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2012

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  • U.S. Sen. Jeff Bingaman (D) is in northern New Mexico to introduce new wilderness legislation designating 45,000 acres of wilderness in Taos County’s Columbine-Hondo Mountains.

    Much of the area is already managed as a federal wilderness study area, but NM Wild has actively been working for full wilderness designation.

    An e-mail Tuesday from the Santa Fe Fat Tire Society and International Mountain Bicycling Association says the bill introduced by Bingaman is endorsed by all cycling groups in Northern New Mexico.

    “Bingaman and the Conservation Community, which includes cyclists, understand the benefits of cycling and the recreation economy it supports. Thus, a special bill was crafted that meets everyone’s needs by designating trails and protecting land from resource extraction and motorized abuse.”

    The bill would not allow mountain biking in the Columbine-Hondo, but it opens up a small section of the Wheeler Peak Wilderness that currently prevents cyclists from taking advantage of a trail in that area.

  • by GARY CHITTIM / KING 5 News
    Posted on October 3, 2012 

    Washington state biologists are still monitoring the Forest Service roads near Colville, WA, once roamed by an ill-fated wolf pack.

    Fish and Wildlife officials say they have no reason to believe any members of “The Wedge Pack” of wolves survived after sharpshooters in helicopters shot six of them last month.

    But, to be sure they are installing cameras and other measures to see if there are any survivors or new wolves moving in.

    Meanwhile, veternarians have examined the bodies of eight member of the pack that were either shot or found dead in area.

    Four females and four males of various ages and sizes were examined. Most were described as in good or good but thin condition. Two young pups are among the carcasses examined. One was shot, the other was found dead. Sources say that may leave more pups unaccounted for.

  • We are very pleased to let you know that Sharla Reinhart has recently joined the NM Wild board of directors and will assume the position of treasurer. Until her retirement last year, Sharla was the vice-president of membership development for  the New Mexico Educator’s Federal Credit Union, and in that role fostered a very strong relationship between the credit union and NM Wild. We look forward to her insights related to our financial reporting and how we can strengthen our outreach to our membership. Welcome, Sharla!

    Learn more about Sharla and our other board members here.

  • CALL TO ACTION: Tell US Fish and Wildlife Service that you want more wolf releases in NM

    Good news: Mexican wolf numbers increased from 50 to 58.

    BUT…

    Mexican wolves are still on the verge of extinction and need your help. To help save Mexican wolves, more animals must be released in New Mexico and Arizona NOW.

    Exterminated by the US government by the 1970s and nearly wiped out in Mexico within the next decade, this animal remains critically endangered. With the help of the Endangered Species Act, signed into law by President Nixon, the last known wild Mexican wolves were captured, bred in captivity, and, in 1998, the first wolves were set free. Fourteen years later, Mexican wolves are still the most endangered wolves on the planet. Since the recovery effort began, 38 wolves have been illegally killed and about 50 have vanished. Our wolf population is suffering from inbreeding; decreased genetic diversity is shrinking litter sizes and increasing pup deaths.

    Since 2008, no new wolves (new genes) have been released in the wild. Why is this NOT happening? Lack of political will.

    Does it matter? Science says large carnivores like wolves are “maintenance engineers” that help to restore and maintain healthy lands. Healthy lands provide us with clean water and air, and the diversity of plants and animals that we all depend on. As shown in Yellowstone, wolves stimulate rural economies. Or, you might just like them! You might feel that wolves simply have the right to exist, that there it is something deeply moving knowing they are running free.

    WHAT YOU CAN DO:  Please e-mail US Fish and Wildlife Service Southwest Regional Director Dr. Benjamin Tuggle and copy your e-mail (very important) to Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar and media outlets in New Mexico. Contact details are provided below. Briefly tell Dr. Tuggle in your own words why you want more wolves released in New Mexico and Arizona without further delay.

    E-mail SW Regional Director Dr. Benjamin Tuggle: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

    Copied to: Secretary of Interior Ken Salazar, ABQ Journal, Silver City Sun News, Las Cruces Sun News, Santa Fe New Mexican, New Mexico Independent.

    Corresponding e-mail addresses to copy:  This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.; This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

    If you have any questions, please contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

     

    On behalf of Mexican wolves and healthy lands, THANK YOU!

  • CALL TO ACTION: Tell US Fish and Wildlife Service that you want more wolf releases in NM

    Good news: Mexican wolf numbers increased from 50 to 58.

