Public Lands And Private Empires

Watersheds Vital To Homeland Security

The United States has about 640 million acres of public lands—an area more than seven times larger than Germany. If America needs a wall for defense, we need it around our public lands—which are critical to our heritage and homeland security.

“There is nothing more practical in the end than the preservation of beauty,” said President Theodore Roosevelt in 1903. “I feel most emphatically that we should not turn a tree, which was old when the first Egyptian conqueror penetrated to the valley of the Euphrates, which it has taken so many thousands of years to build up, and which can be put to better use, into shingles.”

Three years later, Roosevelt signed the Antiquities Act of 1906, to protect our national heritage by authorizing the president to proclaim national monuments on public lands. Congress passed this act in response to concerns over the theft and destruction of archaeological sites and the plundering of the West’s forests and other vital resources. 

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Public lands and public resources in America are under assault by private interests from around the world. It’s not just about beautiful landscapes. It’s about healthy ecosystems, biodiversity and sustaining all of God’s creations, including humans. National parks, National Forests, National Monuments, Bureau of Land Management property and beyond are the latest takeover targets of multinational and domestic corporations alike. Private interests have plundered our public riches for years, but the U.S. government is speeding up the process with collusion, corruption and cover-ups. We the people are being trampled.

Throughout the West, a network of special interest groups and politicians are attempting to dispose of national public lands to state, local, and private control. Dozens of bills to achieve this goal have been introduced in state legislatures, and the debate has even reached the U.S. Congress, which has taken steps to undermine our system of public lands.

Studies have shown that efforts to dispose of national public lands to the states would reduce access for recreation, hunting, and fishing—that’s why sportsmen and outdoor groups have fought strongly against such proposals. Additionally, economic analyses demonstrate that states could only afford the costs of managing public lands under extremely unrealistic and idealized scenarios. If land seizure proponents are successful, Western taxpayers would be saddled with the costly burden of wildfire prevention on public lands. These political attacks on American public lands are an affront to our heritage and to the collaborative spirit needed to manage our lands and resources wisely for this and future generations.

These land grabs (corporate giveaways) put biodiversity at risk. They threaten entire watersheds, which threatens our national security.We are told that this dismantling of America will create jobs and make us more energy independent, while preventing forest fires and other potential crises. They might as well say that killing wild mustangs, endangered species and our last forests will make the nation leaner and meaner so get out of the way. These thieves proclaim to be patriots for progress to disguise the fact that they are fascists in sheep’s clothing. While hiding behind bullets and bibles they are duping innocent Americans into help them take over our country at the highest levels.

Although public support for wilderness, national parks, and other public lands is high, these open spaces face serious threats. The sentiments that led to the Sagebrush Rebellion and Wise Use Movement are not in the past, Davis tells us. In his first chapter, “Public Land and its Discontents,” Davis details how,since the gains of the Tea Party in 2010, those against public lands have the support of a large number of office-holders in state and federal legislatures.“What was previously seen as the intemperate agitation of fringe activists is now the standard stuff of political platforms, floor debates, and campaign speeches,” he writes.

Since 2010, conservative lawmakers have introduced proposals to:

  • Open all national parks, forests, and wildlife refuges to roads and motors;
  • Require the government to transfer, without sale, thirty million acres of their holdings;
  • Sell all lands in the Rocky Mountains states to the highest bidder;
  • Shield timber sales from any kind of public or environmental review; and
  • Prevent the creation of any new wildlife refuges.

The Republican Party’s 2012 platform, for example, stated,“Congress should reconsider whether federal government’s enormous landholdings and control of water in the West could be better used for ranching, mining, or forestry through private ownership.”

Unfortunately, the missing piece of the equation is public comment and a level playing field. Most land grabs and giveaways are acts of favoritism not patriotism. What could possibly go wrong when corporations control entire watersheds?

Many of these initiatives are based on template legislation created by the conservative American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), which was founded in 1973 to support policies favorable to its corporate advisory board, including Exxon Mobil and Koch Industries. ALEC state legislators organized a 2014 conference in Salt Lake City that they called the “Legislative Summit on the Transfer of Public Lands”—an outright assault on the Homeland.

With Trump in office, lawmakers have doubled down on efforts to open public lands to extractive industries and corporate development. The Department of the Interior under the direction of Ryan Zinke opened two million acres of land in two national monuments in Utah, while supervising the largest lease sale ever (10.3 million acres) of Alaskan federal lands for oil and gas extraction.

To shrink national monuments last year, senior Interior Department officials dismissed evidence that these public lands boosted tourism and spurred archaeological discoveries, according to documents the department released and retracted a day later.

The thousands of pages of email correspondence show how Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke and his aides instead tailored their survey of protected sites to emphasize the value of logging, ranching, and energy development if the land was not designated as national monuments.

