November 17, 2019

GRAND CANYON CATTALO STATUS OBSCURED BY SCIENCE SHELL GAME

Press Release from the Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility:

Washington, DC — The National Park Service is juggling the fate of a herd of hybridized bison marooned on the North Rim of Grand Canyon National Park, according to correspondence released today by Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER). The agency has withdrawn a controversial report claiming these “cattalos” are wildlife “native” to Grand Canyon, a classification which would prevent their wholesale removal – an action supported by conservationists and the park’s own staff.

The decision on what to do with this orphaned herd, introduced more than a century ago for interbreeding with cattle, has been taken out of the park’s hands and commandeered by National Park Service (NPS) Headquarters. In 2015, Glenn Plumb, the NPS Chief Wildlife Biologist, issued a document called the “Grand Canyon National Park Bison Technical Assistance Report” which overrode the park’s previous stance that the hybridized herd is not native to the park but are exotic animals which should be relocated.

On March 17, 2016, PEER filed a legal complaint seeking the retraction of the so-called “Plumb Report” on multiple grounds, including that it flew in the face of available facts, ignored scientific literature concluding the opposite and violated NPS’s own data quality and wildlife management standards. NPS had 60 days to respond to the complaint. Rather than defend the Plumb Report, the NPS punted.

In a May 16, 2016 letter to PEER, John Dennis, the Chief Deputy Scientist for NPS, indicated the agency is working on a new “multi-authored scientific report …intended for peer-reviewed publication.” He adds that this new, as yet unrevealed, report is “superseding” the 2015 Plumb Report.

“This latest Park Service bureaucratic shuffle more resembles a game of three-card monte than a legitimate scientific effort,” stated PEER Executive Director Jeff Ruch, noting that the NPS decided to discard the work of its own Chief Wildlife Biologist without explanation. “This new hide-the-ball report appears to be a nakedly political maneuver to avoid a credible and transparent scientific review.”

The stakes are high because the scientific question determines whether the cattalo stay or go: if they are native wildlife, by law they cannot be extirpated; if they are exotic, by policy they must be removed if they harm park resources – and the stagnant herd is unquestionably doing damage by killing rare plants, fouling springs and carving erosive trails into a very fragile part of the North Rim.

Dennis’ letter also declares that the issue of what to do with the cattalo herd, now grown to 800 animals, will be deferred to a “planned … bison environmental assessment.” These developments suggest that –

With the imminent exit of Superintendent David Uberuaga and his deputy, plus prior senior staff departures, Grand Canyon National Park personnel will play little role in this major, precedent-setting resource management decision within its own boundaries. At the same time, Glenn Plumb is being moved into Grand Canyon as its acting Chief of Science & Resource Management;

The NPS has predetermined the scientific issue of whether the cattalo are native by asserting the new unrevealed report has “fully satisfied applicable … processes and guidance”; and

The public involvement will be confined to short comments on an environmental assessment circuited for quick approval of the pre-selected NPS path – allowing state licensed hunters to pay for the privilege of “culling” this largely stagnant herd.

“The Park Service is desperate to create the illusion that these cattalo are some kind of mystery meat,” added Ruch. “There is no mystery that this is all about politics, not science, and that Grand Canyon will be the loser.”<<<More Information>>>

And, as is typical, when, as a government insider, when you really screw up, you get promoted. Daily Caller has that story.

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Grand Canyon Wolf or Hybrid?

Editor’s Note – It matters little at this point in time whether this canine creature spotted near the Grand Canyon is a real(?) wolf or a hybrid. It is only a matter of time before hybridization of canines, wild and domestic, takes over areas, especially near human-settled landscapes. Wolf advocates will deny this inevitable reality but the real shame will be that this kind of event actually threatens the protection of the real wild gray wolf. Senseless! With hybridization comes a changing of the character and behavior of wild dogs. The results are not in anyone’s best interest.

“Authorities are trying to figure out if a wolflike animal discovered near Grand Canyon National Park is an endangered gray wolf from the Rocky Mountains or a wolf-dog hybrid.

The animal was first spotted about three weeks ago near the canyon’s North Rim on the Kaibab Plateau of the Kaibab National Forest, Fish and Wildlife Service officials Steve Spangle and Jeff Humphrey said today. Authorities have obtained photos of the animal taken by members of the public.”<<<Read More>>>

*Update* – Nov. 10, 2014 7:00 am EST

All, wanted to take a quick moment to send you an update on a rapidly emerging issue in Northern Arizona. In early October, the Department received a note from a hunter that he saw what he thought could be a wolf on the North Kaibab. In that there is a wolf-hybrid breeder in the area, the first assumption was that this was a hybrid that had escaped. We later received word from Utah that they had heard of this sighting and requested any assistance from the Department that we could render. We received a possible frequency to a radio collar that could be associated with the animal that had been seen in Utah. The following day, an AZGFD plane searched for the frequency without success.

Given the potential that the animal had originated from a northern Rockies population, the USFWS has taken the lead in all actions regarding this animal. In that Region 2 did not have a permit to handle an gray wolf, FWS began the process to amend their permit. This was accomplished this past week. The FWS will begin trapping efforts to capture the animal sometime this weekend with the purpose being to obtain the collar from the animal, attach a new collar and to collect tissue for DNA sampling to determine taxonomic status.

A citizen obtained a photo of the animal and provided this to the Center for Biological Diversity, which developed a press release essentially stating that a northern gray wolf was observed on the rim of the Grand Canyon. There is a great deal of interest from the media throughout the US. The response to media requests has been largely to the points below:

1. There is no certainty to the issue of is this animal a wild wolf or a hybrid
2. Only capture to obtain the collar and DNA sample will clarify the above
3. Statements declaring this a wild wolf are irresponsible without clarification
4. The FWS is the agency with primacy in the event that it is a wild wolf and hence, that agency is the primary agency to contact with questions
5. I have responded to some media inquiries stressing the above

The Department’s Wildlife Manager has taken photos this week.

In summary, there is a wolf-like animal on the Kaibab, it has gained national attention, efforts are being made to capture the animal for taxonomic clarity. I will keep you informed as more information is generated.

Have a good weekend.

Jim deVos
Assistant Director
Wildlife Management Division
Arizona Game and Fish Department

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