Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Did the Border Patrol start the Nuevo wildfire?

We heard from someone who heard from someone who heard from a reliable source that a Border Patrol agent started last summer's "Nuevo fire" south of Tucson. The Forest Service declared initially that the fire was human caused, then investigated, and has since been keeping its mouth shut.

Apparently, some bored BP agent decided to shoot a snake- not a rattlesnake, not a venomous snake- just a little old whip snake. He simply wanted to shoot something, and the snake was his chance. The bullet sparked a grass fire, the grass fire quickly grew into a full on blaze, and 3 heavy tankers, 1 Air Attack Plane, 3-4 Engines, 2 Hand Crews and 2500 acres later, it merged with another wildfire for a total of 8130 acres burned before containment.

So, like we said, we don't know for sure (i.e. we aren't law enforcement agents for the Forest Service!). It seems like pretty solid information, though. And it's infuriating. If you know something, write us. It seems like the Border Patrol agent should have to pay- the way other arsonists do.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Long live the gray wolf!

The NY Times has this favorable editorial today: "Long Live the Gray Wolf!" It pertains to the decision to rescind the ill-conceived delisting proposal we wrote about last week and last spring as the story was unfolding.

The cool thing about the NYT editorial is that this victory is strongly attributed to Judge Molloy's smart injunction from the summer, and his analysis of the FWS's legal claims. It also emphasizes the importance of the Endangered Species Act in recovering species:
Judge Molloy has reminded us of one other thing. That is the importance of the Endangered Species Act, which the Bush administration has repeatedly tried to weaken. There have been few biological reintroductions as successful as the restoration of the gray wolf to the Rockies. The wolves would never have survived without the act’s legal shelter.
Don't you love ESA success stories?

Monday, September 22, 2008

Snakes get stuck at the border wall, too


We were able to get a copy of the short video we referred to in yesterday's post- it was shot on a small digital camera so the quality is a little less than fantastic- but, hell, you get the idea: THE BORDER WALL SUCKS FOR WILDLIFE.

This snake was stymied by the wall on a National Park unit and Wilderness Area. The design of the fence was "wildlife friendly," but why would a snake know that a few meters away there was a small gap? It was simply dumbfounded by its inability to get through, and it stayed there, bumping along the grid for as long as the photographer could stand to look at it.

Everyday, dozens of little tragedies add up to one big disaster.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Charismatic megafauna & all the rest, too

Thanks to all of you who tuned in to look at that mountain lion picture. The fact that someone witnessed this lion at all is itself proof that the lion was disoriented and displaced-

So, if you haven't watched it already, you should check out a short video on the Sierra Club webpage which is an abbreviated version of a longer film that is even better. Go here and spend six minutes getting sick to your stomach. Then forward this to all of your friends, all around the country. We need this message heard.

And here's why: it isn't just the big critters being harmed. The Sierra Club film has video of a whip snake that tells us that even the little guys are confused by the wall. Particularly awful is the knowledge that just a few meters hence, there was a "wildlife window," a small gap in the fence designed for these types of species. How would a whip snake know such a thing? Instead, it just tried and tried and tried the same spot.

Sorry. It's bleak. We know.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Mountain lion stuck at border wall

The photo evidence is piling up about the adverse effects this is having for wildlife.

Not that anyone on the border is actually surprised by this. But still, there is something painfully sad and shocking to see these images of a mountain lion, stuck alongside the Bush/Chertoff Monument to stupidity, on a NATIONAL WILDLIFE REFUGE.

So much for refuge, Puma.

UPDATE: Click on the photo for better visibility.

Also, in case you are wondering, these photos were taken on the Buenos Aires National Wildlife Refuge. Keep in mind that the BANWR is (or was) one of the few known crossing points for jaguars.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Score one for wolves!

Hurrah! The US Fish and Wildlife Service has backed off its previous ill-conceived proposal to delist the northern gray wolf. Maybe the USFWS looked deep into its self and had a change of heart, but it's more likely that the injunction against hunting wolves that was issued in July gave the agency a clue that it just wasn't going to get this one through the courts.

