KEY ISSUE

WILDLIFE

ESA-Guide-Cover
KEY DOCUMENT

Speaking from Experience: Landowners & the Endangered Species Act

A must-read for landowners, this informative guide on the Endangered Species Act provides essential information on the law itself, changes currently being proposed and perspectives from experienced landowners.

ISSUE UPDATE

Whole and healthy working lands are critical to survival of native species

As landowners, we care deeply about wildlife and recognize the importance of species diversity to our ecosystems and to our own well being. We also understand at a pragmatic level both the benefits and challenges of co-existing with wildlife in our working landscapes. Up to 80% of wildlife species depend on private land for survival. Our families and communities also depend on the food, fiber, energy and recreation we produce on this land. As more land is developed, the pressures on our remaining open lands are intensifying. We need policies that provide the flexibility and economic support that enable landowners to meet the needs of both people and wildlife.

WLA is leading the charge on those policies, including our critical Habitat Lease effort, which would pay land stewards for the wildlife habitat they provide, while allowing those working lands to continue sustainably producing other goods and services our country depends on.

TAKE ACTION

Sign up to support policies that promote private wildlife stewardship

Two-thirds of federally listed species have at least some habitat on private land, and some species have most of their remaining habitat on private land. Support landowners who are voluntarily helping to conserve and restore species. Join the Western Landowners Alliance today.

Wildlife and Working Lands News

USDA partners with Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem landowners to conserve wildlife habitat 

Wyoming landowners in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem have long allowed wildlife to migrate through their private lands, and now, a new partnership will financially compensate them.

The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced the pilot program Friday. The agency is partnering with the state of Wyoming to commit an initial $15 million to landowners willing to conserve their land for big game migration.

It is part of a broad concept called “habitat leasing,” which means the land is essentially “rented out” by the government for wildlife and ranching operations. The land cannot be subdivided into residential units or developed for things like solar infrastructure.

Lesli Allison, the executive director of Western Landowners Alliance, said ranchers are being compensated for what they have already been doing.

“They can’t do that endlessly for free. And it’s part of the reason we’re losing these lands to development is because they’re not able to compete economically with other land uses,” she said.” And that’s because the value they’re providing to public wildlife has never really been recognized.”

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Wolves force California ranchers into deadly compromises

Griffin’s overarching goal, he tells me, is simply for ranching to endure. That lifestyle is where his heart is, and so too is the protection of open spaces that allow for entire ecosystems — wolves included — to thrive. In this way, he sees the fate of the ranchers and the wolves as interconnected. 

So when Californians think about how to best protect wolves, he hopes they also think about protecting the people who must live with them. 

“Ranchers shouldn’t be the only ones shouldering the burden of having wolves present on the landscape,” he says.

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Guest column: Montana making strides in migration education

Montanans have long valued the state’s wide-open landscape. The state has benefited greatly from the ability of ranching, farming and forestry to utilize these lands in economically productive ways that can be compatible and even synergistic with wildlife presence. This has been a powerful alignment of incentives for conservation. Meanwhile, the state would not be what it is today without decades of conservation effort to alleviate some of the challenges and pressures that wildlife brings to working lands businesses, to plan for winter range and refuge, research wildlife behavior, and inform land management practices.

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USDA to Provide Payments to Livestock Producers Impacted by Drought or Wildfire

The U.S Department of Agriculture (USDA) today announced that ranchers who have approved applications through the 2021 Livestock Forage Disaster Program (LFP) for forage losses due to severe drought or wildfire in 2021 will soon begin receiving emergency relief payments for increases in supplemental feed costs in 2021 through the Farm Service Agency’s (FSA) new Emergency Livestock Relief Program (ELRP).

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President Biden Releases FY23 Budget Proposal

The White House officially released their fiscal year 2023 (FY23) budget request on March 28, 2022. The release of the President’s budget proposal which outlines the administration’s spending priorities, is the first step in the FY23 appropriations process.

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With big investment in wildlife crossings, Colorado lawmakers hope to cut car-animal collisions

Senate bill 151 would tab that money for safe wildlife crossings around the state’s highways and interstates and, backers hope, leverage federal money from the bipartisan infrastructure bill to goose the effort. The Colorado Department of Transportation already has a list of 10 wildlife crossing projects it could tackle in the next four years, if money is there, and 24 total for the next decade.

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Water availability, regs spur farmland value chasm

It took a few years, but ag land values in California now reflect action taken by legislators eight years ago to pass the state’s landmark groundwater law. A growing chasm is evident as land values rise and fall significantly across the state.

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Senators Fischer, Grassley, Tester, Wyden unveil updated cattle market reform bill

U.S. Senators Deb Fischer (R-Neb.), Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), Jon Tester (D-Mont.), and Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) today released an updated version of their legislation, the Cattle Price Discovery and Transparency Act. The senators first introduced the bill in November.

“Our family farmers and ranchers have told us about the need for both robust price discovery and transparency in the cattle markets. The updates to our legislation incorporate a variety of stakeholder feedback to achieve our goal of ensuring more fairness in cattle markets. It’s encouraging to see our bill gain momentum and I am hopeful we will have a hearing on this important legislation in the Senate Agriculture Committee in the coming weeks,” said Senator Fischer, a member of the Senate Agriculture Committee.

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Corner crossers reach for federal court, access to 1.6M Western acres

Four hunters charged with trespassing in Carbon County Wyoming seek a federal court where their case could resolve the legality of corner crossing to access 1.6 million acres of public land across the West.

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New Legislation Would Improve Grazing and Wildlife Habitat Potential of Conservation Reserve Program

U.S. Sens. John Thune (R-S.D.) and Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), members of the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry, have introduced the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) Improvement Act. This legislation would bolster CRP by improving access to grazing, providing more enrollment options to producers, and addressing CRP implementation issues following the 2018 farm bill.

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Colorado hits a “hard pause” on water demand management as it waits for other states to catch up

Colorado is taking a “hard pause” on investigating the viability of demand management, a program that would allow the state to pay water users to temporarily and voluntarily conserve water and store what’s saved in Lake Powell for future use. The Colorado Water Conservation Board wants to instead focus on what can be done to help Colorado water users this year.

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New wolf attack in North Park puts cattle ranchers back on edge as reintroduction looms

Wolves attacked another cow this week outside of Walden, where ranchers have been on alert since a string of attacks on cattle earlier this winter. The rancher will be reimbursed for the loss of the pregnant cow. Meanwhile, six protective burros were delivered to a nearby ranch that lost three cows to wolves earlier this winter.

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New Mexico agencies: defining conservation key to 30×30

Defining what it means to conserve land and assessing existing conservation projects will be key to meeting New Mexico’s climate goals, state agency leaders said this week.

Sarah Cottrell Propst, secretary of the Energy, Minerals and Natural Resources Department, said the initiative builds on existing healthy soil projects, conservation easements and habitat restoration work.

“We want to preserve a role for natural working lands,” Cottrell Propst said.

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CPW no longer final arbiter of wolf reintroduction after court relists species as endangered

A federal court ruling in February relisting gray wolves as an endangered species across much of the United States could complicate Colorado’s wolf reintroduction effort.

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Race to the bottom: How big business took over Oregon’s first protected aquifer

In Malheur County’s Cow Valley, state regulators have ignored known issues with overpumping groundwater, leaving the region at risk of economic and ecological damage that will be difficult to reverse.

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Climate change hearing focuses on what farmers need

More technical assistance and streamlined application processes for conservation programs would help farmers adopt practices to reduce greenhouse gases, lawmakers were told at a hearing on how the next farm bill should address climate change.

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Congressional members call for WOTUS pause

As the Supreme Court looks to hear a crucial wetlands case later this year, over 200 House members called on the Biden administration to drop its current rulemaking to revise the definition of the “Waters of the United States.”

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Appeals Court Dismisses “Product of the U.S.A.” Labeling Lawsuit

A federal appeals court has affirmed the dismissal of a lawsuit brought by cattle ranchers over the alleged mislabeling of beef as a “Product of the U.S.A.” The original lawsuit named Tyson Foods, Cargill Meat Solutions, JBS USA and National Beef Packing Co., with plaintiffs claiming the companies mislead consumers by labeling beef as “Product of the U.S.A.” when the cattle may have been born and raised in another country.

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The USDA is issuing grants to disadvantaged farmers and ranchers

The US Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced on March 9 that it is accepting grant applications to provide “historically underserved farmers, ranchers, and forest landowners” with technical support for programs and services including agricultural capital and credit as well as agricultural production.

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Coloradans will now automatically be charged $29 for a state parks pass when they register their cars

Keep Colorado Wild pass will be $29 and require an opt-out during vehicle registration to avoid paying. The program could raise as much as $54M a year for State parks, search and rescue, avalanche safety and wildlife programs and maintenance on non-park lands.

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Conservationists hail $5 million investment in preserving Oregon’s farmland

As part of the supplemental budget approved in the short session, lawmakers invested $5 million in the Oregon Agricultural Heritage Program, which is tasked with preserving farmland. But since it was set up in 2017 under the Oregon Watershed Enhancement Board, a state agency that offers grants to preserve waterways, wetlands and natural areas, the heritage program has never been funded. Now the program has money to do its job – and at an opportune time.

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A government agency is hiring a ‘grizzly bear conflict manager’ and is willing to pay up to $103,000 for the right candidate

The US Fish and Wildlife Service — a government agency that manages wildlife habitats — is currently seeking a “grizzly bear conflict manager”. Rather than stepping in to resolve territorial disputes between bears, they’ll be working with local wildlife agencies to manage bear populations and mitigate their contact with humans.

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House approves $1.5T government funding deal

Congressional leaders announced agreement on a $1.5 trillion, government-wide spending bill for fiscal 2022 that includes new funding for rural broadband expansion and authorization of a cattle contract library at USDA to address concerns about market power in the beef sector.

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Most U.S. wolves are listed as endangered—again. Here’s why.

A new court decision protects wolves, except in the Northern Rockies, just over a year after they were delisted. What’s next in the chaotic world of wolf conservation? There are diverse opinions on the relisting of wolves.

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Annual Game and Fish report shows increase in grizzly captures, livestock conflicts

Wyoming Game and Fish Department (WGFD) officials recorded nearly twice as many grizzly bear captures and relocations in 2021 compared to 2020, the agency said Monday, and conflicts with livestock increased in particular. The information comes upon the release of the 2021 Annual Report of Grizzly Bear Management Captures, Relocations and Removals.

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Will Releasing Captive-Raised Sage Grouse Help or Hurt Dwindling Populations?

As wild sage grouse populations decline and the species teeters on the brink of being listed under the Endangered Species Act, the Wyoming House is considering legislation that would extend certification of the state’s only captive sage grouse breeding farm. The legislation would extend certification of the Diamond Wings Upland Game Birds, which otherwise expires due to a five-year sunset clause this year.

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AZ House passes bill to strip wildlife officials of authority to stop killings of endangered wolves

The Arizona House has passed a bill that would strip state wildlife officials of the authority to stop the killing of Mexican gray wolves in certain circumstances. The Arizona Republic reports the measure would bar the Game and Fish Commission from prohibiting a person from killing a wolf if the person feels threatened or if their livestock or pets are in danger.

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Colorado Parks and Wildlife is dusting off a plan to reintroduce wolverines

As Colorado Parks and Wildlife maps out wolf reintroduction, the agency is considering how to support wolverines, revisiting a stalled plan to reintroduce the rare carnivore in the state.

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Montana cattle group opposes state giving Colorado wolves for reintroduction

The Montana Stockgrowers Association has asked its state wildlife agency to prevent wolves from being captured and released into Colorado as part of the Centennial State’s voter-mandated reintroduction plan.It’s not that the 135-year-old livestock producer organization is supportive of keeping Montana’s wolves in the state. Instead, in a letter to Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks the organization voiced its concern for the livestock producers of Colorado as a sign of solidarity.

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President Biden and USDA Invest More Than $166.5 Million in Infrastructure to Protect American Communities

The U.S. Department of Agriculture is investing more than $166.5 million in 108 infrastructure projects as part of implementing the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, also known as the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act. The second round of applications is due March 31.

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President Biden and USDA Invest More Than $166.5 Million in Infrastructure to Protect American Communities

President Joe Biden and Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced that the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) is investing more than $166.5 million in 108 infrastructure projects as part of implementing the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, also known as the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA). USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) is working with local communities in 23 states to invest in new dam and flood prevention projects and in repairs on existing watershed infrastructure, which are all part of USDA’s broader national infrastructure investment.

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Private Forest Accord passes Senate, clearing way for House vote

The Private Forest Accord passed the Oregon Senate on Wednesday, making its way to a final House vote before the end of the February short session. The bill would change the way more than 10 million acres of private forests in the state are managed to protect at-risk animals and water quality in rivers and streams.

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Tiny New Mexico river fish deemed ‘endangered’ by feds despite State’s opposition

A rare river fish in northern New Mexico received the highest federal protections as an endangered species Monday, following legal actions from environmentalists and backlash from state agencies. 

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NM Supreme Court throws out stream certification rule

The New Mexico Supreme Court on Tuesday agreed that a Game Commission rule that allows landowners to restrict access to water that flowed through private property is unconstitutional. The ruling opens can of worms for landowners and anglers, and puts stream restoration projects on private lands at risk. “As a result of development, recreation and intensive agriculture, we continue to lose wildlife habitat and wildlife species at an alarming rate,” WLA said in a statement. “Yet people continue to demand more and more access to places where wildlife have traditionally sought refuge, including on private land.”

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NM cattle shooting hearing vacated

A hearing regarding the U.S. Forest Service’s (USFS) decision to shoot estray cattle in the New Mexico Gila National Forest was vacated Feb. 17 in the U.S. District Court for the District of New Mexico. The hearing was set for Feb. 22 and was brought on by the New Mexico Cattle Growers’ Association (NMCGA) and other industry groups with a lawsuit against the Feds.

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Preventing future ‘wrongs’: new USDA equity panel looks to expand agriculture resources to minority communities

Members of a new equity commission advising the U.S. Department of Agriculture said they want to make sure the USDA does a better job providing resources to Black farmers and other minority communities following decades of racial discrimination.

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Nonprofits Petition Federal Government to Ban Harmful Pesticides on Wildlife Refuges

The years-long fight over the use of pesticides on wildlife refuges has now entered a new season, with environmentalists petitioning the USFWS to end the practice, which so far has survived legislative and litigation efforts to permanently curtail it. In a recent petition, groups urged the federal agency to ban agricultural pesticide use on the nation’s 560-plus refuges.

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Arizona governor outlines plan to boost water supplies

Arizona Governor Ducey and a top leader in the state Legislature recently filled in a key part of a developing plan to boost the desert state’s increasingly strained water supply. They plan to create a state agency to acquire new supplies and develop and fund projects, with deep pockets and the authority to go out and find sources that can secure the state’s water future.

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USFS sued for shooting estray cattle in NM

The New Mexico Cattle Growers’ Association (NMCGA), along with the New Mexico Federal Lands Council and two cattle companies, filed suit Feb. 9 in federal district court for New Mexico against the U.S. Forest Service (USFS) for shooting estray cattle in the Gila National Forest.

