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  • Pat Morris
    * Anti-Wolf Group Wants To Sue The Feds * Park County Commissioners Not Pleased With WY Wolf Plan * Debate on Simpson Wilderness Plan Heats Up * Coalition
    Message 1 of 1 , Aug 1 6:21 AM
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      * Anti-Wolf Group Wants To Sue The Feds
      * Park County Commissioners Not Pleased With WY Wolf Plan
      * Debate on Simpson Wilderness Plan Heats Up
      * Coalition 'Retires' Grazing Area in Wyoming
      * Opinion: New Wave of Fire Adds to Forest Debate
      * Sawtooth News Release: Boise, Payette, and Sawtooth Forests Set a Course For the Future
      * Canada Faces EU Ultimatum Over Griz Protection Measures
      * Feeding the Bears Invites Trouble
      * Coyotes Have come to SC

      Anti-wolf group wants to sue the feds

      by Anna Means

      The Central Idaho Anti-Wolf Coalition is headed to court as soon as it raises enough money.

      The coalition issued a press release this week stating their intention to sue the federal government for violating Idaho�s sovereignty when the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) brought Canadian gray wolves into Idaho.

      Coalition Chairman Ron Gillett, an outspoken critic of the reintroduction program, predicts his group will raise $50,000 in their August fundraiser in Nampa. In the press release Gillett said, �Something must be done because the wolf population has exploded to the point of decimating Idaho�s big game herds. The wolves are ruining Idaho�s heritage, our economic base, our way of life and most importantly, the wolves are killing our native wildlife.�

      Gillett told the Messenger the Canadian gray wolf is an exotic species to Idaho. He said FWS actually introduced the wolves rather than reintroduced them. The coalition wants to raise $100,000 then take a lawsuit against the federal government.

      Gillett told the Messenger that the coalition has hired an environmental policy researcher, Helen Franklin out of North Bend, Oregon, who has been reviewing the FWS Environmental Impact Statement. He said she�s found several violations. He said, �There�s no doubt we have grounds for a lawsuit.�

      The lawsuit, according to the press release, will claim Idaho�s wildlife is being decimated. Gillett said there�s no doubt they will be in court before the year is out. His long standing claim that wolves are destroying wildlife will be part of the argument. Gillett said they don�t have specific research data to support that claim, but said, �My eyes are just as good as Fish and Game.� Gillett lives in Stanley and said he goes out a few nights every week to look at the elk. Two nights ago he saw 45 cow elk and only two calves. Earlier in the month he saw 48 cows at Cape Horn and only four calves. This, he said, spells disaster for herds since it�s a commonly held notion that every 100 cows should have 25-30 offspring in tow to support a healthy herd.

      Gillett said it�s not only him, but people across the state watching the herds who have seen carcasses and diminishing cow/calf ratios.

      Gillett said he�s extremely unhappy with Fish and Game staff for saying it�s too soon to say how wolves are impacting herds.

      He said he and others of the same mind live in wolf country, pay taxes and are trying to survive in �this rural economy.� He said wolf supporters live out of the area and can endorse wolves because it doesn�t affect them, but they have no idea how it is for people living around the critters. �If this was so good for us wouldn�t we be the first to say thank you?�

      Butch Otter, representing Idaho�s first congressional district in Washington, D.C., is on the coalition�s side. In their press release, the coalition quoted Otter as saying, �In 1776, King George tried to impose his will on the 13 colonies by taxation without representation. Today, the federal government is acting like King George by forcing the citizens of Idaho to live with Canadian gray wolves without their consent. Make no mistake, Canadian gray wolves are a clear and present danger to the rural Idaho economy and the big game herds that Idahoans love.�

      Mark Warbis with Otter�s office said the congressman probably made that statement in the Idaho Outdoor Life radio program aired by AM station KIOV. Warbis said Otter supports the principles behind the movement and if they�re successful, �More power to them.� Otherwise, Warbis said, Otter supports �at the very least� state management.

      The coalition fundraiser is set for August 22 at the Nampa Civic Center. There will be dinner, speeches and an auction. Festivities begin at 6:00 p.m.


      Board opposes wolf proposal

      POWELL, Wyo. (AP) -- Park County commissioners are not happy with Wyoming's new wolf-management plan and say it might take litigation to keep the measure from going into effect.

