Due to government shutdown, motorized hearing for wild horse management operations is postponed

“We will watch for a new date and be sure to pass it along.” ~ R.T.

News Release

Jan. 22, 2018

Due to government shutdown, motorized hearing for wild horse management operations is postponed

 CHALLIS, IDAHO – Due to the government shutdown, the Idaho Bureau of Land Management will postpone the statewide hearing regarding motor vehicle and helicopter use in wild horse management operations that was scheduled to take place Jan. 23, from 1-2 p.m. at the BLM Challis Field Office.

BLM–

End the Use of Helicopters & “Motorized Vehicles” in Wild Horse & Burro Round-Ups!

Posted on Facebook by Equine Advocates

“The BLM should not be doing any round-ups at all because their population estimates are not scientifically defensible…”

photo by Terry Fitch of Wild Horse Freedom Federation
(Click Image for Additional Information)

Here is your opportunity to officially weigh in on the use of helicopters and motorized vehicles by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) to round up wild horses and burros on the Public Lands.

Comments can be made in January and February 2018 for wild horse herds specifically targeted for round-ups in Idaho and Montana.

Please know that Equine Advocates is completely opposed to wild horses and burros being rounded up at all! With that said, getting rid of the helicopters and other vehicles which cause terror, suffering and in many documented cases, the needless injuries and deaths of these animals, would be an important step in helping to eliminate some of the cruelty.

Before you email the BLM, you might want to read the details of the riveting 5-year investigation expedited and released by the Wild Horse Freedom Federation (WHFF) in 2017. The information contained in this White Paper is invaluable and provides lots of background information about the corruption and mismanagement of wild horses and burros by the BLM.

Here is the link for the WHFF White Paper Investigation:
http://wildhorsefreedomfederation.org/white-paper/

“The BLM should not be doing any round-ups at all because their population estimates are not scientifically defensible,” said Debbie Coffey, Vice President of the WHFF and co-author of the White Paper.

There are two sets of dates and times for which to submit your comments regarding herds of horses in Idaho and Montana, respectively. Idaho comes up first comes up on 1/23 so please read the details carefully by clicking (HERE). For those who cannot attend the hearings in person, there is an email address provided at which to make written comments. There is also a phone number for those who have questions about attending the hearings and other inquiries.

Please take the time to respond.
Thank you.

BLM Sets Hearing on Wild Horse Mismanagement

Story by the Idaho Mountain Express

The BLM is inviting the public to submit comments as part of a statewide hearing regarding motor vehicle and helicopter use in wild horse management operations on Tuesday, Jan. 23, from 1-2 p.m. at its Challis Field Office.

The public hearing is being held to obtain information, views and suggestions about the BLM’s use of helicopters and motorized vehicles in managing wild horses in Idaho during the coming year (February 2018 to January 2019).

The Challis Field office is at 721 E. Main Ave., Suite 8 in Challis.

 Anyone unable to attend the hearing to submit comments can submit written statements to BLM_ID_WHB_MotorizedHearing@blm.gov. Comments should include address, phone number and e-mail.

Challis wild-horse policy is biased

Wild horses on the Challis Herd Management Area in Idaho (photo: BLM)

The Idaho Mountian Express just posted an OpEd by Marybeth Devlin.  Although her comment was edited a bit, Marybeth stated “You never know who will be receptive to the message of Truth.  I am grateful to Idaho Mountain Express.”

SOURCE Idaho Mountain Express

By MARYBETH DEVLIN

The population management level at the BLM’s Challis Herd Management Area (185 to 253 horses) is a political construct. Per the 167,848 acres—262 square miles—of this horse-herd management area, the management level’s high bound—the maximum number of horses that BLM claims the range can support—limits the population to one wild horse per 663 acres, which is more than a square mile.  However, its low bound—the number down to which BLM manages the herd—restricts the stocking density to one wild horse per 907 acres, which is about one and a half square miles. Even if there were 292 wild horses present, as the BLM says, it would mean one horse per 575 acres.  No reasonable person would deem that excessive.

Contrast that with the livestock density:  Per the typical six-month season, the stocking density that BLM approved for livestock in the Challis wild-horse habitat is one cow and calf pair (or five sheep) per 88 acres. That equates to just over seven pairs—14 cows or calves (or 35 sheep)—per square mile.

