Posts Tagged ‘US Fish and Wildlife Service’

Aug12

Fish and Wildlife Service Plays Politics With Wolverine Survival

For Immediate Release, August 12, 2014
 
Contacts: 
Nick Cady, Cascadia Wildlands, (314) 482-3746
Drew Kerr, WildEarth Guardians, (312) 375-6104 
Matthew Bishop, Western Environmental Law Center, (406) 324-8011 
 
Fish and Wildlife Service Plays Politics With Wolverine Survival
Conservation Groups Decry Withdrawal of Proposed Endangered Species Act Listing
 
MISSOULA, MONT. — Bowing to political pressure, today, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) formally withdrew its proposal to list wolverines under the Endangered Species Act (ESA), despite the species’ small WolverineSnowpopulation and serious threats to its continued existence. Only 250 to 300 wolverines call the contiguous U.S. home, living in small populations scattered across the West. Scientists unanimously acknowledge the greatest threat to the species’ survival in the U.S. is habitat loss resulting from climate change.
 
Following the Service’s announcement, a coalition of conservation groups will take steps to initiate a federal lawsuit challenging the wolverine listing decision. The Western Environmental Law Center (WELC) will send the government a formal notice of their intent to sue and public records request on behalf of the coalition.
 
“The Service is improperly prioritizing political appeasement over science in the wolverine Endangered Species Act listing decision,” said Drew Kerr, carnivore advocate for WildEarth Guardians. “The Endangered Species Act requires listing decisions be made on the basis of best available science alone.”
 
After reviewing wolverine population data, the Service’s scientists and an independent panel unanimously identified climate change impacts on the species’ habitat as the primary threat to its continued existence. To den and rear their young, wolverines rely on deep, high-elevation snow pack long into the spring and summer. Scientists largely agree climate change will increasingly affect snowfall patterns throughout wolverine range over the next 75 years, reducing available habitat by up to 63 percent.
 
Service Director Dan Ashe’s decision to withdraw the proposed listing not only goes against the recommendations of his own agency’s scientists, but also the law, Supreme Court precedent, and Obama administration Executive Order 13563. The ESA mandates species listing decisions be based solely on the best available science. The U.S. Supreme Court has held that in making listing decisions, species should be afforded the benefit of the doubt.
 
After rampant politicization of the ESA listing process under the George W. Bush administration, President Obama issued a Presidential Memorandum and Executive Order directing administrative agencies to reprioritize science-based decision-making. The withdrawal of the proposed wolverine listing flouts these edicts by prioritizing natural resource extraction and industry profits over the wellbeing of a rare native carnivore.
 
“This is another example of the Service and Director Ashe caving to political pressure from the special interests preventing sound wildlife management in the western states,” said Western Environmental Law Center’s Rocky Mountain office director Matthew Bishop. “It is obviously time for the Service to employ the precautionary principle and protect a clearly imperiled species before it’s doomed to extinction.”
 
In February 2013, the Service acknowledged climate change is “threatening the species with extinction.” According to scientists, snowpack in wolverine habitat will decrease; the only uncertainty is precisely how much snow will disappear and exactly where snowfall will decline most. In July, a leaked memo from Service Region Six Director Noreen Walsh to biologists in the agency’s Montana field office relied on that sole area of uncertainty to call for the proposed listing’s withdrawal.
 
“The Service knows the house is on fire, but is deciding to wait until it is absolutely certain which room will burn first before doing anything to put out the blaze,” said Nick Cady, legal director for Cascadia Wildlands. “The degree of certainty the administrators want before protecting wolverines is ridiculous and illegal.”
 
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BACKGROUND
 
Wolverines, hardy and solitary members of the weasel family, traverse huge, high-elevation territories. Tenacious hunters capable of taking much larger prey than their medium stature would suggest, wolverines also scavenge carrion as they cover vast distances through boreal forest and over snowcapped mountain ranges. American wolverines reside mostly in the Northern Rockies and Cascades, where small populations rely on individual dispersers to maintain healthy genetic diversity. Adolescent males disperse farthest, with breeding females holding smaller territories closer to their birthplaces. In recent years, a single male settled in Colorado, and confirmed sightings place wolverines in Oregon, northeast Utah, and southwest Wyoming. It remains unclear whether these intrepid wolverines are establishing new territories and breeding populations, or simply passing through.
 
Matthew Bishop and John Mellgren of the Western Environmental Law Center, and Sarah McMillan of WildEarth Guardians will represent Alliance for the Wild Rockies, Cascadia Wildlands, the Cottonwood Environmental Law Center, Footloose Montana, Friends of the Bitterroot, Friends of the Wild Swan, George Wuerthner, Kootenai Environmental Alliance, Native Ecosystem Council, Oregon Wild, the Swan View Coalition, and WildEarth Guardians.
 
WildEarth Guardians is a nonprofit conservation organization working to protect and restore the wildlife, wild places, wild rivers and health of the American West.
 
The Western Environmental Law Center is a nonprofit, public-interest environmental law firm that uses the power of the law to defend and protect the American West’s treasured landscapes, iconic wildlife, and rural communities.
 
Alliance for the Wild Rockies’ non-profit mission is to secure the ecological integrity of the Wild Rockies bioregion through citizen empowerment, and the application of conservation biology, sustainable economic models and environmental law.
 
Cascadia Wildlands educates, agitates, and inspires a movement to protect and restore Cascadia's wild ecosystems.
 
Cottonwood Environmental Law Center is a non-profit law firm and conservation organization dedicated to protecting the people, forests, water and wildlife in the West.
 
Footloose Montana's mission is to promote trap-free public lands for people, pets and wildlife.
 
Friends of the Bitterroot is a non-profit environmental organization founded in 1988 and dedicated to environmental protection of the northern Rockies based on ecological principles, environmental law, and citizen activism.
 
Friends of the Wild Swan is a non-profit environmental organization dedicated to preserving and, where necessary, restoring the water quality, fisheries, scenic values, wildlife and wildlands in the Swan Valley and northwest Montana.
 
Kootenai Environmental Alliance is the oldest non-profit conservation organization in Idaho, and works to conserve, protect and restore the environment, with a particular emphasis on the Idaho Panhandle and the Coeur d’Alene basin.
 
Native Ecosystem Council is a conservation group based in Montana.
 
Oregon Wild works to protect and restore Oregon’s wildlands, wildlife and waters as an enduring legacy for all Oregonians.
 
Swan View Coalition’s work and play are dedicated to conserving community and quiet habitat for fish, wildlife and people.
 