    BUT…

    Mexican wolves are still on the verge of extinction and need your help. To help save Mexican wolves, more animals must be released in New Mexico and Arizona NOW.

    Exterminated by the US government by the 1970s and nearly wiped out in Mexico within the next decade, this animal remains critically endangered. With the help of the Endangered Species Act, signed into law by President Nixon, the last known wild Mexican wolves were captured, bred in captivity, and, in 1998, the first wolves were set free. Fourteen years later, Mexican wolves are still the most endangered wolves on the planet. Since the recovery effort began, 38 wolves have been illegally killed and about 50 have vanished. Our wolf population is suffering from inbreeding; decreased genetic diversity is shrinking litter sizes and increasing pup deaths.

    Since 2008, no new wolves (new genes) have been released in the wild. Why is this NOT happening? Lack of political will.

    Does it matter? Science says large carnivores like wolves are “maintenance engineers” that help to restore and maintain healthy lands. Healthy lands provide us with clean water and air, and the diversity of plants and animals that we all depend on. As shown in Yellowstone, wolves stimulate rural economies. Or, you might just like them! You might feel that wolves simply have the right to exist, that there it is something deeply moving knowing they are running free.

    WHAT YOU CAN DO:  Please e-mail US Fish and Wildlife Service Southwest Regional Director Dr. Benjamin Tuggle and copy your e-mail (very important) to Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar and media outlets in New Mexico. Contact details are provided below. Briefly tell Dr. Tuggle in your own words why you want more wolves released in New Mexico and Arizona without further delay.

    E-mail SW Regional Director Dr. Benjamin Tuggle: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

    Copied to: Secretary of Interior Ken Salazar, ABQ Journal, Silver City Sun News, Las Cruces Sun News, Santa Fe New Mexican, New Mexico Independent.

    Corresponding e-mail addresses to copy:  This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.; This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

    If you have any questions, please contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

     

    On behalf of Mexican wolves and healthy lands, THANK YOU!

  • by Elizabeth Shogren
    Sept. 21, 2012
    NPR

    President Obama named a new national monument on Friday: Chimney Rock in southwestern Colorado. With two sandstone spires soaring from a mesa, not only is Chimney Rock a spectacular place; it also provides a fascinating glimpse into the ancient people who lived in that region more than 1,000 years ago.

    The moon usually rises south of the stone towers at Chimney Rock, but every 18 or 19 years, the moon rises directly between the two huge pillars. This feature seems to have been especially important to a society known as the ancestral Pueblo people. They built their largest building — what archaeologists call their “great house” — to have a perfect view of this astronomical wonder.

    Archaeologist Steve Lekson says that this great house is actually still standing at Chimney Rock, and it is a remarkable sight. “The location is just stunning,” he says. “And then they architecturally positioned themselves on that ridge out near those two huge pillars to make that thing really impressive.”

    As a tall, square, 40-room palace with ornate masonry, the great house is the centerpiece of the settlement. The house’s design stands apart from the simple, circular houses where farmers and commoners would live.

    Chimney Rock is the third national monument President Obama has created, the distinction owing to this feature’s rich heritage and natural scenery. As a national monument, the area surrounding Chimney Rock will now see more protection, and also more money.

    The monument was one of many outposts of the much larger Chaco Canyon settlement in northern New Mexico, about 55 miles away. An experiment done by a high school student, and the discovery of fireboxes at both sites, led archaeologists to believe that the settlements were able to communicate with smoke signals.

    “[The student] had her mom stand at one end, down towards Chaco, and she flashed mirrors at Chimney Rock, or vice versa,” Lekson says.

    Brenda Todd is one of the experts who has argued that Chimney Rock was a colony of Chaco. Before she started studying Chimney Rock for her Ph.D., she got a taste of its magic. In 2006, she hiked up to the great house at Chimney Rock and watched the lunar standstill. “We saw the moon rise between the pillars that night, and it was pretty amazing,” she says.

    Visitors to the new national monument won’t get to view that astronomical sight for many years. In the meantime, though, there’s lots to learn there about the people who lived in the American Southwest.

  • Las Cruces Sun-News report
    4/27/2012

    LAS CRUCES — More than a dozen members of the clergy representing a broad diversity of faiths and congregations in Southern New Mexico sent a letter to President Obama on Friday urging him to support a national monument for the Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks region.

    In the letter, clergy urge the president to create the monument on the grounds that the Organ, Potrillo, and Uvas Mountains are a crucial piece of the area’s culture and heritage, key to job creation and economic growth for the region’s residents, and are the gateway to New Mexico for generations of settlers and pilgrims, according to a news release.

