Thursday, April 14, 2011

Congress Moves Environmental Protection Back Toward the Stone Age (or at least back to the early 1900's)

A palpable hatred for both predators and other “varmints” is revealed in articles printed in the U.S. Department of Agriculture Year Book for 1920, where classics like “Hunting Down Stock Killers” and “Death To The Rodents” can be found.

Wolves, Prison Labor, NPR

MONDAY, MAY 11, 2009
Wolves Again. . . .
This is a in part a re-post of a blog from December 6, 2007 about wolves and the persecution of predators.


Wording of the anti-wolf stealth rider placed into budget bill by Montana's Sen. Tester and Idaho's Sen. Simpson:

SEC. 1713. Before the end of the 60-day period beginning on the date of enactment of this Act, the Secretary of the Interior shall reissue the final rule published on April 2, 2009 (74 Fed. Reg. 15123 et seq.) without regard to any other provision of statute or regulation that applies to issuance of such rule. Such reissuance (including this section) shall not be subject to judicial review and shall not abrogate or otherwise have any effect on the order and judgment issued by the United States District Court for the District of Wyoming in Case Numbers 09–CV–118J and 09–CV–138J on November 18, 2010

In other words, congressional passage of the rider reinstates the Interior Department's/US Fish & Wildlife Service, April 2, 2009 anti-wolf final de-listing rule that had been subsequently ruled illegal by the courts. Additionally, the Congress, in passing the budget bill with the rider attached, attempts to remove any review of the action by the Judicial branch of government, even to test its constitutionality. Where are these people taking us when they tell us they can pick and choose what legislation can, or cannot, be reviewed by the courts?

A friend sent out this brief discussion from Legal Planet; the Environmental Law and Policy Blog, and we can expect to be hearing more on the legal issues in the future.

The bigger loser here is the integrity of our environmental laws. This rider, a joint effort of Senator Jon Tester (D-Mont.) and Rep. Mike Simpson (R-Idaho), is an exercise in arrogance, cowardice and congressional overreach. Oh, and let’s not forget hypocrisy: both sides of the political aisle have complained incessantly about the evils of policy riders attached to must-pass appropriations bills, yet both sides continue to attach riders left and right. (If you need examples of congressional hypocrisy, just watch any random episode of The Daily Show.) Expect to hear a lot more about harmful environmental riders in the coming budget showdowns.
. . . .
Attaching this rider to the appropriations bill, instead of debating a separate policy bill, is cowardly. Assuming that Congress knows more about the wolves than all of the participants in the litigation is arrogant. For example, this rider is worse than the rejected settlement, in that it lacks any requirement for independent scientific review. But worst of all, whoever wrote the rider seems to believe that Congress stands above judicial review.

Please see:
Of Wolves and Men. APRIL 12, 2011, by Rhead Enion for entire article.

Federal budget vote splits Oregon delegation

WASHINGTON – A controversial budget to keep the federal government operating for the rest of the fiscal year fractured Oregon's delegation Thursday, with Democrats Peter DeFazio and Kurt Schrader voting for the measure along with Republican Greg Walden while Reps. Earl Blumenauer and David Wu opposed it.

The jagged fault lines extended to the Senate, where Democrats Ron Wyden and Jeff Merkley (Merkley voted for the bill) split their votes. Wyden voted against the bill because it included language that would eliminate a provision in the health care law that allows 300,000 workers to shop for their health insurance on the open market.


One reaction from N. E. Oregon wolf advocate Wally Sykes

"The Tester/Simpson Rider delisting wolves is a body-blow to the Endangered Species Act, a cynical ploy by the Obama Administration to try and save the seat of Montana Senator John Tester. It's the first legislative delisting in the 38-year history of the ESA, and sets a terrible precedent of using politics instead of science to delist a species. It denies citizens any say in this delisting because it excludes it from judicial review. 1200 scientists have written a letter to Obama protesting this act. Harry Reid promised a budget without riders, and the President himself promised to safeguard environmental policies, and this is how they keep their word?

"The delisting includes the wolves of eastern Oregon, which will now be subject to the Oregon Wolf Plan and protected as a state endangered species, but the biological reserve for our wolves is Idaho, where the population could be cut to 300 from about 800. This is not enough to maintain genetic diversity. Furthermore, the ESA is vital in protecting vast swathes of forest, wetlands, rivers, watersheds and desert. All this is now put at risk by this ill-considered political maneuver."


From The Center For Biological Diversity

For Immediate Release, April 14, 2011

Contact: Kierán Suckling, (520) 275-5960

Congress Approves Wolf-killing Rider in Budget Act to Aid Montana Democrat’s Re-election

Votes Mark the First Time that Endangered Species Act Protections Have Been Removed by Politicians

WASHINGTON— In part to aid the re-election campaign of Sen. Jon Tester (D-Mont.), Congress today approved a budget bill that includes a rider removing wolves in Montana, Idaho, Washington, Oregon and Utah from the federal endangered species list and sets the stage for near-term delisting in Wyoming. The votes mark the first time that Congress has bypassed the science-based process of the Endangered Species Act and stripped federal protections from an endangered species.

The rider was submitted by Tester and Rep. Mike Simpson (R-Idaho) and approved by Democratic leadership in the U.S. Senate. The rider not only eliminates federal protection for wolves but sets a dangerous precedent for other politicians looking to halt recovery of endangered species in their home states.

“This is a dark day for wolves and for all species relying on federal protections for their survival,” said Kierán Suckling, executive director of the Center for Biological Diversity. “Senator Tester included the rider as a ploy to score political points in his 2012 reelection campaign, and now wolves and other species will have to pay the price.”

