Archive for the ‘polar bears/penguins/caribou/birds/fish/etc’ Category

Polar bear price increase


“Just as Ottawa is drawing up polar bear management plans and mulling the animal’s promotion to National Symbol, the Northwest Territories is now paying an extra $1,350 for polar bear hides.

Hunters in the Northwest Territories used to receive $400 when they submitted polar bear pelts to Genuine Mackenzie Valley Furs, a government-run fur marketer. For this season, authorities have upped the figure to $1750.  …

As Russia and China produce more billionaires, offices and homes bedecked in Arctic fur have become a sought-after status symbol. Threats to polar bear populations posed by melting sea ice have only sweetened the deal.  …

Every year, about 450 polar bears are killed and skinned in Canada — largely by Inuit hunters in Nunavut. Northwest Territories officials maintain that their new advance will not create a run on polar bears.  …

In Canada, polar bear hunting is the exclusive domain of aboriginals, although outsiders can commission sport hunts with aboriginal guides. While pelts are sold, the polar bear’s meat is shared among communities. Polar bear hunting is an “integral part of Inuit identity,” reads a July paper on polar bear populations by the Department of the Environment.  …

Amid the threat of melting sea ice, Mr. [Andrew E.] Derocher [a biologist with the University of Alberta] said researchers rarely take issue with polar bear hunting. “I don’t know a polar bear scientist that hasn’t support subsistence harvests of polar bears — or even sport hunting of polar bears,” he said.”  “N.W.T. ups price paid for polar bear pelts to $1,750 as demand for the fur rises


Climate model output is now "data"


Both [Seth] Wenger [a fisheries researcher with Trout Unlimited in Boise] and [Dan] Isaak, a fisheries biologist at the U.S. Forest Service’s Rocky Mountain Research Station in Boise, were a part of a team of 11 scientists who said trout habitat could drop by 50 percent over the next 70 years because of a warming world. The paper, published Monday in the peer-reviewed science journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, predicts native cutthroat habitat could decline by 58 percent.

The two men, who have devoted their lives to scientific research, say they depend on the scientific method and peer review to judge the quality of the research that underscores their findings. The climate predictions are based on 10 of the 20 climate models developed independently worldwide that all show the world is getting warmer.

The climate models have been right for 30 years and they are getting better all the time,” Isaak said.  …

The most dire climate models show temperatures in Idaho rising an average of 9 degrees in 70 years, Wenger said.  …

“I have to set aside my feelings and use the best data,” he said.  …

But what if all the climate models are wrong?

There just is not a lot of data supporting the alternative view,” Wenger said.  “Idaho trout face climate trouble, study finds

Tortoise shuts down $2B solar project


“Federal officials have told a solar developer to stop work on two-thirds of a construction site in northeast San Bernardino County because no more tortoises can be disturbed.

Until wildlife authorities reassess the tortoise population, work on the $2.1 billion project — hailed by the Obama administration — is limited to a 2-square-mile area cleared of the protected reptiles last fall. BrightSource Solar’s entire work site, on public land near Primm, Nev., is 5.6 square miles.

The suspension order, made official Friday, was triggered when biologists hired to remove tortoises from the property handled their 39th animal earlier this month, said Amy Fesnock of the U.S. Bureau of Land Management.

A federal permit allowed for the displacement of no more than 38 desert tortoises found within the project’s borders, said Fesnock, a wildlife biologist in the BLM’s California office. The species is listed as threatened with extinction.

The suspension forced crews from Bechtel, BrightSource’s contractor, to stop building fences and to fill in postholes and trenches so tortoises won’t fall in and get injured or trapped.”  “MOJAVE DESERT: Tortoise finds curtail solar-site construction

She wants to switch to windmills to save birds from the oilsands


Angry birds” h/t Tom Nelson

Latest critter deemed threatened by climate modelers


“The aggressive wolverine may not be powerful enough to survive climate change in the contiguous United States, new research concludes.

