Category Archives: Habitat loss

Not One Wolf.

Wolves should not be killed to protect livestock grazing on public lands, and certainly not in National Forests. 

Not one single wolf.

“The Bridger Teton National Forest missed a chance to promote the public interest over private businesses when it decided in its draft management plan for the Upper Green Allotment to continue to allow ranchers to run livestock without any significant changes to protect the public’s wildlife and other values.

The Upper Green is perhaps the most important non-protected wildlife habitat in the entire Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem. Yet the BTNF treats it as if the best use of this land is as a feedlot for private cattle.

Worse for our native wildlife is the fact that the Upper Green is a crucial wildlife corridor. It is regularly used by grizzlies, wolves and as a migration route for pronghorn, elk, and mule deer. The mere presence of domestic livestock creates massive conflicts, and the Forest Service has done nothing to reduce these conflicts.” – George Wuerthner

Again, I ask you to please take the time to voice your opposition to livestock grazing, on your public lands, in the Bridger-Teton National Forest. Your comment must be received by November 21st. Should you wish to compose your own letter, please see this blog post for talking points.
If you prefer, feel free to personalize and copy the following letter which you may either mail to: comments-intermtn-bridger-teton-pinedale@fs.fed.us

or, you may submit your comment here.

To Whom This May Concern,

Thank you for taking the time for my comment regarding livestock grazing in the Bridger-Teton National Forest. I believe livestock should no longer be permitted to graze in the allotments on the Upper Green River project area, and select “Alternative One –  No Livestock Grazing”.

It is impossible to produce livestock in the west without a multitude of negative impacts including soil erosion and compaction, water pollution, the spread of invasive weeds, spread of disease from domestic animals to wildlife, changes in plant community structure, interruption of natural nutrient cycles, disruption of natural fire regimes, and degradation of riparian zones.

I disagree with the compromising and domestication of our public lands with fencing, water tanks, pipelines, and other infrastructure designed to make our public lands better “stock yards”. The Upper Green is a crucial wildlife corridor. It is regularly used by grizzlies, wolves and as a migration route for pronghorn, elk, and mule deer. Not only does livestock grazing reduce the ability of the land to support native herbivores, but the mere presence of domestic livestock creates conflicts with predators such as wolves and grizzlies, which are, more often than not, “removed”.

Wildlife is one of the five purposes of the national forests under the Multiple Use Sustained Yield Act, and the Forest Service is obligated to manage for healthy, viable populations of wildlife under the National Forest Management Act and the agency’s own regulations. With such extensive grazing allotments, this obligation is ignored.

To reiterate, I select Alternative One – No Livestock Grazing, as I understand it:
Under alternative one, livestock would no longer be permitted to graze in the six allotments on the Upper Green River project area. Livestock grazing would be eliminated and current term grazing permits would be cancelled. Livestock grazing would cease two years after notice of cancellation.

Livestock grazing should *never* compromise our wildlife’s ability to thrive, and, certainly not on our public lands.

Thank you for your time.

Sincerely,

Your name

Please tweet this to your following: #Wolves should not be killed to protect livestock grazing on #publiclands #StandForWolves Take Action by Nov 21: http://wp.me/p6o9qd-11O  Tweet4Wolves

 

“You may never know what results come of your actions, but if you do nothing, there will be no results.” ― Mahatma Gandhi

Copyright © 2016

[COPYRIGHT Intheshadowofthewolf, name and webpage]. All Rights Reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced or distributed in any form or by any means, or stored in a database or retrieval system, without the prior written permission of the publisher.

Wyoming Grazing Allotments in Prime Wolf and Grizzly Habitat

Livestock grazing is promoted, protected and subsidized by federal agencies on approximately 270 million acres of public land in the 11 western states. By destroying vegetation, damaging wildlife habitats and disrupting natural processes, livestock grazing wreaks ecological havoc on riparian areas, rivers, deserts, grasslands and forests alike — causing significant harm to species and the ecosystems on which they  depend.

 “Conservation can be defined as the wise use of our natural environment: it is, in the final analysis, the highest form of  national thrift—the prevention of waste and despoilment while preserving, improving and renewing the quality and usefulness of all our resources.”