Livestock get most of the grazing slots. Within the Challis Herd Management Area—where the mustangs are, by law, supposed to receive principal benefit of resources—livestock have been awarded most of the animal-unit months: 11,439 AUMs (84 percent) to commercial livestock and 2,220 AUMs (16 percent)—to wild horses.

The BLM claims the Challis herd increased from 241 horses in 2016 to 292 horses in 2017, a growth rate of 21 percent. Gregg, LeBlanc and Johnston (2014) found the average birth rate across wild-horse herds to be just under 20 percent. But they also found that 50 percent of foals perish before their first birthday.  Thus, the birth rate is just a temporary blip in the data.  To find the herd growth rate, we start with the surviving foal rate (10 percent) and then subtract a conservative estimate of adult mortality (5 percent).  So, the expected, normative herd growth rate is, at most, 5 percent.

The BLM’s claimed rate is more than four times the normative growth rate. The likely explanation for the discrepancy is that the BLM incorrectly used the somewhat-higher-than-average birth rate as the growth rate.  However, given BLM’s 13-year history of injecting the Challis fillies and mares with the pesticide-sterilant PZP, the birth rate should have been significantly lower than average.  Not only is it higher, but it is misreported as the growth rate.

The BLM says it plans to conduct an aerial census soon. However, that’s not encouraging. Read the rest of Marybeth’s OpEd HERE.

Federal officials say cattle grazing will continue at a south-central Idaho national monument known for its ancient lava flows.

SOURCE:  usnews.com

FILE – In this July 2012 file photo, people hike the North Crater Flow Trail at Craters of the Moon National Monument, Idaho. Federal officials say cattle grazing will continue at national monument known for its ancient lava flows following a challenge by an environmental group. The U.S. Bureau of Land Management announced this week that grazing on BLM-administered portions of Craters of the Moon National Monument and Preserve not covered by lava flows will stay at about 99 percent of current levels.(Tetona Dunlap/The Times-News via AP, File) The Associated Press

US Cattle Grazing Plan for Idaho National Monument Approved

Federal officials say cattle grazing will continue at a south-central Idaho national monument known for its ancient lava flows.

By KEITH RIDLER, Associated Press

BOISE, Idaho (AP) — Cattle grazing will continue at a south-central Idaho national monument known for its ancient lava flows following a challenge by an environmental group, federal officials announced this week.

The U.S. Bureau of Land Management in a statement Wednesday said grazing on BLM-administered portions of Craters of the Moon National Monument and Preserve not covered by lava flows will stay at about 99 percent of current levels.

“The decision demonstrates the Trump Administration’s effort to support traditional uses such as grazing on public lands while providing opportunities for recreation and promoting conservation,” the agency said in a written statement.

Western Watersheds Project challenged grazing in the monument contending it harmed imperiled sage grouse, leading to a 2012 federal court order requiring federal agencies to complete an environmental review analyzing reduced grazing or no grazing.

Read the rest of this story HERE.

Secretaries of Interior and Ag favoring special interests

We all know how important the Endangered Species Act is to cattle and chickens.  Thanks to our reader, Icyspots, for bringing this article to our attention.  –  Debbie

Source:  capitalpress.com

Farmers, ranchers have ‘unprecedented’ meeting with Ag, Interior secretaries

Ten Idaho and farmers and ranchers spent an hour meeting with Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue and Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke June 2. They covered a wide range of topics important to the state’s and nation’s farming industries.
by Sean Ellis

Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke, left, and Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue speak about farm and natural resource issues June 2 at Boise State University. Earlier that day, the secretaries met privately with farmers and ranchers.

BOISE — Farmers and ranchers described a private meeting with two of President Donald Trump’s cabinet members June 2 as unprecedented and historic.

Instead of addressing the group, U.S. Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue and Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke listened and took notes, according to those who were there.

“They just didn’t have an agenda. They truly wanted to listen to us,” said Aberdeen potato farmer Ritchey Toevs. “It was a pro-producer meeting. It was a completely different experience than I’ve ever had.”