      Wyoming Game and Fish commissioners approved the plan Tuesday at a meeting in Sheridan.

      It would establish -- if approved by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Servic -- a dual classification for wolves, protecting them in Yellowstone and Grand Teton national parks and the contiguous wilderness areas. But everywhere else in the state, they would be considered a predator and could be shot on sight.

      Park County commissioners Tim Morrison and Marie Fontaine were upset that commissioners approved the plan without taking written comments on the matter.

      "Something is going on that they want to rush through this thing. ... We may be at a point where someone has to sue the Wyoming Game and Fish Commission if they go ahead with this plan," Morrison said.

      The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is requiring management plans from Wyoming, Idaho and Montana to ensure a viable wolf population. The plans must earn the approval of federal scientists before wolves are removed from the endangered species list.

      Idaho has also approved a wolf management plan and Montana's plan is expected to be ready next month.

      Fontaine also was not happy with the section in Wyoming's plan that spells out how many wolf packs are allowed in the state.

      Under the plan, a minimum of 15 wolf packs would be maintained, with at least seven packs outside of Grand Teton and Yellowstone national parks and the John D. Rockefeller Jr. Memorial Parkway.

      If seven or fewer packs are found outside the parks and parkway, officials could extend trophy game status beyond the wilderness areas to help wolf numbers recover.

      But Fontaine said if there were, for example, 10 wolf packs inside the parks and parkway, only five packs should be required outside of them -- not seven.

      Morrison said it was also wrong that the law didn't more clearly spell out the location of wolf packs outside the parks and parkway.

      The Meeteetse resident said he can hear wolves howling in the area and was concerned increased populations would be devastating to area ranchers.

      "They are very concerned," Fontaine said.


      Debate on Simpson wilderness plan heats up

      by Anna Means

      There�s no ink to dry on any paper, but everyone is weighing in on Congressman Mike Simpson�s intended wilderness legislation.

      As Simpson�s staff gather information and ideas, the press gives voice to supporters and detractors of the legislation. Reporters across the west have written articles about the proposal, sometimes offering detail that is still in the conceptual stage. One lawyer has even contacted the Custer County Commissioners with suggestions on how they should approach negotiations.

      Not even close
      Lindsay Slater, Simpson�s chief of staff, told the Messenger, �We aren�t even close to drafting legislation.� He said they�ve met with groups and are now evaluating ideas. They hope to have a conceptual plan for public review in mid-September. Once response from that is evaluated they will draft a bill for Congress.

      The idea
      Simpson hopes to end the endless debate over wilderness designation within central Idaho. Under discussion is Mt. Borah and the Boulder-White Clouds area. Slater said they want to bring long term security to those who recreate and/or live in the area. That means finding what everyone needs and drawing a plan with alternatives that leave them whole. One part is to draw lines for wilderness. Right now the two ends of the spectrum are Idaho Conservation League�s proposal for 500,000 acres, while Custer County Commissioners desire acreage above treeline. Another aspect of the proposal is to offer Custer County some economic incentive to support more wilderness acres.

      County perspective
      For years, the Custer County Commissioners have complained the local economy can�t survive without industry on public lands, because there�s very little private property to support entrepreneural endeavors. According to the Association of Idaho Counties, this county has 158,503 privately owned acres within its 3,152,384 acre borders. Because of their interest in multiple use, the commissioners have never endorsed more wilderness.

      County leaders insist there has to be a way for inhabitants to make a living, which in turn provides taxes for government to operate. They have also said the tourist industry is a drain on government even though it does support a certain level of business.

      Taxable acres
      Simpson has proposed that some public lands be granted to the county for public benefit or for sale into private ownership. Slater said this offers the county a long term solution to its problem with a meager tax base.

      Several individuals have publicly expressed their disapproval of granting public lands to the county. To date, the figure 16,000 acres (one-tenth of one percent of total public lands within the county) has been tossed around. Opponents say it�s too much while proponents feel it isn�t enough.

      On July 21 the Post Register published an opinion piece by former Stanley Clinic Nurse Practitioner Marie Osborn. She objected to Sawtooth National Recreation Area (SNRA) lands being given over to a county that wasn�t known for regulating growth. She also didn�t like everything being so �hush hush� and said no one knows where the money will go.