President John F. Kennedy 
Conservation Message to Congress (1962)

Presently, Bridger-Teton National Forest permits allow more than 7,000 sheep and 15,000 cattle to graze public land in the Upper Green. The environmental planning document from the Forest Service, which would allow grazing in the area to continue for years to come, proposes to renew livestock grazing permits on 266 square miles of public forestland near the Upper Green River has been released to the public. 
The USDA Forest Service’s preferred plan calls for retaining grazing rights on all the acreage that is grazed today and slightly reducing the number of livestock allowed to 8,772 cow-calf pairs and yearling cattle. The Bridger-Teton’s proposal (alternative 3) which would reduce the authorized grazing season on four of six allotments, and add 7 miles of fence line is still a nightmare for wolves, grizzlies, the ecosystem and other wildlife.

Hardly an environmentally friendly plan.

Take a moment to comment against plans for the future of the massive grazing allotment complex, which is also prime wolf and grizzly habitat. The complex spans the entire* Bridger-Teton National Forest from north to south, spills into the Gros Ventre River drainage, and is an environmental disaster.

The Forest Service makes the outrageous claim that their proposal is a “livestock grazing strategy designed to maintain existing rangeland and riparian conditions where they meet desired conditions and improve rangeland and riparian conditions in areas of concern.”

The Upper Green rangeland is the most concentrated area for grizzly bear conflict in the entire Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem. A year ago, 80 livestock were confirmed killed by the large carnivores, and five chronically depredating grizzlies were captured and killed in return. Numerous wolves have also been removed for the crime of consumption of the “wrong ungulate”.

Beyond the Fish and Wildlife-directed guidelines, the Bridger-Teton’s plan introduces no new required nonlethal techniques to stem grizzly-cattle conflict. Forest planners hope to finalize the document before the next grazing season, by which time grizzly bears may be managed by Wyoming.

Three other alternatives are included in the Bridger-Teton’s lengthy planning document.

One option would take “no action” and allow no livestock on the rangeland, and another would continue the grazing regime as it occurs today. A fourth alternative focuses on reducing damage to riparian areas from cattle grazing.

Comments on the BridgerTetons draft plans for the Upper Green rangeland are due by November 21st. More information can be found here.

Comment on The Upper Green River Area Rangeland #3049 project here

Read the alternative options here.

*The 323-square-mile public lands rangeland complex in the Upper Green is the largest grazing allotment in the U.S. Forest Service system. The draft plan includes grazing permits on 266 square miles of this area. 
*The allotments are the site of about 40 bear-livestock conflicts a year, according to Forest Service documents.

Before September 23rd 2014, when the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia ruled against the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s (USFWS) delisting of wolves in Wyoming, life for a wolf was miserable, designated and “managed” as Trophy Game Animals in the Northwest
(just $18 for Wyoming residents to ‘bag their trophy”). In the rest of Wyoming, designated as Predatory Animals subject to an on-sight shooting policy, killed by any means, at any time, without a license. Should wolves lose their protected status in Wyoming, the species will be subject to this sort of mismanagement within the Bridger-Teton National Forest.

National Forests and Other Public Lands 
should not be managed for the profit margin of private businesses. Period.

The Forest Service allows people to enter into a publicly owned national forest to kill wolves, often without restrictions. Wildlife is one of the five purposes of the national forests under the Multiple Use Sustained Yield Act, and the Forest Service is obligated to manage for healthy, viable populations of wildlife under the National Forest Management Act and the agency’s own regulations.


Please take a few moments of your time to comment against livestock grazing in the Bridger-Teton National Forest.  Eliminating livestock grazing on this enormous allotment might possibly do more for grizzly bears and wolves than any other area in Wyoming.

Please select Alternative One ~ No Livestock Grazing
Under alternative one, livestock would no longer be permitted to graze in the six allotments on the Upper Green River project area. Livestock grazing would be eliminated and current term grazing permits would be cancelled. Livestock grazing would cease two years after notice of cancellation.

The animal and plant populations of the west evolved in an ecosystem that relied on a certain amount of grazing by native animal populations, but the level of grazing that accompanied the introduction of cattle in the last 300 years disrupts the symbiotic relationships of native plants and animals.

Send a tweet to your following:
Help save #Wyoming #wolves #grizzlies #wildlife Comment against largest @forestservice grazing allotments by 11/21 
http://wp.me/p6o9qd-11g Tweet this 

Talking points:

• Numerous studies have documented that the mere presence of domestic animals displaces native species.
  
• It is impossible to produce livestock in the west without a multitude of negative impacts including soil erosion and compaction, water pollution, the spread of invasive weeds, spread of disease from domestic animals to wildlife, changes in plant community structure, interruption of natural nutrient cycles, disruption of natural fire regimes, degradation of riparian zones (the majority of riparian areas on public lands are not what hydrologist’s term “proper functioning condition”).

