Although anti-wolf people try to scare us with the seldom caught Hydatid disease which is almost entirely spread, by dogs, fox, and coyotes, here is the latest on a very important threat from scat — domestic cat scat — toxoplasmosis gondii.
I have mentioned T. gondii a number of times. The latest research (from the Journal of Wildlife Diseases) show cats sicken many kinds of small wildlife, as well as 25 per cent !! of the human race. Cats Pass Disease to Wildlife, Even in Remote Areas. Science Daily.
One of the most creepy things about T. gondii is that directs the brain of the host animal (what about people?) in some cases. For example, it makes rats and mice love the smell of cat. How excellent for the cat! How Different Strains of Parasite Infection Affect Behavior Differently. Science Daily. On the basis of sheer statistics, a number of folks reading this post are infected with this parasite.
Editorial basically says Idaho legislature has gone bonkers. And in the end, hysteria triumphs in Idaho Legislature. Magic Valley (Twin Falls, ID) Times-News.
Most of the comment on the blog has been about what happens to the wolves, but my take has also been if they pass crazy legislation like this in the Idaho legislature, can you imagine what other laws must be like? As they say, “when the legislature is in session, lock your gate and prepare to protect your life and property.”
I have been thinking about this and all the other frightening things the legislature has done this year (fortunately not to me directly). Sane Idahoans need to organize or they will lose their freedom, property, and many other rights. Because it is such a Republican state by tradition, there might have to be a third party.
The legislature also just closed their primary election (that is they will now only allow registered Republicans to vote in it). The effect of this is to permanently lock craziness in power because independents and Democrats will have no say in who the Republicans nominate for office. In Idaho the winner of a primary election is pretty much the one who will win in November. Otherwise, the only hope is reform from within the Republican Party.
In deep snow, antelope often seek out railroad tracks and highways so they can move. When a train comes, and fences on both sides, hundreds can die; and they are, right now.
Herds of desperate ungulates dying on Montana railroads, highways.Written by Kim Skornogoski. Great Falls Tribune Staff Writer.
Biologists hunt for fisher hair in Fish Creek. By Rob Chaney. Missoulian. “The Selway-Bitterroot Wilderness appears to be such good fisher habitat that it may hold the last original Montana and Idaho species – unrelated to the transplants that populate the Panhandle and Cabinet Mountains.”
In fact it was immediately north of the Selway-Bitterroot Wilderness that Ken saw the fisher on Highway 12. Fish Creek in Montana is in the Bitterroot Mountains, west of Missoula.
Western wildlife commissions on the chopping block. By Jodi Peterson. High Country News
This form of wildlife governance has come up for discussion many times on this blog.
Several factors probably explain how 8 cougars, very territorial animals, came together
to feed on a dead cow on a cliff near Soap Lake, Washington. The first is that it is winter. Prey are concentrated into a small area and in this case most of the cougars were probably closlely related (both indicated in the article). It isn’t know how often this happens, but it is probably uncommon.
We saw these photos about 2 weeks ago. Wish we had permission to be the first to post them.
Rare photo shows 8 cougars on game trail. “Using a camera triggered by a motion-sensor device, a hunter captured a rare sight: eight cougars huddled together on an Eastern Washington trail as if attending some big-cat block party.” By Craig Welch. Seattle Times environment reporter
Pronghorn and mule deer hit hard-
Winter takes a toll on northeastern Montana wildlife. By Brett French. Billings Gazette.
I posted a news release from ID Fish and Game the other day about winter conditions and wildlife in Eastern Idaho, but hardly anyone read it. I took it down. I’ll watch this one to see if there is a true lack of interest in the subject.
Pronghorns released for new start on Yakama Indian Reservation. Ancient inhabitants are of the Columbia Basin. Rich Landers. The Spokesman-Review. [ed. note to Spokesman-Review, the plural of pronghorn is pronghorn]
Good for the Safari Club! It appears that when the cattle association took their traditional selfish approach to restoration of any kind of wildlife, the Club went around them and their grasp on the government, and got them released on the Indian Reservation.
Note that the story below is a much longer replacement for the original story I posted.
Wildlife investigators: Poison killed Colorado wolf. By Catherine Tsai. Associated Press in the Denver Post.
“. . . along comes this opinion piece from the Salt Lake City Tribune suggesting that if ranchers can’t make peace with the lobo, then the lobo cannot be recovered.
…in the battle between our deep-seated fears and our hopes, the wolves bear the greatest burden. There is no new narrative of coexistence, of respect for all creatures on the land. We seem stuck in the stories of the old days, when wolves were the enemy that must be eliminated.
