Posts Tagged ‘wolves’

Feb12

Living in the Age of Returns and Firsts

 

By Maya Rommwatt, Communications and Development Intern

On February 13th, comments are due to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission on the Jordan Cove LNG project.  The potentially catastrophic project includes both a pipeline and a terminal for the purpose of transporting fracked natural gas and liquefying it for export to Asia.  Similar to other proposals to transport gas and coal for the purposes of export, this project refuses to consider the impacts it will have on climate change, which now stands between us, and a livable future.

We’re living in an age of returns and firsts.  Just recently, photos confirmed the presence of an extremely rare Sierra Nevada red fox in Yosemite National Park.  There have been no sightings of the elusive creature there for ninety-nine years.  And closer to home, we learned of activity of what appears to be another one or two wolves near Crater Lake, in addition to the burgeoning Rogue Pack. I never thought I would be able to speak of Western Oregon wolves, and yet here they are, pups and all. 

But as this encouraging story unfolds, we make plans for pipelines and exports that will guarantee a future governed by catastrophic climate change.  That future has no room for recovering species.  This, as the EPA announces Canadian tar sands will only be developed if the Keystone pipeline is built, now that oil prices have dropped.  While the Keystone pipeline may soon be a receding threat, the more local Jordan Cove project is a wholly different beast.  The project would assure the export of inefficient fracked natural gas for decades to come, and once the Boardman coal plant shuts down, it will be Oregon’s biggest polluter.  This doesn’t even factor in the emissions associated with obtaining the natural gas, nor does it consider the burning of the gas by its consumers in Asia.  And yet, Oregon moves closer and closer to the LNG terminal.  We have not even begun to ask what a future with the project might look like.  If an accident were to happen with this project, say a spill, we taxpayers would likely be forced to help foot the cleanup bill, as the history of corporate settlements shows (corporations forced to pay punitive damages often deduct their settlement costs from their taxes).Two pups from the Rogue Pack, June 2014

The Jordon Cove LNG project is a disaster we can’t afford on a number of levels.  It’s foolish to think we can both recover species and build the natural gas pipeline.  Will we choose the path to recovery and growth, returns and firsts?  Or will we choose the path of negligence and loss?  Help us show the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission we stand on the right side of history, that we respect other species, and are not working in opposition to them.  We have not spent countless hours and resources building a narrative with a future, only to wash it away so a Canadian corporation can make a profit at our expense and the expense of OR-7 and the Rogue pack, the wolverine, and the remaining ancient carbon-storing forests of the Pacific Northwest. No LNG Rally, photo courtesy of Francis Eatherington

Now is the time to submit our comments; we have until noon on Friday the 13th for online comments or postmarked mailed comments.  If you haven’t already done so, you can submit your comments beginning here.

 

More information on the pipeline can be found here.

 

Photo Credits: Top left, Two pups from the Rogue Pack, June 2014. (Photo by ODFW).  Bottom right, No LNG protest. (Photo courtesy Francis Eatherington).                              

 

 

 

 

Feb11

Exciting Leadership Transition at Cascadia Wildlands

Dear Cascadia Wildlands Supporters,

Bushwacking through head-high ferns to find the elusive Devil’s Staircase waterfall. Watching salmon thrash upstream to their natal grounds. Hearing the pre-dawn keer of the marbled murrelet high in the canopy. Knowing wolves are reclaiming their rightful place back in Cascadia. Educating and empowering communities to confront power imbalances. These are the things that keep me feeling alive and ever committed to the work of Cascadia Wildlands.

It is an exciting time for me. I’ve recently been asked by Cascadia Wildlands’ Board of Directors to serve as our interim executive director as Bob Ferris phases into retirement.

I’m determined to lead our powerful team into the future and further realize our vision of 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.

I’m grateful for what Bob brought to Cascadia Wildlands over the past three years to make us a stronger organization. His expertise in conservation biology, decades of non-profit experience, and his ability to dig up the dirt on and expose the despoilers of wild nature are just a few things that have helped take us to the next level.

Photo taken July 6 2013 of OR17 with a 2013 pup of the Imnaha pack. Subadult wolves assist in the raising of the pups. Photo courtesy of ODFWEvery day, I’m amazed at what we have accomplished for a conservation organization our size. I get even more fired up for what we have our sights on. Because 2015 may be the year gray wolves get established in the Kalmiposis Wilderness, northern California, Oregon’s Willamette National Forest, and Washington’s Gifford Pinchot National Forest. Much of Oregon’s remarkable wolf recovery has been facilitated by our legal challenge that halted wolf killing in Oregon and ensuing landmark settlement agreement that created the strongest wolf plan in the country.

Please dig deep to help Cascadia accomplish this critical work in the 2015 year by making a tax-deductible donation today.