Delisting removes federal protections from an endangered species and hands management over to state control. The states with the most wolves in the northern Rocky Mountains, Idaho and Montana, intend to kill many of the 1,270 animals last counted in their two states, which include approximately 80 breeding pairs. The U.S. Department of Agriculture is likely to ramp up aerial gunning of wolves and campaigns that destroy pups in their dens.

The rider approved today by the Senate and the U.S. House of Representatives bans citizens from challenging the wolf delisting decision, even if wolf numbers plummet toward zero, while preserving anti-wolf litigation brought by the state of Wyoming and other parties.

Since the Endangered Species Act became law in 1973, Congress has never intervened to override the law and remove a plant or animal from federal protection.

“Congressional delisting without the opportunity to restore protections threatens to bring us back to the days when wolves and other wildlife were systematically poisoned on public lands,” said Suckling. “We ask President Obama to veto the federal budget to ensure that an endangered species is not massacred; that the Endangered Species Act is not gutted; and that the science, not politics, determines which species benefit from federal protections.”


High Country News
The Range Blog
Who's afraid of the big, bad wolf?

By Heather Hansen, Red Lodge Clearing House
. . . .
Conventional arguments become spurious statements when scrutinized in the light of day:

1) Wolves are killing huge numbers of livestock

In Montana, from 1995 to 2007, wolves killed an average 67 livestock animals (cattle, sheep, llamas, goats and horses) per year. Last year, 97 cows/calves were killed, out of 2.5 million head of cattle in the state.

In Idaho, in 2009, wolves killed 90 cows/calves and 344 sheep. The number of sheep seems high, until you consider that sheep producers reported losing 56,000 animals that year for reasons other than predators, such as disease and weather. They also reported losing another 18,800 animals to all predators, mostly coyotes. Eagles were blamed for another 600 sheep deaths. If economics was a real argument, why not target the more destructive hunters--grizzlies, eagles, foxes and coyotes?

Now, I’ve seen a wolf tear out the guts of an animal and it’s not pleasant, but I’ve also seen hamburgers. The loss of a negligent amount of livestock to wolves seems like the price of doing this kind of business. . . . .

Please read entire article for other good info.

Some interesting statistics about Rocky Mountain Gray Wolves From OPB/Ecotrope:

Number of confirmed Montana sheep killed by wolves: 67

Number sheep producers reported lost from other causes (i.e. disease, weather): 49,000

Number they reported lost to all predators: 17,800

Amount of money the feds spent on Northern Rockies wolf management last year: $4,566,000

Amount the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife spent the last two years: $480,000

Amount paid to Montana ranchers for 369 livestock losses to wolves in 2009: $143,000

Amount cattlemen say they’ll need to start a compensation program in Oregon: $750,000

For the whole list and other good information, see Gray wolves: By the numbers.

Wallowa Chieftan Article on Wally Sykes (NE Oregon Ecosystems) Wolf Testimony in Salem.

Sykes: Some of my testimony is covered above. The balance is below:
We have 35 million acres of public land, half our state, in vast contiguous tracts. These lands protect our biodiversity, our watersheds, our ancient American connection to wilderness and wildness. The wolf restores much that has been degraded there, an effect clearly shown in Yellowstone and elsewhere. The wolf is good for our land and for our souls.

Successful livestock operations are the norm in Montana, Idaho, Wyoming, Minnesota, British Columbia, and Alberta – all in wolf country. Management techniques and non-lethal tools minimize conflicts. Compensation plans defray losses. Government, organizational and private contributors provide the hardware, the expertise and the labor to employ non-lethal measures.

In Wallowa County, fladry (flagging hung from an electrified fencing wire), RAG boxes (devices that create noise and visual distraction when triggered by a radio-collared wolf), carcass removal, hazers and range riders have ALL been provided by a combination of these agents.

Last year few of these measures were taken. But this year, 10 miles of fladry are out, and RAG boxes are up where they’ll do the most good. Hazers are on the Zumwalt, radio receivers have been given to ranchers so they’ll know when wolves are near. Wolves have been collared with both GPS and telemetry collars, and stock-growers are constantly updated with wolf locations and movements.

Wolves benefit the northeast Oregon economy. Wildlife watching is a booming industry. Wolf-watchers bring $35 million a year to the area around Yellowstone. Wallowa County saw an influx of tourists last year attracted by our wolves and more will comes this year. New jobs are available – Oregon Dept. of Fish and Wildlife specialist and technicians, hazers, range riders, fladry fencers, even local photographers have seen new work from wolves.


I want to take a moment and thank the Senators from the 6th smallest state in the "Union," with fewer people than the city of Dallas, Texas, for showing Montana, the state where my father was born, to be the thoughtless, insensitive, mean, greedy, and barbaric state that it apparently has become, not unlike much of the rest of the rural west, for placing the anti-wolf stealth rider in the Budget bill.

Other Ranching News

Sage Grouse Prevail

Advocates for the West
Date: 04/14/2011
Sage Grouse Prevail - A federal judge has ordered BLM to close to livestock grazing 17 allotments in the Jarbidge Field Office in southwestern Idaho, and has given Simplot Livestock and other permittees about two weeks to remove all livestock from the closed areas. Animating the court's decision was the continuing collapse of sage-grouse populations and habitat. The Court has ordered an evidentiary hearing on Simplot's motion to lift the injunction, and thus this 7 year-old case is just getting started. Stay tuned.


Louise du Toit - Ode to the Wolves - Wolf Paintings by Vincent A Kennard

Watch on YouTube

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