22 Nov 2008, 9:54pm
Deer, Elk, Bison
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Chronic Wasting Disease in Westside Moose

The following (excerpted) article was posted yesterday by the always excellent Rogue Pundit.

by the Rogue Pundit, November 21, 2008 [here]

A moose with chronic wasting disease (CWD) was discovered last month near Bedford WY-about 40 miles south of Jackson Hole. This was the first case of CWD found west of the continental divide in Wyoming…it was only 10-15 miles from the Idaho border. Needless to say, officials in both states are rather concerned [here].

The discovery last month of a three-year-old female moose just over the border in western Wyoming that tested positive for chronic wasting disease has raised the stakes here in Idaho. …

So far, the 1,000 samples the Idaho Department of Fish and Game takes from big game herds each year have failed to detect the troubling disease.

Though it has been found in deer and elk in many parts of Wyoming and other states, chronic wasting disease is considered extremely rare in moose. According to Wyoming Game and Fish, only three other wild moose in North America have tested positive for the disease, all of them in Colorado.

The agency stated that the inflicted moose did not show any of the clinical signs of chronic wasting disease, except that it was unable stand up.

Actually, the moose couldn’t stand because it was suffering from elaeophorosis-also known as arterial worm disease. The parasite is asymptomatic in its most common hosts, mule and black-tailed deer. However, it can sometimes kill moose and elk. The testing for CWD was simply precautionary.

In light of the discovery, Wyoming biologists will step up their testing efforts in the western half of the state, particularly in the Star Valley area. Officials have noted that the discovery suggests that other deer, elk or moose in the area may be infected, too.

“We will immediately begin to gear up our … surveillance in the Star Valley,” said Tim Fuchs, Wyoming Game and Fish wildlife supervisor for the Jackson Region. …

Now considering that CWD can be spread via saliva, wet or dry…

Many in the conservation community have suggested that the artificial feeding of big game animals—especially prevalent in Wyoming—may be leading to increased levels of chronic wasting disease.

“Diseases spread much more easily when animals are in closer contact,” Smith said.

Still, he said that to his knowledge, no artificial feed sites have ever been closed due to the presence of the disease.

Nevertheless, he said the discovery of chronic wasting disease will put Idaho big game managers on a heightened alert in regards to artificial feeding. Locally, Fish and Game operates just one feeding area for elk midway up the Warm Springs Creek drainage in an area called the Bullwhacker feed site.

And note that the moose in question wasn’t found that far south of the National Elk Refuge, where the following are fed through the winter.

- It is winter range for the largest bison herd (more than 1,000) in the National Wildlife Refuge System.

- It is the world’s largest wintering concentration of elk with national and international significance.

The Refuge is overpopulated with both species; little wonder it allows hunting. CWD would certainly change the dynamics there. … [more]

20 Nov 2008, 12:30pm
Bears Wolves
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The Grizzly Bear Junk Science Judicial Nonsense Gene Pool Blues

Anybody can be a scientist these days. You don’t need any formal training in science, scientific knowledge, or expertise. Just slap a badge that says “scientist” on your forehead and presto, there you are!

It especially helps if you are a Federal judge. Then whatever you say, no matter how stupid and unscientific, becomes the Law of the Land and Accepted Scientific Truth.

Take U.S. District Judge Donald Molloy, for instance. Last June Judge Molloy invented a brand new theory about population biology [here], one that reeks of dumb and is laughable in real scientific circles, but is now considered to be “factual” and “scientific” even though it is as far from science as the Planet Gumbo.

Judge Molloy said that:

“genetic exchange between wolves in the Greater Yellowstone, northwestern Montana, and central Idaho core recovery areas [is] necessary to maintain a viable northern Rocky Mountain wolf population in the face of environmental variability and stochastic events.”

The Judge cited an obscure paragraph in a forgotten Appendix to a 1994 Environmental Impact Statement [here] as his source of this scientific “truth.” The problem is, the judge is dead wrong. The statement above is not true or even rational.

