Blog

Nov23

Thermal Damns and the Need for Angry, Active Anglers

Bob Ferris
 
Recently I posted something on Facebook about the peril faced by marine fish species in British Columbia due drift creekto record ocean temperatures (see Record North Pacific Temperatures Threatening B.C. Marine Species) and a new friend reposted it with a query about what she called “thermal damns.” It was a classic Freudian slip, but a really elegant one as these too-warm spots in rivers and streams (thermal dams) that block fish passage do act as physiological dams and they do start the process of damning us in Cascadia to a future likely bereft of ocean running salmonids—mainly salmon and steelhead.  
 
I talked about this issue recently with Mike Finley of the Turner Foundation and they are working with the Wild Salmon Center to preserve salmon runs in Kamchatka so that when all this fecal matter hits the air moving appliance, as well as the associated ocean acidification, that we have some refugia for salmon so that seed populations would be available post eastern Pacific salmon collapse for repopulation.  And while I thought this visionary, commendable and necessary, the idea that this thinking and action were necessary made me angry.  I am not sure that I am comfortable with just accepting that we are "thermally damned."
 
“EPA has an extensive track record of twisting the science to justify their actions,” Representative Lamar Smith (R–TX), head of the House Science Committee in Science Insider
 
This mood of mine was not improved by the fossil-fuel-funded-fools in the House of Representatives that passed bills that would hamper the US Environmental Protection Agency's use of science on climate change.  (No, this is not a story in the Onion.)  Sure…why we would want the agency that looks after our well-being and that of our supporting ecosystems to be guided by the best science?  But it was a story that cruised through like a coal-ladened freight train while most of the US was focused on the latest celebrity break-up or cute cat video.  
 
fly fishing for assassins
I am not completely sure why, but this makes me think of that utterly silly scene in that absolutely silly, but visually pleasing movie, Salmon Fishing in Yemen, where the character played by Ewan McGregor suddenly spies a gun-wielding assassin and realizes that he holds an effective weapon—his Spey rod (see review where I got the photo here, if you feel you are missing something).  He, in that special moment of time, became a bug-flinging super hero.  For all of the reasons cited above we need some fly fishing super heroes now to help us with our thermal damning issues.  And this really begs the question: When are we as anglers going to understand that we need to be our own super heroes in this regard and that we are already holding an effective weapon in our hands through our collective political power?  
 
“If you got a politician who's running for office who thinks he is smarter than 98 percent of the world’s climate scientists—they’re crooks or they’re dumbasses”  Yvon Chouinard 
 
The good news is that anglers are starting to understand the need for action and long-time heroes like Patagonia founder and environmental funder Yvon Chouinard are turning up the volume on climate change.  But others are emerging also like those joining Yvon in the below video clip.  We very much need more of this.
 

At the close of the above video, there is a quote by Albert Einstein: Those who have the privilege to know, have the duty to act.  Likewise those who enjoy fishing—particularly in Cascadia—need to grasp that angling is part casting and catching but also must involve protecting and enhancing habitats as well as stewardship of our political system.  Certainly this means taking action on pressing issues like the proposed Coos Bay LNG export terminal that will enable more greenhouse gas emissions in the US and China.  But it also means protecting important salmon habitat in Oregon's Elliott State Forest or Alaska's Tongass, taking a stand against suction dredge mining in Oregon, Washington and Idaho, questioning the use of forestry herbicides and making sure that any changes to how the O&C Lands in Oregon are managed protects rather than reduces stream-side buffers.  
 
So as you are pushing yourself back from the Thanksgiving table this coming week, take some time to be an angry, active angler.  Please get engaged in these issues and make sure to support those organizations that are carrying on this important fight.  Investing in all the gear out there will do little good unless you also invest in those actions and entities that help keep fish coming back to our rivers and streams.  
 
