Saturday, January 03, 2004


Private help comes to public land The U.S. Forest Service once managed and paid the bills for everything concerning the national forests, from timber sales to firefighting to campground and trail maintenance. But increasingly, nonprofit, community-based forestry groups are stepping forward to provide some of those services, using federal dollars from grant programs and private money from foundations and individuals to hire independent contractors. During the past decade, the community-based groups have sprouted in Oregon and throughout the West. They've filled a gap caused by Forest Service budget cuts that followed a decline in timber revenue after logging on national forests was sharply curtailed in the 1990s...Conflict looms over timber It's a new year and new battles are on the horizon between environmentalists and the Bush administration over federal forests in the Pacific Northwest -- but the theme is continuing conflict. Central to the clash are changes the Bush administration is making this year in the Northwest Forest Plan, the document hammered out under President Clinton in 1994 to end the standoff over logging federal old-growth forests. Government officials are expected this month and next to finalize rule changes that will make it easier to carry out timber sales without explicitly protecting salmon, and without extensive surveys to discover whether logging would endanger more than 300 hard-to-find slugs, snails, lichens and other species. Later in the year, officials are expected to finalize reviews of whether the spotted owl and another rare bird, the marbled murrelet, should continue to be protected under the Endangered Species Act...Forest plan a regulatory war There is one thing Colorado's two giant ski resort competitors agree on: the revised White River Forest Plan adopted in 2002 has some provisions that need to be changed. That new plan restricts both the acreage available for ski area expansion and imposes stricter clean water standards for ski areas. Both provisions are being appealed by Vail Resorts, Intrawest and Colorado Ski Country USA, an industry advocacy group... Oil rigs help biologists unlock mystery of ocean life From his office in downtown New Orleans, Dan Allen can see to the bottom of the ocean. Allen, a marine biologist with Chevron Texaco, studies the ocean's depths using images from the remote-controlled vehicles that fix oil pipelines and wells on the sea floor as well as the eyes of hundreds of workers manning offshore platforms. "We just recently discovered a very large shark in the Gulf of Mexico in about 10,000 feet of water. It was the first ever observed in the Gulf," Allen said. "We want to get feedback from people offshore as to what they are seeing when and where." For land-bound academics and the hardcore biologists working for major corporations, oil exploration has become a surrogate for scientific research unlike ever before...Soar subject The 3-month-old bald eaglets huddled like two scared kids while a gaggle of photographers surrounded them at the Barr Lake gazebo. Division of Wildlife raptor expert Jerry Craig had snatched them out of their nest at the edge of the lake and boated to the gazebo so spectators could watch as he weighed the eaglets, drew blood from them and crimped bands on their legs...Bear advocate an enigma in death Timothy Treadwell's death came just the way he had predicted. Treadwell and his girlfriend were mauled by a 1,000-pound grizzly bear last October in a remote section of Alaskan wilderness that Treadwell knew well after years of living among its bear population. He had started an environmental group and received donations from celebrities such as actor Leonardo DiCaprio, in part by saying the bears he loved were in jeopardy. He spun colorful stories about his adventures for the Discovery Channel, David Letterman's late-night audience and the Walt Disney Co. What few knew about Treadwell was that much of his life was an invention...Salton Sea's mud delays dike plan Scientists have uncovered a distressing secret about the lakebed of the Salton Sea: Portions of it are covered with a 50-foot-thick layer of silt the consistency of peanut butter. That revelation is particularly troubling for California's largest lake, a place of promise and despair that has endured three decades of scientific study and political haggling. The latest findings place in jeopardy a proposal by state and federal agencies to build an 81/2-mile dike across the desolate and smelly lake to stave off ecological disaster. Salton Sea Authority officials say the costs of that plan could increase 200 percent, to $3 billion...Lockheed sells rocket test site near Beaumont as preserve Behind a padlocked gate sits thousands of acres filled with stands of cottonwoods and willows, a gentle stream, big granite boulders and abundant wildlife, including deer, bobcat and quail. It's also a spot where aerospace giant Lockheed tested rocket engines for America's space program at the height of the Cold War. On Friday, government agencies and environmentalists announced a $25.5 million land deal for about 9,100 acres that will create a huge nature preserve in southern Beaumont. Outdoor lovers will hike, ride horses and bird watch when it opens in several years... 2 Missing Condors Might Have Perished in October's Piru Blaze Two California condors that were seen in the vicinity of the 64,000-acre Piru fire in October have not been spotted again by wildlife officials, who fear they may have perished. The birds were among the 39 living in a number of wild regions in California, where the species nearly died out in the mid-1980s...Train being proposed to solve traffic jams at Grand Canyon To remedy the traffic congestion at the park's South Rim and on State Route 64, the Grand Canyon's tourist railroad has proposed a $186 million high-speed train. The rail service would begin in 2005 and run from Williams, reducing vehicle traffic on the South Rim by 50 percent, according to Grand Canyon Railway's proposal...Cattle Grazers Welcome New Grazing Rules Livestock interests in the West are welcoming the Interior Department's proposed new federal rules for grazing on public lands, though they could cause some short-term harm to the environment. Olson called the proposed grazing rules a positive step, showing the government is willing to work with ranchers, and the rules could benefit both rancher and range. "If I lease BLM land, I'm supposed to have enough private land to support those cattle when they're not on BLM land. That's one of the reasons we say this helps ranchers prevent urban sprawl," she said. "Because if they don't have the rangeland to run on in the summer, there's a possibility of them selling it for subdivisions."...BLM: No significant impact from methane drilling The U.S. Bureau of Land Management says no significant environmental effects will result from drilling for coal-bed methane near Baggs. The Brown Cow Pod is one of nine pods with up to 200 wells proposed as part of the Atlantic Rim coal-bed methane project...Protecting Utah's open spaces How do we measure 20 years of work by the Utah Nature Conservancy? Do we count the increasing number of conservancy members, volunteers and conservation projects? Do we total the number of acres forever protected? Or evaluate the attitudes toward open space forever changed? Or do we measure whether our civilization is indeed growing to match this state's spectacular scenery? It's a little bit of all of those things, say the people who have watched the organization grow during the past two decades...Cowpuncher brothers' late-life pastime corrals fans of rustic furniture Tom and Jack Musser are bent and bowlegged. Tom's 81-year-old back is permanently out-of-kilter. Jack's 84-year-old joints are a tad awry. These two lifelong cowpunchers are a little too rickety to ride the range or bust broncs anymore. So they have turned to making furniture. It looks a lot like them - rustic and all akimbo, with legs that jut in arthritic angles, arms that crook and backs and tops not even remotely in plum. None of their furniture is like anything anyone would learn to make in a how-to class at Home Depot or buy at the local Furniture Mart. And that's what has caught the eye of ritzy mountain mansion owners and appreciative cabin dwellers, who snap up the Musser brothers' one-of-a-kind pieces almost as fast as they make them. To buyers, the Mussers' creations are folk art - treasured Americana...On The Edge Of Common Sense - Baxterizing: Misinterpreting something obvious Once these changes were made, then we could redistribute the amount of federal lands equally across the 48 states. Which, according to Statistical Abstract, would be 28 percent per state. In Ohio, for instance, under the Federal Lands Equality Act, eminent domain would be inflicted on everything north of Lima. Displaced residents would have six months to leave, then gray wolves, grizzly bears, Florida panthers, spotted owls, condors and snail darter minnows would be reintroduced. In Massachusetts, all the land west of Boston would be reclaimed and turned into a Buffalo Commons. Nevada, which before the new gerrymandering was 83 percent federally owned, would open up private land for homesteaders from states unaccustomed to living under the thumb of the federal government...

