PBS Nature: Christmas in Yellowstone

If you can, watch this wonderful presentation by PBS Nature series called “Christmas in Yellowstone” about wildlife and one of the U.S. most famous parks. It has breathtaking scenery and wonderful accounts of animals in the wild. Hopefully, it will remind viewers of all that’s at stake relative to the plight of our LIVING natural resources in the U.S. and how some have lost protection and are facing ill managed plans by state agencies.

Watching the film, it’s easy to see and understand better that nature balances itself. These ecosystems should be preserved and protected for generations to come. I can’t imagine a world without wonderful places like this.

Link to the schedule for this PBS presentation in your area: http://www.pbs.org/wnet/nature/schedule/.

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Gray Wolves of Yellowstone Getting a Bad Deal; Hunting Looks to be For Sport

The gray wolves of Yellowstone Park are being slaughtered for not other reason than sport hunting anymore. Montana originally claimed it was targeting wolves that preyed on livestock. I wrote a blog about a 3 year Dept. of Agriculture study of collared wolves that lived around the perimeter of cattle fields. Those wolves crossed those fields nightly. In 3 years time 8 cattle were found dead. Around 2.5 cows per year for multiple wolf packs is a pretty cheesy argument to be making to annihilate the wolves. As a matter of fact some radio collared wolves being studied by biologists were gunned down recently too.

Montana’s proclamation about purposefully targeting wolves was bull. Montana permitted wolf hunting in backcountry wilderness areas 6 weeks before opening its front ranges for cattle according to the NRDC. So a bunch of wolves that were minding their business staying far away from any cattle were gunned down anyway. And those wolves happened to be Yellowstone’s beloved Cottonwood Creek pack.

The NRDC got national media coverage for what they termed that “debacle.” Of course the gaming officials in those states were “shocked” that too many of the wrong wolves were killed. Wrong wolves? Like the NRDC said, “Wolf hunts should not be taking place at all right now.” Yet it looks like almost 40% of the entire population will be killed. Montana isn’t the only culprit.

I’ve posted the deer and elk populations per Montana, Idaho, and Wyoming via their respective government websites. There is no threat of a shortage. One state was over quota for either elk or deer. I blogged about the fact that Michigan has 4,000 of the critters with little problem. Livestock and wild game populations relative to too many wolves just doesn’t muster argument when we look at the facts. The wolves are being hunted for sport. The states hunting the wolves should just admit it.

If Wyoming doesn’t admit it, it’s going to look pretty bad using the lame excuse about wolves threatening game and cattle because BP and EnCana Oil and Gas in Wyoming displaced thousands of game out of their home/habitat, and cattle grazing ground with one of their largest oil and gas projects of 30,000 acres once known as “The Upper Green River Basin.” Not green anymore.

It wasn’t until after the companies were approached by local gov’t. and environmental groups about displacing wildlife, and ruining habitat, that the oil/gas companies wanted to set up a conservation area 20 MILES AWAY at Cottonwood Ranch. It’s working out well for some of the animals that were already migrating to that area but the jury is still out if what is being replaced in any way can make up for robbing that basin that was home to:

[A] major pronghorn migration corridor, sage grouse, pygmy rabbits, and burrowing owls, and is used by local ranchers for grazing cattle. According to the Wyoming Outdoor Council, it is also the largest publicly-owned winter range for big game. Hundreds of thousands of moose, elk, and mule deer retreat to the valley during the snowy months.

See what I mean about unfair? Wolves are supposedly being hunted in Yellowstone because their numbers are 2.5 times less than the number of gray wolves in Michigan, and because wolves are supposedly indiscriminate killers of cattle and the game that sportsmen like to hunt. Yet we see here that it’s all right for oil and gas companies to abscond acres of “publicly-owned” habitat stressing populations of the very same game animals especially during brutal winter months. We expect them to just go elsewhere? The cattle that used to graze there are you know what out of luck too.