 

Nov21

Big Signs and BS rather than Honest Dialogue and Signing Big

By Bob Ferris
 
Wolf Billboard
 
One of the things that Americans respect about John Hancock is that he signed big and legibly.  He wrote his name bravely and owned his actions with honesty and integrity.  That is why this billboard campaign (above, photo by Hank Seipp) in Eastern Washington is so disappointing and so un-American.
 

It is hard to for me to take this effort seriously, as it reminds me so much of the scene in Monty Python’s Life of Brian where women wearing beards are trying to crash a stoning. We all know they are women and the beards are ridiculous. 
 
Livestock organizations should have someone working to maintain a media presence and convey agriculture's message, says Jamie Henneman, who represents several Eastern Washington associations. Environmental and agenda-driven groups take advantage of the absence of information coming from agriculture, she said.  Jamie Henneman quote in the Capital Press 
 
Why would I compare this action to this iconic and silly scene?  Well let’s look at the details. First we see that the billboards were put up by Washington Residents Against Wolves.  Wow, that sounds like something legitimate—the citizens of Washington are scared and protesting wolves.  Heck, we should sit up and take notice.  And then we dig a little deeper and find that this group—actually an LLC (limited liability company)—is fronted by Luke Hedquist currently sergeant-at-arms and on the board of the Inland Northwest Wildlife Council—as well as holding memberships in the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation and Safari Club International.  In essence his affiliations indicate that he is a trophy hunter.  Perhaps more interesting is that Jamie Henneman is the media person for this LLC.  She is the woman quoted above two months ago and has strong ties to a number of livestock interests.
  
“My cattlemen, I know who they are, I know they’re not going to waffle on stuff — they’re direct, they’re clear and they play hardball,” Henneman said. “Their messaging needs to reflect who they are, but at the same time be very clear. Don’t try to diminish the unique things about them that have kept them in business this long.”  Jamie Henneman quoted in the Capital Press
 
The imaging and messaging on the billboards and associated facebook and web pages are pure bull and mountainous molehills.  These are blatant and not all that artful scare tactics, but I think that I would have a lot more respect for the view point if it was done honestly in a “John Hancock” kind of way (i.e., this is who we are and this who we represent or are associated with).  As it stands, it is sort of cowardly in that those who are behind it cloak themselves in the flouncy petticoat of anonymity through an LLC while they peddle fear and myths like flapjacks, instead of the above referenced waffles.  
 
I have known many hunters and ranchers over the years—many of whom I respect and admire.  I have talked with them openly about real problems in proper respect for the gravity of those problems and in efforts to collaborate on developing fair solutions.  But that is not what we see here by a long shot.  Those behind this do themselves and the organizations they are affiliated with no credit at all and likely some harm with this obvious charade.  
 
These groups—livestock producers and trophy hunters—would be better served by engaging in honest, fact-based dialogues with those who co-own the lands and wildlife they impact and use.  These billboards are sophomoric and lead to nothing other than discord and mistrust.  
 
 

Nov20

Double Your Donation to Protect Wolves & Wild Places!

CWMRH-MatchingGiftHeader-lowerresPhoto credits (Wolf photo: ODFW. Devil's Staircase photo: Tim Giraudier.)
 
We envision vast old-growth forests, rivers full of wild salmon, wolves howling in the backcountry, and vibrant communities sustained by the unique landscapes of the Cascadia Bioregion.
 
This has been such an exciting, challenging, and historic year for conservation work and wolves throughout Cascadia!  We need your help to continue protecting, preserving, and restoring our wild places and creatures.  By making a tax-deductible donation now, you can double your impact because Mountain Rose Herbs will match every donation through the month of November dollar for dollar up to $5,000!
 
 
Cascadia Wildlands motto is: “We Like It Wild.” But it could just as easily be: “We Get Things Done.”  This is precisely why Cascadia Wildlands is one of the main nonprofit organizations which Mountain Rose Herbs supports.  
 
Mountain Rose Herbs is passionate about incorporating sustainability and ecological harmony into the heart of everything we do.  As plant lovers and herbalists, we are intimately connected with the incredible healing power and beauty offered through our experiences with the wild.   As an herbal company, we have worked to infuse this nature centered perspective into all of our practices. 
 