One-Fourth Of Americans Doubt Beef's Safety A new poll finds the mad cow scare has one out of four Americans doubting the safety of the nation's beef supply. But two-thirds say they think the beef supply is safe, according to the CNN-Time poll. And three-fourths think the beef they buy at their local stores is safe. Sixty-three percent said they eat the same amount of red meat as always. About a fourth in the poll said they had quit eating red meat or reduced their consumption of it because of the mad cow case. Nine percent said they didn't eat red meat before the announcement and don't eat it now. Exporters worry beef will spoil during ban U.S. beef exporters say the clock is ticking. Bans on U.S. beef imports have stalled some container traffic at West Coast ports and threatened delivery of millions of dollars of Asia-bound beef. The U.S. Meat Export Federation, a nonprofit trade association based in Denver, estimates that as many as 2,000 containers filled with $200 million worth of banned beef are either en route or held up at customs facilities in foreign ports. The containers are refrigerated, keeping the beef either fresh-chilled or frozen. The cold temperatures eliminate the threat of immediate spoilage, but a prolonged ban could mean the loss of tons of meat and millions of dollars...Experts: Don't blame mad cow on trade The dairy cow in Washington state found to have BSE, or mad cow disease, should not be blamed on expanded trade between Canada and the United States, dairy industry officials say. The Washington state cow is believed by investigators to have been born in Canada. About 50,000 head of dairy animals enter the United States from Canada each year. Total cattle imports from Canada had reached 1.7 million head before trade was stopped in May after an Alberta cow was found to have the disease, said Don Ault, a St. Paul-based dairy economist for Sparks Cos. Of Canadian dairy cattle, several thousand animals represent high-quality breeding stock from top-flight dairy and breeding farms that are not likely to be a health risk to any American herds, said Ed Jesse, dairy economist at the University of Wisconsin at Madison. And even lesser-quality animals, which might include the Holstein dairy cow most recently diagnosed with BSE, are more an accident of government dairy policies than trade measures involving beef or other industries, said a spokesman for the National Milk Producers Federation in Washington, D.C. "Canada has milk production quotas," said Chris Galen, the dairy group's vice president of communications. "Cows and heifers that can't be used on Canadian farms are sold, and some come here."...Jumble of Tests May Slow Mad Cow Solution he nation's first case of mad cow disease has led to urgent calls for more and better tests to screen animals at the slaughterhouse door. But the universe of testing for this elusive disease is murky. The extent and nature of testing varies from country to country. The tests are not foolproof, and there are many to choose from in a heated international competition. The leading test manufacturers are Bio-Rad based in France, Prionics AG in Switzerland and U.S. Abbott Laboratories, which recently acquired rights to a test developed in Ireland. But in addition, at least 54 other companies are vying for position in the lucrative world testing market...Attention Shoppers: Sale On Beef Low-carb dieters may find cause to rejoice in the mad cow scare. The industry expects beef prices to drop 15 percent in the coming weeks because almost every country in the world now refuses to buy U.S. meat. Exports were nearly 10 percent of the market--about 2.7 billion pounds of red meat annually--all of which will now be swelling supplies headed for American supermarkets and restaurants. Prices could plummet further if U.S. consumers begin to turn up their noses at beef. But so far, Americans appear to be maintaining their renewed love affair with steaks and burgers. Although no figures are yet available, fast-food chains, upscale restaurants, and grocery stores all report no falloff in beef sales, which amount to $70 billion annually...Livestock sale postponed, partly because of mad cow fallout A large cattle sale planned Tuesday at Montana's largest livestock auction has been postponed, partly because of market uncertainty following discovery of a Washington state dairy cow infected with mad cow disease. The sale of an estimated 2,000 head of stock cows and bred heifers at the Public Auction Yards here will be rescheduled later this month, said sale manager Bob Cook. He said there also were factors other than mad cow: A number of consignors were snowed in and the number of stock cows sold nationally in December, before the mad cow disclosure just before Christmas Day, was higher than usual...Protestors Mad About Mad Cow Disease An animal rights group is urging Kentuckians to become vegetarians following the nation's first case of mad cow disease. Members of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals plan to pass out free vegetarian starter kits SAturday afternoon outside Horseshoe Saloon and Steakhouse on North Broadway in Lexington. The kits include a pamphlet of recipes and advice for changing one's diet. The event is part of the group's national ad campaign...Border reopening hopes dashed Hopes that the American border would reopen soon to Canadian cattle dimmed Friday when U.S. officials signalled the recent confirmation of a first mad cow case south of the border could delay resumption of trade. The revelation further blackened the mood for the Canadian cattle industry, transforming optimism for a buoyant market next week into another anxious game of wait-and-see...Stores with tainted beef won't be identified, federal officials say Federal officials said Friday they will not tell consumers which California stores sold beef from a cow infected with mad cow disease. The U.S. Department of Agriculture had announced some of the beef, which officials say poses little human risk, had been shipped from the Pacific Northwest to California. Officials have not said what part of the state received the meat, or which stores sold it...Mad Cow Variant That Hits Humans Is a Puzzle Charlene is the only person in the United States confirmed to have the human form of mad cow disease, in which a misshapen infectious protein inexorably erodes the brain. She is believed to have contracted the insidious disease by eating infected beef during her first 13 years of life, when her family was living in Britain. Charlene's story is the kind of tragedy that the United States is desperately trying to avoid after the discovery of the first U.S. cow carrying the infection. "I'm terrified that this is going to happen again. It's like being in the U.K. again, watching this all over again," Patrick said. "I'm worried that people may be eating beef that is contaminated and that down the road people are going to start to die from this disease."...Despite case, U.S. could claim mad cow-free status Despite discovery of its first case of mad cow disease, the United States could still claim to be free of the ailment, experts say -- an approach that a consumer group says would be a mistake. The designation would hinge on whether the infected cow was imported, as early evidence suggests. Scientists are expected to report early next week if the infected Holstein milk cow in Washington state was born in Canada, based on two separate DNA tests. "We have the opportunity to preserve our export market," said Michael Stumo of the Organization for Competitive Markets, a group that supports small farmers. It wants the Bush administration to declare the United States "provisionally free" of mad cow, also called bovine spongiform encephalopathy. Standards set by the World Organization for Animal Health say a nation can be classified as provisionally free of mad cow when the disease is found in imported cattle and authorities are diligent in rooting it out and in maintaining safeguards...Australia to Slaughter 350 Cows From U.S. The Australian government plans to ask ranchers to slaughter 350 cows imported from the United States to prevent the spread of mad cow disease, a newspaper reported Saturday. Animal Health Australia, a government-affiliated agency, said owners of the cattle would be compensated for turning over the cows for slaughter, the Sydney Morning Herald reported...Cattle futures going up Cattle futures in Chicago rose for the first time since the U.S. reported its first case of mad cow disease amid signs that Americans aren't eating less beef following the disclosure. U.S. beef sales weren't affected much in the first several days after the Dec. 23 mad cow report, according to Cattle-Fax, a national market research firm based near Denver. Cattle futures plunged 19 percent in the first five sessions after the announcement as beef exports stopped. Cattle for February delivery rose 0.275 cent, or 0.4 percent, to 73.8 cents a pound on the Chicago Mer cantile Exchange. Prices on Wednesday fell less than the market limit for the first time in five sessions. There was no trading yesterday because of the New Year's holiday...Pet food ingredients under scrutiny in wake of mad cow After the discovery of the nation's first case of mad cow disease, Suzanne Tibbetts is looking at the pet food labels in her cupboard a little more closely. She wants to know exactly what "meat byproducts" are, and what risks, if any, they pose for her cats -- animals susceptible to a form of the fatal brain-wasting illness...Hide industry hit by mad cow scare All the ripple effects from mad cow disease haven't hit hard yet, but everyone from New York leather wholesalers to Seattle shippers is worrying that it may tenderize their profits. Containers of domestically produced cattle hides that would normally be made into leather coats, pants and shoes are gathering dust at Pacific Northwest ports. The situation heightens concern as each day passes. "I know it's devastating to the beef and hide industry, and it affects us as well," said Dianne Gunn, national logistics manager for Hyundai Merchant Marine, based in Dallas. Hyundai ships several hundred containers of beef hides a week to Korea through the ports of Tacoma and Long Beach, Calif. Containers that arrived on Korean docks are being held until government officials rule on their fate, she said. Another 30 containers that haven't left U.S. ports are being held at Hyundai's terminals. Gunn said five of those are at the Port of Tacoma. And Hyundai isn't the only company holding up hides...Cow disease hinders Tyson Foods Until late last month, it appeared that the $2.8 billion bet Tyson Foods Inc. made on beef was paying off in spades. The longtime chicken purveyor had perfectly timed America's renewed love affair with beef by acquiring IBP Inc., the biggest meatpacker, in 2001. Profits from those cattle-slaughtering plants were rolling into Tyson coffers. But in the wake of the discovery of the first U.S. case of mad-cow disease, that gamble suddenly looks risky. The single case of bovine spongiform encephalopathy, or BSE, in a Holstein that U.S. investigators believe originated in Canada already has shut down crucial foreign markets for Tyson beef. Very likely the discovery will increase Tyson's cost of doing business. No American company has more at stake in the mad-cow calamity than Tyson, which controls 27 percent of the domestic beef market. Tyson recently began slapping its famous name on hundreds of beef products after an expensive two-year effort to replicate its value-added strategy for chicken items...Medical procedures could spread mad cow disease, expert warns: Blood transfusions, surgical instruments could transmit the disease It's too soon to rule out a new wave of mad cow disease in humans, echoing the 1990s British epidemic, but this time transmitted by medical procedures instead of bad meat, says one of Canada's top mad cow experts. As officials scramble to confirm whether an Alberta farm is the source of the first U.S. case of mad cow disease, Britain continues to investigate the death of a patient who died from the human form of the fatal brain infection after receiving blood from an infected donor...Mad cow testing questioned by disease experts Testing more cattle for mad cow disease may not necessarily weed out more infected animals, two leading experts on animal brain diseases say. Beth Williams, a University of Wyoming professor and chronic wasting disease expert, said additional testing is also not an effective use of public health resources. Williams said she believes that the U.S. Department of Agriculture already appropriately tests for mad cow disease, using targeted surveillance to draw blood from cattle that show signs of the disease such as poor coordination, fever and weakness. "If you want to find something that's pretty rare in the cow population, you look for the animals that are most likely to have that disease," she said. Another leading veterinarian agreed that more testing may not find more mad cow disease but said it could improve public perception of the U.S. meat supply both domestically and abroad...Technology, BSE alter ranchers' thinking Cattle ranching is becoming a brave new world. It's not unusual to see a Montana cattleman recording herd notes in a digital Palm Pilot, instead of a spiral-bound notebook. About 20,000 livestock animals here already wear electronic ear tags, and ranchers are beginning to debate the merits of embedding microchip identification tags into their animals. "Life is changing out there," said Steve Pilcher, executive vice president of the Montana Stockgrowers Association. "Modern technology is slow to come to our industry, but it is making itself known." Modern times - and Montana's recent mad cow scare - are finding the state's industry leaders in surprising support of an electronic, national cattle identification system...Beef scare has folks boning up on bison Buffalo . . . it's what's for dinner? Some consumers with a hankering for red meat are looking for alternatives to beef after the recent report of the nation's first case of mad cow disease. Many are turning to buffalo...U.S. meat for Yukon Quest sled dogs banned by Canada due to mad cow U.S. beef, pork and chicken products destined for dogs in an international sled-dog race will not be allowed across the Canadian border because of fears about mad cow disease. Organizers of the Yukon Quest International Sled Dog Race this week notified mushers Canada will not allow dog food containing the meat products to cross the border because of health concerns. The notice came as many mushers were working to meet a Jan. 23 deadline for having food ready to be delivered to drop points along the 1,600-kilometre course from Fairbanks to Whitehorse...

