Scarface: In the end, the end was a bullet

57210c80ddd8e.image

R. Hillegas photo in Cody Enterprise; click image for article

Kathleen Stachowski  Other Nations

A bullet stopped Scarface. The famously recognizable grizzly bear with a fan base in Yellowstone was a 25-year-old elder in declining health. Given that fewer than five percent of male bears born in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem survive to age 25, he’d already beaten monumental odds. That is, until he met up with a hunter’s bullet last November north of Gardiner, MT–Yellowstone’s northern gate–and a stone’s throw from the national park. Scarface was robbed of a natural death on his own terms–robbed of the where and the when he would have lain down for the last time. It isn’t hard to imagine that it would have been within the relatively safe boundaries of Yellowstone, the home where he spent most of his long, bear’s life.  Continue reading

Wolverines: Quest to protect magnificent mustelids continues

www.usnews

Photo: Daniel J. Cox/NaturalExposures.com via AP

Kathleen Stachowski   Other Nations

News flash: Climate change imperils wolverines and Feds must act! That’s the recent headline from ABC news, reporting on court proceedings in Missoula, Montana. On Monday, April 4th, “U.S. District Judge Dana Christensen ordered wildlife officials to act as quickly as possible to protect the species as it becomes vulnerable to a warming planet.”

Cue the climate change deniers and those who don’t know much of anything about wolverines: “Wolverines are tough animals. I really don’t think ‘climate change’ is anything they can’t handle,” said one commenter at the Missoulian Facebook page.“There is no evidence suggesting that wolverines will not adapt sufficiently to diminished late spring snow pack (assuming there is any) to maintain viability,” wrote Wyoming governor Matt Mead back in May of 2013 (in the Northern Rockies, Montana and Idaho also opposed listing). But snow joke–snow matters. Wolverines are obligate snow denners who require remote, deep, and usually high elevations snow fields that persist well into spring. This is where natal and maternal dens enable them to birth and raise their young–in other words, enable them to surviveContinue reading

Yellowstone bison: The road to slaughter starts at home

Kathleen Stachowski   Other Nations

24c7f8cd4229064b5c86964185e3dc9f

A young wild bison, separated from family, forlorn and frightened, is confined in a sorting pen at Yellowstone National Park’s capture facility. Click for photo credit & info.

(Please see 3/10/16 update in comments section.)

The specter of death hovers over the world’s first national park. Approximately 150 wild bison have been rounded up within the boundaries of their ostensible refuge, Yellowstone National Park, and are being held in a capture facility–also located within park boundaries. They number among those who will be killed and those already killed this season–as many as 900–and they’re slated for shipment to slaughter–perhaps as soon as the week of March 7th. However, before they make that final migration, they’ll be further terrorized. Watch what transpires (see video) when these massive, wild animals of wide open spaces are confined in small capture pens and squeeze chutes: witness their terror; see how they injure themselves and their herd mates–observe the gaping wounds and the indignities endured before they’re crammed into livestock carriers for the terrifying ride to industrialized death.  Continue reading

Channel your inner wolverine!

BadassChallenge_tiny

Click image for details

Kathleen Stachowski
Other Nations

Happy Wolverine Birthday! According to the Wolverine Foundation, February 14th is the day designated to symbolically mark the birth of wolverine kits. They come into the world under five inches long, weighing 3.5-5.11 ounces, and covered in white fur. They sometimes hang with one or the other parent for up to two years before going their own scrappy way.

Just a few days ago, on Feb. 9th, Gulo gulo’s lawyers were in a Missoula, Montana courtroom where a U.S. District judge heard arguments pertaining to the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service’s denial of Endangered Species Act protection for wolverines–specifically examining whether the decision was reasonable…or arbitrary (article).   Continue reading