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Jul08

US Fish and Wildlife Service: The Leadership and Vision Vacuum

By Bob Ferris
 
"A thing is right when it tends to preserve the integrity, stability and beauty of the biotic community. It is wrong when it tends otherwise." Aldo Leopold A Sand County Almanac, 1948
 
WolverineSnow
I have been spending a lot of time lately reading scientific justifications and policy statements emanating out of the US Fish and Wildlife Service such as the new policy on “significant portion of its range” (see Society for Conservation Biology Comments) for the Endangered Species Act (ESA) and the leaked documents on the wolverine ESA listing tangle.   This is a painful process because these documents and other related works are often so tortured and mind-numbing.  
 
Well worded and grammatically correct these pieces are so covered with political fingerprints, cripplingly bent by special interest hip-checks and too liberally doused with an absence of courage that you have to keep going back to the title page to remind yourself that these were written and issued by an agency with public trust responsibilities (i.e., the folks who are supposed to protect our natural resources for future generations, including making sure that species do not blink out and that ecosystems still function naturally and not like grand, but woefully inadequate, zoo enclosures.)
 
Being older I have the opportunity in all this for hindsight and vision.  And what we are seeing in these type-rich decrees is not reflective of the former and shows little or none of the latter.  They are, in short, the ministrations of bureaucrats told to fit a square and wondrous peg into a hole of a disastrously diminishing diameter and taking pride in the process.  
 

Being older I also remember the peril we were experiencing in the 1960s and the promise expressed in our cornerstone environmental laws—The National Environmental Policy Act, the Endangered Species Act, the Clean Water Act and the Clean Air Act as well as the cavalcade of initials that followed.  These were supposed to take us from peril to promise and beyond.  They were meant to stop the rivers from burning, help us breathe, bring back declining and disappearing species and basically stop Iron Eyes Cody (above) from crying.  And they made progress for a while.  But older folks forgot that diligence is always required and younger people never knew what was lost or what could be recovered.  
 
Before I charge off in some too obscure reminiscences, let me return to the Aldo Leopold quote at the top of this piece.  Because when you carve away all of the extraneous parts of any of these documents and melt them down in the crucible of intent they should always have as their immutable backbone the sentiments espoused above by Dr. Leopold.  Always. 
 
If they do not, we should not accept them.  If they do not, we should challenge them until they do.  If the leaders of this agency and others are not insisting that under their watch more is going to be protected and recovered in their quest to do what is right then why would we accept them as leaders?  Any fool can continue to accept species declines, dilute the intent of the ESA, embrace inaction, and make things worse, but we should really expect more from our leaders.    
 
Now the US FWS will claim there are reasons for not taking the above position and ignoring or significantly softening Dr. Leopold’s dictum.  Congress will cut our funding.  The ranchers and timber interests will not like us.  The wolf-110006Koch brothers will finance another anti-wolf video.  But these are not reasons, they are excuses.  The bad news is that while excuses give us comfort and shelter, experience tells us that waiting or avoidance only makes the eventual consequences worse.  
 
Perhaps in reference to the above, the US FWS should consult with their sister Interior agency the Bureau of Land Management and ask them if they could go back in time and remove Cliven Bundy’s cattle in the early 1990s whether that would have brought a better result than our current situation.  Certainly rolling over and peeing on oneself saves you a little immediate grief, but in the long term it just earns you more bullying and beatings—both literal and figurative.  
 
Am I asking for the impossible here, that a director of the US FWS would embrace the above quote and try to brave the “slings and arrows” shot by Congress and industry?  No.  When I first worked in DC I spent time with John Turner, Mollie Beattie and Sam Hamilton—all former directors of the US Fish and Wildlife Service and all folks who stood up for species even when it was less than comfortable.  
 
John Turner
 
“John Turner, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service director under the previous Bush administration, said in a telephone interview, he and others developed the program that Babbitt carried out to reintroduce wolves and allow killing of problem animals.
 
Other Republicans, going back to William Penn Mott, National Park Service director under Reagan also pushed for wolf reintroduction.
 
"This is a bipartisan issue," said Turner, a friend of President-elect Bush and president of The Conservation Fund.” In Official urges West to find space for wolves:
Babbitt confident animals will thrive
by Rocky Barker 
 
turner_eagle_500I met John Turner roughly 20 years ago when we sat together on a wolf panel at a National Cattlemen and Beef Association forum in Washington, DC—the two of us in suits surrounded by a sea of cowboy hats.  While it was logical that I was there because I had recently taken over the wolf programs at Defenders of Wildlife and was administering the organization’s compensation program, Mr. Turner’s presence was a little less logical.  You see, John was a Republican who had just left the director’s position at the US FWS to take the leadership slot at The Conservation Fund and he was also a multi-generational Wyoming rancher and outfitter complete with a missing finger joint from a roping accident.  Yet he was voluntarily there talking with ranchers (his peers) about the need to protect and recover wolves.  
 
"Economic incentives are the bridge between what we are doing now and what we should be doing for endangered species," said Bob Ferris of Defenders of Wildlife
 
As we are both biologists, our messages were largely similar in that we each argued that the wolf had a place in the West.  Our messages were also similar in that we were simultaneously looking at traditional and creative ways to minimize friction.  I was new to this arena and John helped me through some of the tougher questions on administrative details and history where I had some gaps.  We later collaborated on our shared interest in creating economic incentives for endangered species conservation on private lands.   
 
Mollie Beattie 
 
“In the long term, the economy and the environment are the same thing. If it's unenvironmental it is uneconomical. That is the rule of nature.” Mollie Beattie in Woman of the Woods: Mollie Beattie, a Natural as Fish and Wildlife Chief by Ted Gup  
 
My interactions with Mollie were too few and mainly were more conversations than working together in any traditional sense.  We sat next to each other at a few events and talked about wolves, but I will say that she DirmollieBeattiesimultaneously exuded serenity and a principled nature.  More importantly she was courageous—not only through her illness—but when dealing with Congress.  
 
"What a country chooses to save is what a country chooses to say about itself.” — Mollie Beattie, former Director of the US Fish and Wildlife Service (1947-1996) 
 
My strongest memory of Mollie was during some hearings in the newly re-named Resources Committee in the House (nee Natural Resources) chaired by Don Young of Alaska.  All during the hearing Congressman Young  (R-AK) who referred to his female colleagues Barbara Cubin (R-WY) and Helen Chenoweth (R-ID) as his “sled dogs” waved a walrus baculum (i.e., penis bone) at the then Director of the US Fish and Wildlife Service.  But Mollie held her ground, defended the Endangered Species Act and stood up to those in Congress attacking this and other bedrock environmental laws.  
 
“So Mollie calmly informed Congressman Young that the ESA was basically a good law, and that she intended to uphold and improve it. Did the Chair have any constructive suggestions?”  Vermon Law School Lawyer and Faculty member Patrick Parenteau in She Runs With Wolves: In Memory of Mollie Beattie  
 
Sam Hamilton
 
Sam Hamilton Phil Kloer Tenn NWROf the three I probably spent the most time with Sam Hamilton (at left at left) who also had the shortest tenure of the three as Secretary succumbing to a fatal heart attack while skiing in the Rocky Mountains mere months after his confirmation.  
 