Friday, January 02, 2004


Environmental hazards of cattle vex the industry Despite all the current worries about mad cow disease, California's cattle industry faces other problems that may turn out to be far more vexing in the long run than exotic infections and trade embargoes. Long-standing questions about the environmental hazards associated with cattle husbandry are far more likely to linger, industry experts say. And while the prospects for mad cow disease seem frightening enough, the real flashpoints for years to come are apt to revolve around more mundane matters, such as the effects of beef cattle on rangeland and dairy cattle on waterways...Pushing the boundaries: Ski industry officials could face fewer environmental restrictions The ski industry is taking advantage of a pro-business, anti-regulatory climate in Washington, D.C. by asking the U.S. Forest Service to consider establishing new categorical exclusions for certain on-mountain activities. Additionally, the National Ski Areas Association (NSAA) and some select resorts will have a seat at the table when the federal Council on Environmental Quality meets to discuss reforms to the way the National Environmental Policy Act is administered. In effect, said some environmental watchdogs, the ski industry is trying to rewrite the rules under which its activities on public lands are governed. And that doesn't sit well with some activists, who charge that private interests have already achieved an unprecedented level of influence in the public domain...The fight for the rights: USFS, ski industry wrangle over water rights The U.S. Forest Service and the ski industry may soon resolve a long-standing dispute over water rights, an issue that became one of the most contentious elements of the White River National Forest plan revision process. Under the special use permits governing the lease and operation of ski areas on public land, resorts are currently required to transfer new water rights to the federal government or apply for those rights in the name of the United States, according to Geraldine Link, policy director for the National Ski Areas Association. But over the course of many years, the ski industry has raised the issue of unlawful takings, says Ken Karkula, Washington, D.C.-based winter sports program manager for the Forest Service. "The Forest Service is working with the appropriate legal folks -- just trying to find the right words to put in the permit," Karkula says. There would be no public input process for the change, since it only involves rewriting the wording of the permits in question, according to Karkula...Condor release runs into a torrent of bad luck Efforts to release six California condors at Pinnacles National Monument in San Benito County have run into a torrent of bad luck, most of it caused by relentless rain. Four of the endangered birds either won't, or can't, leave their pen because of the bad weather. One that flew free on Dec. 20 was recaptured by scientists when it spent too much time near the ground, putting it at risk from attack by a coyote or another predator. The sixth has flown away from the 24,000-acre national park, was lost for several days, and is now sitting in a tree on a private ranch...Federal court bans fish hatchery in wilderness area A federal appeals court has ordered a halt to a long-running salmon stocking program on the Kenai Peninsula, calling it an improper commercial activity inside a wilderness area. The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals overturned two earlier decisions Tuesday, ruling that the project at Tustumena Lake to help commercial fishing is barred inside wilderness areas of the Kenai National Wildlife Refuge. "There is no exception given for commercial enterprise in wilderness when it has benign purpose and minimally intrusive impact," the court ruled...Earthjustice Sues BLM over Illegal Meetings with Industry Representatives in New Mexico Earthjustice filed a lawsuit in New Mexico federal court today challenging a secret meeting of an advisory committee to the Bureau of Land Management made up of gas and oil industry representatives scheduled for January 8, 2004. The advisory committee was explicitly asked to provide advice to the BLM by the New Mexico State Director. The committee has not made these meetings open to public participation as required by Federal Advisory Committee Act (FACA)...DOI: New Grazing Rules Good for Long Term The Bureau of Land Management said in its draft environmental impact statement that some rangeland health might suffer initially during the transition to new rules. This could happen because the agency would have two years instead of one to make decisions and some of the changes would be phased in over five years, the bureau said. But in the long-term, BLM said, "better and more sustainable grazing decisions would be the outcome ... and result in long-term positive effects on rangeland."...For more details, click here to view the BLM press release...Study: Residents oppose wilderness designations The results of a land use study indicate the majority of Moffat County residents favor multiple uses of federal land, and agree that federal land should not receive wilderness designations. The study -- conducted by Donald McLeod, associate professor of agriculture and applied economics at the University of Wyoming, and written by Andrew Seidl, associate professor of agriculture and resource economics at Colorado State University -- was based on a questionnaire sent to 2,800 individuals who either own land or live in Moffat County...E.P.A. to Study Use of Waste From Sewage as Fertilizer he Environmental Protection Agency will sponsor a series of scientific and public health studies on the safety of using sewage sludge as fertilizer, including nationwide chemical tests and building a human health complaint database. The studies, in combination with the agency's announcement on Wednesday that it will more closely regulate 15 chemicals found in sewage sludge fertilizer, are part of the agency's efforts to address public concerns about an agricultural practice that has grown rapidly around the country over the last decade. The announcements also reflect the agency's shifting public stance toward the practice. Currently, 54 percent of the six million tons of sewage sludge generated every year is processed, rechristened as biosolids and used as fertilizer -- more sludge than is disposed of through incineration and landfill combined...Arsenic ban to hit homeowners' wallets Arsenic kept fungus and termites off decks, docks and playground sets for five decades. Now a ban on wood treated with the chemical soon will cost those Tim Allen-types a bit more green. Starting this year, the timber industry will stop making lumber treated with an arsenic-based compound for most uses around the house. As a result, homeowners will pay another 10 percent to 30 percent for wood to build decks, picnic tables, gazebos, fences, patios, walkways and playground sets...Water users' fish die-off reports to be used in trial Upper Klamath Basin irrigators have made public a pair of reports that they believe shed new light on a fish die-off in the lower Klamath River last year. The reports offer evidence that releasing more water from the Upper Klamath Basin would not have prevented the die-off that claimed an estimated 34,000 fish, including mostly chinook salmon. The Klamath Water Users Association, which funded a study by fishery biologist David Vogel, hopes his reports will play a key role in an upcoming court trial aimed at determining the cause of the fish kill that occurred in September 2002...State toughens farm trespass laws Animal rights activists are sneaking into barns to snap photos of penned-up pigs, freeing chickens from cages and vandalizing farm equipment. In response, farm groups and rural law enforcement agencies launched a massive lobbying effort this year to push a bill through the Legislature to strengthen trespassing laws on farms and ranches. They did it in the name of homeland security...Western Music Awakening The spacious, posh confines of the new Eisemann Center for the Performing Arts held a capacity crowd as Michael Martin Murphey's Cowboy Songs cut loose, an innovative and stylish stage production of modern dance routines backed by classic cowboy tunes performed by Murphey and his band. Earning rave reviews, Cowboy Songs received accolades as something "exuberant," "rousing," and "saucy." "Cowboy Songs did the cowboy culture proud with a bang-up show that left you cryin' for more," observed the Dallas Morning News. "You knew it was good when the shrieks and whistles poured forth. The excitement was not just for the dancers. They were fabulous, but so was the music by guest artist Michael Martin Murphey and the Rio Grande Band." Murphey himself seemed elated afterwards as he signed autographs in the lobby. He has performed the program in a handful of venues, including the magnificent Bass Hall in Fort Worth. But Murphey's latest coup is just one of a growing number of breakthroughs in a field "Western music "that shows signs of taking off. Red Steagall's Cowboy Gathering, held annually in Fort Worth, attracted huge crowds in October. Other shows report upswings in attendance. And on the music front there is a crop of fresh faces who are making people stop and listen...

Technical Briefing and Webcast with U.S. Government Officials on BSE Situation

January 2, 2004

MR. ED CURLETT: I'd like to welcome everybody to the BSE situation update for today. Today we'll have Dr. Ron DeHaven, the chief veterinary officer for USDA, making a statement. We also have with us, from the Food and Drug Administration, Dr. Stephen Sundlof, to answer questions as needed. And we also have with us Dr. Daniel Engeljohn with the Food Safety and Inspection Service. Again, because of the number of people on the call, particularly the audio bridge, we ask that you keep your questions just to one. And with that, I'll turn it over to Dr. DeHaven.

Thank you, sir.

DR. RON DEHAVEN (USDA): Thank you, Ed. And happy New Year to all of you, and thanks again for joining us.

Well, we did take the day off yesterday from media briefings. Our epidemiological work, of course, did continue. I'm going to provide you the latest information on that as well as some more information about how we are modifying our surveillance program.

First as to the epidemiological investigation, we have now confirmed that 81 of the 82 animals listed on the Canadian health certificate--and that would include the positive animal--entered the United States through the Oroville, Washington port on September 4, 2001. One of those 82 has now been confirmed on the ground at a Mattawa dairy facility operation which is now under state hold order. An inventory of that facility to look for possible additional Canadian animals is continuing, though we don't necessarily expect to find any. And in fact that has been delayed because of bad weather conditions in Mattawa today.

Just to recap where we are in tracing those 82 animals, we now have 11 of them definitively accounted for. One is the indexed positive cow; 9 are those known to be in the indexed herd; one is the animal that I mentioned on the Mattawa dairy operation. But we believe that one may still be in Canada. The whereabouts of the remaining 70 animals is still yet to be confirmed but, again, we have good leads on those, and we will keep you posted on that information as we gather it.

I want to reiterate that our interest in finding these cows is not because BSE can spread from cow to cow but because it's possible that they may have shared a common feed source when they were young, and therefore potentially would have had a common exposure. I think it's important to note, however, that even at the height of the outbreak of the disease in the United Kingdom it was uncommon to have more than just one or two animals in a herd found to be positive.

Also to clarify, we currently have three facilities under state hold orders, as our epidemiological investigation continues. The first is the index herd, that herd from which the positive cow departed immediately before slaughter. The second being a nearby facility that has the indexed cow recently born bull calf, and the third being that dairy operation in Mattawa.

We expect to have our DNA results from the indexed cow by sometime next week, and certainly we will share that information with you after we receive it and have an opportunity to analyze it.

Of course the Canadian laboratory is also running the DNA tests in their laboratory, and we are continuing to work very closely as we work--do our epidemiological work. Indeed, two Canadian epidemiologists are on the ground with us in the United States, and likewise USDA epidemiologists are in Canada.

This work would not be going nearly as well as it has been if we didn't have that close cooperation and partnership. So, again, our many thanks to our Canadian colleagues.

With regard to our surveillance program, given the secretary's announcement to prohibit nonambulatory or downer animals from going into slaughter establishments, a number of you have asked what the means will be in terms of capturing that population in terms of our surveillance program.

As we have discussed previously, we have tested 20,000 animals a year for the past two years, and approximately three-fourths of those animals were nonambulatory animals at slaughter.

Because this particular population of animals will no longer be coming to slaughter plants and no longer be going into the human food chain, we are working with industry representatives to reposition our efforts to collect those samples on the farm, at rendering facilities, and the so-called ‘three-D’--downed, dead, diseased animals--and those plants where those meat products are harvested for animal food and other nonedible purposes.

Of course, some number of those animals will arrive at slaughter and will become nonambulatory at slaughter. We'll continue to work to focus some of our efforts at collecting samples from those animals.

We are certainly committed, and the industry has shown a shared commitment to ensuring that we continue to have a very robust surveillance program for BSE in the United States. We will be working very closely with the rendering and other animal disposal industries as well as other government agencies in the days and weeks to come to ensure that we continue to have access to this particular population of animals which we consider to be those at the highest risk for BSE.

Indeed, on Wednesday of this week we had separate meetings with representatives from the dairy, the feed, and the rendering industries. Today we are hosting an interagency meeting--all-day meeting--at our facility in Riverdale, Maryland. And on Monday there will be an interagency and industry representative meeting to continue to develop our surveillance program.

