Obama: Interior reforms too slow

Interior Secretary Ken Salazar

Off With His Hat

Finally some sanity ~ it’ll be interesting to see whether Obama has the integrity to follow through (not holding my breath):

Obama: Interior reforms too slow ~ By Dan Berman, Politico

White House insiders say Salazar has fallen out of favor and speculate that he will be gone after November’s midterms. Obama didn’t say directly whether Salazar would still have a job, but he acknowledged the overhaul of the former Minerals Management Service — long accused of being too cozy with the oil and gas companies it regulated — took too long.

It’s not just the MMS that’s been a disgrace under Salazar’s Interior, the US Fish and Wildlife Service, Bureau of Land Management,and other agencies at Interior are all failing the American public, effectively liquidating America’s environmental heritage to appease the very industries that ran the Department under the Bush Administration.

Interior: same contractors doing their NEPA on behalf of the same industries … if it smells like Bush and tastes like Bush … we’re supposed to call it “Change” ?

Scientists: Wolf Hunts More Deadly Than Previously Thought

Proposed Montana wolf hunt, now on hold, would have significantly reduced state’s wolf population-

Scientists: Wolf Hunts More Deadly Than Previously Thought. By Virginia Morell. Science Insider. Link is now fixed!

Here is the actual scientific paper. Meta-Analysis of Relationships between Human Offtake, Total Mortality and Population Dynamics of Gray Wolves (Canis lupus). By Scott Creel*, Jay J. Rotella
Department of Ecology, Montana State University, Bozeman, Montana.

We have been discussing this all day under another thread, but it is important to post this story.

– – – – – – – – –
It’s unreasonable to except that there won’t be future wolf hunts in the Northern Rockies, despite the current count imposed relisting of the gray wolf.  However, this article demonstrates that Montana and Idaho’s wolf hunting plants for 2010 (which would have already been underway) would have significantly reduced the wolf population. Idaho was honest about their intention to reduce the population. Montana argued that a hunt of that size was needed merely to keep the current population from growing, and that was about all it would really do.

Solar Or Wind Power? Why Not Both?

Using satellites to produce energy could eliminate the need for other power sources but how do you get the energy back to earth? Beam it.

This idea has been around for a while but it could have profound impacts that aren’t well understood. I find these kinds of stories fascinating and I think they relate to the discussions we have here.

Questions that aren’t addressed here are what effect would this have on climate? Yes, it could obviate the need for new sources of power but what about the effects of the beam itself? What about transmission lines and who would control it once it gets here? No doubt it would be controlled by some megacorporation if past history is any guide.

Other practical questions are how do you protect such a large object from space debris? What would such an object do to the night sky?

Solar Or Wind Power? Why Not Both?
Discovery News

New Study Comfirms that Bighorn Sheep Die from Domestic Sheep Diseases

Hells Canyon Bighorn Sheep © Ken Cole

Hells Canyon Bighorn Sheep © Ken Cole

A new study in the Journal of Wildlife Diseases confirms, unequivocally, that the domestic sheep disease Mannheimia haemolytica kills bighorn sheep after the two species co-mingle. This paper has been rumored for the last several months and was cited in the recent Payette National Forest decision to close 60% of sheep grazing allotments on the Forest.

Surely this should end the discussion among reasonable people about whether science supports the notion that domestic sheep and bighorn sheep can co-exsist. They cannot and actions must be taken by Federal and State agencies to make sure that the two species do not overlap on the landscape.

ABSTRACT:   Previous studies demonstrated that bighorn sheep (Ovis canadensis) died of pneumonia when commingled with domestic sheep (Ovis aries) but did not conclusively prove that the responsible pathogens were transmitted from domestic to bighorn sheep. The objective of this study was to determine, unambiguously, whether Mannheimia haemolytica can be transmitted from domestic to bighorn sheep when they commingle. Four isolates of M. haemolytica were obtained from the pharynx of two of four domestic sheep and tagged with a plasmid carrying the genes for green fluorescent protein (GFP) and ampicillin resistance (APR). Four domestic sheep, colonized with the tagged bacteria, were kept about 10 m apart from four bighorn sheep for 1 mo with no clinical signs of pneumonia observed in the bighorn sheep during that period. The domestic and bighorn sheep were then allowed to have fence-line contact for 2 mo. During that period, three bighorn sheep acquired the tagged bacteria from the domestic sheep. At the end of the 2 mo of fence-line contact, the animals were allowed to commingle. All four bighorn sheep died 2 days to 9 days following commingling. The lungs from all four bighorn sheep showed gross and histopathologic lesions characteristic of M. haemolytica pneumonia. Tagged M. haemolytica were isolated from all four bighorn sheep, as confirmed by growth in ampicillin-containing culture medium, PCR-amplification of genes encoding GFP and ApR, and immunofluorescent staining of GFP. These results unequivocally demonstrate transmission of M. haemolytica from domestic to bighorn sheep, resulting in pneumonia and death of bighorn sheep.

via TRANSMISSION OF MANNHEIMIA HAEMOLYTICA FROM DOMESTIC SHEEP (OVIS ARIES) TO BIGHORN SHEEP (OVIS CANADENSIS): UNEQUIVOCAL DEMONSTRATION WITH GREEN FLUORESCENT PROTEIN-TAGGED ORGANISMS — Lawrence et al. 46 (3): 706 — Journal of Wildlife Diseases.

