Reposted from Mexican Wolves:
July 7, 2015
Press Release: New National Poll Finds 90 Percent of American Voters Support the Endangered Species Act
Defenders of Wildlife & Earthjustice
- Speak for Wolves
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
July 7, 2015
Defenders of Wildlife
New National Poll Finds 90 Percent of American Voters Support the Endangered Species Act
WASHINGTON – A robust majority of Americans supports the Endangered Species Act (ESA) and are more likely to vote for a member of Congress who votes to uphold environmental safeguards, according to a new poll http://www.defenders.org/publications/Defenders-of-Wildlife-National-ESA-Survey.pdf conducted by Tulchin Research. These poll results arrive as the U.S. House of Representatives votes on the Department of the Interior spending bill which includes more than 25 anti-environmental “riders”, including political attacks that undermine the Endangered Species Act and block vital species protections.
The poll, conducted in June for Defenders of Wildlife and Earthjustice, shows that 90 percent of Americans support upholding the Endangered Species Act. Other poll results:
Sixty-eight percent (68%) of registered voters are more likely to vote for a member of Congress who supports environmental safeguards like the Endangered Species Act, the Clean Air Act and the Clean Water Act.
Nearly three-fourths (71%) of registered voters believe that decisions about which species should or should not be protected under the Endangered Species Act should be made by U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service biologists, not by members of Congress.
Sixty-six percent (66%) of respondents reject the false choice between jobs or economy and protection of species and agree that the law is necessary to prevent species from going extinct. This plurality believes we can protect our natural heritage for future generations while growing our economy and creating jobs. Less than one-fourth (24%) agree with critics who contend that the law hurts our economy and destroys jobs.
Jamie Rappaport Clark, President and CEO of Defenders of Wildlife, issued the following statement:
“Congress is on the wrong side of public opinion on this issue. The vast majority of Americans strongly believe in upholding the Endangered Species Act and that’s what they want their elected officials to do. But that’s not what is happening. What we are witnessing in Congress today is a full-fledged attack on our bedrock environmental laws – the Endangered Species Act, The Clean Air Act and the Clean Water Act. We need a Congress that puts the best interests of the American public before the wishes of polluters and special interests.”
Trip Van Noppen, President of Earthjustice, issued the following statement:
“Congress passed the Endangered Species Act with an overwhelming bipartisan majority more than 40 years ago. And an overwhelming majority of Americans continue to support the goals of this vital law. This Congress is obviously listening to Big Oil and other special interests – not the American public – in its mad dash to deny protections for endangered species.”
From June 25-29, 2015, Tulchin Research conducted a scientific survey online http://www.defenders.org/publications/Defenders-of-Wildlife-National-ESA-Survey.pdf among a representative sample of 600 registered voters across the United States. The margin of error for this survey is +/- 4 percentage points.
This Congress has already established itself as one of the most environmentally hostile congresses in history. Since January, Members of Congress have introduced over 50 proposals that would cripple endangered species conservation. Some legislative proposals put specific imperiled wildlife species on the chopping block, while others attack core provisions of the Endangered Species Act itself. This week, the U.S. House of Representatives is expected to finish consideration of the H.R. 2822, the FY 2016 Interior, Environment and Related Agencies appropriations bill which includes three species-specific policy riders that would undermine the Endangered Species Act. More information on these riders here. http://www.defenders.org/vote-protect-wildlife-and-wild-lands
Many more anti-ESA amendments are anticipated to be offered as the bill is considered on the floor of the House.
Other bills or amendments that have been proposed in this Congress attack the most important provisions of the Endangered Species Act itself. One particularly outrageous bill proposed by Senator Rand Paul (R-KY), S. 855, encompasses a sweeping array of destructive and damaging amendments to the Endangered Species Act. For example, the bill would allow state governors to take over regulation of any endangered species whose range is limited within the boundaries of just one state, banning federal protection for those species. More than half of all listed U.S. species, including all listed species in Hawaii, would fall under this sweeping exception and could lose federal protection if this bill became law.
Read the Press Release on Defenders of Wildlife's website here. http://www.defenders.org/press-release/new-national-poll-finds-90-percent-american-voters-support-endangered-species-act
Defenders of Wildlife is dedicated to the protection of all native animals and plants in their natural communities. With more than 1.2 million members and activists, Defenders of Wildlife is a leading advocate for innovative solutions to safeguard our wildlife heritage for generations to come. For more information, visit www.defenders.org and follow us on Twitter @DefendersNews.
Earthjustice uses the power of law and the strength of partnership to protect people’s health; to preserve magnificent places and wildlife; to advance clean energy; and to combat climate change. For more information, visit www.earthjustice.org and follow us on Twitter @Earthjustice.
Act Today to Keep Wolves Protected
Your help is needed now to stop anti-wolf legislation from moving forward.
Please contact your members of Congress and tell them decisions about the future of endangered species should be based on science, not politics. http://www.mexicanwolves.org/index.php/news/1466/51/Urgent-Please-act-to-stop-lobo-extinction-bill-today/d,News2
Thank you for acting for wolves today
Reposted from The Human Footprint:
MORE ABOUT BEARS, PINE NUTS
Posted on August 29, 2014 by Leslie
The Clark’s Nutcrackers are starting to hang around, making a ruckus with their characteristic nasal loud call. They’re waiting for the Limber Pine cones to ripen. The cones are still green; maybe a few more weeks. But they’re anxious to begin their ancient fall ritual of collecting and storing seeds–tens of thousands each year–and incredibly they remember these locations. The seeds that aren’t retrieved might just grow into young pines.
A Forest Service botanist gave me two hints when planting Limber Pine seedlings:
1. Put two or three seedlings in one hole to imitate how a Nutcracker might have stored those seeds and
2. Collect some soil from around a mature Limber Pine and place it in the planting hole. That soil has the correct mycorrhiza (fungi) that is symbiotic with the pines.
I’ve been inspecting the cone production this year and although it seemed better than last year’s very low production, it appears not to be a boon year. Many trees have no cones. Others just a few. I’d judge that around my home the production is going to be medium-low.
I was curious what the Whitebark production is this year. Sometimes the Limber mirrors the Whitebark, other times it’s a good substitute. In a hike up Windy Mountain yesterday, our last remaining live stands of Whitebark are up there. There are lots of dead trees and a few young trees, but there are still some standing mature live trees.
Whitebarks and Limber Pines cone at the top growth only. Trees that are in the open will produce more cones. Windy mountain has a fairly tight forest with upright trees. Looking at the potential 2014 cone production, I estimated about the same amount as my Limbers. That got me wondering what the official report for 2014 of the Interagency Grizzly Bear Study Team is from the transects they use.
