26 Oct 2010, 1:17pm
Latest Wildlife News
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Animal Rights Activists Lose Lynx Lawsuit in Maine

by George Smith, DownEast.com, 10/26/2010 [here]

Animal rights activists have lost their latest battle to stop hunting and trapping in Maine. On October 20 the U.S. Court of Appeals for the First Circuit in Boston affirmed a 2009 decision by Judge John Woodcock, Jr., dismissing the animal rights groups’ Canada lynx lawsuit.

This decision provides a very important national precedent. It’s been a long trail getting to this point, but here’s a quick summary:

On November 10, 2009, Judge Woodcock of the Federal District Court in Bangor denied a request from the Animal Welfare Institute of Idaho and the Wildlife Institute of Maine for a permanent injunction against the state of Maine to stop hunting and trapping in order to protect Canada lynx.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service designated the lynx as a threatened species under the Endangered Species Act on March 24, 2000. But it has been illegal to hunt or trap lynx in Maine since 1967.

The most important thing for you to know is this: Maine probably has more lynx today than ever, an estimated total exceeding 1,000 animals. As far as Maine officials are concerned, Canada lynx are neither threatened nor endangered. They are doing well here. …

Twice in the last three years, animal rights groups have used the ESA’s lynx listing to seek declaratory relief and injunctions in federal court against Maine laws and regulations.

The first lawsuit, Animal Protection Institute v. Martin, resulted in an October 4, 2007, Consent Decree in which IF&W made a commitment to new regulations restricting the type, size, and placement of traps in Maine. IF&W paid $140,000 in attorney’s fees to API as part of that settlement.

Much to the state’s surprise, a similarly-named animal rights group, The Animal Welfare Institute, along with the Wildlife Alliance of Maine — led by people who were a party to the earlier consent decree — filed another lawsuit on August 11, 2008, seeking the same injunctive relief and charging that IF&W was violating the ESA by allowing trapping practices that result in the capture of some lynx. …

While establishing an important precedent, this decision is unlikely to deter the constant filing of lawsuits under the Endangered Species Act. This is simply another chapter — albeit an important one — in this particular war, while we wait for Congress to amend the Act and limit these abuses of the legal system. … [more]

26 Oct 2010, 11:56am
Latest Forest News
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Ministers plan huge sell-off of Britain’s forests

Ministers are planning a massive sell-off of Britain’s Government-owned forests as they seek to save billions of pounds to help cut the deficit, The Sunday Telegraph has learnt.

By Patrick Hennessy and Rebecca Lefort, UK Telegraph, 23 Oct 2010 [here]

Caroline Spelman, the Environment Secretary, is expected to announce plans within days to dispose of about half of the 748,000 hectares of woodland overseen by the Forestry Commission by 2020.

The controversial decision will pave the way for a huge expansion in the number of Center Parcs-style holiday villages, golf courses, adventure sites and commercial logging operations throughout Britain as land is sold to private companies.

Laws governing Britain’s forests were included in the Magna Carta of 1215, and some date back even earlier.

Conservation groups last night called on ministers to ensure that the public could still enjoy the landscape after the disposal, which will see some woodland areas given to community groups or charitable organisations.

However, large amounts of forests will be sold as the Department for the Environment Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) seeks to make massive budget savings as demanded in last week’s Spending Review.

Whitehall sources said about a third of the land to be disposed of would be transferred to other ownership before the end of the period covered by the Spending Review, between 2011 and 2015, with the rest expected to go by 2020.

A source close to the department said: “We are looking to energise our forests by bringing in fresh ideas and investment, and by putting conservation in the hands of local communities.”

Unions vowed to fight the planned sell-off. Defra was one of the worst-hit Whitehall departments under the Spending Review, with Ms Spelman losing around 30 per cent of her current £2.9 billion annual budget by 2015.

The Forestry Commission, whose estate was valued in the 1990s at £2.5 billion, was a quango which was initially thought to be facing the axe as ministers drew up a list of arms-length bodies to be culled.

However, when the final list was published earlier this month it was officially earmarked: “Retain and substantially reform – details of reform will be set out by Defra later in the autumn as part of the Government’s strategic approach to forestry in England.”

A spokesman for the National Trust said: “Potentially this is an opportunity. It would depend on which 50 per cent of land they sold off, if it is valuable in terms of nature, conservation and landscape, or of high commercial value in terms of logging.

“We will take a fairly pragmatic approach and look at each sale on a case by case basis, making sure the land goes to the appropriate organisations for the right sites, making sure the public can continue to enjoy the land.”