So there you have it, a double standard. The wolf loses now, and we eventually lose as a nation because Ghandi once said: “The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated.” He’s not the only one that got it:

“I am in favor of animal rights as well as human rights. That is the way of a whole human being.”
–Abraham Lincoln

“I care not much for a man’s religion whose dog and cat are not the better for it.”
–Abraham Lincoln

“He who is cruel to animals becomes hard also in his dealings with men. We can judge the heart of a man by his treatment of animals.”
–Immanuel Kant

“Until he extends the circle of compassion to all livings things, Man will not himself find peace.”
–Albert Schweitzer

“If all the beasts were gone, man would die from loneliness of spirit, for whatever happens to the beast, happens to the man.”
–Chief Seattle

These are only a few quotes. Look how old they are and how far we’ve gone in the opposite direction? We aerial hunt wolves and bear, have canned hunts, Internet hunting, horrible road side zoos, haze wild mustang horses and buffalo with helicopters, purposely poison wildlife in our parks, and our shelters are bulging with abandoned companions. “What happens to beast, happens to man…”

http://www.pbs.org/newshour/updates/science/jan-june09/wyoming_03-27.html.

https://secure.nrdconline.org/site/Advocacy?cmd=display&page=UserAction&id=1711&s_src=nrdchpa.

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Another Yellowstone Icon Dies in Wolf Slaughter

I wrote about Limpy the wolf when he was shot to death in a previous planned wolf hunt in Yellowstone that lasted briefly until it was halted. Limpy was a crippled wolf that many, many visitors to Yellowstone Park looked forward to catching a glimpse of when visiting.

I’ve written many blogs on the plight of one of native America’s icons, the gray wolf.
And now I’m writing about a really special wolf that was sniped down by rifle in the latest wolf slaughter in Yellowstone. Anyone who has ever owned more than one pet knows that pets are not all the same. We can replace them with look alikes, or the same breed, but seldom do we get that special personality back again. If you’ve ever owned a remarkably smart animal you know what I’m talking about. Somehow they transcend the animal/human experience. They connect and show emotion often so much so we view them as almost human. I truly believe there are exceptional animals in the wild that are the same.

The NRDC recently reported that Wolf 527 was among the wolves gunned down and that she originated from the Druid pack, “one of the best known wolf packs in Yellowstone’s Lamar Valley, the scene of numerous National Geographic and PBS documentaries.” Biologists and wolf watchers monitored the movements of the Druid pack for years and one of them KNEW 527. When I write that he KNEW the animal, it’s in the same sense I speak of the animals we’ve known that were exceptional and irreplaceable.

527 was a wolf that marched to the beat of a very different drummer. As a yearling, 527 left the Druids to join the Slough pack — where she quickly became the beta (second-in-command) female. Then in 2007, she and a male wolf set off to found their own pack — the Cottonwood Creek pack — where she became the alpha (first-in-command) female.

As a leader of the Cottonwood pack, 527 was known to be a master of survival strategies. While four other packs that inhabited the same area suffered dismal fates, her pack thrived. As her biographer recounts, “She was a genius wolf in her tactics. Strategy was her game and she was a master at it. She would return to feed her pups in the dark of night because she would not take the risk of crossing the road.”

But in the end, despite 527’s “unbelievable survival strategies,” this resilient wolf “was not able to outthink a rifle” and was killed on October 3 when Montana unleashed its first public wolf hunt in modern times.

Since the public hunts began, 156 wolves in the Northern Rockies have met 527’s fate. And over the next year, more than 500 wolves could be shot to death by hunters and government agents … reducing the region’s wolf population by a staggering 40 percent!

Wolf 527’s death has stirred a lot of dissent. If you go to NRDC’s website via the link at the bottom, the picture there of 527 is of a beautiful black wolf that could be any of those in the above video. Since this obituary went out to NRDC members thousands have written to Sec’y of the Interior Salazar to stop the Yellowstone wolf hunt. If you ever owned a special animal think of 527 and write to Salazar to stop the wolf hunts and return their protection.

When we read here that 500 gray wolves comprise almost 40% of all of the Yellowstone wolves being hunted then we know that collectively there weren’t even 1500 gray wolves in Yellowstone Park. Yellowstone Park is predominantly in Wyoming and only extends into Idaho and Montana. Yellowstone Park is 3,468 sq. miles and 2,219,789 acres. What is wrong with this picture when the western half of Michigan is nowhere near that vast an area but boasts over 4,000 gray wolves roaming freely? So far they haven’t eaten all the deer in Michigan. Deer are so prevalent they show up in the middle of towns. And Michigan has its fair share of farms with little to no altercations with wolves???

