Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Ed Abbey's talent for telling it like it is

Just pulled this from the awesome Buffalo Field Campaign's update from the field:
"Almost anywhere and everywhere you go in the American West you find hordes of [cows].... They are a pest and a plague. They pollute our springs and streams and rivers. They infest our canyons, valleys, meadows, and forests. They graze off the native bluestems and grama and bunch grasses, leaving behind jungles of prickly pear. They trample down the native forbs and shrubs and cacti. They spread the exotic cheatgrass, the Russian thistle, and the crested wheat grass. Weeds. Even when the cattle are not physically present, you see the dung and the flies and the mud and the dust and the general destruction. If you don't see it, you'll smell it. The whole American West stinks of cattle."

~ The late Edward Abbey, conservationist and author, in a speech at the University of Montana in 1985
Yeah, why is that? And how is it that, year after year, we accept cattle in place of wildlife? Support BFC if you can. They are- quite literally- on the front lines of the battle for native species.

The big "oops" on Macho B

This story in Sunday's AZ Star discusses the legal issues surrounding the "take" of Macho B:
The permit came up in an e-mail exchange among Fish and Wildlife Service biologists in Tucson and Albuquerque on Feb. 20, two days after Macho B's capture. "Uh oh, the AGFD permit with the jaguar language expired in 2006. . . . The new one (good until 2011 . . . ) doesn't include any jaguar language," wrote Erin Fernandez, a biologist in Fish and Wildlife's Tucson office. "Since the capture was incidental to their other authorized activities, are they covered under the permit for future capture?"

In reply, Sarah Rinkevich, service biologist and a University of Arizona graduate student, said she thought the capture may have been covered, based on a state-federal endangered species agreement that is related to the endangered species permit.

"This is a big oops, however," Rinkevich added.

In a follow-up e-mail, Vanessa Martinez, in the service's Albuquerque office, said the federal regulations for endangered species allow any state agency to take an endangered species if there is a state-federal agreement in place, which she believed there was.

But while she thought the regulations left the agencies "covered" legally for an accidental jaguar capture, she still wondered if officials needed to amend the state endangered species permit "to include the jaguar part."
Basically, in plain language, it looks like the AZ Game and Fish Department might be able to finesse an interpretation where they cover their asses, but they probably really didn't have the legal right to do what they did in capturing Macho B. So, maybe the courts will side with the agency, and maybe they won't.

In our opinion, the big "oops" is the agency thinking that capturing and collaring Macho B was a good idea in the first place.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Isn't celebrating "Endangered Species Day" a little creepy?

Is it just us, or does having a holiday dedicated to Endangered Species seem ontologically problematic? Wouldn't it seem more appropriate to have a national day of mourning instead?

The USFWS has this to say about the paradoxical celebration:
“The Endangered Species Act is the nation’s premier law protecting biodiversity today,” said Acting Fish and Wildlife Service Director Rowan Gould. “Without this law, we would probably not see bald eagles soaring in our skies or grizzlies in Yellowstone. Endangered Species Day provides an opportunity to celebrate our shared successes and look forward to a strengthened partnership with the American public to conserve our natural treasures of fish, wildlife, and plants.”
Sure. If by shared successes, the USFWS means having judges twist their arms into providing even the most minimal protections to species on the brink of extinction.

We're a little PO'ed with the USFWS at the moment. Between painting targets on gray wolves in the northern Rockies and shoving polar bears adrift on melting ice floes, we're pretty sure we don't want to go to any parties the USFWS is throwing in honor of endangered species.

Unless, of course, they are going to have jaguar piƱatas. That would be awesome.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

BLM

Here's an oldie but goodie....



The only things missing are an oil derrick and some ATV tracks.

Friday, May 08, 2009

Salazar, Servant of Industry

Remember how much Dirk Kempthorne sucked when he reluctantly listed the polar bear and left in the big loopholes to benefit Big Oil? Well, looks like Salazar is just as lame.
Interior Secretary Ken Salazar announced this morning he'll keep in place a Bush administration rule that limits government scientists from looking at anything other than the habitat of polar bears as they develop plans to manage them as a threatened species.
So, basically, the feds can look at the disappearing sea ice but not at the causes.
Salazar did note that the White House budget released Thursday includes an increase of $7.4 million for polar bear conservation. Of that, $3.2 million will go to the Fish and Wildlife Service. The money includes a $1.5 million increase for the agencies that must be consulted before oil and gas projects go forward in polar bear territory. It also helps prepare for a Polar Bear Conservation Plan to guide U.S. and international work to conserve and improve the status of the species, Salazar said.
Effectively, the Obama Administration is handing out bandages for a planet that is hemorrhaging internally. It's insulting and irresponsible.

We're all polar bears. We're all on a melting ice floe. Our government isn't willing to do what it takes to save us.

Loud and clear.

Tuesday, May 05, 2009

Wanna Shoot a Wolf? Come to Idaho!

Headline taken from this article, which basically sums up yesterday's delisting of Northern Rockies wolves this way:
Fifteen years after gray wolves were successfully reintroduced to Yellowstone and a separate expanse of wilderness in central Idaho, Interior Secretary Ken Salazar on Monday implemented a decision made previously by the Bush administration to formally remove these wolves from the federal list of endangered species in Montana and Idaho.
...
In Idaho, Republican governor Butch Otter has endorsed a proposal to halve the state's wolf population of 88 packs and more than 1,000 individuals (counting new pups born this spring). Otter has said he plans to apply for a wolf-hunting permit so he can be the first Idahoan to fell a wolf. The governor claims that wolves have taken a huge toll on big game animals, namely elk—even though his own fish and game agency noted recently that elk numbers in Idaho are actually meeting or surpassing population objectives in most areas.
Here's another headline:Wolves officially delisted from endangered list; let the lawsuits begin. Indeed. Assuming there are any wolves left after the 60 day notices come due. The bloodlust/"management" of some of these nutjobs is downright frightening. Read more here, from Ralph Maughan.

Heckuva job, Cowboy Ken. The livestock industry has directed the extermination of many of the West's native predators. And the beat goes on...