Idaho lawmaker hopes to make justice on Megaloads unaffordable

Idaho lawmakers hope to dissuade public access to judicial review of state megaload approvals by forcing them to post huge sums of money before access to court is granted.

Idaho bill targets anti-megaload lawsuitsSpokesman Review

BOISE – Rep. Dick Harwood, R-St. Maries, has introduced legislation requiring anyone who files a lawsuit against a transportation project on state highways to post a bond equal to 5 percent of the value of the items being hauled, and if the plaintiffs lose the lawsuit, the whole bond would go to the Idaho Transportation Department.

Requiring potential litigants to post bonds jams up the gears of justice, making those with financial resources ‘more equal’ in their access to justice than those without wealth.  Whatever one thinks about the merits of the megaload controversy, state laws that have the effect of erecting economic prohibitions on justice are not a good idea.

US Fish & Wildlife Solicits Comments on 10(j) Proposal to Slaughter Lolo Wolves

From the USFWS Press Release 2/10/11:

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced today the availability of a draft Environmental Assessment (EA) of Idaho Department of Fish and Game’s request to manage gray wolves in the Lolo Elk Management Zone in north central Idaho in response to impacts of wolf predation on elk.

The Draft Environmental Analysis and supporting documents are available at the USFWS website here.

Feds OK hunting of 60 wolves in north Idaho – AP

Wildlife Services revises Idaho Wolf Environmental Assessment

Drops gassing of pups in their dens and sterilization but continues heavy handed killing of wolves.

Public Comments accepted until January 3, 2011

Basin Butte Wolf Spring 2006 © Ken Cole

Basin Butte Wolf Spring 2006 © Ken Cole

In anticipation of Monday’s federal court hearing of a case brought by Western Watersheds Project, Wildlife Services has revised its Idaho Wolf Environmental Assessment. While the new EA drops gassing of wolf pups in their dens and use of sterilization, the preferred alternative does not consider exhaustive use of non-lethal methods to prevent wolf conflicts by intimating that it would be too expensive for ranchers to use proper animal husbandry techniques to avoid such conflicts.

Wildlife Services [sic], formerly Animal Damage Control, is an agency under the Department of Agriculture which responds to wildlife threats to agriculture. They are not related to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, which is under the Department of Interior and who manages endangered species, enforces the Migratory Bird Treaty Act, and manages National Wildlife Refuges.

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China Mountain/Browns Bench Wind controversy escalates

“I can assure you there will be a protracted legal fight using all legal means available to stop the project”

Brown's Bench, RES America proposes to put hundreds of giant wind turbines on this southern Idaho landscape © Brian Ertz 2010

Some of the really great things I enjoy about living in the west are the obscure landscapes/mountain ranges.  Unlike national parks, ‘W‘ilderness areas, National Monuments and other landscapes prominently highlighted on any western map, there are many public landscapes less conspicuous, maybe not even labeled on a common roadmap, belonging to all of us that are best known by the locals ~ sportsmen, anglers, ranchers, really hardcore conservationists and recreationists.  Landscapes that harbor habitat and wildlife that exemplify its original nature.

West of 93 on the ID/NV line

These less conspicuous areas are where I learned to hunt and fish with my brothers, places I continue to frequent to hike, botanize and view wildlife with my kids.  Public lands that have served countless generations in such an economically intangible way, uplifting our spirit and serving our truly unique and blessed standard of living.  If you’re reading this, it’s likely you know what I mean.

Increasingly, these places find themselves under threat by new energy technologies which extend the reach of our human ability to extract resources into places otherwise overlooked by industry yesteryear.

In southern Idaho, just west of Highway 93 on the Idaho/Nevada line, Brown’s Bench is just such a place.

Concerned about grouse, groups ask China Mountain developer to reconsider – Opposition Rises as Wind Farm Study Nears – Times-News

One by one, organizations weighing the land against the wind are concluding that more green energy doesn’t outweigh the risk to sage grouse.

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Elk Baiting Poachers Fined, Lose Hunting Privileges.

Cumulatively they lost $9600 and 12 years of hunting privileges.

Another form of poaching that is probably more common than this one incident might indicate. This case shows how difficult it is to convict many poachers. It took two years to catch someone using the bait station after it was first discovered.

Is poaching becoming more commonplace because of the recession and could it be the reason for declines in elk? The recent study in Oregon indicates that the level of poaching is very high there. Could it be just as much of a problem in the neighboring states like Idaho, Montana, and Wyoming? What is going on here?

Elk Baiting Poachers Fined, Lose Hunting Privileges.
Idaho Fish and Game News Release

Rex Rammell encourages Idaho residents to poach wolves

Former gubernatorial candidate Rex Rammel, currently under investigation for poaching elk, told a group of Idaho residents that citizens should organize wolf killing parties and that he didn’t think the authorities would intervene.

Not so says the feds:

Feds plan action if Idaho wolves killed illegallyAP

Idaho Fish and Game Commission suspends 2008-2012 Wolf Management Plan

Directs Department to prepare a new plan consistent with 2002 Legislative Plan.

The IDFG Commission voted unanimously to suspend the 2008-2012 wolf management plan, which maintains a wolf population of 518 wolves in the state of Idaho, and directed the Department to prepare “an appropriate wolf species management plan, consistent with the 2002 Idaho Wolf Conservation and Management Plan approved by the Idaho Legislature and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.”

In other words, this means that the IDFG has abandoned all pretense of biological or scientific management of wolves in favor of a politically driven plan which only commits to maintain 10 packs minimum but would institute remedial management measures if the population falls below 15 packs.

IDFG Wolf Motion to suspend 2008 plan

Here is the language of the motion which was unanimously passed:

(1) Continue the pursuit of control actions under 10j for the protection of ungulate herds while wolves remain listed under the Endangered Species Act;

(2) Suspend immediately the 2008-2012 Idaho Wolf Population Management Plan; and

(3) Postpone consideration, until delisting resumes, as to the specifics of day-to-day state wolf management and upon delisting of gray wolves in Idaho; the Commission will direct the Department to prepare an appropriate wolf species management plan, consistent with the 2002 Idaho Wolf Conservation and Management Plan approved by the Idaho Legislature and the u.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

Youtube video of the meeting and more comment to come. Watch this space. Read the rest of this entry »