I met Sam initially through the Black Bear Conservation Coalition that met each year in Louisiana.  Our meetings about black bear conservation when he worked for the US FWS out of the Atlanta office eventually led to other discussions at professional meetings like North American’s and those of the Wildlife Society.
 
It was at The Wildlife Society meeting one year when I ran into a bob white quail and turkey biologist from the Southwest who talked to me about issues of game bird recruitment and expanding coyote populations.  The biologist and I brought Sam into the equation when we started discussing red wolves as a possible solution in Mississippi.  As a result, Sam helped us set up a meeting in Yazoo City, Mississippi with local landowners and decision-makers.  We picked this site because of this area’s proximity to large tracts of public lands (i.e., Delta National Forest, Panther Swamp Wildlife Refuge and the Theodore Roosevelt National Wildlife Refuge), the low human density and the absence of a significant livestock population.   Sam worked hard on this and we got very, very close to pulling it off.  He saw the opportunity here as he did in the Everglades to do something remarkable for willdlife in the true spirit of cooperative conservation.  Who knows what Sam would have accomplished if he had lived (or Mollie for that matter), but if his past was a mirror of his future we expected great things.  
******
These are three people from three very different parts of the country and with different experiences and political persuasions.  Yet all three of them took their jobs at the USFWS seriously and while there supported the Endangered Species Act—including taking affirmative and courageous actions for wolves.   Perhaps the current leadership—many of whom were present during the tenures of these three—will use this and them as an empowering touchstone for their own leadership.  Maybe then they will remember that their jobs should be looking for ever-increasing ways to save species rather than looking for ways to avoid taking steps needed to “preserve the integrity, stability and beauty of the biotic community” under their stewardship. 
 
Send a message to Director Dan Ashe by clicking this button:
 
 
 
 

Apr23

Interior Department: The Need for a Gumption Pill

By Bob Ferris
 
gump•tion  [guhmp-shuhn]  noun Informal.
1. initiative; aggressiveness; resourcefulness: With his gumption he'll make a success of himself.
2. courage; spunk; guts: It takes gumption to quit a high-paying job.
3. common sense; shrewdness. 
From Dictionary.com 
 
There are times when I fantasize about products that I would like to see.  One of those products that is high on my list right now would be gumption pills.  For if this product existed I would send cases of !cid_0BAFA484-1336-41EC-865D-6D83DF8F3EE6these pills directly to 1849 C Street, N.W., Washington, DC 20240.
 
"The U.S. Department of the Interior protects America’s natural resources and heritage, honors our cultures and tribal communities, and supplies the energy to power our future." From US Department of Interior website.
 
What is there?  This is the address of the US Department of Interior whose mission is stated above.  And they could surely use this attribute of gumption at this point.  
 
Why would I say this?  Well let’s start with the fact that the Department in the form of the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) just let an abusive and cantankerous cowboy parley his family’s $10 investment in 1948 in 160 acres of desert land with some water rights into a standoff of monumental proportion and consequence.  
 
Had this agency been taking gumption pills, they would have solved this situation two decades ago rather than letting it linger and fester.  As it was they had to be dragged kicking and screaming towards resolution by lawsuits and then they dropped the situation like a super-heated spud ending with a greater mess than when they started.   In the absence of gumption the squeaky wheeled bullies prevailed, the cattle are still there, and the American public lost on so many levels.  
 
020213Minam_odfw-1But this is not the only symptom that might be treated by the gumption pills.  We also have the recent proposal to delist the gray wolves in most of the lower 48 states.  Here again the Interior Department agency involved—the US Fish and Wildlife Service—listened to noisy bullies in the form of state wildlife agencies and anti-wolf trophy hunters and came up with a “plan” that was universally criticized by the scientific peer-review team and by conservationists around the globe.  
 
Then there is Powder River Basin coal.  I get the “supplies energy to power our future” part of Interior’s mission but how in any rational system of thought is selling coal to foreign companies and global corporations at prices that make it profitable for them to ship it 7000 miles to China an element of powering our future?  The same goes for fracking and LNG export, particularly when it should be balanced with the “protect America’s natural resources” aspect of their mission.  
 
And what is true for cattle grazing, wolves, coal and natural gas is also true for trees and forests.  The BLM has control of more than two and half million acres of federal forest lands in western Oregon.  Here the chainsaws of the forest industry seem to be heard better by BLM than those in Oregon or coming to Oregon to work in industries that are actually growing rather than shrinking in terms of economic contributions.  Here again BLM is faced with the choice of listening to the noisy few or the quiet many who come and stay in Oregon because of the natural amenities not because of clearcuts, landslides, or their love of jake-braking logging trucks.  
 
Unfortunately I could go on and on here, but the catalyst for this rambling rant is that suction dredge miners in Idaho are notifying the BLM that they are planning a protest to be staged on BLM lands and mendoAu ripping up bankperpetrated in the waters of the iconic Salmon River.  The suction dredgers plan, as I understand it, is to assemble themselves and their suction dredges on the banks of the Salmon and then run those machines in the river in protest of their recent legislative failure to get the US EPA banned from Idaho.  The legislation failed because it was judged unconstitutional so the suction dredgers—who frequently and passionately invoke the US Constitution as well as the 1872 Mining Law—are basically protesting the Supremacy Clause of the US Constitution which is exactly what they invoke when they say that that state or local efforts to exclude suction are trumped by the 1872 Mining Law, which incidentally, does not mention suction dredging anywhere in that 1872 act.  
 
Robin Boyce, acting manager for the Cottonwood Field Office, said the BLM is working on a response to the event planned on the Salmon River in central Idaho near Riggins around the Fourth of July, the Lewiston Tribune (http://bit.ly/QCPIVP) reported Tuesday.
 
"We are still trying to figure out how this would work and when and if it is possible on BLM property," Boyce said.  From the Idaho Statesman April 22, 2014
 
In any case, the BLM response to this above was gumption-less.  It was a “we have to talk to our parents” sort of response.  Had they had their gumption pills the response could have been something along these lines: We will not grant you permission to use the federal lands under our care to break federal pollution laws.  Or simply: Hell no.  The latter would be so refreshing.
 
Cascadia Wildlands and other similar organizations regularly sue the Interior Department agencies.  We do so not because we like to but when the Department—in its many guises—lacks the gumption to enforce their own laws or regulations.  We do so not in a casual and reflexive manner but after long discussions and many notices to the agencies involved.  And when in the end they fail to act as the laws and regulation proscribe, we in essence become the “gumption pills” they need.  
 