      Slater said mostly Salmon-Challis National Forest land is being evaluated for grants. He said they might consider very small parcels within the SNRA, but only if there is no negative effect on neighboring property.

      The commissioners are working with The Nature Conservancy staff to establish a land trust board that will set parameters for land disbursement and allocation of money.

      Pipe dream
      Jim Gerber, from the Post Register�s Readers Advisory Board, also objected to giving land away in his editorial July 17. He said Custer County didn�t need a handout, but instead a level playing field where they could use renewable resources in a way that supports the local economy while maintaining forest and rangeland health. He suggested public land managers in counties with at least 70 percent public ownership be allowed to prepare forest and range projects free of appeal or judicial review.

      Gerber told the Messenger he didn�t think something like that would fly, but he still opposed giving public lands away. He said that although he likes wilderness, he thinks central Idaho has enough and, �I see no compelling reason for more.�

      It will pay
      Pat Ford, chairman of the Idaho Conservation League (ICL) and executive director of Save Our Wild Salmon Coalition, wrote a letter to the editor in Ketchum�s Mountain Express saying ICL opposed giving away public land, but did support helping Custer County�s struggling economy and schools.

      Ford told the Messenger he believes a �good, large, attractive Boulder-White Clouds Wilderness will provide significant economic value to Custer County.� He said studies show local economies are healthier in western counties with designated wilderness. Visitors buy gas, groceries and lodging and wilderness attracts new residents and businesses.

      Ford said ICL supports a proposed distance learning center in Challis. An Idaho Statesman article on July 6 by Rocky Barker suggested that was part of Simpson�s plan. Recently, Post Co. President Jerry Brady wrote that such a learning center would be located in Mackay.

      Slater said they have been looking into developing a prototype for a rural distance learning center. He said it does make sense to offer higher education to residents of isolated communities and it�s one of the concepts they�re considering, but there�s nothing cast in stone.

      Economic developer Gynii Gilliam told the Messenger she did include such a center as part of her wish list to Simpson�s staff. She�s also been applying for grants to start a distance learning project in Challis, but so far the money hasn�t materialized.

      Sonoran Institute
      Ford told the Messenger that ICL also supports a recent Sonoran Institute study that says air access and educational facilities are most critical factors in diversifying and improving rural economies. Additionally, he said, it would be more appropriate for the county to receive a direct federal appropriation rather than land transfers.

      Ford concluded his remarks by saying the area would prosper from restoring abundant harvestable wild salmon, which could be done by removing lower Snake River dams.

      Go for it
      Daniel H. Israel, environmental and natural resource attorney from Boulder, Colorado, contacted the county commissioners to offer his help in negotiating a wilderness deal. He said it�s well known wilderness areas and national parks attract thousands of visitors while local government bears the costs of law enforcement, road maintenance, search and rescue and volunteer medical services. He suggested the county strike a deal that would have the Forest Service pre-pay the county�s direct and indirect expenses. He said, �If the area is good enough for the environmentalists and federal government, then it should be good enough for first class schools.�

      Not a consensus
      Slater said Simpson isn�t taking the consensus route in this wilderness discussion. Staff are meeting with different interest groups and taking note what they need. From there, staff pitch concepts and see what flies and what doesn�t.


      Coalition 'retires' grazing area in Wyo.
      By Tom Kenworthy, USA TODAY
      DENVER � Using a tactic increasingly favored by environmental groups, a coalition of wildlife conservation organizations has paid $250,000 to a rancher to buy out her federal cattle-grazing permit in Wyoming.
      The deal, to be announced today, will end livestock grazing on a 137-square-mile swath of the Bridger-Teton National Forest just outside Grand Teton National Park. The area contains some of the most important bear habitat in the region, a resident wolf pack and many other species, including threatened lynx and bald eagles.

      At least 25 grizzly bears frequently prey on cattle there. Wildlife officers have had to relocate troublesome bears in the past, and at least one repeat offender had to be killed.

      By paying ranchers to renounce their often long-held land leases, environmental groups remove the greatest obstacle to "retiring" the areas. Often, the groups work in tandem with government wildlife agencies. Together, they help persuade federal officials to stop leasing the land after the buyout.