Breathtaking photo of the Tongass National Forest. Photo courtesy David Beebe.With continued determination, we will have a lasting conservation solution for Oregon’s 93,000-acre Elliott State Forest now that we have ground old-growth clearcutting to a halt. This year we hope to put a nail in the coffin of the proposed 150-foot-wide, 230-mile-long liquefied natural gas (LNG) pipeline and export facility slated for Coos Bay that would wreak havoc for salmon, wildlife and our climate. And we will continue to fight tooth-and-nail against the 6,000-acre Big Thorne old-growth timber sale in Alaska’s fabled Tongass National Forest (image at left) in Cascadia’s northern reaches.

Having been with Cascadia Wildlands essentially since its formation over 15 years ago, I’m excited, rejuvenated and ready to lead the organization into the future. Thanks for believing in us, taking action when called on, and supporting our conservation work over the years and into the future. Don’t hesitate to contact me with any thoughts or questions.

Will you join me in supporting Cascadia right now?

For a wild and free Cascadia,

Josh Laughlin Signature

Josh Laughlin
Interim Executive Director/Campaign Director
jlaughlin(at)cascwild(dot)org

P.S. You can also mail a check or money order made out to Cascadia Wildlands and send it to POB 10455, Eugene, OR 97440.

 

Photo Credits: Top left, Josh Laughlin, Interim Executive Director of Cascadia Wildlands, at Devil's Staircase in 2012. (Photo courtesy Cascadia Wildlands.) Middle right, Subadult and pup from the Imnaha Pack, taken July 2013. (Photo by ODFW.) Bottom left, Breathtaking photo of the Tongass National Forest. (Photo courtesy of David Beebe.)

 

Feb02

Deja Vu, the Corrupt Bastards Club, and the Fabled Tongass National Forest

by Gabe Scott, Alaska Field Rep.
 
Do you ever get the feeling you’re running in circles?
 
That sense of déjà vu has been strong with me lately as we do legal battle over the Big Thorne and other massive old-growth timber sales in Southeast Alaska’s rainforest.
 
For all the progress we’ve made on the ground reforming forest policy over the last couple decades, it is frustrating that the same good old boy’s network can still get traction re-hashing debates that should have been put to bed long ago.
 
The sense of déjà vu first hit me a few months ago, when I learned that Jim Clark was drumming up support from impoverished local Mail Attachment-9governments to pay his law firm to intervene in the Big Thorne litigation.
 
It’s no surprise industry would intervene—of course they would – but Clark’s name took me aback. The last time I’d seen that name was several years ago, when he was pleading guilty to serious federal corruption charges stemming from the “Corrupt Bastards Club” bribery debacle. Clark at the time was Chief of Staff to Governor Frank Murkowski, and had got caught up in a massive bribery scandal surrounding a controversial bit of oil tax legislation. Clark swiftly pled guilty, publicly apologized, and, I had supposed, wouldn’t be allowed to practice law anymore.
 
As it turns out Clark’s charges were later dropped. The Justice Department, in their zeal to take down sitting U.S. Senator Stevens, goofed the evidence so badly that most of the charges against most of the defendants in the scandal ended up being dismissed. We watched secret video surveillance of bribes being handed out, and DOJ still managed to botch the case. Clark was among those retroactively let off the hook. In street lingo, he got off on a technicality.
 
OK then, whatever. These things can be complicated, and there is a lot we don't know and never will. I’ve never been one to let a past guilty plea to a serious federal crime come in the way of giving a guy the benefit of the doubt.
 
The feeling of being back on la-la land intensified though when Clark’s old boss, Frank Murkowski, wrote an op-ed taking us to task for the Big Thorne lawsuit. We environmentalists don’t really care about the Alexander Archipelago wolf, which doesn’t really even exist anyway. Frank figures deer don’t really need forests, and wolves don’t really need deer. We’re making all that up for our “selfish” reasons.
 
Oh, Frank. Disgraced politicians say the cutest things.
 
What I noticed about the op-ed wasn’t the misinformation so much, as the fact that his arguments matched, almost word for word, arguments included in the intervention briefing filed by Mr. Clark’s group.
 
Is the band is getting back together?
 
Now, all of this so far is relatively harmless. Frustrating, but harmless. Lawyers with suspicious pasts are a dime a dozen, and nobody in Alaska or anywhere else really takes the elder Murkowski seriously anymore.
 
What is not harmless is that Frank’s daughter, Lisa, seems to be picking up the old torch and running with it. Lisa got appointed to the U.S. Senate by her dad back when he was elected governor. (Seriously, who does that!?). With a lot of help from post-Citizens United PACs, she was re-elected and now sits atop the Senate Natural Resources committee. For an Alaska politicians she’s pretty moderate, but her public pronouncements on forest policy are starting to sound a lot like they were ghost-written by industry lobbyists like Clark.
 
Look, I get it. Ignorant bluster and demonizing environmentalists is a reliable political formula on the Frontier. But when this rhetoric finds its way into actual policy, we all should pay attention.
 
