2 Mar 2009, 12:18pm
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Alaska Board of Game reviews hunting rules

By Kyle Hopkins, Anchorage Daily News, February 28th, 2009 [here]

Hard-core hunters, animal lovers and the factions in between are at war this week in downtown Anchorage as the state board that decides Alaska’s hunting rules returns to an ever-raging debate: predator control.

The Board of Game, which began work Friday, is meeting all week to decide on more than 240 proposals that would change where and how animals are hunted across Alaska.

The panel waded through hours of testimony Saturday, with speakers often pulling the board in opposite directions. Among the ideas:

• Allowing private hunters to use helicopters to land in hard-to-reach areas across Cook Inlet and trap black bears in snares.

• Boosting brown bear hunting in Chugach State Park — at least partly to keep them from wandering into nearby Anchorage.

• Renewing some existing wolf-kill programs and creating new ones.

• Giving the state new predator control options in the future, such as shooting wolves from helicopters, or using poison gas in dens on orphaned pups too young to survive on their own.

Supporters say such proposals are crucial to managing hunting in the state, while critics see needless killing. Other ideas before the board — such as bans on trapping wolverines in Chugach State Park and hunting brown bears in parts of the Katmai Preserve — are just as controversial. … [more]

1 Mar 2009, 9:41pm
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Water-vs.-ecosystem fight leaves out people who live here

By Michael Fitzgerald, Stockton Record, February 27, 2009 [here]

In the ominous Delta debate, south-state interests maneuver for reliable water. Environmentalists champion the ecosystem. No one gives high priority to the region.

Us. The Delta’s people. The Delta’s communities, economies, infrastructure, architecture, history, its other habitats and various ways of life.

“It’s not just a blank slate that can be written on by state officials,” state Sen. Lois Wolk, D-Davis, says. “It’s not just about the water, and it’s not just about the ecosystem. It’s about a place.”

Wolk spoke out this week at a hearing on the Delta Vision task force. The governor appointed the task force to find a solution to the Delta’s crisis.

Delta Vision straight away rubber-stamped a peripheral canal. It embraced two priorities: restoring and stewarding the Delta ecosystem and stabilizing the water supply.

Well, fine. But these pillars of policy leave a little something out: Drastic change to the Delta or water management policy may profoundly alter the lives of Delta residents.

Will the change be for the better? Well, consider government management of the Delta. The state and feds have managed the Delta into the intensive care unit.

The poor old dear is wheezing on the life support of water-export cutbacks and suspended fishing seasons. The thought that the same policymakers will impact our lifestyles is chilling. I’d rather turn the region over to Kim Jong Il. … [more]

1 Mar 2009, 9:27pm
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Officials admit violating Delta rules to favor salmon

By Matt Weiser, The Sacramento Bee, February 19, 2009 [here]

California water officials admitted this week they have already violated a key water flow standard in the Delta intended to protect imperiled fish.

The admission came in hearings Tuesday and Wednesday before the state Water Resources Control Board.

The hearings were held to consider a petition from the state Department of Water Resources and the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation to win exemptions from the standard because of drought.

Board members and Delta advocates were surprised to learn that the flow standard had already been violated while the petition was pending.

“There probably were some days where we were not meeting the outflow standards,” said Jerry Johns, deputy director of the California Department of Water Resources. “At least we had the petition in before any of these things took place.”

The agencies sought the exemption because they believe they need to retain cold water in the state’s depleted reservoirs to ensure healthy salmon runs this fall.

But in doing so, they risked violating a minimum-outflow standard in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta. That standard is designed to protect other fish, including the Delta smelt and longfin smelt. It requires meeting flow targets over a certain number of days in a month, usually by releasing water from upstream dams.

The drought, in other words, posed a tough choice between fish species. … [more]

1 Mar 2009, 8:35pm
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Eleven States Declare Sovereignty Over Obama’s Action

by A.W.R. Hawkins, HUMAN EVENTS, 02/23/2009 [here]

State governors — looking down the gun barrel of long-term spending forced on them by the Obama “stimulus” plan — are saying they will refuse to take the money. This is a Constitutional confrontation between the federal government and the states unlike any in our time.

