16 Dec 2010, 1:58pm
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U.S. agency’s smelt plan ‘arbitrary,’ judges rules

by Kelly Zito, SF Chronicle, December 14, 2010 [here]

A federal judge has ruled that a landmark 2008 environmental study laying the groundwork for controversial water cutbacks from the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta relied on faulty science.

In his much-anticipated decision released Tuesday, U.S. District Judge Oliver Wanger ordered the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to re-examine and rewrite its plan for the threatened delta smelt.

The agency’s solution for shoring up the collapsing species - namely cutting water exports to California cities and farms - is “arbitrary” and “capricious,” the Fresno judge wrote in his 225-page decision.

“Despite the harm visited on California water users, (the Fish and Wildlife Service) has failed to provide lawful explanations for the apparent over-appropriation of project water supplies for species protection,” Wanger wrote. “The public cannot afford sloppy science and uni-directional prescriptions that ignore California’s water needs.” … [more]

8 Dec 2010, 6:24pm
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Idaho suspends wolf management plan

The Spokesman-Review, Dec. 8, 2010 [here]

ENDANGERED SPECIES — In a telephone conference today, the Idaho Fish and Game Commission suspended Idaho’s 2008-2012 species management plan for wolves.

The 2002 Idaho Wolf Conservation and Management Plan, approved by the Idaho Legislature and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, remains in effect as the foundation for wolf management in the state, says a news release from the Idaho Fish and Game Department.

After a lawsuit moved gray wolves back onto the endangered species list, the 2008 plan is moot, said Clearwater Region Commissioner Fred Trevey. It is uncertain when federal protection will end and Idaho will get back full management authority. It is also unclear what conditions will exist when wolves are delisted.

The 2008 plan was developed when wolves were delisted for the five-year period during which the Fish and Wildlife Service would monitor progress of the delisted species.

The commission called for continued pursuit of wolf control actions under the Endangered Species Act for the protection of elk, moose and deer while wolves remain on the endangered species list.

8 Dec 2010, 12:10pm
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Hungry wolves spark fear in Southwest Alaska village

ACTION: Town wants Fish and Game to allow hunts from the air.

By Mary Pemberton, Anchorage Daily News, 12/07/2010 [here]

Mayor Scott Anderson doesn’t travel around his small town of Port Heiden unarmed. Neither do his neighbors.

That’s because hungry wolves have been wandering into town in search of food, sneaking into yards and snatching dogs and cats.

More evidence of that was found Tuesday morning. A pool of blood was discovered on a village road, and Anderson said you could see where wolves dragged the animal away.

Another dog had been killed.

It is hunger that is bringing the wolves to this town of about 100 people. While wolves have sneaked into Port Heiden for food before, it is usually just one or two of the animals, and they arrive at night.

This is different. These wolves are bold and hard to scare off. Sometimes they just sit and stare.

Now, the wolves are showing up during the day.

The wolves could be descending on Port Heiden for several reasons. Perhaps it’s because the dwindling number of caribou in the area tend to gather near the town to find protection from predators. It could be because now that the bears are gone, wolves are feeding on the carcasses of walrus and other marine mammals that wash ashore near Port Heiden.

At least three packs of wolves have been bothering the town. The largest pack is made up of about 20 animals; the others have between seven and 15 wolves.

Immediate action needs to be taken, Anderson said. The town about 425 miles southwest of Anchorage wants the Alaska Department of Fish and Game to allow aircraft to be used to track and kill the aggressive wolves.

A Fish and Game area biologist held a town meeting in Port Heiden on Monday.

“The strange thing is the number of wolves they are reporting,” said region supervisor Bruce Dale. He said Fish and Game is coming up with an action plan.

In the meantime, everyone in Port Heiden is armed. The mayor travels the town on a four-wheeler with a rifle strapped on the back.

“You won’t see anybody walking around without a gun around here,” said lifelong Port Heiden resident James Christensen, 45. “You could open any car door in this town and you will see a rifle sitting on the seat.” … [more]

24 Nov 2010, 5:59pm
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Wildlife agents encourage wolf precautions

by A1C Jack Sanders, JBER PAO, The Official Web Site of Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, 11/18/2010 [here]

JOINT BASE ELMENDORF-RICHARDSON, Alaska — Members of the Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson Wildlife Conservation team are asking base residents to increase their personal safety measures and responsibilities regarding safety from wolves.

