state of Idaho to declare that a state of emergency exists in Idaho and to authorize and require the Idaho Department of Fish and Game to use any means to reduce wolf numbers to those designated for recovery of the species [150, 100?] [emphasis added]
A concurrent resolution does not have the force of law, but it clearly shows the ldaho Legislature can wash away Fish and Game’s commitment to maintaining a minimum of 500 wolves in an instant.
I don’t know who they intend the resolution for, but it, with its laughable emergency, should be hand delivered to Judge Molloy.
I can’t help be but irritated that the Fish and Game Department and Commission keeps saying, “no, we promise to maintain 500 wolves, which is more than the minimum.” How many times did we go through right here on this forum ? This also shows why they so want to radio collar wolves in the Frank Church Wilderness — for the token population.
Thanks to Barb Rupers for posting this resolution in the comments. Read the rest of this entry »
This population of bighorn sheep has dwindled to very low numbers. Inbreeding, habitat loss due to development, and domestic sheep disease have restricted these sheep to very high elevation and sites of low productivity so human entry into these areas during winter may have a severe impact.
Teton Range herd of bighorns at risk of extinction
Scientists are exploring ways to reduce risks to isolated sheep.
By Cory Hatch, Jackson Hole, Wyo.
Summary of January – February 2010 Yellowstone Earthquake Swarm. USGS.
This was the second biggest earthquake swarm recorded in the Park. Note that detailed records don’t go back all that far.
There was no indication Idaho Fish and Game was ever going to release their memo to the media, but thanks to JeffE, who sent it to me, it has moved out into the public beyond this forum.
Story in today’s Times-News. F&G to get tough on wolves. By Nate Poppino – Times-News writer.
Notice how this is all directed to protect the livestock industry. Is IDF & G now the Idaho Department of Livestock?
These “unacceptable levels” of livestock losses for 2009 in Idaho were 76 cattle (mostly calves) and 295 sheep. Although the Director of Dept. of Fish and Game implies this is an increase, it is an increase only for sheep. In dollar values this was offset by a decline in cattle losses to wolves. In 2008, 104 cattle were killed by wolves. In 2009 that dropped to a mere 76. Sheep losses increased from 215 to 295. Individual sheep are worth less than cattle.
For some reason, livestock losses to wolves make the news. Much larger losses get almost no media attention. This suggests to me attention to wolf losses shows a hidden agenda at work unrelated to the actual size of loss. To illustrate this, consider the post from April 24, 2009. SE Montana blizzard kills far more livestock in 2 days than Montana wolves in a year. Will the blizzard story last more than a couple days? Looking back, the story lasted just one day in the on-line news. However, the size of the livestock loss was greater than the loses to wolves in Montana that year. Note: I never got a final count. I read somewhere that with losses in the Dakotas, it was over 7000!
As folks probably know, the Montana Wilderness Association supports Senator Tester’s Jobs and Recreation Act of 2009, which establishes new designated Wilderness areas in Montana, mandates acreages of timber to be logged (not volumes of it), and misc. provisions.
It seems there is a split by many former officers and council members with the current organization. I was emailed their statement.
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We, the undersigned former council members and officers of the Montana Wilderness Association, respectfully urge Senator Tester to modify the Forest Jobs and Recreation Act of 2009 to rectify the problems outlined by the Undersecretary of Agriculture as well as the Last Best Chance Wildlands Campaign. We cannot support the legislation as now written. We diverge from MWA here because we believe that the bill degrades both the quantity and quality of some of America’s most cherished wildlands in Montana. We encourage consideration of the issues we have outlined below that would be necessary in order for us to support it.
We endorse the 10-point position paper, Keeping It Wild! In Defense of America’s Public Wildlands, which has been submitted by the Last Best Place Wildlands Campaign, available at: http://testerloggingbilltruths.wordpress.com/.
The bill legislates the net loss of hundreds of thousands of roadless area acres, including S-393 Wilderness Study Areas designated in 1977 by the late Senator Lee Metcalf. This will create widespread environmental damage and the loss of an irreplaceable legacy for which future generations will, quite correctly, hold ours accountable. Also, the bills’ Congressional mandate for timber cut levels sets a dangerous precedent. Resulting below-cost timber sales will cost taxpayers over $100 million. And proposed new Wilderness Areas are medium, often disjointed, primarily “rock and ice” parcels that would fail to protect fragile wildland and wildlife ecosystems and corridors.