From her current position of power in the new Republican Congress, Ms. Murkowski seems keen to apply that frontier formula to forest policy on a national scale. Take the difficult conundrum of funding local schools and government in the rural Pacific Northwest. Ms. Murkowski recently stated that problem would simply disappear if the Forest Service would actively manage forests.
 
That kind of statement is par for the course in rural Alaska, but in the rest of the country it is laughably off-point. There are disagreements aplenty over these issues, but nobody seriously believes that just ramping up more timber sales could solve the problems. Oregonians left, right and center all pretty much accept certain physical realities. Endless expansion of resource exploitation just isn’t in the cards. The forest, even the youngest schoolchildren can tell you, does not in fact stretch on into eternity.
 
I’ll leave you with one final, terrifying point. In the aftermath of the Corrupt Bastards Club scandal, the political force that moved in to clean up the mess was a fresh new face named Sarah Palin. She was, conservatives and liberals at the time agreed, a “breath of fresh air” that restored integrity and sanity to government. Her most vigorous opposition came not from the left, but from the good old boy’s network epitomized by Clark, Murkowski and Murkowski. Palin absolutely demolished, absolutely humiliated that old order. It was delightful to watch.
 
Now Palin is the disgraced former politician, and Clark, Murkowski & Murkowski are back in business.
 
Am I the only one feeling dizzy?
 
(Tongass National Forest photo by David Beebe)
 
Jan28

Cascadia Wildlands Statement on Wolf Recovery Announcement by Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife

Press statement
January 28, 2015
Contact: Nick Cady, Legal Director, Cascadia Wildlands, 314.482.3746
                 Josh Laughlin, Campaign Director, Cascadia Wildlands, 541.844.8182
 
The Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife just announced it is moving to phase II of its wolf recovery plan in eastern Oregon after state wildlife biologists confirmed that there were seven breeding pairs in the state in 2014. The wolf plan states that when there are four breeding pairs for three consecutive years in each respective part of the state, wolf management moves to phase II in that zone. This means livestock producers will now have more management flexibility in dealing with wolf/livestock conflicts in eastern Oregon. Wolves in the state’s western recovery zone will still be managed under phase I.
 
In 2012 Cascadia Wildlands and Oregon Wild negotiated a landmark settlement agreement with the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife andWalla Walla_odfw the Oregon Cattlemen’s Association after securing a legal injunction against wolf killing in Oregon. The settlement requires that during phase I livestock producers use proactive, non lethal methods to deter conflict between wolves and livestock, like cleaning up bone and carcass piles and utilizing human presence, before any lethal control on wolves can be used. It also sets a threshold of four livestock depredations by the same wolf or wolves in six months in order to trigger lethal control. The settlement also greatly increases agency transparency in its wolf management program. No wolves have been lethally controlled in Oregon since the settlement agreement was signed.
 
"Cascadia Wildlands is encouraged by the ongoing success of wolf recovery in Oregon, but it is not the time to let up," said Nick Cady, Legal Director with Cascadia Wildlands.  "It is our hope that the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife continues to implement the state’s landmark wolf management plan and rules that have served as a recovery model for other states while preventing burdensome conflict."
 
“While it is exciting that wolf populations in Oregon continue to expand, it is critical that the state remain vigilant in ensuring statewide recovery objectives are met,” said Josh Laughlin, Campaign Director with Cascadia Wildlands. “Much of western Oregon’s wildlands remain devoid of wolves and will be relying on robust populations in eastern Oregon to disperse into new territories.”
 
“Oregon's wolf management rules incentivize non-lethal measures aimed at preventing wolf/livestock conflict and provide necessary tools and financial assistance to livestock producers,” explained Cady.  “The plan has kept conflict down and headed off the constant political battles that have hampered recovery efforts in neighboring states like Washington."
                                                            
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Dec19

Lethal Control of Predators: Of Science, Scapegoats and Icebergs

By Bob Ferris
 
I have been looking at the issue of lethal predator control for many, many years and the longer I look at it and 2019372475the more science I read and assimilate, the more convinced I become that lethal control of predators is more punitive than practical.  It is an activity and a supporting attitude that simply does not wash in the light of what we know and have tested. 
 
I know some will argue that lethal control is still needed for situations of chronic livestock depredation and where predators are dampening prey or endangered species recovery.  But even in these instances our opting for trigger, trap or poison is really more about our inability to admit that we are often raising the wrong animals in the wrong way in the wrong places and also our reluctance to recalibrate our expectations in regards to our ability to harvest, destroy and neglect our natural resources at unsustainable levels without consequence. 
 
Three wolf examples come to mind when I think of prime illustrations of the above: the Huckleberry pack control action, continual calls for wolf control in the Lolo National Forest to save elk and the killing of wolves in Alberta to save caribou. 
 