The Big Bad Wolf Makes Good

The Yellowstone Success Story and Those Who Want to Kill It

Chip Ward publishes an exceptional piece on the wolf controversy, bringing a compelling focus back to the real issues ~ and values ~ wolf advocates are fighting for :

The Big Bad Wolf Makes Good – Published on Wednesday, September 29, 2010 by TomDispatch.com

Sadly, the good news has been muted by subsequent political strife over wolf reintroduction outside of Yellowstone.  Along the northern front of the Rocky Mountains in Wyoming, Montana, Idaho, Utah, and Colorado, as well as New Mexico and Arizona, so-called wolf wars have added fuel to a decades-old battle over the right to graze cattle or hunt on public land.  The shouting has overwhelmed both science and civil discourse.  This makes it all the harder to convey the lessons learned to an American public that is mostly ecologically illiterate and never really understood why wolves were put back into Yellowstone in the first place.  Even the legion of small donors who supported the project mostly missed the reasons it was undertaken, focusing instead on the “charismatic” qualities of wolves and the chance to see them in the wild.

Read it.

Baucus, Tester introduce bill to return wolf management to Montana [and Idaho]

Rancher senators move to amend Endangered Species Act-

Although most of the grass roots activity against wolves has come from elk and deer hunters, it has always been the ranchers at the core of wolf hatred.  The reason is that the large ranchers have always believed it is their right to govern the rest of us. The were very insulted when something like wolf reintroduction happened over their objections . . . makes them think they are losing their grip.

We certainly see it in Montana. Max Baucus has always been a prime example of man born to ranch privilege and power. Jon Tester is a rancher/farmer.  The state’s lone Republican, House member Denny Rehberg is a rancher, and so is his Democratic opponent in the upcoming election.

This issue has always been about the privilege and power of a tiny elite in the West. That’s what wolves are so controversial in the Northern Rockies, but not in Minnesota, Wisconsin or Michigan where social and economic justice has always been more important.

I don’t know if this legislation will move or not, but I do know what it is not about. It’s not about wildlife or wolves.  It’s clear now Congress won’t take this up before the elections.  They want to go campaign.
Temporary Spending Bill Passed: Congress Punts On Budget, Controversial Issues. Huffington Post.

Baucus, Tester introduce bill to return wolf management to Montana. By Rob Chaney. Missoulian. Note that the bill doesn’t do anything regarding wolves in Wyoming. It is kind of a “damn you Wyoming” bill.


Reminder: Comments Due on IDFG’s Bighorn Sheep Plan Tomorrow

I posted this at the end of August. It’s time to get your comments in.

Don’t color outside the lines

Bighorn Sheep © Ken Cole

Bighorn Sheep © Ken Cole

The Idaho Department of Fish and Game has released its Draft Bighorn Sheep Management Plan which essentially draws lines around existing bighorn sheep populations and prevents recovery to historical habitat. This is a big problem because the bighorn population has been in steep decline due to diseases spread by domestic sheep.

A population that recovered from over hunting and disease in the late 1800’s and early 1900’s started to increase after hunting regulations and reintroductions took place but the recovery was short lived and now the native and reintroduced populations have suffered from repeated contact with diseased domestic sheep and goats. The population numbered around 5000 in the 1990’s but is now about 2900 and continuing to decline.

Two areas, the Pioneer Mountains west of Mackay, and the Palisades east of Idaho Falls, are areas where dispersing sheep are commonly seen. Under this plan these areas have been essentially written off due to the presence of Federal sheep grazing allotments. Another area that isn’t included as a priority area for sheep recovery is the Sawtooths and the Boise and Payette drainages. These areas contain very suitable habitat yet there are domestic sheep allotments there as well.

The Management Plan is not likely to curb the declines in bighorn sheep populations and the IDFG is afraid to advocate for bighorn sheep conservation. They hold the power to really make the Federal agencies pay attention and close sheep grazing allotments but the IDFG is a captured agency that depends on the good graces of the livestock industry dominated legislature.

Comment on the Bighorn Sheep Management Plan.

The Comment Period Ends September 30, 2010.
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