We need organizations like Cascadia Wildlands to continue fighting for, protecting, preserving, and rebuilding our wild ecosystems throughout the Pacific Northwest from central Alaska to northern California.  The fierce grassroots organization is instrumental in protecting and restoring many of the places and creatures that we all cherish.  
 
Join us in protecting and preserving Cascadia!  Every dollar raised will be matched and will go directly towards wildlands and species conservation. 
 
Cascadia Wildlands is currently working on many critical projects and campaigns including:
 
1. Restoring wolves back into the Pacific West.
2. Halting coyote and wolf killing contests.
3. Safeguarding fish and wildlife habitat in Oregon's Elliott State Forest.
4. Stopping old-growth clearcutting in Alaska’s renowned Tongass National Forest.
5. And much, much more.
 
If you’d like to help protect and preserve Cascadia, then please consider making a tax-deductible donation today.  To learn more about Cascadia Wildlands and our current campaigns, recent victories, and upcoming events, please visit www.CascWild.org
 
 
Sincerely,
 
Irene
 
Board of Directors, Cascadia Wildlands
Customer Experience Director, Mountain Rose Herbs
mrh logo
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Nov13

Help Us Stop Senseless Wolf and Coyote Killing Contests

 

Dear Cascadia Wildlands Supporter:
 
Cascadia Wildlands needs your support in our fight against predator killing contests. (click here)
 
Coyote Derby
Predator killing contests—like the one pictured above—are not hunting.  They are cruel undertakings that perpetuate long-disproven myths about wolves and coyotes.  In truth, they keep alive a form of animal bigotry that should have disappeared with the covered wagon. 
 
HELP US STOP THIS NOW! (click here)
 
While contests emphasizing predator body counts should not be condoned anywhere, the federal Bureau of Land Management and the USDA Forest Service are moving forward to issue a five-year permit for one of these obscene killing contests on federal lands in Idaho.  That’s right, on lands owned by you and me.  Unbelievable.
 
STAND UP FOR WOLVES AND COYOTES! (click here)
 
Today Cascadia Wildlands and our allies challenged the Bureau of Land Management and the US Forest Service decision to allow this contest on federal public lands. We aim to stop them from allowing the senseless slaughter of our wildlife. A slaughter done for profit. A slaughter on our public lands. A slaughter driven by hate and ignorance.
 
STOP THIS SENSELESS SLAUGHTER ON YOUR LANDS NOW! (click here) 
 
Please consider making a generous special gift to help us fight this wildlife travesty in Idaho.  We need your support to pursue this action and our other work to forward wolf recovery in Cascadia and elsewhere in the American West.
 bob's signature
 
 
Bob Ferris
Executive Director
Cascadia Wildlife
 
P.S.  Donate between now and the end of November through Mountain Rose Herbs Matching Gift program and your donation will be matched dollar-for-dollar by our friends at Mountain Rose Herbs up to a total $5000. Give today.
 
 
 
 

Nov12

Wonderland Auction: The Importance of Forays and Keeping it Wild

By Bob Ferris
Baking-Mad-Farm-and-Ruby-Peak
 
I like words and recently I was discussing the word “foray” with my wife. Foray is a great word with multiple meanings but essentially it is used to describe a raid or a venture into unknown territory or outside one’s comfort zone. I really like this latter venture context as it deals largely with what we like to encourage (i.e., we like it wild) and what we tend to feature during the “live” portion of our annual Wonderland Auctions. And this year is shaping up nicely in terms of “forays.”
 
It takes a lot to put together this auction and these packages are selected with care to not only be forays in this latter sense, but also to introduce and immerse our supporters to elements of Cascadia. Some of these packages are solid and some of them are in the conceptual stages.
 