I would love for the US Department of Interior to suddenly develop gumption and bring constructive resolve to all of the above issues from the Bundy fiasco to the weak wolf plan and from energy to the suction dredger lawlessness.  I am ready and willing to be surprised by agencies following the law and maybe even doing a little bit more.  But I am also prepared—along with my colleagues and partners who represent the un-listened to public and the speechless critters and ecosystems—to be the gumption that this is lacking in this important federal department.
 

Mar21

Where’s the science? Fish and Wildlife Service must rewrite proposal to strip endangered species protections from gray wolves (an excerpt)

By Paul Paquet and Bob Ferris 
Special to the Mercury News
 
about.paul
Silicon Valley embraces science and loves innovation. Sadly, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has recently shown contempt for both when it comes to the recovery of gray wolves — particularly in the wilds of Northern California where a lone wolf recently visited for the first time in more than 80 years.
 
Our unflattering assessment derives from the peer review of the service's 2013 proposal to strip Endangered Species Act protections from most wolves in the West. The service's recommendation to "delist" wolves was judged to have ignored and misrepresented the "best available science," which is the unambiguous standard for species listing decisions. We wholeheartedly agree with the peer reviewers' troubling conclusions, and we are disappointed that the service pursued political expediency rather than abiding by the lawful provisions of the ESA.
 
Bob TalkingThat choice was encouraged by state wildlife commissions and agencies blatantly promoting the extremist views of some ranchers and anti-wolf hunting groups. In doing so, these agencies ignored scientific principles and the intrinsic value of species by portraying wolves as needing lethal management and fostering policies that treat them as problems rather than as respected members of the ecological community.
 
Paul Paquet (right) is an internationally prominent wolf scientist and senior scientist at Raincoast Conservation Foundation. Bob Ferris (left), executive director of Cascadia Wildlands, has been a leader in wolf advocacy for two decades.
 
Click Here to Read the Full Piece on the San Jose Mercury site.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Mar01

Updating Roosevelt: Teddy and the Wolves

By Bob Ferris
 
I have frequently observed that some of the folks who wrap themselves most tightly in the American flag are those who take some of the most un-American actions.  I think the same is true about those Teddy-Roosevelt-Was-the-Toughest-Person-Everwho worship Teddy Roosevelt without really understanding historical context, what he actually stood for, and why he was so remarkable (please see) .
 
"The wolf is the arch type of ravin, the beast of waste and desolation. It is still found scattered thinly throughout all the wilder portions of the United States, but has everywhere retreated from the advance of civilization." from "Hunting the Grisly and Other Sketches" by Theodore Roosevelt  originally published in this form in 1902 
 
Don Peay Jeff Foxworthy Ted B. LyonThis applies particularly to trophy hunters who are attracted to Teddy because of his fabled hunts and his less than loving comments about wolves. A perfect example of this phenomenon happened in 2012 when the Western Hunting and Conservation Expo presented Teddy Roosevelt Conservationist of the Year awards to Sportsmen for Fish and Wildlife founder Don Peay (left), Texas personal injury lawyer and anti-wolf fabulist Ted B. Lyon (middle), and comedian Jeff Foxworthy (right).  Mr. Peay’s group organized the event so he was basically giving himself an award and the other two’s conservation accomplishments consist mainly of making public and notorious statements about the dangers of wolf recovery.   
 
And there are those in the environmental and conservation arena who have trouble embracing the former President fully for exactly the same reasons.  I wrestle constantly with both sides of this coin and feel that there are reasons that I should not have to justify my respect for Roosevelt to either side.  
 
In my mind, Roosevelt was a catalyst, convener and glue for the early conservation movement in the United States.   We would not even be having an opportunity to have debates about the management of old growth stands in the 17 million-acre Tongass National Forest had Teddy not side-stepped Congress with multiple executive orders.
 
The same is true about discussions and arguments about federal wildlife refuge use and access—without him we probably would not have the refuge system as it now exists.  So I embrace Teddy, but I do so by looking at his conservation accomplishments and then imagining how his character and actions would have been modified by current scientific understanding and contemporary conditions. Through this artificial lens Teddy comes out pretty well, but I wondered how others felt about Roosevelt’s legacy—particularly as it applies to wolves—and how his considerable legacy worked in their own interpretation of his current relevance and value.  So I asked.
 
Here is how a broad list of folks responded to my request:
 
Douglas Brinkley (voice mail)
 
 

DOUGLAS BERINKLEY

In his voicemail Dr. Brinkley referenced his book on Roosevelt (see below) as well as his book on Alaskan conservation called “The Quiet World: Saving Alaska's Wilderness Kingdom, 1879-1960” A photograph of the letter written to Aldo Leopold and the text appears below and he also mentions William Temple Hornaday who was responsible in part for saving the American bison from extinction.   

 

 

 

Leopold letter from Teddy Roosevelt

Text from body of Leopold letter:
 
My dear Mr. Leopold:
 
Through you, I wish to congratulate the Albuquerque Game Protective Association on what it is doing.  I have just read the Pine Cone.  I think that your platform is simply capital, and I earnestly hope that you will get the right type of game warden.  It seems to me that your association in New Mexico is setting an example to the whole country.
 
Sincerely yours,
 
Theodore Roosevelt
 
Douglas Brinkley is a renowned historian and award-winning author who wrote a masterful tome about Teddy Roosevelt called “The Wilderness Warrior: Theodore Roosevelt and the Crusade for America.” Dr. Brinkley is currently a Professor of History at Rice University and a Fellow at the James Baker III Institute of Public Policy.  While a professor at Hofstra University, Dr. Brinkley took his students on numerous cross-country treks where they visited historic sites and met seminal figures in politics and literature this is documented in Dr. Brinkley's 1994 book, "The Majic Bus: An American Odyssey." 
 
Reed Noss
 
Noss-295x420It is easy to condemn past figures for statements they made that sound highly prejudiced today. Teddy Roosevelt was a smart man, one of the very few presidents of the United States who knew much of anything about science (the primary other one being Thomas Jefferson). Yet Roosevelt clearly displayed the predator prejudice that was virtually universal in his time. I believe that, had he lived a decade or two longer (he died in 1919) he would have joined the many other scientists who changed their views about predators almost completely between the 1910s and the late 1920s and early 1930s. Aldo Leopold, and his story about watching the green fire die in the eyes of a wolf he had shot, is the most famous of the scientists who underwent this powerful transformation.
 
By around 1930, Leopold, Victor Shelford (the first president of the Ecological Society of America), George Melendez Wright, and Ben Thompson (the latter two with the National Park Service), among others, were strongly advocating protection and restoration of populations of large predators across North America, at a time when most sportsmen, politicians, and the general public still hated these animals. Given Roosevelt’s intelligence and predilections, I have to believe he would have joined these visionary men. Still, one must wonder why the realization that predators are ecologically important took so long to manifest itself – it seems to obvious today.
 