The IGBST is reporting a medium high cone production for 2014. http://www.nrmsc.usgs.gov/files/norock/products/IGBST/2014WBPReport.pdf They define a ‘good’ production of average of 20 cones per tree, vs. 5 cones per tree last year. But here is the catch. Total mortality on their transects (read ‘dead trees’ from beetles specifically) since 2002 is 75%. So there are 3/4 less trees from which to obtain food, even if there is good production on those remaining trees.
At least 75% of this Whitebark forest is dead; in other places on Windy it is more like 90%
The IGBST did the Whitebark Pine study required by a judge before delisting. http://www.hcn.org/articles/new-study-of-yellowstone-grizzly-bear-diets-spurs-move-towards-ending-endangered-protections?b_start:int=1#body They concluded that the bears will find other foods in the ecosystem and so can be delisted. The states are pushing for that delisting status in order to begin a hunt, for which they can charge high dollars for a grizzly bear tag.
Recently I was at a landowners’ meeting where a county commissioner gave a short talk. He mentioned he was on the grizzly bear committee, representing Park County. This man is no scientist. He is a politician first and foremost; and he said to this group of landowners that the study ‘proved’ the bear is doing fine without Whitebark pine nuts. Don’t believe it. He was simply chanting the line that politicians and state managers have been saying for years in order to delist.griz
I firmly disagree with delisting the Grizzly. The bear has been dependent on these nuts for making ‘brown fat’ for hibernation. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Brown_adipose_tissue Without this nut you can be sure to see the Greater Yellowstone Grizzly wandering into the bottomlands where more people live, eating foods like Russian Olive nuts that grow in the drainages, or even livestock.
There are several reasons why I am NOT for delisting the Grizzly:
1. Grizzly bears are highly intelligent animals, at least as smart as the Great Apes, which puts them on par with humans.
2. Bears primary food sources–pine nuts and cutthroat trout–are compromised
3. Climate Change is a big unknown for food for these large carnivores. Moths that the bears rely on are also a fragile food given pesticides loads in the prairie states.
and one of the most important reasons:
4. Bears confined to the GYE do not, at this point, have adequate corridors for genetic diversity and may over time die out. The IGBST delisting plan calls for flying in bears to the ecosystem if and when genetic diversity is compromised. I’ll say that again “FLYING IN BEARS”!
To compensate for reduced primary foods, as well as provide a buffer for climate change and provide genetic diversity, bears need to be able to move in and out of the GYE. Yellowstone to Yukon (Y2Y) targets this need. Presently there are large bear unoccupied areas of this natural corridor; swaths of public and private lands that were formerly bear territory (Central Idaho Complex is an unoccupied example). http://y2y.net/our-work/priority-areas/central-idaho-complex
It took over 30 years to bring the GYE grizzly numbers up to about 650 bears, from less than 200. If delisting, and hunting, returns, it won’t be long before those numbers begin to decline again.
Grizzly bears are not just critical to the ecosystem. They provide something critical to man–the power of the Present moment. There is nothing more wonderful than that ‘alive’ feeling of walking through woods where grizzly bears at present. The grizzly bears gift to man is the Power of the Present. Let us honor that.
This tree has a blaze and to the left a bear left its own blaze
WCC Opposes H.R. 4315 – Endangered Species Transparency and Reasonableness Act
Why we should too.
Thank you to Wolf Conservation Center for explaining this dangerous Congressional bill, and providing action to protest it.
Seems to be that the folks in Congress who wish to have access to our American wilderness will stop at nothing to sneak a bill in to undermine protections for our wildlife and the wildlands they inhabit.
We need to be vigilant.
Make this thing go away, tell your representatives that no clever "turn of a word" will alter that fact that folks who want E.S.A protected lands will try again and again, to dismantle the E.S.A.
Do not allow this bill to come to fruition.
Posted on August 3, 2014 by Maggie
H.R. 4315 is package of four dangerous bills that would drastically change the way the Federal government protects endangered and threatened species.
HR 4315 would add layers of bureaucracy, waste limited agency resources, and divert efforts to recover species under the Endangered Species Act. Of specific concern, the bill would require federal agencies to publish on the internet all data used in ESA listing determinations. Such a requirement would limit the amount and quality of information supporting ESA decisions by discouraging data sharing by scientists, State and local governments, and particularly private landowners, who do not want their information disclosed online. This provision could also expose vulnerable wildlife and rare plants to increased poaching or vandalism.
H.R. 4315 requires the Secretary of Interior to make the data used for each ESA listing decision publicly available via the Internet
H.R. 4315 would have the effect of discouraging states with privacy laws on their books from sharing their data with government decision makers.
H.R. 4315 could discourage scientists and local governments from sharing data with the Fish and Wildlife Service
H.R. 4315 would require private landowners and companies to share data associated with their property online
H.R. 4315 would provide a roadmap to poachers looking for endangered wildlife
H.R. 4316 would require the Secretary to submit an annual report to Congress detailing agency expenditures for “covered suits,” meaning “any civil action” under the ESA against the Department of the Interior, the Forest Service, and the National Marine Fisheries Service.
HR 4316 will simply exacerbate the alleged problem that the authors of this bill claim it is trying to solve; will divert more resources away from recovery efforts, by now requiring the Department of Interior to report annually on the detailed costs of every citizen suit filed against it under the ESA.
If the legislators who drafted this bill complain that environmental groups are filing frivolous lawsuits at taxpayer expense, shouldn’t Congress be held to a similar standard? If so, maybe the agencies should also report how much they are spending, the number of full time employees, and the total number of employee hours spent responding to document requests, subpoenas and hearings from any Member of Congress.
This excessive abuse of the process is expensive for taxpayers and burdensome for agencies. If legislators believe in the merit of these requests, then they should have no trouble asking agencies to report how many taxpayer dollars it is costing them to comply.
HR 4317 would redefine “best available science” and require the federal government to accept as the best available science ANY data submitted by a state, tribal, or county government.
HR 4317 does not require the data to be of a high quality – or even a moderate quality; there is no standard at all.
If a county, state, or tribe wanted to submit incomplete or bad data, even that data would be anointed as the best available, regardless of what scientific experts have to say.
This dangerous bill attacks the essential protections that form the very foundation of the ESA. This bill will not improve the recovery of our nation’s most endangered wildlife. Instead, it will undermine the best available science for listing new species, and create new challenges to species recovery.
To weaken the scientific foundation of the Endangered Species Act is to doom more species to extinction. Scientists know we must protect species because they are working parts of our own life-support system. Once species become extinct, no corrective legislation can bring them back—they are gone forever.