To make matters worse, the bill includes special provisions for new “Wilderness” units that defy both the intent and letter of the Wilderness Act, and the spirit of Wilderness that so many Americans believe is a vital and wondrous part of this great nation’s heritage. Motor Vehicles, including helicopters, simply have no place in designated Wilderness. Yes, we need more Wilderness – lots of it – but we want it to be real Wilderness!
The bill also codifies secretive negotiated agreements – such as the Beaverhead-Deerlodge – that excluded many individuals and groups who’ve long been involved in the public process. This, and similar agreements, have been sealed by MWA and others over the objections of excluded organizations and individuals, of whom most live and work close to the land and know the compromised areas intimately.
It is with a heavy heart that we are compelled to oppose the organization that we once served as Council members and officers. Most of Montana’s undeveloped wilds are long gone, and we cannot afford to lose big chunks of what remains. We believe that in recent years, the Montana Wilderness Association [MWA] has clearly compromised its long-held wildland protection mission and vigilant advocacy. We know many current and former MWA members who agree. In fact, many conservationists in the region are convinced that, quite simply, MWA has lost its way. We are among those people.
In summary, this bill will irreparably damage Montana’s dwindling public wildland legacy. It will salt the gaping social wounds created by MWA’s recent actions. It degrades the Wilderness Act of 1964 with provisions that damage both Wilderness and the Wilderness Idea. And it’s a bad deal for future generations of Montanans who will need wild country more than ever in an increasingly crowded and uncertain future.
Lou Bruno (past president) – East Glacier
Joan Montagne (past president) – Bozeman
Elaine Snyder (past president) – Kalispell
Loren Kreck (past vice-president) – Columbia Falls
Larry Campbell – Darby
Susan Colvin – Great Falls
Paul Edwards – Helena
Randall Gloege – Billings
Keith Hammer – Kalispell
Steve Kelly – Bozeman
Bob Oset – Hamilton
Paul Richards – Boulder
Ross Titus – Big Fork
George Wuerthner – Helena
Janet Zimmerman – Pony
Lance Olsen – Missoula
FOR FURTHER INFORMATION: Larry Campbell, 406-821-3110, email@example.com
I predicted this, and the same thing was happening to the wolf population of Idaho and Montana. Without any intervention they would have peaked and dropped. With the big campaign against them in Idaho and Montana, we will never know. At any rate, growth of the wolf population has now stopped in all three states.
Yellowstone Wolf Numbers Drop for Second Year. By Yellowstone National Park, via New West.
Well what a cause for celebration this is! I can remember I was just starting to explore the wild country as a young man back in 1974 when Sage Creek Coal proposed a big coal mine on Cabin Creek, a tributary to the North Fork of the Flathead. In 2008 I was standing in this incredible place and pondering how awful the giant coal pit and adjacent coalbed methane wells would be. I never suspected the B.C. government would side with conservation on this.
B.C’s ban on industrial development in N. Fork Flathead ends a 36-year international struggle. By Michael Jamison. Missoulian.
Single bison shot in state’s winter hunt. By Matthew Brown. Associated Press |
Now, however, Montana’s Department of Livetock is completely out of control and wants to kill any bison that leave the Park even in cattle free areas, in violation of the new tolerance by the Park Service and the Forest Service.
“Now that the three-month hunt has ended, animals leaving the park will be subject to hazing, capture and possibly slaughter under a program meant to prevent the spread of animal disease to cattle.
And, after being criticized by ranchers last year for what they saw as a migration that got out of control, state livestock officials are planning a more aggressive response this year.
Montana state veterinarian Marty Zaluski said that ‘proactive’ plan will apply even in areas where cattle aren’t present, starting immediately.” [emphasis added]
I can’t see how the Dept. of Livestock is allowed to do this — violate the public lands of the American people and the private property rights of Montanans. As I have said many times before, the only rational explanation of the DOL is it is the agency that shows who really rules over the people and land of the area.
The memo below from Cal Groen, Director of the Idaho Fish and Game Department confirms my call about six months ago that the Department was working with, or told to work with livestock interests to devise a method for a massive wolf reduction program.