This problem is not unique to predators. Wildfire, for example, is still feared and hated by most foresters, land managers, and the general public. Yet, in the beginning of the 20th century there were prominent botanists and ecologists, especially those working in the southeastern Coastal Plain, who recognized the valuable role of fire in keeping ecosystems healthy and diverse.  Why do we have to wait so long for everyone else to catch up?
 
Reed Noss, PhD, is professor of Biology at the University of Central Florida. His latest book is “Forgotten Grasslands of the South: Natural History and Conservation.”
 
Cristina Eisenberg
 
In the 1880s when he was a North Dakota rancher, while giving a speech about wolf depredation as an impediment to the Western Cristina Eisenbergcourse of empire, Theodore Roosevelt placed his hand on the Bible and called the wolf “a beast of waste and desolation.” The ensuing fusillade of government-sponsored predator control wiped out wolves in the contiguous United States, with the exception of northern Minnesota. Yet in the 1880s, Roosevelt, an avid hunter, also founded the Boone and Crockett Club, an organization that implemented widespread environmental reforms. Concerned about the onslaught of species extinction our nation was experiencing, Boone and Crockett Club members, many of whom were members of Congress or influential businessmen, created the first environmental laws. The Lacey Act of 1900 and the Migratory Bird Treaty Act of 1918 effectively stopped market hunting and prevented extinction of many species. And in 1903 Club members also established the National Wildlife Refuge System, a program that set aside lands for protection to restore fish, wildlife, and their habitat. 
 
A progressive Republican known for radical reforms, Roosevelt served as US president from 1901-1909. During his tenure, our nation experienced astonishing progress on all fronts, from economics to social justice to environmental stewardship. While nobody will ever know what Roosevelt would do about wolves if he were alive today, it is likely that best science would guide his decisions. 
 
Best science clearly demonstrates that wolves benefit whole ecosystems. This science shows that wolves do not wipe out elk populations, and indeed benefit their prey by culling weak and sickly individuals. Best science indicates that wolves create healthier, more biodiverse and resilient lands via their keystone role in ecosystems. A landscape that contains wolves present in healthy numbers will contain better habitat for many species than one without wolves. With wolves present, elk must stay on the move, thereby reducing their impacts on plants. This improves habitat for many other species, such as songbirds. Wolves even improve fish habitat, by enabling streamside vegetation to grow taller, shading streams, and keeping the water cooler so that endangered species of native trout can thrive. Ecologists call such food web relationships trophic cascades.
 
Were he alive today and serving as our president, a progressive leader such as Roosevelt would incorporate scientific knowledge about the wolf’s keystone role and trophic cascade effects into decisions about wolf management. Given his track record as a natural resources pragmatist who embraced the sustained yield principles espoused by his colleague and friend, Gifford Pinchot, Roosevelt would likely support wolf delisting in distinct population segments such as the Northern Rocky Mountains, with management by the states that included wolf hunting. However, it is unlikely that he would support the intensive management program being carried out in the West, where states are attempting to reduce wolf numbers as much as possible, or that he would support delisting wolves throughout the contiguous United States, as has been proposed.
 
Dr. Cristina Eisenberg is a Boone and Crockett Club professional member, and a Smithsonian Research Associate. She teaches at Oregon State University and is the author of two books: The Wolf’s Tooth: Keystone Predators, Trophic Cascades and Biodiversity, and The Carnivore Way: Coexisting with and Conserving America’s Predators, both published by Island Press.
 
Roger Di Silvestro 
 
Roger Di SilvestroTheodore Roosevelt's comment about wolves as beasts of waste and desolation has a nice, lyric ring to it, but no accuracy in modern scientific terms, something that Roosevelt would have rued mightily–he was nothing if not determined to be accurate in his texts about wildlife. But Roosevelt lived in a time when knowledge about wildlife was rudimentary, leading him to engage in some inexplicable behavior under today's value system. While working actively to save bison in Yellowstone National Park, where the last truly wild bison south of the border with Canada survived in a population of three or four dozen individuals, Roosevelt still hunted bison immediately outside park boundaries and killed a bull, with great pleasure for himself. Around his ranches in what is now North Dakota, he more than once shot an elk that he thought was the last of its kind in the area, and shot a bear with the same thought in mind–in his era, even people who wanted to protect wildlife competed to kill the last of a species, wanting to get their specimens before the animals were all gone. The Smithsonian Museum sent out a party of scientists and hunters in the late 1800s to bag 20 some bison, including cows, bulls, and calves, for their collection before the animals were all gone. Roosevelt as late as the early 1900s held out hope that someone would find woolly mammoths in Alaska so he could rush up there and hunt them. When he visited Yellowstone in his presidential years, he wanted to hunt mountain lions there, but changed his mind when told that the image of a president hunting in a national park would be unseemly. A very different time, and a very different way of thinking. 
 
But Roosevelt sought facts about wildlife, and if he had the database about wolves that we have today, he could not possibly have seen the wolf as a beast of waste and desolation. What would he say today? Who knows? He had a tendency to shoot from the hip, to express what was in his mind at the moment with, apparently, little concern for consistency in what in said and did. But if he shared the knowledge that biologists enjoy today, would he differ from the consensus among biologists that wolves are a critical part of their native ecosystem and important to ecological balances within those systems? It would scarcely seem possible that he could disagree. He was far too smart and reasonable. Were he alive now, he probably would believe that wolves, like all top predators, have a role to play in the natural world and should be allowed to fulfill that role, and any comments he made about wolves or other predators would reflect that knowledge and that belief.
 
Roger Di Silvestro is an author, journalist and conservationist who has written extensively on Roosevelt including "Theodore Roosevelt in the Badlands: A Young Politician's Quest for Recovery in the American West." For more information about his works please visit:  www.theodorerooseveltinthebadlands.com
 
Jim Posewitz
 
I am sure Theodore Roosevelt would cut the wolf a little space in today’s period of significant wildlife abundance. In fact, as early as 1918 he and Grinnell exchanged letters relative to the over-Jim Posewitzabundance of elk in Yellowstone Park because of the “… protection afforded them.”  And adding at the time that “… their numbers must be kept down by disease or starvation, or else by shooting.” 
 
It is important to remember that before he was a hunter, TR was a naturalist with both a passion for adventure and an insatiable curiosity that produced an appreciation for nature. That appreciation attracted him to the outdoors and remained with him his entire life.  The last letter he wrote was on the taxonomy of pheasants.  Of an estimated 150,000 letters his first and his last were about birds.  If you can find Paul Russell Cutright’s book “Theodore Roosevelt the Naturalist” I think it will reveal someone who would very likely, in today’s world, cut the wolf a little space.  
 
