Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Poor Limpy

If you want something to be sad about, or are in need of a purgative, read this. You'll have to watch a quick ad and click through for a "site pass" but it's a really provocative and emotional article about the northern Rockies wolf delisting.
Born to the Druid Peak pack, Limpy was wounded in a fierce fight with a neighboring pack, the Nez Perce, before he was a year old. After the injury, he could hardly use his back left leg for the rest of his life....

In 2002, Limpy's renown grew when he wandered to Utah and got caught in a coyote trap. It was the first confirmed wolf sighting in that state in 70 years. Shipped back to Wyoming in the back of a U.S. Fish and Wildlife truck, Limpy became the beta male of his pack. His dark coat made it easy for wildlife watchers and awestruck tourists to pick him out as he roamed the valley, hunting elk, tending pups and defending the pack's den from bears, all despite his bum leg....

On March 28, the day that new state wolf policies [after delisting] went into effect, a hunter stationed near elk feeding grounds in Daniel, Wyo., shot and killed Limpy.
I warned you.

You know what we say about those guys who drive the monster SUVs with the oversize tires and the silhouettes of the women on the windows? Don't you think these wolf hunters might suffer from the same deep-seated inadequacies?

One misstep in the article:
...Many environmentalists concede that wolves that attack livestock should be killed. "I don't think that there is a wildlife person out there who wouldn't agree that if ....any wolf, was interfering with livestock, then you need to take him out," says wolf watcher Connolly. "Any rancher or farmer deserves to be able to do that."
Define "many." Ranchers and farmers don't "deserve" to control the public lands of the American West for their profit. Wolves deserve to live, be wild animals, and take back some of their former turf- turf which we've just about screwed up beyond redemption. Just because some of the big national groups have gone publicly moderate on this issue doesn't mean that the general public, when presented with the facts about public lands livestock operations, thinks that ranchers are so entitled. No way.

Friday, May 23, 2008

"Ranchers fighting comeback of a predator that's good for the land"

This recent article in the Arizona Republic really hits the proverbial nail when it characterizes the ongoing debate over Mexican wolf reintroduction in the southwest as a landlord-tenant dispute.
Consider what would happen if your landlord had a dog that chased your cat. You would either keep the cat away from the dog or move. You wouldn't expect the landlord to compensate you for kitty's inconvenience. [Especially if you tied a pork chop to said kitty's neck.]

Unless you were a rancher.

If your landlord decided not to renew your lease because she had other uses for the property, you wouldn't expect compensation.

Unless you were a rancher.
To continue with the metaphor from the article: If we think of ranchers as tenants, we might as well think of ourselves as their roommates. These folks don't just leave a pile of dirty dishes, they degrade the overall hygiene of the kitchen. Whatever contributions they allege to be making to "the lifestyle and culture of the West" are quickly offset by the fact that we, the taxpayers, continue to subsidize their rent.

It's pretty obnoxious, actually. The article really captures that well, as well as shines some reality on the flawed arguments of the anti-wolf crowd. It's worth a read.

And don't miss the slideshow.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

The Bush Administration's DOI really, really sucks

Today's Government Accountability Office (GAO) report on the Department of Interior's tinkering with Endangered Species Act listings and delistings really comes as no surprise but still, always good to hear the government complaining about itself.

This poignant quote by Nick Rahall really got me:
"At this point," Rahall, D-W.Va., said today, "the best hope for endangered species may simply be to cling to life until after January when this president and his cronies, at long last, hit the unemployment line."
We just have to hope that Bush's crony John McCain doesn't get elected, and certainly not with Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin as veep. She's hates polar bears.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Mission accomplished?

As the Department of Homeland Security pushes to complete 670 miles of fencing along the Mexican border by the end of this year, it is confronting the sharpest resistance yet while conceding that physical barriers alone do not stop illegal crossings.
This from the NY Times today. The Bushies have built their wall on much of the southern border by now, but even they have to admit it isn't worth much:
Mr. Chertoff acknowledged in an interview that constructing physical barriers — as of last month, about 309 miles of fence had been built — is not the key to stopping illegal immigration, but he defended the fence’s usefulness.
Of course he did. This Administration isn't likely to admit its mistakes. The good news is that more and more people are calling them on it:
Opposition to the fence intensified last month after Mr. Chertoff used authority provided by Congress to waive more than two dozen environmental laws and others to push ahead with construction. Mr. Chertoff said his department needed to bypass the laws if it was to meet the goal set by Congress two years ago of completing at least 670 miles of fence by the end of this year.

Fourteen United States representatives, all Democrats, including Bennie Thompson of Mississippi, chairman of the Homeland Security Committee, have said they support a lawsuit filed in April by two environmental groups — the Sierra Club and Defenders of Wildlife — that challenges Mr. Chertoff’s waiver.
Here's hoping they win that one in court, and we can begin the important work of restoring this critical transnational habitat and our relationships with friendly neighbors. Though, like resolving the quagmire we've created in the Middle East, that work will be dumped on the next Administration, along with a bundle o' debt that will make such restoration damn near impossible.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Sage grouse are the polar bear of the west

Today's Jackson Hole Star Tribune (love that bucking bronco!) features a short article on the changes necessary in BLM's land management to protect the sage grouse.
Grazing, along with oil and gas development, could be affected most, Hanson said. Drilling plans not yet approved, grazing lease transfers and renewals, even "solid minerals" such as coal, could be deferred until a record of decision is finalized.
But don't worry. The BLM is doing everything it can to accommodate the industry.
[BLM Buffalo Field Office manager] Hanson said he and other BLM officials met privately with five coal-bed methane operators early this month regarding the process and mapping.