Wolverine habitat in the northwestern United States is likely to warm dramatically if society continues to emit large amounts of greenhouse gases, according to new computer model simulations carried out at the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR).”  “Wolverine Population Threatened by Climate Change

"It appears the Department of Interior missed that memo"


“The Department of Interior issued an announcement yesterday that perfectly illustrates the irrationality of our current approach to water issues.

California’s precipitation this season has gone off the charts.  Statewide snow water content is 198 percent of normal; in the all-important Northern Sierra snowpack is 174 percent of normal.  This is not only a wet year – it is one of the wettest years on record.

Yet yesterday, we have this announcement from the Department of the Interior: that despite a nearly unprecedented abundance of water, the Bureau of Reclamation will only guarantee delivery of 45 percent of the California Central Valley’s contracted water supply south of the Delta.  This is the same percentage they received last year with barely average rainfall.

This is of crucial importance to the entire nation, since the Central Valley of California is one of the largest producers of our nation’s food supply.  California produces half of the U.S.-grown fruits, nuts and vegetables on the nation’s grocery shelves and the prices you pay are directly affected by the California harvest.

The deliberate decision by this administration in 2009 and 2010 to divert hundreds of billions of gallons of water away from the Central Valley destroyed a quarter million acres of the most productive farmland in America, it threw tens of thousands of families into unemployment and it affected grocery prices across the country.

At the time, the administration blamed a mild drought, but never explained why a drought justified their decision to pour 200 billion gallons of water (that we did have) directly into the Pacific Ocean.    In a rational world a drought means that you are more careful not to waste the water that you have.

The real reason for this irrational policy, of course, is that they were indulging the environmental Left’s pet cause, a three-inch minnow called the Delta Smelt.  Diverting precious water to Delta Smelt habitat was considered more important than producing the food that feeds the country and preserving the jobs that produce the food.

But that issue is now moot.  This year we have nearly twice the normal water supply at this point in the season, and yet the Department of Interior will allow only 45 percent of normal water deliveries to California Central Valley agriculture south of the Delta.

The difference comes to 1.1 million acre-feet of water.  1.1 million acre feet.

Now consider this: since December 1st, the Central Valley Project has released 1.4 million acre feet more water into the Pacific Ocean than they did just last year.

Let me repeat that.  At the same time this Administration is denying California Central Valley agriculture 1.1 million acre feet of their rightfully contracted water in one of the wettest years on record, it is dumping 1.4 million acre feet of additional water into the Pacific Ocean.

M. Speaker, this is insane.  Coleridge’s lament “Water, water everywhere but not a drop to drink” appears to have become the policy of this administration.

The American people did not invest billions of dollars into federal water projects so that their water can be dumped into the ocean to please environmental extremists.

This policy may have been cheered by the previous Congress, but it won’t be tolerated by the new majority, nor by the American people.

There was a time when the principal objective of our federal water policy was to assure an abundance of water to support a growing population and a flourishing economy.  But in recent years, a radical and retrograde ideology has taken root in our public policy, abandoning abandoned abundance as the objective of our water policy and replacing it with the government rationing of government-created shortages.

I cannot imagine a more disturbing example of this ideology at work than the announcement yesterday by the Department of Interior.  Even faced with a super-abundance of water, they are determined to create and then to ration water shortages.

The American people expect better and they deserve better.  They deserve a government dedicated to restoring jobs, prosperity and abundance – all of which is well within our reach – if we will simply reverse the folly that was on full display with yesterday’s announcement.

Ironically, this announcement came on the same day that the President ordered his agencies to identify regulatory policies that are harming the economy.

M. Speaker, it appears the Department of Interior missed that memo.”  Tom McClintock (R-CA) speech “Water, Water Everywhere…Except for California’s Farms

Judge condemns U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service's junk science


The notorious U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and its new Natural Resources Defense Council science adviser, which in the name of protecting a tiny bait fish (the delta smelt) is responsible for cutting off water to California farmers, resulting in staggering unemployment in the agricultural sector, has been dealt a serious blow by a federal district court judge in California:

“Tuesday, a federal judge’s opinion struck a blow against one-sided delta policies that have tilted back and forth over the decades, more recently in favor of concern for fish teetering on the brink of extinction and at the expense of municipal and agricultural water users. U.S. District Judge Oliver Wanger, waist-deep in the state’s long-running courtroom battle over delta water, ruled that [water] export restrictions primarily meant to protect the endangered delta smelt were based on “sloppy science” and “uni-directional prescriptions that ignore California’s water needs.”  “Delta ruling doesn’t mean much — yet

“”The 2008 (biological opinion findings) are arbitrary, capricious, and unlawful, and are remanded to Fish & Wildlife for further consideration in accordance with this decision and the requirements of law,” Wanger wrote.  …

“With the economy struggling and unemployment still soaring, it is welcome to see a judge refusing to rubber stamp extreme, destructive and unjustified environmental regulations,” said Damien Schiff, an attorney with the Pacific Legal Foundation, which represented three farmers who say water cutbacks harmed their businesses.”  “Federal Judge Orders Rewrite of Delta Smelt Plan

“Mr. Schiff said the science “should have been sterling” to justify reducing water to farmers. “It wasn’t even mediocre. That is illegal.”

“The court cannot maintain the status quo because it would be in effect allowing … sloppy science to rule the day,” Mr. Schiff said …”  “California water, here it comes?

“”Despite the harm visited on California water users, (the Fish and Wildlife Service) has failed to provide lawful explanations for the apparent over-appropriation of project water supplies for species protection,” Wanger wrote.  …

Tuesday’s ruling dates back to a 2005 Fish and Wildlife Service plan for managing a dwindling delta smelt population. That first biological opinion concluded that the pumps in the south delta near Tracy posed no threat to the species. The Natural Resources Defense Council and other environmental groups disagreed and filed suit later that year.

In 2007, Wanger sided with them, invalidating the opinion and ordering the agency to rewrite it.

The next year, the Fish and Wildlife Service reversed itself entirely and declared the pumps “likely to jeopardize” the federally protected smelt. That set the stage for 15 percent to 40 percent water cutbacks from the delta at the same time California was in the grip of a nasty dry spell. As tens of thousands of acres lay fallow in 2008 and 2009 [and 2010], Central Valley farmers and conservative commentators took to calling the situation a “Congress-created California dust bowl.”

In 2008, it was the farmers’ and urban water districts’ turn to file suit against the Fish and Wildlife Service. Tuesday’s decision was the culmination of those combined lawsuits.”  “U.S. agency’s smelt plan ‘arbitrary,’ judges rules

“The ruling is a “step closer to accomplishing California’s coequal goals of restoring the Delta environment and ensuring that the public will have an adequate and reliable water supply,” said Tom Birmingham, general manager of the Westlands Water District.”  “Federal judge finds major flaws in smelt plan

Judge Wanger issued a similar opinion in a different case in May.

Blast from the past — 2005


Climate change is a bigger threat to elephants, tigers and the rhinoceroses than poaching, a wildlife expert says.

Dr Richard Leakey told BBC News global warming … could make the animals extinct.  …

And the former director of Kenya’s wildlife service believes concerted action is needed within five years.  …

“We can spend money trying to stop poaching, but there’s no point in doing that if the stuff in there [protected areas such as national parks] is going anyway,” he told the BBC News website.

“If the concern is symbolic species, there may well be a bigger threat from climate change than from utilisation and poaching.”  …

“Protected areas are now islands,” said Dr Leakey.  …

“And if there’s significant climate change, as is predicted [by AGW climate models], what’s going to happen to these areas?

“Paleontologically, island faunas become extinct.”  …

He will attempt to convince representatives of bodies such as the World Bank and the United Nations Environment Programme (Unep) that they should set up a new fund of around $100m to research the issue, and find ways of protecting wildlife from climate change.  …

I think we may well be looking at a mass extinction …””  “Climate fear for African elephant

Finally some sanity in California's water war


“A federal judge has struck a blow for California’s water-deprived Central Valley, ruling that draconian federal water cutbacks violate human rights because — surprise! — people also belong in the ecosystem.  …

Based on a judicial ruling [in lawsuits brought by enviros], some of the most prized and productive agricultural land in the country was turned into a wasteland after its water was shut off.