HR 4318 would limit the ability of citizens to participate in the Democratic process and hold the government accountable because it places an arbitrary cap on legal fees awarded to prevailing or partially prevailing parties in litigation against the government. The courts decide what are reasonable fees under this and scores of other laws every day, and they have a much better ability to objectively determine what is appropriate.
The Wolf Conservation Center believes H.R. 4315 and its related attached bills can potentially undermine essential protections that form the very foundation of the Endangered Species Act. None of these bills will improve the recovery of our nation’s endangered wildlife. Instead, they reduce the ability of the public to hold gov’t agencies accountable for complying with the law, undermine the best available science for listing new species, and create new challenges to species recovery. To weaken the scientific foundation of the Endangered Species Act is to doom more species to extinction.
Please consider joining the WCC in OPPOSING this political attack on our most historically significant environmental law. When you vote to OPPOSE H.R. 4315 via the WCC POPVOX legislative campaign, a message is sent directly to your Senators expressing your opposition.
Vote to OPPOSE here.
This entry was posted in Endangered Species Act.
THE HOUSE'S CONTINUED ASSAULT ON ENDANGERED SPECIES
Reposted from and thank you to https://www.facebook.com/Vote4Wilderness
In writing the next post for Vote4Wilderness Series, ironically on wolves and the ESA, this came across the desk. . . . In the multi-legislative attacks on the Endangered Species Act (ESA) from Congress and their Special Interest groups . . . Rep Doc Hastings, powerful Chairman of the House Natural Resources Committee, and a strong anti-wildlife, anti-wilderness, anti-ESA legislator, sponsored bill, H.R. 4315, another bill to undermine, break down, and destroy the foundation of the Endangered Species Act piece by piece . . . . . . Words from Jamie Rappaport Clark, Director of Defenders of Wildlife . . .
"Tough loss this afternoon as the House of Representatives, largely along party lines, voted to undermine science, accountability, transparency and public process in their unrelenting attempts to undermine and weaken our nation's Endangered Species Act. Rather than conserving biological diversity that sustains us and that should be passed on to future generations, they are intent on ignoring the press of extinction facing us as a society. Gone are the values of conserving our biological heritage and responsible stewardship of our precious natural resources. Thanks to all of those responsible members of Congress for standing up for imperiled species today, including a number of Republicans who broke from party control to do the right thing. Also a big thanks to the White House for sending a loud and clear message that if this reaches the President's desk, senior officials will recommend a veto. We can and will continue our fight to save species on the brink of extinction. Let's hope those wrong headed members of Congress see the light soon!"
. . . This is just another line of the multi- legislative assault on the ESA, which while we, scientists, organizations, and activists, are working hard to try and counter these assaults and save the ESA, and the wildlife and wilderness it is suppose to protect determined by the very purpose in the foundation of the Endangered Species Act, it is up to all of us to look at our representatives in Congress, and vote out those who do not wish to protect our national heritage and the policies that protect it for a sustainable future, and VOTE IN those candidates that are committed to doing just that.
Reposted from Defenders of Wildlife:
29 JULY 2014
The House’s Continued Assault on Endangered Species
Posted by: Jamie Rappaport Clark
Earlier this year, Representative Doc Hastings, a powerful foe of wildlife conservation and Chairman of the House Natural Resources Committee, launched a horribly biased and slanted attack on the Endangered Species Act (ESA). http://www.defenders.org/endangered-species-act/endangered-species-act?_ga=1.130120518.875246331.1398808300
It began with the release of a report and set of ESA “reform” proposals prepared by a highly partisan “committee” formed by Hastings, with support from like-minded anti-ESA members of the House.
The report outlined an aggressive and hostile legislative strategy to weaken or even eliminate a wide range of key ESA protections for imperiled wildlife. Today, we’re seeing the first line of attack from that strategy emerge, as Rep. Hastings guides to the House floor a bill that will make it much harder to protect endangered species from sliding towards extinction.
Florida panther, ©Connie Bransilver/USFWS
Rep. Hastings is savvy enough to avoid launching a broad scale attack on the ESA in its entirety; he knows public support for protecting imperiled wildlife continues to be very high. http://www.mexicanwolves.org/uploads/endangered_species_act_poll.pdf So instead, he is selectively packaging his first round of “balanced reform” attacks on key sections of the ESA. Rep. Hastings knows that if he succeeds with these amendments, he will have taken a major step in undermining the ESA.
Unfortunately for Hastings, the White House sees through the ploy, and today the Obama Administration released a veto threat saying that if the President were presented with H.R. 4315, his senior advisers would recommend that he veto the bill. We’re grateful the the White House has taken such a strong stand on protecting imperilied species. http://www.whitehouse.gov/sites/default/files/omb/legislative/sap/113/saphr4315h_20140729.pdf
Despite Rep. Hastings’ cynical claims to the contrary, this bill will do nothing to enhance the recovery of our nation’s endangered wildlife.
In fact, it will significantly reduce the ability of the public to hold federal agencies accountable for complying with the ESA, it will generate much more red tape in implementing the law, and it will undermine the long standing requirement that decisions under the ESA be based upon the best available science.
And guess who stands to benefit the most if this bill is passed? Not surprisingly, the oil and gas industry, timber and mining companies and other economic special interests. These special interest groups have campaigned to weaken ESA protections for decades, and sadly they have found their latest willing ally in Rep. Hastings. His bill would help these industries by removing important checks and balances as they seek to circumvent the ESA’s provisions protecting imperiled species.
California condor, © USFWS
If Rep. Hastings and his ESA wrecking crew have their way, the ESA would be selectively “reformed” into oblivion – dismantled piece by piece – even as Hastings’ crew continues to profess their deep love for endangered species. In truth, with ESA “friends” like Rep. Hastings, why would the ESA need any other enemies?
The more important question is, why have political leaders like Rep. Hastings turned their backs on the values and commitment our nation made 40 years ago when we passed the Clean Air Act, the Clean Water Act and the ESA? It was this commitment to a higher set of conservation values that led to the passage of these landmark conservation laws.
Protecting our air, land, water and imperiled wildlife for our children and their children is as noble a cause today as it was back in the 1970′s. If Rep. Hastings and his supporters no longer support these lofty values, they owe us all an explanation for recklessly squandering our future.
Our political leaders are drifting radically off course, abandoning values we’ve embraced for generations. Don’t let the voices of the powerful few outweigh the interests of the majority of us who know the importance of conserving biological diversity in our country and want our natural heritage protected for future generations and beyond.
Originally published on HuffPost Green
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Categories: Congress, Endangered Species Act, Jamie Rappaport Clark, Wildlife
9 RESPONSES TO “THE HOUSE’S CONTINUED ASSAULT ON ENDANGERED SPECIES”
wendy g July 29th, 2014
All wildlife is becoming increasingly diminished due to greed of man. Without the animals the world will be consumed by diseases & sickness. The animals all are vital to the survival of earth & man.