“They didn’t really say much. They let us do the talking,” said Jerome dairyman Mike Roth. “I feel like I witnessed a little bit of history today.”

Idaho Farm Bureau Federation President Bryan Searle, a farmer from Shelley, said he was floored by the nature of the meeting.

“I’m still in shock that they didn’t talk. They just flat-out sat there and listened,” he said.

During the hour-long meeting, the producers were given 5 minutes each to present.

They covered a wide range of topics, from immigration and the importance of labor to aquifer recharge, Food Safety Modernization Act requirements, NAFTA, the U.S. Sheep Experiment station in Dubois, invasive water species, farm bill funding, the Endangered Species Act, Equal Access to Justice Act and grazing and other federal land-management issues.

A lot more could have been covered “but those that spoke hit on many of the issues important to most of the commodities in our state…,” said meeting participant Rick Waitley, executive director of Food Producers of Idaho.

He said ”Perdue was writing like crazy as people talked about their various concerns” and Zinke asked for specific names when it came to certain public lands issues, a development that impressed other meeting participants as well.

Read the rest of this article HERE.

Special Report: KPVI Investigates Cyanide traps and the USDA

story by as broadcast/published on KPVI.com

“This is not the first time the USDA had a run in with the Gate City…”

It’s almost been two months since a Pocatello family lost their dog and almost their son to a cyanide trap set 300 yards behind their house. Since then the USDA says they’ve taken all the traps out of the Gem state. But that hasn’t changed anything to investigators who say they were never notified of the deadly chemical, meant to kill predators, planted around Bannock County.

The incident began in the Buckskin area back in March. Canyon Mansfield says, “I panicked and sprinted down to get my mom.” The 14-year-old and his dog Kasey were 300 yards away from their house. He describes, “Suddenly there’s like a pop and then orange gas spews out.” The Mansfield family dog died and they almost lost their son as well. Theresa Mansfield, Canyon’s mother says, “We didn’t want to believe it was from Cyanide poisoning, but deep down it scared the crap out of us.”

The Cyanide trap was placed on BLM land with no warnings in sight. Investigators found a second trap not far from the first. Bannock County Sheriff Lorin Nielsen says, “We’re not Alaska. There are wilderness places where people go. I don’t care what the purpose is. If it’s endangering public it shouldn’t be there.”

Since the death of Kasey there’s been a worldwide outcry. The Bannock County’s Sheriff’s office has launched their investigation. The city has also stepped in. In March Pocatello’s Mayor Brian Blad wrote a letter to the USDA asking them to stop manufacturing Cyanide Traps, or M-44’s, in the city. Since then the agency reached out to the mayor. He says he toured the facility, learned about their safety precautions and products “They’re going to continue to do their practice until congress acts,” said Blad.

This is not the first time the USDA had a run in with the Gate City. Seven years ago the agency was responsible for illegally setting “Quick Kill” traps, meant for Rock chucks within city limits. Obtained by KPVI in an incident report by Pocatello’s animal control, an elderly woman called them after finding a cat trapped alive in a “quick kill” trap or Conibear trap in her backyard. She admitted to the city she requested the traps from the USDA. She says at least three cats had been killed before and they were removed by the local USDA representative Todd Sullivan. Sullivan is the same man involved in the Mansfield investigation. In 2010 the charges against Sullivan were dismissed by a federal judge.

The city and USDA came to an agreement that they would not place Conibear traps in Pocatello without notifying the city first. The USDA declined to speak to KPVI on camera, but gave us a written statement answering our questions. They told us, the incident involving the Mansfield Dog is still under investigation and can’t comment. But claimed they had “107 M-44’s set on 16 properties in the state and all have been removed.” Our request to tour the Pocatello manufacturing facility was denied, they say because of security concerns.

The agency tells us the Pocatello location has been manufacturing M-44 deceives since 1969. And also handles, “Gas cartridges for fumigating rodent burrows, rodent grain baits…, predator lures, and repackages other products such as order control products and animal immobilization drugs.”

The sheriff’s investigation is now left in the hands of county prosecutors to find if any state laws were violated. In the meantime, the sheriff says this to residents, “We now have to be aware of our surroundings. If there is something that is out there that is not part of… leave it alone, leave it alone,” Nielsen said.