Win a few, lose a few: Animal fighting, commercial breeding get another pass

pitbull-puppies-rescued-from-dogfighting-ring

Dog fighter in training (ASPCA photo) – click for story

Kathleen Stachowski   Other Nations

Seventy percent of U.S. adults have a favorable opinion of the animal protection movement–so says recent research–which leads me to think that the other 30% serve in the Montana legislature. Animals lost what should have been a couple of slam-dunks during the 2015 biennial session, but that’s not unusual in a state where the unofficial motto might be “if it’s brown, it’s down; if it flies, it dies; if it hooks, it cooks.” Wildlife are under constant siege from arrows, bullets, hooks, and traps, while laws protecting companion animals don’t have a prayer if they can be twisted–no matter how remotely in the exploiters’ minds–to hold rodeo and animal agriculture to some minuscule standard of decency.   Continue reading

Happy Year of the Sheep! (Domestic or wild, it’s no party)

Animals Australia Unleashed-click image

Animals Australia Unleashed-click image

Kathleen Stachowski   Other Nations

The Chinese lunar new year arrived recently, and regardless of whether you’re in the sheep or the goat camp, for the purpose of this post I wish you a Happy Year of the Sheep! Of course, there’s nothing happy about live export, perhaps only the worst fate to befall any given sheep on Planet Earth. Shame on Australia!

But wait a minute, Yanks–let’s don’t get too smug. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, “Farm Animals are regulated under the Animal Welfare Act (AWA) only when used in biomedical research, testing, teaching and exhibition. Farm animals used for food and fiber or for food and fiber research are not regulated under the AWA” (source). This puts a sheep between a rock and a hard place–protected by welfare standards in biomedical research labs, but not in factory farms. Hmmm. Which hell would you choose?!?   Continue reading

Yellowstone wildlife sent to slaughter; calling all buffalo warriors

10429277_10153021164260859_6998809249201624349_nKathleen Stachowski    Other Nations

Dear Americans:

You’re busy, I know. You’re busy working and playing and doing a million crazy, diverse things that Americans do in our big, crazy, diverse country. That’s just who we are, and that’s what makes us awesome.

But right now, I’m going to cherry-pick a few things we share. We’re nuts about wildlife–amiright?!? In 2011, a whopping 71.8 million of us–that was 30% of the U.S. adult population–identified as dedicated wildlife watchers in a once-every-five-years national Census survey. We spent a bundle–$54.9 billion–on wildlife watching that year.

According to the same report, 12.3 million of us visited parks and other natural areas to view wildlife (pg. 36). And in 2012, a National Parks Conservation Association poll found that “95 percent of voters see protecting and supporting the National Parks as an appropriate role for the federal government.” In one survey question, protecting natural habitats, plants and wildlife was ranked the top value of six possibilities.   Continue reading

No country for old bears

stock-grizzly-USFWS

US Fish & Wildlife Service photo

Kathleen Stachowski   Other Nations

“Grizzly bear euthanized due to history of conflicts.” “Montana wildlife officials euthanize problem grizzly bear.” “Old grizzly euthanized, tried to get into building.” “Intrusive grizzly euthanized.” “28-year-old grizzly euthanized.”

Those Montana headlines greeted us a few days ago. This must have been one dangerous bear. Intrusive. A “problem bear.” An habitual offender.   Continue reading

Fur farms: Whom would Jesus skin?

fraser-lynx-money-shot41Kathleen Stachowski     Other Nations

“It’s farming. It is just a different type of farming.” So said Larry Schultz in a bid to move his bobcat fur farm from North Dakota–away from the hustle and bustle of booming Bakken shale oil production–to Fergus County, Montana.

The term “fur farm” makes stomachs churn with apprehension—if not horror–depending on how much one already knows. These shadowy enterprises don’t throw their doors open to public scrutiny, so what we know of them comes from undercover investigative reports and video. But calling it “farming” can’t legitimize an ethically-bereft industry that turns sentient, nonhuman animals into jacket trim.   Continue reading

“Extreme Huntress” and hunting’s flimsy facade

mtnliontrophy

Kathleen Stachowski   Other Nations

How extreme does one have to be to earn the title of “Extreme Huntress”? Don’t let the diminutive -ess suffix trick you into thinking this title is a shoddy substitute for the real (male) deal. These women will get up off their childbirth bed to score a trophy–and tote two-week-old Junior along for the thrill of the kill.  Continue reading

Of bison and betrayal

fetusgutpile2

Perfectly formed–just weeks from birth–a bison calf fetus still attached to the womb is discarded by treaty hunters and left with mom’s gut pile just north of Yellowstone. Buffalo Field Campaign photo; click image.