With the Huckleberry incident in eastern Washington—which we have written about repeatedly (1,2,3)—you  basically have too many of the wrong animal (i.e., sheep including rams) placed in poor habitat with little or no supervision near an area of known wolf activity.  Certainly livestock losses are regrettable and we have sympathy for the rancher who has to move his or her animals to alternative pasture, but the question hovers: Was this choice of stocking levels, location and inattention to non-lethal alternatives prudent given the situation?  One thing to think about in this context is the idea that anyone can leave roughly $180,000 worth of assets on any landscape without providing some measure of presence or protection from mishap.  In any event, this set of circumstances seems to not be a compelling argument for lethal control of a species recently released from federal protection and still under Washington State protection. 
 
The elk population decline in the Lolo has been offered up far too often as the poster child for the need for wolf control regardless of the fact that the decline started long before wolves came on the scene.  And biologist after biologist has pointed to this decline being associated with habitat succession (i.e., open areas transitioning to brush land and then to forests).    Certainly wolves are causing this decline to linger longer but at the end of the day this elk population is still habitat limited and will remain so as the availability of early seral habitat continues to decline.  Elk are creatures of disturbance and when the logging is done or fires put out the ticking clock of transition from good elk habitat to bad starts.  The State of Idaho is pursuing lethal control of wolves in this area but they are unlikely to get any awards for sound science or innovative management out of this endeavor (see here).  
 
Woodland caribou in Alberta are in terrible shape and getting worse (1,2,3).  The main reason for this decline is the explosion of tar sand development as well as tradition gas and oil development in the province.  Yet when searching for solutions, the province did not look to restrict fossil fuel operations, set up refugia or restore habitat they felt the “logical” approach was to cull wolves.  I suppose on some level this illogical of wolf culling is easily dwarfed when looking at the totality of this tar sands lunacy where wilderness is being sacrificed so we can accelerate climate change, ocean acidification and a host of other ills that compromise our ecological support systems.  
 
Alberta’s wolf cull strategy is not only wrong-headed but it may turn out to be an ironic choice as wolf biologist Robert Hayes reported in his excellent book Wolves of the Yukon that smaller packs had to kill more prey per capita because they lack the numbers to effectively protect their kills from crows, ravens and other scavengers.  Hayes’ observations are illustrative of the problem faced by lethal control proponents who only look at the obvious iceberg tip of predator-prey relationships and do not see the more important aspects below the surface that are not seen by the casual observer.  
 
The latest nail in the coffin of the lethal control illogic is Rob Wielgus’ recent findings that culling wolves likely does more harm than good.  This is solid and well-reviewed work, but it is by no means unique in sending the message that lethal control is generally a flawed approach.   In 2012, for instance, the American Society of Mammalogists issued a strong letter to USDA Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service—where USDA Wildlife Services is housed or hidden—heavily criticizing the program’s overdependence on and use of lethal control.  And investigative journalist Tom Knudson of the Sacramento Bee wrote an excellent set of articles examining problems with USDA Wildlife Services as well as lethal control in 2012 (1,2,3,).
 
At this point there are likely some who are asking: If science has shown that lethal control of predators—particularly via random culling programs—is generally ineffective or often deleterious then why does it continue? The answer to this question is that livestock producers, energy developers, and timber interests want access to natural resources on public lands and the presence of predators—particularly legally protected predators—often inhibits their ability to fully exploit and derive maximum benefit from these public lands.  Yes there are groups that also support predator control, but if you scratch the surface of most of the groups with anti-wolf or anti-predator leanings you do not have to look too hard to also find connections between those groups and these industries either through funding, governance or association (see here).  
 
Moreover, for wildlife managers, scientists and politicians, there is real peril in questioning the lethal control model.  Both Rod Sando (1) in Idaho and Ken Mayer in Nevada (1,2) lost their jobs as directors of their state wildlife agencies, in part, because they took a principled and scientifically defensible position on the lethal control of predators.  Likewise Dr. Wielgus’ work—before it was even completed—was attacked and his objectivity questioned by the livestock producers’ front group the Science First Coalition (which has since taken down their website).  And Congressman Peter DeFazio who has long championed reform of Wildlife Services and wolf recovery as well as opposing predator derbies has taken considerable lumps from the above crowd.  Being principled is a perilous course and frequently comes at a price.  
SCCA Talking Science
I met with the leadership of Wildlife Services in DC roughly 20 years ago armed with a stack of literature that questioned the efficacy of lethal control actions particularly as they applied to coyotes and we also talked some about wolves.  The agency and the approach has changed some since then because of public pressure, legal actions and congressional attention, but only cosmetically such as not stenciling an airplane with a wolf silhouette each time you kill one.  Lethal control continues not because there is a lack of science or inadequate evidence of problems but because the myths and fear continue to be promulgated by the same interests and industries (see above).  
 
As you enter the holiday season and think about this coming year and those in the future, please take some time to think about how you can help all of us turn the tide on this monumental effort to bring facts and science to wildlife management and public perceptions—particularly in rural areas.  We need to break the strangle-hold and undue influence these industries have on our wildlife agencies, public lands policy and the minds of our children.   Our future and the future of what we hold dear depends on it, so please support groups that work in this area, vote for candidates who embrace science, and educate where you can with fact-based and scientifically defensible arguments.  
 