    Bishop Ricardo Ramirez said it’s important for people of faith to speak up on this issue.

    “God gave us dominion over the land to act as stewards of it, not to ruin it and exploit it,” he said. “It does not bode well for our role as stewards of the land if we cannot collectively preserve this touchstone to our past and our history.”

    Vince Petersen, pastor at Our Lady of Guadalupe in Tortugas, said, “People of faith recognize that we are all responsible for taking care of God’s natural gifts and we all have a role to play in preserving these lands.”

    The clergy members were meeting as a part of an event sponsored locally by New Mexico Communities in Action and Faith (CAFé), a faith-based non-profit community organization based in southern New Mexico that works on poverty issues and helping low- and moderate-income families shape public policy.

  • Las Cruces Sun-News report
    4/27/2012

    LAS CRUCES — More than a dozen members of the clergy representing a broad diversity of faiths and congregations in Southern New Mexico sent a letter to President Obama on Friday urging him to support a national monument for the Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks region.

    In the letter, clergy urge the president to create the monument on the grounds that the Organ, Potrillo, and Uvas Mountains are a crucial piece of the area’s culture and heritage, key to job creation and economic growth for the region’s residents, and are the gateway to New Mexico for generations of settlers and pilgrims, according to a news release.

    Bishop Ricardo Ramirez said it’s important for people of faith to speak up on this issue.

    “God gave us dominion over the land to act as stewards of it, not to ruin it and exploit it,” he said. “It does not bode well for our role as stewards of the land if we cannot collectively preserve this touchstone to our past and our history.”

    Vince Petersen, pastor at Our Lady of Guadalupe in Tortugas, said, “People of faith recognize that we are all responsible for taking care of God’s natural gifts and we all have a role to play in preserving these lands.”

    The clergy members were meeting as a part of an event sponsored locally by New Mexico Communities in Action and Faith (CAFé), a faith-based non-profit community organization based in southern New Mexico that works on poverty issues and helping low- and moderate-income families shape public policy.

  • http://www.eenews.net/climatewire/2012/11/14/8

    Tiffany Stecker, E&E reporter

    Published: Wednesday, November 14, 2012 

    A team of researchers is calling on policymakers to instate measures that would curb grazing by domestic and wild animals on Western public lands.

    The eight researchers published a report today in Environmental Management recommending that the Bureau of Land Management and U.S. Forest Service eliminate grazing on some large areas. Climate change has altered the landscapes of the West’s public lands, said Robert Beschta, professor emeritus in the College of Forestry at Oregon State University.

    “How we are grazing the West today is creating all of these adverse impacts,” said Beschta. “The whole discussion about improving rangelands is missing.”

    Higher temperatures, less snowpack in the winter, wildfires and varying precipitation have all proved to be stressful on grasslands in the West, Beschta said. Grazing animals, like cattle, wild horses, burros and ungulates — hooved mammals like deer and elk — are eating away the chance for grazing lands to recover.

    These areas could serve as sites for researchers to observe how ecosystems might recover from constant grazing in the face of climate change.

    More BLM and Forest Service land is used to feed domestic and wild grazing animals than is consumed by forest fires, roads and the timber harvest combined, the study finds. Trampling from animals increases soil erosion with negative consequences on watersheds and wildlife. The stress on native grasses also reduces plant biodiversity and pollination.

    Public benefits from reduced grazing

    Deer and elk have grown in population due to the decline in large predators like wolves. Reintroducing these predators could help restoration efforts, the authors wrote.

    In January, the Forest Service adopted a revised planning rule — the first update since 1982 — that incorporated a greater focus on climate change adaptation for forests. Although the rule could potentially serve as a framework for better management in the face of climate change, it has also been criticized for being too vague and dependent on local forest managers.

    “It requires the planning process to look at interactions, rather than just climate alone,” said David Cleaves, climate change adviser to the Forest Service chief, after the announcement of the new rule (ClimateWire, Jan. 27).

    The report mentions the possible economic consequences of restricting grazing on public lands, saying some operators would see reduced incomes and land values.

    The benefits far outweigh the costs, said co-author Debra Donahue, a professor in the University of Wyoming’s College of Law. These include improvements in water quality, improved soil quality and better pollination. Because only a tiny percentage of American beef is raised on grasslands, beef prices are unlikely to rise.

