24 Feb 2009, 12:51pm
Latest Wildlife News
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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.

24 Feb 2009, 12:49pm
Latest Climate News
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NASA global warming satellite crashes after launch

By Alicia Chang, Ap Science Writer, Yahoo News [here]

LOS ANGELES – A NASA mission to monitor global warming from space ended Tuesday when a satellite plunged into the ocean near Antarctica minutes after launch. An equipment malfunction was apparently to blame, officials said.

The loss of the $280 million mission came a month after Japan launched the world’s first spacecraft to track global warming emissions. The failure dealt a blow to NASA, which had hoped to send up its own satellite to measure carbon dioxide, the main greenhouse gas behind human-caused global warming.

The crash came just after liftoff from the Vandenberg Air Force Base on California’s central coast. A Taurus XL rocket carrying the Orbiting Carbon Observatory blasted off as scheduled shortly before 2 a.m.

Three minutes into the flight, the nose cone protecting the satellite failed to come off as designed, NASA officials said. The extra weight from the cover caused the rocket to dive back to Earth, splashing into the ocean near Antarctica, where a group of environment ministers from more than a dozen countries met Monday to get the latest science on global warming. [Unfortunately the rocket missed them.]

“Certainly for the science community it’s a huge disappointment,” said John Brunschwyler, Taurus project manager for Virginia-based Orbital Sciences Corp., which built the rocket and satellite. “It’s taken so long to get here.”

The 986-pound satellite was supposed to be placed into a polar orbit some 400 miles high. The project was nine years in the making, and the mission was supposed to last two years.

The observatory was NASA’s first satellite dedicated to monitoring carbon dioxide on a global scale. Measurements collected by the satellite were expected to improve climate models and help researchers determine where the greenhouse gas originates and how much is being absorbed by forests and oceans.

“Wow! Bad news this morning,” said Scott Denning, an atmospheric science professor at Colorado State University in Fort Collins, Colo., and a member of the team that planned to analyze data from the satellite. “We put years into getting ready for this.”

Carbon dioxide is the leading greenhouse gas and its buildup helps trap heat from the sun, causing potentially dangerous warming of the planet. [Excuse me, but that is utter BS, Alicia.]

Scientists now depend on 282 land-based stations — and scattered instrumented aircraft flights — to monitor carbon dioxide at low altitudes. … [more]

Note: For some interesting commentary see Watts Up With That [here]

23 Feb 2009, 9:32pm
Latest Climate News
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The Green Jobs Scam - and Confusion

By IAIN MURRAY, DC Examiner, February 23, 2009 [here]

With the massive $787-billion stimulus bill including provisions to encourage the creation of “green jobs,” Americans deserve an honest appraisal of how such green jobs will work. So far, they aren’t getting it.

In fact, a recent statement by Al Gore shows just how much Americans are being misled on this issue. Green jobs are a shell game, and we’re falling for it. In the Financial Times, on February 17, Gore, in an op ed co-authored with United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon, asserts that, “In the US, there are now more jobs in the wind industry than in the entire coal industry.”

But as Roger Pielke Jr of the University of Colorado points out, there is something wrong there. In November 2008, the coal industry generated 155 million megawatt-hours of electricity, while wind generated only 1.3 million megawatt-hours. If wind really does employ more people than coal, it is doing so at a huge cost to American efficiency, productivity, and competitiveness.

Of course, the wind industry does not employ more people. Gore and Ban were flat out wrong in their assertion, which should make one question any assertions in Gore’s An Inconvenient Truth, or any U.N. document, for that matter. … [more]

23 Feb 2009, 9:29pm
Latest Wildlife News
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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
Latest Wildlife News
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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]

23 Feb 2009, 12:20pm
Latest Fire News Latest Forest News
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Forest report cites dangers to water source

by Joe Hanel, Durango Herald, February 21, 2009 [here]

DENVER - Calling Colorado’s high-altitude forests a national asset, the region’s top forester thinks urban water utilities should consider charging their customers a monthly forest-health fee.
Many bills, little money to fight wildfires

Rick Cables, head of the U.S. Forest Service’s Rocky Mountain region, told state lawmakers Wednesday that forest protection is every bit as important for water supplies as building dams and pipelines.

“The new water project is protecting the headwaters - investing in where the water comes from,” Cables said.

Cables and Colorado State Forester Jeff Jahnke visited the Legislature’s two agriculture committees to release the annual forest health report, which this year focuses on threats to high-altitude forests.