 
Dec16

America’s Choices: Hysteria and Hyperbole or Hyper-volumes and Curiosity

By Bob Ferris
 
“…the more ignorant we become the less value we set on science, & the less inclination we shall have to seek it.” Thomas Jefferson May, 1795
2008937557
 
I remember a time in the late 1990s when I was interviewed by a writer for the New York Times. We had a long conversation about lynx restoration in Colorado and whether or not it would work or was worthwhile. At the end of the conversation he asked me where I got my PhD. I told him that I did not finish my PhD program and his response was that the New York Times only quoted PhD-level scientists on technical matters.
 
We continued to talk some about my education, experience and standing in the conservation community. We discussed some of my research efforts as well as restoration projects that I had worked on for wolves, swift foxes, prairie dogs and trumpeter swans. In the end, he included me in the article, but I had to work for it and prove that I belonged.
 
Flash forward to present times and we see ABC and NBC putting forth pieces on the manufactured wolf controversy in eastern Washington and the predator control paradox offered up by Dr. Rob Wielgus’ work. Both these pieces prominently feature quotes by folks who lack relevant education, experience and standing to qualify as “expert” voices in complicated, science-based debates. Unfortunately, these two media networks are certainly not alone in their current use of the non-experts—often with huge and glaring conflicts—to counter the statements of scientists working in a broad range of areas from wolf recovery and climate change to vaccine safety and water pollution.
 
Certainly comments coming out of these non-experts are entertaining and provide a countering view on these issues, but at some point we have to ask ourselves whether news is really supposed to be entertaining or is it meant to inform a citizenry trying to make tough decisions and support public policies that lead us forward towards a better future or past towards failed and destructive modes of existence.
 
Wolves are a pretty good piece of societal litmus paper in this regard. Understanding the function and value of wolves takes a certain level of intellectual curiosity. I remember being both blown away and intrigued early on in my study of ecology by the concept of niches—the often subtle ecological positioning and separation of roles of organisms—being defined as hyper-volumes. These hyper-volumes are basically abstract representations of all the various biotic and abiotic factors that influence a particular species.
 
Why “hyper-volumes?” When we talk about dimensions we tend to talk about length (x), width (y) and depth (z) as defining volume. Hyper-volumes are n-dimensional so instead of just having three axes (plural of axis) they could have a nearly infinite number of axes or dimensions. That means that required space, time, moisture, feed, intra and interspecies competition, vegetative cover, weather, and thousands of other factors that define their place in the grand ecological scheme could all be used as axes or dimensions to describe their niche. And a good number of these dimensions interact so if one or a group of elements changes then so do others. In short it is both complicated and dynamic at the same time.
 
The “n” in this is unknown as we do not know with certitude all that influences a particular critter or plant. We do know that the number is large so if you are only looking at those dimensions associated with predator-prey relationships or even just the disease transmission elements, you are clearly missing most of the picture and are basing decisions on a myopic perspective. Where the litmus test comes in here is how you feel about the above information. If it stimulates and excites you and serves as a catalyst for thinking—even if you do not completely understand it—then that is great and we have hope for the future and for a return to American exceptionalism.
 
“Being ignorant is not so much a shame, as being unwilling to learn.” Benjamin Franklin
 
If, however, you see it as more scientific mishmash because you already know what you know and you see no problem with non-experts sharing “opinions” on highly technical matters in a “he said-she said” format with PhD level scientists (or others with grounding and experience), then you are essentially the anchor dragging us down the slippery slope of mediocrity. If you think that I overstate this then please give me examples of economic or intellectual advances that were led by people with stifled curiosity and closed minds. These traits lead to acrimonious and anonymous electronic comments but not to progress, innovation and prosperity.
 
The anti-wolf rhetoric, rumor spreading, and fear-driven messaging coming out of eastern Washington and Idaho is distressing not only in regards to the wolf but because it also represents the worst America has to offer as well as our bleak and getting bleaker prospects. That we allow it to happen and that it is enabled by any institution in this country is the wart on the nose that tells of deeper, more profound health problems. I am encouraged that there are those who speak up in the face of this juggernaut of witlessness (1,2,3), but others need to speak up on this matter as well as on other issues like climate change.
 
Our current conservation peril—represented by these anti-scientific postures and our in-coming Congress—like the above referenced wart is only a symptom of larger problems. I cannot help but think that if we make a concerted effort in our own actions and rhetoric to call out those who ignore or degrade science and intellectual curiosity that we might be taking steps to heal and enrich our country as well. These are some things to think about during this holiday season and as we ready ourselves for the legislative challenges to come—we do have a choice and we should exercise it.
 
 
Dec04

Jamie and the Amazing Wolf Hatred Echo Chamber

By Bob Ferris
WARAW Billboard
In my twenty-five years working on wildlife issues I have rarely seen anything as reprehensible as the above billboard slated to be displayed in Spokane, Washington.  Those involved should be ashamed not only for the content and imagery but also for being part of so transparent a propaganda device.  
 
