Friday, June 22, 2007

Never forget!

As if the border wall along the Rio Grande in Texas weren't enough of an affront to one's aesthetic and ecologic sensibilities, here's a little gem to offend your political senses too:
In recent weeks, local Border Patrol officials have been meeting with landowners whose property might be affected by a fence, handing out pamphlets that show a picture of the World Trade Center burning after the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, with the phrase "Never Forget" and a message urging border residents to support the government's plan to build fences "to bring effective control to our nation's borders."
Wildlife be damned: landowners should be grateful to the Department of Homeland Security. I thought Saddam Hussein was somehow responsible for September 11th, and now we're supposed to believe it was the poor migrating Mexicans?

Seems like a good sign that Texas is on message for the environmental impacts of the fence though, to the extent that the DHS is using such ballsy fear tactics to compel submission. One article from the Lone Star state has even identified the border wall as a problem for the booming ecotourism in the Gulf region. They estimate that eco-tourism pumps about $125 million a year into the region, where the median per capita income is about $11,000.
"If they were building a fence on the U.S.-Canada border cutting off the Niagara Falls, the whole country would be in an uproar."
Nice idea, but Canadians didn't fly planes into the World Trade Center, now did they?


Thursday, June 07, 2007

Saving sheep, killing lions: after USFWS is thwarted by NEPA, the state takes over lion kill on Kofa National Wildlife Refuge

The Fish and Wildlife Service badly wanted to kill mountain lions on the Kofa National Wildlife Refuge, which they say are killing off the bighorn sheep.

But that would mean they would have to write an environmental assessment of their plans -- meaning they would have to study the actual effect mountain lions are having and have had on bighorn sheep, and reveal their findings to the public -- and at this they balked. (One-page .pdf press release).

So after some political maneuvering by Arizona legislators the state got the go-ahead to wait till the lions crossed out of the refuge, and kill them.

State officials want us to know this is not about bloodlust. Predator control is not about bloodlust. It is about the humane desire to protect the wilderness from its own uncivilized savagery.

The Yuma Sun reported yesterday that the first lion has been killed, just north of the Refuge.

UPDATE 6/13/07

We received this message from a source who seems very knowledgeable about this hunt, and who has very interesting things to say. I have appended below the e-mail more or less in its entirety:

The Kofa lion that was killed only had the satellite collar on him for 3 months. The Arizona Game and Fish Department killed the lion too soon, resulting in the loss of valuable information regarding lion predation of bighorn on Kofa.

The FWS and the AGFD spent an enormous amount of time, expense, and effort to collar this lion. The first effort began 1.5 years ago. Another Kofa lion was recently captured and collared and the same fate may happen to it before valuable information is collected. The AGFD acted too quickly by killing this lion while he was located off the protected area of Kofa.

I appended these comments to the Yuma Sun article in the comment section below the article:

The AGFD biologists are excellent, competent wildlife managers, but they are still allowing the harvesting of 10 rams by human predation of bighorn in the upcoming December 2007 hunt. That is very inconsistent and double standard wildlife management. Human predation vs. natural lion predation:

10 hunters are allowed to kill 10 Kofa bighorn rams in 1 month

1 lion has killed 1 Kofa bighorn, not 2 as article states, in 3 months

The AGFD and Kofa staffs should have a moratorium on hunting until the population estimates of Kofa bighorn reach 600 sheep to demonstrate that they are actually concerned about the population decline.

The error of 2 Kofa sheep killed, instead of 1, was an honest mistake. However, it could be misleading, given the Kofa herd’s rapid decline, by implying that cougars are more of a cause of the decline than they are.

Note: I am assuming the 2 sheep killed on Kofa statement was an honest mistake. However, the premise of the article is based on 2 sheep being killed on Kofa to justify the action to kill the lion.


Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Borderlands Conservation and Security Act of 2007

UPDATE! Congressman Grijalva introduced a similar bill in 2009!

Congressman Raul Grijalva (D-AZ) today introduced a bill on the House floor that recognizes the ecological significance of the borderlands and sets out to repeal parts of the Real ID Act. As readers of this blog know, the Real ID Act exempts the Department of Homeland Security from following any laws that would get in the way of infrastructure projects, NEPA & the ESA be damned! But today, there is some hope, since the new bill, "Borderlands Conservation and Security Act," if passed into law, would establish environmental consultation on federal lands with federal land managers, prioritize low-impact infrastructure (if any) on public lands, and mandate ecological and cultural sensitivity training for Border Patrol agents.

Anyway, thank heavens for Raul Grijalva, a man whose political sense makes us wish there were more politicians like him. And thanks to his savvy staff, who know that voters in his district care deeply about endangered species.

- Lozen

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Will the wolverine ever get endangered status? USFWS opens comment period today

Wolverines are far-traveling critters with huge home ranges. It is hard to imagine that the immense increases in road density, human presence, and habitat changes that have occurred in the west in the last century have not affected this incredible animal. But so far the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has only studied the wolverine when under a court order to do so.

So, under court order as usual, the agency today opened a comment period seeking information on gulo gulo's status.


Caswell: "We have to develop the resources that we have."

You got that? We have to. So says the man Bush has picked to lead the Bureau of Land Management. (Caspar Star Tribune).

Hat tip to Ralph Maughn's excellent blog.