In the first five weeks of his presidency, Barack Obama has acted so rashly that at least 11 states have decided that his brand of “hope” equates to an intolerable expansion of the federal government’s authority over the states. These states — “Washington, New Hampshire, Arizona, Montana, Michigan, Missouri, Oklahoma, [Minnesota]…Georgia,” South Carolina, and Texas — “have all introduced bills and resolutions” reminding Obama that the 10th Amendment protects the rights of the states, which are the rights of the people, by limting the power of the federal government. These resolutions call on Obama to “cease and desist” from his reckless government expansion and also indicate that federal laws and regulations implemented in violation of the 10th Amendment can be nullified by the states. … [more]

27 Feb 2009, 9:42pm
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Schwarzenegger declares Calif. drought emergency

By SAMANTHA YOUNG, Feb 27, 2009 [here]

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger declared a state of emergency Friday because of three years of below-average rain and snowfall in California, a step that urges urban water agencies to reduce water use by 20 percent.

“This drought is having a devastating impact on our people, our communities, our economy and our environment, making today’s action absolutely necessary,” the Republican governor said in his statement.

Mandatory rationing is an option if the declaration and other measures are insufficient.

The drought has forced farmers to fallow their fields, put thousands of agricultural workers out of work and led to conservation measures in cities throughout the state.

State agencies must now provide assistance for affected communities and businesses and the Department of Water Resources must protect supplies, all accompanied by a statewide conservation campaign. … [more]

Note: see also Dehydrating California, Or What’s That Smelt? [here]

26 Feb 2009, 12:33am
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Report estimates revenue loss from Idaho wolves

Idaho Statesman, 02/20/09 [here]

BOISE, Idaho — Idaho could be losing as much as $24 million annually in hunting-related revenue due to wolves killing deer and elk, the Idaho Department of Fish and Game says.

The report relies heavily on a 1994 environmental impact statement related to the introduction of wolves to Yellowstone National Park, and then extrapolates those numbers.

“This is a projection,” said Lance Hebdon, intergovernmental policy coordinator with Fish and Game. “Is it realistic to think we would have more elk hunters if we had more elk in some units? I think that is a reasonable assumption.”

The report released earlier this week was requested by Sen. Gary Schroeder, R-Moscow, who earlier this month sponsored a bill - approved 31-1 in the Senate - to give the state’s wolves to the rest of the country.

“I think this at least gives us some data with some science behind it,” Schroeder, chairman of the Senate Resources and Environment Committee, told the Lewiston Tribune about the report. “The question is, as wolf numbers increase, are we going to have to curtail hunting opportunities? Overall, I like seeing economic activity, because it drives tax revenue. Anytime I see something that drives business away, that’s important to me.” … [more]

25 Feb 2009, 12:36am
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Wolf sighted in the Cascades?

By Jim Anderson, The Nugget, Sisters, Oregon, 2/3/2009 [here]

Chris Mortimer, a naturalist from California, was driving over the Santiam Pass on Wednesday, January 28, when he was shocked to see a very large, wolf-like animal dash across the road in front of him.

“Wolf!” he shouted, and pulled over to the side of the highway.

With only a small, point-and-shoot camera at his disposal, he did the best he could to document what may turn out to be the first wild wolf seen in these parts in over 100 years.

“I think it’s too far from Idaho to be part of those packs,” said John Stephenson, local U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service wildlife specialist, after he and Corey Heath, Bend Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife biologist, tracked the animal over five miles from where Mortimer first observed it. “I couldn’t see any sign of it getting into someone’s pickup, or heading for a house. Could be the real thing, but we just don’t know.”

Russ Morgan, ODFW wildlife biologist stationed in LaGrande, who has had experience with wolves and is the state’s wolf coordinator, agreed that is definitely wolf-like, and contacted Stephenson and Heath asking for possible confirmation.

According to most wolf experts who have viewed Mortimer’s photos, the opinion is that the animal sighted is in excellent condition, showing “a good coat and fat on the belly,” a trait rarely seen in a “wild wolf.” This leaves some speculation that it may have been released or strayed after escaping from from captivity.

