Idaho House passes wolf disaster declaration

It Passed 64-5

Sometimes you have to wonder…….
It doesn’t seem like a good move by those who want wolves to be delisted to me.

House presses on with wolf disaster declaration.
Associated Press

Update: According to sources in the legislature, I’m guessing that this will likely pass the Senate and be signed by the Governor. How this will affect negotiations in the US Senate over the rider to delist wolves, which is attached to the Continuing Resolution, is yet to be determined.

Idaho House declares wolves a disaster emergency.
By Laura Zuckerman – Reuters

Idaho Gov. Butch Otter’s wilderness math doesn’t add up

Idaho’s fact free governor testifies about Idaho Wilderness-

Clement “Butch” Otter has always made his way catering to most backward power groups in his unequal, economically poor, but wilderness rich state.  The poorly paid teachers, educationally deprived students, overflowing prisons, and dispirited population are fine by him, but he has never liked wild backcountry, and especially designated Wilderness, and there is a lot of it in Idaho.  Some of it was protected by Act of Congress during Idaho’s brief green period, 1969-1980.  The rest has been protected by rugged topography and dedicated Idahoans and their allies who have fought long odds ever since.

Otter recently shared his ignorance about Idaho’s Wilderness with a committee in the new Tea Party U. S. House of Representatives. Rocky Barker has a good article on his testimony before the House Natural Resources Committee in today’s Idaho Statesman.

Idaho Gov. Butch Otter’s wilderness math doesn’t add up. “In a fight against more wilderness, Otter may have vastly underestimated the economic impact of what the state already has.” By Rocky Barker. rbarker@idahostatesman.com. Idaho Statesman

Idaho lawmakers reject bill to let public comment on megaloads

Public Comment on them? We won’t even consider the bill, says Idaho legislative committee-

House panel rejects megaloads hearing requirement, won’t introduce bill. Spokesman-Review

Representative JoAn Wood is quoted in the article. According to Ballotpedia, “Wood is a business partner in a trucking/farming company.”

You can see the company in Eastern Idaho on your way St. Anthony. Government by conflict of interest; it is a principle of Idaho government.

Former Gov. candidate Rex Rammel could face charges for allegedly killing elk

Wow!! Who’s next?

Who knows? If there is a conviction in this case, it might solidify my theory that anti-wolf advocates are behind the decimation of elk herds 😉

Recall, Rex Rammel is the politician who joked about “Obama tags“. He also had a run in with then Governor and now Senator Jim Risch after his canned hunt elk escaped and were shot by Idaho Fish and Game agents.

We’ve written about him here before.

Rex Rammell vs. the Elk vs. the Law
Boise Weekly

Former Gov. candidate could face charges for allegedly killing elk .
KBOI 2 – Boise

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Addition by Ralph Maughan. So this Karen Calisterio in North Idaho who just had a “scary,” but completely unverified encounter with wolves on her property was Rex Rammell’s campaign manager.

New story. Warden confiscates elk from Rex Rammell, plans to file poaching charges. By Rocky Barker – rbarker@idahostatesman.com

House backs Hell’s Canyon sheep bill

Now it’s up to the Governor.

Bighorn sheep near North Fork, Idaho © Ken Cole

Bighorn sheep near North Fork, Idaho © Ken Cole

This bill is not just going to affect bighorn sheep in Hell’s Canyon, it affects bighorn sheep throughout the state. It is political game management which can be changed at the whim of livestock industry pressure.

It does not address important issues regarding disease transmission and basically writes off recovery of declining bighorn sheep populations as “acceptable”.

The media has not reported that there has been an amendment to the bill changing the timeframe in which the IDFG must develop, with the permittees, best management practices.

Here is the new language in the bill:

“(E) The Idaho department of fish and game: (1) shall develop a state management plan to maintain a viable, self-sustaining population of bighorn sheep in Idaho which shall consider as part of the plan the current federal or state domestic sheep grazing allotment(s) that currently have any bighorn sheep upon or in proximity to the allotment(s); (2) within ninety (90) days of the effective date of this act will cooperatively develop best management practices with the permittee(s) on the allotment(s). Upon commencement of the implementation of best management practices, the director shall certify that the risk of disease transmission, if any, between bighorn and domestic sheep is acceptable for the viability of the bighorn sheep. The director’s certification shall continue for as long as the best management practices are implemented. The director may also certify that the risk of disease transmission, if any, between bighorn and domestic sheep is acceptable for the viability of the bighorn sheep based upon a finding that other factors exist, including but not limited to previous exposure to pathogens that make separation between bighorn and domestic sheep unnecessary.”