Educated yourselves…learn the facts. SAVE THE ANIMALS
Julia Rudman July 29th, 2014
In Europe an online petition has been started because the spanish government is proposing using sonic cannons off the coast of Ibiza, thus endangering the whales and dolphins that live in the seas there.
Last week, July 18, President Obama gave the green light for the same to happen off the coast of Florida http://www.tampabay.com/news/environment/feds-allow-sonic-cannons-on-floridas-east-coast-to-search-for-oil/2189029
Please find some way to activate people who are opposed to endangering the nine right whales still living in this area.
Michele Benko July 29th, 2014
Teddy Roosevelt would be appalled.
Cheryle Linturn July 29th, 2014
This is an outrage to our world and those we share it with. Politicians forget, as they become more greedy and in tune with their own desires of wining big business financial support for themselves that we are neighbors and we share this world and those that are weaker need our protection. If they would get their heads out of their own agenda they would hear the silent voices cry with a strong voice and only the strong and enlightened person will understand and make the difference.
Stop this insane madness…it is a holocaust of our world end it or go straight to jail.
CAROLE July 29th, 2014
What is the matter with you people that you can’t comprehend the seriousness o endangered species going extinct? Are you so heartless, so uninformed about the balance of nature, so willing to have most species living in zoos or are you just stupid?
Rowland Scherman July 29th, 2014
Do not vote for anyone who does not want to preserve imperiled wildlife–in every instance, including pressure from corporations.
Ruth Juveland July 29th, 2014
I agree with above posts. Most of the wild life animals, mammals, etc. need to be saved. We have to make room for them and educate the people of the world. If they go, we go. Some of these places people wouldn’t live anyway. Watching what is happening in the world today, I rather have more of them than people. Know money is a problem but it is spent most of the time on the wrong countries, things, and people. Good Luck!
Elke Hutto July 29th, 2014
Only after politicians who authorize the use of the sonic cannon have experienced its immediate affect, should it be authorized for use. In other words, they should be in close proximity, as marine life would, when it’s activated. Makes sense to me. Marine life is more beneficial for the planet than humans.
Bill July 29th, 2014
I’m sure this clown is also a member of the Flat Earth Society.
IUCN RED LIST OF THREATENED SPECIES
INTERNATIONAL UNION FOR CONSERVATION OF NATURE
Excerpt from The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species
IV. THE CATEGORIES1
A representation of the relationships between the categories is shown in Figure 1.
A taxon is Extinct when there is no reasonable doubt that the last individual has died. A taxon is presumed Extinct when exhaustive surveys in known and/or expected habitat, at appropriate times (diurnal, seasonal, annual), throughout its historic range have failed to record an individual. Surveys should be over a time frame appropriate to the taxon’s life cycle and life form.
EXTINCT IN THE WILD (EW)
A taxon is Extinct in the Wild when it is known only to survive in cultivation, in captivity or as a naturalized population (or populations) well outside the past range. A taxon is presumed Extinct in the Wild when exhaustive surveys in known and/or expected habitat, at appropriate times (diurnal, seasonal, annual), throughout its historic range have failed to record an individual. Surveys should be over a time frame appropriate to the taxon’s life cycle and life form.
CRITICALLY ENDANGERED (CR)
A taxon is Critically Endangered when the best available evidence indicates that it meets any of the criteria A to E for Critically Endangered (see Section V), and it is therefore considered to be facing an extremely high risk of extinction in the wild.
A taxon is Endangered when the best available evidence indicates that it meets any of the criteria A to E for Endangered (see Section V), and it is therefore considered to be facing a very high risk of extinction in the wild.
1Note: As in previous IUCN categories, the abbreviation of each category (in parenthesis) follows the English denominations when translated into other languages (see Annex 2).15
A taxon is Vulnerable when the best available evidence indicates that it meets any of the criteria A to E for Vulnerable (see Section V), and it is therefore considered to be facing a high risk of extinction in the wild.
NEAR THREATENED (NT)
A taxon is Near Threatened when it has been evaluated against the criteria but does not
qualify for Critically Endangered, Endangered or Vulnerable now, but is close to qualifying
for or is likely to qualify for a threatened category in the near future.
LEAST CONCERN (LC)
A taxon is Least Concern when it has been evaluated against the criteria and does not
qualify for Critically Endangered, Endangered, Vulnerable or Near Threatened. Widespread and abundant taxa are included in this category.
DATA DEFICIENT (DD)
A taxon is Data Deficient when there is inadequate information to make a direct, or
indirect, assessment of its risk of extinction based on its distribution and/or population
status. A taxon in this category may be well studied, and its biology well known, but
appropriate data on abundance and/or distribution are lacking. Data Deficient is therefore not a category of threat. Listing of taxa in this category indicates that more information is required and acknowledges the possibility that future research will show that threatened classification is appropriate. It is important to make positive use of whatever data are available. In many cases great care should be exercised in choosing between DD and a threatened status. If the range of a taxon is suspected to be relatively circumscribed, and a considerable period of time has elapsed since the last record of the taxon, threatened status may well be justified.
NOT EVALUATED (NE)
A taxon is Not Evaluated when it has not yet been evaluated against the criteria.
WHAT WE MUST NOT ACCEPT
Posted by: Defenders of Wildlife
July 17. 2014
Reposted from Defenders of Wildlife blog:
Reposted from Defenders of Wildlife blog:
Ronald Pulliam is a former professor of environment and ecology at the University of Georgia in Athens. He was the director of the National Biological Service under Secretary of the Interior Bruce Babbitt, and later served as science advisor to the interior secretary. He is the former president of the Ecological Society of America, and currently serves on the board of the National Council for Science and Technology, the Odum School of Ecology at the University of Georgia, NatureServe and Defenders of Wildlife. Pulliam has a B.S. in biology from the University of Georgia and a Ph.D. in zoology from Duke University.
July 14, 2014 - Missoula, Montana
I just stepped out of a small roundtable discussion with, among others, Dan Ashe, Director of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
Director Ashe told the small group that he sees a “giant clash” between those who favor conservation and those who favor economic development and that he believes that conservationists “must accept a world with fewer wolves, salmon, and spotted owls.” The Director of the very agency most responsible for protecting the nation’s biodiversity went on to say that, in the name of compromise, we must accept “a world with less biodiversity.”
Unlike Director Ashe, I believe that the very fact that we now have only a small fraction of the wolves, salmon, and spotted owls that we once had provides an opportunity for the forces of economic development and those of conservation to join together and foster new economic growth by restoring the biodiversity that we have already lost.