Mark Avery, conservation director for the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB) said: “You can understand why this Government would think ‘why does the state need to be in charge of growing trees’, because there are lots of people who make a living from growing trees.

“But the Forestry Commission does more than just grow trees. A lot of the work is about looking after nature and landscapes.”

“We would be quite relaxed about the idea of some sales, but would be unrelaxed if the wrong bits were up for sale like the New Forest, Forest of Dean or Sherwood Forest, which are incredibly valuable for wildlife and shouldn’t be sold off.

“We would look very carefully at what was planned. It would be possible to sell 50 per cent if it was done in the right way.” … [more]

26 Oct 2010, 11:51am
Latest Wildlife News
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Manitoba declares war on coyotes, wolves

Edmonton Journal, October 22, 2010 [here]

Manitoba will soon be giving hunters and trappers free rein to kill wolves and coyotes on Crown land in agricultural areas to stem rising livestock losses to predators.

Year-round hunting and trapping will be permitted on the lands with the purchase of a $5 trappers’ licence. The new measure will not apply to registered trapping areas in the province’s north.

Rising wolf and coyote numbers are preying increasingly on farm animals and taking a bite out of farmers’ profits.

Don Winnicky, who has raises cattle in the southeast corner of the province, said he had not lost a single animal to predators in 25 years of ranching — until this year.

In April he lost two month-old calves, about a week apart, to wolves. And in June, he said a 360-kilogram yearling steer fell prey to the predators.

“I tell you one thing, come next spring, (my) rifle is going to be with me every day,” said Winnicky.

Farmers are already allowed to kill predators on their property.

US judge orders Obama administration to clarify polar bears’ Bush-era ‘endangered’ status

By Matthew Daly, Canadian Press, Oct. 20, 2010 [here]

WASHINGTON — A federal judge ordered the Obama administration on Wednesday to review whether polar bears, at risk because of global warming, are endangered under U.S. law.

U.S. District Judge Emmet Sullivan wants the Interior Department to clarify a decision by the administration of former President George W. Bush that polar bears were merely threatened rather than in imminent danger of extinction.

Sullivan’s request, made at a hearing Wednesday in federal court, keeps in place the 2008 declaration by the Bush administration.

Former Interior Secretary Dirk Kempthorne said in May 2008 that the bears were on the way to extinction because of the rapid disappearance of the Arctic Sea ice upon which they depend. But he stopped short of declaring them endangered, which had it been declared would have increased protections for the bear and make oil and gas exploration more difficult.

[Some] Scientists predict sea ice will continue to melt because of global warming.

Along with the listing, Kempthorne created a “special rule” stating that the Endangered Species Act would not be used to set climate policy or limit greenhouse gas emissions, which contribute to global warming and melting ice in the Arctic Ocean.

The Obama administration upheld the Bush-era policy, declaring that the endangered species law cannot be used to regulate greenhouse gases emitted by sources outside of the polar bears’ habitat. If the bears are found to be endangered, however, that could open the door to using the Endangered Species Act to regulate greenhouse gases.

Sullivan said he would issue a written order shortly, but said Wednesday that the government is likely to have about 30 days to explain how it arrived at its decision. … [more]

22 Oct 2010, 9:49pm
Latest Wildlife News
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Domestic Wolf Injures Northern Minnesota Girl

By Amanda Theisen, KSAX-TV and KRWF-TV, Alexandria MN, October 20, 2010 [here]


A four-year-old girl from northern Minnesota is recovering tonight after her family says a wolf knocked her to the ground and bit her. This wasn’t a wild wolf, though. It’s domestic, owned by a man who lets people get up close to wildlife for a living.

Four-year-old Johnna Kenowski, known to her family as Johnny Mae, is normally all giggles and smiles. But if you take a closer look at her face, you’ll see what she calls her “owies” — a scab on her nose, a cut above her eyebrow, and a big scratch on her arm.

Johnny Mae’s aunt, Maja Dockal, says she and the girl were walking in Banning State Park near Sandstone Tuesday, when they came across a group photographing a domestic gray wolf and three cubs. Dockal says all of a sudden the adult wolf came up to Johnny Mae, then pushed her to the ground and bit her on the head.

