October 19, 2017

Panel: Bipartisan Bills Enhance ESA Protections, Boost Hydropower Reliability

WASHINGTON, D.C., October 12, 2017 –

Today, the Subcommittee on Water, Power and Oceans held a legislative hearing on H.R. 3144 (Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers, R-WA) and H.R. 3916 (Rep. Ken Calvert, R-CA), the “Federally Integrated Species Health Act” or “FISH Act,” bills to improve the recovery of Endangered Species Act (ESA) listed fish while providing certainty for water and power users.

Clearly, the ESA process is broken and the status quo isn’t working for species, farmers and ranchers and rural communities that depend on our natural resources. Under the status quo, American taxpayers and ratepayers in the Pacific Northwest and elsewhere in the West spend literally billions of dollars each year resulting from conflicting or duplicative federal regulatory or judicial edicts under the guise of the ESA. These bills represent bipartisan, pragmatic solutions,” Subcommittee Chairman Doug Lamborn (R-CO) said.

The current hydropower system along the Columbia-Snake Rivers is held hostage to litigation and unpredictable federal rulings that could impose tens of millions of dollars on taxpayers and Pacific Northwest ratepayers with little additional benefit to endangered salmon. H.R. 3144 creates a more reliable and cost-efficient regulatory framework by providing federal agencies that operate Northwest hydropower dams with statutory clarity in the enforcement of the ESA, in line with a collaborative plan deemed scientifically sound by the previous two administrations, several states, tribes, utilities, ports and other stakeholders.

The dams of the Columbia-Snake River system are multipurpose in that they provide hydropower, flood control, navigation, irrigated agriculture and recreation. The benefits of the dams cannot be measured by megawatts alone but in the overall value they provide the region,” United Power Trades Organization President Jack Heffling stated. “[Keeping the current federal plan] continues the programs that have proven extremely successful in migrating fish survival.”

“Eighty percent of PNGC’s power supply comes from the Bonneville Power Administration… PNGC values the clean, carbon free, flexible hydropower resources that BPA provides,” PNGC Power President and CEO Beth Looney stated“If BPA’s rates continue to climb at their current trajectory, they will likely not be competitive with alternative power supply choices in the region at that time… as an electric cooperative, we have a responsibility to supply power to our members at an affordable rate whether that comes from Bonneville or elsewhere.”

The four dams along the Snake River produce enough renewable energy to power 1.8 million homes annually or the equivalent of two nuclear, three coal-fired or six gas-fired power plants.

Acting Commissioner of the Bureau of Reclamation Alan Mikkelsen expressed support to reduce litigation and refocus resources on the current operation plan while working towards “a quality long term [Federal Columbia River Power] System solution.”

The need to balance the ongoing operations of the [Federal Columbia River Power] System and achieving compliance with environmental laws is what H.R. 3144 seeks to achieve,” Mikkelsen added.

H.R. 3916, a concept supported by President Obama in 2011,  also eliminates redundancies and regulatory confusion across federal agencies related to ESA enforcement.

H.R. 3916  is [an] important step in reducing wasted time and money and represents a practical, common-sense change… that we strongly support,” Executive Director of the Family Farm Alliance Dan Keppen stated. The FISH Act provides an opportunity to enhance protections to threatened and endangered species by improving the efficiency and effectiveness of the federal government’s approach to species protection through better decision-making.

[SOURCE]

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Canada Lynx Are So “Endangered” They Play on People’s Decks

While the moment is presented as a unique opportunity for a photographer in Alaska to take pictures of a family of Canada lynx hanging out on his deck, it also shows the inanity of the U.S. Federal Government, and the useful idiots who enable them, spending millions of dollars protecting a species that doesn’t even come close to being endangered or threatened in any way.

But, we are living in an insane and post normal existence now.

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Rockholm Video: The Real Wolf Story

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More Than a Million “Coywolves” in the Northeast?

Perhaps that claim is nonsense. Perhaps it’s not. What is nonsense is much of the discussions taking place about this seemingly newly discovered ad mixture of coyote, domestic dog and wolf.