      "Groups are turning to this as a tool," said Tom France, northern Rockies representative for the National Wildlife Federation, one of the groups that helped fund the Wyoming buyout. "It's certainly not our goal in this to suggest that grazing is not appropriate, but it is our position that in some key spots conflicts are best resolved with (lease) retirements."

      The buyout represents another victory for environmental groups that would rather pay off willing ranchers than fight federal agencies in court to halt grazing. Within the past two years:

      � The Grand Canyon Trust bought out a 256,000-acre lease in the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument in southern Utah to protect sensitive stream-side areas from damage by cattle.

      � Defenders of Wildlife and the Foundation for North American Wild Sheep bought out a 20,000-acre domestic sheep grazing lease for land that contain prime grizzly bear habitat on the Caribou-Targhee National Forest just outside Yellowstone National Park.

      � The National Wildlife Federation retired a 2,400-acre lease on the Gallatin National Forest, also near Yellowstone.

      Livestock grazing on federal lands in the West has been a contentious issue for years. Opponents say cattle cause erosion, damage streams and harm endangered species. They frequently go to court to force government agencies to end or scale back grazing in environmentally sensitive areas.

      The U.S. Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management lease about 250 million acres for grazing at rates that fall far short of covering the program's costs.

      Some environmental groups who oppose all grazing on public lands want Congress to buy out leases throughout the West. At least in the short run, that is unlikely.

      Other environmental groups favor using the marketplace instead of the courthouse in cases in which ranchers are willing to be bought out. That way, no one is forced off the land..

      The livestock industry does not oppose such buyouts but is concerned about government agencies "facilitating these deals," said Jeff Eisenberg, federal lands director for the National Cattlemen's Beef Association.

      Betty Walton, whose family has held the cattle-grazing lease in Wyoming for nearly 50 years and run 800 cattle on the allotment, would not comment on the sale, her attorney said.


      The Times News
      Twin Falls, Idaho

      New wave of fires adds heat to the forest debate

      Our view: A rash of summer fires reaffirms the need for more intensive management of our national forests.

      Fifteen years ago, the inferno that devastated Yellowstone National Park was the hot topic of that summer's news. Now the raging blazes throughout Glacier National Park in upper Montana are sparking more debate about public land resources.

      The issue extends beyond two of our great national parks. In that 15-year span, millions of additional national forest acres have been charred in summer wildfire seasons. With each passing year, the ferocious fires seem to be growing in scope and impact.

      These fires reinforce the strengthening conviction that environmentalists -- by objecting to forest thinning -- are obstructing plans to restore balanced land management in our national forests.

      In spite of last year's catastrophic fires in Arizona, Colorado, New Mexico and Utah, Congress still hasn't passed President Bush's Healthy Forests Initiative, nor anything like it.

      Meanwhile, the fires are coming closer to home. Crews are battling six blazes within Idaho, including larger fires in the Boise and Salmon-Challis national forests.

      In the Sawtooth National Forest, pine beetle infestation, 100-degree temperatures and drought create a threat to communities in the Stanley and Wood River basins. Forest Supervisor Ruth Monahan said as much in a meeting with The Times-News editorial board last year.

      Fire is both a boon and a bane to forest health. Prescribed burns, where the blazes run their course in a designated area of forest, do have a positive, lasting effect.

      This month's edition of Smithsonian magazine provides an up-close look at the Forest Service employees who first lobbied for controlled burns in forest areas back in the early 1970s. The agency began letting certain Montana fires run their own course, starting in 1973.

      Years later, they found those forests that had burned were now vibrant, strong -- and most importantly, resistant to the wildfires that spread in 2000. Thus the cycle of rejuvenating forest life can be productive in protecting its long-term vitality.

      But the "let it burn" doctrine goes only so far. If Forest Service officials allowed fires to go entirely unchecked, the flames would devour our forests, not to mention the homes and communities in those areas. As Monahan said of last year's fires in Colorado, Arizona and Utah, "we're seeing vegetation conditions contributing to the kinds of fires we're seeing today. These are not the kinds of fires that naturally would have occurred."

      For natural fires to be beneficial to forests, preventive measures must be taken. That means thinning and fuel reduction measures in areas that have been overgrown for decades. In simple terms, some timber must be cut.

      Those measures are not occurring, thanks to environmentalists who have paralyzed the Forest Service with lawsuits against thinning. These groups will not be satisfied unless all commercial logging on public lands is banned. Their twisted notion of saving the forest is to let it burn down, just as long as it keeps the logging industry out of the picture.

