Western Washington’s bighorns slammed by disease

Another 2010-was-a-deadly-year-for-bighorn story-

The culprit is almost entirely pneumonia, and almost all of it, maybe all of it, comes from domestic sheep and goats.  The Western Watersheds Project, and closely related groups like Advocates for the West, are  just about the only organizations that are willing to step forward, tell the truth, and go after the offending herds of livestock.  I hope folks will consider and give WWP and Advocates a donation if the appalling death tool of bighorn sheep in the West bothers you. Ralph Maughan

Western Washington’s bighorns slammed by disease. Outdoors Blog. The Spokesman Review.

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Related Dec. 31. Bighorn sheep killed on Montana highway one. AP (in Great Falls Tribune).  I remember posting an almost identical story for the same place a couple years ago.  Some money needs to be spent at this location.    “a state wildlife biologist says between four to 15 of the animals are killed every year [at this location]*

Wyoming to spend $9.7M to protect pronghorn

Finally, it looks like a real effort to keep antelope bottlenecks west of Pinedale from closing-

Over the years, we have written about the Trapper’s Point pronghorn migration bottleneck a number of times.  There has been growing awareness that the thousands-of-year-old antelope migration from the Wyoming high desert over the Gros Ventre each year, down into Jackson Hole could easily be severed by increasing development.

I had heard something was being done.  This summer I visited Trappers Point, walked all around, took photos, but saw no changes to the situation had been made. Today the Jackson Hole News and Guide has some good news.  There will be an expansive and expensive overpass built at Trappers Point and another at a dangerous highway crossing about 5 miles to the NW, north of Daniel Junction.

Of course, these overpasses will benefit other kinds of wildlife hit on the highways in this area of increasing traffic and development from the gas fields and subdivisions.

State to spend $9.7M to protect pronghorn: Plan would build fences, highway underpasses and overpasses in Sublette County (WY). By Cory Hatch, Jackson Hole News and Guide.

Hearing officer says “yes” to first 4 oil megaloads

The next 200 or so loads are still on the table-

Boise attorney Merlyn Clark, hearing officer on the oil megaloads that will use U.S. Highway 12 across north central Idaho into Montana has ruled that the first 4 megaloads could be transported safely with “minimum inconvenience” up narrow U.S. Highway 12 to the Montana border (Lolo Pass).

These giant loads have been sitting at Idaho’s sea port of Lewiston for a month now. There is still some paperwork before their transport can begin, but little doubt we will see what actually happens as they take them up along the Clearwater and Lochsa River to the Bitterroot Divide and down into Montana.  The first 4 loads are for the Billings, MT oil refinery, not the Alberta tar sand pits.

The usual groups, such as the Idaho Farm Bureau (how is this a farm issue?), have been promoting the idea that moving this equipment along Highway 12 at night will be some kind of boom for business, although no explanation how that will happen.

There will be a big difference between the transport of 4 megaloads versus the next 200 (which are not included in this hearing officer’s decision).

Idaho agency advised to issue megaload permits. By John Miller. The Associated Press (in Bloomberg).

Greater Yellowstone Coalition proposes protections for Absaroka-Beartooth Front

Plan might copy relatively successful effort to conserve Montana’s Rocky Mountain Front-

Given the very scenic nature of much of the A-B Front, in a way it is surprising this proposal didn’t emerge earlier. Personally, I think it is a great idea.

Story in the Billings Gazette on plans to conserve the Absaroka/Beartooth Front.

Beartooth Front. Toward the two forks of the Rosebud River. copyright Ralph Maughan

 

What does a blizzard on the U.S. East Coast mean for global warming?

Stronger winter storms are the indirect result of global warming-

There are a lot of people who tend to think snowy weather means there is no global warming (they tend to watch Fox News). Actually, the opposite is true, at least under the current level of warming.

What does a blizzard on the U.S. East Coast mean for global warming? By David Biello. Scientific American.

Elk herd prospers on Hanford, WA nuclear reservation

Dry country elk herd’s major difficulty said to be agricultural damage-

I didn’t know anything about the elk in this part of Washington state. I’m glad learn that a herd of 600-700 was established 30 years ago and does well.

Elk continue to thrive in Mid-Columbia desert. By Annette Cary, Herald staff writer

Anatomy of a medusahead invasion

An annual grass worse than cheatgrass

Medusahead grass has the ability to take over a landscape like cheatgrass but nothing will eat it after it dies and dries out in the early summer months. It is becoming a huge problem in some areas and I’ve seen allotments with vast expanses where it is about the only thing that grows. Of course, if you’re the BLM, what else is there to do but renew the grazing permit and continue the degradation?

Anatomy of a medusahead invasion.
High Country News