Comments that the department’s Freedom of Information Act officers made in the documents show that they sought to keep some of the references out of public view because they revealed the agency’s strategy to influence the review.

Presidents can establish national monuments in federal landor waters if they determine that cultural, historical or natural resources are imperiled. In April, President Trump signed an executive order instructing Zinke to review 27 national monuments established over a period of 21 years. He claimed that his predecessors had overstepped their authority in placing these large sites off limits to developers.

Trump has already massively reduced two of Utah’s largest national monuments, Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante, and has not ruled out altering others.

Read the full story about public lands and private interests at http://crossbowcommunications.com/public-lands-under-assault-by-private-empires/

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Predators Critical To Ecosystems

Killing Predators Undermines Science

By Vic Van Ballenberghe

In 1994, Alaska’s Legislature passed the Intensive Management Law intended to increase populations of moose, caribou and deer and thereby provide increased harvests for hunters. Hunting organizations supported the bill that paved the way for large-scale predator control programs. The prevailing model crafted at the time by Department of Fish and Game biologists predicted that in nearly all cases, reducing wolves and bears would increase moose and caribou numbers and would ultimately benefit hunters. The Board of Game eagerly adopted this model and vigorously applied it after 2002 across a broad area of the state. Thousands of wolves and bears were killed as part of intensive management programs featuring controversial, extreme methods including public aerial shooting of wolves, gassing of wolf pups in dens, trapping bears and shooting bears from helicopters.

wolf conservation

From the beginning, some biologists warned that managing wildlife was far more complex than simply reducing predators. We knew that predation sometimes limited prey numbers, but other factors often overshadowed predation. These included food quantity and quality, severe winters, dry summers and hunting. We stressed the importance of conducting field studies before implementing predator control, during control to monitor progress and after control to evaluate effectiveness. But some of the approved control programs lacked the necessary studies and information to justify, implement, monitor and evaluate predator reductions.

The best example of this occurred at McGrath in 1999 when local residents claimed moose were virtually gone due to wolf predation. The Game Board hastily approved a wolf control program. Field studies subsequently indicated that predation by black bears, not wolves, was limiting moose, and moose were four times as abundant as previously estimated, with enough animals present to satisfy subsistence demand. Wolf control was unnecessary.

Biologists also warned about long-term negative impacts of predator control. Decades of study indicated that if predator control worked, moose and caribou could increase to levels that over-grazed food plants, damaged habitat, reduced production and survival of young animals and ultimately led to population crashes. But the Game Board seemed to ignore these warnings. Intensive management population objectives for moose and caribou set by the board were often based on historical highs that were proven to be unsustainable and were likely unattainable in modern times. 

Now, 23 years after passage of the Intensive Management Law, have we learned enough to evaluate the law’s effectiveness and to perhaps revise our approach to managing wildlife?

In 2010, a respected biologist who studied the effects of lethal wolf control on moose and caribou populations in the Yukon for 18 years concluded that broad-scale wolf control “has limited benefits to prey populations, it does not last, and should be relegated to the past along with poison and bounties.”

My own analysis of statewide moose harvests before and after aggressive, intensive management showed no significant increase in harvests as a result of reducing predators. Intensive management didn’t result in larger moose harvests despite an increase of about 5,000 hunters per year on average during aggressive management programs.

Recently published research by state and federal biologists on the Fortymile Caribou Herd in the eastern Interior provides strong evidence that both nonlethal and lethal wolf control were ineffective as methods of increasing caribou numbers in this herd. Growth of the herd from 6,000 to 52,000 during 1973-2014 could not be attributed to either form of control. Caribou numbers increased at their highest rate before nonlethal control began and at their lowest rate during the years of lethal control. In addition, negative effects of high caribou density and reduced food resources at the current herd size indicate that wolf control should cease. The studies also concluded that each caribou herd exists within the constraints of its own unique environmental features. Field studies on each herd are therefore necessary to evaluate predator reductions.

The intensive management population objective for the Fortymile Herd is currently 50,000 to 100,000 caribou. Clearly, the Game Board should revise this to reflect that a population of 50,000 caribou in this herd is likely not sustainable. The board should also review objectives for other caribou herds that have declined greatly in recent years, including the Western Arctic Herd, down from 490,000 to 201,000 in recent years, and the Central Arctic Herd, down from 70,000 to 22,000.

A 1997 National Research Council review of Alaska’s predator control programs prior to 1997 concluded that most did not result in prey increases and several lacked the necessary information to evaluate them. Now, after more than two decades of intensive management, we can reach the same conclusions for control programs approved after 1997.

Hopefully, the Fortymile Herd case history will demonstrate to the Game Board that caribou herds can increase absent wolf control, that wolf control sometimes does not work, that expensive, long-term field studies are necessary to justify, monitor and evaluate predator reductions, and that caribou herds can reach high densities and crash after damaging their habitat.