According to wildlife agents, due to past incidents with local wolf packs there is a need for those venturing outdoors to take safety precautions.

“If you’re going to go walk your dog, minimize your time in remote areas,” said Herman Griese, Wildlife biologist with the 673d Civil Engineer Group. “Those trails through the woods are appealing and have great scenery that runners like, but you might want to stay to a well-used road.”

Griese reminds everyone that when walking pets like dogs, which in the past have been the focus of wolf attacks, to keep them on a leash.

“We just had an incident involving wolves recently over by Fish Lake, but thankfully that individual was able to avoid harm and I think that’s partially because he had control of his dog,” Griese said.

While encounters with wolves are rare for most base patrons, the chances of a wolf encounter dramatically increases when taking those remote scenic trails. … [more]

24 Nov 2010, 5:54pm
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Wildlife agents to kill wolves near Anchorage

AP, JuneauEmpire.com, November 09, 2010 [here]

ANCHORAGE - The Alaska Department of Fish and Game is preparing to cull wolves from packs that are becoming more aggressive and worrying residents near east Anchorage and Eagle River.

The wolves are showing they are losing their fear of humans, regional supervisor Mark Burch told the Anchorage Daily News.

On Halloween, a pet beagle was dragged off at an Eagle River home and the next day the owner found a bloody spot in the snow with wolf prints. A few days later a neighbor found a wolf on her deck.

“When a pack of wolves is literally scouting a neighborhood and has dragged off a family’s pet from their backyard, I think it is fair to expect something to be done about it, in a swift, effective manner,” Eagle River resident Candis Olmstead wrote in a letter to the Alaska Department of Fish and Game.

“I really hope that an action plan to eliminate this problem will be acted upon before another pet- or God forbid, a child - is killed.” …

“These particular wolves are showing a pattern where they’re losing a fear of humans. We’re getting more reports of problems with pets. They’re showing aggression,” Burch said. “We’re definitely not taking a wait-and-see attitude.” … [more]

24 Nov 2010, 5:50pm
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MT FWP approves Bitterroot wolf hunt

by Marnee Banks (Helena), KXLH.com, Nov 18, 2010 [here]

It is illegal for most Montanans to kill wolves, but if the MT Fish, Wildlife & Parks Commission gets its way, some people in the Bitterroot will be able to have a special hunt. The News Station’s Marnee Banks was at the Commission meeting on Thursday and has details about the decision to allow the special wolf hunt.

Michael Thompson, FWP Region 2 Manager, explained, “We have a long body of data and experience with this population and other populations leading up to this point in time. What we are seeing is something that is off the chart.”

FWP staff reports that the wolf population is adversely affecting elk cow calf ratios in the Bitterroot Valley. They are seeing 9 calves per 100 cows, when the management objective is 25 calves per 100 cows.

So they are asking US Fish & Wildlife Service for a special permit to kill wolves in hunting district 250. … [more]

24 Nov 2010, 5:49pm
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Feds kill six wolves in west-central Wisconsin

Federal wildlife authorities have killed a half-dozen wolves in west-central Wisconsin, after it appeared that the animals were losing their fear of humans.

Pierce County Herald, November 18 2010 [here]

TOMAH - Federal wildlife authorities have killed a half-dozen wolves in west-central Wisconsin, after it appeared that the animals were losing their fear of humans.

The U.S. Fish-and-Wildlife Service killed six wolves that claimed a territory in Jackson, Juneau, and Monroe counties. Biologist Adrian Wydeven of the state DNR said they’re still looking for one-or-two more wolves from that pack. He said they killed three dogs and injured four others so far this year. No humans have been attacked. But Wydeven said the wolves were starting to show a lack of fear toward humans. And once that happens, he said it’s very hard to change that. … [more]

18 Nov 2010, 4:53pm
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Federal judge rules for Wyoming in wolf lawsuit

By Ben Neary, S.L. Tribune, Nov 18, 2010 [here]

CHEYENNE, Wyo. — A federal judge says the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service was wrong to refuse to turn management of gray wolves over to the state of Wyoming.

