4 Feb 2010, 12:40pm
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Legislators approve OK new grazing lease rules

By JOHN MILLER, Idaho Statesman, 02/03/10 [here]

BOISE, Idaho — Legislators on Wednesday approved new state grazing lease rules aimed at helping resolve more than a decade of conflict that has pitted environmental groups against Idaho and the state’s traditional ranching interests.

The rules will govern how contested lease auctions are held; set out new categories of leases for conservation, recreation and even communication sites, in addition to those for grazing or cropland, and ease the process for allowing multiple leases on the same state parcel, provided there is no conflict.

State House and Senate Resource committees approved the new rules, which were drawn up by the Idaho Land Board last year, on Wednesday. The rules go into effect immediately.

George Bacon, head of the Department of Lands, said he was optimistic they will help end strife that began in the 1990s when environmentalists bid for leases, only to lose even after offering more money than ranchers.

Groups such as Western Watersheds Project, which seeks to end public-land grazing, have taken Idaho to court and won, on grounds the Land Board is constitutionally required to get maximum income from 1.8 million acres of state endowment grazing land for public schools.

Idaho has repeatedly lost money on grazing lands but in 2008 reported a profit of $213,358 on revenues of $1,570,109.

Bacon called the new system “more transparent, and it makes it more honest.” He said the new rules are also aimed at reducing costly paperwork that has cut into endowment income in recent years.

“The old process was resulting in administrative inefficiency for the department, uncertainty for the lease applicants and litigation for both of them,” Bacon said.

The Idaho Cattle Association objected to the rules but eventually agreed after demanding several changes Wednesday. Among those changes were provisions to forbid lease bidders from saying they’ll graze an allotment without actually intending to do so; requiring Idaho to renew expiring, uncontested leases when there were no concerns about past management, and dumping a plan let the Land Board decide rental rates.

Association President Carl Ellsworth, who runs a ranch in Leadore in central Idaho, said his group can live with the new rules, at least for now.

“I think the changes in the rules give enough flexibility to our traditional users and allow the Land Board to look at other options,” Ellsworth said. … [more]

4 Feb 2010, 12:39pm
Latest Forest News
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The Forest Industry of the Future: What Will It Look Like?

by J. Brian Fiacco, Timberland Blog, February 4, 2010 [here]

I was recently asked to speak at the North Carolina Forestry Association’s annual meeting in Myrtle Beach on the above captioned topic. Before agreeing to the talk, I had to think about it for a while. The quote “Its tough to make predictions, especially about the future” attributed to Yogi Berra, as most quotes are, hung in my mind for a few days. But I took a shot at it and later agreed to share some of those thoughts with TMS readers.

First, there has to be a basis for the prediction. The basis that I chose was to look at the changes occurring in the forest industry and to look at what I thought the future economic environment might look like.

The three key changes in progress are:

1. Changing Timberland Ownership
2. Biomass for Energy
3. Global Industrial Revolution

Timberland Ownership: The shift in ownership (from forest industry to institutional) is well documented and well underway so there is no need to spend time on it (maybe a couple of comments!). Due to the housing/lumber market collapse, timberland owned by the sawmill industry is following in the footsteps of that formerly owned by the pulp and paper industry. This is illustrated by the timberland ownership shifts of Allegheny Wood Products and Anthony Forest Products to TIMOs. Survival can be tough. The second point is that the institutional owners have no allegiance to a mill so the wood will flow to the highest bidder. … [more]

Molehills: Visible symptoms of trap ban’s flaws

THE NEWS TRIBUNE Editorial, 02/04/10 [here]

Olympia’s moles are breathing a bit easier today. The state has stopped using illegal traps to kill them on grounds around the Capitol and the governor’s mansion.

The use of “body-gripping” traps for any animal were outlawed 10 years ago by voter-approved Initiative 713. But somehow – even after emotional campaigns for and against the measure – the state didn’t get the memo that it should discontinue using the traps.

The Department of General Administration is the agency that’s been using up to 10 spring-loaded traps in late winter to reduce the Capitol grounds’ destructive mole population before the critters start breeding. Ironically, the GA is located right across the street from the Department of Fish and Wildlife, which is charged with enforcing the trap ban.