      To cut through the thicket and begin fuel reduction, Congress must stop environmentalists and their crusade. The Healthy Forest Initiative is not an end run around environmental protection; it's a prudent step toward managing our forests and making sure wildfires do not escalate into blazing miles of destruction.


      Boise, Payette, Sawtooth National Forest
      2647 Kimberly Road East
      Twin Falls, ID 83301
      For Immediate Release Contact: Marna Daley, 208-737-3334
      Date: July 31, 2003 Ed Waldapfel, 208-737-3219
      Dave Olson, 208-373-4105
      Boyd Hartwig, 208-634-0784

      Boise, Payette, and Sawtooth Forests Set a Course For the Future

      Twin Falls, Boise, McCall, Idaho � The Southwest Idaho Ecogroup (Boise,
      Payette, and Sawtooth Forests) has completed their revised Land Management Plans and
      the accompanying Environmental Impact Statement (EIS). The three Forests reach a
      milestone with the release of the revised Plans, which establish an emphasis for managing
      the 6.6 million administered acres found in southern and central Idaho and northern Utah
      for the next 10-15 years.
      Forest Plans set the course for future management of publicly owned lands. They
      are programmatic (broad) in nature and while they do not make site-specific decisions
      they provide a path for all individual projects to follow. The revised management
      direction responds to new initiatives such as the National Fire Plan and Healthy Forest
      Initiative and concerns about listed species, habitat restoration, and commodity
      production. The revised Plans also make individual decisions for managing roadless
      areas, recognize the importance of healthy watersheds, and address the need to reduce
      hazardous fuels to prevent wildfire in areas where life and property are considered at risk.
      The original Forest Plans were developed in 1987, 1988, and 1990 for the
      Sawtooth, Payette, and Boise Forests respectively. The revised Forest Plans are different
      than the original Plans in several ways. Particularly, the revised Plans emphasize
      restoration or maintenance of vegetation and watershed conditions and focus on the
      condition of the forests rather than what they can produce. The revised direction is
      similar to the original direction in that it continues to provide for commodities including
      recreation, timber harvest, and grazing.
      Overall, most people won�t notice an immediate change when the Forest�s
      implement the revised management direction. One area where people might notice an
      immediate change is if their favorite recreation or hunting sites are temporarily impacted
      while restoration activities are taking place, such as prescribed fire or mechanical
      �Managing and protecting the natural resources on the 6.6 million acres
      administered by the Southwest Idaho Ecogroup to meet the needs and desire of the public
      and affected Tribes for today and into the future, while at the same time meet the needs of
      the resources, is very complex and demanding,� said Ruth Monahan, Sawtooth Forest
      Supervisor. �We ask people to be patient, changes will not occur overnight and it will
      take time, years in many cases, to see the results. We will also need to amend or update
      the plans periodically and ask your input and involvement in helping to correct problems
      when they are identified.�
      �We realize that the decisions being made for future management of the three
      Forests will not please everyone on every topic. However, we request that you take a
      close look at either an entire Forest or all three Forest Plans and consider the full mix of
      opportunities and uses, keeping in mind the laws that we must uphold,� said Mark
      Madrid, Payette Forest Supervisor. �We truly believe that in ten or twenty years people
      will be able to look back and see improvements to the land, resources, recreation and
      commodity opportunities.�
      The Forests received over 3,000 comments from people interested in the Plan
      Revision effort. Many of these comments came from people concerned about access and
      travel management. While the revised Plans do not actually make decisions concerning
      specific roads and trails they do build the foundation for beginning travel planning
      sometime in the near future.
      �There have been a lot of people, agencies, and organizations involved throughout
      this 7-year project who provided considerable input on a wide range of topics,� said Dick
      Smith, Boise Forest Supervisor. �Their involvement and comments helped shape these
      plans and we appreciate the support and input they provided. Our goal is to continue
      protecting and managing the land, so everyone can use and enjoy it for centuries to
      The revised documents will be available on compact disk and electronically on
      Thursday, July 31 at www.fs.fed.us/r4/sawtooth. Documents will be available at all
      Forest Service offices within the Ecogroup by August 8, 2003.