In any case, it's a victory for wildlife, and for the entire trophic cascade whose health is ensured by having these top predators on the landscape.

Now, if we could just get the agency to uplist the Mexican gray wolf, the smaller and even more endangered subspecies of the southwest.... but in the meantime, you may wish to take action and tell the Forest Service to protect the Mexican wolf by keeping this allotment closed.

Photo: John and Karen Hollingsworth

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Polar bears for Obama

Apparently, polar bears are getting into politics, devising a snow-roots network of dems to help keep the White House free and clear of the GOP.

Available here.

We can think of a few other species that might fear the Republican ticket- namely anything on the U.S.-Mexico border, anything at high elevations, and really, anything immediately offshore. Not that we're convinced Obama-Biden will provide meaningful alternatives- at least, not in the short term- but at least their science advisors have more than one book on hand.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Can we turn this thing around?

If you've been compulsively following the sea ice charts as further evidence that we're all screwed, you might be getting a little tense as the low arc dips, dips, dips....

We're getting close to when it should be heading back uphill- but will it? When? How low can we go?

We're at the edge of our seats.

What does she have against polar bears?

Maureen Dowd has an excellent op-ed in todays NY Times, concluding with a list of questions about Sarah Palin. Dowd also asks this:
Does she really think Adam, Eve, Satan and the dinosaurs mingled on the earth 5,000 years ago?
No, really. Does she?

And while we'd love to know the answers to these questions, the McCain camp won't let her talk to the press.

OK, we promise not to post anything else about Sarah Palin. For a while, anyway.

Monday, September 08, 2008

Rubber-necking at the VP nominee

Sarah Palin is like a train that is out of control and just now coming off the tracks. Please, someone, throw the brakes and change conductors. It's totally captivating, and we'll try to tear our eyes away soon, but in the meantime, check out these two revealing bits:

Salon has an excellent piece about how Palin's Alaska treats wolves. Here's a hint: it ain't pretty.

And this in the Seattle PI: We can't take this kind of leadership.

Thursday, September 04, 2008

What God Wants, God Gets

Apparently, the Intelligent Designer (who is allowing climate change to occur entirely independent of human actions, according to certain vice presidential nominees) wants stronger storms to remind the human inhabitants of his six-day creation who's really in charge down here. This from the NY Times today:
A new study finds that the strongest of hurricanes and typhoons have become even stronger over the last two and a half decades, adding grist to the contentious debate over whether global warming has already made storms more destructive.
In non-liberal speak, this translates to God hates abortion providers.

On your knees, sinners.

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Where there's a will, there's a way.

The border wall won't work. Even if you don't give a hoot about the species affected by the wall, don't give a dam(n) about impacts to watercourses, and don't give a flying fuck about dead migrants,stories like this should be enough to make you think twice about the efficacy of this hugely expensive experiment.
Mexican authorities have arrested eight men after discovering a sophisticated tunnel, believed to be designed to ferry drugs, that nearly reached into U.S. territory.

Baja California state preventive police said Tuesday that they were acting on a tip when they raided a Mexicali home Monday afternoon and found some of the suspects hard at work in the passage, which was longer than a football field...

It had a rail-and-cart system, ventilation, lighting and an electric lift to transport items up and down the shaft, authorities said.
Or how about stories like this: Drug cartels are now using submarines to transport drugs.
The vessel, which looks like a cross between a submarine and a cigarette boat, was towed into the Pacific port of Salinas Cruz on Friday, where authorities removed what they said was 5.8 tons worth of cocaine. The drugs were wrapped in 257 plastic packages.
Gee whiz! Are we going to have to build walls under water too?

Wouldn't it be easier to craft reasonable, rational immigration and drug policies? And, really, hasn't ANYONE in the Department of Homeland Security heard of the law of supply and demand? It's like we keep thinking it's the fault of the countries of origin that we're addicted to the drugs and cheap labor they provide.