"We have routine meetings with PAW (Petroleum Association of Wyoming)," Hanson said.

He said the industry has no more and no less input on the matter than any other interested public land user.
Sure, we're all allowed to express our opinions. It's just that the oil and gas industry makes the decisions, right?

"Do You Kill Polar Bears by Turning the Ignition?...

Groups Sue Bush Over Polar Bears (Yes, Again)"

Not our headline, but oh! how we wish we had said it first.

Instead, the Daily Green went straight to the heart of the matter with the polar bear litigation frenzy. The "special rule" exempting smokestacks and tailpipes as sources of polar bear "taking" surely won't hold up in court now that the enviros have brought it there. It's too obvious that limiting and reducing carbon emissions must be part of the recovery plan for the species.

None of us can factor out our contribution to the bear-killing equation. It's going to take all of us opting out of the consumption lifestyle we've been induced to require.

Who wants to go first?

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Dirk Kempthorne, burdened by the Endangered Species Act

Oh boy. Did Kempthorne really say this?

What an asshole!

He's clever though. He quickly added "Or fortunately." He also took the opportunity to point out his previous attempts to "reform" the Endangered Species Act, which would have presumably undone such silliness as listing threatened species. Silly, silly requirements of the federal law. We don't really have to follow those anymore, do we Mr. Chertoff? Quick, someone write Dirk a waiver!

Hey, and if a "litigation nightmare" were all we had to worry about with this listing, we could count ourselves as lucky. Instead, we also have to worry about the effects of global warming, coming soon to a habitat near us. The polar bear is just the tip of the iceberg. (Sorry. I couldn't resist.)

And, anyway, what did he mean?: "That's what the Endangered Species Act is about."

The ESA is "about" a litigation nightmare?

Not so much, nope. Not really. It's about saving species on the brink of extinction, providing a safety net, if you will, for plants and animals whose lives and habitats are threatened by something man-made. The litigation nightmare comes from failing to do so, Dirk. You, of all people, should know that.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Feeling Bearish

One look at the headlines about the polar bear Endangered Species Act listing this morning is enough to put anyone in a sour mood. Not even the extensive amount of punning that this listing has provoked can cheer me up. My question is this:

IS IT REALLY ALL ABOUT MONEY, PEOPLE?!?

Now, believe me, I am completely aware that the conservation groups who got this cutie listed full well knew that it could shake up the "oiligarchy" that runs this country. Indeed, some might say that was the point.

Of course, it wasn't the only point. If we can wake people up about the polar bear- a fuzzy, endearing species - we could maybe, just maybe, get people to see that we're facing a similar fate.

Alas, even Alaska is less concerned about its long-term fate than it is about short-term oil revenues.
Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin said she's disappointed by a federal decision to list polar bears as a threatened species but relieved by the conclusion that the cause was not petroleum development, the mainstay of Alaska's economy.

Interior Secretary Dirk Kempthorne called Palin before his press conference Wednesday announcing the decision.

"It was reassuring to hear Secretary Kempthorne remind me also that he'll be acknowledging to all of America that it is not oil and gas developments that have such an adverse effect as to have led this decision for the threatened listing."
I wish he had called me before his press conference. I would have told him to stand up straight and be proud to do what's right for the planet- not effectively apologize to industry for following the ESA. He acted like his arm was being twisted by the science.

And it was, because the science was so compelling. Which, at the end of the day, isn't very good news at all. For any of us.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Ay! There's the rub! Polar bear listing comes with a twist

Ah ha! Since the news on this is just filtering out this minute, you'll forgive me for my delusional optimism spawned from the new listing rule for the imperiled polar bear. No, you knew it was too good to be true that the Fish and Wildlife Service's acknowledgment that the polar bear is threatened by sea ice loss and that sea ice is lost by global warming would mean that we would try to stop global warming.
"While the legal standards under the ESA compel me to list the polar bear as threatened, I want to make clear that this listing will not stop global climate change or prevent any sea ice from melting," [Secretary of the Interior] Kempthorne said, adding that he wants to "make certain the [Endangered Species Act] isn't abused to make global warming policies."
No, we must instead continue to "allow continuation of vital energy production in Alaska," i.e. drill for oil in polar bear habitat. Right. Of course we do. Must. Protect. The. Oil. Economy.

Alaska, Iraq, Afghanistan.... all territories conquered by the Army of Big Oil. And we know who is the Commander in Chief of that particular military.

And now back to my regularly scheduled cynicism.

Polar bear listed as threatened!

WOW!-
WASHINGTON — The Interior Department has declared the polar bear a threatened species, saying it must be protected because of the decline in Arctic sea ice from global warming.