The memo essentially says that many parts of Idaho where wolves now live, and where the Idaho Wolf Plan said wolves could live, will actually be frequently swept clear of them by Wildlife Services. The excuse will be the relatively minor livestock damage that takes place.
This, no doubt, includes the Sawtooth Valley and the entire Sawtooth National Recreation Area. In fact, it includes almost all of Idaho where there are any livestock. This has the effect of making Idaho’s wolf plan into something very much like Wyoming’s plan, namely to keep the wolves out of most the state — the very reason why the wolf was not delisted in Wyoming in the first place.
Wyoming was upfront about it. They would kill wolves as varmints in 87% of the state. Idaho claimed that wolves would be allowed to inhabit any part of the state. The wolves would be judged on their behavior. This no doubt impressed the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. In fact, livestock politicians were planning to make most of Idaho a no wolf zone just as Wyoming was. However, they were more clever and more sneaky than Wyoming.
Note that this replaces the first edition. That edition can be found slowly moving down into the “bowels” of the blog.
Except at great expense and on a small scale, insecticides, logging or pheromone traps haven’t touched this beetle epidemic that extends from the Yukon to New Mexico. Here is some thinking outside the box that might work. Of course, it too might only work over small areas.
Researchers turn up the noise to battle bark beetles. By Judith Kohler. Associated Press
Related. Gov. Brian Schweitzer: Pine beetle problem is here to stay. AP
This is an opinion in the Billings Gazette by Stewart Brandborg who was executive director of the Wilderness Society when the Wilderness Act became law.
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My take on Tester’s bill is that is very much the stuff ex-Idaho senator Larry Craig was always pushing — mandated levels of logging completely unrelated to the conditions of the market. One big difference in favor of Tester is he does designate some Wilderness.
Craig simply pushed artificial levels of logging. I used to call them Craig’s Soviet forestry because of their similarity to the way production goals were set in the former Communist Soviet Union.
Brandborg fills out the whole rooster of violations of past law and public oversight embodied in the Tester Bill.
Guest opinion: Tester logging bill proposes a calamitous precedent. By Stewart M. Brandborg. Billings Gazette.|
More recent opinion on Tester bill.
USFS Retiree [Bill Worf] on Tester Bill: Gutting the USFS is not the Solution. Unfiltered in New West. By Matthew Koehler,
This is a victory for WWPs Arizona Office in Tucson.
(PHOENIX, AZ)—The U.S. Department of the Interior, Bureau of Land Management (BLM), and Western Watersheds Projects announced today settlement of a federal lawsuit involving the Sonoran Desert National Monument southwest of Phoenix, Arizona.
Western Watersheds Project filed suit in August of 2008 to challenge livestock grazing within the Monument. “Our goal was to compel BLM to manage grazing in ways that protect the National Monument and its natural resources,” says Greta Anderson, the Arizona Director of Western Watersheds.
The BLM, a federal agency, is currently drafting a land use plan for the management of the National Monument, called a Resource Management Plan. The settlement stipulates that the Plan must be completed by December 15, 2011. They will include a determination of whether or not livestock grazing is compatible with the protection of objects identified in the 2001 Presidential Proclamation that established the Monument. “The Arizona BLM is dedicated to protecting the objects of the National Monument, and this settlement affords the staff a greater opportunity to focus on field work and achieve the deadline to complete the management plans,” says Jim Kenna, the BLM Arizona state director.
Salle put this link on the “have run across any good stories” page, but it should be a full post.
Hunting Wolves, Saving Wolves. PBS
Salle. I know you tried to call me about this, but I was out in the hills most of the day. Ralph
Additional info on wolves, etc. from PBS. I have to wonder about some of it like “On a calm night, howls can be heard from as far as 120 miles away.” They must have meant twelve miles.
Some think the mining ban could have been to cut off growing provincial demands for a park in the area to complement Waterton NP in Alberta and Glacier in the United States.
Details on Canadian Flathead mining ban short – for now. By Rob Chaney. Missoulian.
For some time here, we have arguing against giant, new centralized power plants whether of “alternative” or traditional energy. This means that few nukes, giant wind farms, coal plants, or space-consuming solar farms are needed.