The truth is nobody knows how long this crossbreeding has been going on. Much of its existence is based on romantic speculation and inaccurate evolutionary claims, of which most are also based on Romance Biology, Scientism and Ideology driven within a Post-Fact society of fantasy and whim.

I even read recently from one group of perverts demanding that this “coywolf” become a listed and federally protected species claiming that this new species of wild canine is the result of “natural” events.

Odd isn’t it, that it makes perfect science sense that it is more likely that intermixing of different breeds of wild dogs is more often occurring due to increased populations forced into limited space. However, the environmentalists choose to believe the complete opposite, partly because doing so blames the existence of man for the cause of crossbreeding. These clowns state that because man destroys their habitat and kills off numbers of animals, it forces the males to wander great distances in search of any creature that will have sex with them. (If this were true it destroys any thoughts that this hybrid mixture should be considered as a viable species….but we can’t go there in this post-fact era.)

The puzzling hypocrisy exists when the environmentalists, who hate man’s existence, blames man for causing wild breeds of dogs to intermix and yet claim that the crossbreeding is a “natural” thing and thus needs protecting. I think this is a classic example of demanding it both ways.

It is likely that hours upon hours could be spent discussing the ins and outs of crossbreeding and how it should be considered, if at all, as a legitimate “new” species. However, if the presented information is true that in just the Northeast section of the country there are “more than a million” mixed breed wild dogs roaming our countryside, who in their right mind would, with a straight face, consider seeking protection of the species?

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Two Lynx Share Brief Conversation on Road Near Kokadjo

Read More here, but I think the statements that indicate there aren’t enough Canada lynx around is just typical propaganda.

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Commissioners oppose wolf recovery plan draft

As in past Mexican gray wolf recovery plans, the Lincoln County Commission approved a letter and reaffirmed a resolution in opposition to a draft released for public comment by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

Commissioners were following the recommendations last week of the board of supervisors of the Upper Hondo Water and Soil Conservation District and of the members of the county’s Land and Natural Resources Advisory Committee.<<<Read More>>>

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Bishop Statement on Gray Wolf Court Ruling

WASHINGTON, D.C., August 2, 2017 –

Chairman Rob Bishop (R-UT) issued the following statement on the Federal appeals court ruling concerning protections for gray wolves in the western Great Lakes region under the Endangered Species Act (ESA).

“When science-based recovery criteria are met and environmental litigants can still drag the federal government through a decade of costly litigation before the delisting is final, we have a problem. Republicans and Democrats from impacted states have worked hard to resolve this conflict and ensure wolf populations are healthy and thriving but all they’ve received in return is prolonged economic harm and regulatory uncertainty. When ESA decisions are taken out of the hands of expert biologists and given to judges and radical ideologues, this is what happens.

“Congress must take action to protect communities from this broken law. Until we do, Americans’ tax dollars will continue padding the pockets of wealthy environmental trial lawyers, rather than investing in actual species recovery.”

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RMEF: Silver Linings in Great Lakes Wolf Ruling

*Editor’s Note* – Along with the earlier posting this morning, there is little need to get excited or even optimistic about anyone’s “ability” going forward to “manage” wolves or that states will do anything differently than the Federal Government is doing now. What changes is the financial responsibility is moved from the Feds to the states. Nothing else will change as has been proven in states where wolves are no longer protected under the Endangered Species Act. If you are hoping and thinking that removal of protection of wolves from the Federal Government to the State Governments is going to result in fewer “CONTROLLED” wolves and the state’s ability to manage populations of game animals for surplus harvest, as has been the modus operandi for decades under the North American Model of Wildlife Management will soon take over, you are seriously mistaken.

For what it is worth – meaning that this is but one appeals court decision and several more can make a mockery out of the fake judicial system and change these decisions with the stroke of a pen – where once, many years ago, I argued that environmentalists and the courts could not claim the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service doesn’t have authority to delist a Distinct Population Segment while, at the same time, approving of the act to list a Distinct Population Segment of any species. My argument fell on deaf ears and lo and behold one appeals court sees it the correct way.