Until we change that perception, wolves in the Southwest won’t have a prayer
Yeah, well, you know what? Fuck that. Let’s change the perception that ranchers have any say in the matter instead. Let’s let the new power- the power of the majority of voters who want wolves back on the landscape (democracy) and the power of ecological common sense (that predators are important- duh!) be the new hegemonic force. People can’t make a living with their cows wandering around in wolf country? Then take a buy-out.
Read the rest . . . . Mexican wolf recovery: a classic hegemonic struggle? Demarcated Landscapes.
Sadly, Arizona Game and Fish just voted to support delisting the Mexican wolf, of which only 40 are left. Game and Fish abandoning gray wolves. By Steve Robinson Editorial Sounding Board. Arizona Daily Sun.
The fact that they would support delisting when there are only 40 animals shows the number of wolves is an irrelevant issue. This is a cultural battle between us and those who just assume they have some right to push us around — those who hold the hegemony.
Downed power lines electrocute 2 bears in NY. AP in the Wall Street Journal
3 -4 years ago a downed powerline in northwest Montana electrocuted several deer. The power remained on afterwards too and a wolf came to investigate the deer and was electrocuted as well.
It was a wonderful thing when the Nature Conservancy purchased most of Henry’s Lake Flat in the 1970s to protect Henry’s Lake Outlet (stream), which is a major component of the Henry’s Fork of the Snake River headwaters. This also protected much of the sometimes beautiful flat from what would probably be very obnoxious sub-divisions.
The Conservancy fenced off Henry’s Lake Outlet from cattle, and its banks have been restored. However, they could have removed the cattle from the the flat. As a result the dominant use of the flat is cattle, not wildlife. These compromises were made no doubt to please the Fremont County Commission. I’m not impressed with this “working ranch” stuff. When you drive by on the highway to West Yellowstone you can sometimes see deer and pronghorn . . . sandhill crane too, but overwhelmingly you see a flat full of cows.
The other day I stopped by and took a photo of this for Google Earth. Idaho “wildife” 😉 on Henry’s Lake Flat. View is to the east.
It’s good to see a little more protection for wildlife in the area has now been obtained. Here is the news release from the Nature Conservancy. Conservation Easement Protects Henry’s Lake Ranch
Ms. Wright is a graduate student completing her thesis for a master’s degree in Cultural Anthropology at Western Washington University. Her thesis focuses on human-human conflicts surrounding wolves in Idaho. She interviewed many people (including myself) to complete this article.
It is my view that anthropology, sociology, social psychology and political science are more important for studying the wolf than biology. Wright’s article well describes the cultural conflict taking place in Idaho. I’d say that the wolf issue is just a tiny part of a number of intense cultural issues that are ripping the United States apart. The United States is a unique nation in that it is composed of people (peoples) from many places who share a common set of political beliefs. Most other nations are based on a common language, religion, long history, etc. Americans increasing no longer share common political or other basic beliefs. Therefore, instability has set in.
When she wrote “The survival or defeat of the wolf has come to symbolize the ability to access land in culturally specific ways, ultimately sustaining or depleting one’s own culture” she is, in my view, referring to the entire series of controversies over the proper way to use the land that have grown in intensity in Idaho and the Western United States over the last 40 years: wilderness, endangered species, grazing, timbering, energy production and transmission.
The drumbeat behind the “green energy” movement is beating louder for wind farms across the landscape, especially on public lands. At the rate that things are going there may be huge effects on bats and birds of many types. Oregon Field Guide has done a segment investigating the impacts on bats in particular and they are severe.
I fail to see how something that causes such negative impacts on wildlife could be called “green”.
Oregon Field Guide — Wind and Bats
Oregon Public Broadcasting.
“There were 16 percent more elk in the northern Rockies in 2009 than there were in 1995 when wolves were reintroduced.” Kirk Robinson. Western Wildlife Conservancy.
This is an interesting opinion piece. Wolf is unique in maintaining ecosystem health. By Kirk Robinson. Salt Lake Tribune.
Nine Yellowstone Park wolf packs had pups this year: Agate, Black
Tail, Delta, Canyon, 636 group, Lamar, Madison, Molly, Bechler
My other comment is to notice the small number of livestock losses in Wyoming this year.
This seems to be the current argument of Montana Fish Wildlife and Parks. They used to have other explanations. More properly this new logic would be one hypothesis (one of a number of possible explanations*). They want the federal government to give authority to kill 12 wolves. If granted, would this be a good test of the hypothesis?