A good first step would be for the board to revisit each herd’s intensive management population objective and revise those that appear unsustainable based on the best available information.

Alaska’s Intensive Management Law is unique in North America. Its implementation has been highly controversial. Hopefully, we can learn from past mistakes and revise our approach. Those who depend on our wildlife resources, predators as well as prey, deserve management programs that are the best they can be.

Biodiversity News Update.

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The Private Battle Over Public Property, Democracy

Corrupt Public Servants Helping Corporations Pillage, Bankrupt Nations

Five years ago, the U.S. Supreme Court handed down its Citizens United v. FEC decision, which opened the door to corporate donations in federal elections. In a 5-to-4 decision, the Supreme Court ruled that corporations are people, with the same right to influence politics as voters.

Unfortunately, corporations can’t vote with a ballot, so they vote with cash, influence and obstruction, which blurs the lines of corruption and fascism. In many cases, the corruption eliminates competition, while promoting favoritism. Of course, such deceit undermines and erodes capitalism. It’s my perspective that any assault on democracy or free-market capitalism is terrorism, not citizenship.

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Meanwhile, many of these same neo-corporations have moved their headquarters to small tiny islands to avoid additional regulations and corporate taxes. They want access and influence, even subsidies, without any of those messy responsibilities associated with citizenship.

“We must achieve a free sort of election campaign, not financed,” the Pope told an Argentine magazine this week. “Because many interests come into play in financing of an election campaign and then they ask you to pay back. So, the election campaign should be independent from anyone who may finance it. Perhaps public financing would allow for me, the citizen, to know that I’m financing each candidate with a given amount of money.”

The Pope’s remarks come in the midst of corruption scandals in his native Argentina. Global advocates of campaign finance reform embraced his message.

“We have just gained a great new ally with a worldwide voice for public financing campaigns,” said Fred Wertheimer, founder of Democracy 21. “We greatly appreciate his words and wisdom on this subject.”

Drew Hammill, a spokesman for House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi endorsed the Pope’s “call for an end to the contaminating influence of money in our democracy.”

Shock doctrine and disaster capitalism

Compounding the problem is the fact that the assault on entitlements and public services in many countries goes unchecked as corporate welfare takes nations closer and closer to the verge of bankruptcy. Unfortunately, down is the new up in the world of neo-capitalism.

Crisis capitalism is nothing new. The United States helped pioneer this freak form of economics thanks to Milton Friedman and his disciples at the University of Chicago. Friedman’s handlers within the U.S. government found that with enough pain, people will turn over everything that they own, including their nation, to corporate pillagers. I urge you to explore this background for yourself in a must-read book, The Shock Doctrine, by Naomi Klein. Hopefully, you have read this powerful expose’. If not, it serves as a blueprint for the constant crises that dominate national agendas.

U.S. debt rising

As Klein reveals, the U.S. and corporate interests around the world have helped overthrow many functioning democracies with the use of debt. Shots are rarely fired. This philosophy is coming to a nation near you now. The chart above shows the U.S. debt as an example. If the U.S. defaults, the constitution could be suspended. A so-called bailout might emerge. It will look more like a looting of public and personal property. Take a look at some of the privatization taking place in Detroit as part of its bailout. In the U.S., the postal service and the VA hospitals also are prized takeovers. Look at any bailout of a public entity over the past 150 years and you will see that the pattern is time tested. Chile is a great example. There are many more. In the process, competition is not part of the process. The end game is to create unchecked monopolies around utilities, while pillaging pensions and other assets. I have no problem with privatization in many cases, but competition must remain part of the equation. Otherwise, it’s pure extortion.

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Meanwhile, the U.S. continues to give away public land and land-use permits for pennies to the right corporations. It subsidizes multiple industries. It’s gutting public schools and exploiting public lands for the benefit of private interests. It’s stalling progress on environmental protection and climate change for private profit. Make no mistake about it–the tail is wagging the dog. Citizens are being betrayed. Patriotism is being tested by all sides of the equation in every nation around the world right now. We all have a duty to tune in, stand up and speak out. Demand a return to citizen democracy.

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Killing Wolves Backfires On Ranchers

Pack Disruption Detrimental To Livestock

The best way to control wolf populations and minimize livestock predation may be to stop shooting, trapping and poisoning them, Washington State University researchers say.

A review of 25 years of data from lethal control programs from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Services found that shooting and trapping the carnivores leads to more dead sheep and cattle in subsequent years, rather than less.

wolf conservation

Writing in the journal PLOS ONE, WSU wildlife biologist Rob Wielgus and data analyst Kaylie Peebles say that, for each wolf killed, the odds of more livestock depredations increase significantly.