    “The ecological improvement will translate to economic benefits,” Donahue said.

  • April Reese, E&E reporter
    Published: Thursday, March 1, 2012

    SANTA FE, N.M. — The Southwest’s forests are under greater stress today than they have been in centuries, thanks to the vagaries of climate change, researchers said at a fire ecology conference held here this week.

    As average temperatures in the region have risen, forests across the Southwest have become drier, said Craig Allen, a research ecologist with the U.S. Geological Survey who is based at the Jemez Mountain Field Station near Los Alamos, N.M. Drought conditions, along with fuel buildups from a century of fire suppression beginning around 1900, have led to an increase in severe fires in recent years.

    Some of the largest and hottest-burning of those conflagrations include the 469,000-acre Rodeo-Chediski fire in Arizona in 2002 and, more recently, the 158,00-acre Wallow fire on the Arizona-New Mexico border and the Las Conchas fire, which blackened 156,000 acres last summer in the Jemez Mountains near Los Alamos, making it the largest wildfire in New Mexico history.

    “Surprise, surprise — dry years are driving fire activity,” Allen told attendees of the Southwest Fire Ecology Conference during a presentation on Tuesday. The likelihood of fire is especially great in dry years that follow a wet year or two, when an area greens up and then dries out, he added.

    During the 100 years or so when forest managers snuffed out almost all fires on public lands — before forest scientists understood the importance of fire to many forest types — some of the Southwest’s forests saw fewer fires than they had at any time in the past 9,000 years, according to Allen’s research, which uses tree rings to reconstruct historic climate conditions.

    The lack of fire during the 20th century has greatly affected the vegetation on Southwestern lands, creating “homogenized” forests that were once far more diverse and allowing trees to encroach into grasslands, Allen added. For instance, in the Jemez Mountains in northern New Mexico, where Allen conducts most of his research, grasslands declined by 55 percent between 1935 and 1981 due to tree encroachment.

    At the same time, warming temperatures are contributing to diebacks of large swaths of forest and appear to be slowing down tree growth, he added, which could hinder the ability of forests to regenerate after a fire.

    “The trees here aren’t growing very well,” Allen said. “The Southwest is an area where the trees seem to be more sensitive.”

    The region’s trees — piñon pines and juniper at lower elevations; ponderosa pines at mid-elevations; and aspen, spruce and fir higher upslope — haven’t seen such tremendous drought stress since the 13th century, he added. “The drought stress in the 2000s matches the 1200s drought,” he said.

    But no one really knows exactly how extensive the damage will be, he said.

    “How much heat stress can trees tolerate?” he asked, adding that it’s difficult to predict how long a tree withering in the heat can survive. “It may take years for a tree to break down.”

    Another implication of the unusally challenging conditions in Southwestern forests is a higher risk to water supplies in some areas.

    If a severe fire burned through Santa Fe National Forest, for example, the resulting erosion of sediment could clog two reservoirs above the city that supply 40 percent of its drinking water, said Deborah Finch, a researcher with the Forest Service’s Rocky Mountain Research Station in Albuquerque, N.M.

    A more accepting public?

    Meanwhile, as conditions in the Southwest become drier and severe fires become more frequent, the region’s residents are increasingly accepting of fuel treatments designed to reduce the risk of such fires, said Sarah McCaffrey, a social scientist with the Forest Service’s Northern Research Station in Evanston, Ill., who studies attitudes toward fire.

    Examining several studies from around the country on public attitudes toward fuel treatments, McCaffrey found that about 80 percent of all respondents said they see forest thinning and prescribed burning as appropriate tools to manage fire risk.

    “People actually have a pretty good understanding of fire ecology,” she said during her presentation at the conference.

    Once people understand the importance of fuel treatments for restoring ecosystem health and reducing the risk of severe fires, they’re more willing to support those treatments, she said.

    “Treatments are generally acceptable, as long as they’re done by people who know what they’re doing,” she said.

    Reese writes from Santa Fe, N.M.

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  • Staci Matlock | The New Mexican
    Posted: Wednesday, July 18, 2012

    Dozens of conservation bills in Congress are likely stalled until after the November election, including two measures that would add new protections to thousands of acres in Northern New Mexico.

    Congress will recess for most of August. When senators and representatives return, they’ll be caught up in election fervor, and bills already stuck in committees are unlikely to move, according to congressional staffers.