Story on the issue: Bitterroot: Where have all the elk gone? by Alex Sakariassen. Missoula Independent
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*Of course, there are the ideologically driven. They don’t need a test. Wolves did it. They always do.
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So are people getting tired of this format? Does something new need to be done?
Any comments on this will be welcome. Webmaster
There is a story in today’s Jackson Hole News and Guide. Moose declines puzzling. Habitat, malnutrition, predators play roles. By Cory Hatch, Jackson Hole, WY
I don’t see much evidence of direct population depression from predation, especially wolf predation, here. Predators do disproportionately take animals that are starving. Both Joel Berger and later Scott Becker found that by far the largest mortality source of female moose in Jackson Hole was starvation. The poor condition of female moose is also shown by the reduction in the number of twins produced from 10% to less than 5%.”
As far as much quoted B.J. Hill, local outfitter,”[who] thinks habitat loss is exaggerated and says “I’ve watched moose literally live off of pine needles,” I say everyone knows that moose eat conifer in the winter in deep snow areas. First, however, moose need a balanced diet the entire year and second, the conifer are dying. Article after article after article has appeared about the vast disease and beetle kill of pines and other conifers from the Yukon to New Mexico.
Hill claims to live in the mountains every day. Why then didn’t he notice that beginning in 1988 and a number of years thereafter, most of Teton Wilderness burned? The conifers are gone. I wrote two guides to the Teton Wilderness — one came out in the early 1980s and second in 2000. Many more pine have died of insects since then. Any damn fool that has spent time there can see that the ecology of the place has been transformed.
Defenders of Wildlife launches petition drive to stop Discovery Communications from launching a Palin-hosted wildlife show.
I don’t know, maybe she could show us the way to clean oil off birds and turtles, or maybe a recipe for shrimp substitutes?
Wildlife group targets Discovery with anti-Sarah Palin ad campaign. Los Angeles Times.
The oil gusher will last into the hurricane season, and at some point it is likely to drift into the Gulf of Mexico’s Loop Current which will take it out of the Gulf, onto Florida’s east cost and up the Eastern Seaboard of the United States.
Story: Could oil slick hitch a ride out of Gulf of Mexico? By Andrew Freeman. The Washington Post.
So the Jackson Hole wolves rarely engage in surplus killing. This uncommon event is morphed into “killing for fun” by hard core antis. Wolves are most likely to abandon a carcass when humans disturb it, but that is only some packs. Another Wyoming myth dispelled is that the elk leave usually leave the state feedgrounds every time wolves make a kill.
About the study in the Jackson Hole News and Guide. . . Wolves make few unnecessary elk kills, study says. Wapiti tend to stay on Gros Ventre feedgrounds during attacks. Story is by Cory Hatch.
Be sure to read the refusal of a local outfitter to believe the study. He questions the motives of the USFWS and thinks that they are trying to make the wolf “sound as good as they can”. This lack of acceptance is what I’d expect. A person’s attitudes are tied together if they are strongly held. When new information arrives that does match the attitudes, a person will change their thinking in the way that causes them the least discomfort. In this case, the easiest change is to discredit the study (after all it is a federal study). Attitude change is large topic in the field of social psychology. One conclusion is that people are not rational in the short run when they get dissonant information (information they don’t like). That is because accepting unpleasant information may make them feel silly, harm their ties to friends, require them to change a lot of other attitudes, cause them to be frightened, etc.
The newspaper story also mentions the data from the latest Wyoming wolf weekly. Here is a direct link.
This editorial certainly makes sense to me. However, I think we will find opposition to this plan from two interesting forces — wildlife watchers and hunters. The first is easiest to explain. An unknown number, but probably quite a few watchers, will want to watch without paying (the classic case of freeloading). Some interest groups that say the represent hunters will oppose it because if watchers pay, they will have more of a say.
I expect the livestock interests will oppose it too because many of them fear the results of having more money for wildlife. Still, I hope a majority can be built.
Added. Conservation permit killed in House. By Dusti Hurst. Idaho Reporter. While opponents billed it as a new tax on families and children who want to enjoy Idaho’s great outdoors (how sweet of them!), the fact that Rep. Lenore Barrett of Challis led the charge against it suggests that’s not how the most anti-conservation members really saw it. As I suggested, however, there was also opposition from those who probably think that wildlife watching should inherently be free even though the area was created to enhance wildlife (such as Democrat James Ruchti of Pocatello)
In February, Corey Rossi, the Alaska Division of Wildlife, Wildlife Director, wrote an opinion piece for the Anchorage Daily News which opined that wildlife should be managed under the abundance-based management model which “requires man to work with the land to produce the maximum sustainable yield”. In other words a model which essentially treats wildlife as an agricultural crop to be “harvested” at maximum capacity.