It would be good to remember that TR’s first year in the West coincided with the last years of the buffalo slaughter and he literally hunted through the rotting carcasses of that carnage – carcasses littering the landscape missing only their hide and occasionally their tongues.  It was a wildlife ecosystem in collapse and the wolves were both temporarily sustained by it and then victims of it. 
 
Jim Posewitz is a hunter and wildlife biologist who worked for the Montana Department of Fish, Wildlife and Parks for more than 30 years.  He is also a leader in the hunting and conservation communities as well as a renowned author of such works as “Inherit the Hunt: A Journey into the Heart of American Hunting” and “Beyond Fair Chase: The Ethic and Tradition of Hunting
 

 

 

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There is a funny kind of relief that I feel when I listen to and read all these responses.  That relief comes primarily from a consistent validation of my assumptions about a Theodore Roosevelt projected roosevelt readinginto the future.   But it also comes from knowing more about the connections and strength of message carried from Teddy Roosevelt to Aldo Leopold and beyond.  That feeling was also reenforced recently when the Union of Concerned Scientists named Mr. Roosevelt the most science-friendly president ever.
 
That relief compliments similar feelings that I had when the gray wolf delisting proposal peer-review team findings were released on February 7th.  Science spoke in a clear voice that echoed the sentiments of more than a million who commented on this indefensible, premature and illogical delisting proposal.  My sense is that it was heard too in some manner by Roosevelt, Leopold, Hornaday and other visionaries who fully embraced science, conservation and an abiding love of wildness.  
 
Please keep them in mind when you comment again and ask the US Fish and Wildlife Service to remember that science not political expedience must drive wolf recovery.  Click below to send this message to the Service and Secretary Jewell before March 27th at midnight.

 

 

 

Feb07

BREAKING NEWS: Peer Reviewers Find Fault with USFWS Science on Wolf Delisting–comment period reopens

The US Fish and Wildlife Service just release the following press statement about the independent Peer review (see link at bottom of 2019372475page):  

Service Reopens Comment Period on Wolf Proposal
Independent scientific peer review report available for public review
 
Following receipt of an independent scientific peer review, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is reopening the comment period on its proposal to list the Mexican wolf as an endangered subspecies and remove the gray wolf from the Endangered Species List. The Service is making that report available for public review, and, beginning Monday, February 10, interested stakeholders will have an additional 45 days to provide information that may be helpful to the Service in making a final determination on the proposal.
 
The independent scientific peer review was hosted and managed by the National Center for Ecological Analysis and Synthesis (NCEAS), a highly respected interdisciplinary research center at the University of California – Santa Barbara. At the Service’s request, NCEAS sponsored and conducted a peer review of the science underlying the Service’s proposal. 
 
“Peer review is an important step in our efforts to assure that the final decision on our proposal to delist the wolf is based on the best available scientific and technical information,” said Service Director Dan Ashe. “We thank the National Center for Ecological Analysis and Synthesis for conducting a transparent, objective and well-documented process. We are incorporating the peer review report into the public record for the proposed rulemaking, and accordingly, reopening the public comment period to provide the public with the opportunity for input.”
 
The peer review report is available online, along with instructions on how to provide comment and comprehensive links relating to the proposal, at www.fws.gov/home/wolfrecovery.
 
The Service intends that any final action resulting from this proposed rule will be based on the best available information. Comments and materials we receive, as well as some of the supporting documentation used in preparing this proposed rule, are available for public inspection at www.regulations.gov under the docket number FWS–HQ–ES–2013–0073. 
 
The Service will post all comments on www.regulations.gov. This generally means the agency will post any personal information provided through the process. The Service is not able to accept email or faxes. Comments must be received by midnight on March 27.
 
The Federal Register publication of this notice is available online at www.fws.gov/policy/frsystem/default.cfm by clicking on the 2014 Proposed Rules under Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and Plants.
 
The Service expects to make final determination on the proposal by the end of 2014.
 
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service works with others to conserve, protect, and enhance fish, wildlife, plants, and their habitats for the continuing benefit of the American people. For more information, visit www.fws.gov, or connect with us through any of these social media channels:
 
– FWS –

Gray Wolf Peer Review

Dec17

Press Release: Over 100,000 in Northwest Oppose Gray Wolf Delisting

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
December 17, 2013

CONTACT:
Amaroq Weiss, Center for Biological Diversity, 707-779-9613
Jasmine Minbashian, Conservation Northwest, 360-671-9950 x129
Josh Laughlin, Cascadia Wildlands, 541-844-8182
Joseph Vaile, Klamath-Siskiyou Wildlands Center, 541-488-5789
Lauren Richie, California Wolf Center, 443-797-2280
Pamela Flick, Defenders of Wildlife, 916-203-6927
Rob Klavins, Oregon Wild, 503-283-6343 x210

SEATTLE— Demonstrating Americans’ broad opposition to the Obama administration’s plan to strip Endangered Species Act protections from gray wolves, members of the Pacific Wolf Coalition submitted 101,416 comments to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service today favoring continued wolf protections. The comments on behalf of the coalition’s members and supporters in the Pacific West join 1 million comments collected nationwide expressing Americans’ strong disapproval of the Fish and Wildlife Service proposal to remove federal protections from gray wolves across most of 0462_wenaha_male_wolfthe continental United States.

“The gray wolf is one of the most iconic creatures of the American landscape and wolves play a vital role in America’s wilderness and natural heritage,” said Pamela Flick, California representative of Defenders of Wildlife. “Californians, Oregonians and Washingtonians want to see healthy wolf populations in the Pacific West. In fact, recent polling clearly demonstrates overwhelming support for efforts to restore wolves to suitable habitat in our region. Removing protections would be ignoring the voices of the majority.”

The strong support for maintaining wolf protections was apparent in recent weeks as hundreds of wolf advocates and allies turned out for each of five public hearings held nationwide. At the only hearing in the Pacific West, Nov. 22 in Sacramento, Calif., more than 400 wolf supporters demanded the Fish and Wildlife Service finish the job it began 40 years ago.

"Gray wolves are just beginning their historic comeback into the Northwest, and they need federal protections maintained at this sensitive time," said Josh Laughlin, Campaign Director with Cascadia Wildlands. "Politics shouldn't trump science during this critical recovery period."

Wolves are just starting to return to the Pacific West region, which includes the western two-thirds of Washington, Oregon and California. This area is home to fewer than 20 known wolves with only three confirmed packs existing in the Cascade Range of Washington and a lone wolf (OR-7) that has traveled between eastern Oregon and northern California. Wolves in the Pacific West region migrated from populations in British Columbia and the northern Rockies.