    Three bills involving New Mexico lands — the Rio Grande del Norte Conservation Act, the Columbine-Hondo Wilderness Act and the Valles Caldera National Preserve Management Act — are pending in the U.S. Senate. The Rio Grande National Preserve Management Act has made it out of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee to the Senate floor. The committee is chaired by Sen. Jeff Bingaman, who supports all three and hopes to see them through before he retires at the end of the year.

    “Not a whole lot will happen before the election,” predicted Bingaman aide Maria Najera. “There’s a move to put a package of bills together including those [an omnibus bill] that would hopefully pass in the lame-duck session.”

    The Rio Grande del Norte and Columbine-Hondo bills have broad support among Taos County residents and some ranchers, sportsmen and environmentalists.

    The Rio Grande del Norte Conservation Act would protect almost 236,000 acres straddling the Rio Grande Gorge from the Sangre de Cristo Mountains to Ute Mountain and from the New Mexico-Colorado border to the Taos Junction Bridge. Most of the land is managed by the Bureau of Land Management. The bill would protect the land from oil and gas drilling and other mineral development. It would protect “traditional” uses of the land, such as livestock grazing, hunting and cutting wood for fuel.

    The Columbine-Hondo Wilderness Act would permanently protect 46,000 acres of Carson National Forest in the Sangre de Cristo high country. The land has been a wilderness study area since 1980 and encompasses the headwaters of the Rio Hondo and Red River.

    Erminio Martinez, an Arroyo Seco rancher with a permit to graze cattle in the Columbine-Hondo area, supports the act. “I graze on both wilderness and nonwilderness land in the national forest on three allotments,” he said.“I have a vested interest.”

    As with the Rio Grande del Norte, grazing, hunting and other traditional activities would be protected under the wilderness act. But new development, such as roads and mining development, would be prohibited.

    Martinez is also a member of the Taos Land Trust and the Northern New Mexico Livestock Association. He advocates for preserving private land through conservation easements and protecting public land.

    Martinez said it has taken some convincing of older ranchers in the area that wilderness designation and conservation easements are the way to protect their traditions. “Older members feel like government would have more of a hand in what could take place. But the act is written to protect grazing,” he said. “I think the more the grazing permittees learn the advantages of [the protection], the more they’ll support it.”

    Concerns over oil and gas drilling stem from current well development in northern Rio Arriba County, just across the border from Taos County, Martinez said.

    Another bill involving New Mexico public lands would turn over management of the 88,900-acre Valles Caldera National Preserve to the National Park Service. The preserve in the Jemez Mountains was a ranch purchased by Congress in 2000 and turned into a public land experiment. It was managed by a presidentially appointed board guided by a set of mandates: protect the resources, increase access for the public, use it as a working ranch and make it financially self-sufficient by 2015.

    Many advocates for the preserve decided the experiment had failed halfway to the finish line. Some, such as Tom Ribe of Caldera Action, began advocating for the National Park Service to take over management. New Mexico’s senators, Tom Udall and Bingaman, support turning over management of the preserve.

    Max Trujillo, a Las Vegas, N.M., outdoorsman and Northern New Mexico representative with the New Mexico Wildlife Federation, said it isn’t surprising that none of the conservation bills has moved much. He’s not too worried about how the November election might affect the bills. “It can’t get any worse than it is right now,” he said. “Congress is gridlocked and can’t pass bills that are more important to the nation than [these] because they don’t see eye to eye.”

    Contact Staci Matlock at 986-3055 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

  • By Ralph Maughan, The Wildlife News

    July 25, 2012

    David Stalling worked for Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation for a number of years. For 10 years he was conservation editor of Bugle, their magazine. He was also President for two terms of the Montana Wildlife Federation and presently is a grassroots organizer for Trout Unlimited.

    In view of the current controversy over the family of Olaus J. Murie revoking the use of the Murie name by the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation due to their adoption of a strident anti-wolf policy, today Stalling issued a strong, detailed rebuke to the organization he used to love.

    There is little doubt that the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation has been transformed. Obviously there will be those who say it is better now that it is a more single purpose organization devoted to elk hunting alone without worry about other kinds of wildlife or unpleasant disputes over protecting habitat. It appears too that more money can be made by appealing to the lowest common denominator.
    – – – – – – –

    Here is Stallings statement:

    In a sad, but justified move, the family of Olaus Murie recently demanded that the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation (RMEF) cancel the organization’s Olaus J. Murie Award because of the RMEF’s “all-out war against wolves” that is “anathema to the entire Murie family.”

