Saturday, July 02, 2016

Cowgirl Sass & Savvy

The red, white and blue of cowboys

by Julie Carter

There are some things about a cowboy that don’t change, no matter the era. One of those is his delight in and dedication to celebrating the Fourth of July. Cowboys, if they are anything, are patriotic.

For a hundred years, traditional rodeo has put bucking horses and roping cowboys right up there with the firecrackers and parades as part of the tradition of Independence Day. The sport of Ranch Rodeo has given the everyday cowboy a good reason to go to town whether to cheer on his peers or be part of the competition. 

Just to clear up any issues of mathematics in the profit and loss department of such a celebration, expenses are always only an estimate by the cowboy and rarely mentioned. However, if there is a “win” for the income column, it will never be forgotten and will become part of the cowboy’s memories of legendary proportion.

The ambiance of a rodeo on the Fourth of July has changed only in the wide array of arena options available. Many a small town USA still offers board bleachers and bull-wire fencing (leaning and weathered) with the original outhouses from 1954 still serving as the “facilities.”

The other end of the spectrum is the covered, air conditioned sportsplex with, in addition to the arena, a swimming pool, a couple restaurants, a Western wear and tack store, basketball court, adjoining golf course and softball field.

In spite of the contradicting monetary math, rodeo grounds across America will be covered over in trucks, trailers, hats, and swinging ropes this July 4th holiday. It is Cowboy Christmas time and the cowboys have been on the road for days working up their momentum for the holiday.

Even the livestock seems to know the routine. As the cowboys stand at the chutes, hats held over their hearts as the flags are posted and the national anthem is played, the bucking horses waiting in the chute will snort and kick the gate behind them. It is part of the musical percussion of rodeo.

That moment, those sounds, burn into the recesses of a cowboy’s rodeo memories, along with the smell of arena dirt, the banging of gates as livestock is moved around, trailers rattling across the parking lot and the sound of hoof beats as a horse lopes to the arena.

Fourth of July rodeoing is defined by road-weary unshaven cowboys, tired horses and pickups filled with dirty clothes, rumpled programs, empty coffee cups, dust-covered sunglasses, gas receipts and a well-worn road map.

Without the need for pulling a horse trailer, the rough stock cowboys will pile in together over the 4th of July week, crisscrossing the country, for example, from Greeley to several places in Arkansas, back to Arizona and up to Montana followed by a run in the South. Burning up the rodeo highway the old-fashioned way has not gone out of style.

Easily, the Fourth of July holiday could be named the “Be Kind to a Rodeo Cowboy” holiday. They don’t all win, they can’t all afford it, but across the board, they all love it with a passion only they feel and no one but they can understand.

It makes me very happy to know that the tradition of rodeo on the 4th of July continues without much change. You can’t say that about very many things in this world.