Predator control and sport hunting are often used to reduce predator populations and livestock depredations, – but the efficacy of lethal control has rarely been tested. We assessed the effects of wolf mortality on reducing livestock depredations in Idaho, Montana and Wyoming from 1987–2012 using a 25 year time series. The number of livestock depredated, livestock populations, wolf population estimates, number of breeding pairs, and wolves killed were calculated for the wolf-occupied area of each state for each year.

wolf consevation

 

The trend continues until 25 percent of the wolves in an area are killed, a rate of removal that is unsustainable for maintaining the species. Researchers found that killing one wolf increases the odds of depredations four percent for sheep and five to six per cent for cattle the following year. If 20 wolves are killed, livestock deaths double.

Work reported in PLOS ONE last year by Peebles, Wielgus and other WSU colleagues found that lethal controls of cougars also backfire, disrupting their populations so much that younger, less disciplined cougars attack more livestock.

Wielgus did not expect to see the same result with wolves.

“I had no idea what the results were going to be, positive or negative,” he said. “I said, ‘Let’s take a look at it and see what happened.’ I was surprised that there was a big effect.”

Wielgus said the wolf killings likely disrupt the social cohesion of the pack. While an intact breeding pair will keep young offspring from mating, disruption can set sexually mature wolves free to breed, leading to an increase in breeding pairs. As they have pups, they become bound to one place and can’t hunt deer and elk as freely. Occasionally, they turn to livestock.

Wielgus said wolves generally account for between .1 per cent and .6 per cent of all livestock deaths — a minor threat compared to other predators, disease, accidents and the dangers of calving. He encourages more non-lethal interventions like guard dogs, “range riders” on horseback, flags, spotlights and “risk maps” that discourage grazing animals in hard-to-protect, wolf-rich areas.

“The only way you’re going to completely eliminate livestock depredations is to get rid of all the wolves,” Wielgus said, “and society has told us that that’s not going to happen.”

Wolf Conservation News via http://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0113505

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Wyoming Wolf Population Rises Despite Cleansing Program

Wolf Mismanagement Opening Door To Chronic Wasting Disease

Known for their resiliency, gray wolves thwarted attempts by wildlife managers to cut their numbers by about five percent last year, a new report shows. Instead, wolf numbers in Wyoming’s jurisdiction swelled by about five percent last year, increasing by an estimated 13 animals to 199 wolves running in 30 packs. Including Yellowstone National Park and the Wind River Indian reservation — where wolves are managed separately — the population stood at a minimum of 306 wolves as the year ended.

Wyoming wolf population

The figures come from the Wyoming Game and Fish Department’s 2013 gray wolf report, which was released Friday. Two factors that contributed to the higher-than-expected wolf population was better success producing and rearing pups and a decline in the number of wolves killed by people, Game and Fish wolf program biologist Ken Mills said.

“Part of what happened is that not as many wolves died from non-hunting, human-caused mortality,” Mills said.

That includes animals killed via “control actions” after killing livestock and from being hit by vehicles, he said.

wolf conservation Wyoming

Wyoming managers don’t count every wolf pup, Mills said, but indications are that more are reaching adulthood. That’s related to hunting pressure, which can cause an increase in reproduction. Mills pointed to Montana and Idaho — which also released their wolf reports Friday — as an example.

“They’re killing a lot of wolves,” he said, “and they’re either slightly decreasing the population or they’ve just managed to stabilize it.”

Montana killed 627 wolves last year and Idaho killed 659 wolves. The human-caused wolf mortality rate in Wyoming (24 percent) was much lower than in Montana (35 percent) and Idaho (41 percent). Now 1 1/2 years past federal protection in Wyoming, wolf numbers have been relatively stable.

There were estimated to be 328 wolves in the state at the end of 2011, and 277 animals at the end of 2012. That rose to 306 at the end of 2013. Overall wolf numbers and breeding pairs have stayed well above the state’s delisting requirement.

“The goal as always is to manage a sustainable, recovered population of wolves in Wyoming,” Mills said. “We’re at almost double the population that we’re required to manage, and we had a known minimum of 15 breeding pairs, which is 50 percent above what’s required.”

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Yellowstone National Park’s wolf population increased 14 percent to 195 in 2013. Even in Wyoming’s predator zone — where wolves can be killed at any time, by any method and without a license — the count increased from 17 to 20. The zone makes up 85 percent of the state. Including the predator zone, wolves killed by hunting was mostly unchanged between 2013 as in 2012. Hunter-killed wolves fell from 66 to 63.

The number of wolf hunting licenses sold fell by more than half in the second year of hunting, from about 4,500 to 2,150.

Wyoming’s wolves got into relatively little trouble with livestock and dogs last year compared to 2012, the report shows. They were confirmed to have killed 33 calves, seven cows, 33 sheep, a dog and a goat. Wolves injured another six cattle, two sheep and a horse, domestic bison and another dog.

Game and Fish will come out with its proposed wolf hunting quotas for the 2014 season in late April, Mills said. A “season setting” meeting in Jackson is set for May 7.