In response, several former Alaska Division of Wildlife biologists have called for the removal of Corey Rossi as the Department’s Wildlife Director. They state that “Mr. Rossi appears to be a single issue advocate who lacks the education background necessary for an entry-level biologist position with the Division.”
The kind of management style which treats wildlife in this fashion ignores the necessity to manage wildlife with an understanding of simple ecological concepts. It also ignores the welfare of sensitive species and ecological systems which are vitally important to the welfare of wildlife and humans alike.
Biologists seek ouster of new wildlife conservation chief
Anchorage Daily News
Over on a popular, unnamed anti-wolf website there has been discussion of using radio receivers to track and hunt wolves and the frequencies of the radio collars on them so I asked the IDFG about this. I sent them the exchanges which have taken place there and, specifically, I asked “I would like to know if there is any language which prohibits the practice of hunting wolves, elk, or deer with the aid of radio tracking.”
The reply I received from Jon Heggen, Chief of the Enforcement Bureau for the Idaho Department of Fish & Game:
There is currently no prohibition against the use of radio tracking equipment for the taking of big game.
Radio collar frequencies are considered [just] a trade secret and therefore their disclosure is exempt from Idaho’s public records law.
The problem is that the radio collars frequencies are not a secret. A quick search of documents obtained through public records requests does reveal radio frequencies of wolves and it is common practice to give ranchers receivers with the frequencies of collared wolves. Are we to believe, that with the animosity towards wolves and, frankly, other wildlife, that this information will remain only in the hands of those with the authority to have it?
This is not only a problem with wolves. There are hundreds of elk, deer, bighorn sheep, grizzly bears, wolverines and many other species that are burdened by radio devices. It appears, based on my question and the answer given, that there is a gaping hole in wildlife protection that needs to be filled legislatively or through the commission. Is the state legislature or IDFG Commission going to fill this hole as quickly as they do when the profits of the livestock industry or outfitting industry are threatened or are they going to scoff it off because it might result in the death of a few more wolves and possibly other species?
Is the idea of “fair chase” a thing of the past?
There are about 200 special agents nationwide, and they investigated over 12,000 cases in 2007.
The story is mostly about the Montana agent and his 20 cases including 3 grisly, grizzly killings.
Wildlife G-men on patrol: Outdoor scofflaws keep agents busy. By Karl Puckett. Great Falls Tribune.
In his NYT op-ed piece yesterday, “Jaguars Don’t Live Here Anymore,” Alan Rabinowitz, head of Panthera, is not thrilled that USFWS has finally decided to start the ESA process of designating critical habitat for the jaguar in the United States. It is now possible there are no more jaguar here.
Rabinowitz argues that the United States has never been more than marginal jaguar habitat and the money should be spent recovering and protecting the real, and large, but declining jaguar population of Mexico, Central and South America.
It is true that money spent in the U.S. may be pretty marginal to conserving the species, but it’s not like there is one pot of money for the jaguar and designating critical habitat siphons money out of protecting the true jaguar population.
I would say that if USFWS completely ignored any protection for American jaguar, not an extra dime would be generated for south of the border efforts. On the other hand, efforts at jaguar restoration where Americans live will likely generate interest and support for jaguar conservation in general.
Fish and Wildlife plane crash in Oregon kills 2. News-Times.com. AP
Group launches initiative to ban trapping in Montana. New West Unfiltered By Anja Heister and Connie Poten
About a month ago I posted an article about this in Wyoming, but the issue is bigger than that.
by Ken Fischman, Ph.D.
Vice Chair & Spokesman
Northern Idaho Wolf Alliance
“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times…” (first sentence in Charles Dickens’ novel, “A Tale of Two Cities.”)
It was the “best of times” because NIWA and other wolf advocates accomplished all their objectives at the Idaho Fish & Game (IDF&G) meeting in Coeur d’Alene, in November. It was the “worst of times” because due to the Commissioners’ actions there, Idaho wolves are now in greater danger than ever.