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Yellowstone starts bison cull as animals migrate to Montana

Yellowstone National Park captured 37 bison that were migrating outside the park and sent most to slaughter as officials began an annual program to cull the animals to prevent them from spreading disease to cattle in neighboring Montana. Officials are aiming to remove up to 900 of Yellowstone’s 5,000 bison this winter through slaughter, relocations and hunting.

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Milkweed species proves beneficial for monarch conservation

Researchers have identified a species of milkweed that holds promise for planting on roadsides to improve conservation habitat for migrating monarch butterflies.

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Oil Industry Could Help a Nearly-Extinct Bird in New Mexico

The Biden administration last year proposed listing the portion of the lesser prairie chicken population in eastern New Mexico and the southwest Texas Panhandle as endangered, which could be finalized this spring. That’s amplified an effort to give energy industries a trade-off: Work on conservation and repair of the bird’s habitat and, in exchange, gain protection from the liability of accidentally killing a potentially protected species during operations.

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Idaho wildlife boss: State’s wolves won’t be wiped out

Ed Schriever, director of the Idaho Department of Fish and Game, does want to significantly reduce the state’s wolf population. But he says those who claim Idaho is marching toward a 90% lobo reduction are wrong or pushing an agenda. “We are trying to balance healthy, sustainable wolf populations with other needs, desires and uses. That is an incremental in the iterative process and it’s science-based. We do monitor. We do know what is going on.”

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NEPA Reviews Moving Faster Under Biden

Federal agencies have been issuing decisions on infrastructure permits faster than average by nearly four months, according to a new study.

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Groundbreaking Study Finds Widespread Lead Poisoning in Bald and Golden Eagles

Nearly half of North American eagle populations are experiencing debilitating lead exposure, mostly due to ammunition used by hunters, according to an 8-year study published in Science.

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$1 Billion USDA Program Will Fund Pilot Projects For The Development Of Climate-Smart Commodity Markets

On February 7, 2022, Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack announced a $1 billion competitive grant offering to fund pilot projects through its “Partnerships for Climate-Smart-Commodities” program. The program was developed at the USDA with input from stakeholders during a comment period in 2021. It is designed to encourage the voluntary development of markets for products of agriculture and forestry that are particularly beneficial from a climate change perspective.

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State shuts down wolf hunting and trapping in southwest Montana after threshold is met

The wolf hunting and trapping season ended in the southwest corner of Montana on Thursday after total kills in Region 3 hit the threshold of 82 wolves. An order from Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks directed wolf hunters and trappers in the region to remove their equipment from the field as quickly as possible. It applied to wolf management units 313 and 316, which encompass the area directly north of Yellowstone National Park.

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Marijuana Bill Spurs Water Rights Debate in Arid New Mexico

Hispanic farmers and rural residents in New Mexico are concerned legislation that would allow small cannabis producers to boost their plant counts lacks a provision to ensure the producers have valid water rights.

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Bill would bar Idaho’s lands and animals from ‘personhood’

A bill that would prevent animals, natural resources and artificial intelligence from being granted “personhood status” in Idaho was introduced by the House State Affairs Committee. The legislation seeks to prevent any future efforts to increase environmental protections for animals or inanimate objects by granting them some of the same legal rights a person would have.

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Department of the Interior to Solicit Nominations for First-Ever Secretary’s Tribal Advisory Committee

The Department of Interior is requesting nominations for Tribal member representatives for the new Secretary’s Tribal Advisory Committee (STAC). The STAC, which was announced as part of the 2021 White House Tribal Nations Summit, will ensure Tribal leaders have direct and consistent contact and communication with the current and future Department officials to facilitate robust discussions on intergovernmental responsibilities, exchange views, share information and provide advice and recommendations regarding Departmental programs and funding that impact Tribal nations.

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Conservation funding essential for state’s well-being

Opinion: It is absolutely critical to New Mexico’s future that significant conservation funding cross the finish line this legislative session. Intensive use has impacted the land’s capacity to support the watersheds upon which our economies depend. The state lacks capacity at almost every level, from resource management agencies to partners such as acequias, soil and water conservation districts, and restoration contractors. Along with increased funding for restoration projects, agency capacity must be expanded quickly, and our commitment to such objectives must be steadfast and long term.

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Why experts say the West’s deer population is at ‘inflection point’ after another drop in 2021

Utah wildlife biologists fear there was another 10% drop in the statewide mule deer population in 2021 as mostly dry conditions reigned through the first half of the year.

The projection is based on below-normal adult and fawn survival rates, as well as fawn production in the second half of the year, Utah Division of Wildlife Resources officials told KSL.com.

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Story Short: USFWS to shoot estray cattle

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife (USFWS) notified the New Mexico Cattle Growers’ Association (NMCGA) it would shoot estray cattle in the Gila National Forest via helicopter flyover Feb. 8-10.

Despite efforts by Rail Lazy H to remove the estray cattle, only 20 head were removed, and the remaining moved to rugged terrain. NMCGA said it “adamantly opposes the mass shooting of estray cattle in contradiction to New Mexico’s livestock code” and has concerns USFWS will not be able to discern branded and unbranded livestock.

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Judge restores protections for gray wolves across much of US

A judge restored federal protections for gray wolves across much of the U.S. after their removal in the waning days of the Trump administration. U.S. District Judge Jeffrey White said the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service had failed to show wolf populations could be sustained in the Midwest and portions of the West without protection under the Endangered Species Act. The ruling does not directly impact wolves in the northern Rocky Mountains of Idaho, Montana and Wyoming and portions of several adjacent states.

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US Forest Service unveils long-awaited forest plan

After six years of extensive public engagement, the U.S. Forest Service on Jan. 28 released an overarching revised land management plan for the Custer Gallatin National Forest. Left without updates since the 1980s, the plan will serve as the guiding document for the highly diverse, more than 3-million-acre forest for up to 15 years.

Forest Supervisor Mary Erickson signed the record of decision for the plan, a long-awaited moment which resulted from far-reaching collaboration across diverse stakeholders including 18 tribes, local governments, state and federal agencies and numerous individuals.

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New Online Tool Allows Farmer, Ranchers to Easily Report Anticompetitive Practices

Farmers, ranchers, and other producers and growers now have a one-stop shop to help ensure they are treated fairly.  The new farmerfairness.gov portal developed jointly by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and Department of Justice (DOJ) allows you to report potential violations of livestock and poultry antitrust laws, including the Packers and Stockyards Act.


Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack recently expressed concern that producers across the country have for too long faced a marketplace that benefits a few large companies over the farmers and ranchers who grow and raise our food.


As part of these efforts, this portal makes it easy for farmers and ranchers to register a complaint or tip and provide details that would aid an investigation.
Read more about the reporting process here!

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How Serious Are We, Really, About Protecting The Yellowstone Ecosystem?

Most of the history of American conservation has focused on public lands, either their management or converting private property to public ownership. However, to stem the number of future extinctions in our country, we must focus increased energy on private lands. How these lands are managed will be the determining factor in whether many species of fish, wildlife, and plants thrive, survive, or fade into memory – even in a place as seemingly wild as the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem. 

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Interior Secretary Deb Haaland Speaks Up On Wolves, But Is It Enough?

Tribes, conservation groups, even former Fish and Wildlife Service director say she should emergency re-list wolves with federal protection. Why does she balk?

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Beaver Dams Help Wildfire-Ravaged Ecosystems Recover Long after Flames Subside

Beaver dams mop up debris that would otherwise kill fish and other downstream wildlife, new observations suggest.

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Feds will spend $1 billion to spur farmers and ranchers to fight climate change

The U.S. Department of Agriculture will spend $1 billion on projects for farmers, ranchers and forest landowners to use practices that curb climate-changing greenhouse gas emissions or capture and store carbon, USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack announced Monday.

For many U.S. farmers who have endured major losses from worsening floods, storms and droughts, addressing climate change has become a matter of survival. The United Nations’ scientific panel on climate change has warned that humans must change the way they produce food and use land to avoid the worst consequences of climate change.

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Landowners have until March 15 to apply for FWP support programs for public access

Landowners have until March 15 to submit applications to Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks for enrollment in the Unlocking Public Lands (UPL) Program or the Public Access Land Agreement (PALA) Program.

These programs are designed to provide recreational public access to state (Montana Department of Natural Resources and Conservation) or federal (Bureau of Land Management or United States Forest Service) land where no or limited legal public access currently exists.

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New American Prairie purchase will open up nearly 10,000 acres to the public

When American Prairie acquired the 73 Ranch last month, it got a wildlife-rich ranch located along the Musselshell River in Garfield and Petroleum Counties. But the public will get more than 9,300 acres of public land that it has never had access to in the deal.

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Gray wolf attacks keep north Colorado town on edge: “We’re their grocery store.”

Walden residents and experts agree the state must do more to control wolves as the reintroduction deadline nears.

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Public comment period closing soon as BLM eyes new sage grouse regulations

The Bureau of Land Management is once again reviewing how it manages sage grouse habitat across 10 Western states.

“The BLM will examine new scientific information, including the effects of stressors like climate change, invasive grasses, wildfire and drought, to assess actions that may best support sagebrush habitat conservation and restoration on public lands to benefit sage grouse and surrounding communities,” the agency stated.

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CRP Seeking Millions More Acres

The USDA Farm Service Agency has opened enrollment in the General Conservation Reserve Program (starting this week) and will open Grasslands CRP enrollment in April.

Robert Bonnie, Undersecretary for Farm Production and Conservation, says with 2-and-a-half million acres enrolled in Grasslands CRP, 2021 was the largest signup in history and is ideal for livestock producers.

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Idaho working to delist grizzly bears

Idaho is preparing to ask the federal government to remove Endangered Species Act protections for grizzly bears, writes reporter Eric Barker of the Lewiston Tribune. 

The intention was announced during a presentation to the Idaho Fish and Game Commission at Boise on Thursday. It was unclear how far the state’s petition, which is expected to be completed in the next few weeks, will go and whether it will include all of the grizzly bear populations and recovery areas within Idaho or even all of those in the Lower 48. But officials said it will be timed to take advantage of grizzly bear delisting petitions recently submitted by Montana and Wyoming.

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North Park is ground zero in Colorado’s wolf controversy. Ranchers want to know if anyone hears them.

It would be easier, many locals say, to “shoot, shovel and shut up” when wolves prey on their livestock, although getting caught shooting a protected species could mean a $100,000 fine and a year in jail. The Gittlesons, owners of the ranch where there have been recent depredations, though, said they are reporting every wolf sighting and attack to their local Colorado Parks and Wildlife agents, seeking government compensation for their dead cows, and asking for help to scare the pack away from the ranch. At the same time, they want the rest of Colorado to understand why they need lethal force to get rid of problem wolves.

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Elk feast on farmers’ haystacks across Pacific Northwest

Across the West, widespread drought has left elk, deer and even wild turkeys hungry and in poor condition — even a bit desperate. Wild elk are even attacking farmers’ haystacks in Washington and Oregon. Record snow across much of the Northwest’s mountains has driven animals down to the lowlands — in gangs. And climate scientists say things may only get worse in the future.

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New partnerships find win-win projects between ranchers and environmentalists

“You can do all the conservation practices in the world,” said Susie Evans, a fifth-generation cattle rancher in Chaffee County, Colorado. “But if it doesn’t profit, you’re gone.”

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Advisory group discuss wolf compensation for livestock depredation in Colorado

The Colorado Stakeholder Advisory Group (SAG) developing recommendations for Colorado Parks & Wildlife on plans to restore and manage gray wolves in the state spent time hashing over alternative plans for livestock compensation for losses due to wolves. Hallie Mahowald of the Western Landowners Alliance said such a program recognizes that “these conflicts result in economic losses, these impacts born largely by folks that maintain and steward working lands, both public and private,” and do so while sharing the landscape with wildlife, she said. “We’re now asking them to do so in a shared landscape with a new predator, both migrating and reintroduced. I just think this is an opportunity for us to show support, and also just to recognize the value of the biodiversity of the habitat that these lands provide, which parking lots and condos and other development doesn’t.”

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Following Marshall Fire, Neguse calls for review of the National Fire Plan

A group of Western lawmakers are asking the Biden administration to update the Forest Service’s long-term plan for wildfires and potentially scale back certain uses of fire for forest management.In a letter to President Biden yesterday, Reps. Joe Neguse (D-Colo.), Mike Thompson (D-Calif.) and Jim Costa (D-Calif.) said the agency’s National Fire Plan hasn’t been updated in more than a decade.

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Spring calving heralds beginning of predator season

Alberta, CA – As bear, cougar and wolf populations rebound, ranchers are working with conservation officers, wildlife specialists and researchers to pinpoint and mitigate problems.

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USDA Urges Producers to Submit Applications for 2021 Grazing Loss Assistance by Jan. 31

USDA is reminding ranchers and livestock producers that they may be eligible for financial assistance through the Livestock Forage Disaster Program (LFP) for 2021 grazing losses due to drought. The deadline to apply for 2021 assistance is Jan. 31, 2022. Click here for more Information

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USDA Announces Conservation Reserve Program Signups for 2022

Agricultural producers and landowners can sign up soon for the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP), a cornerstone conservation program offered by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and a key tool in the Biden-Harris Administration effort to address climate change and achieve other natural resource benefits. The General CRP signup will run from Jan. 31 to March 11, and the Grassland CRP signup will run from April 4 to May 13. 

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States want grizzlies’ ESA protections removed

Fulfilling a promise made in September, Wyoming Gov. Mark Gordon has officially petitioned the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) to remove the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem (GYE) population of grizzly bears from the Endangered Species List. The petition, filed with the support of Idaho and Montana, affirms that grizzly bears, by all measures, have been fully-recovered since 2003.

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Neighbors, officials help Colorado rancher put up fencing to protect cattle from wolves

On Monday, about a dozen people helped Gittleson trudge through the deep snow to put up 3 miles of fladry around a pasture near his ranch house. The thin electric fencing with flags that wave in the wind was erected to deter a nearby wolfpack that killed one pregnant heifer at the ranch, injured another badly enough it had to euthanized and killed a calf in the early morning hours over the last five weeks

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New bill has Washington tribes, farmers divided over salmon protective zones

House Bill 1838, also known as the Lorraine Loomis Act — named after a Swinomish Tribe member who was a salmon recovery advocate in the state — would set up salmon protection zones known as “riparian management zones” along rivers, streams, and other similar bodies of water that are home to migrating salmon.

The bill states that public and private property owners with land along the designated riparian protective zones will be responsible for protecting those zones, including planting trees and shrubbery to cool down the water temperature. The zones would cover 100 feet on either side of a river or stream in non-forested areas, and different amounts based on tree height in forested areas.

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Watch: The Need for Flexibility: Exploring Innovation in a Public Land Grazing System

The Bureau of Land Management’s Outcome-based Grazing program offers a more collaborative approach between the BLM and its partners within the livestock grazing community when issuing grazing authorizations. The program allows for necessary, timely grazing adjustments that benefit the health of the rangeland for wildlife as well as its availability of forage for livestock. These flexibilities help to create both ecological and economic resiliency throughout the West.

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Wolf experts: Colorado officials should ‘urgently’ address recent wolf kills of livestock

Two experts with decades of experience in wolf ecology in the Northern Rocky Mountains said Colorado Parks and Wildlife officials should address a recent string of confirmed wolf kills of cattle and a dog “urgently and aggressively.”