As we talk about surveillance, and indeed a lot of emphasis is going on modifying our surveillance system to be consistent with the Secretary's announcements, I want to point out that testing in and of itself does not make food any safer. Rather, surveillance testing tells us if, number one, a disease is present and, if it is, what is the prevalence of the disease. The most important food safety measures, the ones that make our U.S. beef safe as it relates to BSE, is removal of the specified risk materials from human food and the AMR requirements. And those are exactly the announcements the Secretary made earlier this week.

Even those actions were taken out of an abundance of caution knowing that we do have, if at all, a very low prevalence of the disease in North America or in the U.S.

With that, since my colleagues from FSIS and FDA have no update announcement to give, let's go to the questions.

And Ed, we can start with the telephone bridge? Okay. So, Operator, the first question from the telephone bridge, please...

.Followed by Q&A with reporters.

Third Cattle Herd Quarantined in Washington The U.S. Agriculture Department has quarantined a third cattle herd in Washington state after finding another cow that came from Canada in a shipment that contained the animal recently found to have the nation's first known case of mad cow disease. W. Ron DeHaven, the USDA's deputy administrator and chief veterinary officer, told reporters today that the dairy farm in Mattawa was quarantined earlier this week when the cow was found. With the discovery of that animal, he said, the government now has located 10 of the 82 cows in the herd that was shipped into Washington in September 2001 and has good leads on many of the others...USDA to keep ban on Canada cattle in place for now The U.S. Agriculture Department said on Friday it would not decide whether to reopen U.S. borders to some Canadian cattle until after the investigation into the first U.S. case of mad cow disease is complete. The United States banned imports of Canadian cattle and beef after a single case of mad cow disease, or bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE), was found in an Alberta cow last May. But in October, the USDA proposed to resume imports of Canadian cattle under 30 months old. Canadian officials had hoped the United States would reopen its border early in 2004. However, last week's discovery of mad cow disease in a Washington state dairy cow has prompted the USDA to delay work on its proposal. The USDA said the Monday deadline for submitting comments on the proposal would not be extended at this time...U.S. keeping options open on importing Canadian cattle, official says U.S. officials are keeping their options open on banning Canadian cattle from crossing the border following America's first mad cow case. A public comment period on allowing Canadian imports of cattle under 30 months of age was due to close Monday and ranchers have had high hopes for renewed trade. But Dr. Ron DeHaven, U.S. chief veterinarian, said Friday that deadline could be extended or an entirely new rule proposed after a Washington state cow that may have been born in Canada tested positive for the disease last week. "There are several options that . . . are under consideration," DeHaven told a news conference. "We would not make any determination in terms of a final rule without giving all due consideration to the new situation." Canadian Agriculture Minister Bob Speller said this week there's no reason to delay the resumption of trade in live cattle. And Canadian industry leaders played down the significance of DeHaven's statement Friday. Dennis Laycraft of the Canadian Cattlemen's Association said an extension of the ban until the investigation into the American BSE case is complete wouldn't be a surprise...U.S. May Pay Farmers to Test for Mad Cow The U.S. government said on Friday it might pay American farmers to bring in sick or crippled cattle to be tested for mad cow disease, as part of retooling safeguards against the deadly disease. The discovery of mad cow disease in a dairy cow in Mabton, Washington, has halted American beef exports worth an annual $3.2 billion and slashed cattle prices. However, restaurant and grocery chains say U.S. consumer demand for beef has not wavered in the 10 days since the disease was found...Consumer Groups Point to Holes in Cattle Feed Rules U.S. food safety regulators should widen a 1997 ban on feeding cattle parts to other cattle to include blood, gelatin and other exempted materials which could spread mad cow disease, consumer groups said on Friday. The discovery of mad cow disease in a Holstein dairy cow in Washington state has focused new attention on how cattle are raised and slaughtered. Since the Dec. 23 diagnosis of the nation's first case, officials have repeatedly touted the fact that the infected cow was born in April 1997, about four months before the Food and Drug Administration banned the use of cattle remains as an ingredient in feed for other cows. However, in industry guidance documents issued in 1997, the FDA exempted from the ban cattle blood, blood products and gelatin, derived from cattle hoofs. The exemptions thus allow some cattle byproducts to be fed back to cattle. For example, some farms collect the blood of slaughtered cattle and feed it to calves in dehydrated form, said Ronnie Cummins, director of the Organic Consumers Association. This is a cheaper source of protein for calves than milk, he said. The existing feed ban is "not only inadequate but is actually a public health risk," Cummins said...Cattle edge up, grains soar U.S. cattle futures rose for the first time in six sessions Friday after falling about 20 percent on news last week of the first case of the deadly mad cow disease in the United States. At the Chicago Mercantile Exchange, live cattle for February delivery rose 0.275 cent a pound on Friday to 73.800. That contract had closed at 90.675 cents on Dec. 23, before the U.S. Agriculture Department announced that a single Holstein dairy cow in Washington state had mad cow disease. The news has rocked the $27 billion cattle industry, the single largest sector of U.S. agriculture. More than two dozen nations have halted U.S. beef imports, which account for about 10 percent of annual production and $3.2 billion in sales. That backwash of supplies now hangs over the U.S. market. "I think it's going be volatile. I wouldn't say that this is the turn and we are going higher. I think this is more reflecting the volatility," said Jim Robb, economist with the Denver-based Livestock Marketing Information Center...Shippers 'in a tailspin' after ban on U.S. beef Pancost Trucking had been profitably hauling about eight refrigerated containers full of beef each week from Colorado to West Coast ports until the mad cow scare led dozens of countries to ban American beef. Now the Sterling, Colo.-based company is "in a tailspin" because two of its biggest customers, Tyson Foods and Excel, a division of Cargill, have all but halted exports, leaving owner Gerry Schaefer scrambling to find other work for his 20 drivers. "We've been having to run over to Nebraska to get potatoes," Schaefer said. "And we're hauling more pork out of Kansas." Though 90 percent of U.S. beef is sold at home, the overnight collapse of the export business has given companies that transport feed, cattle and beef, as well as some meat processors, plenty to worry about. Shippers and meat industry officials said it is too early to accurately assess the financial impact but that some economic hardship is already trickling down: the cattle trade between barns and feed lots has slowed, the value of slaughter-ready animals has declined and some meat processors have scaled back production enough to necessitate furloughs. Moreover, some $200 million worth of meat and meat products remains in limbo, either at sea, at port or in refrigerated facilities here and abroad, according to industry officials...Column: Why the disease scare may be great for the U.S. food industry and consumers In fact, mad cow disease in the United States may be the best thing to happen to the U.S. food industry and consumers since the invention of refrigeration. It's entirely possible that as a result of the current panic, in 10 years we'll not only look back and find next to no cases of mad cow in humans, but also look around at a better, healthier food supply. Perhaps we'll even have whittled down that appalling deaths-from-bad-food figure. (The obesity epidemic will still be taking a dire heath toll, but that's another story.) Here's why:...Milk group backs national ID program, USDA policy on downer cows The National Milk Producers Federation has announced its support for the additional BSE (bovine spongiform encephalopathy or mad cow disease) risk reduction strategies USDA announced on Tuesday. In particular, NMPF says it believes the rapid deployment of a national animal identification program is essential to providing government regulators and those in the food production sector, with the means of tracing livestock...Dean Criticized in Vermont Mad Cow Case Democratic presidential front-runner Howard Dean blasted President Bush last week for not protecting the U.S. from mad cow disease, saying the report of a single infected cow "raises serious concerns about the ability of this administration to protect the safety of our nation's food supply." But the former Vermont governor was himself accused of dropping the ball on mad cow disease three years ago, when a flock of Vermont sheep was suspected of contracting the deadly affliction. In July 2000, one-time gubernatorial candidate Ruth Ann Dwyer slammed Dean for "not stepping in so far and allowing" the Vermont Health Department to issue a "warning against consuming cheese made from the milk of the sheep."...Mad Cow Meets Bad Bureaucrats On Jan. 25, 2002, the General Accounting Office published a prophetic and scathing report on the FDA's mad-cow performance record. Here are some telling excerpts from the report, entitled, "Mad Cow Disease—Improvements in the Animal Feed Ban and Other Regulatory Areas Would Strengthen U.S. Prevention Efforts."(pdf) While BSE [Mad Cow Disease] has not been found in the United States, federal actions do not sufficiently ensure that all BSE-infected animals or products are kept out or that if BSE were found, it would be detected promptly and not spread to other cattle through animal feed or enter the human food supply. . . .According to FDA 's October 2001 quarterly update that summarized results of feed ban inspections, 364 [animal-feed-manufacturing] firms were out of compliance. In addition, FDA believes that not all firms that should be subject to the ban have been identified and inspected, at least 1,200 or more based on industry estimates. However, we could not verify these data because we found significant flaws in FDA's database, which we discuss later in this report. FDA did not take prompt enforcement action to compel firms to comply with the feed ban. When we began this study, in April 2001, the only enforcement action FDA had taken was to issue two warning letters in 1999...