This language ensures that disease transmission will continue and that it is “acceptable”.

Here is the old language:

(E) The Idaho department of fish and game: (1) shall develop a state management plan to maintain a viable, selfsustaining population of bighorn sheep in Idaho; and (2) within one hundred twenty (120) days of the effective date of this act will cooperatively develop best management practices with permittees for their federal and state grazing allotments that include or adjoin core populations of bighorn sheep as determined by the department. Upon commencement of the implementation of best management practices, the director shall certify that the potential risk of disease transmission, if any, between bighorn and domestic sheep is acceptable for the viability of the bighorn sheep core population. The director’s certification shall continue for as long as the best management practices are implemented by the permittee. The director may also certify that the potential risk of disease transmission, if any, between bighorn and domestic sheep is acceptable for the viability of the bighorn sheep core population based upon a finding that other factors exist, including but not limited to previous exposure to pathogens that make separation between bighorn and domestic sheep unnecessary.

House backs Hell’s Canyon sheep bill
Associated Press

Midvale residents say Gov. Otter has abandoned rural Idaho

Otter pushes for road money, but residents gripe about feds, wild sheep

Here in Idaho the legislature has gone into overtime because Governor Otter vetoed 35 appropriation bills over the course of a few days because he wants the legislature to raise gas taxes for road construction projects. They are not complying.

Each month Governor Otter spends a day in an Idaho town or city in his program “Capitol for a Day”. This time he spent the day in Midvale, Idaho and got an ear-full from the rural residents, who overwhelmingly supported him in the election, about his proposed gas tax increase and his veto of the bighorn sheep killing bill SB1175.

This is an interesting look at the conflicting values of rural and urban values.

Midvale residents say Gov. Otter has abandoned rural Idaho
DAN POPKEY, Idaho Statesman

Senate OKs new bill to help resolve sheep conflict

Will this save the collaborative group?

Bighorn Sheep © Ken Cole

Bighorn Sheep © Ken Cole

The new bill, SB1232, passed the Senate but will it save the Bighorn Sheep Domestic Sheep Advisory Group? Some of the members of the advisory group are saying the new bill interferes with what the group was formed to do and is still bad for bighorn sheep. Will the advisory group continue?

Senate OKs new bill to help resolve sheep conflict
Associated Press

Otter vetoes bill that called for killing bighorns

The Governor has vetoed SB1175 leaving SB1232 in its place.

biohazPresumably SB1232 will pass the legislature and the Governor will sign it into law.

How much valuable time has been spent on this issue by the legislature, state and Federal agencies, interest groups and the Governor? Is this the best use of time in this failing economy where education, public health, and other budgets are being slashed leaving behind dysfunctional important agencies and programs? Vaccine for Children, coverage for cystic fibrosis patients over 18, and adult and travel immunizations are but a few examples of programs that have been cut. These programs actually save lives and these cuts will inevitably result in more illness and premature deaths among our most vulnerable citizens.

Sheep industry officials are admitting that if they are held accountable for their actions and how they treat public lands and wildlife, they will go out of business. Their operations are not viable, so as it is – without all the subsidies – they would collapse.

Again, here are subsidies received by wool growers affected by the likely changes on the Payette National Forest:

Soulen Livestock Co received payments totaling $1,010,401 from 1995 through 2006
http://farm.ewg.org/farm/persondetail.php?custnumber=009379239

Ron Shirts received payments totaling $214,707 from 1995 through 2006
http://farm.ewg.org/farm/persondetail.php?custnumber=008358031

Frank Shirts Jr received payments totaling $775,817 from 1995 through 2006
http://farm.ewg.org/farm/persondetail.php?custnumber=008376206

Guy M Carlson received payments totaling $110,307 from 1995 through 2006
http://farm.ewg.org/farm/persondetail.php?custnumber=008371346

The changes made that appear in the new bill SB1232 are smoke and mirrors. These changes do not address the real on the ground situation where bighorn sheep, especially rams, travel widely throughout the region and intermingle with domestic sheep then go on to intermingle with other bighorn sheep. This can go undetected due to poor management practices by the herders who often don’t understand the situation as they are immigrant laborers who can’t even speak English. This is not to say that these herders are in any way responsible for the situation but to say that many times they are just put in an untenable situation.

