16 Oct 2009, 3:24pm
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Court uses flawed data in wolf case

By Richard Reeder, Cody Enterprise, October 5, 2009 [here]

An official involved in wolf reintroduction since the program began says the recent federal court ruling blocking delisting is using data that doesn’t reflect the greater Yellowstone ecosystem.

Doug Smith, leader of the Yellowstone Grey Wolf Restoration Project, says studies from Isle Royale used by environmentalists and Judge Donald Molloy reflect a specific wolf population, not wolves in general.

“I worked on the Isle Royale project and those wolves are an isolated population,” Smith says. “They are extremely inbred because they have no other options.”

Isle Royale is a large island in Lake Superior, not a wide open range like Yellowstone Park and surrounding states.

“The environmentalists and Judge Molloy are using that population, which has deformities in their spinal column, as an example of inbreeding problems,” Smith says. “They say we have to avoid those mistakes, but those problems don’t apply here.”

“Isle Royale has a small gene pool and population,” he added. “We don’t think its a comparable argument.”

Smith says the small population size of Isle Royale doesn’t reflect the Yellowstone area.

“It’s a small population and will remain so because of its isolation,” he says. “The genetic argument in this region is moot because it isn’t Isle Royale.”

“We’ve tested the wolves in this region extensively and so far we haven’t found any problems,” he adds. “We’ve covered all the bases, and the future of wolves here won’t be the same as Isle Royale.”

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13 Oct 2009, 10:07pm
Salmon and other fish
by admin

Diverting Rivers and Dollars

by bear bait

The Oregonian newspaper continues to delude itself and the public regarding the Klamath River, its tributaries, and the water issues therein. The implication of their coverage is that the PacificCorp dams, part of the old California Oregon Power Company holdings once controlled by Chicago’s Jay Insull, who was brought to Oregon in chains in the 1930’s by the Oregon Public Utility Commission, are the one limiting factor for salmon survival in the lower Klamath River.

The Oregonian’s claim is that reservoirs hold hot water which is released to make power and in doing so, heats the river and kills salmon. But always missing in the discussion is that the Klamath River is, in fact, only half of the watershed. The Trinity River, a 100% a California river, is the other half.

The Trinity and Klamath join 40 odd miles above the ocean. The major salmon river is the Trinity, and most of the fish that died in the 2002 drought and subsequent die-off were Trinity fish that died below its confluence with the Klamath. The Trinity is a cold water stream with now very restricted flows due to California irrigation withdrawals.

2002 saw strong ocean numbers of chinook and restricted ocean fishing in the Klamath River Protection Zone in the Pacific Ocean. When those fish entered the Klamath, Indian fishing was hot and heavy until they could no longer find markets for the fish. A large Columbia River run had bloated the net-caught fish market up and down the coast. The summer vacation crowd was now in school, and selling fish out of totes from the back of a pickup was fruitless. SF fish buyers offered a dime a pound and the Indians quit fishing with a river full of fish during a drought.

Too many fish and too little water. The needed cold water of the Trinity had been diverted to Fresno or somewhere south of there. The fish had no claim to cool Trinity River water sucked up by farmers in the Central Valley, water which might have helped some, because gill disease from warm water parasites killed more than 35,000 salmon and maybe twice that number.

Instead, Oregon farmers got the blame. Politics, money, and California spin ruled the day. An equal die-off happened in the Rogue River, but there were no Indians with a claim to the fish, and no ag interests to blame. Dies-offs happen in trans Coast Range streams in hot, droughty early fall until the diurnal cycle begins to cool the streams with the sun moving south and frosts in the highlands of early September.
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7 Oct 2009, 11:32am
Homo sapiens Wildlife Agencies
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Lawsuit Against USFS Allotment Ranchers Dismissed

From the New Mexico Cattle Growers’ Association

For Immediate Release / October 2, 2009 [here]

Ranchers Claim Victory in District Court Ruling

Yesterday’s ruling by United States District Court Judge James O. Browning dismissing a challenge to U.S. Forest Service (USFS) grazing permit renewal from the WildEarth Guardians is welcome news for New Mexico ranchers and will help ranchers across the west.

“Livestock producers across the West are breathing a sigh of relief today,” said Alisa Ogden, New Mexico Cattle Growers Association (NMCGA) President, Loving. “The claims made by the WildEarth Guardians in this case regarding grazing, the livestock industry and the Forest Service were totally without merit, and Judge Browning reinforced that fact with his ruling. This is a huge victory.”

In 2007, the WildEarth Guardians, then known as the Forest Guardians, challenged the U.S. Forest Service’s (USFS’s) use of categorical exclusions (CEs) to comply with the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) for grazing permit renewal in Federal District Court. The case focused on 26 grazing allotments in the Gila National Forest. The NMCGA, the New Mexico Federal Lands Council and the Arizona/New Mexico Coalition of Counties intervened in the case on behalf of the 26 named allotment owners.

“This case was just one more attempt by a radical activist group to eliminate livestock grazing,” Ogden said. “Had it been successful, it would have devastated the livelihoods of the named allotment owners, and the economy of rural Southwestern New Mexico. We are so pleased that the court saw through the claims made by the WildEarth Guardians and ruled on the side of common sense and the will of Congress.

NEPA analysis is typically required for major federal actions, but due to policy decisions by the USFS and the Bureau of Land Management (BLM), is now required for the renewal of 10-year USFS grazing permits, Ogden explained. Now, the agency has a tremendous backlog of analysis and paperwork, because they simply are not equipped to conduct such detailed review on every grazing permit that comes up for renewal. Additionally, the WildEarth Guardians and other such groups tie up the agencies with appeals and lawsuits.

“This has created a lot of uncertainty for ranchers who depend on grazing allotments as part of their operations, and for the institutions, like banks, that they work with on a daily basis,” Ogden noted. “Fortunately, we have had strong Congressional support on this issue.”
Starting in 1995, and most recently in March of 2009, language was included in several appropriations bills by former Senator Pete Domenici directing the USFS to use categorical exclusions to keep the current terms and conditions of grazing permits in effect until the agency is able to complete the environmental analysis required for renewal.

“Through no fault of their own, these ranchers were placed in jeopardy, and we appreciate the court’s ruling. The ironic thing is, every lawsuit filed against the agency by groups like the WildEarth Guardians takes more and more time and resources away from environmental analysis and on-the-ground resource management –- making the situation even worse.” Although this ruling pertained to these 26 allotments in New Mexico, it will also have a direct influence on the court challenge that Western Watershed Project has mounted to the remaining 138 Forest Service grazing permit renewal decisions on 386 allotments across the remainder of the Western states. That case is now pending in the Northern District Court of California.

“We are extremely pleased that the USFS chose to defend itself and the ranchers on these allotments in the face of this frivolous litigation. We are also extremely proud of the representation that Karen Budd-Falen and the Budd-Falen Law Office, P.C., Cheyenne, Wyoming, protected the industry through participation in the case on behalf of the livestock industry,” she concluded.


6 Oct 2009, 5:37pm
Deer, Elk, Bison
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Count the Caribou

A photo from this year’s annual caribou survey for northwestern Alaska:

Click for larger image. Thanks and a tip of the parka to T. Mayer of Save Our Elk [here]

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