Trees above 9,000 feet provide biodiversity and homes for wildlife, Jahnke said.

“Probably more than anything - and I think of national strategic value - is their role in producing water,” Jahnke said.

Cables agreed. People in 143 counties in 10 states rely on water from Colorado’s headwaters, he said.

more »

22 Feb 2009, 12:32am
Latest Climate News
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Arctic Sea Ice Underestimated for Weeks Due to Faulty Sensor

By Alex Morales, Bloomberg.com news, Feb 20, 2009 [here]

A glitch in satellite sensors caused scientists to underestimate the extent of Arctic sea ice by 500,000 square kilometers (193,000 square miles), a California- size area, the U.S. National Snow and Ice Data Center said.

The error, due to a problem called “sensor drift,” began in early January and caused a slowly growing underestimation of sea ice extent until mid-February. That’s when “puzzled readers” alerted the NSIDC about data showing ice-covered areas as stretches of open ocean, the Boulder, Colorado-based group said on its Web site.

“Sensor drift, although infrequent, does occasionally occur and it is one of the things that we account for during quality- control measures prior to archiving the data,” the center said. “Although we believe that data prior to early January are reliable, we will conduct a full quality check.” … [more]

Note: the glitch was reported by Joseph D’Aleo of ICECAP on Feb 15 [here]. The story was then picked up by Anthony Watts of Watts Up With That on Feb. 16 [here]. After these citizen scientist bloggers informed the NSIDC, the Center discovered the satellite sensor had problems and issued a statement that was reported at Watts Up With That on Feb 18 [here].

Bloomberg’s report is thus 4 or 5 days late and fails to credit D’Aleo and Watts for their vital roles in all this. Citizen bloggers Anthony Watts and Steve McIntire of Climate Audit also uncovered and reported on data defects in an article in Nature last month about Antarctic temperature trends [here].

19 Feb 2009, 1:33pm
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Grazier stopped from fuel reduction burns at Callignee

by Jane Metlikovec, Herald Sun, February 18, 2009 [here]

A FARMER says he could single-handedly have saved much of his township from being razed - if the Government had let him.

As Premier John Brumby toured Gippsland yesterday, Lindsay Pump slammed the lack of controlled burning and fuel reduction.

Until three years ago Mr Pump, 54, routinely burnt off around the Callignee hall and dozens of neighbouring houses. Now they lie in ruins after fire destroyed 90 homes in the area.

The farmer, who lost almost 40 cattle and 50 goats in the blaze, said he was often pulled up by the Department of Sustainability and Environment for illegal burning.

He was given a final warning when three fire trucks showed up at his last burn-off.

“I was always burning it off, and they wouldn’t let me. They’d come here with fire trucks and put it out. I could have saved a lot of places around here, but there were too many greenies stopping me,” Mr Pump said.

“It’s just disaster now. A lot of this is the Government’s own fault for not burning it. … [more]

19 Feb 2009, 1:33pm
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Bushfire death toll has climbed to 208

Herald Sun, February 19, 2009 [here]

THE bushfire death toll has climbed to 208, as a blaze at Wilsons Prom claimed a quarter of the land in thick bushland.

Police have just revised the toll up from 201 to 208.

The official number of people killed in Marysville was increased from 39 to 45, making it the town with the highest toll.

The five worst hit towns have been Marysville (45), Strathewen (42), Kinglake (37), St Andrews (22) and Steels Creek (10).

Meanwhile, the Wilsons Promontory National Park fire has grown to more than 13,000ha in size, but light winds have allowed firefighters time to strengthen containment lines around the blaze.

The fire has burnt through more than a quarter of Wilsons Promontory and is still out of control in thick bushland.

Firefighters are unable to access the fire so it can be fought only by using one air crane and two smaller water bombers. … [more]

19 Feb 2009, 12:14am
Latest Wildlife News
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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, 6:26pm
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What do labs and politicians, dress socks and taxpayer dollars have in common?

By Krayton Kerns, MT state legislator, Western Ag Reporter, Feb 5, 2009 [here]

Do you know Molly? She has a muscular build, beautiful blonde hair, and a long nose. She also likes her belly scratched and chases cars. The Molly I am speaking of is a six-year-old yellow Lab that I see on a regular basis at my veterinary clinic. Recently, it’s been too regular.