• With livestock comes the removal of predators like wolves and grizzlies.

• With livestock comes the removal of “pests” such as prairie dogs, a competitor of livestock, which were reduced in population to less than 1 percent of their estimated pre-19th century numbers. Because prairie dogs share dependencies with approximately 200 other wildlife species of the prairie ecosystem, their decimation led to drastic declines in the populations of these other animals. Among them, none had been more adversely affected than the black-footed ferret. Once numbering in the tens of millions, by 1986 the species had dwindled to only 18 free-living individuals.

• The degradation and domestication of our public lands with fencing, water tanks, pipelines, and other infrastructure designed to make our public lands better “stock yards” for the benefit of the few ~ public lands ranchers. Livestock grazing infrastructure, commonly bought and paid for by the American tax-payer, has quite literally tamed the once wild West.  Hundreds of thousands of miles of fencing on public lands have obstructed natural wildlife movement the migration of native ungulates, which can lead to death during times of environmental stress, such as droughts and blizzards.
Water developments built to facilitate livestock use of public lands have dewatered springs, seeps, and streams which serve as critical habitats for a variety of wildlife across the West.

• There are very few places in the West where native ungulates like bighorn sheep, deer, and elk are at their true biological carrying capacity because the bulk of forage is allotted to domestic livestock. Overgrazing by cattle can literally extirpate native vegetation. In one study, scientists found that domestic livestock grazing consumed 88.8 percent of the available forage. Fewer elk, deer, pronghorn antelope, bighorn, and even bison, means that is that much less prey is available to sustain wolves, and other top predators.

•  In the United States, livestock grazing has contributed to the listing of 22 percent of federal threatened and endangered species—almost equal to logging (12 percent) and mining (11 percent) combined. Nationwide, livestock grazing is the 4th major cause of species endangerment and the 2nd major cause of endangerment of plant species. No other human activity in the West is as responsible for the decline or loss of species as is livestock production.

References and Related content:

Veterinarians in Wildlife and Ecosystem Health Excerpt

Public Lands Ranching

The  Case against Public Lands Livestock Production

No Such Thing As PredatorFriendly Beef 

16 wolves get death penalty for eating into Wyoming cattle rancher profits

3 wolves in problematic pack targeted after livestock loss

Why Wipe Wolves from Most of Wyoming

Wyoming Court Seeking Control of Wolves

Wolves, livestock clash all around Wyoming

Public Lands Grazing 

BTNF cuddles ranchers on Upper Green

Upper Green Grazing Analysis Out

Sierra Club’s Grazing Campaign 

Feature image by Christi Sabin.  All other photography by Chris Montano Jr.

Copyright © 2016 

[COPYRIGHT Intheshadowofthewolf, name and webpage]. All Rights Reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced or distributed in any form or by any means, or stored in a database or retrieval system, without the prior written permission of the publisher.

 

Ancient Forests, Wolves, Wildlife and The Wrangell Timber Sale 

The U.S. Forest Service is seeking public comment on a proposed timber sale  on Wrangell Island, which is in the Alexander Archipelago in the Alaska Panhandle of southeastern Alaska. The island is just 30 miles long and 5 to 14 miles wide, contains an abundance of wildlife and is separated from the mainland by the Blake Channel.

The Forest Service released five alternatives in their draft environmental impact statement for the Wrangell Island Project on June 2nd. Its preferred alternative would allow two thirds of the acreage to be selectively harvested and a third clear cut, producing about 65 million board feet, and could build up to 17 miles of new national forest roads, some of which will stay open to the public and about 15 miles of temporary roads. The earliest timber sale would be mid to late summer 2017, and targets the largest, highest-value tree stands, which are generally the areas that are also most ecologically important to the forest and wildlife that live there. It seems that, once again, the Forest Service has disregarded the evidence of the probable impacts of its timber program on wolves, other wildlife populations, salmon, and critical habitat necessary for their survival.
The five alternatives range from about 43 million board feet to 65 million or no timber sale at all.

Buck Lindekugel, an attorney for the Southeast Alaska Conservation Council (SEACC), said “Instead of cutting the rest of the old growth that supports a whole variety of uses on Wrangell Island, the Forest Service ought to look at ways of integrating stewardship, restoration activities and supplying timber off the existing road system to the small mills in the area.”