Genetic exchange between wolves across tens of thousands of square miles in NOT necessary to maintain wolf populations. There is no proof of that, while there is ample evidence that wolf populations can be maintained indefinitely on tiny islands of a few square miles.

The tag-on line about “environmental variability and stochastic events” sounds scientific but actually means nothing. It is an expression of profound ignorance.
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18 Nov 2008, 9:51am
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The Wyoming Wolf Blues

Wyoming is an independent-minded state. Their state legislature decided early on that wolves are dangerous predators that kill livestock, and therefore wolf populations must be controlled.

Wyoming’s independent frame of mind sets the animal rights people all a-quiver. After all, wolves have rights but livestock, deer, and elk have none. So at the whining behest of animal righters Canadian wolves must be and were dumped into Wyoming by the US Fish and Wildlife Service, without Congressional direction but in full obeisance to extremist liberal wolf-lover urban lobbyist groups, in order to correct Wyoming for her intransigence in thinking that wolves have no more rights than a sheep or a rattlesnake.

So Wyoming got the Canadian wolves but decided to manage them like any other wildlife. Oh but no said the overweening Federal Government. The Canadian wolves are “endangered” even though they are exotic and the Federal Government dumped them there in the first place on a lark and without any legal mandate to do so.

Up yours said Wyoming, we will control wolves and shoot them if they start killing our livestock.

And the wolves did exactly that, and Wyoming established a “trophy hunt” and a predator control program for Canadian wolves.

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17 Nov 2008, 9:10pm
Homo sapiens Salmon and other fish
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Sophie’s Choice on the Klamath

The following letter is from Ric Costales. Ric has lived and worked on the land and in the woods in the Klamath Basin for 35 years. He is currently the Natural Resource Policy Specialist for Siskiyou County. This letter represents his personal opinions and is not an expression on behalf of the County of Siskiyou.

Dear Green River friends:

I understand from a friend of mine in Rock Springs that there was a recent forum having to do with water issues and the matter of the Klamath Basin was brought up as a solution in progress. Apparently an image was conveyed of happy stakeholders awaiting a New Day. Well, yeah, the Tribes are probably happy for numerous reasons. And, yeah, the big irrigators are probably content thinking they have secured the amount of water that is positively the absolute minimum they can economically live with. And, yeah, environmentalists are thinking they have taken a small step, but a first great step for mankind in “freeing” all the rivers. But that is it. It is not any sort of a rosy picture for the majority of people in the Klamath Basin, especially the small irrigators who are so far left out in the cold. Nor does it come without impact on the future of renewable hydropower and irrigated agriculture in America.

The position of Siskiyou County has been and still is that a decision to take the dams out is premature. Given the magnitude of the irrevocable step being proposed, no compelling argument based on fish or water quality science or economic feasibility has been presented. Neither has sufficient effort been made to investigate the mitigation for negative impacts. This is a shameful rush to judgment for political reasons, plain and simple. Any other analysis of the situation is self-serving, ignorant or both.

We in Siskiyou County are well aware of the flow characteristics of the Klamath River. People are going to be shocked when they see how little water comes down the river in dry years. The dams are the only thing mitigating the flow in those years. They are the last thing between the irrigated agriculture in the Upper Basin and losing the water completely. When (not if!) the salmon fail to rebound if the dams are decommissioned, there will be immense pressure to end irrigated agriculture in the entire Klamath Basin. The farmers who have sold out thinking that supporting decommissioning will somehow guarantee their way of life will have only bought themselves time to live out their lives on their farms. It will be the next generation who will have to live with the final round of “takings.”

To be fair, the big irrigators were faced with “Sophie’s Choice,” having to choose which “child” was “killed.” The dams weren’t in their backyard, so it was easiest to cut them loose. I think they know what they did, and the futility of the bargain they made. Honestly, I don’t know that I would have done differently had I been in their shoes. But the point is, this is not a rosy scenario by any stretch.