Interior Secretary Dirk Kempthorne on Wednesday cited dramatic declines in sea ice over the last three decades and projections of continued losses.

Kempthorne says the designation means the polar bear is a species likely to be in danger of extinction in the near future.

Polar bear decision pending

This just came across the wires:
The Interior Department has scheduled a news conference for Wednesday to announce a decision on whether to list the polar bear as threatened and in need of protection under the Endangered Species Act.
Wednesday- why, that's today! My, oh, my....

If the polar bear needs arctic sea ice, and the arctic sea ice is melting, and most scientists are alarmed by the changing climate, tell me: Who wants to place bets on how the Bushies will get out of this one?

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Happy with the BLM, for a change.

We could complain that the BLM's finally closing just part of the Sonoran Desert National Monument to ORVs is too little, too late, but hey, it's better than nothing, which is what the BLM usually does. No, instead, we're going to celebrate the BLM's "banning all vehicular traffic, including motorcycles and all-terrain vehicles, from 55,000 acres of the popular desert wilderness because of extensive environmental damage."

Sure, we could note that the environmental damage has gotten so bad that even the motorheads are admitting that it needs to be closed... and that the non-motorheads have been asking for this for years and the slow wheels of bureaucracy have just now cranked into action.... and that the BLM has made it just a temporary closure... sure, we could point out all of those shortcomings but, hey: This is some pro-conservation movement by the BLM, something we haven't seen in Arizona for far too long. Congratulations to those of you who worked hard on this!

When Karen Kelleher, Monument manager, leaves this week for cooler climes in Washington state, she can look back and know that she accomplished something worthwhile to protect the desert lands. Even if it was too little, too late, it's more than we expect from the Arizona BLM and that's saying something.

Friday, May 09, 2008

Help Wanted

There was a time, not so long ago, when Demarcated Landscapes was populated with many creative pseudonyms and west-wide writers. That time has passed, and now DL seems to be the work of a single, lonely writer preoccupied with Michael Chertoff. For all we know, said writer is Michael Chertoff himself, tangling with his inner demons. But we digress.

The point is this: You're bored. We're bored. We all scream for ice cream.

So, what about you? Have you got an opinion on how the machine that is contemporary (and often, corporate) environmentalism is running? Do you watch the Federal Register like some people track the markets? Are you willing to watchdog issues and, most importantly, Are you snarky?

If so, please send a sample post, a list of news sources upon which you rely, and a sample of your witticisms to demarcatedlandscapes(at)yahoo(dot)com. Applicants with some sense of how to get more than two people a day to read the blog will be favorably considered.

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Why can't we all just get along (with wolves)?

If you've ever wondered if there are simultaneous parallel universes, here's more evidence.

On one hand, you've got this thoughtful writing about wolves published by Swans Commentary. (Scroll down if you go to the link.) It's one of the calmer writings I've seen on wolves lately.

On the other hand, you've got the fear-mongers calling out activists who work on wolf issues by name and insisting that they are, "Anti-human, anti-children, pro-wolf/dog, and unabashedly proud of it," and then adding, "Those are some of the faces of evil in our society today." I won't honor that website with a link from here- just trust me, dear reader: that type of hostility and hyperbole exists aplenty.

Thus, one author is encouraging us to look for the commonality of our humanity, the other, providing a malicious targeting of the very "Other" that the first author wishes to dispel notions of:
...We too have to do a very tough remodeling job on ourselves, do without our accustomed arrogance, feel a greater tolerance toward members of our own species, while at the same time standing tall in defense of principles.

Those principles include The Others, their lives, their existence on this earth, all of them, from Mexican wolves to the flower-loving fly. We might practice not only the art of tuning our ears to the eerie wail of the wolves, but to the words of our opponents, whether we meet them at the mall or on the Blue Range of the White Mountains on the Arizona-New Mexico border. Enough water under the bridge. It's time to make this revolutionary shift.
Full stop.

Monday, May 05, 2008

CNN covers jaguars

North America's biggest cat is ready for its close-up and this piece, on CNN, caught it on its good side. The article has a slideshow with sexy photos of Macho B, the centerfold of the border wall debate.

Absent from the article is any mention of the lawsuit filed last week to spur a recovery plan for the jaguar. This particular plan is bound to get icky, given that Michael Chertoff has already demonstrated his utter disregard for the ESA. Thus, even if there was a recovery plan, the border wall could doom it anyway.

Thursday, May 01, 2008

Big week for wolves

Let's see here...

Monday, twelve conservation groups sue over the delisting of the northern Rockies gray wolf.

On Tuesday and Wednesday, 800 people called Wyoming Gov. Dave Freudenthal's office to ask the governor to get rid of "the shoot-on-sight policy that is now in effect for nearly 90 percent of the state."

And, on Thursday, southwest conservation organizations file a lawsuit over the mismanagement of the Mexican gray wolf recovery program. The population of these particular critters has been tanking lately, thanks in no small part to a creepy removal policy that was crafted by our "environmental steward" friends, the ranchers.

WOW! Good work, friends of wolves! Here's hoping it all makes a difference and we get back on track recovering this important species.