Then there’s the “wolfdog” theory. Wolfdogs, a cross-breed of domestic dog and wolf, have become popular in some circles. They possess a moderate percentage of wolf, and but tend to be more like a dog than a wolf in most situations. However, wolfdog “ownership” (which is legal in Oregon) is not to be taken lightly, as wolfdog crosses have some characteristics that can make them challenging as pets.

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24 Feb 2009, 12:51pm
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Wyo. lawmakers want to test wolves for brucellosis

By MATT JOYCE, Idaho Statesman, 02/24/09 [here]

CHEYENNE, Wyo. — Wyoming lawmakers are working to link two of the Northern Rockies’ most difficult wildlife management issues: wolves and brucellosis.

A bill making its way through the Wyoming Legislature would appropriate $45,000 from the state’s general fund to conduct a yearlong study.

It would task the Wyoming Game and Fish Commission with collecting and testing blood and tissue samples from wolves to determine the prevalence of the infectious disease in wolves.

Lawmakers behind the bill say proving that wolves carry brucellosis would bolster the state’s argument for limiting the wolf population to the Yellowstone area.

Game and Fish Department Director Steve Ferrell says studies conducted elsewhere have drawn conflicting conclusions about whether brucellosis carried by wolves can infect other wildlife or livestock.

23 Feb 2009, 9:29pm
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9,000 earmarks in the $410 billion omnibus spending bill

Gang tattoo removal, Maine lobster, La Raza and more!

By Michelle Malkin, February 23, 2009 [here]

You want earmarks? There are lots and lots and lots of earmarks in the $410 billion omnibus spending bill coming down the road. Not that any of the people who are going to vote for it will actually read it, of course. If they did, they couldn’t look into the camera and sanctimoniously declare that, uh, you know, “There are no earmarks.” …

The Modesto Bee reports… The bill will contain about 9,000 earmarks totaling $5 billion, congressional officials say. Many of the earmarks — loosely defined as local projects inserted by members of Congress — were inserted last year as the spending bills worked their way through various committees. …

Hill staffer Tom Jones is going through the omnibus spending bill with a fine-tooth comb, and Twittering his earmark findings, including:

* $200,000 for “Tattoo Removal Violence Prevention Outreach Program,” pg. 283;

* Maine lobster earmark in the omnibus, pg. 173;

* $5.8 million earmark for the “Ted Kennedy Institute for the Senate…for the planning and design of a building & an endowment,” pg. 232;

* National Council of La Raza, $473,000 earmark from Sens. Bingaman and Menendez, pg. 212.


* $400K “to combat bullying”, pg. 325

* $215K to teach scientists how to communicate w/ press”, p246

* $10 million blue crab disaster assistance

* Totally Teen Zone, midnight basketball, etc.

* $2M for the promotion of astronomy in Hawaii, pg. 332

* Reid earmark makes Nevada eligible for the Pacific Coastal Salmon Recovery Fund, p339

23 Feb 2009, 2:12pm
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Wolf pack kills woman

Wolf Crossing, Feb 22nd, 2009 [here]

Georgian villagers armed for self-defense

A pack of wolves killed a woman in the Kakheti region of eastern Georgia in the third attack in a month, leading authorities to hand out weapons to locals for self-defense.

“We are putting Kakheti on high alert,” Gov. Gia Chalatashvili said Friday in televised comments.

“Residents will be given guns and ammunition to defend themselves. Police will also be involved.”

The woman’s remains were discovered Friday in the village of Giorgitsminda, about 40 kilometers from the capital Tbilisi, the Imedi television station reported. … [more]

19 Feb 2009, 12:14am
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Park Service begins culling elk in Rocky Mountain National Park

Outdoor News Bulletin, 17 February 2009 [here]

In early February, the National Park Service (NPS) began a cull of the elk population in Rocky Mountain National Park (Park), with the intention of killing up to 100 cow elk, reports the Wildlife Management Institute. The cull was authorized in the Park’s Elk and Vegetation Management Plan that was finalized in December 2007 with the Record of Decision released in February 2008.