Although Fish & Wildlife says no private citizens have been fined for using the same kind of illegal traps, some commercial exterminators have been cited – usually after a competitor has complained. The GA will be treated like any other first-time offender – with a warning.

The fact that even an agency of state government sees a need for the traps to effectively control moles shows how absurd it is to use a voter initiative to make wildlife policy. … [more]

4 Feb 2010, 12:36pm
Latest Wildlife News
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Utah Legislature: Senate passes wolf control bill

by Josh Smith, Deseret News, Feb. 2, 2010 [here]

SALT LAKE CITY — Utah senators passed a bill Tuesday making wolves an enemy of the state.

The proposed legislation would make it state policy to “manage” wolves to prevent any packs from forming in areas where wolves are no longer listed as an endangered species.

In areas where wolves are still protected, the bill would require state officials to request that federal agencies remove wolves from the state.

The bill’s sponsor, Sen. Allen Christensen, R-North Ogden, said the legislation allows the state to look ahead.

Senate Democrats rose to debate the bill on Monday but remained largely silent during Tuesday’s final Senate passage.

Sen. Gene Davis, D-Salt Lake, spoke against the bill and distributed a fact sheet with statistics about wolf impact in the West.

The bill passed along party lines, 21-8. It will now be considered in the House.

New Report Debunks Myth of “Catastrophic Wildfire”

By Matthew Koehler, New West, 2-03-10 [here]

There is no such thing as “catastrophic wildfire” in our forests, ecologically speaking. That is the central conclusion of a report released this week by the John Muir Project (JMP), a non-profit forest research and conservation organization.

The report, “The Myth of Catastrophic Wildfire: A New Ecological Paradigm of Forest Health”, is a comprehensive synthesis of the scientific evidence regarding wildland fire and its relationship to biodiversity and climate change in western U.S. forests. It stands many previously held assumptions on their heads, including the assumptions that forest fires burn mostly at high intensity (where most trees are killed), and that fires are getting more intense, as well as the assumption that high-intensity fire areas are ecologically damaged or harmed. The report finds that the scientific evidence contradicts these popular notions.

“We do not need to be afraid of the effects of wildland fire in our forests. Fire is doing important and beneficial ecological work,” said the report’s author, Dr. Chad Hanson, a forest and fire ecologist who is the Director of the John Muir Project, as well as a researcher at the University of California at Davis. “It may seem counterintuitive, but the scientific evidence is telling us that some of the very best and richest wildlife habitat in western U.S. forests occurs where fire kills most or all of the trees. These areas are relatively rare on the landscape, and the many wildlife species that depend upon the habitat created by high-intensity fire are threatened by fire suppression and post-fire logging.” … [more]

Note: Chad Hanson and the John Muir Project have a long history of suing the USFS to halt any and all logging on federal lands. Author Matthew Koehler is Executive Director of the WildWest Institute, which has also sued the USFSD numerous times to halt any and all logging. Both Hanson and Koehler are “former” members of Earth First!

3 Feb 2010, 9:13pm
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USFS cuts $2 million from Ashland project

Forest Service redirects the money away from thinning work after a suit was filed

By VICKIE ALDOUS, Medford Mail Tribune, February 03, 2010 [here]

ASHLAND — The U.S. Forest Service pulled $2 million in funding from an Ashland watershed thinning project one week after Ashland City Councilman Eric Navickas and former resident Jay Lininger filed a lawsuit challenging parts of the project.

Navickas and Lininger filed the lawsuit on Jan. 15 in U.S. District Court in Medford. In the complaint, they said the 7,600-acre thinning and prescribed burning project would harm riparian areas, cause erosion, hurt water quality, degrade Pacific fisher and northern spotted owl habitat and cut into an old-growth forest reserve and a roadless area.

The Forest Service previously had received $6 million in federal economic stimulus funding to help pay for the Ashland Forest Resiliency Project, which could take up to 10 years to carry out, said Paul Galloway, acting public affairs officer for the Rogue River-Siskiyou National Forest.

The total cost of the project is not yet known, he said.

On Jan. 21, $2 million of the $6 million was redirected back to the Forest Service to be redistributed to other projects, Galloway said.