The ruling was derived from an 800-page “biological opinion” put out by regulators enforcing the National Environmental Policy Act, ostensibly to protect a finger-sized fish called the delta smelt and some other wildlife. Regulators complained that smelt were getting ground up in pumping stations that brought river water from California’s north to its south, so the water had to stop.

Even the judge was appalled at being forced into the ruling but had no choice, given the law, and tried to cushion the impact.

Tuesday, that same judge, District Judge Oliver Wanger declared to federal regulators that they must consider the impact of their “draconian” actions on human communities, something they’ve never done up until now.

“Federal defendants completely abdicated their responsibility to consider alternative remedies,” Wanger wrote.

He also ripped into the environmental regulators for their junk science “guesstimates,” stating that their shut-off “lacked factual and scientific justification, while effectively ignoring the irreparable harm (their regulations) have inflicted on humans and the human environment,” according to the San Francisco Chronicle.  …

It can’t happen too soon. The water shut-off has been a nightmare for California. Huge farms growing the world’s finest grapes, peaches, almonds, pistachios, plums and walnuts — as well as cotton, carrots, cantaloupe and the other lush truck crops that come out of California’s temperate weather and rich soil — have gone fallow.  …

But the worst part of these decisions is the high human cost. California’s communities have suffered terrible disruption, with unemployment as high as 45% in some towns and farm workers forced to stand in food lines for bags of Chinese-grown carrots near fields they once harvested.  …

Judge Wanger is a hero for ruling that federal water regulators must consider the impact of their rulings on human communities along with the fish they seek to protect. Americans’ rights have been trampled by out-of-control environmentalism, which at times seems to grant more rights to fish and other creatures than humans.

No community should have to bear the entire brunt of a man-made water shortage because of heartless, ignorant bureaucrats.

The judge’s ruling has restored some sanity into what has up until now been an atrocious out-of-control bureaucracy.”  “Water Sanity For Central California

“Wanger is also expected to issue a ruling on a similar lawsuit that seeks to block a 2008 management plan that imposed pumping restrictions to protect a tiny endangered fish called the delta smelt.”  “Judge sides with farmers in delta pumping lawsuit”  [Update]

Junk science devastates farmworkers


This is truly ironic.  Tens of thousands of farm workers are out of work in California’s devastated central valley because enviros sued the feds to force stopping the pumping of irrigation water from the delta, supposedly because the delta smelt needed more water to survive.  Now it turns out the problem for the smelt was not too little water but pollution from wastewater treatment plants.  Tell it to the devastated farmlands and farm workers:

“A new study to be published in the academic journal Reviews in Fisheries Science recommends that efforts to restore the endangered California delta smelt and other declining pelagic fish should more sharply focus on reducing nutrient pollution to the species’ native waters. The research indicates these fish populations would greatly benefit from reductions in the amount of nitrogen flowing into the Sacramento-San Joaquin Bay-Delta from wastewater treatment plants and balancing the ratio of nitrogen and phosphorus contained in the discharged water.

“While a great deal of emphasis has been placed on ensuring there is enough water for delta smelt, we also need to recognize that the water also has to have the right chemical balance,” said Dr. Patricia Glibert of the University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science. “The research shows us that reducing the amount of nitrogen from Bay-Delta wastewater treatment plants should aid the recovery of the delta smelt population. The high nutrient loads are affecting the algae at the base of the food web, which in turn, affect the food supply for the fish. This has altered the ecology of the system over many years.”

For her research, Dr. Glibert analyzed 30 years of water chemistry, river flow, plankton, fish population and effluent discharge data to determine possible linkages to the population of the delta smelt and other pelagic fish in the Bay-Delta system. The analysis reveals that declines in delta smelt population most closely coincide with effluent changes from the region’s major wastewater treatment plant.  …

The Bay-Delta is the subject of considerable national public awareness due to the sociopolitical and socioeconomic tension surrounding the plight of the endangered delta smelt (Hypomesus transpacificus) and the court-ordered modifications of water diversion projects to protect the species.”  “New research links decline of endangered California delta smelt to nutrient pollution