One of the ones that we have finalized is with our friends at Barking Mad Farm in Enterprise, Oregon. Rob Klavins—our frequent collaborator at Oregon Wild—co-owns this bed and breakfast venture with his wife Emily and they have generously donated a two-night stay along with a wolf and wildflower tour.
 
alaska-aurora-borealisWe also have finalized a package that includes a three-night stay in Orca Adventure Lodge in Cordova, Alaska home of our northernmost operation. This package does not include airfare, but many who have purchased this package in the past point to it as a lifetime-best type of experience and a real opportunity to understand why we work in Alaska and what we are trying to protect.
 
In terms of packages in the works, we are working on details of other adventures such as a stay at fabled Black Butte Ranch, a fly fishing package on the Rogue River, a stay at Lake Tahoe, a wet and wild white-water rafting trip for 10 down the McKenzie River and an emerging wolf viewing opportunity on a ranch in Montana. So please stay tuned as there will be more to come soon.
 
But not all the forays are wild as some are more adventures in taste. For example, our friends at Sunshine Limo have donated transportation for a wine tour of local vintners—you will have to deal with wineries individually but it is safe to say that getting there and getting back in one piece from one of these sipping forays is more than half the battle.
 
Along these same lines we will be offering a quantity of Copper River salmon up for bid which not only is a pretty precious and tasty commodity, but also represents our close connection with friend and frequent partner Dune Lankard of the Eyak Preservation Council.
 
And advisory board member Bev McDonald will be taking a lucky set of dinners on a virtual food tour of Thailand again this year. So if you are thinking of having a delicious and intimate dinner party for six and the logistics are holding you back, this is a stellar and fun option not to be missed.  (Click here for more and emerging details about the event.)  
 
So get your tickets for this December 6th event at Lane Community College now.  Click the button below to purchase tickets electronically.
 
 
 
 

Nov08

Coos Bay LNG Facility: An undemocratic process for a “bridge fuel” that leads us closer to environmental and economic doom

By Bob Ferris
 
The most recent elections sting all of us who care about the environment and the future of the planet like rock Inhofesalt gingerly applied to an open wound.  Part of that sting is the peril we face when anti-scientific types like James Inhofe (at right) and Ted Cruz are considered for important and knowledge-based leadership roles in the Senate.  And part of it comes from the dual democratic insult of voter suppression and the fact that 88 percent of these votes did not come from the folks who will be most impacted longest by the decisions in these two committees far into the future—the youth of America—who did not fully participate in this decision.  I am very bullish on science-driven decision making and also the democratic process so these developments above bother me significantly.
 
These two factors are also at play in the Coos Bay LNG process as well.  For instance on the science end, it has been argued that liquefied natural gas (LNG) is a so-called “bridge fuel” that helps us get from a fuel that is worse to a better, cleaner fuel on our pathway off fossil-fuels all together.  This is a nice concept but it seems in this instance that it is a little like a bartender switching an intoxicated patron from bourbon to beer only to find that the imbiber is using that beer to make boilermakers.  A bridge fuel is only a bridge fuel if there is a concrete plan for this fuel to displace other, more damaging fuels.  There is no such plan, ergo LNG is not a bridge fuel for this and other reasons.  And while LNG produces less in the way of acid rain components than coal it is still a carbon-based fossil fuel that contributes to climate change and ocean acidification.  
 
In terms of the democratic insults of this project there are many starting with the potential condemnation of private lands for the pipelines and reduction of pipeline safety measures in rural areas where the potential loss of “significant life” is lower.  But the one that is currently sticking in my craw is the process that the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) is using to collect comments.  It is purposely and artificially complicated.  Therefore, it is exclusionary favoring those who would help turn this country into a resource colony (read: Third World Country) for China and other competing/job displacing economies and creating a barrier to country-folk most impacted or put at risk by this project.   
Jordan CoveIf you are like me and have a little left-over election angst that keeps you edgy during the day and awake at night, my suggestion is that you follow this link below and fight your way through this complicated and ridiculous process to send FERC and others who would ignore science and an open democratic process a clear message: We believe that 1) climate change is real and needs to be addressed rather than ignored; 2) the rights of rural people should be considered; 3) the profits of the few—especially foreign interests—should not be more important than the impacts to those US citizens that will be affected by fracking, suffer from climate change, or lose their jobs through giving further competitive advantage to rapacious economies overseas.  
 