What we see above is part of what is known as an “echo chamber.”  How does it work?  Someone or a small group wants a certain message to reach the public so they put it out and then bounce it off other like-minded groups until it is amplified and appears larger and more meaningful than it really is.  Volume in this instance is meant to correlate with truth.  Often times with each “bounce” the message gets shriller too as we see above.  And when there are not enough groups to bounce off to have the appearance of diversity you manufacture those groups—Washington Residents Against Wolves (WARAW) and the Science First Coalition are good examples of this deceptive strategy.
Eastern Washington Anti-Wolf Echo Chamber
The echo chamber associated with the billboard consists of the above groups and was likely orchestrated by Jamie Henneman who is the communications guru or spokesperson for many of the groups spouting similar messages—including WARAW.  When you look at the members and leaders we start to see many familiar names including the Dashiell brothers—Dave of Huckleberry pack fame and Don who signed the anti-wolf resolution coming out of Stevens County.  These gentlemen are also active in Cattle Producers of Washington and the Science First Coalition respectively.  And so the net gets more entwined and the actual constituency smaller as original voices are separated from the resulting echoes. 
Education and Certificates
When you look at Ms. Henneman’s profile on LinkedIn, the story on this becomes clearer.  Although she has worked for small market newspapers, her proof-reading skills (see above) and ethical behavior are not those of a trained journalist.  What we do see here and what is consistent with this “echo chamber” approach is her coursework at the on-line institution American Military University which includes a course entitled Deception, Propaganda and Disinformation (INTL653).  And if you visit the current syllabus for that course you will see that this course covers important topics such as “dirty tricks.”  Add that to her emphasis on social media and the sudden explosion of websites and Facebook pages—all with anti-wolf messaging—in this sector makes sense.
 
"Hedquist noted that the parasitic disease that affects an estimated 2–3 million people and results in an annual monetary loss of over $750,000,000 worldwide. Incidents of human infection increase as exposure to the canine feces that carry the parasite also increases. The Centers for Disease Control and every state where wolves are present, except Washington, warns the public of the dangers via public information campaigns." WARAW Press Release
 
The intemperate and misleading comments by Luke Hedquist in the press release associated the launch of the above billboard are somewhat surprising as he—in the absence of anything resembling any apparent grounding in Science First Coalition New Membersscience beyond his high school  coursework—is suddenly expounding authoritatively on a very complicated issue of parasite epidemiology.  It is not surprising that he got it wrong (see Little Worms, Big Lies) Moreover, his use of global figures is purposely done to induce panic when the reality is that hydatid disease in humans is extremely rare in North America and the incidence in the lower 48 states is so rare that individual cases generally rate a journal article and typically are about people coming to the US with the disease.  But this constant overstatement of risk is what we have come to expect from this fear machine.
 
All in all, the participants in this broader effort to promulgate biological bigotry in eastern Washington from the various cattlemen’s associations and these shadow “groups” should take some time to see where their moral compasses are pointed, because there is nothing about this complicated web they have constructed that bespeaks of integrity, principle or much in terms of stand-up character.  The choice is fairly simple:  Do you want to be known for being honest brokers or for your dirty tricks?
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Dec02

Stevens County Pampers Wearers

By Bob Ferris
 
When I was in college I spent a lot of time taking field courses and hanging out in wild places.  These were Bunny Clubwonderful experiences which I still pursue but the quality of these ventures were also greatly influenced by the nature of my companions.  Most were spectacular, but some were kind of squeaky and whiny.  In my circle of friends we eventually started to call these people “pampers wearers” because they complained loudly about things of little consequence so frequently they reminded us of infants encased in a poop-filled pair of the iconic disposable diaper.  
 
This appellation grew in stature so much that I eventual took a side from a Pampers box and framed it in barn wood so it could be awarded to those within our group of biology or natural history students who started to drift towards this behavior pattern.  I do not know where this award ended up 30 years ago, but I wish that I did because I would quickly wrap it up and send it Priority Mail to the Stevens County Cattlemen’s Association in honor of their whiny, fanciful post on the Smackout wolf pack yesterday.   
WA pack_map_mar2012
The SCCA richly deserves this Pampers Wearer award because they are so like those students bathed in the richness of nature who chose to focus rather on the dirt on their boots or the lone mosquito cruising round their heads.  Cattlemen have been so immersed in a sea of privilege that includes heavily subsidized public lands grazing, farm bill give-aways and tax rates that never cover the services they receive for so long that they think these are "rights."  They also—in their dirty diaper state—are completely blind to the impacts of their actions on wildlife, waterways and the public lands’ experiences of others who also own those lands and often pay more for their use.  
 
Stevens County
 
And lastly they deserve this award because of their infantile presentation of arguments and “facts.”  They, like very young children, confuse shrillness with rightness and in their blind entitlement grant themselves great license in terms of exaggeration and hyperbole.  
 