Meat inspectors seize huge haul of US beef China has confiscated 186 tons of American beef products in Beijing amid fears the meat could be contaminated with mad cow disease, state media reported on Friday. The Beijing Youth Daily said the beef, seized Thursday, will be disposed off after being examined on advice from the ministry of agriculture...Bush tells Americans to keep eating beef U.S. President George W. Bush shot quail on a hunting trip yesterday but ate beef and encouraged Americans to do the same despite concern over mad cow disease. The president said Americans should feel comfortable eating beef while Agriculture Department officials try to prevent any mad cow outbreak in the wake of the discovery of an infected Holstein in Washington state...Two countries, one market for cattle trade Free trade has made cattle, beef products and livestock feed almost indistinguishable in Canada and the United States, never mind the finger-pointing in this latest mad-cow scare. That's the message Canadian cattle producers, politicians and investigators issued after a case of mad-cow disease was discovered last week in a Washington State animal with ties to an Alberta dairy farm. In May, bovine spongiform encephalopathy, better known as BSE or mad-cow disease, was diagnosed in a slaughtered cow in Alberta...Variety meats niche hit hard by beef ban Oregon cattleman Mike Partlow built a business selling beef products that Americans don’t eat, from hooves to femur bones to stomach lining, all prized by Asian chefs. Korean cooks slice steamed hooves into wafers for a meaty, gelatinous soup. Bits of large intestine go on the grill in Japan. After the discovery of mad cow disease in an American cow last week, this $600 million market — and Partlow’s business selling so-called variety meats — has vanished, and will not return until export markets reopen...Electronic tag system for cattle on fast track Use of electronic ear tags could have made short work of the intense hunt for the rest of the herd that entered the United States in 2001 along with the Washington dairy cow infected with mad-cow disease. Such tags, which an industry expert says would cost $5 to $15 apiece, are part of a proposed national animal-identification system that was put on the fast track Tuesday by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). The beef industry had opposed the national tracking system on grounds it could expose farmers and ranchers to lawsuits over tainted food...Beef tallow in fries raises fears among foreign buyers Fallout from the mad-cow scare in Washington state has hit the potato industry, with more than $500,000 worth of frozen French fries — prefried in beef tallow — held in limbo at ports. The delay raises concerns that other exports containing beef products could be affected by the bans countries have imposed on U.S. beef because of mad-cow disease...Chick-fil-A plans to corral bovines for now Chick-fil-A is postponing its latest advertising featuring those iconic bovines to avoid appearing insensitive to concerns about the first U.S. case of mad cow disease. The Atlanta-based restaurant chain had planned to unveil a new round of in-store and direct-mail advertising this month. In addition to shelving that campaign, the company will examine existing advertising, including a billboard in which a cow -- its eyes in a vertigo swirl -- tries to hypnotize motorists to eat chicken...Cattlemen closely monitor feed Feedlot operator Buck Peddicord knows his success depends on the health of the beef cattle being fattened in his pens. Peddicord and other cattle producers say they never would consider violating a 1997 Food and Drug Administration ban on feeding cattle parts back to cattle, a ban enacted to guard against the possible spread of mad cow disease. Feedlot operators submit to random inspections, and many sign affidavits required by buyers that none of their animals was fed beef bone meal. Doing otherwise, they say, would risk disaster... Editorial: Bans on U.S. beef shouldn't last for long The list of countries that have banned U.S. beef because of a case of mad cow disease in a Washington state cow has grown to 36. It's disheartening to say the least to U.S. cattle producers who produce the best beef in the world. Those export markets are important in expanding demand and raising the price for their product. The bans, however, should be put in perspective. These countries are only reacting in the same way the U.S. has in the past. It was just last year that Canadian beef was banned from the U.S. because of a mad cow case there. Furthermore, these prohibitions aren't likely to last long. As long as this case remains isolated, the world again will be convinced of the safety of American beef. This will be further re-enforced as the U.S. takes more steps to protect its meat supply...Mad cow case not creating vegetarian rush Droves of Britons gave up meat during England's mad cow outbreak in the 1980s, but since the discovery of an infected cow in Washington state American vegetarians mostly have trod carefully, trying not to take advantage of a situation that could cost lives and cripple a $40 billion industry... Ex-Cattleman's Warning Was No Bum Steer There's a stereotype about vegans. That they're zealots, loud-mouthed people who throw blood on meat-fattened CEOs, who ridicule people who wear leather shoelaces, who corner you at parties and assault you with diatribes about cruelty. Howard Lyman, 65, is not like that. For 40 years, he raised cattle on his family ranch in Montana, where steak and hamburger were regular courses. Then one day he quit. A tumor in his spinal column helped him make the decision. Meat, he was convinced, was killing him. And beyond that, he began to believe that meat, as it is produced today, is snuffing out small farms and possibly even opening the door to strange and terrifying diseases...Ban on 'downers' could change way cattle are raised The government's ban on the use of so-called downer cattle in the nation's food supply may force changes in the way cattle — especially dairy cows — are treated, animal experts say. Chandler Keys of the National Cattlemen's Beef Association says the 150,000 to 200,000 downers a year are a fraction of the 35 million U.S. cattle slaughtered each year. But animal experts say the ban will force changes in the industry. Temple Grandin, professor of animal science at Colorado State University, believes 90% of downer cases are preventable...Where the Cows Come Home Farm Sanctuary, which runs Web sites like,,, and, has been pressuring the government since 1998 to halt the use of sick and injured cows as food, arguing that they are "adulterated" and therefore illegal in interstate commerce under the federal Food, Drug and Cosmetics Act. Until Tuesday, the Department of Agriculture had disagreed, arguing that not all meat from a sick cow is adulterated and that approving such cattle was long-established practice. It denied Farm Sanctuary's petition in 1999 and fought its subsequent lawsuit...Column: The Cow Jumped Over the U.S.D.A. Alisa Harrison has worked tirelessly the last two weeks to spread the message that bovine spongiform encephalopathy, or mad cow disease, is not a risk to American consumers. As spokeswoman for Agriculture Secretary Ann M. Veneman, Ms. Harrison has helped guide news coverage of the mad cow crisis, issuing statements, managing press conferences and reassuring the world that American beef is safe. For her, it's a familiar message. Before joining the department, Ms. Harrison was director of public relations for the National Cattlemen's Beef Association, the beef industry's largest trade group, where she battled government food safety efforts, criticized Oprah Winfrey for raising health questions about American hamburgers, and sent out press releases with titles like "Mad Cow Disease Not a Problem in the U.S." Ms. Harrison may well be a decent and sincere person who feels she has the public's best interest at heart. Nonetheless, her effortless transition from the cattlemen's lobby to the Agriculture Department is a fine symbol of all that is wrong with America's food safety system. Right now you'd have a hard time finding a federal agency more completely dominated by the industry it was created to regulate. Dale Moore, Ms. Veneman's chief of staff, was previously the chief lobbyist for the cattlemen's association. Other veterans of that group have high-ranking jobs at the department, as do former meat-packing executives and a former president of the National Pork Producers Council...Officials Destroying Calves, Including That of Sick Cow As federal investigators search for cows that were imported from Canada with the cow that was found to have the nation's first known case of mad cow disease, Washington State officials have begun a process that will kill the offspring of the sick cow. The cow, which was sent from a dairy farm in Mabton, Wash., and slaughtered on Dec. 9, gave birth to a bull calf shortly before slaughter. That calf was sent to a feedlot in Sunnyside, about 10 miles north of the Mabton ranch, but because officials cannot pinpoint the calf, they plan to kill all bull calves in the feedlot herd of 464 that are under 30 days old, the same age as the sick cow's offspring, said Linda Waring, a spokeswoman for the state's Department of Agriculture...Mad cow's brain-wasting course inspires fear No longer can experts reassure us with absolute certainty that American beef won't expose people to the human version of mad cow disease, now that an infected cow has turned up here. While odds remain remote - only 153 people in Europe have contracted the disease since it appeared in 1995 - it is not the numbers that terrify people but the harrowing trajectory of the disease, the way it eats away at the brain...Animal rights group demonstrates They weren't the two most popular people standing along Lincolnway on Wednesday, but they didn't seem to mind. Two workers for People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) stood outside the Hitching Post Inn, home of the Cheyenne Cattle Company restaurant, during the lunch hour to protest practices of the meat industry. While Ravi Chand answered people's questions and distributed "vegetarian starter kit" brochures, Katy Fritts had a less labor-intensive job. Fritts, wearing a cow costume, stood on the side of the road for an hour holding a sign that read, "It's Mad to Eat Meat: Go Veg!"...Sebelius enlists other governors in pro-beef campaign Gov. Kathleen Sebelius is soliciting help from other states' chief executives for a public campaign to reassure consumers that beef is safe to eat, notwithstanding the first-ever American case of mad cow disease. Sebelius said Wednesday governors, or their representatives, in Colorado, Iowa, Minnesota, Montana, Nebraska, New Mexico, North Dakota, Oklahoma, South Dakota and Texas have agreed to participate...Edmonton plant may have provided contaminated feed to U-S mad cow The Canadian Food Inspection Agency says media reports linking a Canadian rendering plant to the first U-S case of mad cow disease are "premature." In a statement, the agency says it's examining feed purchasing, production and distribution records. But officials add that many feed mills draw material from the same plants. The Edmonton Journal reports Canadian food safety investigators have established a tentative link between Northern Alberta Processing and the infected Holstein found on a Washington state farm. The plant may have provided contaminated materials for the Alberta farm where officials believe the cow was born...B.C.-owned feed plant probed for link to mad cow A Vancouver-owned rendering plant located in Edmonton and suspected of being linked to North America's two cases of mad cow disease was criticized in 2003 by Canadian inspectors for not labelling its animal feed properly, according to documents obtained by The Vancouver Sun...Senator sees hope for meat labeling The case of mad cow disease in Washington state might prompt congressional opponents of country-of-origin labeling to rethink their position when Congress resumes work on Jan. 20, said Sen. Tim Johnson, D-S.D., a leading proponent of the labeling requirement. The mad cow scare, which has resulted in the shutdown of nearly all U.S. beef exports, should reverse opposition to mandatory labeling, Johnson said Wednesday. ''But whether it does or not, of course, remains to be seen,'' he said...