“Part of our job is predicting what will happen, and that’s a very difficult thing,” Mills said. “It’s always interesting to measure predictions against what actually happens, and learn from it and apply it to the next year.”

Source: http://www.jhnewsandguide.com/news/environmental/wyoming-wolf-population-grows/article_2999fd69-1a0b-5560-b75b-aff26b1166c2.html

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Wild Horses Deserve Better Treatment

Mustangs Under Pressure On Public Land

I drove out of Phoenix this week and stumbled across some small herds of wild horses. It’s been years since I last saw mustangs in Colorado. This treat really recharged my own spirit.

I’ve always loved horses. I rode competitively as a kid in small western events. I showed my horses in 4-H until I switched to sports. Then I grew older and grew away from my horses and I still regret it to this day. Like others, I just ignorantly assumed life was good for the horses of the world, while I spent my time defending abandoned kids and endangered species.

slaughter horse in U.S.

Fortunately, more of us have been called to action by the horse advocates. Like you and others, I’ve been actively advocating against horse slaughter and against the BLM stampedes by bounty hunters in helicopters–followed by horrifying conditions in holding pens (see photo below). But something about seeing these beautiful animals again through new eyes inspired me to push even harder for reforms that will end the abuse of the animals and the taxpayers. If everyone could see these magnificent creatures living unbridled lives in the wilds of the West–especially the policymakers in Washington, DC, who seem to be blind to the public will and the best use of public funds.

Unfortunately, the majority of mustangs are not roaming free like this mare and yearling above (but they must fight for their lives every day). Thousands of mustangs are locked up in stark corrals with no break from the wind or the subzero nights like those in the photo below. They don’t have a fighting chance. It’s totally up to their caretakers and mother nature.

It’s a complicated issue. But we’re talking about public lands and public property. We’re talking about taxpayer dollars being used to subsidize the private interests of a few oil and gas companies, agricultural interests and a few hunters. We have a wild horse and burro program that is misguided at best. Even the National Academy of Sciences has recommended ending the program and the Government Accounting Office has documented the waste. The time for reform is now.

Wild horses held by the BLM.

It’s the age of austerity in America. Make the next cut at BLM. Save lives and taxpayers dollars by ending the wild horse and burro cleansing program. These horses were here before the white man stole the land the first time. Write to the Secretary of the Interior, Sally Jewell. Tell her what you think about animal abuse and taxpayer abuse for the enrichment of private interests. Reach her via Twitter @SecretaryJewell

I applaud the warriors who defend our mustangs, wolves and other wild creatures around the world. Hopefully, government policy will shift to represent the will of the people, while standing against abuses of animals and taxpayers.

wild horse roundups

Finally, my big adventure this week reminded me how important it is for us to see animals in their natural habitat to really connect. We need to understand the threats that our expanding human footprint is putting on our diminishing wild spaces. Thanks to all of those dedicated souls who risk life and limb to photograph and film the amazing creatures in our world in ways that inspire us. May we all stay connected with the wild places and the wild creatures that Mother Nature/Almighty have created. May we all be better defenders and neighbors in the future.

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Wild Horse Roundups Don’t Work

Cattle Industry Driving Wild Horses Off Public Lands

Editor’s Note: The United States spends millions of taxpayer dollars every year terrorizing wild horses and burros on public lands in the West. They are stampeded for miles by low-flying helicopters. Those that aren’t killed or disabled in the panic await an equally horrific fate. Hopefully, a new report will help put an end to the waste of money and life.

Domestic terrorism on public lands must stop.

A scathing independent scientific review of wild horse roundups in the West concludes the U.S. government would be better off investing in widespread fertility control of the mustangs and let nature cull any excess herds instead of spending millions to house them in overflowing holding pens.

A 14-member panel assembled by the National Science Academy’s National Research Council, at the request of the Bureau of Land Management, concluded BLM’s removal of nearly 100,000 horses from the Western range over the past decade is probably having the opposite effect of its intention to ease ecological damage and reduce overpopulated herds.

By stepping in prematurely when food and water supplies remain adequate, and with most natural predators long gone, the land management agency is producing artificial conditions that ultimately serve to perpetuate population growth, the committee said Wednesday in a 451-page report recommending more emphasis on the use of contraceptives and other methods of fertility control.

The research panel sympathized with BLM’s struggle to find middle ground between horse advocates and ranchers who see the animals as unwelcome competitors for forage. It noted there’s “little if any public support” for allowing harm to come to either the horses or the rangeland itself.The report says the current method may work in the short term, but results in continually high population growth, exacerbating the long-term problem.The American Wild Horse Preservation Fund, a national coalition of more than 50 advocacy groups, said the report makes a strong case for an immediate halt to the roundups.“This is a turning point for the decades-long fight to protect America’s mustangs,” said Neda DeMayo, president of the coalition’s Return to Freedom. The National Cattlemen’s Beef Association is among the livestock groups that have voiced support in the past for aggressive, increased use of fertility control but remain adamantly opposed to curtailing roundups. Ironically, the trade group has long pretended to be in support of multi-use policies. Horse advocates themselves are not united behind the idea of stepping up use of contraception on the range.

