Current legislation that would facilitate the permanent closure of federal grazing allotments

 Wildlife Photography© Jim Robertson

Wildlife Photography© Jim Robertson

[Livestock grazing allotments are often located on logged or burned-over areas on public land so fragile that it can barely provide for the needs of native wildlife.]

Rural Economic Vitalization Act (REVA)

The Rural Economic Vitalization Act (HR 3410) is the only current legislation of West-wide scope that would facilitate the permanent closure of federal grazing allotments. Upon the bill’s recent introduction, the organization WildEarth Guardians (http://www.wildearthguardians.org/) stated

“Representative Adam Smith is proposing real life, practical solutions to public lands management challenges. This bill offers an equitable, voluntary option for ranchers facing environmental and economic problems on our nation’s public lands and an opportunity for conservationists to restore critical wildlife habitat and water supplies. We support Congressman Smith’s efforts to resolve tough environmental issues in the West.”

If you’ve not yet liked the Facebook page for the legislation, please do so. And please encourage your friends to support it as well.

Meat-eaters may speed worldwide species extinction, study warns

Diets rich in beef and other red meat can be bad for a person’s health. And the practice is equally bad for Earth’s biodiversity, according to a team of scientists who have fingered human carnivory—and its impact on land use—as the single biggest threat to much of the world’s flora and fauna. Already a major cause of extinction, our meat habit will take a growing toll as people clear more land for livestock and crops to feed these animals, a study in the current issue of Science of the Total Environment predicts.

“It’s a colossally important paper,” says Gidon Eshel, a geophysicist at Bard College in Annandale-On-Hudson, New York, who studies how human diets affect the environment, and who was not part of the study. Researchers have struggled to determine the full impacts of meat consumption on biodiversity, Eshel says. “Now we can say, only slightly fancifully: You eat a steak, you kill a lemur in Madagascar. You eat a chicken, you kill an Amazonian parrot.” That’s because species-rich habitats are being converted to pasture and feed crops as the human appetite for meat swells.

But others disagree that livestock production is the leading cause of habitat loss. “They’ve created [a] stickman to be knocked down,” says Clayton Marlow, a grassland ecologist at Montana State University, Bozeman, “without accomplishing anything for either the ecosystem or the poor.”

Previous studies have explored links between modern livestock production and climate change, water pollution, and the loss of some herbivores and top predators such as wolves and lions. “But how is it impacting other species?” asks Brian Machovina, an10405311_308608659330466_3235603653435958062_n ecologist at Florida International University in Miami, and the paper’s lead author.

To find out, he and his colleagues looked at studies that identified the world’s biodiversity hotspots—those areas that contain the highest percentage of endemic plant and animal species. Most are located in tropical nations. Then, the researchers picked out countries that are most likely to expand their industrial livestock operations, and determined where and how much land will be lost to grazing and growing crops to feed livestock. Using data from the Food and Agriculture Organization and other studies about the production of cattle, pigs, and chickens in these countries from 1985 to 2013 and the amount of land the livestock required, they extrapolated the likely future expansion of agricultural lands. Finally, they created maps of overlap.

Many of the places expected to see the greatest shift in land use from forest to livestock are in 15 “megadiverse” countries, which harbor the largest number of species, Machovina says. “By 2050, given current trends, these countries will likely increase the lands used for livestock production by 30% to 50%”—some 3,000,000 square kilometers—the researchers estimate.

The habitat loss is so great that it will cause more extinctions than any other factor, the study notes, particularly when coupled with other deleterious effects of livestock production, including climate change and pollution. “These changes will have major, negative impacts on biodiversity,” Machovina says. “Many, many species will be lost.”

The trend toward meat-eating is already having an impact, the scientists say.

Citing other studies, they note that more than three-quarters of the land previously cleared in the Amazon region is now used either as pasture for livestock or to raise feed crops for domestic and international markets. And the rapid deforestation there continues: Another 1898 square kilometers of forest were removed over the last year. Further, more than half of the Amazon’s Cerrado, a woodland savanna ecosystem known for its rare species, has also been cleared for raising cattle and soy. Habitats have also been—and continue to be—lost throughout Central and Latin America for the same reasons, the scientists say, who see a similar future for Africa.