Forest Service taking the heat For setting a "prescribed fire" that went awry in September, the U.S. Forest Service is in hot water with the state. Rick Sprott, director of the Utah Division of Air Quality, has issued the Forest Service a "notice of violation" in connection with the Cascade Springs II fire, which burned 7,800 acres and poured smoke into the Wasatch Front for a week. The notice accuses the Forest Service of polluting the air in Utah's population center and of failing to submit a proper plan to the division before igniting the fire. It does not call for a fine, although the notice points out the state reserves the right to levy fines in the amount of $10,000 per day of violation...Developer sues over Lone Peak deed Developer Tim Blixseth has filed suit against the U.S. Forest Service in a dispute over ownership of a patch of ice and rock atop Lone Peak. The Beaverhead-Deerlodge National Forest deeded a 20-acre parcel, including the peak, to Moonlight Basin, a new ski resort. "It's our property," said Moonlight Basin co-owner Lee Poole said Tuesday. "We own it right now." But Blixseth claims the land belongs to him as part of the Big Sky Lumber land swaps, authorized by two acts of Congress, the latest in 1998. He said the disputed land, which may be less than an acre, could support a ski lift, making it worth a fortune to whoever owns it...Book, movie capture spirit of wildlife agent In more than 30 years as a federal wildlife agent, Terry Grosz did everything from busting commercial duck shooters in California to overseeing one of the largest poaching stings in Colorado history. The burly Grosz's escapades with scofflaws of the hook-and-bullet set have provided the grist for five books, including "Wildlife Wars," which won the National Outdoor Book Award in 2000. On Tuesday, Animal Planet will air a movie, "Wildlife Wars," based on his career...Loud noise collars may keep wolves at bay Loudspeakers blaring out the recorded sound of gunfire or other loud noises or dog shock collars could resolve problems with wolves before ranchers resort to a rifle bullet, researchers believe. Shivik, Adrian Treves with the Wildlife Conservation Society in New York and Peggy Callahan of the Wildlife Science Center in Forest Lake, Minn., reported on those alternatives in the December issue of Conservation Biology. They researched whether devices -- called RAG or radio-activated guard boxes -- would scare off wolves. The RAG boxes have cassette players that are activated to broadcast loud noises when wolves with radio collars come too close...Ranchers hope bird listing won't fly The federal government is expected to announce early next week whether it will take the first step toward listing the greater sage grouse as an endangered species, a move that could prevent the bird's extinction but also may significantly reduce livestock grazing on public lands. "This could be one more low blow for us," said Wes Quinton, Utah Farm Bureau Federation vice president. "It's at the top of our worry list, with drought and BSE [bovine spongiform encephalopathy, or mad cow disease], because it could potentially shut down a large segment of the Western ranching industry."...Endangered Species Act turns 30 years old Now at the ripe old age of 30, the Endangered Species Act is still a vigorous source of debate, although there are signs that the government and environmentalists are beginning to agree that its future lies in cooperation instead of confrontation. Instead of relying on a federal regulatory hammer, both sides are shifting toward incentives for landowners who participate in protection programs. "I think 30 years hence, it's going to be the standard way of operating," said Crain Manson, assistant interior secretary for wildlife. William Robert Irvin, of the World Wildlife Fund, said there is a shared interest in promoting incentives. "I think it is the future," Irvin said. "You can get a lot farther with carrots than sticks." ...Column:Shoot, Shovel, and Shut Up Although environmentalists try to suggest that saving endangered species protects humanity, too, the fact is that species preservation is really important only on aesthetic and moral grounds. See, for example, a review article, "Prospects for Biodiversity" in the November 14 issue of Science. The article notes, "In truth, ecologists and conservationists have struggled to demonstrate the increased material benefits to humans of 'intact' wild systems over largely anthropogenic ones [like farms]... Where increased benefits of natural systems have been shown, they are usually marginal and local." The Science article relentlessly continues, "Nowhere is this more starkly revealed than in the extinction of species." Humanity, after all, has been responsible for the extinction in many parts of the world "of all or most of the larger terrestrial animal species... This means that the 'natural' systems we currently think of in these parts of the world (North and South America, Australasia, and virtually all oceanic islands) are nothing of the sort, and yet they still function at least according to our perceptions and over time scales we are currently capable of measuring." In other words, we don't need a lot of species to insure our own species' comfortable existence...Wolves set to huff, puff, blow into state To the north, to the west and to the south, wolves are at Colorado's door. No one knows exactly when they'll return to the state, but most experts expect they will be back within the next five to 10 years. Wolves could return to Colorado from any of three sources:...Zoo-bred wolves are sent packing Five Mexican wolves were captured from 1977 to 1980 in Mexico and taken to the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum in Tucson, where they became the Genesis pack for today's recovery efforts in New Mexico and Arizona. As the numbers expanded, zoos in the United States and Mexico started breeding programs, and now there are 29 U.S. zoos and 10 in Mexico raising wolves. There are about 200 wolves in those zoos, in addition to at least 34 released in the wild...Who let the dogs out? Don't tell Catherine Miller prairie dogs are cute. Swarms of the rodents, migrants from the city's enormous greenbelt, have turned her 10-acre farm into Swiss cheese. "It's these huge holes - and nothing around the holes," Miller said of her land east of town, where she grows hay. Heeding concerns of animal-rights activists, Boulder has been relocating prairie dogs to the greenbelt for years to protect them from extermination. Now the city that took the lead in controlling human population growth is bursting with prairie dogs...Snowmobile ruling hits home Each of the past 29 winters, Pahaska Tepee lodge has opened for snowmobilers eager to take a ride into Yellowstone National Park. But in the two weeks since a federal judge ruled against the Bush administration's new snowmobile plan and imposed a Clinton-era phaseout, lodge owner Bob Coe has had second thoughts about keeping his business open through the winter. "It's just put a chill on the entire business,'' he said Wednesday. Profit margins in the winter have always been tight, he said, but the restrictions this season have made it especially hard for his business near the east entrance to stay open and break even, much less carve a profit. "Business is down 65 to 75 percent,'' he said, adding that a decision will be made Monday whether to keep the lodge open for the rest of the winter...Black Beauty Ranch Welcomes Burros from Southern California Parks The Fund for Animals' world- famous Black Beauty Ranch animal sanctuary has welcomed the first of several groups of burros from Death Valley and Mojave National Parks in southern California, in a cooperative effort with the federal government to find homes for the unwanted animals. Working with the National Park Service and the Bureau of Land Management, The Fund for Animals has already received 40 burros and has agreed to accept up to 100 per year...Arctic dig unearths prehistoric settlement Russian archaeologists have discovered the remains of the world's oldest known Arctic settlement - a Siberian riverfront site that they say could help determine when humans first arrived in the Americas. The 30,000-year-old site - twice as old as any previous Arctic dig - includes a rhinoceros bone shaped into a spear that shows a "striking resemblance" to spear points found by archaeologists in Clovis, N.M. The findings by the Russia Academy of Sciences may prompt a re-examination of popular theories about when humans first came to the Americas... Scandal-tainted worker was BLM teacher Some Bureau of Land Management employees attending a training seminar on negotiating land exchanges this month were surprised their instructor was a BLM staffer disciplined for her role in the scandal-plagued San Rafael Swell land swap. Terry Catlin, a BLM lands specialist at the agency's Salt Lake City state headquarters, served as one of the instructors of a weeklong course on land exchanges for BLM professionals Dec. 8-12 in Asheville, N.C. In August, the Interior Department's inspector general determined that Catlin and three other federal employees had negotiated a land exchange with the state of Utah that would have shortchanged taxpayers at least $100 million because of an unusually lopsided oil-shale royalty split that was never clearly revealed to members of Congress and Interior decision-makers...Oregon Trail segments in peril Just a few steps from an unmarked parking lot in Boise, a remnant of American history remains. Ruts of the Oregon Trail mark the journeys of settlers who followed the path by foot and wagon more than 150 years ago. But sections of the trail, which are listed in the National Register of Historic Places, have been torn up by four-wheelers and other vehicles. A home has been built on one portion of the trail...Reweaving a historic bond Beneath towering Table Mesa in the vast northeastern corner of the Navajo Reservation is a tiny ramshackle pen filled with about 35 sheep. The scruffy-looking animals, with their short horns and long brown and black wool, are Navajo-Churro, a living symbol of the resilience of the Navajo people. The sheep were nearly wiped out during the tribe's forced relocation in the 1860s and again in the stock reductions of the 1930s. But they are making a comeback...Don't kill the coyote, just confuse him a little Traps. Fences. Poison. Ranchers have tried everything to keep predators from their livestock. But guard llamas? At Thirteen Mile Ranch near Belgrade, Mont., llamas have kept watch over the sheep for a decade. The result: No losses from coyotes - the bane of sheep ranchers. "Our llamas have developed some kind of an understanding with a local and fairly stable coyote pack," says Becky Weed, who runs the ranch with her partner, David Tyler. "They know the ropes, and we know the ropes, and I think they understand that we don't bother them. We like to have them around because they hunt gophers." Increasingly, ranchers in the US and abroad are turning to such natural methods - from aggressive donkeys to strategic herd movement - to safeguard livestock. Those methods mean ranchers seldom have to kill predators. True, the predators they save aren't particularly endangered. And the products they market as "predator friendly" sometimes fetch a premium. But the impetus behind the wild-farming movement seems to run deeper than that. Its message: Ranchers, livestock, and large predators can coexist...The American West, Through German Eyes Professor McClain adds that there are also cowboy hobby towns all over Germany where people can come on the weekends to dress up and play act like cowboys and Indians. "They're bonding with their families in a way that they can afford to do," she says. "They're getting free of the bureaucracy. We Americans cannot understand the feeling of being closed in that Germans have - not only geographically, but they are [a] highly bureaucratized culture."...Mortensen earned his 6th title the old-fashioned way There were no whoops or hollers. No fists thrown in the air. No raising the roof. He was too tired - mentally and physically - to jump up and down in celebration. Dan Mortensen won his sixth world saddle bronc title the old-fashioned way: He earned it. Mortensen's achievement - tying him with the legendary Casey Tibbs - was a testament to the focus and a nose-to-the-grindstone approach that earned the Billings cowboy five previous world championships...Down-to-earth roper rises to join idols While most everyone was focusing on the battle Cody Ohl and Fred Whitfield were waging for the world tie-down roping championship, Mike Johnson quietly won the aggregate title at the recent Wrangler National Finals Rodeo. It was the first time Johnson, who has qualified for 18 NFRs, had accomplished that feat. "I've had lot of disappointments out here," said the 39-year-old cowboy who roped and tied 10 calves in 86.4 seconds. "It was a dream come true for me. I've been competing against those guys for 20 years. I watched them grow from pups to world class athletes...