“There was the lawsuit and the risk associated with that of not being able to complete the project due to the litigation,” he said.

Galloway said federal stimulus funding is intended to go to projects that can produce jobs as soon as possible.

Nationally, the Forest Service redirected $10.7 million from various projects that had previously been awarded stimulus funding because of risks that those projects might not move forward quickly, Galloway said.

The $2 million redirected from the Ashland watershed thinning project was the only funding that was redirected from the Forest Service region that covers Oregon and Washington, Galloway said.

He said the Forest Service still intends to complete the Ashland thinning project within 10 years.

“We still have over $4 million in stimulus dollars that remain committed to implementing the Ashland Forest Resiliency Project,” Galloway said.

Navickas and Lininger filed the lawsuit as private citizens, not in their respective roles as councilman and ecologist for the Arizona-based Center for Biological Diversity.
… [more]

Note 1: see also City leaders urge thinning of watershed despite lawsuit threats [here]

Note 2: Ashland Forest Resiliency Project has been in planning for years. The Ashland Watershed provides the domestic water supply for the City of Ashland. It is widely recognized that fuel accumulations present high potential for large-scale, high severity wildland fire that could significantly interrupt the supply of clean water and destroy old-growth forest ecosystems. The Project’s purpose is “to protect Values At Risk, reduce hazardous fuels, reduce crown fire potential, and obtain conditions that are more resilient to wildland fires.”

Extensive hearings have been held. Citizen groups have fully vetted the plan, and modifications have been adopted to satisfy all reasonable concerns. Collaborative partners include the City of Ashland and the Nature Conservancy. None of the usual eco-litigious groups, of which there are many in SW Oregon, oppose the plan.

Eric Navickas has sued the USFS before. He is a self-described “environmental activist” with a history of disrupting public meetings. He also has a history of violent protest representing a group called Ashland Creek First!. He opposes forest restoration for fire resiliency and has supported homeless camps in the Ashland watershed despite the obvious fire risk and hazard. The list of his radical pro-holocaust anti-forest activities goes on and on. Eric Navickas is a real piece of work.

Jay Lininger lives in Arizona. He also has a long history of suing the USFS, although the Center for Biological Diversity is not a party to this lawsuit. Between 2000 and 2009, Center for Biological Diversity filed at least 409 lawsuits in the federal district courts and at least 165 appeals in the federal appellate courts.

The outcome of the delay, and the termination of the Ashland Forest Resiliency Project if the appellants are successful, could be the destruction of the Ashland Watershed by catastrophic fire. The Ashland Watershed is immediately southwest of the city, so wildfire could also do serious damage to homes and threaten lives.

3 Feb 2010, 5:03pm
Latest Wildlife News
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Defenders Of Wildlife Are Pond Scum

by Tom Remington, Black Bear Blog, February 3, 2010 [here]

Does that sound like too harsh a comment to make about a radical animal rights/environmental group that does anything to steal your money? Would you tolerate it if you gave money to the Red Cross thinking it was going to go to help the needy in Haiti and you found out the Red Cross was just using Haiti to play on your emotions to get your money? Of course you wouldn’t. Would you stand for it if you found out some other group that depends on your donations to exist deliberately lied to you just to play on your emotions to get your money? Of course not!

Anybody that would do this is the lowest form of life on this planet. Any organization that utilizes such tactics should not only be put out of business, but should be prosecuted to the full extent of the law. Such actions make honest people nauseous.

Well, I’m more than nauseous over Defenders of Wildlife’s latest pack of lies to get your money. Defenders wants to stop a bill in Utah that would not tolerate wolves in that state. Defenders has every legal right to pursue that. This is a free country and the First Amendment gives them the right to fight such a law.

But Defenders goes beyond that. They lie. On their website, where they are attempting to steal your money, they say:

This anti-wolf bill could pass as soon as this week and is backed by the misleadingly named Sportsmen for Fish and Wildlife — the very same group whose Idaho chapter has been holding wolf-killing derbies to raise funds for anti-wolf litigation.