By revealing where the most flora and fauna will disappear as lands are converted to agriculture for meat production, “the study equips us with a means to quantify the costs of our dietary choices in terms of species loss,” Eshel says.

The study also “suggests potential solutions that merit serious consideration,” notes ecologist David Tilman from the University of Minnesota, Twin Cities, who was not part of the work. To stop the loss of biodiversity, Machovina and his colleagues recommend that people limit meat consumption to 10% of their calories; eat more fruits and vegetables; replace beef—the most land-hungry meat—with pork, chicken, and fish; and change livestock production practices. But Tilman warns this won’t be easily done. “The challenge is to find solutions that meet human needs and simultaneously protect remaining natural habitats.”

Meeting the challenge of “feeding the world’s growing population with a shrinking land base” can’t be done without “intensive animal and crop production,” says Marlow, who argues that the real problem facing biodiversity is the loss of arable land to development such as urban and slum sprawl. He adds that developing countries are adopting industrialized livestock production because it’s efficient and “the only way we can feed the world’s growing population.”

Hydropower May Be Huge Source of Methane Emissions

http://www.climatecentral.org/news/hydropower-as-major-methane-emitter-18246

October 29th, 2014

By Bobby Magill

Imagine nearly 6,000 dairy cows doing what cows do, belching and being flatulent for a full year. That’s how much methane was emitted from one Ohio reservoir in 2012.

Reservoirs and hydropower are often thought of as climate friendly because they don’t burn fossil fuels to produce electricity. But what if reservoirs that store water and produce electricity were among some of the world’s largest contributors of greenhouse gas emissions?

Harsha Lake, a large reservoir near Cincinnati, Ohio, emitted as much methane in 2012 as roughly 5,800 dairy cows would have emitted over an entire year. Credit: Firesign/flickr

Scientists are searching for answers to that question, as they study how much methane is emitted into the atmosphere from man-made reservoirs built for hydropower and other purposes. Until recently, it was believed that about 20 percent of all man-made methane emissions come from the surface of reservoirs.

New research suggests that figure may be much higher than 20 percent, but it’s unclear how much higher because too little data is available to estimate. Methane is about 35 times as potent a greenhouse gas as carbon dioxide over the span of a century.

Think about man-made lakes in terms of cows passing gas: Harsha Lake, a large reservoir near Cincinnati, Ohio, emitted as much methane in 2012 as roughly 5,800 dairy cows would have emitted over an entire year, University of Cincinnati biogeochemist Amy Townsend-Small told Climate Central.

Methane emissions from livestock are the second-largest source of methane emissions in the U.S., behind crude oil and natural gas, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. But the EPA’s greenhouse gas emissions estimates do not yet account for methane emissions coming from man-made reservoirs.

Part of the reason is that, generally, very little is known about reservoirs and their emissions, especially in temperate regions, such as in the U.S., where few studies have been conducted.

RELATED Tropical Dams an Underestimated Methane Source  Basis for EPA Clean   Fracked Oil, Gas Well Defects Leading to Methane Leaks

In 2012 study, researchers in Singapore found that greenhouse gas emissions from hydropower reservoirs globally are likely greater than previously estimated, warning that “rapid hydropower development and increasing carbon emissions from hydroelectric reservoirs to the atmosphere should not be downplayed.”

Those researchers suggest all large reservoirs globally could emit up to 104 teragrams of methane annually. By comparison, NASA estimates that global methane emissions associated with burning fossil fuels totals between 80 and 120 teragrams annually.

But how much reservoirs contribute to global greenhouse gas emissions is “still a big question mark,” because the issue remains relatively unstudied and emission rates are highly uncertain, said John Harrison, an associate professor in the School of the Environment at the Washington State University-Vancouver whose research focuses on how reservoirs can be managed to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

“So I don’t think we really know what the relative greenhouse gas effect of reservoirs is compared to other sources of energy in the U.S.,” he said.

Research at Harsha Lake may help scientists better understand how reservoirs contribute to climate change.

In a study published in August, Townsend-Small and researchers from the EPA found that Harsha Lake emitted more methane into the atmosphere in 2012 than had ever been recorded at any other reservoir in the U.S.