And when you are done please recycle.  Share this action with others and give them the opportunity to start the process of personal healing by taking positive and informed action.  Thank you for your help!

Nov07

Ecology as a River

By Bob Ferris
 
As a scientist I spend a lot of time thinking about science, particularly ecology. And while I was on this Two Talking Wolves Tour with Todd Wilkinson I did a lot of driving which is also a good opportunity for contemplation.  In fact, elkas I drove south after the last presentation at Third Place Books in the Seattle area I had about two and a half hours to think while I was driving through torrential, have-to-pullover-now-style downpours in the wee hours of the night.
 
The above experience could largely explain why I started to think of ecology as a river, but the analogy works even when you are not worried about hydroplaning to your death between two semis who have made your world a little like the inside of an out-of-control carwash.  Replace habitat for gravity in this context and you have a system that generally flows downhill—swiftly or slowly—depending upon the “slope” or habitat quality.  With no slope you have no current resulting in a stagnant pool and that is fairly similar to what we see when habitats are seriously degraded.
 
The fun and mischief in both ecology and rivers come from the anomalies.  Rocks, tree trunks, differentially erodible substrates all make rivers do funny things like causing eddies, rapids and slack water.  These anomalies have a similar impact on rivers flowing to the sea as do changes in weather patterns, invasive species presence, unsettled predator-prey dynamics and human disturbances like clearcutting and livestock grazing have on ecological functions.  But just as it would be ridiculous to conclude that all rivers run uphill because of eddies, it makes little sense to conclude that wolves are wiping out elk because populations levels of this ungulate are declining from historically high and unsustainable numbers in Yellowstone.  
 
Scouting Class 4 RapidRivers and ecology are complicated and take time to understand or even to approach understanding. Perhaps that is why many of us run them, study them or do both.  But it is also why these variable and complex systems should not be approached casually and without forethought or preparation (My friend Martin and I at left scouting a Class IV rapid on the Lower Salmon River in Idaho).  Anyone who has done a 180 in a canoe over seemingly calm waters or has had to change their thinking as more studies emerge on a particular phenomenon, understands that there is peril in thinking that a single observation or finding allows you to draw broad conclusions.   Those who parrot the claim that wolves are wiping out elk should understand that to many of us who study these systems and their assemblages of dynamics that is just like saying all rivers run uphill.
 
 
 
 

Nov06

Of False Assumptions, Old Men, and Denning Wolves

By Bob Ferris
 
I do not often now days get the luxury of listening to scientists talk about wolves.  So I took great pleasure in sitting and listening to the recent wolf panel on the University of Washington campus in Seattle put on by the Pacific Wolf U of W Wolf ConferenceCoalition and their partners (at right).  It was great to listen to some of the best and the brightest wolf researchers talk about their current findings in the realm of wolves and also people.  
 
While there were many, many important revelations, three of them to me were most significant.  The first was the general and repeated conclusion that random wolf control or culling of wolves did little good and probably caused harm, unless you killed on a massive and publicly unacceptable scale.   We had known this for years about coyotes but this clarified and solidified what we suspected about wolves and also mountain lions as well.  It was good also that officials from Washington State were in the audience and heard this message too.  That should be helpful moving forward.
 
The second tidbit I picked up related to pack member age and to a certain degree gender.  Older males were very important—that perked me up.  The older males could not chase anything down like the younger males and smaller females, but they were important during the actual killing of bigger prey as they were considerably larger and stronger.  (Yes, let’s hear it for older males.)
 
