OF CATTLE, GRAY WOLF RECOVERY, WILDLIFE HABITAT, NATIVE SPECIES, CO-EXISTENCE, AND A DEMOCRATIC GUBERNATORIAL CANDIDATE IN IDAHO.
You couldn't make this stuff up.
As the Information Director for the Idaho Farm Bureau from 1988 to 1996, I had a front row seat to the so-called “reintroduction” of the wolves in 1995. I say so-called because the species of wolf that had lived in Idaho no longer existed. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) and the Defenders of Wildlife (DW) along with the other wolf supporters, like A.J. Balukoff, knew when they introduced the Canadian wolves into Idaho they would be placing a non-native species into the ecosystem. They did it anyway.
Why is this a problem? Environmental groups and wildlife biologists always claim we need to protect species in an ecosystem—like steelhead and salmon. Not always. The bull trout is now listed as “threatened” under the Endangered Species Act (ESA). USFWS and most sportsmen called bull trout a “char” before environmentalists decided it needed protection. Char feed on salmon and steelhead fingerlings like candy. Bull trout are not only a competitor to steelhead and salmon they are also a predator on these endangered species. Even former Democratic Gov. Cecil Andrus and his Fish and Game Department said bull trout had been referred to as “trash fish.“ So when faced with the dilemma of what to do when the native Idaho wolves no longer existed the USFWS ignored the science, the biology and their own arguments and dumped an alien predator smack in the middle of Idaho.
Balukoff is wrong on the difference between “introduction” and “reintroduction.” During my time with the Idaho Farm Bureau (along with the Montana, Wyoming and American Farm Bureaus) we fought for years in the federal courts to keep these non-native wolves from being introduced into our states. We pointed out the devastation of wolf introduction in Minnesota on livestock and wildlife. DW promised Idaho that they would take care of any possible depredation payments to ranchers should they lose livestock to the wolves
It didn’t take long for the wolves to strike. They were introduced in 1995. Within months a calf in the Stanley/Challis area was taken by a wolf. The rancher shot the wolf and a local veterinarian did an autopsy immediately on the non-native predator. He found plenty of calf parts in the wolf. We at the Farm Bureau had a video of the autopsy. In fact, the USFWS contacted me personally and threatened us with legal action if we didn’t provide the video.
Balukoff is wrong on how bad depredation has become for ranchers and sportsmen in Idaho. Predator wolves have decimated elk herds that have been one of the biggest tourism draws for out-of-state and out-of-country sportsmen wanting a big game experience. As if that were not bad enough, DW have not kept their promises they made 20 years ago about providing depredation payments to ranchers in Idaho.
Balukoff is wrong on the Wolf Board as well. If ranchers had been listened to in the first place, the wolf board and the tens of millions of dollars spent to bring in an alien predator; millions more would have never been needed to control this predator. Balukoff and his friends in the DW are the ones that have politicized this and haven’t listened from the start. Idaho was just fine until the Canadian wolves were introduced into Balukoff’s “ecosystem.“
Perhaps Balukoff wouldn’t be so wrong on wolves and endangered species when he supported their “introduction” in 1995 if he had done his research. Maybe it’s because he is a wealthy, liberal democrat from Boise without an inkling of what the average Idahoan thinks or feels about these issues. Balukoff in the Statehouse would be like inviting Obama, Clinton, the USFWS, and Defenders of Wildlife to Idaho to make these species decisions for us because Balukoff, like his friends, politicize ecosystem balance. They lack a true understanding of the needs of Idahoans.
Tracy was the Idaho Farm Bureau Information Director from 1988-96, served as Communication Director to U.S. Senator Larry Craig from 1996-2006, and now is a consultant in Boise.
Copyright 2014 Twin Falls Times-News. All rights reserved.
Tracy: Balukoff Wrong on Wolf
R Harold Smoot - 4 hours ago
I always find it rather hypocritical to hear someone from the agriculture side of the wolf debate speak of native vs. non-native only when referring to wolves. Not only are cattle 'non-native' and 'introduced' to landscape in which Tracy is referring to, they are also part of a heavily tax payer subsidized and wholly invasive species.
The argument about native vs. non-native when referring to wolves in that region is just ludicrous. What the author of this article, as well as many others, seem to believe is that wildlife understand, recognize and respect state and national borders. Wolves roam far and wide and seeing as how Idaho borders Canada it doesn't take much of an imagination to realize that wolves would and always have crossed the border into the US and vice-versa. Seeing as how a lone wolf (Wolf 253 aka 'Limpy') wandered all the way from Yellowstone down to just 20 miles of Salt Lake City in 2002 doing so with a leg injury.
The anti-wolf groups would have us believe that since passports and Visa's are not issued to wildlife - other than to deer and elk - that they somehow became static once our nation's borders were established.