“We are grateful that the National Academy of Science recommends stopping cruel roundups, but we challenge their decision to control alleged overpopulation like a domestic herd with humans deciding who survives and breeds,” said Anne Novak, executive director of Protect Mustangs in San Francisco.

The conflict has raged for decades but has intensified in recent years for cash-strapped federal land managers with skyrocketing bills for food and corrals and no room for incoming animals.“The business as usual practices are not going to be effective without additional resources,” said Guy Palmer, a pathologist from Washington State University who chaired the research committee.

Rep. Raul Grijalva, D-Ariz., said the report should serve as a wakeup call to bring changes he and others in Congress have urged for years.

“These unsustainable practices are a waste of taxpayer money and jeopardize the health and safety of wild horses across the West,” he said.

Source: http://cronkitenewsonline.com/2013/06/wild-horse-burro-roundups-are-costly-ineffective-study-says/

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Chronic Wasting Disease Being Mismanaged

Chronic Wasting Disease Unstoppable

Editor’s Note: As the following story illuminates, the global response to chronic wasting disease and other forms of prion disease demonstrate incompetence, negligence or criminal misconduct. I will debate anyone in the world and I will consult with anyone in the world. Mismanagement of this predatory disease is not acceptable and it could change life as we know it–if it hasn’t already. 

Initially the concern about Chronic Wasting disease (CWD) was focused on the health of the white tail deer population and the economic implications CWD could have on the deer hunting industry. New science has raised the possibility that we should be looking more closely at the potential effect CWD could have on human health, as well as hope that a new vaccine might stem the spread of CWD.

chronic wasting disease caused by prions

Chronic Wasting Disease has been a persistent issue among hunters and resource managers in all 25 states in which it now exists, including here in Wisconsin, since the first CWD positive elk was discovered in Colorado in 1967.

A positive doe found just west of Shell Lake in Washburn County in 2012 has rekindled discussion about CWD here in Wisconsin.

Initially the concern about CWD was focused on the health of the white tail deer population and the economic implications CWD could have on the deer hunting industry. New science has raised the possibility that we should be looking more closely at the potential effect CWD could have on human health, as well as hope that a new vaccine might stem the spread of CWD.

Wisconsin has more than 600,000 deer hunters who regularly harvest 300,000 to 400,000 deer annually, according to DNR Regional Wildlife Manager Mike Zeckmeister.

“Deer hunting … generates more than $500 million in retail sales and over $1 billion in total impact to the state’s economy,” he said. “A healthy whitetail deer population is critical to the state’s economy.”

land application sewage sludge

DNR CWD Wildlife Biologist Tim Marien said the state has spent roughly $43 million on the CWD program since the first whitetail tested positive in 2002. That money came from a combination of federal and state agencies including USDA and USFW. The most money was spent in 2003, $12.6 million, immediately after the initial detection of CWD in Wisconsin. The funding for surveillance, testing and research has decreased steadily since then to $600,000 in 2012.

If you do what a lot of folks do and just read the first couple of sentences of a paragraph and assume you’ve got the gist of what’s being said, this is what you’ll likely read in the first paragraph, of informational materials about the impact of CWD on human health, “there is no evidence that CWD poses a risk for humans,” followed shortly by, “The World Health Organization has reviewed available scientific information and concluded that currently there is no evidence that CWD can be transmitted to humans.” That’s not exactly what the science is saying.

prion disease epidemic

“I would not eat a deer that has not been tested (for CWD),” said retired veterinarian David Clausen, chairman of the Wisconsin Natural Resources Board.

Clausen said he is concerned that public access to information, including the latest science, isn’t what it should be to enable hunters and other consumers to make informed decisions about CWD. He’s also concerned government officials have been less than transparent in their decision-making process and that their priorities have been questionable when it came to preserving the resource and associated economy versus the health and well-being of citizens.

“We have a responsibility to be honest with the citizens of Wisconsin,” he said. “If we are doing nothing to influence the progression of CWD, we need to say that. We need to be more up front about the likely ramifications of our inaction. We cannot continue to maintain to the public that we can manage this disease by simply watching it.”

On March 20, 1996, British Health Secretary Stephen Dorrell rose before the House of Commons to inform colleagues that scientists had discovered a new variant of Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (a fatal nervous system disease in humans), in 10 victims, and that they could not rule out a link to consumption of beef from cattle infected with bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE), also known as mad cow disease.