I would have missed this. I’m glad Rocky Barker was alert following Northwest Power and Conservation Council’s new plan. Northwest can meet most energy needs with conservation, council says. By Rocky Barker. Idaho Statesman.
Jim Yost, one of Idaho’s two council members (and a strong corporate conservative) said “Everything we add to the system costs five to 10 times the resources we are using today,” Yost said. By this I takes it to mean the marginal cost of new generated power is 500 to 1000% the average cost of existing power.
Massive rolling boulder rocks town of Rockville, UT. Buildings, vehicles damaged; another rock unstable. By Mark Havnes. The Salt Lake Tribune.
In the comments to this article in the SL Trib, one person wondered if folks looked uphill before they built? I have often wondered about this in towns set in deep canyons.
The season has been good so far. Now the fish are moving well upstream. I see the average time to catch one is about 5 hours, depending on your fishing location.
Roger Phillips’ Fish Rap: Steelhead fishing is heating up a cold winter. Idaho Statesman
Although the article below writes of the headwaters of the Yellowstone. It is actually Soda Butte Creek and the Clark’s Fork of the Yellowstone.
They have been poking around and doing some mining here since the 19th Century. In the 1990s, there was a serious attempt at a giant gold mine right there on Henderson Mountain. One of the crowning achievements of the Greater Yellowstone Coalition was killing this mine and securing money for a general cleanup of the area.
This mining area his leaked acidic, heavy metals into Yellowstone Park for over a hundred years.
I’m very pleased to read this.
Cleanup at Yellowstone headwaters hailed. By Brett French. Billings Gazette.
I have been worried about this for years, and posted many articles. Every month is seemed a new, massive environmentally destructive scheme was proposed for the North Fork.
Now British Columbia Lt. Gov. Steven Point says the North Fork Flathead River drainage will be off limits to mining and energy extraction in a speech to the B.C. Parliament. Let’s hope the details don’t have loopholes.
British Columbia declares Canadian North Fork off limits to mining, energy development. By Rob Chaney. Missoulian
New article added on 2-11-2010. British Columbia Bans Mining, Drilling in Flathead River Valley. Environment News Service. This article gives additional information efforts to further protect area, something that was raised in the comments.
Photos (with locations)
Udall, Salazar propose big fines for big damage on federal lands. By Howard Pankratz. The Denver Post
Group sues to force decision on pygmy rabbits. By Nicholas K. Geranios. Associated Press Writer
I want to reiterate that the part of the lawsuit applying to the Frank Church Wilderness and the chasing, darting, and landing there to radio collar wolves, is not primarily a wolf issue. It is a Wilderness integrity issue. I would be equally irritating if they were doing this to capture elk, wolverine, bears, . . . whatever.
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Wilderness wolf lawsuit attracts wide environmental base. By Rocky Barker. Idaho Statesman.
As Rocky explains, I think the declaration by Dr. Jim Peak gives a crushing blow to Idaho Fish and Game’s argument that this is necessary wildlife management. Here is Dr. Peek’s declaration. Critical reading!
Now I think it is a number one priority to kill this awful bill. We don’t need more cattle stomped “wilderness areas” because they aren’t really wilderness.
Tester Makes Some Changes to Wilderness Bill, Refuses Others. “In response to feedback, Sen. Tester aims to make changes that improve his bill, and its chance of passage.” New West. By Amy Linn, 2-05-10
Just a little help for one of my favorite organizations-
Western Watersheds Project has an event in Tucson, AZ on Thurs. Feb. 18.
Join WWP Executive Director, Jon Marvel, Arizona Director, Greta Anderson and Arizona Legal Counsel, Erik Ryberg, along with other WWP staff and members, for an evening in Tucson. Learn about our work to save the Mexican wolf and Sonoran Desert Tortoise, to end destructive livestock grazing in Arizona’s hot deserts, and more!
The event starts at 7 p.m. on Thursday, Feb. 18. If you would like to attend, please contact Greta Anderson, firstname.lastname@example.org, (520) 623-1878, for details and directions. Attendance is limited, so please contact Greta right away if you are interested.
Prodigal Dogs. Have gray wolves found a home in Colorado? By Michelle Nijhuis. High Country News.