      Canada faces EU ultimatum over grizzly protection measures

      By Andrew Wasley, news editor

      29 July 2003

      The authorities in Canada's British Columbia (BC) have come under renewed pressure to take urgent steps to protect the provinces dwindling grizzly bear population following an EU ultimatum threatening to outlaw all imports of grizzly hunting trophies unless a network of 'hunt free' bear reserves are established by the end of the year.

      The threat comes after intense lobbying from environmental groups, who are critical of the sport shooting of the species, led to the decision being taken at the recent meeting of the EU Committee on Trade in Wild Fauna and Flora. All 15 member nations - led by Britain - agreed that European hunters would be forbidden to import grizzly trophies from December this year unless they receive 'credible evidence of progress' by the BC Government in protecting the species.

      Grizzlies are listed under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) and face decimation from over-hunting, logging, mining and commercial development, according to campaigners. Hundreds of grizzlies are shot for sport each year - many by Europeans - despite a raft of scientific evidence suggesting that the pastime represents a considerable threat to the species.

      Wendy Elliott, campaigner with the Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA), which is leading a coalition of groups battling to save Canada's grizzly bears, said: "This landmark decision [by the EU] is a signal that the international community will not sit back and let BC hunt its grizzlies into oblivion whilst ripping out their wilderness habitats from beneath them. It will force BC to either implement these crucial habitat protection measures or face the economic loss and international embarrassment of an EU decision to suspend trade."

      According to biologists, Canada's total grizzly population is less than 25, 000, with some estimates suggesting there could be as few as 5000 bears left in BC. Grizzlies are the slowest reproducing land mammal in North America, with females producing young every two to four years, many of which die before reaching breeding age of six to seven. This means the species is slow to recover from depletion, and acutely vulnerable to over‑hunting.

      Despite their own advisors voicing concerns over the plight of the species, the BC authorities recently reversed a ban on killing grizzlies for sport, and now sell 'harvesting licences' to companies catering for hunters. Earlier this year the pastime sparked outrage after an investigation by Red Pepper and The Sunday Times revealed that Holland and Holland, the royal gunsmith, was promoting holidays offering British clients the chance to shoot grizzly bears for trophies in spite of the species' vulnerable status.

      The company, which supplies shotguns to wealthy customers such as Madonna and her husband Guy Ritchie, and holds warrants from the Duke of Edinburgh and the Prince of Wales, was plugging grizzly hunting holidays in BC and Alaska as part of its portfolio of foreign trophy hunting adventures. A reporter posing as a customer contacted the gunsmith and was referred to Berkshire firm Roxton Bailey Robinson Worldwide. The specialist travel company has been running Holland and Holland's travel operations since February. It emerged that the hunting was run by a third company, Canada based Prophet Muskwa.

      A Roxton salesman confirmed to the undercover reporter that the company ran the trips promoted by Holland and Holland. He described how a bear would be spotted, and hunters would be delivered to a point where they could follow it on horseback or on foot.

      He offered the journalist the chance to shoot up to six grizzlies. Each animal commands a 'harvest fee' of about �5000. There is an additional expedition cost of up to �10, 000 per person. Grizzly head trophies are regarded as the haute couture of big game hunting, with stuffed bear heads highly revered in sporting circles as the ultimate boardroom or country house decoration.

      Holland and Holland removed the plug for the grizzly hunting opportunity after being confronted by The Sunday Times but defended the pastime in a statement posted on their website. The controversy came as pressure groups stepped up their campaign to halt the destruction of bear habitat across Canada.

      According to the EIA, the animals' traditional range has come under increasing assault from commercial development with bear populations being forced to exist almost exclusively in areas regarded as 'sub-optimal' to regions inhabited historically.

      Unprecedented forest clearcutting, road building, real estate and resort developments, aquaculture, hydroelectric power projects and petroleum exploration have reportedly devastated the once pristine wilderness areas that are the bears traditional range. With traditional habitat already cut into, campaigners say any further encroachment now risks disruption for the animals migration and movement patterns which could affect breeding and ultimately risk genetic isolation.

      For more information: www.eia-international.org



      Feeding the bears invites trouble

      "A fed bear is a dead bear," the adage warns.

      Yet some well-intentioned people still seem unable to resist the temptation to lure the dangerous bruins in close enough to do serious damage.