The latest wolf kills came Tuesday and Wednesday early morning on the Gittleson Angus ranch north of Walden. The ranch is located near where a pair of wolves naturally migrated from Wyoming and had six pups last spring, marking the first time in 80 years wolves were born in the state.

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Collaborative efforts aid fish and fowl

There is much to be said about the collaborations between like-minded groups and individuals. I was fortunate to interview some folks recently in California on their joint efforts to affect positive environmental change.

What you’ll read about here is a decades-long effort between conservation groups and California rice growers to take the successes they’ve seen in bird habitat restoration and parlay that into fish restoration projects in a valley that was once a large flood plain prior to dams and levees.

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Watch: Wolves in Yellowstone Part I: Can hunting and tourism co-exist?

YELLOWSTONE NATIONAL PARK – As of today, 21 wolves that are part of Yellowstone National Park packs, have been killed by hunters this season. Most of those were killed in Montana.

Reacting to the wolf hunters’ success, Emil McCain the owner of Yellowstone Wild Tours said, “There’s no reason to hunt Yellowstone wolves.”

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Secretary Vilsack Announces New 10 Year Strategy to Confront the Wildfire Crisis

Agriculture Secretary Vilsack and Forest Service Chief Randy Moore have launched a comprehensive response to the nation’s growing wildfire crisis. The strategy outlines the need to significantly increase fuels and forest health treatments to address the escalating crisis of wildfire danger that threatens millions of acres and numerous communities across the United States

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Secretary Vilsack Announces New 10 Year Strategy to Confront the Wildfire Crisis

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack and Forest Service Chief Randy Moore recently announced a comprehensive response to the nation’s growing wildfire crisis – “Confronting the Wildfire Crisis: A Strategy for Protecting Communities and Improving Resilience in America’s Forests.” The strategy outlines the need to significantly increase fuels and forest health treatments to address the escalating crisis of wildfire danger that threatens millions of acres and numerous communities across the United States.

The Forest Service will work with other federal agencies, including the Department of the Interior, and with Tribes, states, local communities, private landowners, and other partners to focus fuels and forest health treatments more strategically and at the scale of the problem, based on the best available science.

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WLA’s statement on removal of Jeremy Vesbach from NM Game & Fish Commission

Santa Fe, NM – Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham properly understands that agriculture, recreation and conservation are all important to New Mexico and that the rights and interests of diverse stakeholders need to be respected and balanced. The governor’s actions Tuesday reaffirm that the commission’s job is to maintain the delicate balance of state interests that many stakeholders, the legislature, the game commission and the Department of Game and Fish (NMDGF) have worked hard to achieve.

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Another Game Commission member gone amid stream access fight

New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham has dismissed another member of a state panel that oversees wildlife conservation and hunting and fishing regulations as a dispute percolates over public access to streams and rivers that flow through private property.

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CPW Commission approves emergency wolf hazing rules

Ranchers in Colorado can now haze gray wolves to protect livestock after the Colorado Parks and Wildlife Commission unanimously approved new emergency regulations on Wednesday, Jan. 12.

The new regulations were already being considered through the commission’s regular process, but Parks and Wildlife staff and commissioners felt recent wolf predation incidents warranted more immediate action.

Before these new regulations ranchers didn’t have many options if a wolf was harassing livestock. Now they can use guard animals, fladry (colored flags on fencing), scare devices like propane cannons and range riders, as well as several non-lethal projectiles.

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Release: NRCS Announces Improvements to CSP and EQIP

Earlier this month, the Natural Resource Conservation Service (NRCS) made a series of changes to its premier conservation programs to better support farmers’ ability to face climate change. First, NRCS improved the re-enrollment process within the Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP). NRCS eliminated the requirement that farmers with expiring contracts who are not selected to renew those contracts must wait two full years to reapply to the program, a change for which the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition (NSAC) has long advocated.  

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USDA Offers Expanded Conservation Program Opportunities to Support Climate Smart Agriculture in 2022

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) is announcing several new and expanded opportunities for climate smart agriculture in 2022. Updates include nationwide availability of the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) Conservation Incentive Contracts option, a new and streamlined EQIP Cover Crop Initiative, and added flexibilities for producers to easily re-enroll in the Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP). These improvements to NRCS’ working lands conservation programs, combined with continued program opportunities in all states, are part of the Biden-Harris Administration’s broader effort to support climate-smart agriculture.

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Listen: A wolf pack kill is reported in Jackson County over the weekend

A rancher’s dog was killed over the weekend by a pack of wolves in Jackson County.

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Grizzlies and Us

In this 10-part series produced over the past year by outdoor reporters and photojournalists across Montana and Wyoming, the many issues surrounding the uneasy coexistence of grizzlies and humans are examined in full.

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Documentary focuses on biologists’ effort to save San Juan cutthroat trout following 416 Fire

A new documentary, “The Fish & the Flame,” highlights the successful recovery of the San Juan cutthroat trout in the wake of Durango’s 416 Fire of 2018. The 14-minute film details how Colorado Parks and Wildlife aquatic biologist Jim White collaborated with Banded Peak Ranch Manager Tim Haarmann to save one of the last remaining populations of the recently rediscovered San Juan cutthroat trout as the 416 Fire threatened to decimate the fish that until 2018 was believed to be extinct.

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Fish and the Flame

The successful recovery of the San Juan cutthroat trout in the face of Durango’s 416 Fire of 2018 is the subject of a new documentary film produced by Days Edge Productions and presented by Western Landowners Alliance and Chama Peak Land Alliance.

A free virtual film screening of “The Fish & the Flame” will be held at 5 p.m. Jan. 10. The 14-minute showing will be followed by a question and answer session with Colorado Parks and Wildlife aquatic biologist Jim White, Banded Peak Ranch manager Tim Haarmann, Western Landowners Alliance executive director Lesli Allison, Chama Peak Land Alliance executive director Caleb Stotts and producer Page Buono.

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The wolves are coming. Can Coloradans meet them on common ground?

Jackson County rancher who reported the first wolf kill in more than 70 years says he’s skeptical, but willing to try.

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Biden’s Action Plan Draws Mixed Reviews From Cattlemen

The Biden Administration’s Action Plan to invest $1 Billion to expand competition in the U.S. meat packing industry and strengthen enforcement of antitrust regulations drew mixed reactions from cattlemen. Biden said Monday he believes concentration in the meat packing sector helps allow for “massive profits” and reflects a “market being distorted by lack of competition.”

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Montana’s Tracy Stone-Manning: BLM director has lots of acres and a big to-do list

When Montanans talk about “public lands,” in the abstract, usually there’s a very specific place that has impressed on them what public lands are — a place they’ve formed an emotional attachment with, be it from hiking, camping, fishing, hunting or cowboying.

And so it is with Montanan Tracy Stone-Manning, who, as the new director of the federal Bureau of Land Management, suddenly has 245 million acres of America in her care.

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Should cultured meat be labeled identically to traditional meat?

USDA’s Food Safety Inspection Service is asking consumers for their thoughts.

Consumers, traditional meat producers and emerging meat producers continue to spar over what to call this new technology meat. The U.S. government has joined the naming and labeling battle, and it wants consumer and industry input. The question is, are these cultured cells the same as traditional cells, and therefore should the government permit identical labeling, or does the methodology of growing and harvesting necessitate an alternate naming scheme?

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FWS Sued Over “Burdensome” ESA Regulations After Endangered Bird’s Habitat Overlaps With Cattle Ranch

A cattle growers’ association sued several federal agencies for the allegedly “burdensome federal regulations” on land use imposed under the Endangered Species Act, particularly for cattle growers who rely on their land for their livelihood. The New Mexico Cattle Growers’ Association filed a complaint on Monday in the District of Columbia District Court against the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS), the U.S. Department of the Interior (DOI), as well as the Secretary of the DOI and the Principal Deputy Director of the FWS for the listing of the southwestern willow flycatcher.

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Conservationists hope their plan can save imperiled New Mexico chicken from extinction

A plan to recover the lesser prairie chicken (LPC) was approved by the federal government recently to allow development of lands in eastern New Mexico while also protecting the species from extinction.

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Senators request additional assistance for livestock producers affected by drought

United States Senators Jon Tester (D-Mont) and John Thune (R-S.D.) this week led a bipartisan group of senators in urging the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Farm Service Agency (FSA) to address a gap in coverage under the Emergency Assistance for Livestock, Honeybees and Farm-Raised Fish Program (ELAP). In September, USDA announced it would provide ELAP assistance for the cost of transporting feed to livestock, but producers who are transporting their livestock to feed are not eligible for the program.

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A Colorado family tried to save their cattle ranch by betting big on rare birds. It’s paying off.

From getting the folks at Audubon to certify the ranch as bird-friendly, to selling carbon sequestration credits for the tall grass, the May Ranch near Lamar is modernizing stewardship.

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Oregon police seek clues in poisoning of eight wolves

Police in the US state of Oregon are investigating the poisoning of eight grey wolves found dead by officials earlier this year. Five wolves were discovered near Mount Harris in February, followed by another three later. Tests confirmed that a “poisonous substance” had killed the wolves. Authorities are asking for help from public and conservation groups are offering a $26,000 award for information leading to conviction.

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USDA Invests $633 Million in Climate-Smart and Resilient Infrastructure for People in Rural Communities

United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Secretary Tom Vilsack announced earlier this month the Department is investing $633 million to reduce the impacts of climate change on rural communities.

“Rural America is on the front lines of climate change, and our communities deserve investments that will strengthen all of our resilience,” Vilsack said.

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USDA promised to invest in regional markets. Now, it’s happening

USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack has said many times since taking office that the agency would invest in local and regional markets in an effort to make the food system more resilient.

Now, it’s happening. So, what does that investment look like in the West?

USDA on Monday announced a $90.2 million investment in 203 projects nationwide. Across California, Oregon, Washington and Idaho, 21 projects received funding.

The funding comes through two grants run by the Agricultural Marketing Service: the Farmers Market and Local Food Promotion Programs and the Regional Food System Partnerships.

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Elk Occupancy Agreements

PERC and the Greater Yellowstone Coalition have partnered with a local rancher in the Paradise Valley to conserve a nearly 500-acre elk winter range area, separated by approximately 1.25 miles of wildlife-friendly fencing. The designated acreage will exclude livestock and allow for the free and unrestricted movement of elk. The landowner will conduct habitat management and enhancement activities in the elk winter range to maintain and enhance range conditions. This “elk occupancy agreement” is the first of its kind in the northern Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem.

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Climate, population drops, prompt BLM to revise sage grouse plans

Citing population declines, climate change, habitat loss and other factors, the Bureau of Land Management will revise Western conservation plans for greater sage grouse, including in Wyoming where about 38% of the birds live on a landscape heavily used by the state’s industries.

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Wolf Killed in Washington State for Preying on Cattle

The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife announced Monday that an adult male wolf was killed in Columbia County, drawing criticism from wildlife advocates who contend endangered wolves should not be slain for preying on livestock.

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The Bureau of Land Management begins evaluation of plans for sage-grouse conservation

In order to protect the long-term health of sage-grouse populations, review new science and comply with court direction, the Bureau of Land Management is beginning a process to consider updates to the range-wide management plans for sagebrush habitat adopted in 2015 and amended in 2019. More than 70 resource management plans currently guide habitat conservation and restoration on 67 million acres of greater sage-grouse habitat the bureau manages in 10 Western states.

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New Mexico Lawmakers Pressed to Make Water a Priority

With a high-stakes case pending before the U.S. Supreme Court and more forecasts calling for hot and dry weather, New Mexico’s top water official says lawmakers can’t afford not to adequately fund the state agencies that oversee water resources.

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Interior and Agriculture Departments Take Action to Strengthen Tribal Co-Stewardship of Public Lands and Waters

During the White House Tribal Nations Summit, President Biden announced that the U.S. Departments of the Interior and Agriculture have created the “Tribal Homelands Initiative.” This collaborative effort will improve federal stewardship of public lands, waters, and wildlife by strengthening the role of Tribal communities in federal land management. Through a joint Secretarial Order (Order), the two Departments codified a policy to facilitate agreements with Tribes to collaborate in the co-stewar

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Wreckreation vs. wildlife

After years of collaborative effort, a working group releases its strategy for saving the remaining native bighorn sheep of the Teton Range in Idaho and Wyoming, proposing the winter closure of 21,233 acres to humans. Even though this only would affect about 2,000 acres of high quality skiing terrain, it’s still too much for some members of the winter recreation community.

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NRCS designs grant for Blackfoot Challenge grizzly conflict reduction

Ranchers can use electric fences to keep grizzly bears and other carnivores out of calving areas and barnyards. Sounds like a win-win situation, except electric fencing can be pricey and going through electrified gates can be tedious and a little dicey. Leave it to the Blackfoot Challenge to find a way around the problem by creating a better way to go through: by installing electrified drive-over mats. That’s what Blackfoot Challenge staff highlighted during a Western Landowners Alliance conference this week.

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Feds reverse Trump-era rule that dramatically reduced critical habitat for spotted owls

The USFWS recently announced a decision to maintain protections on over 3 million acres of forest habitat deemed critical for the survival of the threatened northern spotted owl. Those protections, in parts of Washington, Oregon and Northern California, were removed in the waning days of the Trump administration. The revised designation under the Endangered Species Act determined that removing those protections would cost the owl critical habitat necessary for its continued survival.

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Low-tech restoration has high impact on wildlife, working lands

A remote creek on public land in central Wyoming got some special attention this year as the Bureau of Land Management and partners began to employ low-tech, low-cost methods to restore wet meadows to dry public lands. Wet meadows are riparian areas that provide critical habitat for wildlife and livestock in the arid landscape. “Our goal with these projects is to slow the water down so it has time to spread out, drop sediment, seep down, raise the water table and build back the vegetation that stabilizes the system,” said BLM Wildlife Biologist Leah Yandow. While these simple, low-tech methods aren’t new, it’s the first time the BLM has employed them to restore wet meadows on lands administered by the BLM in Wyoming.

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‘A ticking time bomb for a mass die-off’

Recent grazing decisions continue to risk Southwest Colorado’s bighorns.

On a recent October morning, a single-engine plane dipped and jerked in a turbulent wind. A small group of conservationists and policy advisors, accompanied by my photographer and me, had all packed into a tiny EcoFlight to fly over a terraced expanse of Colorado’s San Juan Mountains. Our pilot took a sharp turn east. The plane rumbled; our shoulders bumped and our cellphones shook as we took blurry photos of snow-capped mountains. We were at the apex of our route, a 126-mile loop over San Juan, Ouray and Hinsdale counties. Directly below us was Hensen Creek, a place that Terry Meyers, executive director of the Rocky Mountain Bighorn Society, called “ground zero” for bighorn-domestic sheep conflicts in southwestern Colorado. He put it bluntly: “We’re looking down on a ticking time bomb for a mass die-off of Rocky Mountain bighorn sheep.”

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What’s in the Build Back Better Act for ag?

The reconciliation bill includes $28 billion for conservation, $2 billion for ag research and $12 billion for farmer debt relief. According to a fact sheet released by the House Agriculture Committee, the Build Back Better Budget Reconciliation bill will make timely investments that will “provide resources to mitigate climate change, improve quality of life in rural communities and commit millions of dollars to agricultural education across the country.”