Kathleen Stachowski   Other Nations

Anyone who’s ever carried a wild bison’s heart into a governor’s office belongs to a small and select club. James St. Goddard, a Blackfeet spiritual leader from Montana, is the latest inductee, and–for all I know–the only member. Mr. St. Goddard appeared at the state capitol earlier this month to protest the latest twist in the ongoing injustice that passes for wild bison management in Montana: Tribal people, hunting under treaty rights, are conducting springtime hunts that kill pregnant bison carrying fully-formed fetuses. Dead moms mean dead babies–discarded along with mom’s gut pile.  Continue reading

Let slip the dogs of war: Wolf slaughter is afoot

sign-composite

Click image for photo credit

Kathleen Stachowski   Other Nations

(NOTE: See my updates scattered throughout the text & comment section)

Cry “Havoc!” There will be blood…and it will be wolf blood.

Idaho Fish and Game (IDFG) has hired a killer to slaughter two wolf packs within the federally-protected Frank Church-River of No Return Wilderness. This is congressionally-designated, captital-W wilderness, certainly the one place nature should be allowed to express itself without manipulation by and for humans. Said wolf biologist and PBS filmmaker (“River of No Return”) Isaac Babcock,

…when Fish and Game hires a bounty hunter to go live in designated wilderness in a Forest Service cabin with the goal of eliminating entire wolf packs — something seems terribly wrong with that.” ~ Idaho Statesman: “Idaho Fish and Game turns to hired hunter

Why must two wilderness wolf packs die? Continue reading

Hunter kills companion dog: “I thought it was a wolf”

LeeCreekDog

Kathleen Stachowski  Other Nations

It wasn’t hard to see this tragedy coming. Really, it was just a matter of time–not if it would happen, but when.

A Missoula, Montana man went skiing on Sunday, Nov. 17th with his three canine companions– malamutes all–and returned home with only two living dogs. The third, a 2-year-old named Little Dave, was shot multiple times by a camo-clad hunter who thought he was killing a wolf.

The story–as reported by the media and expounded upon by county and state officials–can be read in two three four recent, local articles: “Missoula man says wolf hunter shot, killed pet malamute,” “Sheriff’s office: Shooting of dog near Lolo Pass wasn’t criminal,” and (two updates since posting) “Dog shooting reveals legal gray area for hunting, recreation,” and “Authorities spoke with hunter who killed dog, say he won’t be charged.”

Little Dave’s guardian, a man named Layne, witnessed his companion’s death.   Continue reading

Eliminating roadkill: The bear went over the mountain–via the Animals’ Bridge!

K. Stachowski photo

Salish & English sign on the Flathead Reservation, MT

Kathleen Stachowski     Other Nations

Q: Why did the chicken cross the road?
A: To prove to the possum it could be done.

“Flat meat.” “Highway pizza.” “Pavement pancakes.” What most of us know as roadkill–often the butt of joke menus and other hilarity–was once a sentient animal who just wanted to get from here to there. Isn’t that really what all us want? Simply to get on with the business of living our lives? But for our wild brothers and sisters, the road to survival often ends with, well, the road.   Continue reading

In wildfire’s path: Animal homes, human homes

Lolo Creek Complex fire headed our way; InciWeb – click image

Kathleen Stachowski Other Nations

When wildfire comes calling, all priorities shift. Animal rights work slides into oblivion while concern for individual animals–in this case, our own companion animals–sets sirens to shrieking in my head. Can I sneak the two cat carriers out of the attic undetected? Will I be able to catch Larkspur, our frightened, half-feral girl, when I absolutely must? (The element of surprise is critical!) Is her thyroid medication packed? Will the kennel have room for our dog Winter?…and when will I make the 25 mile round trip? Arrrgh!!! Continue reading

Hey Chicago–animal suffering lies behind that scenic splendor

Kathleen Stachowski  Other Nations

Dear Chicago:

We need to talk. You can trust me–I’m practically a native daughter. Heck, from my hometown in Indiana, we can look across Lake Michigan and see your skyline (well, on a clear day). I’m a Cubs fan… ’nuff said! But I’ve lived in Montana for going on 14 years now, and if all this doesn’t qualify me to have a frank discussion with you about those tourism ads papering the city…I’m just sayin’.

