Friday, November 27, 2009

Wildlife (Dis)Services slaughtering Idaho wolves (again)

At the request of Ralph Maughan, we're posting this story about the antics of our government in their mission to wipe out native wildlife:
Right in the middle of the wolf hunt and in the zone where there is the highest quota, Wildlife Services took to the air this week in their gunships and blasted away the long-standing Basin Butte Pack at Stanley, Idaho. This is one of 26 wolf packs Wildlife Service has labeled as a “chronic depredating” pack, which seems to mean a pack that at one or more times killed some domestic livestock.

It doesn’t mean killed recently, however. All the livestock left the area for the winter in October.

This pack has lived around Stanley, mostly in Stanley Basin for about 5 years now. Even summer and part of the fall thousands of cattle and sheep are trucked into what many regard as Idaho most scenic valley. Every year or so the pack kills a calf or two. Amazingly it stays near the town of Stanley, even within city limits. If this was a pack that was going to be taken during the wolf hunt, this would seem to be it.

You might want to call Jim Lukens, the Salmon area regional supervisor and ask him. (208) 756-2271. Approval of Wildlife Services wolf kills has been parceled out to the regional supervisors, like Mark Gamlin (who seems to have few to no wolves in his district).
Sample script: "Hello, Mr. Lukens? WHAT THE FUCK ARE YOU THINKING? Why did you approve the slaughter of the Basin Butte pack for killing cows 7 months before the cows show up again?" OK, maybe you don't want to use the F-word. But we do. We really do.


Tuesday, November 24, 2009

The Copenhagen Diagnosis: We're Screwed


We've been pretty quiet this week here on our fragmented homeland. Sorry. It's just that, well.. we've been mulling things over. First, we went to see The Yes Men Fix the World and we even got some face-time with one of the stars. (Who knew DL was so well connected, eh?) It's inspiring, because it makes activism look like fun.

But being inspired hasn't been enough. We've also been thinking about Derrick Jensen and Guy McPherson, and wondering how to get unstuck from the deep and profound understanding that the world as we know it is collapsing.

And it is. It really truly, depressingly, devastatingly is. Scientists now are talking about how to adapt to the havoc 4 degrees C is going to wreak on human communities. That's not good, folks. And it's soon: 4 deg. by 2065 if Copenhagen talks fails.
Officials around the globe aim to avoid warming the Earth by more than 3.6 degrees Fahrenheit compared to preindustrial times. The idea is to avoid a “tipping point” that causes catastrophic and irreversible changes to weather patterns and landscapes.

Without a significant change in course, global warming could reach 12.6 degrees Fahrenheit by 2100, the scientists said Tuesday.

It’s not clear that the fast-growing world population can come close to cutting greenhouse gases as much as scientists suggest. In 2008, carbon dioxide emissions from fossil fuels were about 40 percent higher than those in 1990, according to Tuesday’s report. It said that even if emissions do not exceed current levels, within 20 years the world could face a tipping point.

We'll go back to our quiet corner now.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

One small step for USFWS, one giant step for wolves

A group of conservation organizations has successfully overturned a key policy that was harming Mexican gray wolves in the Blue Range Wolf Recovery Area. Known as "SOP 13" this standing operating procedure meant that wolves were subjected to a "three strikes" rule- if they were responsible for three confirmed livestock kills, they were permanently (and often, fatally) removed from the wild. No more! Now, the agency will consider the genetic value, nature of the conflict, and the recovery goals of the ESA before arbitrary actions.

SOP 13 was the wet-dream of Adaptive Management Oversight Committee (a.k.a. 'amok') whose motto seemed to be, "We'll adapt to whatever the cowboys want, and urge the Fish and Wildlife Service to do our bidding.
For several years, the Mexican Wolf Adaptive Management Oversight Committee, also known as AMOC, had called the shots on whether or not a wolf would stay in the wild. AMOC was organized to bring other agencies to the table, but the Fish and Wildlife Service – in an unusual move – had ceded control of the Mexican gray wolf’s reintroduction to the committee.

Under AMOC’s direction, the Mexican gray-wolf recovery effort became less about helping this endangered wolf return to its home range and more about wolf control and appeasing anti-wolf interests in the recovery area. (Via.)
The new settlement means that the Feds are going to regain control of the program- and not a moment too soon. AZ Game and Fish Department was quick to defend it's little cabal:
In its role as the state’s wildlife management authority, the Arizona Game and Fish Department has a vested interest in continuing its participation and leadership in Mexican wolf conservation.
The department advocates that Mexican wolf management decisions will continue to be based on sound science and to provide opportunities for participation by local and tribal governments, nongovernmental organizations and individuals from all segments of the public.
The department believes that the development of a mechanism for addressing financial impacts of wolf depredation on private interests is an important step in addressing long-standing social challenges associated with wolf recovery and may in fact be a crucial component in ensuring that the program moves forward in full compliance with the impacts and management commitments identified in the original (1996) environmental impact statement and final 1998 rule on Mexican wolf reintroduction.
The department’s endangered species coordinator, Terry Johnson, currently chairs the Mexican Wolf Adaptive Management Oversight Committee (AMOC).
[Is that the same Terry Johnson who doesn't seem to want to recover jaguars in Arizona either? Hmmm....]