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Ranchers, USDA, other agencies gathering to discuss working lands, carnivores and conflict

Beyond Conflict online conference will focus on how to respond to increasing carnivore pressure in ways that keep ranches whole so they can continue to provide vital habitat.

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Feds and conservation groups reach agreement on Canada lynx

More than 20 years after the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service deemed the Canada lynx a threatened species, the agency has agreed to prepare a recovery plan for the elusive, forest-dwelling carnivores. Last week the agency entered into a settlement agreement with six conservation groups that sued USFWS in 2020 over its management of lynx.

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Partnering Up

How a collaboration between government agencies, conservation groups and landowners in Montana is showing that wildlife conservation and human prosperity can coexist.

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Conservation groups sue over status of black-footed ferrets

A trio of conservation groups sued the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service on Thursday over its management of black-footed ferrets in Wyoming. Even though the black-footed ferret, North America’s only native ferret species, is still classified as endangered, the agency delegated responsibility for the species to the state in 2015. The federal lawsuit criticizes the rule and calls for oversight to be returned to the federal government.

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Idaho officials reject grazing-fee increase, costing schools

Idaho officials have rejected a plan to raise grazing fees on state-managed land, costing K-12 public schools more than $530,000 annually. The Idaho Land Board voted 2-2 to defeat the proposal, with Republican Superintendent of Public Instruction Sherri Ybarra voting against the plan, citing concerns by ranchers who said drought was hurting their businesses.

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Senators urge emergency protections for wolves in U.S. West

A group of Democratic lawmakers on Thursday urged the Biden administration to enact emergency protections for gray wolves in the U.S. West in response to Republican-backed state laws that make it easier to kill the predators. Twenty-one U.S. senators asked Interior Secretary Deb Haaland to shield wolves from being killed for 240 days while permanent protections are considered.

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USDA conservation vacancies pose challenge for Biden agenda

The trillion-dollar budget bill pushed by the Biden administration would pour billions of dollars into the Agriculture Department’s conservation programs at a time when the agency’s field staff is already stretched thin. Staffing shortages at the NRCS and other USDA agencies that work directly with producers have troubled the department for several years. Farm policy and conservation groups said the expanded conservation funding in the “Build Back Better Act” highlights the need to fill those gaps and may just help USDA finish the job.

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More protections for Mexican wolf proposed

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is proposing to amend management regulations for Mexican wolves in Arizona and New Mexico. The proposed changes would remove limits on the current number of wolves allowed and restrict previously allowed methods of population control on public and private land.

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USDA Announces Initial Supporters of Sustainable Productivity Growth Coalition

USDA Secretary Vilsack announced that more than 50 organizations and countries have officially declared their support for the Sustainable Productivity Growth for Food Security and Resource Conservation (SPG) Coalition, which the United States launched at the UN Food Systems Summit. The goal of the coalition is to accelerate the transition to more sustainable food systems through productivity growth that optimizes agricultural sustainability across social, economic, and environmental dimensions.

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Wildlife agencies to cancel Trump-era endangered species rules

The Biden administration moved to rescind two Trump administration environmental rollbacks that crimped the designation of critical habitat to protect threatened or endangered species.

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Top 5 Considerations for Increasing Wildlife Diversity

Land management decisions and actions that focus on the following five considerations produce the most diverse wildlife populations: 1) habitat diversity, 2) ecosystem processes, 3) soil health, 4) ecological stewardship and 5) size. Note, the focus of this article is increasing overall wildlife species diversity rather than increasing the abundance of a particular species.

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Court strikes down Trump EPA water permitting rule

A federal judge on Friday struck down a Trump-era regulation that limited the ability of states and Native American tribes to regulate water pollution.

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White House Announces Nomination of Martha Williams as Director of the Fish and Wildlife Service

The White House today announced the intent to nominate Martha Williams as Director of the Fish and Wildlife Service. Martha has been serving as Principal Deputy Director since January 20, 2021, exercising the delegable authority of the Director. The nomination will now be considered by the U.S. Senate.

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Early hopeful signs from California’s plan to bring back monarch butterflies

Across the state, environmental and nature conservation organizations are teaming up to create and restore suitable habitats for the butterflies, which in the past would migrate by the tens of thousands to California ahead of winter.

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Wildfire smoke disrupts bird migration in the West

Early fall wildfires in the western states and the smoke they generate pose a risk to birds migrating in the Pacific Flyway, according to a new study by the U.S. Geological Survey. GPS data from the 2020 wildfire season indicate that at least some migratory birds may take longer and use more energy to avoid wildfire smoke.

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USDA launches first phase of soil carbon monitoring efforts through Conservation Reserve Program

The USDA is investing $10 million in a new initiative to sample, measure and monitor soil carbon on Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) acres to better quantify the climate outcomes of the program.

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The controversial plan to bring jaguars back to the US

Jaguars are federally protected in a portion of southern Arizona and New Mexico. Yet some conservationists say that’s not enough, and that it’s time to bring Panthera onca back to what they consider to be the cats’ full historic range. A recent plan detailed in studies published in the journals Oryx and Conservation Science and Practice says as many as 150 jaguars could survive in a 20-million-acre swath dubbed the Central Arizona/New Mexico Recovery Area.

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Idaho reaches deal to reimburse hunters who kill wolves

Idaho officials will make available up to $200,000 to be divided into payments for hunters and trappers who kill wolves in the state through next summer. The Idaho Department of Fish and Game late last month entered into an agreement with a nonprofit hunting group to reimburse the expenses for a proven kill. The agreement follows a change in Idaho law aimed at killing more wolves that are blamed for attacking livestock and reducing deer and elk herds.

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As drought worsens, California farmers are being paid not to grow crops

The farmers are paid to leave a portion of their lands dry and fallow, and the water saved over the next three years is expected to translate into three feet of additional water in Lake Mead, which has declined to its lowest levels since it was filled in the 1930s following the construction of Hoover Dam.

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Managing Montana’s elk wealth is causing heartburn for landowners, FWP and hunters

As elk populations have grown and herds have re-established a presence where they weren’t seen for a century, elk have entered Montana’s political crosshairs. The recovery of elk populations has led many of the state’s hunters and landowners to a crossroads, a divisive debate over how best to manage this wildlife wealth.

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Western Lawmakers Unveil Alternative to 30×30 Initiative

U.S. Senator Steve Daines, chair of the Senate Western Caucus, today unveiled a blueprint for responsible, effective conservation supporting Montana and the West. Daines’ “Western Conservation Principles” serves as an alternative to the Biden administration’s “30 by 30 initiative” and America the Beautiful report.

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There’s probably only one wolf left in far northwest Colorado. Can the state protect it?

For nearly two years, wolf expert Karin Vardaman has visited the Moffat County rangeland every few months to track wolves for Working Circle, a nonprofit she founded to help ranchers live with the predators. The patchwork of public and private land is already a riot of animal life. Forested mountains overlook broad valleys, where elk and cattle scare badgers from their dens beneath the sagebrush.

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Forest Service: Prescriptive easements on Crazy Mountain trails ‘likely non-viable’

A lawsuit over Custer Gallatin National Forest’s handling of disputed trails is nearing resolution, and could have national implications for public access.

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Wildfire resilience, America the Beautiful top Forest Service priorities

Better wildfire resilience in America’s forests is a top priority for the U.S. Forest Service, but so is the Biden administration’s America the Beautiful Initiative to set aside more land for parks and other uses, an agency official says. The initiative’s goal is to conserve 30% of U.S. lands and water by 2030 with focuses on collaborative conservation and restoration of lands and fish and wildlife habitat, voluntary conservation, creating more parks, increasing access for outdoor recreation and creating jobs.

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Biden signs bill providing $10B to cover wide range of ag disasters

A stopgap-funding bill that will keep the government operating this fall includes a $10 billion expansion in agricultural disaster aid and temporarily extends authority for USDA’s livestock price reporting system.

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USDA Announces $3 Billion Investment in Agriculture, Animal Health, and Nutrition; Unveils New Climate Partnership Initiative

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack recently announced a comprehensive set of investments to address challenges facing America’s agricultural producers. These include assistance to address challenges and costs associated with drought, animal health, market disruptions for agricultural commodities, and school food supply chain issues. He also outlined and requested public comments on a new climate partnership initiative designed to create new revenue streams for producers via market opportunities for commodities produced using climate-smart practices.

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US says ivory-billed woodpecker, 22 other species extinct

The US Fish and Wildlife Service is ready to declare the ivory-billed woodpecker — and 22 others — gone for good, tripling the number of species delisted due to extinction. Government scientists warn climate change, on top of other pressures, could make such disappearances more common as a warming planet adds to the dangers facing imperiled plants and wildlife.

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Moore launches bill to boost U.S. Forest Service staffing

The leaders of numerous conservancy groups have endorsed bipartisan legislation proposed by Rep. Blake Moore (R-UT) to bolster U.S. Forest Service staffing to mitigate wildfire risks. The Save Our Forest Act would allocate $46 million to allow the Secretary of Agriculture to fill longstanding personnel vacancies in the U.S. Forest Service.

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How Biden’s 30×30 conservation plan may affect western ranchers, federal grazing lands

President Biden’s “America The Beautiful” executive order mandates the federal government to work on conserving 30 percent of land by 2030. Here is how the Bureau of Land Management is working towards that goal on federal grazing lands. Deputy Director Nada Culver said the BLM is hoping to move forward with a collaborative approach.

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Enviros aim to eliminate states’ funding over wolf hunting laws

(Subscription) States would lose federal wildlife funding if they “excessively” target predator species like wolves, cougars and grizzly bears, under a new petition to the Interior Department filed by myriad environmental groups. The petition seeks to add enforcement teeth to an existing requirement that states not compromise healthy wildlife populations.

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BLM to round up half of Wyoming’s wild horses

The BLM will round up most wild horses in five herd management areas in southwestern Wyoming, beginning as soon as Oct. 7. Removed horses will be “freeze branded, vaccinated, dewormed and given a Coggins test,” a blood test for viral Equine Infectious Anemia. Officials will then return about 1/4 of the removed horses to the range, administering temporary fertility controls to all returned mares, in an effort to reduce the wild horse population in those areas, the agency said Friday.

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Regan eyes November for next step in WOTUS process

Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Michael Regan says a proposal to restore regulations defining “waters of the U.S.” to those that were in place before the Obama administration’s 2015 rule could be issued by November, with another proposal redefining WOTUS to follow a year after that.

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USDA Accepts More Than 2.5 Million Acres in Grassland Conservation Reserve Program

The USDA has accepted more than 2.5 million acres into this year’s Grassland Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) signup. This is double last year’s enrollment and brings the total acres enrolled across all CRP signups in 2021 to more than 5.3 million acres, surpassing the administration’s 4-million-acre goal. USDA also noted that the enrollment of more than 2.5 million acres of grazing land into Grassland CRP will mitigate an additional estimated 22,000 metric tons of CO2 equivalent.

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Grizzly presence increasing in Sublette

Following news of the recent black bear lethally removed from the Big Sandy area and the numerous verified sightings of bears in the Kemmerer area that have dropped off, Wyoming Game and Fish officials shed some light on grizzly bear relocations and sightings in Sublette County. Four grizzly bears have been relocated and four removed from the Upper Green River Basin since the first instance this summer on July 11.

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Wyoming to ask US to lift Yellowstone grizzly protections

Wyoming will ask the federal government to remove its protections for grizzly bears in the Yellowstone region and permit the region’s three states to manage and potentially allow hunting of the big bruins in certain areas. Wyoming will submit the request after which the USFWS will have 90 days to determine whether delisting under the ESA might be warranted in Wyoming, Montana and Idaho.

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US Forest Service hits brakes on Arizona restoration project

The U.S. Forest Service has put the brakes on an effort to thin hundreds of square miles of land in Arizona to reduce the risk of catastrophic wildfires, drawing sharp rebukes from elected officials.

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Feds consider re-listing wolf as state hunts start

Gray wolves in the West could go back under federal ESA protection due to the risk of “potential increases in human-caused mortality,” the USFWS announced. The decision to start a 12-month review of the wolf’s status came on the same day Montana and Idaho opened hunting and trapping seasons on the predator.

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US tribes demand emergency protection for wolves

Dozens of American Indian tribes asked the Biden administration Tuesday to immediately enact emergency protections for gray wolves, saying states have become too aggressive in hunting the animal.

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USDA Expands Assistance to Cover Feed Transportation Costs for Drought-Impacted Ranchers in California

In response to the severe drought conditions in the West and Great Plains, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced today its plans to help cover the cost of transporting feed for livestock that rely on grazing. USDA is updating the Emergency Assistance for Livestock, Honeybees and Farm-Raised Fish Program (ELAP) to immediately cover feed transportation costs for drought impacted ranchers. USDA’s Farm Service Agency (FSA) will provide more details and tools to help California ranchers get ready to apply at their local USDA Service Center later this month at fsa.usda.gov/elap

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Grassland Conservation Reserve Program acres grow to more than 2.5 million

Landowners and agricultural producers enrolled more than 2.5 million acres of grassland in the 2021 Grassland Conservation Reserve Program, double the number of acres they enrolled last year, the U.S. Department of Agriculture announced on Friday, Sept. 10

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Working Lands, Working Communities Initiative Survey Results

WGA distributed a survey to state and local agencies and interested stakeholders soliciting feedback on the interdependent relationships between western communities and state and federal land / resource management entities, and the role that local communities play in successful land planning and management processes.

The survey included questions addressing land management and planning, cross-boundary collaboration, forest and rangeland management, and rural development, as well as two general questions. 

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USDA expands ELAP to cover feed transportation for drought-impacted ranchers

USDA is updating the Emergency Assistance for Livestock, Honey Bees and Farm-raised Fish Program (ELAP) to immediately cover feed transportation costs for drought impacted ranchers. USDA’s Farm Service Agency provides more details and tools to help ranchers get ready to apply at their local USDA Service Center at fsa.usda.gov/elap.

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Biden administrator charts path for dramatic solar growth

The U.S. could get as much as 40% of its electricity from solar by 2035 if the country commits to federally-backed decarbonization efforts and adopts policies to promote the technology, the Department of Energy said in a recent report.

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Wildlife damage mitigation payment debate heats up

Late last October, the America’s Conservation Enhancement (ACE) Act was signed into law. It was described as “the most significant wildlife conservation and sportsmen’s law in decades,” by U.S. Sen. John Barrasso, R-Wyo., who introduced the bill. The act includes a little-known provision, promising to help compensate ranchers for lost livestock from predator attacks. Local leaders were excited by the prospects of future budget relief, yet Wyoming game and fish continues to foot the bill for compensation as funding from the bill has yet to be appropriated.

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Wild horse roundup in northwest Colorado begins as BLM tries to gather 733 mustangs

The federal Bureau of Land Management is removing 80% of the wild horses in Sand Wash Basin of Colorado after drought-stricken rangeland turns to “moon dust”

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Report: Migration Key to Conserving Big Game in Bridger-Teton Forest

A report published today focuses on data-driven efforts to conserve big-game migration in Wyoming’s Bridger-Teton National Forest. Sportsmen organizations hope the findings can help guide decision-making as the U.S. Forest Service prepares to revise its 31-year-old management plan

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Why have gray wolves failed to gain a foothold in Colorado?