    I conceived and created the Olaus J. Murie Award (with coordination and approval from the Murie family) on behalf of the RMEF in 1999, when the RMEF was a science-based conservation organization. The award recognized scientists working on behalf of elk and elk habitat in honor of Olaus Murie, who is widely considered the “father” of modern elk research and management for the ground-breaking work he conducted at the National Elk Refuge in Jackson Hole, Wyoming in the 1940s. He also wrote “Elk of North America” – the first, most thorough and comprehensive scientific treatise on elk and elk management, which has since been updated several times by the Wildlife Management Institute.  (I have read Murie’s book several times, and was honored to have had a chapter published in the most recent edition.)

    Since then, the RMEF got rid of all the good leaders who not only helped create and shape the RMEF, but had solid, impressive backgrounds in wildlife biology, ecology and science-based wildlife management.  The organization now ignores and defies science and panders to outfitters, politicians and hunters who have little understanding of wildlife and, in particular, interactions between wolves and elk.  The group has abandoned principle for income and popularity.

    During my ten years as the conservation editor for RMEF’s Bugle magazine, I wrote many award-winning science-based articles and essays regarding wildlife, ecology, natural history and wildlife management.  Several of those stories focused on science that the RMEF itself helped fund showing clear, solid evidence of improvements in the health of habitat and elk herds living among wolves; how wolf predation was mostly compensatory and not additive; how elk behavior, habits and habitat choices changed in the presence of wolves, and many other interconnected complexities that factored in such as habitat conditions, habitat effectiveness, vulnerability,  bull-to-cow ratios, breeding behavior, calving and calf survival rates.  In those days, the RMEF helped convey and disseminate accurate information to keep people informed , supporting the kind of good, solid science that Olaus Murie himself began and would have been proud of.

    Today, the RMEF is run by a former marketer for NASCAR and the Pro Rodeo Cowboys Association, with no understanding of wildlife or elk ecology, who has called wolf reintroduction the “worst ecological disaster since the decimation of bison herds;” continues to erroneously claim wolves are “decimating” and “annihilating” elk herds; who viciously attacks anyone who disagrees; and does what he can to keep the truth from being published.  (Myself and other science-based writers have all been banished from writing for Bugle, with no explanation.)

    This, despite the tremendous recoveries and improvements to elk and other wildlife habitat in Yellowstone thanks to wolf recovery; that there are now more elk in Montana (and more hunting opportunity) than ever; that I see as many elk as always in the country I hunt, and that Montana outfitters are claiming the best elk hunting success in years.

    Good for the Murie family! The RMEF has become a disgrace to the good, science-based research and management that Olaus Murie began and promoted.

  • By Ralph Maughan, The Wildlife News

    July 25, 2012

    David Stalling worked for Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation for a number of years. For 10 years he was conservation editor of Bugle, their magazine. He was also President for two terms of the Montana Wildlife Federation and presently is a grassroots organizer for Trout Unlimited.

    In view of the current controversy over the family of Olaus J. Murie revoking the use of the Murie name by the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation due to their adoption of a strident anti-wolf policy, today Stalling issued a strong, detailed rebuke to the organization he used to love.

    There is little doubt that the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation has been transformed. Obviously there will be those who say it is better now that it is a more single purpose organization devoted to elk hunting alone without worry about other kinds of wildlife or unpleasant disputes over protecting habitat. It appears too that more money can be made by appealing to the lowest common denominator.
    – – – – – – –

    Here is Stallings statement:

    In a sad, but justified move, the family of Olaus Murie recently demanded that the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation (RMEF) cancel the organization’s Olaus J. Murie Award because of the RMEF’s “all-out war against wolves” that is “anathema to the entire Murie family.”

    I conceived and created the Olaus J. Murie Award (with coordination and approval from the Murie family) on behalf of the RMEF in 1999, when the RMEF was a science-based conservation organization. The award recognized scientists working on behalf of elk and elk habitat in honor of Olaus Murie, who is widely considered the “father” of modern elk research and management for the ground-breaking work he conducted at the National Elk Refuge in Jackson Hole, Wyoming in the 1940s. He also wrote “Elk of North America” – the first, most thorough and comprehensive scientific treatise on elk and elk management, which has since been updated several times by the Wildlife Management Institute.  (I have read Murie’s book several times, and was honored to have had a chapter published in the most recent edition.)