And the livestock industry tried to spin the news of their little bursting bubble this way:
Laura Schneburger of the Gila Livestock Growers Association said in a written statement that she hopes the settlement means the service will become stricter in its handling of problem wolves.

"It is our hope that the Fish and Wildlife Service will comply with the original recovery rule that requires removal of wolves that are defined as problem wolves under that rule. Failure to follow the rule has allowed problem wolf behavior to become pack behavior under SOP 13 management," she wrote.
As we've said before, there are no problem wolves. Just problematic, outdated, ecologically damaging, extractive land uses which- if they can't coexist with native species- should get the fuck off our forests. Take the money and run.

And don't let the door hit you in the ass.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Oh, Give me a home, where the buffalo roam...

...and the U.S. government doesn't slaughter them as soon as they leave the arbitrary boundaries of Yellowstone National Park. That's the goal of a lawsuit filed this week by conservation groups and individuals including:

We're really keeping our fingers crossed on this one, since nowhere is the livestock industry stranglehold on wildlife more apparent and disgusting than here. The coalition has filed a prayer for relief asking the court to:
Direct the Forest Service and National Park Service to analyze new information and changed circumstances and how the agencies actions are harming and impairing distinct bison populations that exist in the Yellowstone ecosystem, and the ability of bison to naturally evolve and survive as an indigenous wildlife species.

Enjoin the Forest Service and National Park Service from participating in or permitting actions that would lead to the slaughter of wild bison on National Forest and Nation Park Service lands including trapping for transport to slaughter houses and quarantine.
(More info on the suit here.)

We've praised Buffalo Field Campaign before on this blog, because we admire their willingness to be on the front lines and document this horror show. If you can help them out with some funds, or some gear, please do. When an enviro group is asking for lamp oil, that's the real deal, folks.

Bless you, BFC, WWP, and others, for fighting so hard for what's right.

UPDATED: Western Watersheds Project has a new webpage devoted to Yellowstone Bison. Check it out!

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Connecting the dots of history: Walls

This week's media around the 20th Anniversary of the Fall of the Berlin Wall was surprisingly scant with comparisons to our current U.S.-Mexico border policy. Very rarely was there any substantive contrast between the celebration of freedom in Germany and its antithesis: 700 miles of border wall in Arizona, California, New Mexico, and Texas. Sure, the wall in East Germany and the wall on the U.S Southern border had/have different aims (keeping people in/out), but is it really any different?
The fall of the Berlin Wall 20 years ago signaled a sea change in international policy and kick started a period of unprecedented global openness. While the border wall does not have this same public resonance, stopping its construction would be a first step toward creating a new environmental consciousness within the U.S. government. This sea change would prove no less significant than that which occurred after the fall in Germany. The last 20 years have seen international barriers shrink on an unprecedented scale; the next 20 must see environmental consciousness of the same scale.

Monday, November 02, 2009

The Middle Fork Pack: There are no problem wolves, only problem allotments.

(Photos USFWS)

These are photos of the tenacious Middle Fork Pack of Mexican gray wolves. These three-legged alphas have- against all odds- successfully raised pups this year. This despite serious issues in their home range.

Thanks to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service for letting them stay wild.

Sure, it could just be a coincidence that Mt. Kilimanjahro has 85 percent less ice than it did in 1912

Today's NYT had this story about the rapidly melting ice cap on Mt. Kilimanjahro:
The ice atop Mount Kilimanjaro in Tanzania has continued to retreat rapidly, declining 26 percent since 2000, scientists say in a new report.

Yet the authors of the study, to be published Tuesday in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, reached no consensus on whether the melting could be attributed mainly to humanity’s role in warming the global climate.
We're no experts, but, uh... the hockey stick is pretty damning.
The lead author of the study, Lonnie G. Thompson, a glaciologist at Ohio State University, has concluded that the melting of recent years is unique.

In 2000 he extracted deep cylinders of ice from Kilimanjaro’s glaciers and found that the higher layers were full of elongated bubbles — signs that melting and refreezing had occurred in recent years.

There was no presence of the bubbles in the deeper layers of the cores, Dr. Thompson said.

If his dating of the ice core layers is accurate, surface melting like that seen in recent years has not occurred over the last 11,700 years.
That is, not since the Pleistocene. So, whether human caused or not, this kind of shift is something we should be preparing for. (Unless you expect to be Raptured.)