To date 217 cases of CJD have been diagnosed, mostly in the United Kingdom. The mad cow outbreak demonstrated that prion infections could cross species barriers between humans and cattle, increasing concern about the possible transmission to humans of a CWD another TSE.

Pursuant to the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act, material from CWD positive deer and elk may not be used in any animal feed, and animal feed containing CWD positive material is considered adulterated and must be recalled from the market.

“Why isn’t the same degree of caution apparently necessary regarding human consumption of CWD positive deer?” Clausen asked.

In Wisconsin, the Department of Health Services has maintained surveillance for human prion diseases since 2002.

“Hospitals and physicians who suspect a case are legally mandated to report those to us,” said Jim Kazmierczak, state public health veterinarian.

It is DNR procedure to inform hunters who have had their deer tested for CWD, by phone, that their deer tested positive and that it is their recommendation, as well as that of the CDC and World Health Organization, that they do not eat that venison and instead dispose of it properly.

Beginning in 2004, if it was discovered that the hunter had already consumed venison from a contaminated deer for whatever reason, his or her name was referred to the DHS. A follow up call was made by DHS officials to conduct a brief interview to obtain the names of all of the people who had consumed venison from that particular contaminated deer (friends, family members etc.).

Those names are added to a registry of all hunters and other folks who have been identified as having eaten venison from a CWD positive deer. Today that registry consists of roughly 1,000 names.

“Based on the small numbers (consumers of venison) along with the long incubation period, we didn’t think it (the registry) would be a very valuable tool for at least 10 or 20 years after we initiated it,” said Kazmierczak.

Those names are regularly compared to the names of people who have been confirmed to have died from a human prion disease like CJD in the state of Wisconsin.

“The longer we don’t find any venison eaters on our list of cases, the more sure we can be. To date, we don’t have any incidences of human illnesses being related to CWD,” confirmed Kazmierczak.

Scientists have been experimenting in laboratories around the world to try and better understand how prion diseases work. Prions are tenacious abnormal proteins and impressively resilient responsible for spreading CWD. They are typically transmitted between whitetail deer in saliva, urine and feces. They can also be transmitted from soil.

A team of scientists at the UW-Madison, led by assistant professor of soil science Joel Pedersen, proved prions have an affinity for a particular type of clay, montmorillonite, found in many common types of soil. Prions bind to the soil and can remain as infectious as those transferred directly by animals for at least two years.

This is just the kind of science Clausen thinks people should know about.

“We should be asking what are the department’s (DNR) duties and responsibilities regarding increasing environmental contamination of soil and possibly plants with a disease agent that both CDC and WHO recommend people not consume,” he said.

As a result of the Mad Cow outbreak in the UK, scientists made a significant discovery. Prion infections were found in extra neural lymphoreticular tissues (tonsils, lymph nodes and spleen). Until that discovery, health officials had only been looking for evidence of prion infections in the central nervous system (CNS), brain and spinal column.

Recent research by French scientist Vincent Beringue using human and ovine transgenic mice, demonstrated that lymphoreticular tissue may be up to seven times less resistant to cross-species infection with prions than brain tissue. Beringue’s research also showed these mice lived normal life spans without showing any CNS symptoms but were none-the–less capable of transmitting disease when their splenic tissue was inoculated into other normal mice.

Because of this science and Clausen’s bringing it to the attention of the DHS, if a prion disease is suspected in Wisconsin, “both neural and extra neural tissues would now be sent to the CDC for examination,” said Kazmierczak.

CWD can cross the species barrier using a transmission mechanism called “serial passage.” Serial passage is occurring between deer naturally in nature.

“The longer CWD stays on the ground and the father it spreads,” said Clausen, “the more likely this type of thing is to happen.” In other words, the more adept CWD will become at crossing the species barrier.

At UW-Madison, the brains of hamsters were injected with CWD prions from infected deer and did not get sick. Hamsters appeared to be immune to CWD. Then the brains of ferrets were injected with CWD prions from infected deer and they got the disease and died. When infected brain tissue from the diseased ferrets was injected into the hamster’s brains, the hamsters got sick and died.

“So apparently CWD can make this end run around the species barrier,” said Kazmierczak. “It adds to our concern regarding the transmission and mutation of CWD when diseased deer carcasses are scavenged by other animals like coyotes, raccoons, and bears, even crows. We need to be guarded and cautious when we talk about CWD, we just don’t know.”

Dr. John Mapletoft works for Pan-Provincial Vaccine Enterprise Inc, (PREVENT). The Canadian-based organization connects and coordinates experts from public health, academic organizations, research institutes, the vaccine industry and the investment community to focus on the development of vaccine technologies.

PREVENT researchers have been working on a promising injectable vaccine to prevent the spread CWD among farmed cervids.

“Our goal is to prevent the disease in animals that don’t have it,” Mapletoft said.