A man named Lee Greenly owns the wolves and was able to get the wolf off the girl. Greenly owns Minnesota Wildlife Connection, where people can photograph animals like wolves, bears, and cougars, or have their pictures taken with them. … [more]

Thanks for the news tip to Julie Kay Smithson, Property Rights Research [here, here]

18 Oct 2010, 6:31pm
Latest Wildlife News
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Winkelman NRCD Invokes the Data Quality Act

by Margaret Byfield, Coordination Works, American Stewards, October 15, 2010 [here]

Last Friday, the Winkelman Natural Resource Conservation District held an important coordination meeting with Region 2, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in Phoenix, Arizona, over the potential listing of the Sonoran Desert Tortoise.

The environmental group, Wild Earth Guardians, sued the Service in 2008, to have the tortoise listed under the Endangered Species Act. Currently, the Regional office is reviewing the State office’s recommendation as to whether or not the tortoise warrants protection.

The environmental group is pushing for the listing of the species because they want to end livestock grazing in Arizona, a long held goal of the environmental movement. But the science points to the opposite conclusion. The most comprehensive scientific study conducted on the Sonoran Desert Tortoise population shows that livestock grazing does not impact the species.

Fortunately, Winkelman Chairman Bill Dunn had been studying the coordination strategy for several years. When the environmentalist filed their case, the Winkelman District initiated coordination with the Service. Friday’s meeting was the third held to discuss the tortoise listing.

In the first meeting, Winkelman presented the Service with an 18-year study led by one of their cooperators and past board members Walt Meyer, an esteemed range scientist who initiated the study on his own largely because there was so little known about the tortoise.

The study surveyed a 23-square mile area where three different grazing techniques were used. A strict protocol was used in gathering the data. In the end, the study showed no impact to the species from livestock grazing, and that a primary impact had occurred years prior as people flocked to the desert to pick Jojoba berries. As they camped, they relied on the tortoise for food.

The Meyer study was the best scientific information available and Winkelman District insisted that it be considered by the Service as they made their recommendation. The District even prepared their own local conservation plan built upon the evidence gathered in the Meyer study. The plan is being initiated throughout the District to ensure the species continues to thrive and the historic productive uses of the land continue.

During the second meeting, Winkelman brought in scientists to discuss and challenge the validity of the data provided by Wild Earth Guardians in their petition to list. The conclusions the environmental group alleged were that the population was in decline. Winkelman’s experts attempted to reproduce the findings from the data cited, but found the information so incomplete that they could not reproduce the claims made by the environmental group.

In August of this year, the Service’s Arizona Field Office forwarded their listing recommendation to the Regional office. Now that the recommendation has been made, regardless of what that decision is, Winkelman can seek to verify the credibility of the data the Service relied upon under the Data Quality Act passed by Congress in 2001. This was the focus of last Friday’s third coordination meeting.

The Data Quality Act was passed in order to ensure that federal agencies provide transparency to the process of developing data, reviewing it for veracity and credibility, and using it accurately and in an unbiased fashion.

This means that every report relied upon by the agency to make its tortoise recommendation must ensure and maximize the “quality, objectivity, utility, and integrity of the information disseminated.” In short, the Service must ensure every piece of evidence it uses to make its recommendation is verified to be accurate and true. … [more]

Legal Defeat for Global Warming in Kiwigate Scandal

In the climate controversy dubbed Kiwigate, New Zealand skeptics inflict shock courtroom defeat on climatologists implicated in temperature data fraud.

By John O’Sullivan, Suite 101, Oct 6, 2010 [here]

New Zealand’s government via its National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research (NIWA) has announced it has nothing to do with the country’s “official” climate record in what commentators are calling a capitulation from the tainted climate reconstruction. The story is also covered at ICECAP.com [here]

NIWA’s statement of defense claims they were never responsible for the national temperature record (NZTR).The climb down is seen as a legal triumph for skeptics of the New Zealand Climate Science Coalition (NZCSC) who had initiated their challenge last August when petitioning the high court of New Zealand to invalidate the weather service’s reconstruction of antipodean temperatures. The NZCSC Petition may be read [here].

According to the August official statement of the claim from NZCSC, climate scientists cooked the books by using the same alleged ‘trick’ employed by British and American scientists. This involves subtly imposing a warming bias during what is known as the ‘homogenisation’ process that occurs when climate data needs to be adjusted.

The specific charge brought against the Kiwi government was that its climate scientists had taken the raw temperature records of the country and then adjusted them artificially with the result that a steeper warming trend was created than would otherwise exist by examination of the raw data alone.

Indeed, the original Kiwi records show no warming during the 20th century, but after government sponsored climatologists had manipulated the data a warming trend of 1C appeared. … [more]

12 Oct 2010, 8:39am
Latest Fire News
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Cost concerns weakened Forest Service’s assault on Station fire, study says

Agriculture Department’s review cites a letter before the blaze instructing fire managers to limit requests for crews, aircraft and equipment from state and local agencies.