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17 Nov 2008, 1:45pm
Deer, Elk, Bison Wolves
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Montana FWPD Wolf Management Fiasco

The following letter was written by Allen Schallenberger, wildlife consultant in Sheridan, MT, and former (retired) wildlife biologist for the Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks Dept. Mr. Schallenberger has contributed guest essays to SOS Forests [here, here]. This is his first at Wildlife and People.

Open Letter from Allen Schallenberger to Jeff Hagener, Director, Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks Dept., Helena, MT.

Dear Jeff:

We have large problems in the wolf management program here in Montana. Speaking for some of the organizations copied below, we believe we have a wolf diva rather than a Montana public servant running that program.

The legislature passed requirements for the Dept. to monitor wolf packs and report their locations. That is being done very poorly. To go to wolf monitoring on your website you must click on wild things, threatened and endangered species, gray wolf, wolf conservation and management, wolves in Montana and the Northern Rockies and then finally the buried wolf monitoring.

You will find that flight reports are mixed from 2007 and 2008 in a haphazard manner. That makes it very difficult to find the current flight data. No information is usually given on who made the flight, observer and pilot, flight and weather conditions, elevations used to search for animals in the mountains and other useful records such as areas not covered well or not at all. Instead the catch-all phrase “radio not heard” is used which covers a multitude of aerial coverage errors by the Dept. Animal locations are often to general to have any meaning and there is no effort to accurately identify drainages with the same names.

Your supposedly weekly wolf report often comes out bimonthly or monthly and is not timely. Inaccurate information and current and past history is put out for public education and often not corrected.

Let’s take the Freezeout pack for example. That pack over the years has killed hundreds of domestic livestock and big game animals and appears to be responsible for the elk leaving the Blacktail and Robb-Ledford Wildlife Management Areas in winters since at least 2003. This spring it was decided to eliminate that pack after it killed many domestic sheep. At the time it consisted of about two or three adults and seven pups after three adults were removed this spring. The wolf diva put out a news release saying that the pups would have to be killed before the adults. To this date we have not had an accurate report of what happened to that pack and if all the members have been killed.

You report all the livestock verified killed and there may be eight to 10 times that amount based on detailed studies. You and the wolf diva present very little information on the big game animals killed by wolves, the effects on our game herds and where we are headed in the future. Also you have not told the public how elk herds and their distribution are affected by wolf harassment and predation. You have not provided an accurate assessment of how this is affecting hunters, ranchers, businesses, private and public land use. You have not come up with information on how closely wolves are tied to brucellosis and other disease problems. Recently a news release by the Dept. quoted a warden saying we should be outraged by the one moose shot and killed and left on the ground near Boulder. We are outraged that Dept. employees are not more concerned about the thousands of big game animals and livestock killed by wolves and the other problems wolves cause.

After reading the wolf reports it appears that many young women without much experience or appreciation for our big game ungulates are being hired by your Dept to work with wolves. Some appear to excel in taking pictures of fuzzy pups and showing them to school kids. FWP is pumping the press and public full of false propaganda not backed by wildlife science or wolf history.

You could learn much from Alaska, Canada, Russia, Idaho and Wyoming wolf managers about wolf impacts. Quit saying wolves can kill and eat all the big game animals they want. Those animals are the property of the people of Montana who entrusted you with active, scientific wildlife management. Provide us soon, accurate information on numbers of each game animal species killed by wolves and the herds adversely affected by wolf kills and harassment.

Please respond soon on how you are going to improve the wolf management program. If that does not occur, our legislature should provide you detailed guidance.


Allen Schallenberger, Experienced wildlife biologist and concerned sportsman

cc — Gov. Brian Schweitzer, FWP Commission, Rep. Diane Rice, Rep. elect Robert Wagner, Senator elect Debbie Barrett, Senator Joe Balyeat, Montana Shooting Sports Association, Friends of Northern Yellowstone Elk, Inc., Montana Bowhunters Association, Montana Outfitters and Guides Association, Beaverhead Outdoors, Skyline Sportsmen, Anaconda Sportsmen, Tobacco Root Archers, Foundation for North American Wild Sheep, Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation, Montana Wool Growers, Montana Stockgrowers Association Western Ag Reporter, Billings Gazette, Bozeman Daily Chronicle, The Montana Standard, Missoulian, Daily Interlake, The Great Falls Tribune, Helena Independent Record, numerous ranchers and sportsmen

17 Nov 2008, 1:32pm
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Wolf Delisting Update

Several very important issues regarding wolves have slipped by and not gotten posted here (due to the crush of other responsibilities). We apologize for our tardiness and oversights.