Well I remember Chicago Tribune columnist Barbara Brotman’s mock hissy fit back in 2010 when Montana’s Office of Tourism started targeting the Windy City. She wrote:

The pictures plastered all over the CTA are bad enough. Majestic mountains, green valleys frosted with white snow, a turquoise glacial lake ringed by pine trees — it’s cruel, dangling that sort of thing in front of Chicago commuters packed glumly into “L” cars.

She went so far as to challenge Chicagoans to fight back with a “Take THAT, Montana” photo campaign (view photos here) wherein Tribune readers were to match Montana’s scenic glory, photo for photo, with their own Land of Lincoln natural splendor.    Continue reading

The wolverine: one gnarly dude…who needs our help

Click image for Gulo gulo natural history

Kathleen Stachowski  Other Nations

Mirror, mirror, on the wall, who’s the stinkiest, snarliest, gnarliest, wildest of them all? Why, Gulo gulo–the amazing wolverine–of course!

And the gnarly little being needs our help within the next few days (5/6/13 deadline). Unless you’re one of the lucky ones, you’ll probably never see a wolverine in your lifetime, at least not outside of a zoo–and that’s a hideous thought for any wild animal, but especially for this wide-ranging, endlessly-moving dynamo. But even so–a mere few minutes to help save the wildest of the wild? A bargain at any price! Read on…   Continue reading

Odd Animal Laws, Odd Culture

This is a guest post by Kenji Crosland, a writer for TeachStreet.  Teachstreet is a website that provides online and local classes, including classes on law and pet training classes.

In the effort to preserve a certain semblance of order certain laws (don’t steal, don’t kill) have been universal since Hammurabi, although the punishments for disobeying these laws have varied greatly. Laws concerning animal cruelty, however, are unique in that they are not necessarily “required,” to keep the peace.  For a society to establish animal cruelty laws it needs to reach a certain level of moral development.  These laws, just like the humans who created them, however, aren’t perfect, and those imperfections can give us insights into a particular culture.

These days, India and countries in Europe seem to be the most progressive, while others like China are slowly adding laws to the books.  The US is a study in contrasts: while some states are on the progressive side, there are others that are far from it.          Continue reading

Research Hunts & Conservation Hunts: New Ways to Fetishize Wolf Slaughter

David Cassuto

Not too long ago, I blogged about the duplicity of Japan’s “research” hunting of whales.  The practice is little more than a disingenuous attempt to circumvent the global ban on whale killing by pretending the slaughter has some scientific purpose.  I called on the rest of the world to repudiate such tactics and to hold them up to public scrutiny and scorn.

Then, a few weeks ago, a federal judge in the U.S.  ruled that gray wolf hunts in the Northern Rockies violated the Endangered Species Act.  Guess what then happened:  U.S. wildlife officials proposed a “research hunt” to kill the wolves. Apparently, their idea was that it was okay to kill listed species as long as you claimed a scientific reason for doing so.  You know, just like they do in Japan with the whales. Continue reading

A New & Welcome Chapter in the Wolf Saga

David Cassuto

I’ve blogged a fair bit about the ill-advised delisting of gray wolves as endangered species in the northern Rockies, as well as about the lawsuit that followed.  When last we left the story, the district court had denied a preliminary injunction that would have stopped the wolf hunts that subsequently took place in Montana and Idaho.  The judge did indicate, though, that the plaintiffs had a strong chance of prevailing on the merits (the standard for a preliminary injunction is formidably high, as discussed here).               Continue reading

A Sub-Optimal Ruling on the Rocky Mountain Wolf Hunt

WolfJudge Molloy has refused to stop the wolf hunt that has already begun in Idaho and will soon begin (September 15th) in Montana.  Yet his decision to deny the preliminary injunction sought by Defenders of Wildlife, Sierra Club, the Humane Society & others does  acknowledge that the plaintiffs will likely prevail (eventually) on the merits.