This is a fabricated lie and for Defenders to do this makes them probably lower than pond scum. The only place wolves can be legally killed by anyone other than government agents, is in Idaho and Montana, during their sanctioned legal wolf hunting seasons. These hunts are controlled by permits. To state that anyone is holding wolf-killing derbies is suggesting that Sportsmen for Fish and Wildlife sanctions poaching and doesn’t adhere to federal laws protecting gray wolves. It’s absurd and Defenders should immediately issue a public apology and a retraction of this insane accusation. … [more]

2 Feb 2010, 11:25pm
Latest Forest News
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Forest wars finally end?

Ag secretary’s visit showcases alliance between environmentalists, timber companies

By Pete Aleshire, The Payson Roundup, February 2, 2010 [here]

The forest wars are officially over, declared a blue ribbon panel gathered to greet U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack in Christopher Creek Saturday as he toured a groundbreaking effort to restore forest health and protect fire-threatened communities.

“This is great work, great work,” said Vilsack of the years of effort that have forged a consensus on the need to restore forest health by reinventing the timber industry to thin millions of acres in four national forests between Williams and Alpine — including all of Rim Country.

Local officials led by Payson Mayor Kenny Evans and First District Congresswoman Ann Kirkpatrick triggered the rare visit by the head of a major federal agency. Vilsack, the former Iowa governor, now heads the federal agency that administers the Forest Service, which owns most of the land in Gila County.

Vilsack said the collaboration between environmentalists, Forest Service administrators, and both state and local officials will serve as a national model.

more »

2 Feb 2010, 11:16am
Latest Climate News
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Enviro group: US must respond to coral concerns

By DAVID McFADDEN, Washington Post, January 20, 2010 [here]

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico — A U.S. conservation group announced Wednesday it would sue the federal government to force a decision on whether to protect 83 coral species it says are threatened by global warming and more acidic waters.

The Arizona-based Center for Biological Diversity has sent notification of its intention to sue the National Marine Fisheries Service because the U.S. agency missed a deadline for an endangered species listing decision for dozens of coral species. A 60-day notification letter is required before a suit can be field.

Miyoko Sakashita, an attorney at the Center for Biological Diversity, said the corals, found in Florida, Hawaii and island territories in the Caribbean and Pacific, face a growing threat of extinction from rising ocean temperatures.

“Timing is of the essence to reverse the tragic decline of these vitally important reefs,” Sakashita said. “We can’t afford any delays in protecting corals under the Endangered Species Act.”

Connie Barclay, a spokeswoman for the National Marine Fisheries Service, said Wednesday that agency scientists are working on the conservation group’s petition to put 83 coral species on the endangered species list. They hope to publish their findings in the next two weeks. … [more]

Note: Miyoko evidently hasn’t heard that AGW is dead, the oceans are alkali, and coral is not going extinct. But EAJA money is all that’s keeping the CBD afloat in these tough economic times, so might as well throw some junk lawsuits up against the wall and see if any of them stick.

2 Feb 2010, 11:09am
Too Ludicrous For Words
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Green Math Is Bad Math

By Andrew Cline, The Spectator, 2.1.10 [here]

On the front page of the New York Times’ online edition Sunday was an artist’s rendering of the pride and joy of the federal General Services Administration: a renovated federal building in Portland, Ore., that features plants growing up all 18 stories of one side.

“They will bloom in the spring and summer when you want the shade, and then they will go away in the winter when you want to let the light in,” Bob Peck, commissioner of public buildings for the G.S.A., told the Times, adding, “Don’t ask me how you get them irrigated.”

Don’t ask how much they cost, either.

I told you not to ask.

OK, I’ll tell you: The entire renovation costs $133 million. The plants are only one component, but the G.S.A. admits that the renovation is being undertaken for the purpose of making the building “green.” Done as a project of the Office of Federal High-Performance Green Buildings, the renovation is Oregon’s largest federal stimulus project.

The Obama administration proudly boasts that the effort will dramatically reduce the building’s energy use, thereby saving federal taxpayers $280,000 a year in energy costs.

Now here comes the fun part.

Nowhere in the article did The New York Times bother to do the math. So I did. (It wasn’t hard, I did it on my Blackberry while setting out for a winter hike.) To recoup its investment in this renovation, the government will have to keep the building running for the next 475 years.