But, for the latest wolf news we once again recommend Wolf Crossing [here], the premier wolf issue website in Cyberspace. An important breaking wolf news we missed (but Wolf Crossing did not) is that the US Fish and Wildlife Service has re-opened a comment period for delisting Rocky Mountain wolves. The USFWS delisted (removed from the Endangered Species list) Rocky Mountain wolves but then were sued [here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here].

The new USFWS drift, in response to the preliminary ruling of Judge Molloy, is to go through the delisting process again. Wolf Crossing covered that bureaucratic move [here and here].

There are also some interesting and important posts about rabies, mountain lions, New Mexico, and wildlife politics at Wolf Crossing. Please check them out

16 Nov 2008, 5:51pm
Salmon and other fish
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Klamath Dams Slated For Removal

After years of acrimony and political struggle, it appears that four power dams on the Klamath River will be torn down, allegedly to benefit salmon. From the Siskiyou Daily News [here]:

Power company, states, feds reach tentative deal to breach dams

By Heather Dodds, Siskiyou Daily News, November 14, 2008

Siskiyou County, Calif. - Four dams on the Klamath River, including three in Siskiyou County, are now on track to be torn down, as the power company that owns them has signed a deal that begins the process of removing them.

A nonbinding agreement to remove the four Klamath River dams has been reached between the Bush administration and the states of California and Oregon in what Gov. Schwarzenegger on Thursday called “the largest dam removal project ever in history.”

The Agreement in Principle (AIP) released yesterday marks the first step toward removal of the dams by setting the framework for the transfer of the dams from PacifiCorp to a government-designed dam removal entity (DRE) that would undertake the removal process.

The dam removal will not aid salmon, however. It will flush sediment into the Klamath River — burying spawning gravels — and will not provide the “cool” water that “fish advocates” desire. Dam removal will decrease irrigation flows, increase flood hazards, and remove the cleanest form of energy available, renewable hydro-power. Farm land will be devalued, and the regional economy will take another kick in the teeth.

For a selection of articles, the Klamath Bucket Brigade website [here] is very good. A selected excerpt, excerpted from a posted news article:

The planned removal of four hydroelectric dams along the Klamath River is a bitter pill to swallow for the basin’s agricultural industry. Some farmers regard the plan as an unpleasant but ultimately necessary remedy that will help heal divisions over the competing water needs of farmers and fish. Other growers say dam removal will only inflame the Klamath Basin’s ills over the long term. “Common sense says, what are they thinking?” said Tom Mallams, a hay farmer and president of the Klamath Off-Project Water Users, who opposes dam removal. “It’s an absolute disaster, the way they’re trying to do this.” …

Oregon Sen. Doug Whitsett, R-Klamath Falls said he had severe reservations about the dam removal agreement in principle signed by state, federal and PacifiCorp officials Thursday. “I think that we really have no empirical science that removal is going to improve anything,” Whitsett said.

The Klamath Basin Crisis website [here] provides excellent commentary and analysis. A perceptive and expert letter on the KBC site written by Dr. Kenneth A Rykbost, former Superintendent of the Oregon State University Klamath Experiment Station, [here] is very much worth reading.

Many local farmers feel they have been pushed up against a wall and that dam removal will come with much-need guarantees of existing water rights. Whether that (essentially extortion-driven) outcome really happens remains to be seen.

What is clear is that the fisheries “science” has been politically biased for years. Some of the worst excuses for science have emanated from federal and state agencies allegedly researching Klamath River biology and hydrology.