The Green River Corridor, a pathway from Wyoming to Colorado, highlights the political and physical barriers wolves face.

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Bill reintroduced to expedite forest projects

The Resilient Federal Forests Act seeks to restore forest health on over 80 million acres of national forests through active management, increase resiliency to wildfire and support rural communities. The bill would expedite thinning and logging projects up to 30,000 acres by “ending frivolous ligation” and remove interagency consultation requirements that delay forest management activities. Additionally, it would accelerate salvage operation and reforest activities, improve existing authority on insect and disease infestations and codify the principles of the Good Neighbor Authority.

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House Democrats Agree to $100 Million Allocation for Critically Endangered Species

In a memo released by the House Natural Resources Committee, House Democrats will provide $550 million to the US Fish and Wildlife Service in the upcoming budget reconciliation package, including $100 million for some of the most critically imperiled species in the United States.

The legislation will include $25 million to conserve and restore four of the most imperiled types of endangered species in the United States: butterflies, eastern freshwater mussels, Southwest desert fish and Hawaiian plants.

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Interior Department Announces Largest Expansion of Fishing and Hunting on U.S. Fish and Wildlife Managed Lands and Waters

The Department of the Interior announced today that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) has opened new or expanded hunting and sport fishing opportunities across 2.1 million acres, the largest expansion of outdoor recreation opportunities in recent history.

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Climate programs will be voluntary, incentive-based, says USDA nominee

The USDA’s climate mitigation initiatives will be built on a simple rule: “If they don’t work for producers and landowners, they’re not going to work for the climate,” said Robert Bonnie, the Biden nominee to run the USDA’s crop subsidy and land stewardship programs.

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Legislators hope to fully fund Natural Resource Trust for first time since its inception

Since its formation in 2005, the Wyoming Wildlife and Natural Resource Trust has dedicated millions of dollars to invasive species treatments, stream bank stabilization projects and fish barrier removals. But there’s one goal the program has never reached, according to Wyoming Wildlife and Natural Resource Trust Executive Director Bob Budd: being fully funded at a level of $200 million, as stipulated by state statute. If fully funded, the trust fund would generate $8 to $10 million annually to be used on projects across the state.

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New Mexico governor signs order to preserve 30 percent of public lands

Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham signed an executive order that calls for 30 percent of New Mexico’s public lands to be protected by 2030, putting the state in line with a larger federal conservation effort.

The order directs a half-dozen state agencies to coalesce behind the “30 by 30” plan by establishing programs that conserve, protect and enhance public lands for a variety of uses. An additional 20 percent will be designated as climate stabilization areas.

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Climate-friendly ag practices need $30 billion, Democrats told

More than 60 groups are urging Democratic congressional leaders to prioritize climate-friendly agriculture, food systems and equity in their $3.5 trillion domestic spending package. About $89 billion in the budget reconciliation measure will be designated for agriculture and forestry in the package, and groups want to see $30 billion of that allocated to conservation programs.

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Biden administration backs end to wolf protections but hunting worries grow

President Joe Biden’s administration is sticking by the decision under former President Donald Trump to lift protections for gray wolves across most of the U.S. But a top federal wildlife official on Friday told The Associated Press there is growing concern over aggressive wolf hunting seasons adopted for the predators in the western Great Lakes and northern Rocky Mountains.

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MT wildlife commission adopts new wolf hunting, trapping regulations

Montana Fish and Wildlife Commission adopted several controversial new wolf hunting and trapping regulations, the culmination of months of debate that has drawn national and even international attention.

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Trout in trouble

This year’s drought has impacted Montana’s treasured cold-water fisheries, and the outfitters and anglers who rely on them. Montana Fish Wildlife and Parks fully or partially closed close to twenty rivers to fishing this summer due to high water temperatures, low flows, or concerns about angling pressure.

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Getting Started Bison Ranching

A few things to consider when starting with or converting to bison ranching: 1) bison largely remain a wild and undomesticated species — treat them as dangerous wildlife, 2) precipitation and drought will affect summer growth and gains — more drought will reduce growth rates and 3) mind your genetics, avoid inbreeding.

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FWP reorganization could hamper science-based wildlife management, public input

The Gianforte administration is starting to reorganize the structure of Fish, Wildlife & Parks, and the changes could make it harder for biologists and resident sportsmen to conserve Montana’s fish and wildlife in the future.

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In Wyoming, fences are coming down to make way for wildlife

Arthur Middleton and the Absaroka Fence Initiative are featured in this story that takes a look at the worldwide problem of barriers to wildlife migration. More than 600,000 miles of fences crisscross the American West, blocking animal migration. Outside Yellowstone this summer, volunteers dismantled a few.

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Courts reverse course on stream access: There is no public easement to beds crossing private land

A Utah judge waded deep into Mormon pioneer history to settle a long-simmering fight over stream access, this time in favor of riverside property owners concluding the public has no right to walk or touch the bottoms of streams crossing private land.

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In Wyoming, fences are coming down to make way for wildlife

More than 600,000 miles of fences crisscross the American West, blocking animal migration. Outside Yellowstone this summer, volunteers dismantled a few.

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Researchers Explore Climate, Human and Wildlife Interactions on Rangeland in Idaho, Oregon

Study to examine the interconnectedness of the inhabitants of western rangelands, including humans, plants and animals, in the face of a changing climate and other stressors.

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Recognizing monarch butterflies under the Endangered Species Act may do more harm than good

Insect populations are declining worldwide, and monarch butterflies are no exception. Efforts to reverse the trends are underway across the United States and Canada. Even with these efforts, many national insect conservation groups are advocating for the USFWS to list the monarch butterfly as “threatened” under the ESA. But a recent op-ed from scientists says that listing the monarch as endangered would trigger regulatory protections that could actually harm monarch populations and current conservation efforts.

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Farmers help create powerful, open-source spatial model to save bumblebees

Created by scientists at the University of Exeter in collaboration with farmers and land managers, BEE-STEWARD is a decision-support tool which provides a computer simulation of bumblebee colony survival in a given landscape. The tool lets researchers, farmers, policymakers, and other interested parties test different land management techniques to find out which ones and where could be most beneficial for bees.

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Montana wolf proposals draw thousands of comments

Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks reported roughly 25,000 public comments were submitted ahead of the August Montana Fish and Wildlife Commission meeting. About 90% of non-form letter comments also opposed killing wolves or expressed ethical or conflict concerns. About 1,000 comments could be identified as submitted from Montana, and those were about evenly split between support and opposition, according to FWP analysis.

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East Yellowstone Collaborative Working Group Recieves a 2021 Catalyst Fund Grant

The East Yellowstone Collaborative Working Group works to restore, protect, and steward the lands of the Absaroka Front to support healthy wildlife populations and sustain private working lands. Funding will support continued facilitation of the Working Group, including monthly partner meetings. Funding will also support targeted work with landowners to explore and prioritize potential conservation projects as the Working Group moves into implementation of its Vision Plan. Targeted investments in sustaining the collaborative capacity of the Working Group will accelerate its ability to achieve landscape-scale conservation outcomes in a landscape of global significance while maintaining the economic viability of ranches and private working lands.

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Senate OKs bipartisan infrastructure bill

The Senate passed a bipartisan infrastructure bill Tuesday that would provide $550 billion in new funding to repair America’s rural roads, ports and waterways, while dramatically increasing high-speed internet access.

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Game & Fish asks public to help solve elk, CWD, feedground puzzle

The Wyoming Game and Fish Department last week wrapped up a six-town tour aimed at launching stakeholder groups to generate new ideas for management of Wyoming’s 22 elk feedgrounds, where chronic wasting disease threatens some 14,000 elk. Wildlife managers hope the meetings from Rock Springs to Jackson will encourage citizen stakeholders to volunteer for an 18-month effort that could lead to a new paradigm for managing the winter feedgrounds.

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Push for conservation funding raises farm bill questions

Congressional Democrats are pushing for a historic increase in conservation program funding that would help pay farmers to address climate change, but the money also could create some challenges for the House and Senate Agriculture committees as they write the new farm bill.

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How Kansas ranchers and the land benefit from going back to the way of the bison

A new generation of ranchers finds success experimenting with methods that go against the grain. They could be blazing a trail to more profitable ranching while aiding prairie wildlife.

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ODFW kills 2 wolf pups from Lookout Mountain pack

Employees from the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife, firing rifles from a helicopter, shot and killed two wolf pups from the Lookout Mountain pack on Aug. 1. On July 29, the agency’s director authorized either ODFW employees, or a Baker County ranching couple or their designated agents, to kill up to four sub-adult wolves from that pack, which has attacked their cattle at least four times since mid-July.

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BLM PREPARES FOR EMERGENCY ACTION TO SAVE DROUGHT-STRICKEN WILD HORSES AND BURROS ON PUBLIC LANDS

The BLM is prepared to ramp up wild horse and burro gathers over the next two months as extreme heat and drought conditions across much of the West threaten the safety of thousands of federally protected animals. BLM estimates that as many as 6,000 additional wild horses and burros need to be rounded up and removed from federal rangelands by the end of September in order to “prevent widespread thirst and mortality in wild horse and burro herds as drought intensifies across most of the West”.

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Conserving prime hay ground as well as Colorado’s elk and deer

Thanks to forward-thinking stewardship by the Etcharts, prime rangeland in NW Colorado will stay a working ranch forever, rather than being chopped up into a subdivision. In order to maintain the economic viability of their ranch and maintain vital wildlife habitat, the Etcharts have enrolled in a slew of NRCS and FSA programs that support their stewardship vision.

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Coalition seeks relisting of gray wolves in US West

Wildlife advocates petitioned federal officials to restore federal protections for gray wolves throughout the U.S. West after Idaho and Montana passed laws intended to drastically cut their numbers. The agency is supposed to respond within 90 days on whether there is enough information for a potential listing under the Endangered Species Act.

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In This Wolf Man, There Are Enduring Echoes Of Aldo

Greater Yellowstone-based scientist Mike Phillips receives Leopold Award, highest honor given by The Wildlife Society for having an impactful career in conservation

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Rancher’s cattle reimbursement request rejected by Game and Fish

A Crandall rancher had his more than $120,000 request in reimbursement for cattle losses caused by grizzly bears and wolves in 2020 mostly rejected by the Wyoming Game and Fish Commission on July 15. G&F determined that Peterson used an unlawful multiplier in his calculations, and the agency can only reimburse for stock that was confirmed by G&F staff to have been killed by bears and wolves. Peterson argued that yearling losses should be compensated with the same multiplier as calves due to their similar age and size.

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Heinrich, Blunt introduce legislation to fund wildlife conservation

The Recovering America’s Wildlife Act, which U.S. Senator Heinrich of New Mexico is introducing along with Republican U.S. Senator Blunt of Missouri, would provide $1.3 billion annually in funding to states and $97.5 million to tribes to implement projects identified in the wildlife action plans that intend to keep species off of the endangered species list and recover those that are already on the list.

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What is the future of WOTUS?

The U.S. District Court in South Carolina dismissed a challenge to the Navigable Waters Protection Rule written during the Trump administration and granted a remand without vacatur, ensuring the rule remains in effect until the Biden administration finalizes a new rule.

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OPINION | Private, public lands have common interests

Melissa Daruna: “Colorado’s virtues may have inspired the U.S. government when it titled its recently released report ‘Conserving and Restoring America the Beautiful.’ The report highlights the importance of protecting both public and private lands. This is an essential component here in Colorado. Because nearly 60 percent of Colorado’s lands are privately owned, voluntary actions of private landowners can play a significant role in helping ensure conservation resiliency and connectivity across the state’s many different communities.

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Groups: Idaho wolf law will cause grizzly bear, lynx deaths

Environmental groups have notified Idaho Gov. Brad Little and other state officials of their intent to file a lawsuit over an expanded wolf-killing law they believe will result in the illegal killing of federally protected grizzly bear and lynx.

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Some drought-imposed fishing limits lifted on Colorado River

Colorado lifted some fishing restrictions along a stretch of the Colorado River, but biologists warn that historically low water flows caused by a drought in the West, high water temperatures and wildfire sediment that all starve trout of oxygen could force future bans.

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Mexican wolf breeding program gets boost from zoo

Five gray wolf pups born at Mexico City’s Chapultepec Zoo are giving a boost to efforts to broaden the endangered species’ genetic diversity amid continuing efforts to reintroduce the animals to the wild decades after they were reduced to captive populations.

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Groups: Idaho wolf law will cause grizzly bear, lynx deaths

Environmental groups have notified Idaho Gov. Brad Little and other state officials of their intent to file a lawsuit over an expanded wolf-killing law they believe will result in the illegal killing of federally protected grizzly bear and lynx.

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Bear relocated to Yellowstone Park area after killing cattle

A grizzly bear was captured north of Pinedale on Wednesday and relocated to an area about 5 miles from the East Entrance of Yellowstone National Park. The adult male was targeted after it killed cattle on a U.S. Forest Service grazing allotment north of Pinedale in the Bridger-Teton National Forest.

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In The Bull’s Eye: A Human Swarm Is Overwhelming The Yellowstone Region

Challenges to the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem including rural subdivisions, sprawling towns, and unprecedented levels of recreation and tourism are threatening ecosystems, migration corridors and communities.

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USDA Announces Pandemic Assistance for Timber Harvesters and Haulers

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) is providing up to $200 million to provide relief to timber harvesting and timber hauling businesses that have experienced losses due to COVID-19 as part of USDA’s Pandemic Assistance for Producers initiative. Loggers and truckers can apply for assistance through USDA’s Farm Service Agency (FSA) July 22 through Oct. 15, 2021. The Pandemic Assistance for Timber Harvesters and Haulers program (PATHH) is administered by FSA in partnership with the U.S. Forest Service.

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Can Family-Owned Forests Help the U.S. Achieve a Low-Carbon Future?

A USDA Conservation Innovation Grant (CIG) project is trying to reimagine how carbon markets can work with and for small landholders. The Family Forest Carbon Program (FFCP) bases carbon payments on specific forest management practices. The project’s goal is to facilitate the participation of nearly 300 million acres of family-owned American forests in carbon markets.

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Ranchers demand more money for grizzly-killed stock, again

Wyoming Game and Fish commissioners backed agency staff last week and approved compensation for trophy game damage to stock that amounted to $388,696 less than two ranchers claimed.

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Bipartisan lawmakers call for united effort on wildfires

Four Western members of Congress have issued a bipartisan call for their colleagues to prioritize funding for wildfire resiliency and prevention in this year’s appropriations bill. The four are members of the Bipartisan Wildfire Caucus, which sent a letter to House Appropriations Committee leaders in April asking for the funding.

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Landowners weigh how to help ‘dire’ grassland bird populations

Grassland bird populations have been in a free-fall for decades, decreasing overall by 57 percent across the prairies from 1970 to 2016.

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Biden order to strengthen hand of small farmers in legal fights

A new executive order from President Biden targeting anti-competitive business practices is expected to give a major boost to sustainability efforts in the agriculture industry by potentially making it easier for small farmers to sue some of the biggest food producers.

