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George Wuerthner

George Wuerthner has published 36 books, including Wildfire: A Century of Failed Forest Policy

Revisiting Fire History Studies

One of the cornerstones of current forest policy is the assumption that Western forests are outside of their normal density and appearance or what is termed “historic variability.” But a new look at fire history studies may challenge that assumption.

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Allan Savory: Holistic Management in Grassland Management

For forty years Allan Savory has been promoting the idea that rangelands suffer from too much rest—in fact, Savory claims that if ungrazed by livestock grasslands will become decadent and die. His faith in Holistic Management to stimulate grassland health was examined at a recent conference in Boulder.

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Wolf Delisting Premature: Wuerthner

Recently the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) announced it would strip protection under the Endangered Species Act (ESA) for gray wolves in the lower 48 states. As a result management for wolves will now largely be a state agency responsibility. The one exception is the Mexican wolf, a subspecies found in Arizona and New Mexico that will remain listed.

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Wolf Hunts Morally Corrupt

The resumption of wolf-hunts in Idaho, Montana and Wyoming illustrates why citizens must continue to oppose such unnecessary and senseless slaughters. The wolf-hunts are predicated upon morally corrupt and inaccurate assumptions about wolf behavior and impacts that is not supported by recent scientific research. State wildlife agencies pander to the lowest common denominator in the hunting community—men who need to booster their own self esteem and release misdirected anger by killing.

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Rocky Mountain Front Heritage Act Misses on Weeds and Wilderness

The Coalition to Protect the Front supports the Rocky Mountain Front Heritage Act as a means of “protecting the Front”. It justifies the legislation by the “threat” noxious weeds make to the native plant communities of this magnificent landscape. Weeds, by displacing native plants, reduce the carrying capacity of the Front for native wildlife—which everyone agrees is one of the special attributes of the Front. Unfortunately, the Heritage Act only proposes a paltry 67,000 acres as wilderness. While any new wilderness on the Front is welcome, the Heritage Act misses an important opportunity to protect the bulk of the wildlands that exist here, including the Badger Two Medicine and other important roadless lands. Indeed, on their web page, the Coalition sees the threat of more wilderness as one of the reasons for supporting their plan. So to prevent the “threat” of wilderness, locals want to designate the majority of land along the Front as “Conservation Management Areas.” What a misnomer that name is.

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Wallow Fire Reporting Misleading

The Wallow Fire is now the largest in recent Arizona history, encompassing more than 500,000 acres. The media discussion of the fire often leads to misinformation and misunderstanding of wildfires, and feeds the political agenda of politicians and industries from developers to the timber industry. One of the problems of media coverage is that most reporters have little or no training in ecology, much less in-depth understanding of wildfire ecology. Context for large blazes like the Wallow Fire are often missing from reportage. The emphasis on fuels makes for easy reportage, but misses some important nuances that lead to simplistic solutions—the common refrain that if we only logged more of the forest such fires would be prevented. It also tends to reinforce the idea that thinning is needed in all forest ecosystems, when in fact, many fire regimes in higher elevations and more northern locations are more or less still within historic norms. Furthermore, there is a tendency to focus on the most unfortunate losses which can exaggerate the perception that such fires have done a lot of “damage” to people, seldom holding people accountable for their own losses because they have chosen to build in a fire-prone landscape.

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Wolf Hunting–Popular Misconceptions and Response

There are a number of misconceptions, and a lack of perspective that drives the wolf hysteria in these states. Below are a number of commonly heard popular comments about wolves and a response. Like any popular quip there is typically some kernel of truth that often is greatly exaggerated or is repeated without verification. These assertions are repeated so often they are adopted as “truths” without critical examination of the fundamental assumptions

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Oregon’s assumptions on cougar hunting misplaced

Oregon, like many western states, allows cougar hunting. Part of the justification for hunting is the assumption that killing cougars will reduce livestock losses and increase public safety. There is growing scientific evidence that suggests that sport hunting is more likely to increase cougar predation on livestock and may even increase the likelihood cougar attacks on humans.

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Why Wolf Hunting is Unethical

In light of the recent successful delisting of the wolf by Congress, I have been thinking a lot about why I so strenuously object to killing wolves.

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Bison Slaughter A Smoke Screen for Livestock Industry

Deep snow in Yellowstone National Park is once again forcing bison to seek out winter range at lower elevation. In their search for exposed forage, bison naturally wander to snow-free lands outside of the park. Unfortunately for the bison, once they leave the park, they are killed by the Montana Dept. of Livestock ostensibly in the name of controlling brucellosis. Brucellosis cnotrol is being used to hide another objective of the livestock industry--to prevent the restoration of bison on public lands--which would be a threat to public lands grazing across the West.

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