Tuesday, December 30, 2003


Editorial: Deck stacked against wildlife When federal agencies are weighing whether to permit oil and gas drilling in sensitive areas, they depend on the Colorado Division of Wildlife to help them understand how the development will affect wild animals. It's crucial that the feds get accurate and objective data, even if the information shows that drilling in some places would be unwise. So it's distressing that Gov. Bill Owens' administration repeatedly has diluted and squelched comments from wildlife experts. As a result, Colorado has sent federal agencies one-sided, pro-development messages...Forest Service moving ahead with Ketchikan sale The U.S. Forest Service is moving ahead with a timber sale near Ketchikan that could lead to the first 10-year timber contract in the Tongass National Forest, the agency said Tuesday. The Forest Service denied an appeal from two environmental groups and will allow the Licking Creek sale to proceed...No quick, easy or inexpensive fixes for forest The San Bernardino National Forest is clinging to life. Besieged by drought and billions of tree-killing bark beetles, ravaged by historic wildfires and recently beset by flash floods and mudslides, half a million acres in the forest have seen an unprecedented environmental crisis in the past 12 months. But with the advent of 2004 comes hope among forest managers, scholars and lawmakers that the forest's woes - the culmination of a century of neglect and mismanagement - will finally be addressed... Eco-communes The mountain hut concept, developed in the 19th century, centers on communal rather than scattershot living. In the Alps, hundreds of structures dot the backcountry, providing access in areas otherwise off-limits to thousands of people. In North America such structures are relatively scarce, in part because backpackers here tend to seek out isolation. But the collective wear and tear of backcountry camping, along with the strain on wilderness from the rise in adventure travel, is driving a push for more huts. Serving as wilderness base camps, the huts also become a reservoir for important safety, weather and educational information...Sand dunes emerging as major environmental battleground A small, broom-like plant found only in the dunes of California's Imperial Valley has turned this vast and desolate landscape into one of the nation's unlikeliest environmental battlegrounds. The fight pits those trying to protect the fragile habitat of the Pierson's milkvetch against the huge crowds of off-roaders headed to the Algodones Dunes to ring in the New Year by driving and partying in the desert. The plant, which is protected by the powerful Endangered Species Act, is keeping dune riders out of an area 31/2 times the size of Manhattan. Off-roaders say the milkvetch is emblematic of what's wrong with the Endangered Species Act, which celebrated its 30th birthday Sunday. They contend it locks up huge areas of public land with what they call bad science about endangered species...Lots of time, money spent on wolves, grizzlies Wyoming Game and Fish Commissioners spent a lot of time, effort and money in 2003 managing two federally-listed endangered species -- the grizzly bear and the gray wolf. Both species are well on their way towards delisting, according to agency officials. Much of the commission's efforts in 2003 dealt with trying to speed up the process of removing the animals' listing under the Endangered Species Act (ESA), while at the same time searching for new funding sources to manage the animals... Endangered Species Act turns 30, faces challenges The imposing bald eagle and the tiny Southwestern willow flycatcher illustrate the debate swirling around the Endangered Species Act as it turns 30. The eagle has been pulled back from the brink of extinction thanks to protections provided by the federal law. Because of its revered status as a symbol of U.S. freedom, few grumble about the changes forced on human activities that have allowed the eagle to rebuild its numbers. But the flycatcher, benefiting from similar protections, mined a deep vein of dissatisfaction when its appearance at Roosevelt Lake threatened to force water releases during Arizona's drought. The prospect of saving a bird by draining water that serves thousands of Valley residents was cited as a classic case of how the federal law appears to value animal and plant life over humans. The water releases did not happen, but it cost the Salt River Project $17 million to create an alternate plan for the flycatcher...Plan to save Northwest salmon falls short, report says The plan to save the wild salmon of the Snake and Columbia rivers without disabling dams is not working as well as planned, the Bush administration has admitted. In a report issued Christmas Eve, the National Marine Fisheries Service acknowledged that "delays represent a significant concern" but nevertheless judged federal efforts to carry out the plan "adequate." Federal agencies are behind on "key actions" to save Columbia and Snake river salmon stocks from an extinction spiral, the agency said. That's worrisome, although it could be remedied, the report said...Wilderness Act anniversary celebration delayed until after election A federally sponsored conference to celebrate the 40th anniversary of The Wilderness Act has collapsed after the U.S. Forest Service told conservationists it had to be postponed until after the 2004 election. Informed that the National Wilderness Summit and Expo scheduled for Oct. 1-7 in Denver could not be held before the Nov. 2 election, conservation groups jointly planning the event dropped out, feeling they were no longer full partners in the event. "What is frustrating to me is we have leadership at the Department of Interior and the Department of Agriculture talking about partnerships on public lands," said Don Hunger, director of national program development for the Student Conservation Association, who served as co-chairman of the conference planning committee. "It pretty much turns that relationship on its head, and says we're not a partnership."...BLM may reopen road in Gravelly Mountains wilderness study area The Bureau of Land Management is considering reopening a road through a wilderness study area in the Gravelly Mountains that has been closed for more than a decade. Madison County commissioners asked the BLM to reopen a route in that area after people in Virginia City asked for a way to reach the Gravellies. The choice of the road known as the "stock driveway" was a compromise, said Rick Waldrup, outdoor recreation planner for BLM's Dillon office. BLM is beginning an environmental assessment of the proposal and will accept public comments until Jan. 30...TPL's 2003 Conservation Achievements Today, the Trust for Public Land (TPL), a national nonprofit conservation organization, has announced its conservation achievements for the year 2003. Across the country, TPL protected more than 292,000 acres in 31 states during 2003, with a fair-market value of $236 million. In addition, TPL and its affiliate, the Conservation Campaign helped 19 communities nationwide pass measures that will generate more than $1.2 billion in new funding for parks and open space. Since it was founded in 1972, TPL has protected more than 1.6 million acres of land, from the inner city to the wilderness, in 46 states...NSA hit for secrecy by environmentalists The National Security Agency (NSA) has been reluctant to share information about environmental conditions on its property, much to the frustration of environmental groups and government regulators, activists complain. "No one's asking them for state secrets," said Zoe Draughon, chairman of the Restoration Advisory Board, a group of activists and regulators overseeing the environmental cleanup of Fort Meade, where the NSA has its headquarters. Miss Draughon said her group will not let the spy agency "wrap themselves up in paranoia and patriotism and say they have classified dirt."...Wyoming to consider brucellosis test plan All Wyoming cattle sold for breeding would have to be tested for brucellosis under a proposal that will be discussed by state officials next week. The idea comes in the wake of Monday's report confirming that a Sublette County herd is infected with brucellosis. Thirty-one of 391 cattle in the herd tested positive for the disease. So far, other tested herds that may have come in contact with the infected cattle have not shown signs of the disease. The Wyoming State Livestock Board will meet Tuesday to consider mandatory testing for brucellosis of cattle sold for breeding herds...New West Nile Virus Equine Recombinant DNA Vaccine Anticipated A new West Nile virus (WNV) equine recombinant canarypox vaccine awaits USDA approval; once available, it could pave the way for a new generation of equine vaccines in the United States. Merial has been developing this Recombitek equine WNV technology for three years. The company assembled a group of researchers, clinicians, and private practitioners in New Orleans, La., on Nov. 19, 2003, to review WNV and the research behind the technology. Recombitek would be the first recombinant canarypox DNA vaccine to be approved for use in horses in the United States, and it would provide another WNV vaccination option...Seabiscuit Movie Makes $80 Million in First Week Riding the crest of the holiday shopping season, Seabiscuit burst out of the gate with more than $80 million in DVD and VHS sales in its first week, making it the year's best-selling drama released on DVD and VHS. Released Dec. 16, the title sold five million units in its first six days...Perhaps it's just my age This year instead of assigning myself a whole bunch of do-better tasks, I'm making Griping Declarations. I'm going to hang on to my personal preferences and prejudices. I'm sticking resolutely with what I don't like, can't stand, don't want, and refuse to deal with. In other words, I'm keeping my gripes. I'm used to them. They're old friends. I can use them as conversation starters when I'm stuck for something to say at boring meetings. At my age, I can do that...The sharpest men carried pocketknives To help realize the change from the old days to modern times, we need only to recall memories of the pocketknife. Since the beginnings of man, a sharp edge on a rock, flint or metal often meant the difference between survival and death. Whether using a blade for protection or to help provide subsistence, the knife was indispensable...


WASHINGTON, Dec. 30, 2003—Agriculture Secretary Ann M. Veneman today announced additional safeguards to bolster the U.S. protection systems against Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy, or BSE, and further protect public health.

“For more than a decade, the United States has had in place an aggressive surveillance, detection and response program for BSE,” said Veneman. “While we are confident that the United States has safeguards and firewalls needed to protect public health, these additional actions will further strengthen our protection systems.”

Agriculture Secretary Ann M. Veneman announced additional safeguards to bolster the U.S. protection systems against Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy, or BSE, and further protect public health.

Veneman said the policies announced today have been under consideration for many months, especially since the finding of a case of BSE in Canada in May 2003. The policies will further strengthen protections against BSE by removing certain animals and specified risk material and tissues from the human food chain; requiring additional process controls for establishments using advanced meat recovery (AMR); holding meat from cattle that have been tested for BSE until the test has confirmed negative; and prohibiting the air-injection stunning of cattle.

While many cattle in the United States can be identified through a variety of systems, the Secretary also announced that USDA will begin immediate implementation of a verifiable system of national animal identification. The development of such a system has been underway for more than a year and a half to achieve uniformity, consistency and efficiency across this national system.

“USDA has worked with partners at the federal and state levels and in industry for the past year and a half on the adoption of standards for a verifiable nationwide animal identification system to help enhance the speed and accuracy of our response to disease outbreaks across many different animal species,” Veneman said. “I have asked USDA’s Chief Information Officer to expedite the development of the technology architecture to implement this system.

Additional Information Additional BSE Information and Resources

“These are initial steps that USDA will take to enhance our protection system,” Veneman said. “I am appointing an international panel of scientific experts to provide an objective review of our response actions and identify areas for potential additional enhancements.”

Specifically, USDA will take the following actions:

Downer Animals. Effectively immediately, USDA will ban all downer cattle from the human food chain. USDA will continue its BSE surveillance program.

Product Holding. USDA Food Safety and Inspection Service inspectors will no longer mark cattle tested for BSE as “inspected and passed” until confirmation is received that the animals have, in fact, tested negative for BSE. This new policy will be in the form of an interpretive rule that will be published in the Federal Register.

To prevent the entry into commerce of meat and meat food products that are adulterated, FSIS inspection program personnel perform ante- and post-mortem inspection of cattle that are slaughtered in the United States. As part of the ante-mortem inspection, FSIS personnel look for signs of disease, including signs of central nervous system impairment. Animals showing signs of systemic disease, including those exhibiting signs of neurologic impairment, are condemned. Meat from all condemned animals has never been permitted for use as human food.

Specified Risk Material. Effective immediately upon publication in the Federal Register, USDA will enhance its regulations by declaring as specified risk materials skull, brain, trigeminal ganglia, eyes, vertebral column, spinal cord and dorsal root ganglia of cattle over 30 months of age and the small intestine of cattle of all ages, thus prohibiting their use in the human food supply. Tonsils from all cattle are already considered inedible and therefore do not enter the food supply. These enhancements are consistent with the actions taken by Canada after the discovery of BSE in May.