This also doesn’t address the issue of straying or lost sheep. Many times herders return from the season and unaccounted sheep are left behind on the range. These sheep may end up in bighorn sheep habitat. These situations have been documented on numerous occasions.

Otter vetoes bill that called for killing bighorns
Associated Press

Yet Another Bighorn Sheep Related Bill

Just introduced today.

A new bill was introduced this morning which appears to replace SB 1175.  The bill is virtually identical to SB 1175 except for the following changes:

S1232 F&G, bighorn sheep relocation

(E) The Idaho department of fish and game: (1) shall develop a state management plan to maintain a viable, self-sustaining population of bighorn sheep in Idaho; and (2) within one hundred twenty (120) days of the effective date of this act will cooperatively develop best management practices with permittees for their federal and state grazing allotments that include or adjoin core populations of bighorn sheep as determined by the department. Upon commencement of the implementation of best management practices, the director shall certify that the potential risk of disease transmission, if any, between bighorn and domestic sheep is acceptable for the viability of the bighorn sheep core population. The director’s certification shall continue for as long as the best management practices are implemented by the permittee. The director may also certify that the potential risk of disease transmission, if any, between bighorn and domestic sheep is acceptable for the viability of the bighorn sheep core population based upon a finding that other factors exist, including but not limited to previous exposure to pathogens that make separation between bighorn and domestic sheep unnecessary

This is the previous language from SB1175

(E) Should any bighorn sheep graze, stray or drift upon, or in close proximity to, any private, state or federal lands that have any domestic sheep use, or have any domestic sheep allotments administered by the bureau of land management, the U.S. forest service or the Idaho department of lands, the director shall relocate or control the bighorn sheep to ensure that appropriate separation between the bighorn sheep and the domestic sheep is maintained, unless the director certifies that the risk of disease transmission, if any, between the bighorn sheep and the domestic sheep is acceptable. This certification may be based upon:
(i) An agreement regarding a separation strategy between the bighorn sheep and the domestic sheep entered into by the owners of the domestic sheep and the director or his designee; or
(ii) A finding by the director that the bighorn sheep have already been exposed to certain pathogens that makes separation between the bighorn sheep and the domestic sheep unwarranted.

Update: Idaho Legislature considering a compromise to keep sheep collaboration alive
Rocky Barker, Idaho Statesman

Idaho Anti-Bighorn Bill May Backfire

A Review of Idaho Senate Bill 1124

Bighorn Sheep in the East Fork Salmon River Canyon. Photo © Ken Cole

Bighorn Sheep in the East Fork Salmon River Canyon. Photo © Ken Cole

Earlier I wrote about a member of the Idaho legislator and livestock rancher, Monty Pearce, who has recently taken aim at bighorn sheep conservation and restoration efforts in response to a sheepman’s call for special treatment from the Idaho legislature.  This after the Payette National Forest’s proposal to drastically reduce his permitted domestic sheep grazing on your federal public land.

Rancher Pearce’s legislation, Idaho Senate Bill 1124, seeks to bring to a halt the Idaho Department of Fish & Game’s efforts to transplant and relocate bighorn sheep – and potentially most big game – in the state of Idaho.

Ironically, the Idaho Attorney General’s Office answered some legal questions that suggest Idaho Senate Bill 1124 might be just as likely to backfire, removing a federal obligation the Forest currently has to consult with the state over wildlife issues.

Read the rest of this entry »

Idaho conservation politics: Minnick and Sali disagree on climate change

Representative Sali says no human caused climate change-

Democrat Walt Minnick is challenging one-term Republican U.S. Representative in Idaho’s first congressional district. Polls show the race to be close.

Rocky Barker has a report this morning on a clear difference (there are many differences, but this applies to the topics commonly discussed on this forum).

Minnick and Sali disagree on climate change. By Rocky Barker. Idaho Statesman.

Years earlier Minnick won some fame and notoriety in Idaho when as CEO of a timber-related company, he argued that it was not necessary for the timber industry to be awarded “below-cost” timber sales on public lands from the taxpayers in order to make a profit.

Idaho Fish and Game slaps at Jon Marvel. Is their account credible?