This was to be a year when bison could legally migrate freely out of Yellowstone into the area west of the Park, especially Horse Butte where they are welcome. All the cattle are gone from area. The Gallatin National Forest approved of the migration. Now Montana DOL says “no.” Of course, it is apparent to almost everyone not associated with livestock now that brucellosis is just a smokescreen for retaining the unbridled power of the cattle industry in Montana.
This sad development was reported earlier by the Buffalo Field Campaign.
DOL looks at stemming bison migration. By Daniel Person. Bozeman Daily Chronicle.
Why must Utah be kept free of wolves? Salt Lake Tribune.
Here is another update on the pneumonia killing so many bighorn. The article also gives the total estimated bighorn populations of Idaho, Montana, and Washington.
Hard times hit area bighorns. By Rich Landers. Spokesman-Review.
“The Payette National Forest [in Western Idaho] recently released a draft proposal for keeping domestic sheep from intermingling with wild bighorns. The plan was triggered by a lawsuit that charged the forest with failing to adequately protect wild sheep from the risk of contracting pneumonia from domestics.”
This draft is something I’ll put a link to when I find it. Webmaster
This idea came from Ron Kearns. Others thought it might be a good idea. It may be a way to avoid the pitfalls of an open forum. Let’s try it.
Note that this post is no longer a “sticky post.” That means it will drift downward as new posts appear, gradually dropping to the “old posts” category. What I’d like to do is put up a new “interesting news from readers post” every week. If there are any comments about this please make them. webmaster
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You can also write an essay.
Don’t post the actual text of an article (probably copyright violation)
Read the comments above yours. Some might have already posted the story
This was contributed by “TallTrent” on “Have you run across any interesting news?”
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On December 28, I posted an article about the status of Mexican wolves that was pessimistic, but some folks from the area commented that things were looking up. This story casts doubt on that.
Mexican wolf population dipping. “Officials say total from last year was down nearly 20%.” Tony Davis and Tim Steller. Arizona Daily Star.
Almost all the pups in 2009 ended up dead, and it was an unusually large and hopeful number of pups. I don’t know if it was disease, but the Mexican wolf population is one that is clearly in or close to a genetic bottleneck. High pup mortality is often one result of this.
Earlier today “Salle” posted in our new “Have you run across any interesting news” section her views and a large number of links relating to this important (if judged by the huge amount of litigation) set of rules for using Yellowstone in the winter. There is an interesting view that rather than snowmobiles/snowcoaches, maybe it would be better to plow from West Yellowstone to Old Faithful in the winter. This would be similar to the long-standing plowing of the road from Mammoth Hot Springs out the northeast entrance of the Park to Cooke City, MT.
At any rate, an entire new set of rule-making for Yellowstone winter use is about to begin.
I thought it was an important enough news story to bring in as a “regular” post. Ralph Maughan
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“Salle” wrote on Feb. 5, 2010 at 8:29 AM
This past week Yellowstone NP has opened up for comments on winter use in the park. Recently there was a decrease in oversnow travel limits for the next two winters while this issue is addressed, once again. A big concern for the general public is that only those who can ~$150/person/day can go in to enjoy the park during winter, unless you are near the north entrance and can only go to Lamar Valley area between Mammoth Hot Springs and Cooke City. The rest of the park is only open to oversnow travel at the price noted above.
There is a massive decline in business activity for the gate communities and the only businesses that have any business to speak of are the (less than a dozen) permitees who facilitate oversnow travel.
Many, including some park officials, have been pushing for the park to just plow the road during the winter. Such a plan includes plowing from the west gate to Madison jct; Madison jct. to Old Faithful and to Mammoth HS. this would allow the general public to enter the park year round and with the regular fees that apply during the summer months. It also allows the general public to get to Old faithful and the northern sector in a couple hours rather than a five hour drive, one way, from the west gate – the major entrance to the park.
Buffalo Field Campaign
Update from the Field
February 4, 2010
Buffalo Field Campaign relies on donations from people like you to fund our work to protect the bison. Please contribute today to keep us strong in the field and on the policy front.
* Update from the Field
* IBMP Agencies Hold Secret “Public” Meeting
* Good-Bye Tolerance: DOL & Park Service Battle Over Adaptive Management
* Quarantine: FWP Decides to Send 88 Yellowstone Buffalo to Ted Turner
* Wild Buffalo: What Does this Mean to You?