In an interim final rule, FSIS will require federally inspected establishments that slaughter cattle to develop, implement, and maintain procedures to remove, segregate, and dispose of these specified risk materials so that they cannot possibly enter the food chain. Plants must also make that information readily available for review by FSIS inspection personnel. FSIS has also developed procedures for verifying the approximate age of cattle that are slaughtered in official establishments. State inspected plants must have equivalent procedures in place.

Advanced Meat Recovery. AMR is an industrial technology that removes muscle tissue from the bone of beef carcasses under high pressure without incorporating bone material when operated properly. AMR product can be labeled as “meat.” FSIS has previously had regulations in place that prohibit spinal cord from being included in products labeled as “meat.” The regulation, effective upon publication in the Federal Register, expands that prohibition to include dorsal root ganglia, clusters of nerve cells connected to the spinal cord along the vertebrae column, in addition to spinal cord tissue. Like spinal cord, the dorsal root ganglia may also contain BSE infectivity if the animal is infected. In addition, because the vertebral column and skull in cattle 30 months and older will be considered inedible, it cannot be used for AMR.

In March 2003, FSIS began a routine regulatory sampling program for beef produced from AMR systems to ensure that spinal cord tissue is not present in this product. In a new interim final rule announced today, establishments have to ensure process control through verification testing to ensure that neither spinal cord nor dorsal root ganglia is present in the product.

Air-Injection Stunning. To ensure that portions of the brain are not dislocated into the tissues of the carcass as a consequence of humanely stunning cattle during the slaughter process, FSIS is issuing a regulation to ban the practice of air-injection stunning.

Mechanically Separated Meat. USDA will prohibit use of mechanically separated meat in human food.

On Dec. 23, Veneman reported that a cow in Washington State has tested positive for BSE. A swift and comprehensive investigation is ongoing to trace the animal to a herd of origin, which is believed to be located in Alberta, Canada, as well as track additional animals that have entered the United States. (For the latest update on the investigation, visit

For more than a decade, the United States has had in place an aggressive surveillance, detection and response program for BSE. The United States has tested over 20,000 head of cattle for BSE in each of the past two years, 47 times the recommended international standard.

Since 1989, USDA has banned imports of live ruminants and most ruminant products from the United Kingdom and other countries having BSE.

In 1997, the FDA prohibited the use of most mammalian protein, the main pathway to spread the disease should it be in the United States, in the manufacture of animal feed intended for cattle and other ruminants.

An independent analysis by Harvard in 2001 and again in 2003 shows that the risk of BSE spreading in the United States is low and any possible spread would have been reversed by the controls we have already put in place.

Technical Briefing and Webcast with U.S. Government Officials On BSE Case

Tuesday, Dec. 30

Welcome to today's technical briefing on the BSE situation. Today we are going to start off with an update by Dr. Ron DeHaven. He's the chief veterinary officer for USDA. We'll have a statement by Dr. Daniel Engeljohn, executive associate for policy from Food Safety Inspection Service. And then we'll have a statement by Dr. Lester M. Crawford. He's the deputy commissioner for the Food and Drug Administration.

I just want to point out a couple of things. Because of the number of people on this call, we would ask that you ask one question, no follow-ups. Also at the table here is Dr. Kenneth Petersen. He is the executive associate for regulatory operations at FSIS. He will be available as well to answer questions as needed. So the way it will work today is we'll let the statements go, and then we'll take three questions from the audio bridge; then we'll take three here, and then alternate. Dr. DeHaven will point you out. Wait for the mike to come to you. And then, with that, I think we're ready to begin. Dr. DeHaven?

DR. DEHAVEN: Thank you very much. Again, thank you all for being here. Ed mentioned that we will be making some statements. And, actually, I'm going to defer to my friend and colleague, Dr. Lester Crawford from Food and Drug Administration, and let him make the opening statement. Dr. Crawford?

DR. CRAWFORD: The Food and Drug Administration fully supports the safety policies announced today by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, which build on the principles and procedures that FDA and USDA have developed since 1997. These protective measures will add an additional layer of protection to the American public. In order to obtain these goals, FDA will evaluate the impacts of the new policies on the agency's resources, so that we can devise and implement the most effective and efficient additional layer of protection to the American public.

FDA will devote additional resources in order to do these increased responsibilities for protecting the safety of the food and feed supply. FDA will continue to rigorously enforce its measures to protect the public health against the BSE hazard. In the last six years, the agency has sponsored workshops, teleconferences and other outreach programs to stimulate cooperation of state, local and cross-border authorities in a vigilant surveillance for BSE. It has issued import alerts and bulletins to detain all products with processed animal protein from countries with BSE. It has requested blood centers to exclude blood donations by individuals who might be carriers of the BSE agent. And it has urged manufacturers of drugs, vaccines, medical devices and cosmetics to use only materials derived from cattle that are BSE free. The main focus of FDA's BSE prevention program has been regular inspections of all renderers and feed mills in the United States, more than 99 percent of whom have achieved full compliance with the 1997 FDA rule that prohibits the inclusion of most animal protein in feeds for cattle and other ruminants. The effectiveness of FDA's surveillance was most recently confirmed by the fact that all of the firms involved in the current BSE investigation were found to be in compliance with the FDA rule, and that the agency working with state and industry officials was able to halt the distribution of all of the meat and bone meal from the sick animal.

I cannot close without complimenting Secretary Veneman and the Department of Agriculture, who have been in complete communication with FDA. We have worked together and our agency applauds her leadership in this regard. We recognize that USDA is the lead agency. We want you to know that we feel like we are in complete communication, and we are working together on this, and in the end we will bring this to a satisfactory conclusion as fast as we possibly can.

Lastly, FDA has contained, as we have previously announced, all of the suspect rendered material. It is under our control, and it is being held at the present time.

DR. DEHAVEN: Dr. Crawford, thank you, and thank you for being here with us today.

Just a brief update on our investigation stemming from, again, a single positive cow slaughtered on December 9th, and she tested positive for BSE on December 23rd. Documentation is now available indicating that she was approximately six and a half years old at the time of slaughter, and our primary line of inquiry does lead to a farm in Alberta, Canada. The age of the animal is particularly important in that it does provide an explanation as to how she became infected, in that as a six-and-a-half-year-old with an approximate birth date of April 1997, she in fact would have been born before the feed ban went into place, either in Canada or the United States.

Multiple samples for DNA testing are in various stages of being submitted to two laboratories, one in Canada and one in the United States. We continue our trace-back and trace-forward investigations. We believe that the positive cow was one of 82 animals from the same Canadian herd that were permitted into the United States. We are conducting a painstaking records review to determine the transit, timing and current location of these 82 head of cattle. We do know that several are on the same premises where the positive cow was located immediately before she went to slaughter.

The positive cow we know had three calves while she was in the United States. The first animal, or first calf, was stillborn. The second is currently a yearling heifer, and is located on the index farm. And the third, a bull calf, is in a group of calves at another location, a calf feeding operation which is also under a state hold order.

I want to emphasize that these hold orders are not imposed because BSE is a contagious disease, or in any way to prevent the spread of this disease, since we know from the science that the disease is not spread by casual contact animal to animal. Rather, these hold orders are in place to ensure that we maintain the location of all animals that are of consequence and otherwise relevant to our ongoing investigation.

Just on a side note, if I could, I am hearing from my colleagues in the state of Washington that because of the incredible interest in this issue, there had been reports that reporters are visiting multiple dairy farms throughout the state. And while BSE cannot spread by this way, other diseases can be spread by people and equipment who move on and off the farm. So I would urge all farmers and visitors to take appropriate biosecurity precautions, and please let's respect the privacy and property of these individuals.

Finally, I just want to reiterate that the science supports our assertion that the meat is safe and nothing that we have announced today changes any of that. Over the last few days we have indicated that we are carefully considering appropriate changes to our system. Clearly that's a prudent thing to do given this new find in the United States, as well as the find in Canada in May of this year.

Today's announcement by the Secretary is clearly a result of that review. These actions do not in any way suggest that the meat produced in the current system is unsafe. For years we have had a feed ban in place. The high-risk materials from this positive cow were removed. And meat produced on the day that this positive cow was slaughtered is being recalled. Just like the meat recall, we are making these further enhancements to our system out of an abundance of caution.

I would again like to express my thanks to the owner of the index herd who has been extremely cooperative, as has the owner of the slaughter plant where this animal was slaughtered, the importers involved in the movement of these animals, and of course state officials in the state of Washington, and my friends and colleagues with the Canadian Food Inspection Agency. All of them have provided tremendous assistance as we proceed with this investigation.

And, again, my thanks to the news media. We have been working hard, or you have been working hard, to ensure accurate reporting of this very complex and rapidly evolving situation.

With that, let me provide an opportunity for my colleague from the Food Safety Inspection Service, Dr. Dan Engeljohn, to make a statement.

DR. ENGELJOHN: Thank you, Dr. DeHaven. The Secretary of Agriculture has very broad authority to be able to swiftly and effectively take the policy actions that she announced earlier today. Here at the Department of Agriculture we have the Federal Meat Inspection Act, which the Food Safety Inspection Service administers. Through the Food Safety Inspection Service -- we are the public health regulatory agency here at USDA -- that ensures that the food supply -- in particular the meat, poultry and eggs -- are in fact safe, properly labeled and, importantly, that they are fit for human consumption.

With the policies that the Secretary announced today, we will put in place, or intend to put in place, regulatory policies that will ensure that the federally-inspected facilities will have written procedures that will document how they intend to segregate these high-risk tissues from those which present lower risk or no risk at all. As the Secretary mentioned, we are going to focus on tissues that contain the potential for high infectivity. And because healthy-appearing animals may in fact have infectivity in those tissues, we'll concentrate on those tissues even in healthy-appearing animals. As the Secretary mentioned, we'll look at the small intestine and the tonsils of all cattle. We intend to prohibit the use of the brain and spinal cord and the vertebral column in cattle of older age that may have higher infectivity because of their age.

With those actions, I'd like to turn the microphone back over to you, Dr. DeHaven.

DR. DEHAVEN: All right. We'll open it up for questions. And, as was first mentioned, we'll go to our telephone bridge for the first three questions. So, operator, if we could please have the first question...

Followed by Q&A with reporters.