So it’s pretty evident there is no science behind the decision to hunt the gray wolves of Yellowstone. The fate of this beautiful animal has always been decided by the whim of man. We shipped them here not long ago, nurtured them, and allowed them the freedom to run and procreate. As visitors to the park we delighted in watching the wolf transplants. And Yellowstone Park rangers documented the benefit the wolves brought to the park. Many species of trees, plants, shrubs, and grasses that disappeared from overgrazing by elk and deer were thriving again. Wolves actually helped to alter the landscape of Yellowstone for the good not to mention the ability to relocate and disperse herds of elk and deer around the park so that they are better able to survive winters. Then during a presidency that had little regard for natural resources that weren’t oil, coal, or natural gas the tide turned for the wolf again and man decided to slaughter what it nurtured. We’re as dangerous as we are fickle.

The wolf hunts are a travesty for America. We hunted them to extinction before and didn’t learn our lesson. What’s happening right now belongs to the mentality of the 1800’s not the 21st century. I have to wonder where Salazar’s head is—oh that’s right it’s under a cowboy RANCHER’s hat. Salazar’s is an example of the conflict of interest we see too many times in public office as he neglects thousands of emails, phone calls, and petitions to stop the wolf hunt.

Tell Salazar to stop the wolf hunts: https://secure.nrdconline.org/site/Advocacy?cmd=display&page=UserAction&id=1643&autologin=true.

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Reason for Wolf Hunts in Rockies Doesn’t Hold Water to Michigan Wolf Study

Michigan has a lot of wolves—the most in the lower 48 states! Over 4,000 wolves live in the western Great Lakes region. Livestock owners in this area want to share the landscape with wolves. Their losses to wolves are rare only 1%. So who’s lying about livestock losses? Michigan or Idaho? Surely Idaho has as many deer, elk, and moose as Michigan, and livestock ranches and wolf packs share the area just the same. Heck Idaho has Yellowstone Park for the wolves to roam. So what’s wrong with this picture? Because from what I’ve read, the wolves of the Rockies are being hunted because of livestock losses and because as wolf numbers grow they supposedly pose a threat to deer and elk populations.

Michigan has a lot of deer! Cars hit them. They enter buildings. I recently watched a video where a deer waltzed through a diner, in the front door and out the back. So why aren’t 4,000 wolves wiping out our deer population?

The answer lies on Michigan’s Isle Royale, a 45-mile long island off the UP (Copper Harbor) in the western part of Lake Superior. According to an article by Heidi Ridgley of Defenders of Wildlife, “Isle Royale is the least visited National Park in the country.” But it is the lab where the longest ongoing wolf study is being conducted by biologists from Michigan Tech. The co-director of the wolf program at Michigan Tech, Rolf Peterson continues the work pioneered by Durward Allen in 1958, as an “uninterrupted study of a predator and its prey.” There is 51 years of expertise here involving the gray wolf and the moose of Isle Royale. This study produced facts that are inconsistent with the reason for hunting the Great Rockies’ wolves. Wolves prey predominantly on old and/or debilitated animals. And when the prey declines the wolf population also declines. It’s nature’s balance.

So if the Great Rockies’ wolves are as prolific as we’re lead to believe than Idaho’s deer and elk populations should be thriving—and are. That’s what I found to be true when I looked at the state stats of deer and elk populations in Idaho, Montana, and Wyoming. It simply is not true that the wolves threaten deer and elk populations at this point at all. So that leaves the rancher’s losses and we have to wonder about that reporting because it’s the same type of wolves, same ole cattle, just different states reporting very different loss statistics.

In the meantime, the latest wolf hunts will have detrimental affects on the gray wolf farther down the line than just this hunting season. Oh, the wolves will rebound eventually but fractured wolf pack families, and packs that are disjointed from other wolf packs do not survive well. The study on Isle Royale confirms that wolves will interbreed for survival. The biologists in this study have already found spine and hip deformities in the carcasses of dead wolves from interbreeding on Isle Royale where populations of wolves are endangered as global warming has had a horribly detrimental affect on their main prey, the moose.

The biologists have tracked the summer seasons on this island national park. There have been shorter winters almost every year since 1998 and it shows in the decline of moose populations on Isle Royale. In Minnesota where there is a lot of prairie and scattered trees that does not offer enough shade, “moose numbers have dropped from several thousand to 100 in recent years.” Moose need frigid climates. Frigid climates kill fleas and ticks, another horrible parasitic problem plaguing Isle Royale’s moose that I blogged about.