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Fighting wildfires in the West: ‘I don’t think we can overdo anything’

Rep. Joe Neguse, D-Colo., Rep. John Curtis, R-Utah, Rep. John Garamendi, D-Calif., and Rep. Doug LaMalfa, R-Calif., held a press call recently detailing the need for more urgent, coordinated responses to wildfires in the West, which have become routine rather than rare.

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First Female grizzly in 40 years collared in NE Washington State

Wildlife officials have captured and collared a female grizzly in Northeast Washington State for the first time in 40 years. As grizzlies expand their range, there is opportunity for conflicts within communities unprepared for their presence.

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Minnesota DNR calls off wolf hunt this year despite support from farmers, hunters

The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources on Wednesday, July 7, said there will be no wolf hunting and trapping season in Minnesota in 2021 as the agency continues to develop a new long-term wolf management plan.

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US to take longer look at contentious Montana bison proposal

Federal officials will give the public more time to comment on a contentious proposal to expand bison grazing on public lands in north-central Montana. The move comes after Republican Gov. Greg Gianforte criticized the BLM for holding just one virtual meeting on the proposal, which covers about 108 square miles (280 square kilometers) south of Malta.

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New Mexico lawmakers warned about shrinking water supplies

Some of New Mexico’s top climate and water experts warned state lawmakers Tuesday that the effects of the drought on water supplies have been worsened by climate change, specifically an ongoing, long-term warming trend.

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Colorado Parks and Wildlife, Keystone Policy Center Launch Online Open House

Colorado Parks and Wildlife and the Keystone Policy Center announced today the launch of an Online Open House and detailed Comment Form available on Colorado’s Wolf Restoration and Management Plan Public Engagement Website.

The online open house and comment form offer the same information, questions and opportunity to submit feedback that is available at in-person public listening sessions that will be conducted throughout the state this summer.

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Wolf reintroduction happened so fast in Montana and Idaho, the states are expanding hunting. Here’s what Colorado can learn.

Taking Montana and Idaho as case studies, Gray wolf populations in Colorado will expand quickly once introduced. In this article, Wildlife officials highlight how hunting manages wolf populations once their populations recover.

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USDA Announces Dates for Conservation Reserve Program Grasslands Signups

Agricultural producers and landowners can apply for the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) Grasslands signup from July 12 until August 20. This year, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) updated signup options to provide greater incentives for producers and increase the program’s conservation and climate benefits, including setting a minimum rental rate and identifying two national priority zones.

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Why the poaching of one gray wolf in Washington can matter

While poaching of a single breeding female wolf can significantly affect the viability of a pack, wildlife managers share that the loss of a single wolf does not hinder overall recovery efforts or population stability

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WDFW: Only open-and-shut wolf attacks confirmed

Washington Fish and Wildlife officials concede that they likely undercount depredations by wolves, but say the high standard is necessary to maintain scientific integrity and legal certainty.

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Deadly attack by grizzly bear prompts calls for action

The deadly attack of a woman by a grizzly bear in Ovando, Montana earlier this week is indicative of a problem that some people say is going to get worse. In this article, state senators Butch Gillespie and WLA member Trina Jo Bradley offer their perspectives on increasing grizzly bear-human conflicts in Montana.

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Colorado’s first gray wolf pack since 1940s now has 6 pups

Colorado’s first litter of gray wolf pups since the 1940s has grown to include six pups. Colorado Parks and Wildlife said Thursday that staff spotted the pups living in a den with two collared wolves in northern Colorado.

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Biden executive order targets consolidation in ag sector

(Subscription) A wide-ranging executive order that President Joe Biden signed Friday seeks to address consolidation throughout the economy and includes a special focus on actions the Department of Agriculture could take to address the meat industry and antitrust enforcement.

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Officials Kill Grizzly Bear Suspected in Fatal Attack of Woman in Montana

Wildlife officials shot and killed a grizzly bear near Ovando, Montana that was believed to have been involved in the fatal attack of a California woman this week. Wildlife officials said the grizzly likely began associating humans and populated areas with food and security, prompting it to search areas where people gathered.

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Drought And Fire Conditions In Western Colorado Are Dire. Can Congress Help?

Colorado Congressmembers like Reps. Lauren Boebert and Joe Neguse can’t make it rain or control a massive wildfire. What they can do is focus attention — and money — on the issue.

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No-Kill Project Continues As Idaho Expands Wolf Hunting And Trapping

While a new law in Idaho seeks to reduce wolf populations in the State through more liberal hunting, the Wood River Wolf Project continues their effort to employ non-lethal deterrents to reduce conflict between wolves and sheep

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WDFW sets 3-day goal for wolf removal decisions

The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) has set a 3-day goal for wolf removal decisions, in order to speed up the previously lengthy decision process on whether to lethally control an individual wolf or pack that is depredating livestock

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US proposes removing Colorado River fish’s endangered status

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service said Tuesday it plans to propose reclassifying a rare Colorado River Basin fish called the razorback sucker from endangered to threatened status after a multiyear and multistate effort throughout the Southwestern U.S.

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A grizzly bear washed up dead. Then it was found decapitated and declawed, prompting a federal investigation.

A Grizzly Bear that washed up dead on the banks of the Yellowstone River had parts taken as trophies. This is at least the fourth illegal incident involving grizzly bears in the past 14 months.

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California is betting $61 million that new highway crossings will keep wildlife safe

Large animals cause 20 crashes a day on California highways. Experts say special bridges, tunnels, and special wildlife crossing structures can prevent wildlife-vehicle collisions and protect at-risk species.

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Grizzly conflicts central to new Upper Green River grazing debate

A new management plan for Wyoming’s Upper Green River Basin proposes to return cattle to allotments that were previously retired from sheep grazing. Adding flexibility to move cattle onto different pastures will allow more opportunities to move livestock to avoid Grizzly Bear conflict hot-spots.

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Producers Can Now Hay, Graze and Chop Cover Crops Anytime and Still Receive Full Prevented Planting Payment

Agricultural producers with crop insurance can hay, graze or chop cover crops for silage, haylage or baleage at any time and still receive 100 percent of the prevented planting payment. Previously, cover crops could only be hayed, grazed or chopped after November 1, otherwise the prevented planting payment was reduced by 65 percent.

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Tribe becomes key water player with drought aid to Arizona

The Colorado River Indian Tribes and another tribe in Arizona have played an outsized role in the recent drought contingency plans that had Arizona voluntarily give up water. As the state faces mandatory cuts next year in its Colorado River supply, the tribes see themselves as major players in the future of water.

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Cattle Producers win state support to watch for wolves

The Cattle Producers of Washington organization has been awarded a $397,440 state grant to prevent conflicts between cows and wolves in northeast Washington. The amount nearly doubles state support the group got in 2019 and boosts a program running low on money. The cattlemen’s group helps about 20 ranches protect herds in Ferry and Stevens counties.

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Trump roundups worked: Herds drop for first time in 9 years

(Subscription) The Bureau of Land Management’s aggressive Trump-era wild horse and burro roundup strategy, slammed by critics as cruel and unnecessary, apparently cut herd sizes on federal rangelands for the first time in nearly a decade.

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Legislation reduces taxes for veterinarians in rural areas

Bipartisan legislation introduced by Sens. Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich., and Mike Crapo, R-Idaho, would address the shortfall of veterinarians in rural areas by offering tax relief. The Veterinary Medicine Loan Repayment Program Enhancement Act would help meet the growing demand for veterinarians nationwide by eliminating taxes on programs that encourage veterinarians to practice in underserved areas.

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Wolf reintroduction funding with no license fees is most bipartisan bill of 2021 session

Wolf reintroduction won’t be funded by the sale of hunting and fishing licenses in Colorado, and that was made a matter of state law from Eagle County on Sunday. A recent bill that passed with bipartisan support ensures that, in funding the reintroduction, the general assembly will appropriate money to the Colorado Division of Parks and Wildlife from either the general fund, the species conservation trust fund, the Colorado nongame conservation and wildlife restoration cash fund, or the wildlife cash fund. 

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It’s Some of America’s Richest Farmland. But What Is It Without Water?

A California farmer decides it makes better business sense to sell his water than to grow rice. An almond farmer considers uprooting his trees to put up solar panels. Drought is transforming the state, with broad consequences for the food supply.

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Court ruling puts Oregon’s IP13 in new light

The Colorado Supreme Court’s decision this week to send an animal husbandry initiative back to the drawing board places a spotlight on a similar measure in Oregon, which is also going through a legal review process.

Colorado’s high court on June 21 nixed Initiative 16 on the grounds that it violated a state statute that initiatives only address a single subject. The court held that given its complexity, the measure could confuse voters.

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Bipartisan agriculture climate bill clears Senate

The Senate on Thursday passed bipartisan legislation aimed at granting farms access to carbon offset markets by a 92-8 vote.

The Growing Climate Solutions Act, introduced by Sens. Mike Braun (R-Ind.) and Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.), next heads to the House. The measure would establish a Department of Agriculture certification process through which producers can generate and sell carbon credits.

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USDA to Invest $10 Million to Support Climate-Smart Agriculture and Forestry through Voluntary Conservation

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) is providing $10 million to support climate-smart agriculture and forestry through voluntary conservation practices in 10 targeted states. This assistance, available through the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP), will help agricultural producers plan and implement voluntary conservation practices that sequester carbon, reduce greenhouse gas emissions and mitigate the impacts of climate change on working lands.

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Vilsack says family farmers won’t be hit with new taxes

During a visit to a farm in Michigan, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack tried to allay fears that proposed tax changes by the Biden Administration would put family farms in jeopardy. Vilsack said that the act contains a provision that if the farm “continues to be owned and operated by the family, it’s not going to be subject to any tax incident…[with exemptions] We’re confident in saying that 98.9% of farms in this country will not be negatively impacted from a tax perspective.”

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Idaho Fish & Game Commission Expands Wolf Hunting Opportunities—And Criticizes State Legislature

The Idaho Fish & Game Commission officially expanded wolf hunting and trapping opportunities to align with the controversial new law, SB1211, which has been widely reported as a green light to kill 90 percent of the state’s wolves—a claim that, in turn, has been widely disputed. 

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Wyoming Wildlife Taskforce holds first meeting

The Wyoming Wildlife Taskforce convened in Casper in June for their first meeting to begin discussions on policy issues related to hunting licenses and access facing Wyoming hunters and anglers. A recording of the 2-day meeting is available on the Taskforce website.

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California’s new overtime laws may tank its sheep industry. That’s bad for wildfire season

Starting January 1st, 2022, overtime laws for agricultural workers are going to change. That now lumps in people in the sheep, goat, and lamb industries. They’ll have to start paying herders 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. 40 hours of that would be normal pay; 128 of it would be clocked as overtime. Those workers wouldn’t qualify for salary, so there’s no way around the new law.

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Farm Service Agency Now Accepting Nominations for County Committee Members

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Farm Service Agency (FSA) began accepting nominations for county committee members on June 15. Elections will occur in certain Local Administrative Areas (LAA) for these members who make important decisions about how federal farm programs are administered locally. All nomination forms for the 2021 election must be postmarked or received in the local FSA office by Aug. 2, 2021.

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Comment period for Landowner Certification of Non-Navigable Water Extended

At the New Mexico State Game Commission meeting held Friday, June 18, 2021 at the New Mexico State Capitol, a ruling on five applications for landowner certification of non-navigable water was tabled until the August 12, 2021 Commission meeting, allowing additional time, until July 29th, for public input.

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New study shows how loss of drought-sensitive species could affect grasslands

A recent study published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences shows how the health of a California grassland might be affected in a future with less biodiversity and a changing climate, particularly in the case of more frequent droughts.

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Discovery of gray wolf pups won’t change Colorado Parks and Wildlife’s reintroduction work

Despite the Colorado Parks and Wildlife (CPW) official sighting of wolf pups in Colorado, CPW will not slow the ballot-mandated reintroduction of the predators on grounds that the state does not yet maintain a self-sustaining population.

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Idaho wildlife managers liberalize wolf hunting, despite majority of Idahoans who commented not supporting changes

During a conference call, Idaho Fish and Game commissioners amended wolf trapping and hunting seasons in response to a newly passed law. Meanwhile, the majority of Idahoans who commented on the proposal did not support the changes.

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Lawsuit challenges gray wolf harvest near Yellowstone National Park

A dispute about the wolf population around Yellowstone National Park and the size of elk herds has become contentious, as an outdoor group sued Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks (FWP) and the FWP commissioners for allegedly failing to follow its own policies about hunting gray wolves.

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Montana Wildlife Officials Consider Rules to Protect Trout

Wildlife officials in Montana are seeking feedback on a proposal to expand fishing restrictions to protect declining brown trout populations. Biologists with Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks and the U.S. Geological Survey have tracked declining numbers of juvenile brown trout in southwest Montana rivers, including the Big Hole, Ruby, Boulder, Beaverhead, upper Yellowstone and upper Stillwater rivers.

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F&G Commission amends wolf hunting and trapping seasons to align with new state law

During a conference call on Thursday, June 17, Idaho Fish and Game Commissioners amended current wolf trapping and hunting seasons in response to recent legislative direction. 

The amended seasons take effect on July 1, consistent with the effective date of Senate Bill 1211. Changes will not be reflected in the current printed 2021 Big Game Seasons and Rules brochure, but an updated brochure with the changes will be available on Fish and Game’s website by July 1.

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Another side of the controversy over stream access

In a recent editorial, The New Mexican declared rivers and streams belong to the public, but this simplistic declaration masks a crucially important story that is not being told (“Rivers, streams belong to public — period,” Our View, June 13). If we care about New Mexico’s land, water, people and wildlife, it’s time to take a much harder, more honest look at the issue and what is at stake. WLA’s Lesli Allison writes “it’s time to move past the rhetoric and to a much more critical examination of the “public access at all costs” movement.”

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(Opinion) For greater sage grouse success, local control matters

North Dakota congressman Kelly Armstrong and National Association of Conservation Districts president Michael Crowder write that local experts and communities offer important knowledge and perspective that should be relied upon when making decisions that affect them, especially when it comes to protecting species that rely on their lands for habitat, like the sage grouse.

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Fence down: Mule Deer Foundation volunteers remove miles of old fence

Mule Deer Foundation volunteers and staff from three states removed close to five miles of a rust-covered fence near Salmon, Idaho as part of a project to both improve wildlife habitat and to make it easier for the Wetzsteon ranch to manage their cattle

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Biden’s Proposed Tax Changes Could Cause Family Farms to Accrue Additional Debt, Study Shows

The Biden Administration’s proposed tax changes could be costly for family farms. This takeaway from a new report from Texas A&M University’s Agricultural & Food Policy Center (AFPC) conflict with reports that say the possible tax changes wouldn’t have a have a widespread impact on family farms.

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Grizzly managers ponder complicated summer

In the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem, expanding grizzly populations, burgeoning tourist activity and increasing conflicts with livestock producers have the Interagency Grizzly Bear Committee rethinking its bear-management strategies for the coming years.

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Wolves kill more sheep in NE Oregon

Wolf numbers in the northern Blue Mountains of Oregon continue to increase, as does the risk to livestock and the dogs that protect and herd them. Just this month, wolves attacked a flock of sheep and its guard dogs according to state investigators.