“Wolf recovery has given hope to Americans who value native wildlife, but remains tenuous on the West Coast,” said Rob Klavins, wildlife advocate with Oregon Wild. “Wolves are almost entirely absent in western Oregon, California and Washington. Especially as they are being killed by the hundreds in the northern Rockies, it's critical that the Obama administration doesn’t strip wolves of basic protections just as recovery in the Pacific West begins to take hold.”

“The current proposal by the Fish and Wildlife Service to prematurely strip wolves of federal protection would limit recovery opportunities for the Pacific West’s already small population of wolves,” said Lauren Richie, director of California wolf recovery for the California Wolf Center. “Scientists have identified more than 145,000 square miles of suitable habitat across the region, including California, where wolves have yet to permanently return.”

“It’s a powerful statement when nearly 1 million Americans stand shoulder-to-shoulder with the nation’s top wolf experts in their conviction that gray wolves still need federal protections,” said Amaroq Weiss, West Coast wolf organizer with the Center for Biological Diversity. “Wolf recovery on the West Coast is in its infancy, and states where protections have been lifted are hunting and trapping wolves to bare bones numbers.”
 
To promote gray wolf recovery in the Pacific West and combat misinformation, the Pacific Wolf Coalition has launched its new website — www.pacificwolves.org. The site, which offers easy access to factual information and current wolf news, is part of the coalition’s ongoing work to ensure wolf recovery in the West.

“OR-7’s amazing journey shows us that wolves can recover to the Pacific West, if we give them a chance” said Joseph Vaile, executive director of Klamath-Siskiyou Wildlands Center.

“Americans value native wildlife. Spreading the word on what is happening with wolves here and across the country has never been more important. That is why the Pacific Wolf Coalition is using the end of the public comment period as an opportunity to launch our new website,” said Alison Huyett, coordinator of the Pacific Wolf Coalition. “The website will provide the public with current, reliable information on what is happening with wolves and describe how citizens can become involved in protecting this majestic and important animal.”

                                                                    – # # # -

The Pacific Wolf Coalition represents 29 wildlife conservation, education and protection organizations in California, Oregon and Washington committed to recovering wolves across the region, and includes the following member groups:

California Wilderness Coalition – California Wolf Center – Cascadia Wildlands – Center for Biological Diversity – Conservation Northwest – Defenders of Wildlife – Endangered Species Coalition – Environmental Protection Information Center – Gifford Pinchot Task Force – Greenfire Productions – Hells Canyon Preservation Council – Humane Society of the U.S. – Klamath-Siskiyou Wildlands Center – Living with Wolves – National Parks Conservation Association – Natural Resources Defense Council – Northeast Oregon Ecosystems – Oregon Sierra Club – Oregon Wild – Predator Defense – Project Coyote – Sierra Club – Sierra Club California – Sierra Club Washington State Chapter – The Larch Company – Western Environmental Law Center – Western Watersheds Project – Wildlands Network – Wolf Haven International

Oct21

USFWS’s Wolf Delisting Fiasco (Last Chance for Comments)

By Bob FerrisPhoto by Scott Flaherty

Last June when the US Fish and Wildlife Service submitted a proposal to essentially delist gray wolves in the Western States they compromised the credibility of the Agency, ignored the public will and opened themselves to what has become global criticism from the scientific community.  This latter shortcoming was epitomized by the recent letter in the international publication Nature called Grey wolves left out in the cold: US plan to remove federal protection elicits howls of protest.  

“I apologize for telling you that you were on the project and then having to give you this news. I understand how frustrating it must be, but we have to go with what the service wants.” Line from letter to one of the expelled peer-review scientists from AMEC, the USFWS contractor for the peer-review.  

Now all of this reflects on the content of the proposal and whether it passes the giggle test which is does not.  In addition, there are also numerous process issues.  First and foremost is the Agency’s selection of a foreign consulting firm with ties to the energy and development communities as a contractor to deal with scientific peer review and enabling them to purge dissenting scientists.  This issue of Agency bias and them forcefully walking this proposal to a predetermined outcome was further exacerbated by the Agency’s over-reliance on agriculture and trophy hunter-dominated fish and wildlife agencies and legislators in the West as surrogates for the public they serve and as a back-up choir to their premature delisting proposal.   This is particularly problematic when we have graphic and gruesome examples of the actions of the three Northern Rockies states post-delisting.  

While we are rolling out shortcomings of the US FWS proposal we also urge the Agency to take a hard look at criteria five listed in section 4(a)(1) of the Endangered Species Act which goes like this: There are other natural or manmade factors affecting its continued existence.  The agency should realize that wolf bigotry in many instances is manmade and that it is and remains a factor that affects the wolves’ continued existence in places where they are and is a barrier to their continued recovery.  While the Service is aware of this significant factor they have done really very little to address it and have left this task up to conservation groups and other to counter the myth promulgated by organizations like the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation, Sportsmen for Fish and Wildlife, and a variety of other "wedge" groups.

While the US Fish and Wildlife Service is demonstrating their anxiousness to step away from gray wolf recovery in the West, they have materially failed to provide a scientifically defensible proposal, polluted the process with bias, and neglected to address one of the core reasons for the imperilment of this important ecological actor.  And this situation is only made worse by the woefully inadequate number and scope of public hearings and the government shut down.  The Service needs to go back to drawing board and come back when they have made legitimate attempts to set and meet defensible recovery goals in the rest of the Pacific Northwest and the Southern Rockies, dealt realistically with these manmade factors, and broadly engaged the scientific community and addressed their issues. 

If you are upset by this proposal and want to do something for wolves, please sign our petition, submit your own comments by October 28, 2013 (see Do the Wolf Waltz for details) and support our work to protect this important species and the habitats that wildlife need to survive and thrive.  

 

Sep26

Press Release: Conservation Groups Call for Additional Hearings on Gray Wolf Delisting

Pacific Wolf Coalition members seek hearings in Washington, Oregon and California
 
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
September 26, 2013
 
CONTACT:

Amaroq Weiss, Center for Biological Diversity, 707-779-9613
Josh Laughlin, Cascadia Wildlands, 541-844-8182
Joseph Vaile, Klamath-Siskiyou Wildlands Center, 541-488-5789
Lauren Richie, California Wolf Center, 443-797-2280
Pamela Flick, Defenders of Wildlife, 916-203-6927
Rob Klavins, Oregon Wild, 503-551-1717
 
SEATTLE, Wash.— The Pacific Wolf Coalition today called on the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to hold multiple public hearings in the three West Coast states on the agency’s proposal to remove gray wolves (Canis lupus) from the endangered species list. Combined, the coalition represents more than 1 million members and supporters in Washington, Oregon and California. The coalition’s appeal comes in response to Fish and Wildlife Service’s announcement earlier this month that it would hold only three public hearings nationwide, including just one in the West Coast (in Sacramento, Oct. 2).0462_wenaha_male_wolf
 
“It is unthinkable that the Obama administration is proposing to strip critical protections for gray wolves in places where wolves don't currently exist,” said Josh Laughlin, campaign director with Cascadia Wildlands. “It is even more inconceivable that the administration wants to do this without an adequate public process. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service must stop and listen to people who live in states where wolves are just starting to recover after being exterminated from the landscape.”
 