My hope is that the SCCA takes some time to reflect and adjust their approach more toward the adult side of the equation, but my sense is that will not happen.  Self-reflection and awareness do not appear to be in evidence, but I am willing to be surprised. 
 
 
Nov28

Who Pays for Wildlife Conservation and Why We Shouldn’t Care

By Bob Ferris
 
Muir and Roosevelt
 
I have been watching this whole debate about who actually “pays” for wildlife for most of my three-decade career.  In point of fact it is a tough equation to resolve satisfactorily because a lot of it depends on what you include and how you count.  
 
Certainly hunters pay much for wildlife management on the state and also federal levels through various licenses, fees and taxes, but they also use wildlife (i.e., hunt and harvest) so they enjoy a privilege not legally available to those who do not participate in hunting or fishing.  And a good portion of the dollars spent in this arena go towards hunter and angler services such as licensing administration, law enforcement, hatcheries and the like.  
 
There is also the whole issue of habitat—particularly federal public lands—which contribute mightily to the well-being of many, many fish and game species.  These are lands owned by and supported by hunters and non-hunters alike.  The funds to purchase these lands come from so many sources from highway mitigation fees and the offshore-oil-drilling-financed Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) to private and corporate donations.  
 
There is more on both sides but at some point these discussions become so much like those ill-advised and non-productive dialogues between couples with two incomes ping-ponging their relative worth in a relationship or negotiating for privileges that sometimes lead to couples therapy or worse.  To all involved in this all I can say is a heartfelt:  Please stop.  
 
To put it in the plainest and most appropriate analogy possible: While the estranged couple consisting of hunters (and anglers) and the environmental community are arguing over who pays more or whether or not wolves contribute to or drive ungulate declines in those rare areas where populations are going down, a very well-organized and deeply funded machine is essentially kidnapping this couple’s children and their future.
 
Think I am overstating the situation?  Then what do you call discussions to sell off or hyper-exploit our hard-fought-for public lands in the face of a growing population (hint: we actually need more and better protected public lands not less)?  Think about your public land experience over your lifetime and how it might have changed.  And then raise your hand if you want it to be worse still.  Anyone?  Anyone?
 
Likewise, what about plans to install a collection of climate change deniers in key positions of power in the Senate at a time when our climate-change canoe is about to go over the falls?  Past public statements by these yahoos make it clear that they do not have enough sense to pick up a paddle let alone steer us all for a safer shore.  Add to this the lack of awareness in this crowd about climate changes’ twin sister of doom—ocean acidification—and we see that we will likely have a two-year feeding frenzy that will take generations to solve if we ever can.
 
The news gets worse when you sprinkle into to this disastrous legislative caldron continual plans to recklessly extend the length of grazing leases on federal lands and pump up timber cuts on these same holdings.  How is any of this in the best interest of those of us who value nature regardless of how we enjoy it?  And wouldn’t climate prudency argue for shorter, better monitored grass leases and more carbon preserved in our standing forests rather than less?  
 
And, holy cripes, do we really need to allow fracking in our precious national parks so we can export more fossil-fuels to Asia and elsewhere to make them even more economically competitive and to make our climate and ocean situation worsen?  
 
We—sportspeople, the environmental community and those with feet in both camps—have not faced a threat to our common interests this large for nearly 20 years.  We were able to avoid the worst of the damage then—in that pre-Citizens’ United decision era—because we were willing to come together and work towards common goals.  Essentially, we talked and negotiated shared values and measures below which Congress could only venture at their peril.  The united front worked and the damage was minimized or at least contained.
 
Unfortunately, some who were key actors and collaborators in the mid-1990s have been worked diligently and forced to or tricked into burning critical bridges in the intervening years.   Moreover, some of our most effective players in Congress have been whittled away to nothing or are no longer breathing.  The fingerprints on these manipulations and re-education efforts are plain to anyone really watching and are mainly greasy, grassy, saw-dusty or sooty in nature.  
 
So what do we need to do?  First, we need to look at history not listen to what people who want the above disaster to continue or expand are telling us.  We have to remember once again that every time that the various “tribes” of conservation have been united, we have accomplished great and wonderful things for wildlife, future generations and ourselves or at the very least prevented catastrophe.  When we drift apart or let issues or interests drive us apart serious mischief happens.  
 
This holiday season whether you are hiking a trail, walking a field, sitting in a stand or blind, waiting for a bite, getting ready to do a Christmas Bird Count, or protesting a pipeline please take a hard look at yourself, your rhetoric, and the organizations you support.  Are you, your actions, and associations bringing the conservation tribes together or making them even more fragmented and less able to meet this incredible challenge?  Are you investing your energies reaching out or are you building more and more walls? 
 