Judge Alan B. Johnson of Cheyenne on Thursday ordered the federal agency to consider again whether Wyoming’s wolf management plan would be adequate to meet federal recovery goals for wolves.

Environmental groups and others have criticized the Wyoming plan for specifying that wolves would be classified as predators that could be shot on sight in most areas. The Wyoming plan would protect wolves only in the northwestern part of the state.

Concerns over Wyoming’s plan recently prompted a federal judge in Montana to strip Idaho and Montana of their authority to manage their own wolf populations.

26 Oct 2010, 1:17pm
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Animal Rights Activists Lose Lynx Lawsuit in Maine

by George Smith, DownEast.com, 10/26/2010 [here]

Animal rights activists have lost their latest battle to stop hunting and trapping in Maine. On October 20 the U.S. Court of Appeals for the First Circuit in Boston affirmed a 2009 decision by Judge John Woodcock, Jr., dismissing the animal rights groups’ Canada lynx lawsuit.

This decision provides a very important national precedent. It’s been a long trail getting to this point, but here’s a quick summary:

On November 10, 2009, Judge Woodcock of the Federal District Court in Bangor denied a request from the Animal Welfare Institute of Idaho and the Wildlife Institute of Maine for a permanent injunction against the state of Maine to stop hunting and trapping in order to protect Canada lynx.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service designated the lynx as a threatened species under the Endangered Species Act on March 24, 2000. But it has been illegal to hunt or trap lynx in Maine since 1967.

The most important thing for you to know is this: Maine probably has more lynx today than ever, an estimated total exceeding 1,000 animals. As far as Maine officials are concerned, Canada lynx are neither threatened nor endangered. They are doing well here. …

Twice in the last three years, animal rights groups have used the ESA’s lynx listing to seek declaratory relief and injunctions in federal court against Maine laws and regulations.

The first lawsuit, Animal Protection Institute v. Martin, resulted in an October 4, 2007, Consent Decree in which IF&W made a commitment to new regulations restricting the type, size, and placement of traps in Maine. IF&W paid $140,000 in attorney’s fees to API as part of that settlement.

Much to the state’s surprise, a similarly-named animal rights group, The Animal Welfare Institute, along with the Wildlife Alliance of Maine — led by people who were a party to the earlier consent decree — filed another lawsuit on August 11, 2008, seeking the same injunctive relief and charging that IF&W was violating the ESA by allowing trapping practices that result in the capture of some lynx. …

While establishing an important precedent, this decision is unlikely to deter the constant filing of lawsuits under the Endangered Species Act. This is simply another chapter — albeit an important one — in this particular war, while we wait for Congress to amend the Act and limit these abuses of the legal system. … [more]

26 Oct 2010, 11:51am
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Manitoba declares war on coyotes, wolves

Edmonton Journal, October 22, 2010 [here]

Manitoba will soon be giving hunters and trappers free rein to kill wolves and coyotes on Crown land in agricultural areas to stem rising livestock losses to predators.

Year-round hunting and trapping will be permitted on the lands with the purchase of a $5 trappers’ licence. The new measure will not apply to registered trapping areas in the province’s north.

Rising wolf and coyote numbers are preying increasingly on farm animals and taking a bite out of farmers’ profits.

Don Winnicky, who has raises cattle in the southeast corner of the province, said he had not lost a single animal to predators in 25 years of ranching — until this year.

In April he lost two month-old calves, about a week apart, to wolves. And in June, he said a 360-kilogram yearling steer fell prey to the predators.

“I tell you one thing, come next spring, (my) rifle is going to be with me every day,” said Winnicky.

Farmers are already allowed to kill predators on their property.

US judge orders Obama administration to clarify polar bears’ Bush-era ‘endangered’ status

By Matthew Daly, Canadian Press, Oct. 20, 2010 [here]

WASHINGTON — A federal judge ordered the Obama administration on Wednesday to review whether polar bears, at risk because of global warming, are endangered under U.S. law.

U.S. District Judge Emmet Sullivan wants the Interior Department to clarify a decision by the administration of former President George W. Bush that polar bears were merely threatened rather than in imminent danger of extinction.

Sullivan’s request, made at a hearing Wednesday in federal court, keeps in place the 2008 declaration by the Bush administration.