Last fall Molly was helping with the household chores by sorting the laundry into two piles: things she can swallow and things she couldn’t. It took about a week before Molly discovered that one of the items in the “can-swallow” pile actually belonged in the “can-swallow-but-can’t-pass” pile so… Molly went to surgery. During the exploratory surgery, we found one dark, green dress sock permanently lodged in Molly’s small intestine. It was the dreaded “toxic-sock syndrome.” We surgically resected the sock plus 18 inches of Molly’s bowel. Molly and the sock recovered well and bounded home a couple days after surgery. (The story would have a happy ending if I stopped here.)

A month and a half later Molly resumed vomiting. Within an hour, we were back in surgery where again we resected a segment of bowel and removed another green dress sock. It was either the same sock or it was the littermate of the sock we had delivered previously. What could possibly make a dog do something as reckless as swallowing the same sock twice?

It is this: For hundreds of years, the Labrador retriever has been selectively bred to sniff out hiding birds and retrieve them. Their life’s purpose is focused in the front four inches of their face. If there are no birds around, absolutely everything else must be sniffed, nudged, chomped, and packed around. So it is instinct that drives Molly to chew and swallow without thinking of the consequences, and this brings me to my point.

The majority of politicians in Washington DC and Helena have the same instincts as Molly; she swallows socks, and they spend money. Molly’s weakness is the clothes hamper; the politician’s is YOUR wallet. Don’t expect either to break their bad habit anytime soon.

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16 Feb 2009, 12:06am
Latest Fire News Latest Wildlife News
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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]

15 Feb 2009, 12:08am
Latest Climate News
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Global warming ‘underestimated’

BBC World News America, 15 February 2009 [here]

The severity of global warming over the next century will be much worse than previously believed, a leading climate scientist has warned.

Professor Chris Field, an author of a 2007 landmark report on climate change, said future temperatures “will be beyond anything” predicted.

Prof Field said the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report had underestimated the rate of change.

He said warming is likely to cause more environmental damage than forecast.

Speaking at the American Science conference in Chicago, Prof Field said fresh data showed greenhouse gas emissions between 2000 and 2007 increased far more rapidly than expected.

“We are basically looking now at a future climate that is beyond anything that we’ve considered seriously in climate policy,” he said.

Prof Field said the 2007 report, which predicted temperature rises between 1.1C and 6.4C over the next century, seriously underestimated the scale of the problem. … [more]

Note: The BBC got it wrong. Dr. Fields is Professor of Biology in an Ecology Department, not a climate scientist [here].

11 Feb 2009, 7:33pm
Latest Fire News
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Fearless fighters storm through fire to save campers

Andrew Collard, Herald Sun, February 11, 2009 [here]

FEARLESS firefighters have stormed through fire to save 19 campers, including seven toddlers and babies.

As the firefighters led them to a river and hosed them under fire blankets, their parents begged: “Are we going to make it out of this?”

Andrew Collard, 30, and Brian Lawry, 46, who are Department of Sustainability and Environment workers, told of their extraordinary efforts to first storm through the fire in their truck and then save the eight families as flames engulfed them at a scenic park in Murrindindi at 3.30pm on Saturday.

Firefighter Brad Sexton tried to cut his way into the scenic reserve — which was destroyed by the start of the fire that later razed Marysville — with a bulldozer to rescue the group. He later learned his own house had burned down at Kinglake.

he firefighters herded the families, all campers from Melbourne, into the shallow water, parked their truck to protect them and then drove cars into the water.

They bundled the toddlers and babies, as young as six months, inside before covering them with a fire blanket and hoses.

more »

11 Feb 2009, 12:26pm
Latest Fire News
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Angry survivors blame council ‘green’ policy

by Andrea Petrie, Arthurs Creek, The Age (AU), February 11, 2009 [here]

ANGRY residents last night accused local authorities of contributing to the bushfire toll by failing to let residents chop down trees and clear up bushland that posed a fire risk.

During question time at a packed community meeting in Arthurs Creek on Melbourne’s northern fringe, Warwick Spooner — whose mother Marilyn and brother Damien perished along with their home in the Strathewen blaze — criticised the Nillumbik council for the limitations it placed on residents wanting the council’s help or permission to clean up around their properties in preparation for the bushfire season. “We’ve lost two people in my family because you dickheads won’t cut trees down,” he said.

“We wanted trees cut down on the side of the road … and you can’t even cut the grass for God’s sake.”

Later, the meeting was cut short when Mr Spooner’s father, Dennis, collapsed in his chair and an ambulance had to be called. Despite losing his wife and son and everything he owned, a friend later said he had not stopped or slept since the weekend. … [more]

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