“When you compare the annual scale of the methane emission rate of this reservoir (Harsha Lake) to other studies, it’s really much higher than people would predict,” EPA research associate and Harsha Lake study lead author Jake Beaulieu told Climate Central.

Scientists have long thought reservoirs in warmer climates in the tropics emitted more methane than reservoirs in cooler climates, but the research at Harsha Lake shows that may not be the case, Townsend-Small said.

“We think this is because our reservoir is located in an agricultural area,” she said.

Methane is generated in reservoirs from bacteria living in oxygen-starved environments.

“These microbes eat organic carbon from plants for energy, just like people and other animals, but instead of breathing out carbon dioxide, they breathe out methane,” Townsend-Small said. “These same types of microbes live in the stomachs of cows and in landfills, which are other sources of methane to the atmosphere.”

Runoff from farmland around Harsha Lake provides more nutrients in the water, allowing algae to grow, just like numerous other reservoirs surrounded by agricultural land across the country.

Lake Travis near Austin, Texas. Credit: Bobby Magill

Methane-generating microbes feed on decaying algae, which means that lakes catching a lot of nutrient-rich agricultural runoff generate a lot of methane.

“There are a very large number of these reservoirs in highly agricultural areas around the U.S.,” Townsend-Small said. “It could be that these agricultural reservoirs are a larger source of atmospheric methane than we had thought in the past.”

Emissions from reservoirs in all climates could be underestimated because of a discovery Beaulieu’s team found at Harsha Lake: The area where a river enters a man-made lake emits more methane than the rest of the lake overall.

Nobody has measured that in an agricultural reservoir before, Beaulieu said.

Most other research studying reservoir methane emissions doesn’t account for how emissions may vary across the surface of a lake, he said.

The EPA is about to begin a more comprehensive study measuring methane emissions from 25 reservoirs in a region stretching from northern Indiana to northern Georgia, with sampling beginning next year, Beaulieu said.

That study will help the EPA eventually include reservoir methane emissions in its total estimates of human-caused methane emissions.

Until that and other studies are complete, scientists can only speculate on the impact hydropower is having on the climate.

“We’re still in the very early days here of understanding how these systems work with respect to greenhouse gas production,” Harrison said.

Control Cruel Special Interest Groups, Not the Wild Animals.

Letter from Rosemary Lowe to the Albuquerque Journal:
NM Game Dept. Killing Machine
“Mexican Wolves belong on New Mexico lands, but there are special interests within the hunting & livestock industries which have a long history of prejudice about this (& other) wonderful native species. It is time to bring back the Lobo, and give it the priority & protection it needs. These cruel special interest groups need controlling, not the wild291789_400428663360054_2105335387_n animals.
The livestock industry grazes on public lands, at taxpayer expense, denuding & damaging water resources, native grasses, while demanding that the government slaughter native wild animals including wolves, bears, coyotes, mountain lions, & other innocent wildlife: a mindless hatred of so-called “predators.” Many of these species are in decline, despite the “pseudo-science” misinformation from the Game Dept.& other anti-wildlife interests.
Native wild animals are facing further declines as Climate Change worsens, affecting the health of remaining ecosystems, but the Game Dept. continues its antiquated “management” schemes to appease their special interest buddies.
Based upon the anti-wildlife mentality of the Game Dept. it does not belong in the 21st century. It must be abolished, if wildlife is to survive at all.

The Beef Burden: How Cows Greatly Hurt the Environment

[Listen to this Crap (in bold text)]

by Brian Stallard

http://www.natureworldnews.com/articles/8180/20140722/beef-burden-cows-greatly-hurt-environment.htm

According to a recent study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, beef cattle require 28 times more land and 11 times more irrigation water than pork, eggs, poultry or even diary.

“We have a sharp view of the comparative impact that beef, pork, poultry, dairy and eggs have in terms of land and water use, reactive nitrogen discharge, and greenhouse gas emissions,” lead author Gidon Eshel, from Bard College in New York, told BBC News.

To reach their findings, Eshel and his team collected and analyzed data on five edible livestock industries from 2000 to 2010, as provided by the US Department of Agriculture. Based on consumption models, they then calculated what kind of burden each of these industries placed on the environment.