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USDA Announces Dates for Conservation Reserve Program General and Grasslands Signups

The USDA has set a July 23, 2021, deadline for agricultural producers and landowners to apply for the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) General signup 56. Additionally, USDA’s Farm Service Agency (FSA) will accept applications for CRP Grasslands from July 12 to August 20. This year, USDA updated both signup options to provide greater incentives for producers and increase its conservation benefits.

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USDA to Invest $41.8 Million in Conservation Assistance for Producers in Drought-Impacted States

In response to historic drought conditions, the USDA is offering $41.8 million through the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) to help agricultural producers in Arizona, California, Colorado and Oregon alleviate the immediate impacts of drought and other natural resource challenges on working lands. NRCS will accept applications through July 12, 2021.

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U.S. Congresswoman Liz Cheney Introduces NEPA Reform Bill to Streamline Regulations and Empower State/Local Leaders

Wyoming Congresswoman Liz Cheney (R-WY) introduced the UNSHACKLE Act (Undoing NEPA’s Substantial Harm by Advancing Concepts that Kickstart the Liberation of the Economy Act) in the House of Representatives, a bill that combines five standalone NEPA-related pieces of legislation aimed at maintaining the previous Administration’s much-needed NEPA revisions.

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USDA to Invest $41.8 Million in Conservation Assistance for Producers in Drought-Impacted States

In response to historic drought conditions, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) is offering $41.8 million through the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) to help agricultural producers in Arizona, California, Colorado and Oregon alleviate the immediate impacts of drought and other natural resource challenges on working lands.

USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) will make available this funding through Conservation Incentive Contracts, a new option available through EQIP. Signup for this targeted funding begins today, and NRCS will accept applications through July 12, 2021.

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1st gray wolf pups since 1940s spotted in Colorado

Colorado has its first litter of gray wolf pups since the 1940s, state wildlife officials said Wednesday. A state biologist and district wildlife manager each spotted the litter of at least three wolf pups over the weekend with their parents, two adult wolves known to live in the state. 

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Dispute over wolf cross-fostering in Catron County, New Mexico

A plan to place captive-bred mexican wolves in a den with wild wolves in New Mexico is receiving push-back due to potential for livestock conflicts with neighboring landowners. Wolves killed 151 livestock in New Mexico in 2020, with more likely going unreported, according to state biologists.

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In the face of new laws trapping and killing wolves, groups vie for greater protections

Wildlife advocates asked the U.S. Forest Service to double-up on protections for wolves in Idaho and Montana following recent pushes to dramatically cut wolf populations. The petition, submitted to Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack on Wednesday, comes shortly after these states passed a slew of laws making it easier for hunters and trappers to hunt the canid predators.

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USDA to Invest More Than $4 Billion to Strengthen Food System

Citing lessons learned from the COVID-19 pandemic and recent supply chain disruptions, the Department of Agriculture (USDA) today announced plans to invest more than $4 billion to strengthen critical supply chains through the Build Back Better initiative. USDA said the new effort will strengthen the food system, create new market opportunities, tackle the climate crisis, help communities that have been left behind and support good-paying jobs throughout the supply chain.

Today’s announcement supports the Biden Administration’s broader work on strengthening the resilience of critical supply chains as directed by Executive Order 14017 America’s Supply Chains, USDA said. Funding is provided by the American Rescue Plan Act and earlier pandemic assistance such as the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2021.

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CPW announces membership on wolf reintroduction advisory panels

Colorado Parks and Wildlife has announced representatives of the Stakeholder Advisory Group (SAG) and the Technical Working Group (TWG), which will help guide CPW staff and the Commission through the wolf reintroduction planning process. WLA’s programs director, Hallie Mahowald, has been chosen for the SAG and will be working hard to fight for the needs of Colorado’s landowners throughout this process.

Researchers at Colorado State University and The Ohio State University have created an index depicting the mix of social values among people across all 50 states, providing data that can be useful for wildlife conservation policy and management. The study, “Bringing social values to wildlife conservation decisions,” was published online June 3 in Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment.

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Audubon Report Shows That Important Bird Habitats are Key Natural Solutions to Climate Change

A new report from the National Audubon Society shows that habitats that are important for birds now and in the future are also critical to reducing greenhouse emissions given their ability to naturally store and sequester carbon. This means that maintaining and restoring these landscapes through incentives for management and conservation are important strategies in our collective challenge to stabilize climate change.

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Montana’s Senators differ on details, but agree science is key to grizzly de-listing discussion

As grizzly bears reach and surpass recovery goals in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem, Sen. Daines and Sen. Tester of Montana agree that science should guide decisions to de-list the species from the ESA.

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For Predators, Montana’s New Wildlife Laws Bring Cloudy Future

New laws allowing more liberal wolf trapping and hunting and creating leeway for citizens to retaliate to protect their property from grizzly bears are influencing debate over the relationships between people and predators in Montana.

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Montana officials kill three grizzlies after livestock attacks

Three bears were captured and euthanized in Montana that had chronically depredated livestock. Grizzly bears are protected as a threatened species under federal law, but since their populations have rebounded in Montana, grizzlies have run into increasingly frequent conflicts with humans and livestock.

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California wants to buy nonlethal bear traps and pay ranchers when wolves kill their cows

California’s department of fish and wildlife’s funding will be increasing by $252 million, allowing for a range of new wildlife conservation and management initiatives, including $7 million to buy traps and other equipment to capture and relocate animals, as well as implement nonlethal deterrents such as flagging and fences to protect livestock from wolves

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Does Biden’s ’30×30′ plan trade science for popularity?

(Subscription) Some proponents of a concerted push to protect large swaths of natural spaces across the country are raising concerns that the Biden administration’s new conservation proposal is too timid, failing to lay out a plan to truly preserve vulnerable lands and waters.

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NFWF Announces $4 Million in Conservation Grants to Support Big Game Migration Corridors Across the West

The National Fish and Wildlife Foundation (NFWF) recently announced $4 million in grant funding for habitat projects throughout the American West to conserve migration corridors and winter ranges for elk, mule deer, pronghorn and other iconic wildlife.

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Judge sides with Game and Fish, limits grizzly-killed livestock award

A judge decided Monday to reduce an arbitration panel’s award to a Hot Springs County, Wyoming rancher for cattle lost to grizzly bears. The rancher sought $205,483 in compensation, but will receive $61,202 to cover 20 confirmed kills by grizzly bears.

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UM research suggests social factors important for human-wildlife coexistence

University of Montana researchers recently published a study in the Journal of Wildlife Management analyzing why landowners do or do not secure attractants in bear country. The results suggest that collective or socially motivated factors may be a missing and important piece of the puzzle for encouraging voluntary steps to secure attractants and reduce human-carnivore conflicts.

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FWP seeks Citizens Advisory Council applicants in southeastern Montana

Volunteer applicants are needed to serve two-year terms on Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks’ (FWP) region 7 Citizens Advisory Council (CAC). The purpose of the southeastern Montana-based CAC is to advise FWP on various regional and statewide wildlife management issues, programs and policies.

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9th Circuit hears arguments on “grazing preference”

The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals heard earlier this month arguments on the first-of-its-kind denial of a “grazing preference” by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) to an Oregon family.

The case could set precedence regarding Congress’ intent when it passed the Taylor Grazing Act (TGA) in 1934 and the Federal Land Policy and Management Act (FLPMA) in 1976. Both give an existing permit holder the right to stand first in line when it comes time to renew that permit—commonly referred to as a “preference” by the TGA and a “first priority” by FLPMA—or when passing the permit to a family member.

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Groups ask feds for emergency re-listing of wolves after new Montana, Idaho laws

A handful of environmental groups are seeking the emergency re-listing of Northern Rockies gray wolves after lawmakers in Montana and Idaho passed several new laws aimed at reducing their numbers.

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Colorado learns wolf is female and showing ‘potential denning behavior’ with male wolf

Colorado wildlife officials have identified a collared wolf that’s been living in Colorado since 2019 as a female.

“I firmly believe a rancher’s chief priority is to protect lands – and the wildlife migrating through them – which provide a wholesome living while supporting a holistic view of nature. This belief, which I hold deep in my blood and bones, is the reason why I so fervently support Colorado Senate Resolution 21-021 to protect Colorado’s habitat connectivity” Says Reyes Garcia in an opinion piece highlighting the importance of habitat connectivity to land stewardship.

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Colorado Senate Passes Bipartisan Legislation to Protect Wildlife Corridors

Recently, the Colorado Senate unanimously passed a bipartisan resolution to protect the state’s wildlife corridors, which would conserve native species while improving road safety and bolstering Colorado’s economy.

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Endangered Species Act listing proposed for lesser prairie-chicken

The Fish and Wildlife Service is proposing federally protected status under the Endangered Species Act for two populations of the lesser prairie-chicken that occupy parts of Texas, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Kansas and Colorado.

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USDA Announces New Initiative to Quantify Climate Benefits of Conservation Reserve Program

The USDA Farm Service Agency (FSA) recently announced an initiative to quantify the climate benefits of Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) contracts. This multi-year effort will enable USDA to better target CRP toward climate outcomes and improve existing models and conservation planning tools while supporting USDA’s goal of putting American agriculture and forestry at the center of climate-smart solutions to address climate change.

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Beef lobby rift: JBS leaves NCBA

The moves stem from widespread anger among producers who say they are being squeezed with unfairly low cattle prices while consumers are paying near-record prices for burgers and steaks.

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Colorado Senate Passes Bipartisan Legislation to Protect Wildlife Corridors

Colorado Senate unanimously passed a bipartisan resolution to protect the state’s wildlife corridors, which would conserve native species while improving road safety and bolstering Colorado’s economy.

The bipartisan resolution was introduced earlier this month by Democratic Senator Jessie Danielson and Republican Representative Perry Will. The legislation, which marks a monumental step towards preserving Colorado’s rich biodiversity and wildlife heritage for future generations, now goes to the House of Representatives for a vote.

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CPW’s 2nd wolf reintroduction info session focuses on dealing with livestock conflict

Colorado Parks and Wildlife held its second wolf reintroduction education session last week with a focus on what other states have done when releasing wolves and managing conflicts with livestock.

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An Unorthodox Strategy to Stop Cars From Hitting Deer

A recent study found that Wisconsin’s wolves have reduced the frequency of deer-vehicle collisions by a quarter. As a result, they save the state $10.9 million in auto-collision related losses every year.

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Forest Service Defends Grazing by Diamond M Ranch in Wolf Case

The U.S. Forest Service asked a federal judge Monday to dismiss a suit led by wolf advocates who want to drive the Diamond M Ranch’s cattle out of the Colville National Forest in northeast Washington.

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Group wants to reintroduce jaguars; mining ban eyed to protect birds

Environmental groups and scientists with two universities want U.S. wildlife managers to consider reintroducing jaguars to the American Southwest. In a recently published paper, they say habitat destruction, highways and existing segments of the border wall mean that natural reestablishment of the large cats north of the U.S.-Mexico boundary would be unlikely over the next century without human intervention. 

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Vilsack wants ag conservation focus on incentives, not regulations

Vilsack said last week that in President Joe Biden’s administration, “the ultimate goal is to reduce emissions” but that his preferred method is through incentives and education, not the heavy hammer of regulatory enforcement.

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30×30 Plan: Panelists Discuss Conservation Policy for Western States

The Western Landowners Alliance (WLA) hosted a panel of landowners and land managers to share their perspective on the Biden administration’s 30×30 Plan. While the policy has not been completed, WLA is advocating the final policy should respect property rights, improve conservation outcomes and benefit rural communities. 

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Montana’s wildlife agency pulls back on science work

Montana’s Department of Fish, Wildlife & Parks plans to shift its research program toward short-term, in-house efforts after a decade of ambitious work helped make it a world-renowned scientific contributor.

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Idaho board ponders an increase in wolf harvest

A new law allows the Idaho Wolf Depredation Control Board to hire private contractors to kill wolves, while increasing funding to this group.  Yet, contracting regulations provide challenges to carrying out the directives of this new law.

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Forest Service moves to weaken bighorn protections in Wyoming Range

Domestic sheep could graze anew on national forest land in the Wyoming Range where conservationists bought grazing rights to separate them, their pathogens and their impacts from bighorn sheep and their habitat.

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Game and Fish says hunting has helped stabilize gray wolf population, manage conflicts

Wyoming Game and Fish Department wildlife managers say gray wolf populations have reached stable levels, thanks in part to hunting in the northwest corner of the state. The stable population also helps keep incidents of conflict at bay, according to the 2020 Wyoming Gray Wolf Monitoring and Management annual report.

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Eruption: How Human Development Is Degrading The American Serengeti

Suburban sprawl threatens rural livelihoods and connected landscapes that support wildlife. In this article, a series of time-lapses demonstrates rapid development and suburban growth in different geographies throughout the west.

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USFWS must consider petition for wild horse’s protection

A federal appeals court ruled on Monday that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) wrongly refused to review an animal advocacy group’s bid to include a wild horse on the country’s list of imperiled species because its refusal hinged on a rule that is inconsistent with the Endangered Species Act (ESA).

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Groups call for reintroduction of jaguars in US Southwest

Environmental groups and scientists with two universities want U.S. wildlife managers to consider reintroducing jaguars to the American Southwest. In a recently published paper, they say habitat destruction, highways and existing segments of the border wall mean that natural reestablishment of the large cats north of the U.S.-Mexico boundary would be unlikely over the next century without human intervention.

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Montana gov signs legislation shaping grizzly management

Governor Gianforte of Montana recently signed Senate Bill (SB) 98, with some implications towards grizzly bear management in the state. SB 98 makes a declarative statement that grizzly bears should be delisted. The bill also states that under state law, a person who kills a grizzly bear that is attacking, killing or threatening to kill a person or livestock has an “absolute” defense against being charged with a crime.

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Westerners react to ‘America the Beautiful’ 30×30 conservation plan

Despite being called a “federal land grab” by at least one legislator on the far right, landowners from across the West gathered with leaders in the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and Department of Interior in a webinar hosted by the Western Landowners Alliance Thursday to discuss the Biden Administration’s “America the Beautiful” 30×30 conservation plan.

“I think the thing that has everybody worried that we just have to tackle head-on is this question about federal lands, this idea that has been pushed out there quite a bit that this is a federal land grab, or that there could be uses of eminent domain and massive federal land expansions and taking of private properties,” WLA Executive Director Lesli Allison said during the live online session.

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Biden’s 30×30 plan report released

Lesli Allison, executive director of the Western Landowners Alliance, called the report “an overdue national conversation” that should occur from those closest to the matter and not from the top down.

“We are pleased to see that the administration is taking seriously that conservation is more than just setting land aside. It is really about how we steward the land,” Allison said in a statement. “The report suggests they understand that economics matter. Farmers and ranchers need to be able to earn a reasonable livelihood providing the many goods and services that society needs, such as food and fiber, but also things like wildlife habitat and healthy forests.”

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After Reappearing In Central Montana Range, Grizzly Killed Over Cattle Depredation

Wildlife officials in central Montana have killed the first confirmed grizzly bear in modern times in the Big Snowy Mountains south of Lewistown, state wildlife officials said Friday. The 447-pound (203-kilogram) male bear had been photographed eating a dead cow in late April by a remote camera set up by a landowner.