Look on the bright side. Everything after year 476 is gravy! … [more]

1 Feb 2010, 3:18pm
Latest Climate News
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NIWA Unable To Justify Official Temperature Record

Press Release: New Zealand Climate Science Coalition, 1 February 2010 [here]

The National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research (NIWA) has been urged by the New Zealand Climate Science Coalition (NZCSC) to abandon all of its in-house adjustments to temperature records. This follows an admission by NIWA that it no longer holds the records that would support its in-house manipulation of official temperature readings.

In December, NZCSC issued a formal request for the schedule of adjustments under the Official Information Act 1982, specifically seeking copies of “the original worksheets and/or computer records used for the calculations”. On 29 January, NIWA responded that they no longer held any internal records, and merely referred to the scientific literature.

“The only inference that can be drawn from this is that NIWA has casually altered its temperature series from time to time, without ever taking the trouble to maintain a continuous record. The result is that the official temperature record has been adjusted on unknown dates for unknown reasons, so that its probative value is little above that of guesswork. In such a case, the only appropriate action would be reversion to the raw data record, perhaps accompanied by a statement of any known issues,” said Terry Dunleavy, secretary of NZCSC.

“NIWA’s website carries the raw data collected from representative temperature stations, which disclose no measurable change in average temperature over a period of 150 years. But elsewhere on the same website, NIWA displays a graph of the same 150-year period showing a sharp warming trend. The difference between these two official records is a series of undisclosed NIWA-created ‘adjustments’.” … [more]

1 Feb 2010, 3:00pm
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The Death of Global Warming

by Walter Russell Mead, The American Interest Online, February 1st, 2010 [here]

The global warming movement as we have known it is dead. Its health had been in steady decline during the last year as the once robust hopes for a strong and legally binding treaty to be agreed upon at the Copenhagen Summit faded away. By the time that summit opened, campaigners were reduced to hoping for a “politically binding” agreement to be agreed that would set the stage for the rapid adoption of the legally binding treaty. After the failure of the summit to agree to even that much, the movement went into a rapid decline.

The movement died from two causes: bad science and bad politics.

After years in which global warming activists had lectured everyone about the overwhelming nature of the scientific evidence, it turned out that the most prestigious agencies in the global warming movement were breaking laws, hiding data, and making inflated, bogus claims resting on, in some cases, no scientific basis at all. This latest story in the London Times is yet another shocker; the IPCC’s claims that the rainforests were going to disappear as a result of global warming are as bogus and fraudulent as its claims that the Himalayan glaciers would melt by 2035. It seems as if a scare story could grab a headline, the IPCC simply didn’t care about whether it was reality-based.

With this in mind, “climategate” — the scandal over hacked emails by prominent climate scientists — looks sinister rather than just unsavory. The British government has concluded that University of East Anglia, home of the research institute that provides the global warming with much of its key data, had violated Britain’s Freedom of Information Act when scientists refused to hand over data so that critics could check their calculations and methods. Breaking the law to hide key pieces of data isn’t just “science as usual,” as the global warming movement’s embattled defenders gamely tried to argue. A cover-up like that suggests that you indeed have something to conceal. … [more]

1 Feb 2010, 12:18pm
Latest Climate News
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Open letter to Senator Mark Begich Are you aware that glaciers are growing in Alaska?

from Robert W. Felix , Ice Age Now, posted at Climate Realists, February 1st 2010 [here]

Dear Senator Begich,

As someone who loves my country, I urge you to vote NO on the upcoming Control-and-Tax bill, a bill purportedly designed to fight “global warming.” What global warming?

Senator Begich, are you aware that glaciers are growing in your own state?

Yes, glaciers are growing in Alaska.

According to the US Geological Survey (USGS), glaciers are growing in Alaska for the first time in 250 years. In May, Alaska’s Hubbard Glacier was advancing at the rate of seven feet per day - more than half-a-mile per year. And in Icy Bay, at least three glaciers have advanced one-third of a mile in one year, said Chris Larsen, a scientist at the Geophysical Institute at the University of Alaska Fairbanks.