The last critical point I garnered has been the one rolling around more and more in my mind: Breeding pairs are more likely to depredate on livestock than lone wolves or non-breeding wolves.  When I think about this it makes perfect sense particularly when we look at public lands and the way grazing leases are used and when.    
 
Wolves tend to select dens near water, with good cover and away from disturbances like roads, settlement and clearcuts.  This sounds a little like what we would also expect for elk and also deer which makes perfect sense as wolves during a time when they localize movements would likely want to be near a constant and reliable food source.  (Remember that one of the clues that indicated that OR-7 might have found a mate and had pups was that his GPS collar indicated that his movements were localized.)
 
2008937557So what happens to the above reasonable scenario when cattle or sheep are brought to a grazing lease near a denning site with growing pups that need to be feed?  Cattle tend to displace elk and sheep generally eat elk and deer out of house and home like some massive, woolly amoeba.  So what is left for the wolves to do?  Viewed in this context these depredations reflect much less the evil intent or nature of wolves but rather the poor judgment and practice of humans.  Wolves—as Dave Mech often points out—are not saints but given this knowledge we really have to rethink even those infrequent instances of depredation and reconsider whose behavior is really at fault.  
 
We also should consider this when designing grazing programs on federal lands—particularly when dealing with federally protected wolves—perhaps reserving some areas as alternative leases available for relocating animals away from active denning sites.  As the land management agencies should be already be reducing overall grazing pressure to address climate change related drought conditions in the West, perhaps this climate planning exercise could also allow for provisions for this purpose.
 
Thanks to the Pacific Wolf Coalition, presenters, and funders like the Wilburforce Foundation for this wonderful event.  It was a great chance for me to see old and dear friends as well as immerse my mind in the richness of science and thought.  
 

 

Oct25

The Saga of Wolf Recovery in Washington

by Nick Cady
 
A highlight of Cascadia Wildlands' wolf conservation work includes a lawsuit that culminated in the successful negotiation of wolf/livestock conflict rules in Oregon between conservation groups, the Department of Fish and Wildlife, and livestock producers.  Those rules provided concrete guidelines as to when the state could kill wolves in response to livestock depredations and helped eliminate the hysteria generated every time there was a potential conflict. 
 
In 2012, following the creation of the Oregon rule, Cascadia Wildlands then turned its eyes to Washington state.  Washington at the time had approximately the same number of wolves as Oregon (60), but had yet to experience the wolf/livestock conflicts that had caused so much polarization in Oregon.  Conflict between wolves and livestock in Wallowa County ultimately led to the livestock industry introducing2008937557 wolf kill legislation, threats of poaching, and threats of secession. 
 
Similar to Oregon, Washington had a wolf conservation and management plan that provided general standards for addressing conflicts between wolves and livestock, but the state lacked any specific rules or guidance on procedures that would be taken when livestock were killed.  We have found in Oregon that concrete rules provided predictability in agency response to these conflicts, which helped reduce nerves in both the conservation and livestock communities.  Additionally, these rules provided a clear path for Department staff to follow, which is critical because when there are dead livestock, the situation on the ground can become very heated and intense.  However, things had been relatively quiet in Washington because there had yet to be a depredation event in the state, and the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife staff had been dutifully working to sign up large ranching operations with cooperative agreements to implement measures to prevent wolf/livestock conflict before it occurred. 
 
Just as Cascadia staff began exploring the regulatory framework of the state, Washington experienced its first major depredation event in Stevens County, in the northeastern portion of the state where the Wedge Pack was denning.  Despite clear requirements in the wolf plan that the Department focus on non-lethal measures and that the wolves were and are still in the first stage of recovery, the Department panicked and before even confirming wolves were responsible for the depredations and not just scavenging, ordered the aerial gunning of the entire pack.  What made the situation worse was that the producer clamoring for the killing was a loud and well-known anti-wolf voice in the state and had openly rejected Departmental and conservation community assistance to prevent the depredations.  The Department ended up spending over $77,000 in taxpayer money to kill the entire pack and appease the rancher. 
 