Former Interior Secretary Dirk Kempthorne said in May 2008 that the bears were on the way to extinction because of the rapid disappearance of the Arctic Sea ice upon which they depend. But he stopped short of declaring them endangered, which had it been declared would have increased protections for the bear and make oil and gas exploration more difficult.

[Some] Scientists predict sea ice will continue to melt because of global warming.

Along with the listing, Kempthorne created a “special rule” stating that the Endangered Species Act would not be used to set climate policy or limit greenhouse gas emissions, which contribute to global warming and melting ice in the Arctic Ocean.

The Obama administration upheld the Bush-era policy, declaring that the endangered species law cannot be used to regulate greenhouse gases emitted by sources outside of the polar bears’ habitat. If the bears are found to be endangered, however, that could open the door to using the Endangered Species Act to regulate greenhouse gases.

Sullivan said he would issue a written order shortly, but said Wednesday that the government is likely to have about 30 days to explain how it arrived at its decision. … [more]

22 Oct 2010, 9:49pm
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Domestic Wolf Injures Northern Minnesota Girl

By Amanda Theisen, KSAX-TV and KRWF-TV, Alexandria MN, October 20, 2010 [here]


A four-year-old girl from northern Minnesota is recovering tonight after her family says a wolf knocked her to the ground and bit her. This wasn’t a wild wolf, though. It’s domestic, owned by a man who lets people get up close to wildlife for a living.

Four-year-old Johnna Kenowski, known to her family as Johnny Mae, is normally all giggles and smiles. But if you take a closer look at her face, you’ll see what she calls her “owies” — a scab on her nose, a cut above her eyebrow, and a big scratch on her arm.

Johnny Mae’s aunt, Maja Dockal, says she and the girl were walking in Banning State Park near Sandstone Tuesday, when they came across a group photographing a domestic gray wolf and three cubs. Dockal says all of a sudden the adult wolf came up to Johnny Mae, then pushed her to the ground and bit her on the head.

A man named Lee Greenly owns the wolves and was able to get the wolf off the girl. Greenly owns Minnesota Wildlife Connection, where people can photograph animals like wolves, bears, and cougars, or have their pictures taken with them. … [more]

Thanks for the news tip to Julie Kay Smithson, Property Rights Research [here, here]

18 Oct 2010, 6:31pm
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Winkelman NRCD Invokes the Data Quality Act

by Margaret Byfield, Coordination Works, American Stewards, October 15, 2010 [here]

Last Friday, the Winkelman Natural Resource Conservation District held an important coordination meeting with Region 2, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in Phoenix, Arizona, over the potential listing of the Sonoran Desert Tortoise.

The environmental group, Wild Earth Guardians, sued the Service in 2008, to have the tortoise listed under the Endangered Species Act. Currently, the Regional office is reviewing the State office’s recommendation as to whether or not the tortoise warrants protection.

The environmental group is pushing for the listing of the species because they want to end livestock grazing in Arizona, a long held goal of the environmental movement. But the science points to the opposite conclusion. The most comprehensive scientific study conducted on the Sonoran Desert Tortoise population shows that livestock grazing does not impact the species.

Fortunately, Winkelman Chairman Bill Dunn had been studying the coordination strategy for several years. When the environmentalist filed their case, the Winkelman District initiated coordination with the Service. Friday’s meeting was the third held to discuss the tortoise listing.

In the first meeting, Winkelman presented the Service with an 18-year study led by one of their cooperators and past board members Walt Meyer, an esteemed range scientist who initiated the study on his own largely because there was so little known about the tortoise.

The study surveyed a 23-square mile area where three different grazing techniques were used. A strict protocol was used in gathering the data. In the end, the study showed no impact to the species from livestock grazing, and that a primary impact had occurred years prior as people flocked to the desert to pick Jojoba berries. As they camped, they relied on the tortoise for food.

The Meyer study was the best scientific information available and Winkelman District insisted that it be considered by the Service as they made their recommendation. The District even prepared their own local conservation plan built upon the evidence gathered in the Meyer study. The plan is being initiated throughout the District to ensure the species continues to thrive and the historic productive uses of the land continue.