Press Release from the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation:

MISSOULA, Mont.—Unlike its decision earlier in 2017 upholding efforts to delist wolves in Wyoming, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia chose not to do the same in the Western Great Lakes states.

“We are disappointed with this latest ruling, but the court wholeheartedly rejected a number of claims by environmental groups regarding wolves and wolf management,” said David Allen, Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation president and CEO. “The court undid a number of roadblocks thus providing a path forward.”

Positive points from the decision:

  • Rejected an environmental group argument that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) did not use the best available science
  • The Endangered Species Act allows the FWS to delist a distinct wolf population segment
  • Supported FWS’s reliance on state management of wolves and other wildlife in the Western Great Lakes states
  • Upheld the FWS’s determination that disease and human mortality do not pose a significant threat to the wolf population
  • There is no permanent barrier to delisting wolves

“This latest ruling came six years after the FWS tried for a third time to delist wolves in the Great Lakes. We call on Congress to approve and pass a legislative fix to halt this non-stop litigation that frustrates successful wildlife management,” said Allen. “These environmental groups continue to use the wolf as a fundraising tool while overlooking and ignoring each state’s approved wildlife management plans.”

As of 2015-16, there is an estimated minimum population of 3,762 wolves in the Great Lakes states. Minnesota’s wolf population is approximately one and a half times above objective. Michigan’s wolf population is more than 200 percent above its state plan and Wisconsin’s wolf population is more than 250 percent above objective.

RMEF recognizes that predators have a proper place on the landscape but that they need to be managed just as elk, deer and other wildlife are managed in accordance with the North American Wildlife Conservation Model.

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Court Sides with Sportsmen on Key Issue, but Leaves Wolves Protected for Now

Press Release from the Sportsmen’s Alliance:

On Tuesday, Aug. 1, the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit issued its ruling in the Western Great Lakes wolf lawsuit appeal. The ruling is a short-term setback, but very likely a win for sportsmen in the long run.

For the immediate future, the Appellate Court’s decision leaves Endangered Species Act listing in place, upholding the lower court’s 2014 ruling that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) erred in delisting wolves in 2011. Very importantly, however, the court laid out a road map for FWS to delist the Western Great Lakes wolves on remand and dismantled many of the dangerous and unsupported holdings in the lower court decision.

Additionally, the appellate court ruled in favor of sportsmen on the most important legal issue in the case regarding the distinct population segment (DPS) definition in the Endangered Species Act and the Fish and Wildlife Service’s DPS Policy. The appellate court sided with the Sportsmen’s Alliance Foundation and our partners that the FWS has the ability to list and, as in this case, delist a species at the distinct population segment level:

“The central dispute in this case is whether the Endangered Species Act permits the Service to carve out of an already-listed species a “distinct population segment” for the purpose of delisting that segment and withdrawing it from the Act’s aegis. We hold that the Act permits such a designation, but only when the Service first makes the proper findings.” (Op. at 15-16).

This ruling means that, if the Fish and Wildlife Service takes the right steps, they are able to delist a recovered species in some places (a distinct population) without having to delist it everywhere. This flexibility will make the ESA more efficient and possibly subject to fewer legal challenges. HSUS and their partners had argued that FWS could never delist a smaller portion of a species unless the entire species had fully recovered and could be removed from the Endangered Species Act protections. HSUS has now lost that point.

“The court’s ruling that regional delisting is legally possible is a victory for sound scientific wildlife management and further upholds DPS policy of the Endangered Species Act as an important tool for conservation moving forward,” said Evan Heusinkveld, president and CEO of the Sportsmen’s Alliance. “While we clearly would have preferred that wolves be returned to state management today, this ruling provides a path forward for the Fish and Wildlife Service on how to successfully delist wolves once and for all.