17 miles of new national forest roads!
Already wolf hunting is rife on Wrangell Island with “bag limits” of 5 wolves and portions of the island are subject to Alaska’s infamous “intensive predator management program” encouraging even further reduction of the wolf population. As we have seen on Prince of Wales, logging and roads initiate many harmful effects, including the “overharvest”, ie. poaching, of wolves.

The time has come for Southeast Alaska to no longer rely on the timber industry as an economic driver. The Forest Service should manage the National Forests in Southeast Alaska for a host of public values that support the tourism and fishing economy of today; the driving economic forces are, and continue to be, tourism and recreation.

In your own words, please comment against the proposed Wrangell Timber Sale. Tell the Forest Service that you support “Alternative 1 – which is the “no-action” alternative because in this alternative, none of the proposed activities would occur. Only approved forest management activities not related to the proposed project can and would continue, and road management would be based on the already existing access and travel management plan for Wrangell Island.

Comments can be made via email to comments-alaska-tongass-wrangell@fs.fed.us  with “Wrangell Island Project” in the subject line.

*COMMENTS SHOULD BE RECEIVED NO LATER THAN JULY 18, 2016. Comments, including anonymous comments, will be accepted at any time. However, comments posted after the close of the designated comment period (July 18th) may not be able to be given full consideration.

Please also sign this petition:

No logging in places critical for Tongass wildlife and wild salmon, from Alaska Wilderness League.

The Tongass offers the country’s largest remaining swath of ancient forest, as well as an estimated one third of the world’s remaining temperate rainforest. It is far past time for an end to old-growth logging and destruction of habitat essential for endemic species found only in this biologically rich region.

wp-1468782690732.jpg

For additional, in depth, information  please see Wrangell Island Project Draft | Environmental Impact Statement

Related content:

The economic reality of Alaska’s timber industry

Senator should heed council on Tongass, accept compromise

The future of the Tongass Forest lies beyond logging

Copyright © 2016 [COPYRIGHT Intheshadowofthewolf, name and webpage]. All Rights Reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced or distributed in any form or by any means, or stored in a database or retrieval system, without the prior written permission of the publisher.

Will we soon see another wave of bird extinctions in the Americas?

  

In the shady recesses of unassuming forest patches in eastern Brazil, bird species are taking their final bows on the global evolutionary stage, and winking out.

These are obscure birds with quaint names: Alagoas Foliage-Gleaner, Pernambuco Pygmy-Owl, Cryptic Treehunter. But their disappearance portends a turning point in a global biodiversity crisis.

Bird extinctions are nothing new. Human activity has already wiped out over a thousand species. But the vast majority of these occurred on oceanic islands. Today, although island species remain disproportionately threatened, we are witnessing a historic shift towards the endangerment of continental species of birds. The Alagoas Foliage-Gleaner, last seen in 2011, looks increasingly like the tip of an iceberg.

This new wave of threats, driven primarily by habitat loss, is deeply troubling because South American forests are home to such a concentration of bird diversity, yet our conservation strategies are still a work in progress.

The trouble with the tropics

To appreciate the significance of today’s looming extinctions in the tropics, we must travel north to the great deciduous forests of the eastern United States, which are haunted by the ghosts of extinctions past. Here, the opportunity to experience the double raps of Ivory-billed Woodpeckers, sun-obscuring clouds of Passenger Pigeons, raucous flocks of Carolina Parakeets, and the monotone song of the Bachman’s Warbler is seemingly forever lost.

The blame for these four infamous extinctions has been laid firmly at the door of historic deforestation.

In the early 20th century, the last remaining old-growth fell to the sawmills, almost without exception. Given the ubiquity of the logging, perhaps the most noteworthy feature of this extinction episode is that it did not involve more species.

The European experience was even more striking. The wholesale clearing of Europe’s primeval forest apparently did not cause a single bird extinction. The logical conclusion is that it is very difficult to drive continental birds extinct.

Why then are forest birds beginning to go extinct on mainland South America, home of the largest and most intact tropical forests on Earth?

We must face two equally unsettling conclusions. The first is that forest destruction, particularly in Brazil’s Atlantic rainforest, has reached continental-scale proportions, with almost no nook or cranny spared. And the second is that it may not be nearly as difficult to drive extinct in the tropics as in the temperate zone.

Biologists Stuart Pimm and Robert Askins have argued that the eastern USA witnessed few avian extinctions simply because most of its birds have very large geographic ranges. In South America, the situation is dramatically different.