Senator Begich, I wish you would ask the USGS for a list of glaciers in Alaska, and ask them to tell you – honestly - which ones are growing. I have a feeling that there are more glaciers growing in Alaska than any of us have been told.

My fear is that that there is a giant cover up going on, especially given the fact that glaciers are also growing in California (Mt. Shasta) and Washington (Mt. Rainier, Mount St. Helens, and Glacier Peak).

Every time I read about another growing glacier, I’m told that it’s “the only glacier in the world that is bucking the global warming trend.”

But that’s not true.

more »

1 Feb 2010, 12:06pm
Latest Forest News
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Environmental group challenges logging plans

by Peter Fimrite, SF Chronicle, January 31, 2010 [here]

An environmental watchdog group is suing in seven California counties in an attempt to block an alleged plan to clear-cut 5,000 acres of forest in the Sierra Nevada and Cascade ranges.

The Center for Biological Diversity accused the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection of illegally approving 15 timber harvest plans that improperly analyzed the effect of logging on the climate.

The logging plans, all proposed by Sierra Pacific Industries, violated the California Environmental Quality Act and the Forest Practice Act by failing to take into account the large amounts of carbon dioxide that would be released into the atmosphere when the trees are cut, according to the lawsuits.

“Clear cutting causes the greatest release of greenhouse gases while simultaneously causing the greatest damage to forest resources, water and wildlife,” said Brian Nowicki, the California climate policy director for the nonprofit center, which is based in Arizona but has offices in San Francisco. “All 15 of these projects have significant amounts of clear cutting.”

Officials with the department of forestry denied the allegations in the lawsuits, which were filed last week in superior courts in Amador, Calaveras, El Dorado, Modoc, Shasta, Tehama and Trinity counties.

“California has the most stringent set of environmental protections in the nation,” said Janet Upton, a deputy director for Cal Fire, which is responsible for approving all logging plans on private land in California. “Both the Forest Practice Act and the California Environmental Quality Act were met by both the landowner and by Cal Fire.”

The lawsuits deal only with the portions of the 15 projects that involve clear cutting. Nowicki said that in those instances Sierra Pacific failed to properly calculate carbon emissions according to protocols set by the state. Despite that, he said, forestry officials rubber-stamped the plans.

Mark Pawlicki, the director of corporate affairs and sustainability for Sierra Pacific, said the timber harvesting plans carefully examine the effect on air quality and the environment and, in fact, show that Sierra Pacific land preserves far more carbon dioxide than is released by logging. He called the lawsuits groundless attempts to put people out of work in rural communities.

“It astonishes us that these job killers would attempt to ruin the lives of so many people who work in the forest products industry,” Pawlicki said. “This is abuse of the judicial process. In reality they are trying to use lawsuits to shut down our company.”

The litigation could have a far-reaching effect, given that several dozen similar logging plans by Sierra Pacific are awaiting approval by state forestry officials.

1 Feb 2010, 12:02pm
Latest Wildlife News
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Wolves Taking Only Sick And Weakly Not Historical Fact

by Tom Remington, Black Bear Blog, February 1, 2010 [here]

It is repeated like an incessant drum beat. Wolves and other large predators keep our ecosystems healthy because they cull out the old, sick and weakly of the prey species they kill. And nearly as often as the myth is perpetrated one asks, how that is substantiated? Certainly not by facts.

Clinging to the false indoctrination that wolves have an “eye” for which prey to destroy, is another allegorical fabrication that before man arrived our wilderness and all the species that dwelt within it was “balanced”, to represent or simulate some fanciful garden of Eden. Historical documents show a completely different picture.

Most who perpetuate these myths, point all blame for anything bad that happens to our environment, whether real or fabricated, on man. The truth is, much of the wildlife that Americans love to see and claim as theirs, was very scarce until man arrived and brought with him agriculture and soon followed by an understanding of the need to control predators, particularly those that where destroying the game herds man needed for survival.

We can look through many historical documents to learn that what is being indoctrinated into our children as fact concerning wildlife and the impact predators have on it, just does not agree with history. If we take, for example, many accounts published in Alaska Wildlife Digest in 1975, there’s no denying that wolves kill for food, for sport and from lust and more times than not the methods they employ in bringing down their prey is brutally cruel. … [more]

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