The Department's actions appropriately caused massive public outcry, and resulted in an official legislative investigation into the event.  Cascadia began organizing conservation allies, and filed an official rule-making petition with the Department to create lethal control rules similar to the rules developed in Oregon, so that the Department would not be pressured into a similar response in the future.  After initial conversations, the Department agreed that rules were needed, and in exchange for us dismissing the petition, the Department agreed to begin negotiating rules through the Washington Wolf Advisory Group, which contained conservation, state, and agricultural representatives.  After a year of too many meetings and very little progress made, the Department suspended the rule-making process, and Cascadia and our conservation allies refiled our petition with the aim of getting the attention of and enlisting the help of Washington's Governor Jay Inslee.
 
While this process was ongoing, Cascadia staff began catching whiffs of unrest in Stevens County again concerning a pack of wolves on tribal land, the Huckleberry pack. The pack had been hunted previously by the tribe, and was being suspected of being responsible for some missing sheep on lands bordering the reservation. 
 
Cascadia has continually argued to the Department that research on the predator/livestock conflicts has shown that killing individual wolves does nothing to decrease depredations, but in some cases has been shown to increase depredation levels, because of a destabilized pack structure.  Taking an entire pack may end depredations for a period, but it opens the area up to quick recolonization by other packs as has happened where the Wedge Pack was killed and replaced by the Profanity Peak Pack.
 
But with the Huckleberry pack, Cascadia staff received a call from the Department and we were informed that there had been some confirmed, weeks-old depredations, but the sheep had been moved out of the area, non-lethal preventative measures were beginning to be implemented, and a reassurance of "don't worry this will not be another Wedge pack situation."  That weekend, we got a message that the Department had hired Wildlife Services (see more on this reckless agency) who was aerial gunning the pack.  We managed to get ahold of agency staff, and we were told that they could not tell us what was going on.
 
We were able to generate a massive amount of public comment (thanks to our dutiful members) and got ahold of friendly legislators that were able to get the Department to suspend the aerial gunning and pull the trap line they had set for the wolves.  The Department notified us that a wolf had been killed, and eventually discovered that it was the alpha female of the pack, which they apparently were instructed not to kill.  We also discovered that the sheep had not be removed from the area, and the Department was not telling the whole story regarding the implementation of preventative measures.
 
Again, hysteria and public outcry ensued.  The agency secrecy, lies, and the accidental killing of the alpha female outraged the conservation community.  The killing of only one wolf and not the entire pack led to mass craziness in Stevens County, and a resolution by the County was issued, demanding citizens shoot wolves on site in violation of Washington laws (see more on Cascadia's response to this resolution here). 
 
It became patently clear that things just were not working within the Department.  The Governor became involved and called for a meeting between conservation interests and Department staff.  Cascadia staff journeyed north, and big changes have resulted.  First, the Department is going to completely restructure the Wolf Advisory Group, with an entirely new membership and oversight by an impartial mediator.  Second, revision of the Department's lethal control guidelines occurred, which describe when the Department can and will move to lethal control.  Third, the Department is looking to develop rules that would require livestock producers to have taken non-lethal, preventative measures prior to requesting lethal control. Finally, both Director Phil Anderson and Game Division Manager Dave Ware are stepping down, both who have been largely running the Department's wolf program. 
 
Cascadia is cautiously optimistic about these pending changes, and believe this is an excellent opportunity to systematically reform wolf management in Washington, which is admittedly and obviously broken. Stay tuned for big changes in Washington, and Cascadia will be weighing in at every step.  When the hiring process begins for new leadership in Washington, we will ask you to weigh in on this and other opportunities to shape wolf conservation in Washington. It has been a long haul thus far, and things are improving for gray wolf recovery in Washington state.
 