All I know is that the wolf hunts are political in origin. It’s got little to do with the poor wolf. Big hunting lobbyists were anxious for the wolf hunts and the NRA is never far behind them. They won for now. However, as stated in the Los Angeles Times and quoted in an article in discovermagazine.com ‘Judge Donald Molloy also wrote that the Fish and Wildlife Service, in continuing to list Wyoming wolves under the Endangered Species Act while delisting them in the two neighboring states, “has distinguished a natural population of wolves based on a political line, not the best available science.’

What I’m concerned with is man’s interference with natural balance. Suppose the wolves do interbreed more and more. Can there, will there eventually be wolves mentally impaired and unpredictable as interbred dogs? It gives a whole new meaning to the “Big Bad Wolf.”

Read the whole story about what’s happening up north in Isle Royale:
http://www.defenders.org/newsroom/defenders_magazine/fall_2009/royale_challenge.php.

http://blogs.discovermagazine.com/80beats/2009/09/10/wolf-hunt-in-the-rockies-can-continue-judge-rules/comment-page-1/#comment-62547.

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African Ranchers More Cooperative Toward Conservation of Predators Than U.S.

To many of us Africa is still the land of Tarzan and the Lion King. But Africa has changed greatly and no differently than other continents in that the human population is growing, spreading, and creating greater conflict with wildlife. This situation is similar to the U.S. west with ranchers moving into predator territory where wolves, large cats, and grizzly roam. The difference between our situation in the west and those of African ranchers is the type of predator, the size of the ranch, basic human needs, and the way in which the situation is resolved.

African ranchers like those in the Massai in Tanzania have trouble with lion predators attacking their very small livestock herds that are used basically for their own sustenance. Yet even though the Massai ranchers have killed too many lions whose populations are suffering to begin with, the Massai are interested and willing to avert the lion attacks rather than kill the lions whenever possible. They are willing to pay half of the expense for chain link fencing around their stockyard pens called “bomas” to keep attacks down instead. Bomas are traditionally thorny brush piled high for a tall perimeter of organic fence around livestock. This type of thorny enclosure works to keep the livestock in but unfortunately does not always keep the lions out. The lions come out of their reserve due to hunger for lack of prey. The Massai ranchers have learned through organizations like the African Wildlife Foundation that a little preventative care will thwart a majority of attempts at their livestock from lions. The African Wildlife Foundation donates the other half of the expense for the chain link fence the Massai ranchers are willing to use to save the lions, as well as, their livestock.

This is the type of cooperation with wildlife that would be expected of educated ranchers interested in preserving indigenous wild predators while saving their livestock especially where the ranch is huge and the rancher is certainly wealthier than those of the Massai, and the livestock is not intended for sustenance by the rancher as much as profit. But U.S. ranchers just don’t see it that way relative to predators like the Yellowstone wolves.

What’s wrong with this picture? Like the lions of the Massai, there are alternatives to killing the Yellowstone wolves. But U.S. ranchers simply state that it takes a lot of time and effort to maintain the safety of their herds in the open areas near Yellowstone. It’s just easier to turn the wolves over to the hunting industry with little thought or intervention even though U.S. ranchers have the ability to end the endless cycle of slaughter perpetrated on wolves and other predators forever by adopting methods to avert attacks. After all, wolves were here long before ranchers decided to keep their herds in predator territory while expecting everything else to just get out of the way or else.

I thought this was an ironic scenario I read about where African natives that stand to lose the food on their table, and the little bit of income they get for their livestock to invest in alternatives to killing the predators, while the majority of U.S. ranchers refuse to change their habits and invest the time and money it takes to live and work around the wildlife that surrounds them.

African lions used to number nearly 200,000 on the African continent and are now reduced to number from 25,000 to 40,000 total. This decline is horrible with man being the lion’s biggest threat. Bernard Kissui of African Wildlife Foundation’s Lion Conservation Science Project has been saddened by what he has seen lately. Thirty-eight lions have been lost to retaliatory killing since 2007, nearly 20% of the area’s total population. By raising money for fencing for cooperative African ranchers, he proposes to lessen the kill rate of lions. So far he’s been successful introducing the chain link fences. Many African ranchers are interested in the additional sturdy fencing. The African Wildlife Foundation is asking for any donations to raise $75,000 quickly for the cost of fencing to avert more attacks on lions in the Massai Steppe region in Tanzania, home to half of Africa’s lions.