Being exceptionally inefficient energy converters and a hugely popular source of food, cattle have long been known to have a greater environmental impact compared to other livestock. However, this is the first time that their impact has been quantified.

According to the report, land and irrigation burden aside, the emissions from cattle alone nearly make up the ten-fold impact seen, compared to other livestock.

Methane gas (CH4) has increased in average world volume by an estimated 50 percent compared to pre-industrial levels, according to the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Alarmingly, this gas is far more potent than carbon dioxide (CO2).

“Pound for pound, the comparative impact of CH4 on climate change is over 20 times greater than CO2 over a 100-year period,” the EPA reports.

“The result is that the researchers estimate that over 60 percent of the environmental burden of livestock in the US results from beef,” commenting expert Mark Sutton, from the UK’s Centre for Ecology and Hydrology, told BBC. “Although the exact numbers will be different for Europe, the overall message will be similar: Cattle dominate the livestock footprint of both Europe and US.”

10405311_308608659330466_3235603653435958062_nBut don’t go thinking about veganism just yet. A past Nature World News report detailed a new proposed solution for the environmental burden of sheep in Europe – genetically tweaking the animals to reduce their methane footprint. If a similar technique could be used in cattle populations, we all can keep munching on hamburgers even as the “beef burden” is lightened.

Also see: http://www.natureworldnews.com/articles/14060/20150414/methane-and-climate-change-scientists-struggle-to-solve-four-corners-mystery.htm

Other Evils of the Livestock Industry

1011767_10152168496128769_1859093580_n
The following is by Rosemary Lowe:

Thinking Beyond the Animal Factories to Save This Planet

 
 Those out there who are concerned about this planet, the wildlife, the wild places, really need to understand how very destructive the Livestock Industry is, and not just for the factory farming aspects (as horrendous as they are).
Even many Vegans, who rightly abhor  what goes on in animal factories,  ignore, (or are unaware of), the plight of billions of native wild species in the U.S. and around the world. Wild species’ populations are in severe decline , some near extinction, due to livestock grazing on the last open, wild places.
Since the 1880’s the western livestock industry in the U.S., has been responsible for the slaughter of Billions (not millions) of coyotes, bears, wolves, prairie dogs, birds of prey, mountain lions, bobcats, beavers, ferrets, and other wild fauna and flora. This industry is also killing our rivers, streams,  forests, not to mention increasing the volatile gas, methane, that is a by-product of grazing, &  increasing global climate change.
So, while most people are now at least aware of the evil animal factories,  the horror of what goes on “out there” on the range– the vast expanses of our public lands– is hardly mentioned or thought about. It is crucial to also understand that western public lands–wilderness areas, BLM, National Forests, National Grasslands,  National Wildlife Refuges, and state lands–are becoming Domesticated Feed Lots because of the ranching industry. These public lands are the last refuge for wildness, in this Climate Change world!
 No matter how livestock grazing is packaged, it is an industry which is  removing what is wild and replacing it with  Domestication. Every so-called “wildlife problem” west of the Mississippi is really about The Livestock Industry, whether it be actual  grazing, or the raising of crops used for grazing domestic sheep and cattle. The western livestock interests are powerful, vocal, and determined to keep wolves, coyotes, mountain lions, wild horses, & thousands of other species “controlled/managed” with emphasis on aerial shooting, roundups, poisoning, trapping, hunts,  subsidized by taxpayers.
Now, some misguided animal groups, like IDA, and HSUS are falling for the PZP “birth control” method for horses, deer and other wild ungulates–which means more “taming” of the wild west.
What does this trend mean for the future of The Wild, when even so-called “animal people” start Sleeping with The Enemy?
 The great naturalist, professor, author, John A. Livingston, wrote, in Rogue Primate that: “to domesticate…is to amputate its wildness, to tame it; to train or otherwise coerce it into living with, and being of use, to us; to make it a part of our (human) infrastructure.”