The cull is expected to enable the Park to maintain a population at the high end of the natural range of variation, between 1,600 and 2,100 animals (600 to 800 within the Park and 1,000 to 1,300 that winter outside Park boundaries). Over the 20-year duration of the plan, as many as 200 animals could be culled per year within the Park.

The elk population within the Park reached a high point between 1997 and 2001, with estimates ranging between 2,800 and 3,500 individuals. While the number has declined somewhat from those high levels, the population continues to be less migratory and more concentrated, resulting in significant impacts to the Park’s native vegetation, particularly aspen and willows. The change in habitat has adversely affected numerous species, including beaver, songbirds and butterflies, other plant species, and the Park’s water table. In addition, cases of chronic wasting disease have been found within the population, and residents of the Park’s gateway community, Estes Park, have seen increased property damage.

“The impacts to the habitat have been well documented, and what has been consistent is that we have agreement that the impacts are there,” noted Ben Bobowski, Chief of Resource Stewardship for the Park. “The more difficult question has been how to deal with it. While the attention has been on the culling portion of the plan, we believe that the conservation of the ecosystem is the ultimate goal and is our main focus.”

Teams that include NPS and Colorado Division of Wildlife (CDOW) staff, as well as qualified volunteer sharpshooters, will carry out the culling in the early morning hours before Park visitation increases. All cullers have been certified in firearms training, specially trained in wildlife culling and were required to pass a marksmanship test to qualify. The teams will work under the supervision of an NPS team leader to ensure humane dispatch and quality meat recovery. All culled animals will be tested for chronic wasting disease. The meat from animals testing positive will be used in a CDOW mountain lion research project and animals testing negative will be donated for human consumption. The cull will continue through mid-March this year.

In addition to the culling, the Park will use other population-control techniques including fencing, elk redistribution and vegetation restoration. Up to 160 acres of aspen stands and 440 acres of willow habitat will be fenced to reduce vegetative damage. The fencing began in October and three exclosures totaling more than 60 acres already have been constructed. Outside of fenced areas, herding, aversive conditioning and unsuppressed firearms may be used to redistribute the population and reduce densities. Throughout the process, NPS staff will use adaptive management to evaluate the success of the program and to adjust cull numbers based on current population estimates and response of the vegetation. … [more]

16 Feb 2009, 12:06am
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Scores of Animals Ravished by Aussie Fires

The Associated Press, February 13, 2009 [here]

SYDNEY — Kangaroo corpses lay scattered by the roadsides while wombats that survived the wildfire’s onslaught emerged from their underground burrows to find blackened earth and nothing to eat.

Wildlife rescue officials on Wednesday worked frantically to help the animals that made it through Australia’s worst-ever wildfires but they said millions of animals likely perished in the inferno.

Scores of kangaroos have been found around roads, where they were overwhelmed by flames and smoke while attempting to flee, said Jon Rowdon, president of the rescue group Wildlife Victoria.

Kangaroos that survived are suffering from burned feet, a result of their territorial behavior. After escaping the initial flames, the creatures — which prefer to stay in one area — likely circled back to their homes, singeing their feet on the smoldering ground.

“It’s just horrific,” said Neil Morgan, president of the Statewide Wildlife Rescue Emergency Service in Victoria, the state where the raging fires were still burning. “It’s disaster all around for humans and animals as well.” … [more]

8 Feb 2009, 3:04pm
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Wolves Drain NM Ag Economy

Keeping a watchful eye

By Lynn Allen, Ag Journal, Feb 06, 2009 [here]

Catron County, N.M. — Catron County, N.M., Commissioner Ed Wehrheim had the information, he had the facts and figures, he had the personal experience, and he understood the issue. What he lacked was a way to educate others about it.

Eight years into the Mexican Gray Wolf Reintroduction Project, and millions of dollars in damage to his county later, Wehrheim was ready to stand back and try a new approach.

“Before, we’ve always tried to make them follow their own rules and regulations, and we were losing – losing livestock, losing businesses, losing money,” he said. “So we decided to take a page out of their book and work on public opinion.”