Currently, the Fish and Wildlife Service is scheduled to host hearings only in Sacramento, Calif., Albuquerque, N.M., and Washington, D.C. Wolf recovery in the states of Washington and Oregon is in its infancy, and California had its first wolf in nearly 90 years confirmed a little more than a year ago. Wolf recovery in all three of these states would be severely stifled if federal protections are stripped. The Pacific Wolf Coalition is requesting that the agency provide West Coast residents adequate opportunity to be heard on this subject by holding additional hearings in Portland and Ashland, Ore.; Seattle, Wash.; and Los Angeles, Calif.
 
According to peer-reviewed research, the three West Coast states contain more than 145,000 square miles of unoccupied, prime habitat for wolves. During the past decade, wolves have been naturally dispersing into the Pacific West from populations in the northern Rockies and British Columbia. Federal protections for wolves have already been removed in the eastern third of Oregon and Washington because the area is part of the Northern Rockies “distinct population segment,” which was delisted in 2011 by Congressional action. The federal government’s current proposal would strip federal protections from the rest of those states and from all of California, removing critical safeguards for recovery of wolves across the entire region.
 
“Beyond their role as a living symbol of our natural landscape, the wolf is a keystone species. Wolves are critical to maintaining the structure and integrity of native ecosystems,” said Pamela Flick, California representative with Defenders of Wildlife. “Federal protections for wolves are essential to help this species recover and expand into still-suitable parts of its former range, just as the bald eagle was allowed to do before having its federal protections removed.”
 
Recent regional polling conducted by Tulchin Research shows that more than two of three survey respondents in the West Coast states support wolf recovery. In fact, more than two-thirds of respondents in each state:
•    Agree that wolves are a vital part of the America’s wilderness and natural heritage and should be protected in their state (Oregon – 68 percent; Washington – 75 percent; California – 83 percent);
•    Agree that wolves play an important role in maintaining deer and elk populations, bringing a healthier balance to ecosystems (Oregon – 69 percent; Washington – 74 percent; California – 73 percent);
•    Support restoring wolves to suitable habitat in their states (Oregon – 66 percent; Washington – 71 percent; California – 69 percent);
•    And, agree that wolves should continue to be protected under the Endangered Species Act until they are fully recovered (Oregon – 63 percent; Washington – 72 percent; California – 80 percent).
 
“The science overwhelmingly says that for wolves to fully recover, we need more wolves in more places, and the public overwhelmingly says we need more wolves and less politics,” said Amaroq Weiss, West Coast wolf organizer at the Center for Biological Diversity. “So what does Fish and Wildlife do? It ignores the science and restricts the public’s opportunity to comment. Wolves deserve better, and so does the American public.”
 
Click here to read the letter the Pacific Wolf Coalition sent to the the US Fish and Wildlife Service.
 
- # # # -
 
The Pacific Wolf Coalition represents 34 wildlife conservation, education and protection organizations in California, Oregon and Washington committed to recovering wolves across the region, and includes the following member organizations:
California Chapter, Sierra Club – California Wilderness Coalition – California Wolf Center – Cascadia Wildlands – Center for Biological Diversity – Conservation Northwest – Defenders of Wildlife – Earthjustice – Endangered Species Coalition – Environmental Protection Information Center – Gifford Pinchot Task Force -Greenfire Productions – Hells Canyon Preservation Council – Humane Society of the U.S. – Klamath-Siskiyou Wildlands Center – Living with Wolves – Northeast Oregon Ecosystems – National Parks Conservation Association – Natural Resources Defense Council – Northeast Oregon Ecosystems – Oregon Chapter, Sierra Club – Oregon Wild – Predator Defense – Project Coyote – Resource Media – The Larch Company – The Sierra Club – The Wilderness Society – Training Resources for the Environmental Community – Western Environmental Law Center – Western Watersheds Project – Western Wildlife Outreach – Wilburforce Foundation – Wolf Haven International

 

Sep05

Cascadia Wildlands Files 60 Day Notice on Behalf of Threatened Bull Trout

For Immediate Release Bull trout copy
September 5, 2013

Contact:
Nick Cady, Legal Director 541-434-1463 nick@cascwild.org 

Cascadia Wildlands to US Forest Service—18 Years is Too Long to Wait for Action on Bull Trout

Eugene, OR—Cascadia Wildlands filed a 60-day notice of intent to sue the U.S. Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management over their failure to consult and  consider the impacts of projects and actions on the critical habitat of federally threatened Bull Trout (Salvelinus confluentus) throughout its range in the Pacific Northwest.  

“As a fish that requires cold, clean water and complex aquatic structures, the presence or absence of Bull Trout in our streams and waterways is a true indication of whether or not we are fulfilling our obligation to protect, maintain and enhance our aquatic heritage,” said Nick Cady Cascadia’s Legal Director. “ The current management plans for Bull Trout were put into place in the 1990’s and were only supposed to serve as interim guidance for 18 months. We have been waiting 18 years for the Federal government to release management plans for this important and sensitive fish.”

According to the Endangered Species Act,  agencies like the Fish and Wildlife Service and the Forest Service are required to consider the impacts of projects and actions such as their forest plans on listed species and their critical habitats.  In September of 2010, the US Fish and Wildlife Service after a long legal battle finally designated critical habitat for the species across the Pacific Northwest.  However, the Forest Service has failed to update its 18-year-old conservation plan for the species and ensure that agency actions do not destroy or adversely modify these areas critical to the species persistence.

Bull Trout are native to North America.  In the US they are found in Washington, Oregon, Idaho, western Montana and a single river in northern Nevada.  They have been likely extirpated in their historic range in northern California.  

Bull trout have strict habitat requirements and need cold water (below 55 °F or 13 °C), clean gravel beds, plentiful cover such as downed timber and undercut banks, and large systems of intact waterways for their spawning migrations.  As a result, they prefer cold lakes, deep pools in rivers and high mountain streams. Bull trout occasionally visit ocean habitats and have been known to use coastal waters to migrate from one river to another.

“Bull Trout are the “canaries in the coal mine” for aquatic ecosystems in the Pacific Northwest,” said Bob Ferris Executive Director of Cascadia Wildlands. “If we fail to respond to monitoring information and make the adjustments dictated by climate change, we are ignoring vital feedback about our land and resource management practices.”  

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