Imagine Kissui’s sadness when he visited a small ranch recently and found the male and female lion he studied for quite some time covered with blood from being speared to death. This reminds me of the rangers of Yellowstone that produced a documentary on behalf of the wolves they’ve studied to show how well the wolves helped the ecosystems of Yellowstone. And of course, the sadness of the many who over a course of years viewed Limpy, the famous wolf that was shot to death in the last hunt of the Yellowstone’s wolves.

If you’ve enjoyed the “Lion King,” admired big cats in Tarzan movies, or want to keep the “King of the Jungle” from being threatened further, goto AWF’s website and donate if you can to raise what is a rather small amount of money to conserve and protect the African lions.

View the good impact AWF has made on behalf of Africa’s wildlife.

http://www.awf.org/content/solution/detail/3504

http://library.thinkquest.org/06aug/00442/lions.html

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One-Year Anniversary of Shooting Death of Limpy, Yellowstone’s Famous Wolf

 

Almost one year to the day, the anniversary of Limpy’s shooting coincides with Secy. of Interior Salazar’s decision to take Yellowstone’s wolves off of the endangered list leaving them vulnerable to hunting once again.

 

Many environmental groups are taking this action to court. And yet others are petitioning President Obama to look more closely at the science behind the introduction of wolves in our parks once again, the benefit they provide, and the fact that they haven’t been allowed to reach their full potential in numbers that was decided upon when they were first introduced.

 

The main problem with allowing states the right to decide on hunting species relative to those that make their homes in our national parks is just that. Yellowstone is a NATIONAL park spanning several states. Why should any one state decide to hunt wolves while others do not? State parks are one thing, but national parks come under federal rule.

 

So to help with the plight of the wolves so many are trying to protect watch the following video of Limpy’s shooting, and pass it along to friends to spread the word and e-mail president Obama that we want to keep our wolves alive thank you.

 

Hopefully, watching the famous crippled wolf get gunned down will show the ugly side of what we call good sportsmanship. It looks like the only sportsmanship involved with the wolf kill is the push by the huge hunting lobby tied to the NRA. The same people that continue the movement to bring guns to our peaceful national parks.

 


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Wilderness Bill Affects Michigan in a Good Way

There is a wilderness bill before congress that will protect more than a million acres of new wilderness areas in 8 states. It’s a good counterbalance to the acres of national forests that went up for auction over the past 8 years. Michigan is one of the states that would gain protected wilderness area through this bill.

A current Wilderness Society newsletter stated, “the bill [] would prevent new oil and gas leasing along the Wyoming Range and make permanent the National Landscape Conservation System, made up of 26 million acres of unspoiled public lands in the West.”

The only drawback to the bill is the authorization of a road through the Izembek National Wildlife Refuge in Alaska, which groups like the Wilderness Society strongly oppose. They will work to get this one provision removed. The bill may pass by the end of the year. If not it will be presented again during the new administration.

This wilderness bill is actually a composite of 150 public land bills, and according to the same article would “designate wilderness in Michigan for the first time in 21 years. The Beaver Basin Wilderness at Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore would protect a popular hiking, boating, and camping spot on Lake Superior.”

Aside from this, I recall reading WXYZ’s news ticker a couple of weeks ago that stated Sleeping Bear Dunes Park would be adding 35 miles of hiking trails and expanding the wilderness area of the park by 45%.

Encourage our state reps to pass this wilderness bill, as it will protect many areas of many states from roads, structures, and off-road vehicles forever. It’s the least we can do after the Bush Administration’s onslaught against our national parks, public lands, and wildlife, and get back on track for protecting some of our beautiful national heritage.

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Developing Our National Forests While Houses Stand Empty

I was watching a news program and that little ticker of news across the bottom said that an agreement was hatched between the largest private landowner in the country to use forest service roads for possible development in our forests. Plum Creek Timber Co. is the landowner. Plum Creek became an REIT in 1999.