That was the impetus behind Americans for Preservation of the Western Environment (APWE) [here].

“Our object is two fold - educate the public in New Mexico about what the wolf program is doing to their state, and start a fund to help anyone who has legal problems related to the wolf program,” he said. “We have presentations we take to schools, civic groups, business organizations and sporting clubs. We haven’t been turned away yet.”

Included in the presentations are the facts and figures that have been causing Wehrheim, his friends, and neighbors so much frustration.

“The wolf program has cost the American taxpayer $303,000 per wolf. (Game management groups) are claiming 56 wolves at this point. That’s their own figures – what they say they’ve spent. They say 200 wolves in a five year period will attack and kill or maim over 7,000 head of livestock. That’s their figures again,” he said. “As a county commissioner, who’s lived with this program for eight years now, I’d say their numbers are a little low. Closer to 10,000 to 12,000 head would be more accurate – and that’s just livestock. Game animals aren’t counted. When wolves are training pups to hunt, a pack will kill as many animals as possible; far more than they could ever eat.”

“The cost of the Mexican Gray Wolf program to the New Mexico and US economy is well over $60 million in livestock killed, production lost, bankrupt business (outfitters, ranchers, town business), loss of tax revenue, and reduction of tourist visitors, and hunters,” he said. “In current economic conditions, can we stand that?”

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5 Feb 2009, 9:39pm
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Salmon advocates appeal to Kerry to remove lower Snake dams

by JASON KAUFFMAN, Idaho Mountain Express, Feb. 5, 2009 [here]

Idaho salmon advocates are asking part-time Wood River Valley resident Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass., to sponsor federal legislation authorizing the removal of four large dams on the lower Snake River in southeastern Washington.

The longtime U.S. senator and his wife, Teresa Heinz Kerry, maintain a part-time vacation home near Ketchum. Kerry spent a week in the valley during his unsuccessful run for the presidency in 2004.

This week, salmon advocates with Idaho Rivers United are delivering a video to Kerry that contains statements from eight local residents asking him to take the lead on the salmon restoration issue. The four dams highlighted by the video are the last impediments salmon and steelhead bound for Idaho must cross.

Calls for the dams’ removal have floated about in Idaho during the past two decades as the highly-prized runs of anadromous fish have plummeted to record low numbers in the state’s rivers. Chinook and sockeye salmon and steelhead trout that arrive in the Sawtooth Valley near Stanley must cross over those dams before they enter the dam-free Salmon River drainage.

“We’re asking Senator Kerry to help bring our salmon back from the edge of extinction,” Andy Munter, the owner of Ketchum-based Backwoods Mountain Sports, said in a prepared statement. “The health of our economy, our salmon populations and our quality of life depend on our ability to bring people together to take advantage of this opportunity. Senator Kerry is a leader who can make this happen.”

The Sun Valley area is only 30 miles from the headwaters of the Salmon River, the conservationists point out. … [more]

2 Feb 2009, 4:44pm
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Bison herd breaks loose

By LAUREN DONOVAN, Bismarck Tribune, Jan 31, 2009 [here]

SELFRIDGE - Bob Waliser watched a small group of bison run up the gravel road and pointed to a young thin cow whose backside was streaked in red.

“See the blood? If she has to run again, she probably won’t make it,” he said.

For weeks, Waliser and other Selfridge area landowners have been seeing renegade, possibly starving bison, crashing fences and running loose into their yards, hay yards and pastures.

At least 500 bison have moved north out of an 18-mile stretch of pasture that runs along Highway 6 between McLaughlin, S.D., and Selfridge.

The animals are part of a 6,000-head herd belonging to the vast Wilder Ranch that straddles the North Dakota and South Dakota state line, part of a corporation owned by Maurice Wilder of Clearwater, Fla.

According to the Environmental Working Group, Wilder was the country’s largest individual recipient of farm subsidies, receiving $3.2 million from 2003 to 2005, as owner of 200,000 agricultural acres. He also owns 10 office buildings in Tampa, Fla., 4,500 mobile home lots and 12,500 recreational vehicle lots. … [more]

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