    Since then, the RMEF got rid of all the good leaders who not only helped create and shape the RMEF, but had solid, impressive backgrounds in wildlife biology, ecology and science-based wildlife management.  The organization now ignores and defies science and panders to outfitters, politicians and hunters who have little understanding of wildlife and, in particular, interactions between wolves and elk.  The group has abandoned principle for income and popularity.

    During my ten years as the conservation editor for RMEF’s Bugle magazine, I wrote many award-winning science-based articles and essays regarding wildlife, ecology, natural history and wildlife management.  Several of those stories focused on science that the RMEF itself helped fund showing clear, solid evidence of improvements in the health of habitat and elk herds living among wolves; how wolf predation was mostly compensatory and not additive; how elk behavior, habits and habitat choices changed in the presence of wolves, and many other interconnected complexities that factored in such as habitat conditions, habitat effectiveness, vulnerability,  bull-to-cow ratios, breeding behavior, calving and calf survival rates.  In those days, the RMEF helped convey and disseminate accurate information to keep people informed , supporting the kind of good, solid science that Olaus Murie himself began and would have been proud of.

    Today, the RMEF is run by a former marketer for NASCAR and the Pro Rodeo Cowboys Association, with no understanding of wildlife or elk ecology, who has called wolf reintroduction the “worst ecological disaster since the decimation of bison herds;” continues to erroneously claim wolves are “decimating” and “annihilating” elk herds; who viciously attacks anyone who disagrees; and does what he can to keep the truth from being published.  (Myself and other science-based writers have all been banished from writing for Bugle, with no explanation.)

    This, despite the tremendous recoveries and improvements to elk and other wildlife habitat in Yellowstone thanks to wolf recovery; that there are now more elk in Montana (and more hunting opportunity) than ever; that I see as many elk as always in the country I hunt, and that Montana outfitters are claiming the best elk hunting success in years.

    Good for the Murie family! The RMEF has become a disgrace to the good, science-based research and management that Olaus Murie began and promoted.

  • David DeFranza, Treehugger.com
    April 12, 2012

    Towns, cities, suburbs, and rural areas all have at least one thing in common: An over abundance of deer and other large herbivores. The free-ranging herds cross busy traffic lanes, eat from gardens, and spread disease—among other things. But what can be done to control them?

    The answer, according to a new study conducted by researchers at Oregon State University, is to cultivate healthy predator populations. Yes, this includes reintroducing wolves.

    The researchers found that “there’s consistent evidence that large predators help keep populations of large herbivores in check, with positive effects on ecosystem health.”

    Densities of large herbivores—like deer and moose—were six times greater in areas without wolf populations. In addition, they found that combinations of predators—like wolves and bears—had a greater benefit by allowing the species to work together to cultivate an “ecosystem of fear” amongst their prey.

    “In systems where large predators remain, they appear to have a major role in sustaining the diversity and productivity of native plant communities,” Robert Beschta, a co-author of the study, explained “thus maintaining healthy ecosystems.”

    Another interesting finding was that hunting by humans did little to control the populations of herbivores. The study found that the limited range and duration of human hunting was not effective at curbing the populations of hyper-abundant species. What is needed, the researchers concluded, were large, wide-ranging carnivores—most likely in large numbers.

  • David DeFranza, Treehugger.com
    April 12, 2012

    Towns, cities, suburbs, and rural areas all have at least one thing in common: An over abundance of deer and other large herbivores. The free-ranging herds cross busy traffic lanes, eat from gardens, and spread disease—among other things. But what can be done to control them?

    The answer, according to a new study conducted by researchers at Oregon State University, is to cultivate healthy predator populations. Yes, this includes reintroducing wolves.

    The researchers found that “there’s consistent evidence that large predators help keep populations of large herbivores in check, with positive effects on ecosystem health.”

    Densities of large herbivores—like deer and moose—were six times greater in areas without wolf populations. In addition, they found that combinations of predators—like wolves and bears—had a greater benefit by allowing the species to work together to cultivate an “ecosystem of fear” amongst their prey.

    “In systems where large predators remain, they appear to have a major role in sustaining the diversity and productivity of native plant communities,” Robert Beschta, a co-author of the study, explained “thus maintaining healthy ecosystems.”

    Another interesting finding was that hunting by humans did little to control the populations of herbivores. The study found that the limited range and duration of human hunting was not effective at curbing the populations of hyper-abundant species. What is needed, the researchers concluded, were large, wide-ranging carnivores—most likely in large numbers.