Warm ocean conditions (called El Nino) have dominated the eastern Pacific (our coast) for 25 to 30 years or more. In the last year or so a major shift has occurred (called the Pacific Decadal Oscillation) that has brought cool water (La Nina conditions) to the eastern Pacific [see here]. The warm water of the previous 3 decades has been bad for salmon because the upwelling of nutrient-rich cool water has been minimal. Now that the PDO has shifted, more cool water will provide more nutrients for the ocean food chain off our coast.

Improving ocean conditions will aid salmon. Tearing down the dams will not. Furthermore, half the water in the Klamath River system comes from the Trinity River, but that tributary has been diverted (65%) to irrigate agriculture in California’s central valleys. Tearing down the dams will not add one drop of water to the Klamath River.

Our erstwhile contributor bear bait had some thoughts regarding this history-making blunder. We post them for your edification:

Klamath Suckers

by bear bait

Klamath River, hmmmm… So extraordinarily good ocean conditions produced a huge survival of Klamath stock fall Chinook salmon, mostly from hatchery origin. Hatcheries, years ago, would take the first returning fish back to the hatchery for spawning, as they have goals to meet and commissions to answer to. The eventual result of the Iron Gate Hatchery program on the Klamath River is that the salmon return about 3 weeks too early and in a concentrated group because releases are not staged for different times.

Now we have a huge Pacific Coast run of salmon, the ocean trollers have done well, the fall gillnet season is open on the Columbia River, and the offered prices are under $0.25 per pound in the round. Hardly worth the fishing effort. The market is sated.

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14 Nov 2008, 8:09pm
Homo sapiens Salmon and other fish
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Dam the Torpedoes? Torpedoing the Dams … and much more

by Julie Kay Smithson, property rights researcher

So, the hammer finally, officially fell on the Klamath Basin. Oh, the year 2020 makes it sound somehow less final to most, but the end result is the desired result: The people of the Klamath Basin and their honest, proud way of life are soon to be gone, swept away on the utterly false premise-current that fish cannot live and thrive with dams.

In the timeframe of eternity, the Klamath Project and its young, idealistic, war veterans-turned-farmers are slated to be but an eyeblink. The lotteries that awarded winners the right to fight and scratch and bleed their way to having their own farms, with water guaranteed ‘forever,’ must have been little more than a cruel hoax.

What could the faraway benevolent government possibly have had in mind but the prosperity of its working class people? Didn’t ‘forever’ mean ‘forever?’ If ever there was a binding agreement, the youthful lottery winners thought they had it: The right to water forever, the use of which would coax from the land a plethora of crops that still boggle the mind and delight the palate. Yet today, new crops and varieties of others are developed and tested in the Klamath Basin, not the least of which is the Klamath Pearl, a beautiful little spud with a magnificent texture and even better taste: A gourmet’s dream come true.

What, indeed. Looking from afar at the Klamath Project, the farmers and irrigators and the private property that was theirs through the blood, sweat and tears equity of five generations, was a small group of obscenely powerful bankers with names European. They wanted the land, all right, but they had no intention of actually earning it. No. They’d “award” it by lottery to returning American soldiers and their new brides — youth with the bloom still on and the energy and dreams to invest willingly … yea, eagerly … in the high mountain valley of the Klamath.

From Midland, Dairy, and Lorella in Oregon to Newell in California, people live and die here. They are born and bred here. They grow strong and honest and they love here.

They, unlike the politicos in the distant not-even-a-state “District of Columbia,” are part and parcel of this great Klamath Basin… but they are what make it great.

Without its people, the Klamath Basin is but another empty land. The vast, sky-darkening migrating flocks need not stop here if the crops are no more. Look closely and you will see … the sandhill cranes weep, and the fish are crying.

7 Nov 2008, 5:35pm
Deer, Elk, Bison Wolves
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New Book by Cat Urbigkit on the Yellowstone Wolf Reintroduction Program

Cat Urbigkit is the author/webmistress of Wolf Watch [here], a website we have long linked to. Wolf Watch presents:

… up-to-date, accurate information about what is happening with wolves, focusing on wolves in the Rocky Mountains, but referring to wolf happenings outside our region when there is some local relevance. Rather than an agenda-driven advocacy site, this is the place to be for the facts about wolves, with a strong focus on what’s happening on the ground.