 
 

 

 

Oct24

You Don’t Know Ted…

By Bob Ferris
 
I have been in and around the conservation aspects of media mogul Ted Turner’s operations for nearly two Gibbon-pack-300x203decades and through that thought that I had a pretty good idea who Ted is and the vision and scope of his efforts to re-wild the West and change the world. After reading Todd Wilkinson’s insightful biography of Turner entitled “Last Stand: Ted Turner’s Quest to Save a Troubled Planet” I found that I knew a lot less than I thought.
 
I will say upfront that Todd Wilkinson, the book’s author, is my friend. Moreover, many of the folks who work for Turner on his ranches or in his conservation efforts are too. I will also say that I just toured with Todd for more than 1000 miles promoting the paperback version of Last Stand and at the same time forwarding the notion of eco-capitalism, mechanisms for world peace, the end of female genital mutilation and pathways for re-wildling the West. Guilty as charged. In point of fact, it would have been hard for me to work in this field as long as I have without bumping into these efforts.
 
So did I like the book? Yes, for many reasons. But let’s start with the personal insights that came out of Wilkinson’s nearly unfettered access over two decades which often reveal as much about Turner as they do about ourselves and our own psychic baggage. For instance, those of us of certain age grew up trying to please parents who never seemed satisfied with our achievements or all that accepting of our natural rebelliousness. And while rejection and castigation are great motivators leading frequently to innovation and performance in those strong enough to bear them, they come at a price. Wilkinson’s sensitive documentation of Ted’s early life and young adulthood give us an important glimpse of the devils that drive Turner as well as a better understanding—even empathy—for the less embraceable elements of Mr. Turner’s public and private behaviors. The child—as Wordsworth once said—is absolutely the father of the man.
 
Wilkinson spends time also explaining the manifestations of this drive in terms of iconic actions such as the building of the family’s billboard company, founding of CNN, and winning the America’s Cup. These are indeed remarkable events that grant Turner a legitimate place in the land of super-achievers who measure themselves in billions, but do not grant the book or story special stature beyond a dozen others we see littering the discount tables. What makes Turner’s story and Wilkinson’s telling special is the narrative of Turner’s transformation from simple capitalist to eco-capitalist as well as an international actor applying his childhood-forged determination towards solving some of the world’s most Gordian knots.
 
It is this reinvention of self that Turner experiences and Wilkinson documents that makes him a truly noteworthy figure and the book a compelling read. Simultaneously catalyzed by the natural qualities of the lands he acquired with growing wealth; his close relationship with explorer and ocean advocate Jacques Cousteau; and his marriage to Jane Fonda, Ted successfully changed the direction and thrust of his life in meaningful ways.
 
That is not to say that Ted became a saint as many of the warts accumulated during his early years remain, but it would be very difficult to argue that the man who once plastered “Who is John Galt” on hundreds of billboards and was known as the “mouth of the South,” is wholly recognizable in the quieter man walking his horse in parallel to his bison herd on the Flying D ranch and working to put his two million acres in a trust to keep their natural as well as their economic values intact and functioning.
 
Todds cover350And while Turner’s transformation and achievements in conservation are important and make for good reading, his actions in the international arena indicate both a broader impact and that his transformation continues. Wilkinson understands the importance of this thread as he covers the actions of the various Turner organizations as well as the “dream team” of players like Tim Wirth, Sam Nunn and Mike Finley that Ted has enlisted in forwarding his efforts to help the United Nations, deal with nuclear threats and use borderland parks and their wildlife as icebreakers to the much more difficult discussions of peace between opposing countries.
 
Last Stand is inspirational and informative to all. Ted’s story of change and achievement gives us hope on a challenging landscape where many are saying we should jump directly into despair. If this young boy who once carried Buffalo-head nickels in his pocket for inspiration can radically change, perhaps we can find the needed vision and inspiration within ourselves to save this troubled planet.
 
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Interested in this book and helping Cascadia Wildlands? For the months of November and December 2014 any donor who makes a contribution of $100.00 or more to Cascadia Wildlands will be eligible to receive a free copy of “Last Stand: Ted Turner’s Quest to Save a Troubled Planet” complements of the author Todd Wilkinson.
 

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