This has been in the news the last two days. I didn’t put the story up early because I knew Brian Ertz was right there when this alleged incident took place, and had all the details. He told me about it the day after the wolf meeting. At the time, I thought “end of story” — a F & G commissioner ignores public comment and doesn’t like to be questioned.

What a surprise when 6 weeks later, Jon Marvel, who did insist on some answers from the commissioner, was accused of some sort of assault or improper touching of the commissioner!

My speculation is that IF & G’s action had nothing to do with the wolf hearing in Hailey, and everything to do with Western Watershed Projects legal efforts, media efforts, and administrative efforts to derail the attack of the woolgrowers on Idaho’s bighorn sheep herds. Idaho Fish and Game was recently accused by one prominent woolgrower of being in bed with WWP. I have a copy of his letter.

What better way for a politically weak department to protect itself from the powerful livestock operators who have the support of a very friendly governor than slap at a person who symbolizes the conservation effort to bring the woolgrowers to respect the existence of bighorn sheep in Idaho?

In terms of state livestock politics, the bighorn issue is as lot bigger than wolves, which are mostly just a way for expressing their resentment that they lost (temporarily) on the symbolic issue.

At the WWP blog, Brian gives the details. Wolf meeting altercation.

New. Feb. 2, 2008. Marvel Strikes back. By David Cooper. Magic Valley Times News. 

Notice: this post is open to comment, but no personal name calling, not of Marvel, Ertz, Commissioner Wayne Wright, Virgil Moore, etc.

Battle over bighorns: State seeks solutions to domestic vs. wild sheep conflict

Here is another story on effort by the woolgrowers to take over and divert bighorn sheep management in Idaho. It is on the front page of the Magic Valley Times News today.

I’d judge the article to be just fair in its accuracy.

Battle over bighorns. State seeks solutions to domestic vs. wild sheep conflict. By Matt Christensen. Times-News writer.

I think the science on domestic sheep infecting bighorns is conclusive. Every step of the process is not known, but then neither is it known for the malarial infection of humans. Nevertheless, everyone knows the mosquito is the vector. Sheep are the vector for the pneumonia bighorn get after contact with them.

Battle over Bighorn, part II

Battle over Bighorn: Opposing views on disease and economics. This is part II. By Sven Berg. South Idaho Press

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I posted part I earlier. Here is it again. Battle over Bighorn, part I.

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There is more on this on the Western Watersheds Project blog. “Dear Governor” – Bighorn, Mule deer opportunity, & domestic sheep in southern Idaho.

The blog shows the influence trail with actual documents.

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Update: Idaho bighorn plan could mean more wild sheep would be killed. Idaho Statesman. By Keith Ridler. Bighorn sheep in Idaho have dropped from 6500 in 1990 to about 3500 today. You wouldn’t know it to hear the domestic sheep lobby moan and whine. Now the Idaho Bighorn/Domestic Sheep Working Group is nearing their recommendation to the governor. Not surprisingly, the “solution” will be to restrict the bighorn from reoccupying their native range and to kill bighorn that venture outwards from some boxed-in areas where they will be allowed to persist if they can.

The article says, “There are some 260,000 domestic sheep in Idaho, and they brought in more than $17 million to the state in 2006, according to the state Agriculture Department.” It doesn’t say how much the bighorn bring in, although a ram with a full curl has had tags sold at auction at $75.000.

$17-million dollars is a piss-poor return for an industry that monopolizes millions or acres of land in Idaho, much of it public land that could have abundant wildlife instead.

Rumor of high level Idaho meeting to conspire against recent bighorn sheep victories

There is a rumor that top Idaho state legislators met today in Boise with the Governor’s office of Species Conservation, the Bush Forest Service, the Bush BLM, Idaho Fish and Game, and perhaps one member from the Federation for North American Wild Sheep to strategize how they can stop the spreading legal victories by Advocates for the West and Western Watersheds Project to protect bighorn sheep in the Hells Canyon and lower Salmon River areas from contact with the deadly (to bighorn) domestic sheep.

This is rumor, but most of these agencies can’t be happy they keep losing cases and getting orders that insist domestic sheep be kept away from the bighorn. Rumor is they will try to get the Forest Service and BLM to drag their feet more slowly than ever and shut up those folks in Idaho Fish and Game who think wildlife (bighorn at least) come first.

Story about the issue from High Country News. “Sheep v. Sheep”. By Nathaniel Hoffman. My link to the recent news story in the Times-News has gone dead, so Sheep v. Sheep is a substitute.