Now Cat has written a new book, Yellowstone Wolves – A Chronicle of the Animals, the People, and the Politics, McDonald and Woodward Publishing. We hope to post a review soon in the W.I.S.E. Colloquium: Wildlife Sciences. In the meantime, the following is the press release from McDonald and Woodward Publishing:

“Yellowstone Wolves” provides a unique perspective on what is the most visible and contentious wildlife management experiment-and its historic, social, economic, political, bureaucratic, and emotional dimensions-taking place in the American West today. It is a review of the persecution, and possible survival, of the native wolves of the northern Rocky Mountains of the United States; it is a detailed chronicle of the debate over the legality and propriety of introducing wolves from Canada into Yellowstone National Park and central Idaho during the mid-1990s; and it is an account of the spread of wolves, following their introduction, from Yellowstone and central Idaho into surrounding areas and the tensions created by the movement of these large predators into what are primarily ranch lands.

The national protection of plants and animals under the Endangered Species Act causes much debate across the United States, Canada, and in other parts of the world. Several US states have histories of implementing mammal protection programs, as described in the Act. Some of these programs have had success while others have not.

One such program regarding wolves became a very controversial issue during the early and mid-1990s. This book chronicles the federal “reintroduction” program of non-native Canadian wolves to the Northern Rocky Mountains of the United States (i.e., in the states of Idaho, Montana, and Wyoming). It looks at events prior to the program’s implementation as well as its consequences, both positive and negative.

A new controversy has resulted from the Canadian wolves’ introduction into the area. They have rapidly multiplied and spread beyond the region and have since become nuisance animals, threatening livestock, elk and bison. The previously banned hunting of these wolves, along with their natural tendency to multiply rapidly, contributed to their over-population and migration. As a consequence, their protected status has been removed and the wolves are now being hunted.

In Yellowstone Wolves, author Cat Urbigkit details the process through which the original proposal to “reintroduce” wolves into the greater Yellowstone National Park region was fought, yet became implemented, and resulted in another controversial issue. Such an undertaking has historic, scientific, social, economic, legal, political, and bureaucratic dimensions which converge and compete for influence and expression. All of these interests are presented in Yellowstone Wolves, and the details of their interaction are described in a narrative that reveals how such a complex interaction of vested interests can play out.

The book provides an unequalled background of the history of the native wolf, and frames the recently implemented circumstances of wolf management in Montana, Idaho, and Wyoming—where wolves are now simultaneously managed as protected resources, game, and unwanted predators. This book should be of interest to wolf enthusiasts regardless of which facet of the debate they might find most meaningful and in whatever part of the world they inhabit.

Cat Urbigkit is uniquely qualified to write this book, as she had an intimate and diverse experience with the issue. During the beginning phases of the wolf reintroduction program, she was an advocate for the conservation of what were presumed to be remaining populations of wolves native to the Yellowstone area (a smaller subspecies of wolf different from the larger Canadian wolf). She also covered the debate as a newspaper reporter and became one of the litigants who sued the US Fish & Wildlife Service to prevent the reintroduction of wolves in the Yellowstone and central Idaho area.

Ronald Nowak, an internationally recognized mammalogist and canid expert, was employed by the US Fish and Wildlife Service during the administration of the reintroduction program. He provides an authoritative context in the book’s Foreword, and speaks of the book’s contribution to the larger construct of endangered species management and its global significance. Mr. Nowak’s perspective on the United States’ management of biological diversity and heritage in this country, as well as our adherence to the mandates of the Endangered Species Act, also contributes to the placement of this book into the larger context of wildlife protection and management. His appreciation of the unique perspective that Cat Urbigkit provides in Yellowstone Wolves is also included in the Foreword.

The ISBN for this title is 978-0-939923-70-0, softcover and the book retails for $29.95.

More detailed information can be found [here]. Congratulations and kudos to Cat Urbigkit.

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