* Last Words
* Kill Tally
* Important Links
Read the rest of this entry »
“The attached report summarizes information regarding wolf management activities conducted by the Idaho Wildlife Services (WS) program in Federal fiscal year 2009, covering the period from October1, 2008 – September 30, 2009. If you have questions regarding any of the information in this report, please contact the Idaho WS State Office.”
APHIS Wildlife Services
9134 W. Blackeagle Drive
Boise, ID 83709
Phone (208) 378-5077
Fax (208) 378-5349
Decision expected tomorrow.
Two previous stories on the pika listing process:
Formal Protection For Pika Due To Climate Change
May 7, 2009
U.S. agrees to consider protections for pikas
February 15, 2009
Pika decision could have far-reaching effects
By MIKE STARK – Associated Press Writer
Update 2/4/10: Federal agency denies protections for tiny pika
The Wolf Recovery Foundation and Western Watersheds Project recently filed suit to end the Idaho Department of Fish & Game’s (IDF&G) attempt to use helicopters to chase, capture, and collar wolves in the Frank Church-River-Of-No-Return Wilderness. The suit also seeks to shut down Wildlife Service’s wolf killing operations in the state of Idaho, and halt grazing in the Sawtooth National Recreation Area as it conflicts with wildlife, particularly predators including wolves.
More groups sue over wilderness helicopter use – AP
Now, a number of additional conservation groups are jumping on to challenge the Frank Church/wolf/helicopter-landing part of the lawsuit including:
Great Old Broads for Wilderness
Winter Wildlands Alliance
Idaho Conservation League
The Wilderness Society
I hope you’ll take a look at the motion and brief filed yesterday :
Read the Opening Injuction Brief
Read the Injunction Motion
Should the IDF&G be allowed to harass, land, and collar wolves with helicopters, many prominent conservationists’ wilderness/wildlife-watching experiences will be harmed as they plan to recreate and take solitude within the lower 48-state’s largest Wilderness area this coming season.
I hope you’ll take the time to read the declarations of former wolf & Wilderness managers, Wolf Recovery Foundation & WWP board, staff, and members whose powerful experiences with wolves and the Frank Church wilderness is an inspiration: Read the rest of this entry »
Since I haven’t seen the actual text, I don’t know if the concessions to the ICA are cosmetic, technical, or actually gut the intent to let someone other than livestock owners bid for 10 year leases of the state school endowment lands.
Legislators approve OK new grazing lease rules. By John Miller. Associated Press Writer
Idaho Parks and Recreation Board reverses park closures. Shuttering parks ‘is not the direction the state should be headed,’ says Sen. Joe Stegner, R-Lewiston. ‘Not now. Not ever.’ By Cynthia Sewell. Idaho Statesman. “We had a paradigm shift,” said board Chairman Steve Klatt of Sagle.
Of course, they will have to try to fund a larger portion not using appropriated state money.
1.2 million acres were protected in 2009 in the Omnibus Public Land Bill’s “Wyoming Range Legacy Act”. If you have never visited the Wyoming Range, it might be worth your while to drop another trip to the Tetons and head south a bit.
Conservationists, sportsmen agree with plan. Bridger-Teton wants no drilling on 44,000 acres. By Cory Hatch. Jackson Hole News and Guide.
I started this blog to try to present a reasonable view, neutral between hunters and non-hunters on wildlife. I do have a position against public lands livestock grazing, and I favor wolf recovery. For these positions some will think I’m wrong.
This blog has generated a lot of good discussion. Very important facts have come out. I think some wildlife policies have been modified. I know other news media get ideas for stories here.
Unfortunately, the level of hostility among those who comment on this blog and in public in Idaho in general on wildlife issues is rising so rapidly, I wonder if there is any point in continuing to allow comments or even to maintain the blog.
Anyway, that’s what I am thinking.
Feel free to discuss it for a while here in a civil tone.
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Thank you everyone for your expressions of support for continuing a blog and a blog with comments. I have been digesting these, and I talked with Ken Cole, who has been helping me a lot over the last year.
I’m going to post my thoughts here rather than as a regular comment where they will soon get buried.
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1. Everyone’s full name.
There’s no doubt this would calm things down quickly. However, we would lose valuable comments from people who would quickly be in trouble with their boss, their customers, their government agency, their relatives, their personal lawsuit, so forth. Some of these comments have given invaluable information.