By Paul Pringle, Los Angeles Times, October 11, 2010 [here]

A desire to control costs slowed the arrival of “critical resources” in the attack on last year’s disastrous Station fire as the U.S. Forest Service delayed ordering reinforcements from other agencies that had crews and equipment at the ready, according to an internal federal review.

The finding contradicts statements made for more than a year by Forest Service officials, who have insisted repeatedly that cost concerns never impeded the Station battle. It is likely to sharpen questions about the firefighting decisionmaking as a local congressional panel prepares to examine the Forest Service’s actions.

The review by the Agriculture Department, which runs the Forest Service, echoes a Times report last fall that a Forest Service directive to reduce spending might have dissuaded fire managers from using more state and local strike teams and aircraft on the fateful second day of the blaze.

The new study also determined that the Forest Service, in opting to concentrate on protecting hillside neighborhoods and the communications towers and observatory on Mt. Wilson, did not stage a sustained direct assault on the back-country front of the fire as it spread into Angeles National Forest. … [more]

3 Oct 2010, 9:21am
Latest Wildlife News
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Owls and Grouse and Wolves, Oh My!

by Karla Kay Edwards, Cascade Policy Inst, September 28, 2010 [here]

State and federal endangered species listings have greatly influenced the economies and culture of Oregon’s communities for decades. Ironically, they have had relatively little success in actually influencing the species they want to recover. Still, government agencies refuse to abandon their monocular vision of individual species recovery. Broader policy objectives and market-oriented approaches would allow the integration of management decisions which address multiple species and other surrounding issues that hinder recovery. This can be achieved by returning the power of conservation to local and private entities that are more effective stewards of the environment.

Individual species, and our environment as a whole, no longer can afford the constrained vision of bureaucratic policymakers and judges dictating how to recover individual species with little or no consideration of the human communities and environment among which they live. In the famous classic The Wizard of Oz, a great all-knowing wizard from the Emerald City dictates what Dorothy, the Cowardly Lion, Tin Man and Scarecrow must do in order to be granted their desires. Like the Wizard, both the state and the federal government emulate this all-knowing entity with a solution to every problem, believing they can create a utopia as long as their mandates are followed by the “little people.” However, that has not proven to be true in the real-world implementation of recovery plans for many species in Oregon. … [more]

3 Oct 2010, 9:19am
Latest Fire News
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Sheriff says FS fire politics are putting homes and lives in danger

by: Noah Bond, ABC4 (SLC), 10/01/2010 [here]

BEAVER COUNTY, Utah (ABC 4 News) - New accusations are surfacing about why the Twitchell Canyon fire continues burning 74 days after it started. Beaver County Sheriff Cameron Noel suspects politics are putting lives and homes in danger.

He says in an October 1 meeting The U.S. Forest Service admitted it could have put the fire out in the first 24 hours but chose to let it burn.

Now the fire is visible from space, has burned 44,000 acres and has cost The Forest Service more than $15 million of your federal tax dollars to fight.

“Now next year they’re going to be able to go back to Washington and say, ‘Hey, this is the amount of money we used last year on these fires. We’re going to need the same amount this year,’ so it’s kind of a way to beef up their budget, but I don’t know if they’ll admit to that,” said Noel.

Sheriff Noel suspects The Forest Service is putting its desire to boost its budget above the safety of the 6,000 people he is sworn to protect in Beaver County. Noel is making the claim because, year after year, he says The Forest Service lets fires get out of hand just like it did with the Twitchell Canyon fire.

“They had the resources there. They probably could have had that fire out probably with in 24 hours, but they chose not to do that and that happens frequently,” said Noel.

He says this must stop! “The 911 calls that I got into my office. People were terrified. They thought for sure their home was going to burn up,” Noel said.

No homes have burned in Beaver County, but Noel says a few were lost in neighboring counties. The fire has caused havoc on his own County in other ways. “We had to shut down I-70. The smoke came into this community. It affected the Elderly people here,” Noel says they complained of headaches and of trouble breathing.

A frustrated Sheriff is crying out for help, hoping The Forest Service will hear him and the people in his County. … [more]

  • For the benefit of the interested general public, W.I.S.E. herein presents news clippings from other media outlets. Please be advised: a posting here does not necessarily constitute or imply W.I.S.E. agreement with or endorsement of any of the content or sources.
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