We who care, still have a chance to save what is left of wildness, but we don’t have much time. Worse yet, the other living beings–wild non-humans-are fast running out of time.
      __________________________________________________
And John A. Livingston also wrote (and ahimsaforever commented), One of my favorite quotes of Livingston catalogs why he and other people (including me) who care about animals can be misanthropic:

“In the alchemist’s dungeon that is almost any well-appointed shopping center in the “developed” world, you can buy cosmetics, transmission fluid, and pet food made from whales; you can buy the hide of lynx in the form of a hat, or gloves made from the skin of an unborn lamb; you can buy a coat made from seal whelps; you can buy a tropical finch in a metal cage and a Siamese fighting fish in a plastic bag; you can buy firearms and whammo ammunition and multiple hooks with barbs on them; you can buy sharkskin shoes and the unspawned eggs of a sturgeon; you can buy the pulverized enlarged liver of a force-fed goose and the testicles of a bull and the brain of a calf . . . . You can buy the sterile eggs of an untrod chicken and the tongue of a feed-lot steer that spent its last weeks hock-deep in its own manure; you can buy medicines made from the blood and viscera of living laboratory animals . . . . You can also buy the Holy Bible and the Declaration of Human Rights.” The John Livingston Reader (2007), p. 149.

More Methane-Producing Cattle NOT a Climate Fix

1901554_284296371763676_1407902016671406791_n

by Mike Hudak,

Ranching’s boosters, in addition to telling the public how great their product tastes, have often promoted their cause by citing ranching’s supposed benefits to the landscape—cattle’s removal of weeds and fertilization of the soil among other things. Then they’d claim that all this cattle activity provided abundant habitat for wildlife. And, oh yes, they’d also mention that THEIR approach to ranching would increase a rancher’s profits.

But now ranching advocates (and even climate-change leader Bill McKibben) have jumped on the “climate change” bandwagon with claims that ranching can reduce greenhouse gasses. Grazing guru Allan Savory (of Holistic Management fame) even stated in his TED Talk of February 2013 (and I’m paraphrasing here) that grazing under Holistic Management is the ONLY chance we have to avert the virtual collapse of civilization from climate change. (For Savory’s verbatim statement, see footnote #11 of my essay http://mikehudak.com/Articles/HM_Memo_131113.html.)

To support such claims, ranching advocates have often cited scientific, peer-reviewed articles, such as the one by Franzluebbers & Stuedemann: “Soil-Profile Organic Carbon and Total Nitrogen During 12 Years of Pasture Management in the Southern Piedmont USA,” Agriculture, Ecosystems and Environment 129 (2009): 28–36. This article’s take-away message is that a properly cattle-grazed pasture that was previously cropland (and originally forest) sequesters more atmospheric carbon than does a similar pasture without cattle. In sequestering this carbon the landscape is helping to lessen global climate change. And the cattle are an essential component in that process.

I was recently asked by a member of the Sierra Club’s Grazing Team to examine the Franzluebbers & Stuedemann article for errors or omissions that would negatively impact its conclusions. Consequently, I did find deficiencies that render meaningless the article’s claimed benefit of a cattle-grazed landscape sequestering atmospheric carbon, even if that conclusion is true.

My essay about the article is now installed at
http://mikehudak.com/Articles/FranzluebbersAndStuedemannCritique.html

You can also view the essay in PDF format which is more suitable for printing:
http://mikehudak.com/Articles/FranzluebbersAndStuedemannCritique.pdf

I encourage you to read my article and to forward it to people who might find it of interest.

Tell Montana Governor Bullock to Protect Bison – Veto HB 194

FROM

Buffalo Field Campaign (BFC)
March 2015

[NOTE from All-Creatures.org: The confinment, harassment and slaughter of bison is because cattle ranchers do not want wild animals “competing for food” with their cows. GO VEGAN and you will help save bison!]

bison and cattle

ACTION

HB 194 is another attempt by special interests to block the resoration of wild bison in Montana. This act must not become law.

Contact Montana Governor Steve Bullock and let him know you stand for recovering America’s wild buffalo. If you live out of state, let him know why you visit Montana and what is important to you. Tell him to veto HB 194.

Sign an online petition here.

