WWP win in Washington state underscores politicized wildlife management

Thurston County Superior Court has ruled in favor of Dr. Steve Herman and Western Watersheds Project deciding that the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) violated the State Environmental Protection Act when issuing grazing permits on its state wildlife areas without undergoing environmental analysis.  The state and Washington Cattleman’s Association had claimed that such analysis was not required as the lands had been grazed in the past under a ‘verbal lease’ – a handshake, and that this arrangement exempted the parties from the need to undergo the analysis.

Court faults Fish and Wildlfie for granting Kittitas grazing leaseYakima Herald-Republic :

Steve Herman, the Thurston County resident who filed the suit on behalf of the Western Watersheds Project, a regional conservation group based in Idaho, called last week’s ruling “a very clear-cut victory for those of us who would preserve some wildlife areas for wildlife.”

The Whiskey Dick/Quilomene Wildlife Area was acquired by the people of Washington as critical wildlife habitat to preserve steelhead fisheries, big game, and other wildlife including the state-listed Greater Sage-grouse and other sage-steppe obligate species.

The Wildlife Area is particularly critical for Greater Sage-grouse in Washington, whose populations have been significantly diminished given fragmented and degraded habitat, leaving the bird teetering on the brink of extinction in the state.

The Wildlife Area is located directly between the two remaining populations of sage grouse in Washington state, providing a critical link, a habitat corridor.  Grazing the area threatens this habitat, potentially exacerbating the isolation between the two remaining sage-grouse populations.

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Ripples continue amid sage grouse review

The oil & gas and livestock industries continue to feel the pressure from land use agencies as the evidence piles up indicating that these extractive uses of our public lands are significantly contributing to the precipitous decline in sage grouse numbers.

Sage grouse are described as the “spotted owl” of the ranching industry in the west, and now as the “polar bear” of the oil & gas industry in the west.

Whatever your thoughts on comparable species and whatever the result of the court ordered reconsideration for listing, the incredible Greater Sage-Grouse is already elevating wildlife’s priority and bringing a new and welcome introspective pause to our dangerously destructive relationship with the imperiled Sagebrush Sea.

Posted in endangered species act, Grazing and livestock, land development, oil and gas, public lands, Wildlife Habitat. Tags: , . Comments Off on Ripples continue amid sage grouse review

“Antelope, deer decimating Wyoming’s ‘sagebrush sea'”

As folks know, including the government of Wyoming, which fears a sage grouse listing under the ESA, large continuous areas of sagebrush steppe are in big trouble.

It is fascinating how they blame wolves wolves for too few elk and then say there are too many antelope and deer and they need to have a big hunt to decrease their numbers.

Aren’t these overgrazed sagebrush lands described in the article grazed by cattle and/or sheep as well as deer and antelope?

The one constant in Wyoming politics is ranching and minerals come first, and wildlife gets what’s left except it always gets the blame.

Story “Antelope, deer decimating Wyoming’s ‘sagebrush sea‘” By Jennifer Frazer. Rocky Mountain News.

Note I borrowed the headline from “Headwaters News.’