I live in southeastern Arizona where, over the past 100 years, our rivers have dried up, our wildlife has declined precipitously, and now even ‘our wide open spaces’ are at risk of disappearing. As these resources become scarcer, they also become more valuable. At the same time that we are losing our biological heritage, we are witnessing the largest land transfer in the history of the American West. As ranchland is drying up and becoming less productive, the children of ranching families are leaving the land to become lawyers and doctors. These trends are creating “the perfect storm” and, ironically, are providing an opportunity to create a new “restoration economy” premised on restoring the land and its biological diversity.
Patagonia mountains, © Matt Clark
Patagonia Mountains – rich habitat for wildlife in the southwest
Valer and Josiah Austin and their Cuenca Los Ojos Foundation have brought back tens of thousands of acres of degraded, shrub invaded grassland and at least 7 miles of the Rio San Bernardino River in northern Sonora. Over 2,000 acres of new riparian forest along the banks of the restored river are providing renewed habitat for hundreds of species of plants and animals, including coati mundi, ring-tailed cat, and ocelot. Restored grasslands are providing both habitat for wildlife and better forage for cattle. The restored river is once again providing water and nutrients to ejido farmers downstream from the restoration project.
Sixty miles northwest of the Rio San Bernardino River, the abandoned mines and flood-prone, dry creek beds around the town of Patagonia, AZ, are reminders of an economy that no longer exists. Still, thousands of visitors flock to Patagonia to watch birds in what remains of Sonoita Creek and to observe, study, and collect butterflies, moths and bees in one of the most biologically diverse corners of the U.S. The newly renovated hotel is full of birders, naturalists, and scientists and at the “Gathering Ground’ coffee shop and the local restaurants, one overhears excited talk of the rare species seen.
The second largest employer in Patagonia is Borderlands Restoration, L3C, a limited profit company dedicated to restoring streams and food chains, and reconnecting people to the places where they live. Every day, 8 -10 Borderlands employees head to the Babocomari River, fifteen miles away where they are using the same simple water harvesting methods pioneered by the Austin’s and Cuenca los Ojos to restore the river. Another dozen Borderlands staff grow native plants for restoration projects, restore wildlife habitat on local ranches, or engage teams of Patagonia school children in local restoration projects. Last year alone, citizens of Patagonia, a small town of 800 residents, volunteered over 10,000 hours of their time to help Borderlands Restoration restore the “places where we live and the ecosystems on which we depend.”
Jaguar, © Gary Stolz/FWS
The lure of rare animals like jaguar and ocelot are part of what brings visitors to the southwest.
Patagonia is becoming a living example of the Restoration Economy, a place where people both appreciate biological diversity and derive income from it. Borderlands Restoration has supported local organic food production, sponsored “Grand Slam” Quail hunts (in one of the few places where three species of quail can be found living together), and conducted a small-scale, post-fire timber harvest. Patagonia’s gift shops, cafes, two grocery stores, and one gas station are frequented by birders, hikers, bikers, hunters, and others who come to breathe the fresh area and view the wildlife. In celebration of its 400 species of native bees, 14 species of hummingbirds, and an unusually rich butterfly and moth diversity, the town council has declared Patagonia the “Pollinator Capital of the US.” The rumor of a new “eco-lodge” to be built close to the 3 Canyons wildlife corridor, home to the only resident jaguar now in the US, adds to the prospects of new jobs in one of the poorest counties in the U.S.
Patagonia is a town not heeding Director Ashe’s call to accept the “fact that we have to live in a world with fewer species.” Instead, Patagonia, and other villages in southeastern Arizona and northern Sonora, are realizing that, in the long run, their biological wealth is their greatest asset and rather than acquiescing to its continued decline, they are actively participating in and celebrating its recovery.
Defenders of Wildlife works across the southwest to ensure that this region’s unique landscapes and spectacular diversity of life are restored and protected. Like many of you, we disagree vehemently with Director Ashe’s statement that we should simply “accept a world with fewer wolves, salmon, and spotted owls,” or be resigned to the loss of a species. Join us in speaking out to remind Director Ashe that our nation’s wildlife and habitats are the natural legacy of every American – they belong to each of us, and it is the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s mission to protect them.
Tweet to Director Dan Ashe:
@DirectorDanAshe I refuse to accept a world with fewer species. We’re trusting you to protect our nation’s wildlife. Are you up to it?
Reposted from the Timber Wolf Information Network
Oregon: U.S.Representative Walden
meets with ranchers
Wolves top list of subjects addressed at Dufur gathering
Posted on July 9, 2014
by TWIN Observer
By RaeLynn Ricarte
U.S. Rep. Greg Walden told ranchers from Wasco and Sherman counties July 3 that Oregon had been offered more wolves from Idaho.
He recounted the story shared by Idaho Gov. C.L. “Butch” Otter during their recent conversation about wolf population management.
He said Otter had been tongue-in-cheek with the offer in 2012 to Oregon Gov. John Kitzhaber. That proposal had been made after a hunter killed a wolf from an Oregon pack that had strayed across the border.
Otter was strongly opposed to the reintroduction of 70 timber wolves from Canada to Idaho and Montana in 1995. The wolf population in the Northern Rockies now tops 1,774 in 287 packs, according to federal wildlife experts, and Otter is pushing for more hunts due to a decline in elk and deer numbers.
“Gov. Otter offered 150 wolves to replace the one that was killed in Oregon,” said Walden, earning a chuckle from the audience.
The topic of wolves was the first broached at Thursday’s forum for ranchers that preceded a town hall meeting for other constituents.
Both sessions were held in a barn at the Dillon Land and Cattle Company in Dufur and drew about 85 people.
The recent wolf attack on a cow in summer pasture near Weston that was owned by a Sherman County rancher has raised the level of concern among area livestock owners.
Several local cattlemen told Walden they believed wolves had already established packs on or around Mount Hood. They expressed frustration about the federal “no kill” rule that made it difficult for them to protect their herds.
“It continues to be a real management problem,” agreed Walden, whose Second Congressional District includes 20 rural counties.
He said it was possible that wolves were spreading across the state, because they are known to travel long distances.
He said the fact that OR-7, also known as the “Lone Wolf” had found a mate and established a den during his journey from Oregon’s eastern border to the southern part of the state and into California was indicative of that reality.
U.S. Fish and Wildlife is considering de-listing of wolves as an endangered species on the western side of the state, Walden said, as had been done in the Northern Rockies and eastern Oregon, in 2011.
“I’ve always felt that de-listing would allow problems to be taken care of at the local level,” he said. However, he said livestock owners in Oregon counties that border Idaho, where wolves had come from, were finding state protection regulations to be just as “problematic.”