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Montana has made killing wolves easier. Some hunters are pushing back.

New laws in Montana make it easier to trap and hunt wolves. Yet, hunters disagree on whether new laws passed, particularly ones allowing neck snares, qualify as sportsmanlike hunting.

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Biden nominee says Yellowstone area grizzly population ‘doing very, very well’

While she did not directly answer questions regarding grizzly bears should be removed from Endangered Species List protection, one of President Joe Biden’s nominee’s for the U.S. Fish and wildlife service said Wednesday that grizzly populations in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem are doing “very well”.

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Tolerance key to grizzly conservation, state says

The success of the Bear Wise program — the Wyoming Game and Fish Department’s large carnivore educational outreach program — has helped keep both bears and people safe, according to state officials. But the department is at a crossroads: Its goal of building tolerance among landowners and residents is in jeopardy of wearing thin as conflicts continue to increase.

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USDA names key NRCS staff

USDA announced Wednesday the appointment of Meryl Harrell as deputy undersecretary for Natural Resources and Environment and the appointment of Terry Cosby as chief of the Natural Resources Conservation Service.

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First wolf kill of livestock confirmed in Grant County

A Fox Valley rancher became the first rancher in Grant County to lose livestock to a confirmed wolf depredation this month. An Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife report confirmed Thursday that wolves killed a cow in the early morning hours of May 8 within the Northside area of known wolf activity.

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Biden’s Climate Corps could help preserve soil and water, say advocates

(Subscription) Some conservation and environmentalists say the new Civilian Climate Corps should create private landowner partnerships with the Agriculture Department to protect soil, both to reduce greenhouse emissions and protect water quality.

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EPA relaunches website tracking climate change indicators

The EPA last week announced the relaunch of its website tracking climate change indicators in the U.S. for the first time since the beginning of the Trump administration. The assessment, delayed under the Trump presidency, includes information on 54 phenomena associated with climate change, including temperature increases, flooding, droughts, rising sea levels and ocean acidity.

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Agency plans ‘regional roundtables’ for WOTUS review

President Biden’s pick for EPA’s water office said today that the agency is planning “robust stakeholder engagement” and “regional roundtables” this summer to discuss its review of which waterways and wetlands qualify for federal protections. 

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Scientists strive to map global migrations before they’re gone

Matt Kaufman, a University of Wyoming Researcher, and head of the Wyoming Migration Initiative is leading a global effort to map wildlife migrations before they disappear.  Their effort, named the Global Initiative on Ungulate Migration, seeks to inventory the seasonal movements of wildlife globally, and document the web of hundreds of routes to present in an electronic migration atlas.

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California expands drought emergency to large swath of state

California Gov. Gavin Newsom expanded a drought emergency to a large swath of the nation’s most populous state while seeking more than $6 billion in multiyear water spending as one of the warmest, driest springs on record threatens another severe wildfire season across the American West.

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Study shows mountain lions have unexpected predator

Elk hunters were among the first in line to object to wolf reintroduction in the Lower 48, but a new study suggests that mountain lion hunters may have had even greater cause for concern.

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Panel to probe farm conservation’s role in climate change

(Subscription) A House Agriculture subcommittee this week will explore the impact of farmland conservation programs on climate change, potentially giving clues on how the next farm bill will address the issue in 2023.

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Bill lifts cover crop penalties for grazing, animal feed

The Cover Crop Flexibility Act of 2021, a bipartisan bill introduced to the U.S. senate, would permanently lift crop insurance penalties for farmers who plant cover crops that can be used for animal feed or livestock grazing in response to extreme weather events.

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Ag, conservation alliance issues recommendations for USDA carbon bank

A broad coalition of farm and conservation groups says a USDA-run carbon bank should be used to test ways to establish carbon accounting guidelines, expand the use of climate-friendly farming practices and enable small-scale farms and minority producers to benefit from carbon markets.

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State Wildlife Areas, wolves discussed in CPW Commission meeting

A recent Colorado Parks and Wildlife (CPW) commission meeting discussed the timeline for choosing representatives for the Stakeholder Advisory Group and Technical Working Group, two citizen groups that will provide input to CPW’s wolf reintroduction and management plans.

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Silenced howls: The reemergence of the war on wolves

The wolf’s history in the United States is complex and mired in conflict. This article looks back at our relationship with wolves and wilderness to understand a series of controversial bills passed around wolf management, while envisioning paths forward for reducing conflict between wolves and livestock.

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Bill to kill up to 90% of Idaho wolves signed by governor

Idaho Gov. Brad Little has signed into law a measure that could lead to killing 90% of the state’s 1,500 wolves. This controversial bill will expand the hunting season for wolves, and allow a number of new hunting methods including night vision equipment and snaring.

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Ag groups encouraged by agriculture’s role in 30×30 plan

The Biden administration outlined ideas in achieving the nationwide conservation goal to conserve 30% of U.S. lands and waters by 2030. As the report was identified as “big on ideas, short on details,” by the American Farm Bureau Federation, several groups weighed in on how this administration will proceed in accomplishing its lofty conservation goals.

The preliminary report – Conserving and Restoring America the Beautiful – is a joint effort from the United States Department of Agriculture, Department of Interior, Department of Commerce and Council on Environmental Quality. It is the Administration’s initial effort toward developing the executive order signed in President Biden’s first days of office.

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EPA administrator won’t return to Obama-era WOTUS rule

In a hearing in the House of Representatives, Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Michael Regan said he doesn’t intend to go back to the Obama-era waters of the U.S. – WOTUS – rule and again made that claim before members of the Senate.

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GOP pans 30×30 report, saying its still too light on details

Despite clear efforts to reassure property owners, farmers, ranchers, foresters and fishers that the 30×30 initiative they announced in January would not be a pretext for federal overreach, Republican lawmakers were not pacified by the “America the Beautiful” report.

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Biden’s conservation plan puts WOTUS in the crosshairs

(Subscription) A vision the Biden administration laid out this month for preserving 30% of the nation’s land and water by 2030 is already fueling calls for EPA to reverse a controversial Trump-era water rule that rolled back federal protection for wetlands and streams.

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Interior Department takes steps to revoke Final Rule on Migratory Bird Treaty Act incidental take

Today, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced a proposed rule to revoke the January 7, 2021, final regulation that limited the scope of the Migratory Bird Treaty Act (MBTA). Significant concerns about the interpretation of the MBTA have been raised by the public, legal challenges in court and from international treaty partners. This proposed rule provides the public with notice of the Service’s intent to revoke the January 7 rule’s interpretation of the MBTA and return to implementing the MBTA as prohibiting incidental take and applying enforcement discretion, consistent with judicial precedent.

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NCBA & PLC: Ranchers and Farmers’ Input Adopted In 30×30 Guidelines

The National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA) and Public Lands Council (PLC) recognized the inclusion of agricultural producers’ recommendations in the Biden administration’s conservation goals report.

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Biden 30×30 plan emphasizes landowners’ key role in conservation’s future

The Biden administration today released a long-anticipated report detailing their proposal to conserve 30 percent of US lands and waters by 2030 (known as 30×30). While the initiative has generated significant speculation and controversy, today’s report appears to indicate a determination on the part of the administration to chart solid middle ground. 

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A narrow path for Biden’s ambitious land conservation plan

Months after President Biden set a goal of conserving 30 percent of the nation’s land and waters by 2030, the administration Thursday laid out broad principles — but few details — for achieving that vision.

The “America the Beautiful” report outlines steps the U.S. could take to safeguard key areas on land and in the sea to restore biodiversity, tackle climate change and make natural spaces more accessible to all Americans.

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Grizzly bear sightings in Big Sandy and south of Lewistown, Montana

Montana Fish, Wildlife, and Park says that recent sightings of grizzly bears in Big Sandy and also south of Lewistown, Montana are a good reminder for outdoor recreationists, farmers, ranchers, and property owners to practice bear awareness and safety precautions this spring and summer.

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Do Sanctuary Gun Laws Disqualify States from Receiving Federal Wildlife Management Funds?

A series of sanctuary gun laws by certain states could disqualify their Game and Fish Commissions from receiving nearly $18 million in annual distributions from the Wildlife Restoration Act fund. Better known as the Pittman-Robertson account the funds are derived from an 11 percent tax on the manufacture of guns, ammunition, and archery products.

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USDA Investing Nearly $22 Million to Improve Soil Health and Climate Smart Ag

The USDA is investing nearly $22 million into research initiatives aimed at helping improve soil health and climate smart agriculture. USDA’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) is investing in several important programs to assist ag producers navigate the effects of climate change and its impact on production.

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Farm groups, enviros to USDA: Prioritize climate, update crop insurance

Farm and environmental groups that often disagree on ag policy are urging the Agriculture Department to prioritize climate change in conservation programs and to consider changes to crop insurance that would promote the use of cover crops and other carbon-conserving practices.

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Working ag lands figure large in Biden’s 30×30 plan

Voluntary conservation efforts by farmers and ranchers play a central role in the Biden administration’s strategy for conserving 30% of the nation’s land and marine waters by 2030.

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‘Watch for Wildlife’ specialty license plate could ease wildlife migration issues

Oregon Wildlife Foundation (OWF) is running a campaign to approve Oregon’s next specialty license plate. A purchase of a “Watch for Wildlife” specialty license plate voucher raises funds needed to put this new license plate into circulation that will help raise funds to protect important migration corridors for mule deer and elk.

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Group asks US to cut funding to Idaho over wolf-killing bill

The Center for Biological Diversity is asking the U.S. government to cut off millions of dollars to Idaho used to improve wildlife habitat and outdoor recreation opportunities over concerns recent legislation will lead to 90% of wolves in the state being killed.

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Sage grouse supporters urge Congress: Ditch the rider

(Subscription) Sage grouse champions are asking congressional appropriators to end a recent tradition and omit an annual budget rider that bars endangered species protections for the rotund Western bird.

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Grizzly bear captured on game camera in Big Snowy Mountains

Wildlife officials in Montana have confirmed the presence of a grizzly bear in the Big Snowy Mountains, a first for the region. Residents there are encouraged to implement tools and practices to reduce the potential for conflict with Grizzly bears, including installing fencing and securing attractants such as pet food and garbage.

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Grizzly relocated from Meeteetse area

On April 26 the Wyoming Game and Fish Department captured and relocated a grizzly bear, an adult male caught while the department was attempting to mitigate cattle depredation west of the town of Meeteetse.

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Critics say Idaho bill would kill 90% of wolves. Hunters, wildlife experts have other worries

A controversial bill recently passed the Idaho State legislature that would lift wolf hunting tag limits and allow year round wolf  hunting on private lands. While critics think this could lead to 90% of wolves in Idaho being killed, representatives of wildlife management agencies and hunting organizations say the effects will be more nuanced, with potential implications for the future of State vs. Federal management of Idaho wolf populations.

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New funding to curb wildfires pushed in Congress, as another fire season looms

As wildfires across the United States grow in size, intensity and duration each summer, members of Congress from the West are pushing for massive new investments in ecosystem management and wildfire mitigation.

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Grizzly wanders near Drummond

A male grizzly bear captured last fall near Drummond, MT wandered back to the region in recent weeks and turned up at a chicken coop near Drummond. Residents in the area are encouraged to keep their chicken feed and other attractants in bear safe containers or safely indoors to reduce the potential for conflict.

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Future of the grizzly: Debate over Montana grizzly bear management carries on

While the debate over the Federal Designation of the Grizzly bear as an endangered species continues on Trina Jo Bradley, WLA member and executive director of the Rocky Mountain Front Ranchlands Group, knows what it means to run a ranch in Grizzly Bear country and how state management of grizzly bears may support her operation and her community.

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U.S. agency to look at bringing back bison on Montana refuge

U.S. officials said they will consider in coming years whether to reintroduce wild bison to the Charles M. Russell National Wildlife Refuge, a million-acre federal wildlife refuge in central Montana, a move that would be at odds with Republicans in the state who want to limit where bison can roam.

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Climate-friendly farming strategies can improve the land and generate income for farmers

Agriculture has not been a central part of U.S. climate policy in the past, even though climate change is altering weather patterns that farmers rely on. Now, however, President Biden has directed the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to develop a climate-smart agriculture and forestry strategy.

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Stabenow pushing for big boost in conservation, says Biden plan falls short

Senate Agriculture Chairwoman Debbie Stabenow says President Joe Biden’s $2.7 trillion infrastructure plan is “woefully inadequate” when it comes to funding for climate-friendly farming practices, and she’s pushing for a major increase in funding for conservation programs.

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University of Wyoming publishes ungulate migration conservation study

University of Wyoming researchers published a new study exploring emerging big-game migration corridor conservation strategies meant to protect migration pathways across vast and complex landscapes. Wildlife migrations depend on connected landscapes supported by intact working lands.

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Legislature passes marijuana bill with conservation funding

A recent bill passed in the Montana legislature legalizing marijuana with provisions ensuring that associated taxes will go towards wildlife and public lands conservation within the state.

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Yellow-billed cuckoo gains habitat protections in New Mexico, other states in Western U.S.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced April 21 it had designated 300,000 acres in New Mexico, Arizona, California, Colorado, Idaho, Texas and Utah as protected habitat for the Yellow-billed Cuckoo, an imperiled bird that dwells along riverbeds throughout the West. The move marked a decline in the designated habitat for the cuckoo in a rule issued in 2014 that set aside about half a million acres but was revised last year.

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Native American lawmakers seek federal help on Montana bison

Native American lawmakers in Montana called on the Biden administration to help craft a plan to reintroduce wild bison to the landscape in and around Glacier National Park and the Charles M. Russell National Wildlife Refuge.

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Update: Legislature OKs controversial Idaho wolf-killing bill. It heads to Little next

The Idaho House of Representatives voted 27-8 on Tuesday to approve a bill that would expand opportunities to lethally manage wolves. The controversial bill removes wolf tag limits for hunters and trappers, ends trapping season limits on private land, and gives ranchers and government agencies more leeway to kill wolves deemed threats to livestock or wildlife.

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Western Colorado is wary of gray wolf reintroduction. Will they have to pay for it, too?

The current funding plan for gray wolf reintroduction would rely on license fees paid by hunters and anglers, many of whom live in the western Colorado communities that opposed Proposition 114. A new house bill, bill 1243, seeks to diversify and broaden funding for wolf management in order to lift the financial burden from hunters and anglers

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‘Everyone loses’: The government is rationing water at the California-Oregon border

Along the Oregon-California border, the Klamath River Basin is a crucial water source for Indigenous tribes, endangered species, and farmers. This year, though, there is simply not enough to go around.

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Several new laws will have an impact on Wyoming wildlife, hunting and fishing

The 2021 Wyoming Legislature passed several bills that will make changes to the Wyoming Game and Fish Department laws and regulations and affect landowners in various capacities. This article provides a summary of laws passed during the 2021 legislative session.

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Report: Washington wolf population continued to grow in 2020

The wolf population in Washington state increased by an estimated 33 animals in 2020, with fewer lethal removals due to wolf-livestock conflict, according to state officials.

The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife released its annual wolf report Friday, saying the estimated minimum wolf population grew to 178 wolves in 29 packs.

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