When I learned that IDF&G Commissioners were holding their quarterly meeting at the Coeur d’Alene Resort, I thought it presented an excellent opportunity for the Northern Idaho Wolf Alliance (NIWA) to present their views on the Idaho wolf hunt face to face with the Commissioners and to learn more about how IDF&G functions. The other NIWA members were enthusiastic about the idea & we gathered allies from Defenders of Wildlife, The Kootenai Environmental Alliance(KEA), and other groups. We made arrangements that we thought would be helpful in making our case for the wolves. As it turned out, we accomplished all of our goals, but learned more about the inner workings of IDF&G than we perhaps wanted to know.
This is clearly something the President could do quickly to rehabilitate his tarnished image on wildlife. Ironically, it was President Richard Nixon who in 1972 issued Executive Order 11643 banning the use of poisons to control predators on Federal land. Reagan later weakened this. In addition, there is plenty of poison available. Much of it is left over from the 1970s.
While in the Senate, now Interior Secretary Salazar was one of those who opposed efforts to ban the use of compound 1080, an extremely poisonous, colorless, tasteless, odorless, substance that creates an agonizing death, and which would be an ideal poison for use by terrorists to put in a municipal water supply.
Meanwhile, as far as aerial gunning goes, USFA’s Wildlife Services killed off a famous Idaho wolf pack this week (more on this later). They used one or more of their aerial gunships.
Update 11-28.2009. A lot of newspapers picked up the AP story by John Miller on the petition.
WildEarth Guardians Seeks End of Aerial Gunning & Poisoning of Wildlife on Public Lands
Denver, CO. The U.S. Department of Agriculture should stop sending its agents up in aircraft to shoot coyotes and planting lethal cyanide booby traps on the nation’s forests and other federal lands, according to a formal request filed today by WildEarth Guardians with the Obama administration.
“Federal wildlife-killing programs are unsafe, illegal, and reckless,” said Wendy Keefover-Ring, Director of Carnivore Protection for WildEarth Guardians. “We call upon the Obama administration to protect our native carnivores on the Nation’s public lands.” Read the rest of this entry »
Story 1. New Web site launched to track wildlife along Interstate 70. Sky Hi Daily News.
Story 2. Colorado officials and advocates conserving wildlife by stopping roadkill. By Caroline Griesel. Examiner
How many readers have hit large animals? Maybe I should ask how many haven’t?
A snag fell across the line, bringing it the ground.
Downed power line near Eureka electrocutes more than a dozen animals. AP in the Missoulian
“Sounds produced by vehicles, oil and gas fields and urban sprawl interfere with the way animals communicate, mate and prey on one another.”
The study was based on what 185 people did who were attacked by mountain lions. The data was from 1890 to 2000. It came from the U.S. and Canada. I can see from the abstract on which the article below is based that additional information is in the original which is not reported below.
Should You Run or Freeze When You See a Mountain Lion? By Sushma Subramanian. Scientific American.
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Why don’t they do this for wolves? Probably because predatory attacks are so few, analysis of figures would be meaningless.
No committee of the Idaho state legislature have more influence over wildife than than the Senate and the House Resource and Conservation Committees. A look at the occupations of those on the committees show they represent an Idaho of days gone by.
This kind of occupational, and so viewpoint unrepresentativeness, is fairly common in legislatures, but many would say the figures below are dramatic. You should also notice the difference between Republicans and Democrats.
Here is the rooster of the committees:
Idaho House Resource and Conservation Committee
Chair John A. Stevenson (semi-retired farmer)
Vice Chair Paul E. Shepherd (Partner/Manager, Shepherd Sawmill & Log Homes)
JoAn E. Wood (Partner farm/ranch)
Maxine T. Bell (Retired Farmer/Retired School Librarian)
Lenore Hardy Barrett (mining, investments)
Mike Moyle (Agribusiness)
George E. Eskridge (Real Estate)
Dell Raybould (Farmer/Businessman)
Scott Bedke (Rancher)
Ken Andrus (Cattle and sheep rancher)
Rural West going to the dogs. WESTERN ROUNDUP. High Country News. By Troy Anderson. Note that this is a partial article. You need a subscription to High Country News to read it all.
This article is a useful corrective for those who can only worry about wolves, cougars and bears, although I don’t particularly like the descriptions because only again a dead animal doesn’t look so good regardless how it died.
How public wildlife became something for sale. By Mark Henckel. Billings Gazette Outdoor Editor
This article is precisely about what Robert Hoskins, Mack Bray and many others have been writing about on this blog.
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Related story. The battle for access. Billings FWP commissioner’s proposal ignited latest flare-up. By Mark Henckel. Billings Gazette Outdoor Editor