“Folks in the animal-rights community would like believe that the Endangered Species Act is a one-way ratchet. In their world, you can only put species on to the Endangered Species List based upon a distinct population segment. However, we know that this is not how the ESA is written,” continued Heusinkveld. “This distorted view of the DPS policy is simply emblematic of their view of the ESA as a whole. They view this as a means to enshrine federal protections in perpetuity, as opposed to a tool to help those in need recover and be returned to state management.”

Additionally, the appellate court dismantled many of the main arguments provided by the HSUS-led coalition and holdings of the unfavorable lower court opinion:

  • The court upheld FWS’s interpretation that the ESA’s definition of “range” refers to “current range” at the time of the listing or delisting decision that is the subject of the case, not “historic range,” as HSUS argued. HSUS’ interpretation would mean that populations may never be delisted if they could not rebound throughout their historic range. However, the court said FWS must consider large losses in historical range in evaluating the continuing viability of the species in its current range. On remand, FWS must decide the “baseline” date from which historical range loss is measured. One likely date could be 1973 – the year Congress enacted the ESA.
  • HSUS argued that FWS failed to explain why the wolf population’s combined mortality from humans and disease is not a continuing threat to the species’ existence. The court found that FWS had thoroughly examined these factors, and that the wolf population had continued to grow despite any disease or human-caused mortality.
  • HSUS attempted to characterize Minnesota as an “unregulated killing zone.” While the lower court decision had agreed, the Circuit Court disagreed and found that Minnesota’s depredation plan did not amount to an “unregulated killing zone,” as it was indeed regulated and unlikely to threaten wolves’ survival.
  • HSUS argued the lack of state regulatory plans to monitor and protect the Western Great Lake wolves outside of their core recovery areas in Minnesota, Wisconsin, and Michigan did not support FWS’s decision to delist those wolves. The court found that the lack of separate state plans in six nearby states was not a concern because wolves are virtually non-existent in those states, and those animals that do occasionally appear there are protected by other measures or they do not significantly contribute to the WGL population.
  • HSUS challenged the 2011 rule on genetics issues concerning whether there are one or two wolf species. The court rejected the HSUS argument that there were two separate species of wolves, and thereby additional protections were warranted.
  • HSUS argued that FWS had inappropriately responded to political pressure from Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D, Minnesota) in adopting its wolf-delisting order. The court rejected that argument, stating that HSUS could point to no science “ignored, misused, or manipulated” or to any material change in FWS’ position in response to a letter from Sen. Klobuchar. In particular, the court cites that FWS had acted favorably in response to several delisting petitions (including the Sportsmen’s Alliance petition) before Sen. Klobuchar’s letter.

How We Got Here:

The case stems from a late 2014 decision by U.S. District Court Judge Beryl A. Howell that ruled the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service had to return wolves found in the western Great Lakes area to the protections afforded by the Endangered Species Act. At the crux of the case was the delisting of a “distinct population segment” of wolves from the Endangered Species Act.

The lawsuit brought by Humane Society of the United States; Born Free, USA; Help Our Wolves Live; and Friends of Animals and Their Environment argued that despite a healthy population of wolves that had surpassed all recovery goals in the western Great Lakes region, since wolf populations haven’t recovered in all 50 states, the animals must remain under federal protection as an endangered species even where they have recovered.

“This 2014 ruling clearly ignored years of Fish and Wildlife Service policy, court rulings and plain common sense,” said Heusinkveld. “The idea that wolves can never be deemed ‘recovered’ in the Great Lakes states until they have recovered across the entire U.S. is a complete fantasy.”

Joining the Sportsmen’s Alliance Foundation in this case, was the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation, Safari Club International, the Wisconsin Bear Hunters Association, the National Rifle Association, Michigan United Conservation Clubs, Wisconsin Bowhunters Association, Upper Peninsula Bear Houndsmen Association and Michigan Hunting Dog Federation.

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Maine Lynx Trapping Case Ends with Anti-Hunters Conceding Defeat

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the First Circuit officially dismissed an appeal brought by animal-rights organizations concerning the trapping of Canada lynx in Maine, likely ending a multi-year, multi-lawsuit court battle concerning the protections offered the predator in the state.<<<Read More>>>

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