An REIT is a Real Estate Investment Trust that allows investors to buy equity in large tracks of land. A REIT is also a pass through entity distributing 90%, although many distribute 100%, of their total net income to its equity holders. The equity holders are then taxed on that income, not the REIT. For a pretty good explanation about REIT’s read: http://money.howstuffworks.com/personal-finance/real-estate/reit.htm.

Plum Creek is first and foremost a lumber company, the heir to the timberland originally granted by the federal government to the Northern Pacific Railway in the 1860s according to Wikipedia. Plum Creek’s website states that they replant some 85 million seedlings per year, work closely with conservation groups to preserve wildlife habitat and protect clean water sources. A good thing environmentally since they own, or rather their shareholders own, close to 8 million acres of wooded forest land.

But Senators Jon Tester D-Montana, and Jeff Bingaman D-NM want an investigation into the new ruling that allows Plum Creek to use forest service drives because the closed door negotiations didn’t allow the public to weigh in. And I’m beginning to see why. Here’s the bad thing.

Some of the places developed by Plum Creek already are high-end lodge and golf facilities right in the middle of our national forests. Who does that cater to in these economic times? You and I aren’t going to stay and golf there. And what about developing subdivisions in these forests? An article in the International Herald Tribune stated, “Montana county officials say the proposal would make it easier for Plum Creek to sell timberland for houses or otherdevelopment.” This may be the result of all the public/forest land the Bush Administration has auctioned off over the past 8 years.

Development??? There are empty houses standing all over the country so what the heck are we doing? Huge landowners like Plum Creek are no longer just harvesting wood and replanting, they are developing the land for high-end resorts so their shareholders make more money. These are some of our most pristine wild forestlands. It’s about as bad as Governor Crist of Florida filling in and developing the everglades when people are moving out of Florida because they can’t afford the homeowner’s premiums anymore.

So for as much as Plum Creek attempts to do for the environment, they equally hurt it with unnecessary development. It’s becoming a little clearer why there was such an onslaught against wolves especially around our national parks. We just got a stay of relief for the wolves that were scheduled for massive annihilation in the Yellowstone area. Plum Creek has a resort called “The Yellowstone Club,” and others like Moonlight Basin. These are high-end resorts and housing right in the heart of the very lands where these animals roam. Recently, buffalo have been slaughtered as well as wild mustang horses too. Ever wonder why? The excuses that were given for this massive kill were never very clear, but it’s becoming a lot more clear now.

I read about Bush’s plan to allow lumbering throughout our more dense forest areas like Idaho and surmised that development would soon follow. It just so happens that Plum Creek has its hand in natural resource business opportunities also that are relative to mineral extraction, natural gas production, and communication and transportation rights of way. That says a lot more. Mineral extraction and natural gas production is a whole other form of real estate development for big energy and another big motive for the animal removal and the easy, quiet deal to allow the use of forest service roads to facilitate Plum Creek.

The two Senators are worried that allowing Plum Creek to use forest service roads for development will set a precedent for other developers to do likewise. It looks to me like that was the plan all along. Clear out many of the animals that are under protection, make deals on the sly, and the next thing we’re asking is, “When did we lose our forests to homes and country clubs we don’t need?”

We certainly know what happens when humans attempt to habitate areas that are home to wild animals. It becomes a struggle for the critters who ultimately are eliminated as pests.

It doesn’t appear there are many sacred untouched tracts of land in our country anymore that are protected from development and the almighty dollar.

http://www.iht.com/articles/ap/2008/10/11/america/Forest-Road-Deal.php

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Plum_Creek_Timber

http://www.plumcreek.com/AboutPlumCreek/tabid/54/Default.aspx

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Victory! Yellowstone Wolves Will Remain on Endangered List

The Bush Administration announced it intends to withdraw its plan to strip gray wolves of their endangered species protection in the Northern Rockies,” according to an e-mail from NRDC. The wolves will once again be under federal protection.

It seems the Bush Administration erroneously declared the wolf populations fully recovered, nor could it be proven that the wolves were threatening deer and elk populations. Yet when the feds handed off control of wolves to the states of Idaho, Montana, and Wyoming 110 wolves were dead in no time.

The NRDC also stated: “That means Wyoming, Montana and Idaho will NOT be allowed to begin the extermination of hundreds of wolves this fall as part of a massive public hunt — the first in more than three decades. Instead, those wolves will continue to roam the Rockies — wild and free — as nature and the law intended!”