And/or better yet,make direct contact:

Governor Steve Bullock
Office of the Governor
Montana State Capitol
P.O. Box 200801
Helena, MT 59620-0801
phones (855) 318-1330 or (406) 444-3111
fax (406) 444-5529
governor@mt.gov

INFORMATION / TALKING POINTS

  • HB 194 is an act requiring a forage (range) analysis before wild buffalo (or bison) are released, transplanted, or migrate naturally, onto land in Montana.
  • HB 194 is another unfunded mandate required to be performed before transplanting or reintroducing buffalo as a wildlife species in Montana.
  • HB 194 provides no funding for a required forage analysis by a range scientist from MSU-Ag or US NRCS.
  • HB 194 uses agricultural theories based on livestock grazing principles rather than professional ecological analysis by wildlife and wildlands professionals.
Photo by  Jim Robertson

Photo by Jim Robertson

Stop Yellowstone National Park’s Bison Slaughter!

PLEASE SIGN AND SHARE!

Stop Yellowstone National Park’s Bison Slaughter! Sign Our One Click Letter No Matter Where You Live! In February 2014, we asked you to oppose the slaughter of bison in America’s oldest national park and you responded by the thousands. We need you to speak up again, because Yellowstone National Park is continuing to kill these majestic and wild animals. Since January 15, approximately 250 bison have been captured inside the park and all, with the exception of five, tragically transported to slaughterhouses. In addition, Montana hunters and treaty hunters have killed at least 150 bison along the park’s borders, raising the death toll to 400 individuals.  The Montana livestock industry wants America’s last wild bison dead. The Montana Livestock Industry has zero tolerance and no respect for wild animals such as bison. These bison are being rounded up and shipped to slaughter to appease livestock ranchers in Montana who unfairly compete with bison for grazing space.  In 1995, the Montana legislature adopted MCA 81-2-120 in response to political pressure by cattle ranchers to stop wild bison from migrating from Yellowstone National Park into Montana. MCA 81-2-120 gives the Montana Department of Livestock complete jurisdiction over migratory bison, which means that bison can be physically removed, hazed, rounded-up, killed by hunters, and sent to slaughter at the will and order of the Montana livestock industry. Click here to take action: https://secure2.convio.net/ida/site/Advocacy?cmd=display&page=UserAction&id=2709 See this alert on our website here: http://www.idausa.org/stop-yellowstone-national-parks-bison-slaughter/
(Bison Photo copyright Jim Robertson)

Stop Yellowstone National Park’s Bison Slaughter!

Sign Our One Click Letter No Matter Where You Live!

In February 2014, we asked you to oppose the slaughter of bison in America’s oldest national park and you responded by the thousands. We need you to speak up again, because Yellowstone National Park is continuing to kill these majestic and wild animals. Since January 15, approximately 250 bison have been captured inside the park and all, with the exception of five, tragically transported to slaughterhouses. In addition, Montana hunters and treaty hunters have killed at least 150 bison along the park’s borders, raising the death toll to 400 individuals.

The Montana livestock industry wants America’s last wild bison dead.
The Montana Livestock Industry has zero tolerance and no respect for wild animals such as bison. These bison are being rounded up and shipped to slaughter to appease livestock ranchers in Montana who unfairly compete with bison for grazing space.

In 1995, the Montana legislature adopted MCA 81-2-120 in response to political pressure by cattle ranchers to stop wild bison from migrating from Yellowstone National Park into Montana. MCA 81-2-120 gives the Montana Department of Livestock complete jurisdiction over migratory bison, which means that bison can be physically removed, hazed, rounded-up, killed by hunters, and sent to slaughter at the will and order of the Montana livestock industry.

Click here to take action:

https://secure2.convio.net/ida/site/Advocacy…

See this alert on our website here:

http://www.idausa.org/stop-yellowstone-national-parks-biso…/

WA legislation proposes relocating wolves

http://www.spokesman.com/outdoors/stories/2015/feb/05/kretz-legislation-proposes-relocating-wolves/

THURSDAY, FEB. 5, 2015, MIDNIGHT

Kretz legislation proposes relocating wolves

Washington’s best wolf habitat is in the southern Cascade Mountains, where vast federal lands support more than 20,000 elk in the state’s two largest herds.