Courts will only issue preliminary injunctions (which halt the challenged activity while the court considers its permissibility) when plaintiffs show that they are 1) “likely to succeed on the merits,” (2) that they are “likely to suffer irreparable harm in the absence of preliminary relief,” (3) that the “balance of equities tips” in their favor, and (4) that such an injunction is in the“public interest.” Winter v. Natural Res. Def. Council, Inc., 129 S. Ct. 365, 374 (2008).

In this case, the court determined that it would likely find that the Fish and Wildlife Service’s decision to delist a portion of a “Distinct Population Segment” of a protected species ran afoul of the Endangered Species Act.  It also concluded that the agency’s decision seemed to contradict its own previous interpretations of its authority under the statute.  Inconsistent agency rulings are not entitled to judicial deference.  Consequently, the court need not defer to the agency’s new interpretation and the plaintiffs would probably prevail. Continue reading

Wolf Hunt Update

wolf-with-pupThe wolf hunt in Idaho and Montana has begun (I first blogged about it here).  A number of environmental groups sued, asking for an injunction but, since Idaho released the details of its plan of the hunt only 2 weeks ago, the court was left with very little time to consider the case.  Consequently, while the court ponders whether an injunction is appropriate, the hunt goes on. Unless and until the court intervenes, Idaho hunters can kill up to 220 wolves,  Montanans 75 wolves, and Nez Perce tribe members 35.

With all respect to the court (and the judge hearing the case has been sympathetic to this issue in the past), I do not understand why an injunction cannot issue immediately.  There is ample evidence to support the fact that a viable  Rocky Mountain wolf population should number at least 2000 (there are currently approximately 1640).  I remain appalled as well with the Obama Administration’s ham-handed, ignorant and insensitive management of this issue.  If you agree with me (and the NYT), I urge you to let President Obama and your congressional delegation know of your dismay.

–David Cassuto

Wolf-delisting: The Politics of Blood

gray-wolf-gazingGeorge Bush and his peeps thought gray wolves should be delisted as endangered species in Montana and Idaho.  So does Ken Salazar and, we must assume, Barack Obama.  Bush and peeps also thought it okay to ignore allies.  So, apparently, do Ken Salazar and Barack Obama.  But never mind politics.

Wolves were hunted to near extinction in this country due in large part to their (undeserved) reputation as dangerous predators and to the caterwauling of ranchers who like to poison, shoot or trap anything that might eat their animals before people do.  Thanks to the Endangered Species Act and a well-executed reintroduction program in the Northwest (carried out over the vociferous protests of ranchers and others), there are now approximately 1600 wolves in the Northern Rockies.

That, apparently, is too many.  Since Montana and Idaho have pledged to maintain populations of 400 and 500 animals, respectively, wolf-hunting may soon commence.  Supposedly, states can be trusted to create sound management plans for the animals.  Idaho Governor Butch Otter has a plan: kill as many as possible without the wolves being relisted.  You see, wolves eat elk and that means less elk for people to shoot.  It’s a crime perpetrated on the American sportsman.  Upon hearing the news of the imminent delisting, Governor Otter howled with glee and declared, “I’m prepared to bid for that first ticket to shoot a wolf myself.”

One wonders if Idaho and Montana will be like Alaska — where “hunters” can shoot wolves from the air.  Or maybe it will just be another classic confrontation of a heavily armed man against an unarmed animal who, when it dies, will almost certainly be attempting to flee.  You see, in the history of the United States, there has never been a fatal attack on a human by a wolf.  Never.

My son is doing a report on wolves for his class.  He has become fascinated by their language, their pack life, and their intelligence.  He is incredulous that they were extirpated from most of the United States and indignant about their undeserved reputation.  Last night, I told him of the Obama Administration’s decision.  He was heartbroken.

dnc