20 Environmental Groups Jointly Demand Wildlife Services Ban M-44 Cyanide Bombs in Idaho

 

Since 2000, Wildlife Services has killed more than 50,000 members of more than 150 non-target species, including federally and/or state-protected animals such as Mexican gray wolves, grizzly bears, kangaroo rats, eagles, falcons, California condors, red-tailed hawks, great horned owls, armadillos, pronghorns, porcupines, long-tailed weasels, javelinas, marmots, snapping turtles, turkey vultures, great blue herons, ruddy ducks, sandhill cranes and ringtail cats.

On March 28, 2017, a coalition of wildlife and conservation groups petitioned the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Wildlife Services (WS) and Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) to immediately ban M-44 devices in Idaho. M-44s are cyanide bombs used by WS to kill local predators such as coyotes, as part of a larger taxpayer-funded wildlife eradication campaign wherein WS, on behalf of the federal government, slaughters millions of wild animals every single year.

The recent hospitalization of a youth and killing of a family dog in Idaho who encountered one of these ground weapons near their home was one motivator for the creation of this petition. The document lists many other incidents of indiscriminate pet injuries and killings by M-44s in Appendix A.

The petition specifically calls on the agencies to:

1. Cease all use of M-44 explosive cyanide devices on all land ownerships in the State of Idaho, and
2. Immediately remove any and all M-44s currently deployed on all land ownerships in Idaho.

Signage on BLM contractor’s property housing former wild horses. ~ photo by R.T. Fitch of Wild Horse Freedom Federation

In November 2016, WS committed to cease the use of M-44s on Idaho’s public lands. Also, in 2016, a workplan between WS and the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) Idaho Falls District forbade the placement of these devices within a quarter mile of residences.

The recent incident with the teen and his pet occurred within a quarter mile of his home. The petition concludes this incident shows the “commitment to cease using M-44s on public lands in Idaho is inadequate to protect public safety and wildlife,” because either WS personnel are not carrying out the commitment or older bombs are still present on public land.

“Cyanide bombs are indiscriminate killers that must be banned,” Andrea Santarsiere, a senior attorney with the Center for Biological Diversity, said in a press release. “Any animal that might pull on the baited trigger is at risk, including endangered wildlife like Canada lynx and grizzlies, as well as people and pets. And in just the past few weeks these cruel devices have injured a child and killed an endangered wolf and several family dogs. Enough is enough.”

The petition explains:

Since 2000, Wildlife Services has killed more than 50,000 members of more than 150 non-target species, including federally and/or state-protected animals such as Mexican gray wolves, grizzly bears, kangaroo rats, eagles, falcons, California condors, red-tailed hawks, great horned owls, armadillos, pronghorns, porcupines, long-tailed weasels, javelinas, marmots, snapping turtles, turkey vultures, great blue herons, ruddy ducks, sandhill cranes and ringtail cats.

The petition also discusses how the cyanide bombs and other non-selective killing methods are actually unproductive because they disrupt ecosystem balances, can actually increase livestock losses and have not been shown to be economically effective.

Bethany Cotton, Wildlife Program Director for WildEarth Guardians, previously asserted to EnviroNews that “many ranchers peacefully coexist with coyotes and report no conflicts,” and that nonlethal predator response options include solar powered electric fencing and livestock dogs, amongst others.

“Ranchers can use less vulnerable types of livestock, hang flagging called ‘fladry,’ or actually put cowboys out there with their animals to discourage predator losses without resorting to demands for poisons and poisonous land mines that kill pets and non-target wildlife,” Erik Molvar, Executive Director of the Western Watersheds Project, told EnviroNews. He signed the petition on behalf of the coalition of environmental groups. “It is senseless and irresponsible for federal agencies to use taxpayer dollars to sow land mines and poisons in open country to kill native wildlife to prop up failing ranching operations,” he stated.