South America is both the evolutionary cradle and current champion of global bird biodiversity; the authoritative regional list totals 3,368 species – around one third of all the word’s birds. Many of these species have small ranges, restricted to particular countries or even to particular mountains or forest types.

Unique features of the life history of tropical birds led to an overly rosy assessment of their future. Author and academic Bjorn Lomborg, for example, claimed that the lack of extinctions following the destruction of Brazil’s Atlantic forest showed that the biodiversity crisis is overblown.

But extinctions may lag far behind forest loss, a phenomenon known as the “extinction debt” which may be paid over hundreds of years.

Tropical birds typically live for longer than their temperate counterparts. Thus, the last pairs of rare species may make their last stand in their fragmented forest redoubts for decades. Indeed, several species have paid this price, and more may already be committed to extinction.

wp-1460161520804.jpg
The last known Alagoas Foliage-gleaner photographed in Pernambuco, Brazil in November 2010 Ciro Albano/NE Brazil Birding

Need to develop strategies

The situation in northeast Brazil is particularly dire.

A few dozen Alagoas Antwrens cling to survival in less than six tiny forest patches. The Alagoas Foliage-gleaner, presented to science along with the Antwren for the first time in the 1980s, was known from only two patches. The last known individual was photographed for the final time in November 2011. We can only guess how many more species will be lost from this region where new species are discovered and others are disappearing on a near-annual basis.

But what of Amazonia, the last great tropical forest wilderness and bastion of tropical biodiversity?

Although deforestation rates have fallen since 2004, there are still grounds for concern. Pressure on existing protected areas from dam-building and mining interests is increasing, and the existing reserve network poorly protects the hardest hit regions.

wp-1460161555114.jpg
Arable fields in eastern Amazonia, former forest haunts of the endemic Belem Curassow, illustrated in the inset to the right of the similar Bare-faced Curassow. This former species was last documented in the wild decades ago. both images Alexander Charles Lees, curassow specimens ©Museu Paraense Emílio Goeldi

Furthermore, Amazonia is divided into different biogeographic regions known as ‘areas of endemism’ that each contain species found nowhere else. Even today, taxonomists continue to recognize new divisions in Amazonian birds, often elevating former subspecies to species status. The Belem Curassow was recently recognized as a species and occurs only in the most deforested part of the Amazon. The last documented record in the wild was over 35 years ago.

Unless a population is discovered in the embattled Gurupi reserve, this species may be the first recorded Amazonian bird extinction. Hot on its heels is the Iquitos Gnatcatcher, known only from a tiny and heavily deforested area of unique stunted forest in Peru. Only six pairs are known, and the bird has proven harder to find every year.

Some of these species need immediate and drastic conservation interventions, but their plight seems to be largely ignored by governments and international environmental groups. Restoring forest around these last fragments is crucial for long-term population viability.

However, for some species captive breeding with an eye to future reintroduction may be the only way forward. Such measures have already saved the Spix’s Macaw and Alagoas Curassow from global extinction – populations of these species exist only in captivity. However, while we have centuries of experience breeding parrots and gamebirds, we know far less about breeding small songbirds.

In fact, most of what we know about managing songbird populations comes from islands, and it is unclear how well this knowledge will translate to the mainland. Island species are adapted to maintain small populations and may be better able to recover from genetic bottlenecks. And, quick fixes such as controlling invasive predators have helped to restore populations. But mainland birds face a different suite of threats, dominated by habitat loss.

Clearly, we must not assume that tropical forest birds will prove as resilient to human activity as their temperate brethren. But though the situation is critical, we also see grounds for optimism.

In Peru, for instance, new endangered species legislation has convened a working group to develop a conservation strategy for the Iquitos Gnatcatcher. In the meantime, a small reserve has been created that protects the few remaining territories. Across the border in Brazil exciting plans are being drawn up to reintroduce the Alagoas Curassow back into the wild.

There is an immediate need to support and expand such actions. The next five to ten years will be critical for many species of South American birds teetering on the brink of extinction.

Feature Image: The Iquitos Gnatcatcher hangs by a thread in small patches of stunted forest near Iquitos, Peru. Only six pairs are known. José Álvarez Alonso, used with permission.

Source

wp-1460161540258.jpg
Species lost from the eastern forests of the U.S. – from left to right: Ivory-billed Woodpecker, Passenger Pigeon, Carolina Parakeet and Bachman’s Warbler. Alexander C. Lees ©Cornell University Museum of Vertebrates, Author provided