Wolves are simply the latest and most convenient scapegoat used to draw attention away from a myriad of other issues within the cattle industry and a way for ranchers to abuse an already out of control system of taxpayer funded fraud and waste. Sorry, but wolves belong in the wild - not non-native cattle.
R Harold Smoot - 4 hours ago
My apologies for the multiple postings. I've contacted the webmaster to get the duplicates
Suzanne Stone - 5 hours ago
Here is more info about Idaho's elk and deer harvest. http://www.idahostatesman.com/2013/10/17/2818795/elk-hunting-by-spreadsheet.html and http://media.idahostatesman.com/smedia/2013/10/16/17/43/13wrG7.So.36.pdf
There are wolves in almost every one of these top elk hunting areas of the state. Wolves and elk co- evolved as part of nature's balance.
Suzanne Stone - 6 hours ago
Mr. Tracy - you should check your facts before spreading more misinformation like this. First, these wolves are native to our region. The claim otherwise is based on ill-conceived
conventional wisdom, not science. Here's a citation from Idaho Dept of Fish and Game: https://fishandgame.idaho.gov/content/question/native-idaho-wolves
Secondly, the calf that was supposedly killed near Challis was reportedly stillborn and there was evidence of that at the time. Yes, the wolf fed off it but killing the wolf was poaching and the ensuing fight was over-reactionary at best. Third, Defenders did pay compensation to ranchers in the region for the entire period that we promised to cover - while wolves were federally listed. In fact we
paid more than 1.4 million dollars to area ranchers from 1987 to 2010. http://www.defenders.org/sites/default/files/publications/faq_transitioning_wolf_compensation.pdf
And we helped develop federal funding for compensation once we transitioned to coexistence strategies to help ranchers avoid or minimize losses to wolves after the compensation program ended. Regional elk hunting is reaching all time high harvest levels because wolves are not a significant threat to elk but important to the long term health of elk, deer and other prey
species and their habitat. Let's discuss facts and not misleading fiction, as Mr. Balakoff has suggested. That's the best way to resolve conflicts and use our resources more wisely.
Reposted from :
BEEF ENVIRONMENT COST 10 TIMES THAT OF OTHER LIVESTOCK
By Matt McGrath
Environment correspondent, BBC News
Cattle need 28 times more land than other livestock, according to a new study
A new study suggests that the production of beef is around 10 times more damaging to the environment than any other form of livestock.
Scientists measured the environment inputs required to produce the main US sources of protein. Beef cattle need 28 times more land and 11 times more irrigation water than pork, poultry, eggs or dairy.
The research has been published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
While it has long been known that beef has a greater environmental impact than other meats, the authors of this paper say theirs is is the first to quantify the scale in a comparative way.
The researchers developed a uniform methodology that they were able to apply to all five livestock categories and to four measures of environmental performance.
"We have a sharp view of the comparative impact that beef, pork, poultry, dairy and eggs have in terms of land and water use, reactive nitrogen discharge, and greenhouse gas emissions," lead author Prof Gidon Eshel, from Bard College in New York, told BBC News.
"The uniformity and expansive scope is novel, unique, and important," he said.
The scientists used data from from 2000-2010 from the US department of agriculture to calculate the amount of resources required for all the feed consumed by edible livestock.
They then worked out the amount of hay, silage and concentrates such as soybeans required by the different species to put on a kilo of weight.
They also include greenhouse gas emissions not just from the production of feed for animals but from their digestion and manure.
As ruminants, cattle can survive on a wide variety of plants but they have a very low energy conversion efficiency from what they eat.
As a result, beef comes out clearly as the food animal with the biggest environmental impact.
The scientists have developed a methodology to compare the relative impacts of different protein sources.
As well as the effects on land and water, cattle release five times more greenhouse gas and consume six times more nitrogen than eggs or poultry. Cutting down on beef can have a big environmental impact they say. But the same is not true for all livestock.
"One can reasonably be an environmentally mindful eater, designing one's diet with its environmental impact in mind, while not resorting to exclusive reliance on plant food sources," said Prof Eshel.
"In fact, eliminating beef, and replacing it with relatively efficiency animal-based alternatives such as eggs, can achieve an environmental improvement comparable to switching to plant food source."
Other researchers say the conclusions of the new study are applicable in Europe, even though the work is based on US data.
"The overall environmental footprint of beef is particularly large because it combines a low production efficiency with very high volume," said Prof Mark Sutton, from the UK's Centre for Ecology and Hydrology.
"The result is that the researchers estimate that over 60% of the environmental burden of livestock in the US results from beef. Although the exact numbers will be different for Europe (expecting a larger role of dairy), the overall message will be similar: Cattle dominate the livestock footprint of both Europe and US."
Follow Matt on Twitter @mattmcgrathbbc.