      For example, Brigitte Kobell was recently fined by game wardens for feeding the bears near her home at the south edge of Big Sky.

      This is the same woman who a year earlier lambasted people who feed bears, warning that "the stupidity of certain people" results in bears having to be relocated or killed.

      She's right.

      But despite her outrage at such "stupidity," Mark Anderson, warden sergeant for the Montana Department of Fish, Wildlife and Parks, said he found large amounts of peanuts and bird food left out near Kobell's home.

      "She quite likes the bears," Anderson said. "But she's loving them to death."

      For years wildlife managers, biologists and bear advocates condemned the practice of feeding bears. Government agencies worked hard to rid areas of bear lures such as trash and food anywhere near the woods. Campers and hikers were issued stern warnings about what to do with food in the backcountry.

      Finally, in 2001, the Montana Legislature passed a law making it illegal to feed bears in Montana.

      The problem is that when bears recognize an easy, consistent source of food, they start hanging around. And when they start hanging around, they lose their natural wariness around people.

      That can lead to dangerous bear-human encounters, as well as making the bears more vulnerable to hunters.

      When bears are discovered frequenting areas populated by humans, they get three strikes before they're "out" -- unless the bear is aggressive, in which case it only gets one strike.

      And "out" means dead, by a lead pill or lethal injection.

      Kobell is thought to be the first woman in the state cited under the new law. And in a best-case scenario, she'd be the last.

      But just in case someone out there has a hankering to see what it might take to draw a bear in close enough to make friends -- don't.

      Don't feed the bears on purpose.

      Don't feed the bears by accident.

      If you do, you put yourself in danger, you put your neighbors in danger, and you put the bears in danger.

      It's that simple.


      Coyotes have come to South Carolina

      (Published July 31� 2003)

      GREENVILLE, S.C. (AP) - They're not natives, but they are here in large numbers. They steal calves and goats from herds, they rummage through the garbage and eat any food left outside. They are coyotes.
      Since the first coyote was trapped in South Carolina in 1986, the numbers have climbed dramatically, increasing 10-fold over the past decade, according to the state Department of Natural Resources.

      Experts say it's just a matter of time before the prolific canines begin edging around subdivisions, scavenging from trash cans and pet food bowls - occasionally stealing a small family pet that's not fast enough to get away.

      "Every state in the East has them now so there was no reason to think that they wouldn't come here," said Jay Butfiloski, a wildlife biologist specializing in fur-bearing animals for Natural Resources.

      Part of the reason for the coyotes trek east could be the decline in the population of the red wolf in this part of the country, some biologists say. But the prevailing opinion is that it's just a natural expansion of the range for animals that have proven themselves to be highly opportunistic and adaptable to different types of environment.

      "I don't know that they're any smarter than a fox, but they're a lot stronger," said Anderson County trapper Richard Whitfield, 32. "They seem to have a stronger will to live, a stronger will to fight and run, and that's what's got them where they're at now."

      Thirty-five-year-old Keith Batson of Easley has shot 21 coyotes in the past five years, he says, including one last week. "They're the hardest animal to hunt I've ever fooled with in my life."

      Clemson University Extension agent Danny Howard said the animals could become a problem in the more rural suburban areas of the Upstate.

      "When people start missing those little puppies and kitties and they wonder where they went to, I have a strong suspicion they might be coming at night and preying on them," he said.

      But big dogs, such as John Palmer's Great Pyrenees guard dogs are the best protection against coyotes for livestock producers.

      Palmer has about 500 head of cattle and goats at his farm near Dacusville. He has seen coyotes killing his animals. "I think in two weeks we had 15 goats to get gone," he said. "I mean they really hammered us."

      Gary Cook, a regional manager for the Wildlife Resources Agency in Tennessee where coyotes began popping up in large numbers 10 years ago, says not all coyotes are bad. "The majority of coyotes do not cause problems," he said. "But ... some cause major problems. And we kill those animals."

      When it comes to coyotes around homes, the best policy is to do anything you can to scare them off.

      "Any coyote that's in an urban area and the residents of that neighborhood don't do something to discourage that animal, he's going to get braver and braver and braver until he may cause a problem," Cook said.

      But there is no chasing the animals back to their natural habitat across the Mississippi. "No matter what you do you will never get rid of coyotes," Cook said. "They're here forever."

      Information from: The Greenville News


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