Tami Ryan, a manager in the wildlife health section for the DNR, remembered being involved in several public forums back in 2010 when work on the vaccine was getting started.

“It did not evolve to fruition because at the time there were some pretty significant challenges to overcome with getting a vaccine developed in Canada into the U.S.,” she said. “About the same time, funding levels started to really decline (in Wisconsin) taking with it funds for research on CWD.”

A viable vaccine must meet three standards: it must demonstrate an immune response, it must be proven safe, and it must work. The CWD vaccine works by using a very short piece of protein that mimics a piece of the misfolded prion.

“We have demonstrated that our vaccine does induce an immune response in multiple species and that the immune response is specific for the misfolded prion protein,” said Mapletoft. “We also know it does not otherwise interact with or harm the brain.”

According to Ryan, one key question is if animals already infected with CWD tare vaccinated, can they still be carriers? Would they still be sharing prions and shedding prions into the environment?

Mapletoft said the current vaccine is “primarily seen to be a preventative (vs. cure) situation, so animals that already have the disease are not the target. That’s not to say it may not help them.”

The first vaccine tests began earlier this year on elk in Wyoming and another will be starting later this year in Saskatchewan.

One of the difficulties of testing a CWD vaccine is the long incubation period of the disease. Each of these tests will take a minimum of two years to determine if the vaccine is working, unlike a flu vaccine, which can be tested in a matter of days or weeks. Results from the Wyoming test aren’t expected until 2015.

“The vaccine has always been pursued with the idea that once the injectable vaccine is up and running and generating revenue, you would then have funds to proceed with a second generation oral vaccine which could be put out in the wild,” said Mapletoft.

“Frankly when the news came out recently about these trials in Wyoming, we were quite surprised,” said Ryan. “We’ll be paying attention.”

Prions are associated with an entire family of neurological disorders that are killing people, wildlife and livestock around the world. These deadly diseases are known as Transmissible Spongiform Encephalopathy (TSE). The operative word is “transmissible.” TSEs include Alzheimer’s disease, Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease, Parkinson’s disease, Huntington’s disease, scrapie, chronic wasting disease and mad cow disease. The disease has killed many species of mammals including dolphins. Victims permanently contaminate the world around them with their bodily fluids. Once contaminated with prions, items cannot be sterilized. 

source: http://www.rivertowns.net/event/article/id/38779/publisher_ID/13/

public relations firm and public affairs firm Denver and Phoenix

Crossbow Communications specializes in issue management and public affairs. Alzheimer’s disease, Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease, chronic wasting disease and the prion disease epidemic is an area special expertise. Please contact Gary Chandler to join our coalition for reform gary@crossbow1.com.

Wild Horses Ripped From Nevada Rangeland

Nevada Ground Zero In Public Land War

The U.S. government continues to waste taxpayer dollars terrorizing wildlife on public lands. Federal land “managers” have concluded another roundup of wild horses in Northern Nevada with the removal of about 800 animals–some 200 more than planned–citing their poor health and risk of starvation, but the latest such cleansing drew additional criticism. How many of these animals will be sent to slaughter and toward the plates of consumers who think they are eating beef?

wild horse roundup Nevada

Nearly 800 horses were removed from the Diamond Complex north of Eureka during the recent stampede, according to the U.S. Bureau of Land Management (BLM) officials said. The agency claims that it was forced to exceed the original target of about 600 horses because of reduced forage due to last year’s drought as well as stress from recent snowstorms, officials said.

Doug Furtado, manager of the BLM’s Battle Mountain District, said last month’s string of storms forced horses off the mountain and into lower areas that lacked forage.

“Unfortunately, based on the overall poor body condition and lack of forage, and understanding that more than six weeks of winter remains, we decided to remove horses that were struggling or suffering,” he said. “We did the right thing for the well-being of the horses.”

But Anne Novak of California-based Protect Mustangs was skeptical. “They always have some excuse to take wild horses off the range – to make it easier to industrialize our open space,” she said. “They have already taken way too many off the range. If we don’t have enough wild horses on the range we risk losing herds.”

BLM officials said the roundup was necessary to prevent further deterioration of the range and to protect an “overpopulation” of horses that face limited food and water.

Horses removed from the range are supposedly transported to BLM facilities in Nevada and Utah, where they are prepared for adoption or transferred to long-term pastures in the Midwest. Some horses, however, are unaccounted for and are feared to have been sent to slaughter in Mexico or Canada. Horses slaughtered in those countries are destined for the plates of consumers, who don’t always know what they are eating, as documented recently by the horse-meat scandal sweeping Europe.

About half of the estimated 37,000 horses and burros on federal lands are in Nevada.

public relations firm and public affairs firm Denver and Phoenix

Crossbow Communications specializes in issue management and public affairs. Please contact Gary Chandler to join our coalition for reform gary@crossbow1.com.