Federal law requires the petitioned agencies to provide a final decision in writing to the petitioners: Western Watersheds Project, Predator Defense, WildEarth Guardians, the Center for Biological Diversity, Friends of the Clearwater, Alliance for the Wild Rockies, Western Wildlife Conservancy, Nevada Wildlife Alliance, Gallatin Wildlife Association, Environmental Protection Information Center, the Wolf Conservation Center, Wilderness Watch, Klamath Forest Alliance, Northeast Oregon Ecosystems, Yellowstone to Uintas Connection, Footloose Montana, Animal Legal Defense Fund, Project Coyote, Voices of Wildlife and the Mountain Lion Foundation…(CONTINUED)

http://www.environews.tv/033017-20-environmental-groups-jointly-demand-wildlife-services-ban-m-44-cyanide-bombs-idaho/

 

Bighorns Killed after Contacting Domestic Sheep

Excerpt from The Post Register

“Domestic sheep and goats often carry pathogens that wild sheep may be susceptible to…”

Two bighorn sheep rams that were in immediate proximity to domestic sheep near Challis were euthanized Thursday to prevent the sheep from potentially carrying disease back to the wild herd. One ram was 5 years old and the other was 6 years old. Idaho Department of Fish and Game

Idaho Department of Fish and Game officials killed two bighorn rams after attempts to dart and radio collar the animals failed Wednesday afternoon and Thursday morning.

The bighorn sheep were removed from a hillside adjacent to a small flock of domestic sheep on the outskirts of Challis, a Fish and Game news release said.

Samples were taken immediately after the sheep were killed, and the samples and carcasses were transported to a wildlife health lab for analysis.

Because bighorn sheep are susceptible to diseases that can be carried by domestic sheep and goats, the Department’s 2010 Bighorn Sheep Management Plan provides direction that Fish and Game remove bighorns in a timely manner when they come in contact with domestic herds to prevent potential transmission of disease to other bighorn sheep, the release said.

Domestic sheep and goats often carry pathogens that wild sheep may be susceptible to and that can result in fatal pneumonia or other diseases, the release said. The greatest risk occurs when a wild sheep mixes with domestic sheep or goats and then returns to a wild herd, potentially spreading the pathogens. In some cases, this can result in large-scale die-offs in wild sheep.

The bighorn rams were killed to prevent risk of them returning to their herds and potentially infecting other bighorns, the release said. The domestic sheep are also being tested…(CONTINUED)

http://www.postregister.com/articles/news-todays-headlines-west/2017/03/30/bighorns-killed-after-contacting-domestic-sheep#

Idaho Helicopter Ruling a Victory for Wilderness, Wildlife

as published on The Idaho Statesman

“BLM; Take Note!” ~ R.T.


“It is intolerable that agencies entrusted with enforcing our laws are themselves wantonly violating them…”

collared-wolfConservation groups cheered when a federal judge ruled last month that the Forest Service and Idaho Department of Fish and Game violated federal law by landing helicopters in an Idaho wilderness area to attach tracking collars to elk and wolves. The court also ordered the data gathered through these illegal activities destroyed. The now-halted project gives every appearance of an unscientific witch hunt, tailor-made to scapegoat wolf predation as the cause of elk population declines and to justify a wolf-killing program in wilderness.

During the 1980s, a controversy raged in Alaska over whether wolves caused the decline of the Nelchina caribou herd. Vic Van Ballenberghe, a Forest Service scientist, re-examined the issue and discovered that harsh winters started the Nelchina herd on a downward trajectory. Failing to recognize the decline, the Alaska Department of Fish and Game made it worse with overharvest. Ultimately, the scientific community concluded that weather and hunting — not wolves — caused the caribou herd’s decline. Now history is repeating itself in Idaho.

Wilderness was always intended to be wild and free from human control. Here, according to the lyrical requirements of the law itself, wilderness is directed by law to encompass land “retaining its primeval character and influence,” “affected primarily by the forces of nature,” which is “untrammeled by man, where man himself is a visitor who does not remain.”

Turning a wilderness into a heliport with helicopter landings, fitting out elk and wolves with thick leather necklaces, and ultimately waging an air war against wolves, are unnatural in every respect and completely incompatible with wilderness values…(CONTINUED)

Read more here: http://www.idahostatesman.com/opinion/readers-opinion/article134378629.html#storylink=cpy

Erik Molvar is a wildlife biologist published in the science of ungulate behavior and population dynamics, and is the executive director of Western Watersheds Project, a nonprofit environmental group.