I will encourage you to use your full name, and I can ferret out fake full names. No doubt it will give your remarks more authority. That’s just natural.
2. Folks who go over the edge.
Most everyone gets irritated and lets out a rant against someone (who might well deserve it). About a dozen regulars have gotten email from me at one time or another, and I have suspended some and removed others permanently. Some have really gotten angry (it helps if my email is plenty nice); others come right around.
I think sometimes a person has had a bit too much to drink when they comment.
For just a while, I hope, I’m going to have to be more aggressive reminding people. Some are not going to like this. My apologies in advance. Some are going to go away real soon. Another problem is “thread-breakers.” Let’s say there is a good discussion of recreation fees going, and someone makes a good comment but it’s totally off the subject. Something needs to be done about that.
It helps if you are posting into an ongoing thread if you at least glance at the five or six comments before yours.
Do Ken or I need to create more “open forums” where people can write what they want to write about at the time?
3. I want to change the name of this blog.
“Ralph Maughan’s” Wildlife News might make me seem like an ego-maniac. Actually it is just a historic accident. My old web site was created for me way back in 1995. The person who made that site named it after me. Soon it started to be picked up by the search engines, and I kept that name to maintain ranking.
This is no longer necessary. I’d like to get rid of the “Ralph Maughan” in the name. I don’t want personal attention. However, what should it be called?
These data are from the High Country News blog, Goat. Cows vs. RATs. Jodi Peterson
In Testimony to the Senate Resource and Environment Committee on January 18th Jim Unsworth, Deputy Director of the Idaho Fish and Game, said that the Idaho wolf population is about 800 animals which is down from last year’s estimate of 846. This would be the first decline seen in the wolf population since they were re-introduced in 1995.
The population has seen lower growth rates in recent years even though it is commonly claimed that the population has grown by 20% each year. With this year’s hunt (135 in 2009 and 11 in 2010), control actions by Wildlife Services (87), known poaching (13), and other mortality (38) there have been 284 wolf mortalities which is the highest since the reintroduction occurred. Data from December 2009 Management Progress Report.
Here is the testimony:
Senator Stennett asked for a point of clarity regarding the number of wolves for the next hunting season and the number of tags. Mr. Unsworth said they haven’t done the estimates yet, but this year they had 95 packs (about 800 animals) and it is the Commission’s decision as to what the harvest will be for next year. Senator Stennett inquired about the study on elk in the Lolo area. Mr. Unsworth stated that he would provide her with that information.
SENATE RESOURCES & ENVIRONMENT
January 18, 2010 – Minutes – Page 7
Other interesting information is also found in his testimony. “149 radio-marked wolves were monitored in Idaho during 2009” and “10 of 135 harvested wolves were wearing radio collars. Capturing and radio-collaring efforts will need to be increased to compensate for lost collars.”
Worse, the terrain is too rough in lower Rock Creek to cull the herd.
It appears that over 400 bighorn are at risk. Well over a hundred have already be culled. Others have just died on their own.
Pneumonia confirmed in Upper Rock Creek bighorn sheep herd. By Rob Chaney. Missoulian
Update 2/3/10: I’ve put together maps showing the locations of the bighorn populations that have shown signs of pneumonia across the west with some close-up maps of the areas. The green areas are where bighorns currently live and the red areas are those showing signs of pneumonia. Ken Cole
Mining exec buys Sun Ranch. By Daniel Person. Bozeman Daily Chronicle.
Top predators such as wolves, lions, and jaguars play very important roles in the ecology. From control of mesopredators like coyotes and hyenas to control of ungulate populations and how they use the land.
Why top predators matter: an in-depth look at new research
That is roughly 1/3 of the population estimated to be there. So far there have been 146 wolves killed in the hunt in Idaho.
Of note is the death of wolf Y239 which was a disperser from the Greater Yellowstone wolf population and the alpha male of the Hoodoo Pack.
“It’s difficult to imagine a safer or better home for 14 Yellowstone bison than Guernsey State Park, which was suggested by Wyoming officials to host the animals.” Read the rest of the story in the Casper Star Tribune editorial.
Hunting initiative aims for access to wildlife. By Michale Babcock. Great Falls Tribune Outdoor Editor.