State biologists expect wolves to discover this prime territory and thrive there by 2022, after gradually dispersing south along the Cascade range.

But seven years is too long a wait for state Rep. Joel Kretz, R-Wauconda, whose Northeast Washington legislative district is currently home to 11 of the state’s 14 wolf packs, as well as cattle ranchers and sheep herders.

He’s again sponsoring what he calls a “share the love” bill that would require the Department of Fish and Wildlife to try relocating wolves to other parts of Washington.

“Most of the support in the state for wolves … comes from areas where there are no wolves,” said Kretz, who last year sponsored a bill to capture Eastern Washington wolves and transplant them to the districts of West Side legislators opposed to any controls on the predators.

But the current bill, HB 1224, isn’t a jab at Western Washington, Kretz said. Instead, it’s intended to speed up wolves’ colonization of the state, which would hasten the removal of federal and state protections for wolves and allow for more active management.

The legislation is among several wolf-related bills scheduled for hearings today in the House Committee on Agriculture and Natural Resources.

Relocating wolves would face steep political hurdles, but some livestock producers and environmental groups think the idea has merit.

The Washington Cattlemen’s Association wants ranchers to have more options for dealing with wolves that attack livestock, said Jack Field, the association’s executive vice president. That won’t happen until wolf populations recover to the point that federal protections are lifted throughout the state, and relocating wolves would make that happen faster, he said.

According to Washington’s wolf recovery plan, wolves will remain a protected species until at least 15 breeding pairs are documented across the state for three years. The pairs must be geographically dispersed so there are breeding pairs in Eastern Washington, north-central Washington and a zone that includes the south Cascades and Western Washington.

Environmental groups also support faster colonization.

“The South Cascades has the best wolf habitat in the state because of the prey base,” said Mitch Friedman, Conservation Northwest’s executive director. In addition to the Yakima elk herd, with about 10,000 animals, the area contains the St. Helens herd, which is infected with a bacterial hoof disease.

“The state is hiring gunners to mercy-kill some of those elk. Wolves would do a better job,” Friedman said.

But the southern Cascades and the Olympic Peninsula, which also has good wolf habitat, are rural and conservative, much like Northeast Washington. Politically, it would be difficult to get the support to relocate wolves, Friedman said.

“There’s a big difference between wolves coming there on their own paws versus in a state pickup truck,” he said.

That’s one of the state Department of Fish and Wildlife’s concerns, said Dave Ware, the agency’s policy lead on wolves. In the Northern Rockies, anti-wolf advocates have never forgotten the federal government transplanted Canadian wolves into Yellowstone and Central Idaho.

“There’s that stigma that you brought them here, versus them moving in naturally,” Ware said.

The endeavor also would be costly and time consuming, he added. State biologists figure they would need to trap and transplant about 30 wolves – preferably in packs – to end up with several breeding pairs that would stick around in their new location.

Such an action would require thorough state and federal environmental analysis, which would take two to three years to complete. A wolf relocation pilot project, as outlined in Kretz’s bill, would cost about $1 million, according to state estimates.

In a few years, wolves will be establishing packs in the South Cascades on their own, Ware predicted. Wolf tracks have been documented northwest of Yakima, in the foothills of the Cascades, where credible sightings of multiple wolves also have occurred. Last spring, a photo of a wolf was taken in Klickitat County.

“They are bounding around. They’re looking,” Ware said. “It’s just a matter of time before a male and female find each other and decide to start a pack.”

But Kretz said livestock producers in Northeast Washington need faster action to protect their animals from wolf attacks. He and Rep. Shelly Short, R-Addy, also are sponsoring or co-sponsoring several other wolf bills.

Also on the agenda for today’s hearing are bills that would order the Fish and Wildlife Department to manage wolf problems with “lethal means” under certain circumstances and give the Fish and Wildlife Commission more leeway in changing a state endangered species classification.

Sen. Brian Dansel, R-Republic, is sponsoring a companion bill in the Senate, allowing state endangered species to be declassified by region. If adopted, it would allow the state to manage wolves differently in the eastern one-third of Washington than in other parts of the state.

“We’re putting out a number of ideas,” Short said. “We’re saying we just need some relief.”

copyrighted wolf in river