Although wolf hunts are authorized by Oregon’s management plan, there have to be four confirmed attacks in separate incidents within a six-month period. Any hunt allowed by the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife has to take place within 45-days, which ranchers contend is almost impossible given the secretive nature of wolves and their forested habitat that provides deep cover.
“I’ve always felt that, once wolves and cougars showed up in Portland, we might have a change in urban attitudes,” said Walden.
“We get all this stuff out here like it’s somebody’s playground and I think there’s a real need for more education about how things work on the ground.”
He said it was important for government leaders to make decisions about endangered species based on sound science and with more consideration for people who would have their livelihoods adversely affected.
The problem facing the House, he said, is that more than 40 bills had been approved to fix “broken” federal policy, such as the Endangered Species Act, but the Senate refused to consider them.
He said these pieces of legislation sought to cut increasingly burdensome red tape that is harming family businesses and ranchers and, in some cases, create jobs.
“Everything’s been piling up in the Senate because they don’t want to take these tough votes, so that’s frustrating,” said Walden.
With Northern spotted owl critical habitat designations causing a 90 percent decline in federal timber harvests during the last 30 years, Walden said it is important that listing of the Greater Sage Grouse, now under consideration, not have the same devastating economic impact on the beef industry.
“The effect of the sage grouse’s listing could make the spotted owl look like child’s play,” he said.
He said environmental activists need to be stopped from making money by filing challenges to species’ protection.
According to Walden, $2.2 billion was paid in 2011 to special interest groups that used the Equal Access for Justice Act to recoup legal fees after wins or settlements with the federal government.
“The (Obama) Administration won’t talk about any of these concerns, so that’s been frustrating as well,” he said.
Walden said GOP leaders had decided to sue President Barack Obama based on the belief that he is operating outside of his constitutional authority. He believes the Supreme Court’s recent ruling against Obama’s “recess appointments” of officials to the National Labor Relations Board is illustrative of the problem.
In addition, he said 30 changes have been made to the Affordable Care Act, commonly called Obamacare, by the president without input from Congress, which is the lawmaking body.
“This notion that he can do whatever he wants even has Democrats spun up,” said Walden.
When asked what citizens could do to push for change, he said, “Elections have consequences and that is what we are facing now.”
Although the majority of those in attendance July 3 appeared in agreement with Walden, he and other GOP leaders were chastised by Dufur ranchers Paul and Dixie Schanno for not doing enough to address immigration issues.
She said it was important to the survival of the nation’s agricultural industry that a legal path be found for workers to come from Mexico and other South American countries.
Walden said Obama had called House Speaker John Boehner to inform him that Democrats would not consider immigration reform prior to the November election.
He said the flood of children illegally crossing the borders of southern states to escape violence in South America is creating a “humanitarian crisis” that needs to be addressed at the federal level. Without securing the borders, the U.S. could not truly deal with a major national security issue.
“When we have border control agents changing diapers, something’s out of control,” said Walden.
The Schannos and several other constituents, some from Hood River, said Walden and other Republicans need to “come together” with Democrats to find solutions to the nation’s problems.
“Everything is a political decision instead of what’s right,” said Dixie. “We need a hero, we need you to be our hero.”
Walden said almost every major piece of legislation that he has sponsored, such as a bill to expand wilderness areas on Mount Hood, had been bi-partisan.
However, he said agreements were not always possible due to ideological differences.
“We all come with a voting card given to us by our constituents,” he said, reiterating that seven out of 12 appropriations bills that had originated in the House had died upon reaching the Senate.
Walden was also asked questions about education and the status of the Government Accountability Office investigation into the Cover Oregon website failure.
He said there was a need for more vocational programs in schools because many students excelled in the building trades and similar programs, but did not want to go to college.
Walden said the FBI and Department of Justice are now involved in the Cover Oregon investigation.
He said the board of directors needs to be held responsible for the taxpayer expenditure of $248 million into a health insurance exchange that never worked.
Press Release Reposted from Congressman Peter DeFazio ~ Representing the Fourth Distrect of Oregon
DeFazio Calls on Interior to Protect Gray Wolves
In or Near National Parks
In or Near National Parks
Jul 8, 2014 Press Release
Yellowstone gray wolves have been killed by hunters just outside of park boundaries
Washington, D.C. – Today, Ranking Member of the House Natural Resources Committee Peter DeFazio (D-OR) sent a letter urging Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell to create critical buffer zones to protect endangered gray wolves in or around our National Parks. In 2011, Congress legislated a U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service proposal to prematurely delist the gray wolf in Idaho, Montana, parts of Oregon and Washington when that proposal failed to pass muster in the courts. Since then numerous wolves have been killed just outside park borders.
In the letter, DeFazio writes, “Even with the delisting rule, killing or trapping wolves is prohibited inside Yellowstone National Park. However, gray wolves do not respect invisible park boundaries and once the wolves cross out of the park and onto bordering lands, there are myriad inconsistent state regulations that allow hunters to kill wolves on sight; in some instances without limit. As a result, the Yellowstone wolves are being shot and killed right outside the borders of the park.”
For over three years, the population of gray wolves in Yellowstone has steadily decreased as a result of hunting-related deaths. According to wildlife biologists, Yellowstone’s wolf population dropped 25% between 2011 and the end of 2012. The National Park Service reports that as of March 1, 2013, 12 Yellowstone National Park wolves were legally harvested just outside the park borders. To highlight one specific case, in late 2012, the New York Times reported that the renowned alpha wolf, 832F, was shot and killed just 15 miles outside park boundaries in Wyoming.
In the letter, DeFazio requests that the Department of the Interior (DOI) undertake a concerted and coordinated effort to work with the states to establish a uniform wolf safety zone or buffer around Yellowstone National Park. He also asks DOI to establish an Interagency Wolf Task Force for the purpose of coordinating across the federal and state agencies to protect park wolves from adverse effects of trophy hunting and other causes of human-induced mortality in all National Parks with wolf populations.
Today, DeFazio also sent a letter to Director of U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) Dan Ashe, questioning his defense of the science used to justify the Service’s recent proposal to remove critical protections for endangered gray wolves in the remaining lower 48 states. In March, DeFazio led a bipartisan letter co-signed by 73 House members urging Secretary Jewell to withdraw the flawed proposal. The letter came on the heels of an independent peer review that found the Service failed to use the “best available science” when it drafted the proposed rule that would remove Endangered Species Act (ESA) protections for gray wolves in the continental United States.