  • By SEAN LENNON, Op-Ed Contributor
    Published: August 27, 2012
    The New York Times

    ON the northern tip of Delaware County, N.Y., where the Catskill Mountains curl up into little kitten hills, and Ouleout Creek slithers north into the Susquehanna River, there is a farm my parents bought before I was born. My earliest memories there are of skipping stones with my father and drinking unpasteurized milk. There are bald eagles and majestic pines, honeybees and raspberries. My mother even planted a ring of white birch trees around the property for protection.

    A few months ago I was asked by a neighbor near our farm to attend a town meeting at the local high school. Some gas companies at the meeting were trying very hard to sell us on a plan to tear through our wilderness and make room for a new pipeline: infrastructure for hydraulic fracturing. Most of the residents at the meeting, many of them organic farmers, were openly defiant. The gas companies didn’t seem to care. They gave us the feeling that whether we liked it or not, they were going to fracture our little town.

    In the late ’70s, when Manhattanites like Andy Warhol and Bianca Jagger were turning Montauk and East Hampton into an epicurean Shangri-La for the Studio 54 crowd, my parents, John Lennon and Yoko Ono, were looking to become amateur dairy farmers. My first introduction to a cow was being taught how to milk it by hand. I’ll never forget the realization that fresh milk could be so much sweeter than what we bought in grocery stores. Although I was rarely able to persuade my schoolmates to leave Long Island for what seemed to them an unreasonably rural escapade, I was lucky enough to experience trout fishing instead of tennis lessons, swimming holes instead of swimming pools and campfires instead of cable television.

    Though my father died when I was 5, I have always felt lucky to live on land he loved dearly; land in an area that is now on the verge of being destroyed. When the gas companies showed up in our backyard, I felt I needed to do some research. I looked into Pennsylvania, where hundreds of families have been left with ruined drinking water, toxic fumes in the air, industrialized landscapes, thousands of trucks and new roads crosshatching the wilderness, and a devastating and irreversible decline in property value.

    Natural gas has been sold as clean energy. But when the gas comes from fracturing bedrock with about five million gallons of toxic water per well, the word “clean” takes on a disturbingly Orwellian tone. Don’t be fooled. Fracking for shale gas is in truth dirty energy. It inevitably leaks toxic chemicals into the air and water. Industry studies show that 5 percent of wells can leak immediately, and 60 percent over 30 years. There is no such thing as pipes and concrete that won’t eventually break down. It releases a cocktail of chemicals from a menu of more than 600 toxic substances, climate-changing methane, radium and, of course, uranium.

    New York is lucky enough to have some of the best drinking water in the world. The well water on my family’s farm comes from the same watersheds that supply all the reservoirs in New York State. That means if our tap water gets dirty, so does New York City’s.

    Gas produced this way is not climate- friendly. Within the first 20 years, methane escaping from within and around the wells, pipelines and compressor stations is 105 times more powerful a greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide. With more than a tiny amount of methane leakage, this gas is as bad as coal is for the climate; and since over half the wells leak eventually, it is not a small amount. Even more important, shale gas contains one of the earth’s largest carbon reserves, many times more than our atmosphere can absorb. Burning more than a small fraction of it will render the climate unlivable, raise the price of food and make coastlines unstable for generations.

    Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg, when speaking for “the voices in the sensible center,” seems to think the New York State Association of County Health Officials, the American Academy of Pediatrics, the New York State Nurses Association and the Medical Society of the State of New York, not to mention Dr. Anthony R. Ingraffea’s studies at Cornell University, are “loud voices at the extremes.” The mayor’s plan to “make sure that the gas is extracted carefully and in the right places” is akin to a smoker telling you, “Smoking lighter cigarettes in the right place at the right time makes it safe to smoke.”

    Few people are aware that America’s Natural Gas Alliance has spent $80 million in a publicity campaign that includes the services of Hill and Knowlton — the public relations firm that through most of the ’50s and ’60s told America that tobacco had no verifiable links to cancer. Natural gas is clean, and cigarettes are healthy — talk about disinformation. To try to counteract this, my mother and I have started a group called Artists Against Fracking.

    My father could have chosen to live anywhere. I suspect he chose to live here because being a New Yorker is not about class, race or even nationality; it’s about loving New York. Even the United States Geological Survey has said New York’s draft plan fails to protect drinking water supplies, and has also acknowledged the likely link between hydraulic fracturing and recent earthquakes in the Midwest. Surely the voice of the “sensible center” would ask to stop all hydraulic fracturing so that our water, our lives and our planet could be protected and preserved for generations to come.

    Sean Lennon is a musician.

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