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Archive for the ‘Wildlife’ Category

Hunting Wolves In Montana: Where’s the Data?

Posted by Matthew Koehler on September 6, 2011

A new paper (pdf) has been released by Jay S. Mallonee, an independent wolf biologist from Montana who runs Wolf & Wildlife Studies. Mallonee’s review paper was published on September 3, 2011, in Nature and Science, a peer reviewed scientific journal. Below is a snip from the abstract. With wolf-hunting season currently underway in Montana and Idaho, Mallonee’s research and findings are more important than ever.

Abstract: Management agencies have claimed that the recovery and public hunting of wolves is based in science. A review of their statistics demonstrated that data collection methods did not follow a scientific protocol which resulted in flawed and often blatantly incorrect data. Consequently, agencies do not know the total number of wolves in Montana, a major reference point used by wolf managers. Therefore, the quotas proposed for public wolf hunts are completely arbitrary, and management decisions in general have not been based on facts. This has produced a wolf management system that lacks scientific perspective and does not utilize what is known about the wolves’ role in sustaining healthy ecosystems. Instead, the data demonstrates that management decisions are often based on opinion and politics.

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Big Wildlife’s Action and News for August

Posted by Matthew Koehler on August 24, 2011

If you’re interested in helping to protect keystone carnivores in the Western United States, check out the latest action alert from Big Wildlife, a project of the Earth Island Institute. You can take action to help end trapping on America’s National Wildlife Refuges, speak out for wolves in the southwest and Pacific northwest and even “like” Big Wildlife on Facebook.

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U.S. House rejects “Extinction Rider”

Posted by Matthew Koehler on July 28, 2011

Yesterday, on a vote of 224-202 the U.S House of Representatives rejected the “extinction rider,” which would have prohibited species listings and habitat conservation under the Endangered Species Act (ESA).

Specifically, this bill would have defunded the US Fish & Wildlife Service’s ESA program, preventing the agency from listing species as threatened or endangered or designating critical habitat under the ESA. Defeating the “extinction rider” is great news for America’s most vulnerable species and their habitat.

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Media ignores real story with Rehberg’s EAJA crusade

Posted by Matthew Koehler on June 27, 2011

I just got done reading the Missoulian’s article “Environmental Lawsuits: Bill would limit payouts when government loses cases.”

Basically, in the article, the Missoulian helps Rep Denny Rehberg make the supposed case that the Equal Access to Justice Act needs to be reformed because us whacky environmentalists sometimes get some attorney fees covered when we successfully sue the federal government and the government loses.

As the Missoulian wrote, “The Equal Access to Justice Act says any government agency that loses a lawsuit to a private individual, group or business must pay the legal costs of the winner. The money comes out of each agency’s budget, rather than a central fund.”

“[EAJA’s] morphed into something entirely different that wasn’t intended. It’s become a cottage industry for lawsuits, especially in the environmental arena,” explained Rep Rehberg in the article.

Yet, buried in the story (and certainly not reflected in the Missoulian’s headline) is the fact that “just 1 percent of Equal Access cases made awards for environmental lawsuits, and those were split between conservation and industry groups.

“The real question is why does the government keep losing? Instead of getting rid of (EAJA), Congressman Rehberg should provide oversight of federal agencies to find out why they have such a hard time following the law” explained Michael Garrity of the Helena-based Alliance for the Wild Rockies.

So, just what type of cases make up the bulk of actual Equal Access to Justice Act cases? Well, the Missoulian really never tells us this, because apparently they want to keep the focus on the 1% of EAJA cases involving environmental groups.

However, the article does point out, “Other applicants for Equal Access to Justice money include businesses challenging federal agencies such as the Occupational Safety and Health Administration and military veterans fighting the Veterans Administration or Department of Defense.”

And anyone with access to Google can find out just how important the Equal Access to Justice Act really is, not only to small businesses and military veterans, but also to Social Security claimants, especially the poor, disabled and disadvantaged.