Look also at the issues that occupy you or your organizations.  If public lands, climate change, habitat, as well as supporting our cornerstone environmental protections (i.e., Clean Air, Clean Water and Endangered Species Acts) are not in clear evidence then you need to ask: Why not?  If these are not front and center on the menu, there is a good chance that funders, donors, or governing bodies took them out.  I say this because in 1996 the whole set of conservation tribes agreed that these were the most important—so much so that Safari Club International and HSUS sat at the same table as Defenders of Wildlife and the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation.  
 
US Trends of Concern
The only things that have changed in the intervening years is that the problems and threats have grown even worse (see “then” and “now” numbers above), we understand our peril better, and bucket upon bucket load of money has been invested in making sure that the various conservation tribes are driven apart.  The latter should really not have made us forget about the former if we were truly focused on what needed to be done.
 
As to what positive, direct steps you can take once the reality of the situation becomes clearer in your mind, my sense is that we should all thoughtfully do the unexpected and see what happens.  For instance, why not smile at a person wearing camouflage or hug a tree-hugger?  Engage people in dialogues; you know why you hold your own beliefs, but why not ask someone respectfully and honestly why they hold theirs?   And do everything you can to raise awareness of these issues and project a willingness to work with a diverse group to solve them in a collaborative manner.  In essence, understand that there is a real crisis and remember what Americans can do in the face of crises (i.e., set aside their myriad differences, roll up their sleeves and fix the problem).  
 
And we need to act decisively before this predetermined and increasingly ghastly scenario gets irrevocably implemented.  Because while I may not be able to tell with exactitude who paid for what and where in terms of conservation, I can say that we will all pay too dearly if we neglect to hear this call to find ways to work together.
 

 

Nov25

BLM Says No to Predator Killing Contest on BLM Lands

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE, November 25, 2014
 
Contact: Drew Kerr, WildEarth Guardians, (312) 375-6104
Laura King, Western Environmental Law Center, (406) 204-4852
Bob Ferris, Cascadia Wildlands, (541) 434-1463
Lynne Stone, Boulder-White Clouds Council, (208) 721-7301
 
BLM SAYS NO TO KILLING CONTEST ON BLM LANDS
Conservationists celebrate win just 12 days after filing lawsuit to stop the wolf-hunting contest on public lands
 
SALMON, IDAHO—Conservationists are celebrating the news from the Salmon, Idaho U.S. Bureau of Land Management (BLM) office announcing the agency is withdrawing the 5-year permit it issued for a cruel killing contest on Coyote Derbysome of the wildest and most scenic BLM-managed public lands in the country. The move comes only twelve days after WildEarth Guardians, Cascadia Wildlands, and Boulder-White Clouds Council, represented by the Western Environmental Law Center, filed a lawsuit to stop the “Predator Derby” killing contest on BLM and U.S. Forest Service-managed lands.
 
"We're pleased the BLM heeded our warning and recognized its permit allowing this killing contest to proceed was fatally flawed," said Drew Kerr, carnivore advocate with WildEarth Guardians. "Sadly, the U.S. Forest Service has not gotten the message, so we still have a fight on our hands to kick these horrifically cruel events off our public lands."
 
BLM’s change of heart comes after conservationists filed a lawsuit on November 13, 2014, in federal court challenging the agency’s issuance of a special 5-year permit allowing the event to take place. The lawsuit argued that the agency unlawfully relied on faulty analysis and failed to develop a full environmental impact statement. 
 
“Closing public lands to this killing contest is the right thing—legally, ethically, and scientifically,” said Laura King of Western Environmental Law Center. “We applaud the BLM for this decision that puts wildlife and the public interest first.”
 
BLM staff anticipated as many as 500 participants would descend on public and private lands in eastern Idaho, trying to kill as many wolves, coyotes, and other animals as they could during a three-day period this winter holiday season. Last year, organizers offered prizes for the most coyotes killed and the largest wolf killed. 
 
“While there is cause to celebrate this victory, we still must deal with the U.S. Forest Service lands,” said Bob Ferris, executive director of Cascadia Wildlands. “That will take time, but we are happy to play the role of the proverbial tortoise if that is what it takes to walk away with a complete victory.”
 
Conservationists filed two separate lawsuits challenging the BLM permit; however, only the lawsuit brought by Western Environmental Law Center included a claim against the U.S. Forest Service for failing to require a permit or analyze the killing contest’s impacts. This lawsuit will continue in the wake of BLM’s welcome reversal, and will seek to compel the Forest Service to similarly block participants from competing to win prizes for wasting wildlife on our public lands.
 
“While it’s good to see BLM withdraw their permit, overall this killing contest remains a black eye for Idaho,” said Lynne Stone, director of Boulder-White Clouds Council and long-time Idahoan. “The Salmon-Challis National Forest should not be a part of this cruel event either. These are our public lands and we should share them together peacefully and respectfully with wildlife.”
 
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To pursue this legal action and others Cascadia Wildlands needs your support.  So please consider making a generous donation to Cascadia Wildlands.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. Please give today.
 
 

 

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