A big nose thumb to Butch Otter, Gov. of Idaho for wanting to be the first one to shoot a wolf. Congratulations to the thousands of people who worked to stop this illegal hunting. The NRDC, Earthjustice, and eleven other conservation groups took it to the courts and won.

This by no means is a sign to let our guard down. If things don’t change drastically in the future there will be another angle to sport hunt these animals down the road, especially if the state’s ever get that power in their hands again.

Sadly, this victory will not bring back Limpy, the crippled wolf icon of Yellowstone that was shot dead the moment it limped out of the park.



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Loaded Guns in National Parks Still an Issue

I was reading about the shooter who shot 3 teens and wounded another in a wooded area on the Wisconsin/Michigan border and all I could think about was the Bush administration/NRA push to allow loaded guns in national parks. Just what we need.

http://www.wkowtv.com/Global/story.asp?S=8774082.

We should be more concerned about this issue because with the help of the NRA, the 25-year ban on loaded guns in parks might dissolve before Bush leaves office.We’re not talking big rifles or shotguns but CONCEALED HANDGUNS too.

So guns become a reality in parks and you’re walking along Sleeping Bear Dunes or a portion of the North Country National Scenic Trail and some nut shoots you. You end up buried in the sand dunes or God-knows-where along that trail, at least until a bear or vultures find your carcass. Back at the camp all anyone knows is that you went for a little hike in the morning or before dinner and never came back. The nut with a gun hasn’t a witness in site, and hearing a gunshot has become commonplace in parks.

Of course this can happen with the present ban on loaded guns in parks too. Nefarious people don’t follow rules anyway. But at least the sound of a gun would resonate to someone that something is not right, whether an animal attack or human attack.

We already have a horrible homicide record as a free country. We’re getting a little too used to guns and killing, don’t you think? We accept guns too readily as our only means of protection.Protectionism has its place, but it appears to me that since 9/11, with the aid of the federal government, we’ve become much too fearful as a people. It encourages extremist actions like carrying concealed weapons everywhere.We’re willing to give up too many of our rights also because we’re afraid. And unfortunately, it seems that we’re unique in our fear. When England’s subway was bombed by terrorists, I remember many Brits riding the subway again as soon as possible with the retort that, “We can’t let them have the upper hand now can we?” Ditto for other countries. Then again, they’ve weathered more wars on home turf than us. Still I feel we have been targeted for fearmongering as a way of bullying us into thinking we need a loaded gunto get through everyday life, like an outing in a park.

The gun won’t help me if a nut takes aim from somewhere. I won’t know what hit me. I don’t think if I were jogging alone through a park that I could draw my weapon if suddenly ambushed from the side either. More than likely the assailant would get the gun away from me.

If the attack is from a mountain lion or bear, good luck getting a deadly shot on them, especially with a handgun. They’re on you before you can act. They’ll rip your arm off before the trigger is pulled or the gun even makes it out. I’d probably shoot myself in the foot in a Barney Phife move and assure my doom.

Seems like owning a dog would be as good if not safer to take along on a hike in the park, and boy are there plenty of those in the shelters looking to loyally defend an owner just for a home.

While thepresent administrationand the NRA stoke our fears to add more places to allowmore types of guns, studies show that possession of guns is only upping the homicide rate in America. We’re killing each other, not terrorists! Terrorism would have taken a bigger hit long ago by cutting off its funding from oil profits.

Congress began viewing alternative energy sources at the end of the 90’s and we should have kept in that direction as a way to stop our oil addiction and the money flowing to the Middle East that helped fund terrorism. I’m reading that it is funded more and more by heroin now. Lately big oil profits in the Persian Gulf have produced a model city like Dubai, a huge metropolis and the Arab wish for a huge financial center. Pretty soon major corporations will fund terrorism over there. We missed our chance to nip the terrorist problem in the bud long ago by getting away from oil. It brought power to a region that basically had nothing else going for it.Who is outsmarting whom? The Middle East preys on our addictions to oil and heroin. There is no gun to combat that.

Unfortunately, since 9/11 we’ve lost more rights due to our fears, and are basically headed back to the old west, where everyone walked around with a holster or hid a pistol in their boot.

More info on guns and homicides vs. protection: http://eric.ed.gov/ERICDocs/data/ericdocs2sql/content_storage_01/0000019b/80/13/93/7e.pdf

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