From Disabled World:

Social Security Disability claimants may have to prepare themselves for another potentially crippling blow, and law firms that represent these claimants, such as Disability Group Inc., may suffer the same fate….The EAJA allows people to apply for awards of attorney fees and other expenses associated with pursuing litigation against the government. EAJA applicants who win their cases against the government and who are eligible may receive their payments after the case closes. This is a vitally important piece of legislation that helps guarantee that citizens of any socio-economic stratum can address legitimate grievances against the government….Any prohibition of EAJA fee award payments will undoubtedly make it difficult, if not impossible, for many Social Security claimants, as well as veterans, to find lawyers to represent them in federal court. This possibility weighs heavily on local and national Social Security Disability law firms across the country. “In my opinion,” writes attorney Douglas Brigandi of Bayside, New York, “it would be a travesty to allow this legislature to go forward and thereby deprive those individuals, who depend on the Social Security Act, the right to obtain these much needed entitlements.”

Perhaps the Missoulian can do another article on this aspect of the EAJA, especially since these cases constitute the vast, vast majority of EAJA cases and one would assume there would be plenty of veterans or small business owners or Social Security claimants in Montana who have benefited from EAJA.

It’s a shame that this EAJA debate with Rep Rehberg and Rep Lummis (R-WY) has been boiled down to the 1% of EAJA cases that are environmental in nature, while Rep Rehberg and Lummis apparently ignore what EAJA does to help level the playing field when the poor and disabled or military veterans and small businesses must hold the federal government accountable through court action.

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Sen Tester attaches wolf rider to Senate’s $1 trillion Continuing Resolution

Posted by Matthew Koehler on March 5, 2011

According to the Missoulian:

“U.S. Sen. Jon Tester, D-Mont., has inserted language into the Senate’s Continuing Resolution – the bill that funds the entire national budget – declaring the gray wolf a recovered species in Montana and Idaho

The $1.077 trillion, seven-month spending bill is expected to reach a full Senate vote on Tuesday, and then return to the House of Representatives.”

In response, Defenders of Wildlife released the following press release:

Senate includes wolf delisting bill in must-pass funding pack age:
Provision would strip ESA protections for wolves in Idaho and Montana

Washington, D.C. (March 4, 2011) – In the latest effort to strip federal endangered species protections from gray wolves in the Northern Rockies, a Continuing Budget Resolution to fund federal government operations for the remainder of the fiscal year was unveiled in the Senate today. The provision directs the Secretary of the Interior to reissue the 2009 delisting rule, which was struck down in 2010 by a federal district court, and would insulate the reissued rule from further judicial review. If enacted, wolf management authority would be returned to all states in the region other than Wyoming. Idaho and Montana have made clear that wolf numbers will be drastically reduced in those states, and Wyoming has thus far refused to produce a wolf management plan that passes muster under the Endangered Species Act.

The following is a statement by Rodger Schlickeisen, president of Defenders of Wildlife:

“What do wolves have to do with critical funding for our federal government? Absolutely nothing. Congress should be focused on keeping our nation’s essential services up and running, not going back on America’s commitment to restore wolves to Yellowstone and the Northern Rockies.

“This provision would hand over responsibility for wolves to the states when their approach of late has been anything but responsible. Idaho Gov. Butch Otter has repeatedly stated his intent to kill as many wolves as possible in Idaho, and Montana Gov. Brian Schweitzer recently encouraged ranchers to take the law into their own hands and kill wolves on sight. We should not be rewarding these states for thumbing their noses at the conservation of wolves, wildlife that belongs to all Americans.

“This provision sets a dangerous precedent for legislating on Endangered Species Act protections that could leave countless other species vulnerable to attack. And, by blocking any further judicial review of wolf delisting, this provision sends the message that complying with the law doesn’t matter. If Congress adopts this measure, it will be a tragedy not just for wolves and other endangered species, but for the rule of law in America.

“Congress’s last-ditch attempt to force wolf delisting through on a budget bill only opens the door to other riders that eat away at the foundation of our nation’s environmental safeguards.”

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