“In press accounts, you have indicated you have no second thoughts on the delisting proposal and dismissed the peer review as being too technical, despite the fact that the peer reviewers answered the questions that the Service put to them. It is remarkable that we would spend 20 years or more committed to the recovery of this species only to see it vanish well before the job has been completed. That is not only irresponsible, it is shameful, and I do not believe it is the goal of the ESA. In short, I find the morphing explanation based upon science which has failed a peer review to be unworthy of your agency,” DeFazio wrote to Director Ashe.
The Service’s proposed rule to delist in the lower 48 has generated over 1 million comments since 2013. DeFazio recently led a CREDO Mobile petition
to urge the Service to rescind the rule that generated nearly 160,000 signatures.
A copy of the Jewell letter can be found here.
A copy of the Ashe letter can be found here.
Background on DeFazio’s actions on gray wolf issues, click here.
Reposted from The Timber Wolf Information Network:
FEDS PROPOSE LIMITED ENDANGERED SPECIES DEFINITION
Posted on July 3, 2014 by TWIN Observer
Laura Lundquist, Chronicle Staff Writer
A clarification of part of the Endangered Species Act has some wildlife advocates concerned that the act is being watered down.
In a policy change that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the National Marine Fisheries Service claim will provide consistency, the agencies published a definition for the phrase “significant portion of (a species’) range,” which is sometimes used in determining whether a species should be listed as threatened or endangered.
The ESA defines an endangered species as “any species that is in danger of extinction throughout all or a significant portion of its range.” But the law didn’t define what qualifies as a significant portion.
Under this new policy, “significant” indicates that one portion of the species is so important to the survival of the species as a whole that, if it were lost, the species would likely go extinct. So even if the species as a whole, such as the gray wolf or the grizzly bear in the U.S., was not endangered or threatened, but one significant population was, then the species would be considered endangered or threatened.
The other key change was the definition of “range” itself. Now, a species’ range is only that area where it resides when considered for listing. As a protected species moves into areas outside that range, however, it remains protected.
The agencies said they wouldn’t consider lost historical range as sole justification for listing a species, although it would be considered when determining whether a species could recover.
This part, in particular, has Alliance for the Wild Rockies executive director Mike Garrity in Bozeman declaring the Obama administration to be worse than the Bush administration concerning the protection of endangered species. In 2005, Bush Administration appointee Julie McDonald designated a fraction of the critical habitat that scientists had recommended for bull trout recovery. In 2010, after McDonald was investigated and resigned, the USFWS increased the habitat designation by five times.
Garrity said this new definition of range was similar to what McDonald had wanted.
“This is a weakening of the ESA. This is based upon politics, not science,” Garrity said. “The science is clear: To keep a species, you need to protect habitat and that habitat needs to be connected. They’re essentially changing the definition of ‘recovery.’”
Taking the situation of the gray wolf in the West as an example, the new rule would ignore the fact that wolves existed in the area prior to being driven to extinction because historical range doesn’t matter.
Wolves are thriving in and moving between Montana, Idaho and parts of Wyoming, and that might be considered a significant portion of the gray wolf’s range. A few smaller groups have established in Washington and Oregon.
If the gray wolves in the West were considered recovered and something were to threaten one of the smaller populations in Oregon or Washington, that wouldn’t affect the wolf’s status. However, if something like disease threatened the Montana-Idaho-Wyoming population, but not the smaller populations, the wolf would be relisted.
The wolf situation is hypothetical, but wolves are being considered for delisting, so this definition could affect the efforts of wildlife groups to keep the wolf under ESA protections.
The phrase “significant portion of its range” has been a big part of many lawsuits either seeking to have species protected or fighting the delisting of a species.
Those lawsuits were the driving force behind this clarification, said FWS spokesman Gavin Shire. In the last year alone, dozens of lawsuits have claimed that species hadn’t been recovered or were not surviving in a significant portion of their range.
Such lawsuits include efforts to protect the Florida manatee and the green sea turtle from septic tanks in Florida, to protect the lesser prairie chicken from habitat loss in Texas and the Canadian lynx from trapping in Idaho.
This clarification was put out to public comment in 2011 after two courts rejected parts of an earlier 2007 Department of the Interior opinion. Gavin said there aren’t too many situations where the new definition would apply. Many species don’t have parts of their population separated enough to have significant portions within a whole.
“Finding an example may be tricky,” Gavin said. “We’re just codifying what we have been doing already.”
The Center for Biological Diversity has already threatened legal action in a press release.
“Most endangered species in the U.S. have suffered massive losses over the past and now cling to survival in only a small remnant of their historical home. As such, the final policy defines ‘significant portion of its range’ to make it superfluous: Only species at risk of extinction everywhere will now be protected,” the release said.
The Defenders of Wildlife said their attorneys were still reviewing the definition and could not comment.
The policy goes into effect July 31.
Photo credit: The Endangered Species Act
72 MEMBERS OF CONGRESS URGE U.S.FISH AND WILDLIFE SERVICE TO DELIST THE GRAY WOLF FROM THE ENDANGERED SPECIES ACT
A bipartisan group of 72 Members of Congress have written to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) to urge that the Agency delist the gray wolf from the Endangered Species Act (ESA) in the Continental United States.
The letter was spearheaded by Sens. Orrin Hatch (R-UT) and John Barrasso (R-WY), and Reps. Cynthia Lummis (R-WY) and Doc Hastings (R-WA), Chairman of the House Natural Resources Committee.
In the letter, the Members of Congress write that “[w]olves are not an endangered species and do not merit federal protections. The full delisting of the species and the return of the management of wolf populations to State governments is long overdue. As you know, State governments are fully qualified to responsibly manage wolf populations and are able to meet both the needs of local communities and wildlife populations.”
The lawmakers added that an unmanaged wolf population poses a threat to the communities and surrounding livestock and indigenous wildlife, but that “currently State wildlife officials have their hands tied any time wolves are involved.” They add that State wildlife managers “need to be able to respond to the needs of their native wildlife without being burdened by the impediments of the federal bureaucracy created by the ESA.”