During the second meeting, Winkelman brought in scientists to discuss and challenge the validity of the data provided by Wild Earth Guardians in their petition to list. The conclusions the environmental group alleged were that the population was in decline. Winkelman’s experts attempted to reproduce the findings from the data cited, but found the information so incomplete that they could not reproduce the claims made by the environmental group.

In August of this year, the Service’s Arizona Field Office forwarded their listing recommendation to the Regional office. Now that the recommendation has been made, regardless of what that decision is, Winkelman can seek to verify the credibility of the data the Service relied upon under the Data Quality Act passed by Congress in 2001. This was the focus of last Friday’s third coordination meeting.

The Data Quality Act was passed in order to ensure that federal agencies provide transparency to the process of developing data, reviewing it for veracity and credibility, and using it accurately and in an unbiased fashion.

This means that every report relied upon by the agency to make its tortoise recommendation must ensure and maximize the “quality, objectivity, utility, and integrity of the information disseminated.” In short, the Service must ensure every piece of evidence it uses to make its recommendation is verified to be accurate and true. … [more]

3 Oct 2010, 9:21am
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Owls and Grouse and Wolves, Oh My!

by Karla Kay Edwards, Cascade Policy Inst, September 28, 2010 [here]

State and federal endangered species listings have greatly influenced the economies and culture of Oregon’s communities for decades. Ironically, they have had relatively little success in actually influencing the species they want to recover. Still, government agencies refuse to abandon their monocular vision of individual species recovery. Broader policy objectives and market-oriented approaches would allow the integration of management decisions which address multiple species and other surrounding issues that hinder recovery. This can be achieved by returning the power of conservation to local and private entities that are more effective stewards of the environment.

Individual species, and our environment as a whole, no longer can afford the constrained vision of bureaucratic policymakers and judges dictating how to recover individual species with little or no consideration of the human communities and environment among which they live. In the famous classic The Wizard of Oz, a great all-knowing wizard from the Emerald City dictates what Dorothy, the Cowardly Lion, Tin Man and Scarecrow must do in order to be granted their desires. Like the Wizard, both the state and the federal government emulate this all-knowing entity with a solution to every problem, believing they can create a utopia as long as their mandates are followed by the “little people.” However, that has not proven to be true in the real-world implementation of recovery plans for many species in Oregon. … [more]

18 Sep 2010, 10:15pm
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ESA requires real repairs

Editorial, Capital Press Agriculture Weekly, September 16, 2010 [here]

For the past year and a half, Congress and the Obama administration have become the Mr. Fix-its of politics. They’ve strapped on their legislative toolbelts and gone to work in the name of “change.”

They fixed health care — even though it wasn’t needed — and they fixed Wall Street just in time for those fat executive bonus checks to go out.

But one law that is profoundly broken — and has been since Richard Nixon signed it in 1973 — has been totally ignored: the Endangered Species Act.

The ESA doesn’t accomplish its stated goal — helping to bring back species from the brink of extinction. Since it was passed, 25 species of plants and animals have been delisted — most because they were put there by mistake. In all 1,375 plants and animals have been put on the list as threatened or endangered.

But not helping endangered species is the least of the act’s shortcomings.

The ESA is the Gordian knot of laws. It creates problems that cannot be solved. In the Klamath Basin, the Columbia and Snake rivers, the Sacramento Delta, and the forests, rangeland and farms of the West environmental extremists use the ESA as a blunt legal instrument to stop economic activity.

Though the excuse used by the extremists and their lawyers is to “save” salmon, suckers, smelt, wolves, owls, sage grouse and worms, the real, albeit unstated, goal is to stop economic activity they don’t support or to shake the federal money tree, or both.

All Americans have a stake in the ESA. Billions of taxpayer dollars and billions more of private dollars are spent in the legal and regulatory Kabuki dance whose goal is not to preserve wildlife and plants but to keep the dance going. Environmental lawyers get money from the federal government if they win, so the incentive is to keep suing, appealing and suing some more. …

The Endangered Species Act does not protect species. What it does is costs the federal, state and local governments billions of dollars, hobbles the economy and has either decimated or threatens to decimate the livelihoods of ranchers, farmers, loggers and other Americans.

If Congress and this administration want to fix something, they should look where the problem is greatest: the Endangered Species Act. … [more]

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