In addition to Hatch and Barrasso, Senators signing the letter were:
Sens. John Cornyn (R-TX)
Mike Crapo (R-ID)
Mike Enzi (R-WY)
Heidi Heitkamp (D-ND)
Dean Heller (R-NV)
Mike Lee (R-UT)
Joe Manchin (D-WV)
Lisa Murkowski (R-AK)
James Risch (R-ID)
John Thune (R-ND)
David Vitter (R-LA)
Members of the House signing the letter in addition to Lummis and Hastings were :
Reps. Michele Bachmann (R-MN)
Dan Benishek (R-MI)
Rob Bishop (R-UT)
Marsha Blackburn (R-TN)
Kevin Brady (R-TX)
Jason Chaffetz (R-UT)
Howard Coble (R-NC)
Tom Cole (R-OK)
Mike Conaway (R-TX)
Kevin Cramer (R-ND)
Steven Daines (R-MT)
Ron DeSantis (R-FL)
Jeff Duncan (R-SC)
Stephen Fincher (R-TN)
Bob Gibbs (R-OH)
Sam Graves (R-MO)
Bill Huizenga (R-MI)
Duncan Hunter (R-CA)
Bill Johnson (R-OH)
Steve King (R-IA)
John Kline (R-MN),
Doug Lamalfa (R-CA)
Bob Latta (R-OH)
Blayne Luetkemeyer (R-MO)
Kenny Marchant (R-TX)
Jim Matheson (D-UT)
Patrick McHenry (R-NC)
Candice Miller (R-MI)
Jeff Miller (R-FL)
Mick Mulvaney (R-SC)
Randy Neugebauer (R-TX)
Kristi Noem (R-SD)
Alan Nunnelee (R-MS)
Steve Palazzo (R-MS)
Collin Peterson (D-MN)
Mike Pompeo (R-KS)
Jim Renacci (R-OH)
Reid Ribble (R-WI)
Dennis Ross (R-FL)
Paul Ryan (R-WI)
Steve Scalise (R-LA)
David Schweikert (R-AZ)
Austin Scott (R-GA)
Pete Sessions (R-TX)
Terri Sewell (D-AL)
Adrian Smith (R-NE)
Steve Southerland (R-FL)
Chris Stewart (R-UT)
Steve Stivers (R-OH)
Steve Stockman (R-TX)
Marlin Stutzman (R-TX)
Glenn Thompson (R-PA)
Tim Walz (D-MN)
Randy Weber (R-TX)
Lynn Westmoreland (GA)
Rob Wittman (R-VA)
Don Young (R-AK)
The full text of the letter is below:
The Honorable Dan Ashe
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
1849 C Street, NW
Washington, DC 20240
Dear Director Ashe:
We understand the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) is in the process of reviewing the Endangered Species Act (ESA) recovery status of the gray wolf in the lower 48 States and is preparing to announce the delisting of the species. We support the nationwide delisting of wolves and urge you to move as quickly as possible on making this a reality. We were supportive of the USFWS decision in 2009 when most wolves were delisted in the Northern Rocky Mountains, again in 2011 when wolves in the Great Lake States were delisted, and the 2012 delisting in Wyoming. It is unfortunate that these decisions were met with lawsuits from environmental activists.
Wolves are not an endangered species and do not merit federal protections. The full delisting of the species and the return of the management of wolf populations to State governments is long overdue. As you know, State governments are fully qualified to responsibly manage wolf populations and are able to meet both the needs of local communities and wildlife populations.
Unmanaged wolves are devastating to livestock and indigenous wildlife. Currently State wildlife officials have their hands tied any time wolves are involved. They need to be able to respond to the needs of their native wildlife without being burdened by the impediments of the federal bureaucracy created by the ESA. During the four decades that wolves have had ESA protections, there has been an uncontrolled and unmanaged growth of wolf populations resulting in devastating impacts on hunting and ranching in America as well as tragic damages to historically strong and healthy herds of moose, elk, big horn sheep, and mule deer.
As you consider these much needed changes to federal protections with regard to the gray wolf, we urge you to expand the delisting of the species to all of the lower 48 states. It is critical that the states be given the ability to properly manage all of the species within their boundaries.
Barrasso blocks vote on nominee over wolves
June 15, 2011 7:30 am
By Jeremy Pelzer Star-Tribune staff writer
CHEYENNE — For the past two weeks, U.S. Sen. John Barrasso, R-Wyo., has blocked the nomination of the new director of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service after the agency stalled on replying to state negotiators over a Wyoming wolf management plan.
And Barrasso will continue to delay a Senate confirmation vote of Daniel Ashe as director of the Fish and Wildlife Service, even though the agency has again started communicating with state officials about a wolf deal, according to a congressional source.
For years, Fish and Wildlife has refused to accept Wyoming’s state wolf management plan and remove the state’s roughly 300 wolves from the federal endangered species list. The state’s plan allows unregulated killing of the animals in all but the northwest corner of the state. Fish and Wildlife, on the other hand, wants wolves to be classified as “trophy game” throughout the state, meaning they could only be hunted with a license.
During a meeting in Cheyenne with Gov. Matt Mead in late March, Interior Secretary Ken Salazar
suggested a deadline of a month to reach an agreement on a management plan, said Mead spokesman Renny MacKay.
Following the meeting, Wyoming’s wolf negotiators sent off a formal letter to Fish and Wildlife detailing the state’s position, MacKay said. But for the next 40 days or so, they got no reply.
“They just weren’t talking to us,” MacKay said.
In response, Barrasso placed the hold on Ashe’s nomination on May 27. A little more than a week later, on June 6, Fish and Wildlife sent a formal response to the state’s letter. Negotiations have continued since then, MacKay said.
But while Barrasso is pleased that “progress has been made,” the congressional source said, he’ll continue to keep the hold in place to make sure Fish and Wildlife doesn’t break off communication again.
A phone call and email to the U.S. Department of the Interior seeking comment were not returned Tuesday afternoon.
MacKay said while the governor didn’t know beforehand that Barrasso planned to place the hold on Ashe’s nomination, he’s glad that wolf negotiations have resumed.
But like Barrasso, Mead is wary about Fish and Wildlife staying in touch on a regular basis in the future, MacKay said.
“The governor appreciates that we’re making progress, but there’s more to do on this issue,” MacKay said.
Barrasso is only the latest in a line of Republican senators who have held up Ashe’s nomination in order to resolve grievances against the Interior Department and the Obama administration.
U.S. Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah, has also blocked Ashe’s nomination until Salazar turns over all documents relating to the administration’s proposed “Wild Lands” policy, which, until it was abandoned earlier this month, could have made millions of acres of undeveloped land in the West eligible for federal wilderness protection. Salazar’s office complied in part with Lee’s request last week.
Earlier this month, U.S. Sen. David Vitter, R-La., lifted his 3 ½-month hold on Ashe’s nomination after the Obama administration approved 15 deepwater-well drilling permits in the Gulf of Mexico and allayed his concerns about the drilling process.
Another opponent, U.S. Sen. Jim Inhofe, R-Okla., said last month he wouldn’t block Ashe’s nomination after Salazar and Ashe met with the senator about global warming policies and the potential endangered listing of the lesser prairie chicken.
Few, if any, of the holdups have been caused by concerns about Ashe himself, a Maryland resident who currently serves as Fish and Wildlife’s deputy director for policy.
Contact capital bureau reporter Jeremy Pelzer at (307) 632-1244 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter: @jpelzer.
Copyright 2014 Casper Star-Tribune Online.
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