Julie can be reached for comment at


Red Lights
Freedom Rebirth
By Stephen L. Wilmeth

            Have you noticed how many official vehicles now have red lights?
            They are everywhere. Red lights now flash for the traditional stuff we know all too well, but the expansion of flashing lights into the realm of support trades is no less than impressive. Survey teams, sign placement gophers, road debris pickers, fence crews, equipment transporters, inspectors, grader operators, herbicide applicators, street sweepers, supervisors, codes enforcement, vector control, dog catchers, city and county maintenance men, and escorts have all joined the ranks of city, state, village, and DOT policemen, rangers, brand inspectors, game wardens, sheriff deputies, fire marshals, ambulance drivers, investigators, fire trucks, Border Patrol, Forest Service, Fish and Wildlife Service, and honey wagons with authority to flash their lights.
            Red, blue, white, yellow, and green lights now light up the roadways like Fourth of July fireworks as officials officiate their official authority.
            Equally impressive is the number of government vehicles now frequenting the roadways. On a recent trip up I25 to Belen, the number was so obvious a count was started. When 100 cars were counted, the unofficial survey was ended and 35% of all those vehicles on that stretch highway on that particular day were transportation for some form of government agency or department.
            Firepower, data manipulation, and free education for criminals
             Former Senator Tom Coburn made headlines last week by observing the same phenomenon regarding firearms in federal agencies.
In a ten-year period, 67 federal agencies spent $1.48 Billion on ammunition and guns. Nearly a quarter of that was spent by regulatory and administrative agencies. The IRS alone equipped 2316 agents at a cost of $5000 each for military equipment and firepower. The EPA has recently spent $3.1 million on guns and ammunition. The FDA has 183 heavily armed “special” agents. APHIS has been purchasing night vision goggles, liquid explosives, thermal cameras and scopes, and remote controlled helicopters. Veterans Affairs, without a single employee with firearm authorization in 1995, now has 3700 special ops type agents with night vision equipment, body armor, and AR type armament.
SBA, Social Security, NOAA, Department of Education, Bureau of Engraving, and the National Institute of Standards and Technology all now have firearm and arrest authority. Asked if their agency even had an inventory of armament, the IRS indicated they didn’t, “but could create one … if important”.
What is a most alarming fact is that there are now more non-Defense federal officials that are armed and have arrest authority than there are U.S. Marines. There are 180,000 U.S. Marines. The tally of armed agency officials is now 200,000. That is up from 74,500 in 1996.
As Senator Coburn points out, “The federal government has become a gun show that never adjourns.”
            The news that the Department of Interior ordered the closure of the USGS Energy Laboratory in Lakewood, Colorado in January was news. Finding any government facility closure must be considered headline news. Finding one closed by any agency’s own volition is rarer yet.
            The information coming out of the office of Congressman Bruce Westerman suggests the lab should have been closed in 2008 when it was caught willfully manipulating data relating to environmental and health issues. Not only was it not closed it spent another $108 million up until closure operating on the basis of catering to environmental groups to find whatever answer they wanted to find.
            “We do it like magic,” a former USGS official told auditors.
            Nobody seems to know what the scientific results were used for and that includes the Congressman and the Deputy Inspector General for the Department of Interior, Mary Kendall, a witness at the House Natural Resources Committee hearing on the matter. Her office indicated neither she nor anybody actually knows the context or the veracity of the magic statement or the far reaching effects of the cooked science.
            All they would do was to suggest that they could endeavor to find out … if it was important.
            What is the original premise of government? Is it self preservation and expansion or is it the protection of law and order and the safety of law abiding citizens? More frequently than not, it seems laws are simply ignored.
            A glaring example is this president’s side-stepping of the congressional ban for the use of Pell funding to educate incarcerated criminals. Since 1994, it has been illegal to use such funding, but that no longer matters. Education Secretary John King, Jr. has admitted the ban is still in place, but the administration claims their experimental authority under the Higher Education Act allows them to ignore the ban. They are selecting 67 colleges and universities to provide the educational training.
            Their evaluation found they weren’t breaking the law at all. Experimental authority has higher standing than legislation. They endeavored to find a route to extralegal authority, and they deemed it, “important”!
            Meanwhile, the Republican led Senate and House have funded all budgets for the independent agencies noted herein. That includes the federal distributions to the USGS and the state and local agencies and departments that are adding flashing red lights to the new vehicles in their growing legions of governmental and public employee ranks.
            Rather than wring our hands and froth at the mouth, though, maybe we must recognize the time for Wexit has finally arrived. Moreover, it is time for a victory for the American people.
            The pundits seemed to be surprised that 11 days ago the British people voted to remove the shackles of the European Union from their sovereign turf and self determination. England will no longer be subject to European legislation and courts of European justice. British businesses will be liberated from the tomfoolery of growing mountains of EU regulations that are suffocating innovation and opportunities.
            British Exit (from the EU) or Brexit is a resounding vote of distaste for socialism, immigration quagmire, and regulatory strangulation imposed by the multinational European cabal. Britain is now free to once again do the things that made her great. That includes trade agreements, national defense, and the rule of law by the citizenry.
            America should rejoice, but not simply for the opportunity for the renewal of historic relationships. America should reconsider its own sovereignty and self determination and seize the opportunity to advance prosperity in the same manner. Brexit should serve as a model to return the principles and ideals of the American model to originality. The Western Exit, or Wexit, should be the goal to advance constitutional government, the constitutional rule of law, and constitutional personal liberty and property to levels of dominion.
            It should start in the American West, but the courtesy of entry should be extended to all states that suffer the same regulatory strangulation of extralegal authority and corruption imposed by the new age Federalists that have made Washington their permanent home. It is time to stop this nonsense. Britain began taking their country back with a vote.
That should be exactly the goal and the intention of the American version of the strategy…Wexit.

Stephen L. Wilmeth is a rancher from southern New Mexico. “Fourth of July has become a holiday of past glory. It is time to remedy that.”

Count me in as a Wexiteer!

I call upon all you Western Singers to get with the program.  We need new songs, such as:

Under Wexit Skies

Out On The Wexit Plains

It's About To Get Wexit

There's more for sure.  For instance, we need the Wexit Governors Association, the Congressional Wexit Caucus and the Wexit Writers of America.

Give me some time and I'll think of more.  You should too, so send me your Wexiting ideas.

Baxter Black - Vertical integration in the Ag. business

There are those who say farming and ranching is a “way of life” more than it is a business. Which helps explain why young people who grow up in agriculture return to work on the farm. Working the land holds a strong lure.

‘Course, it also explains why young people who grow up in agriculture become architects and sailors! They remember the return-on-investment and want to be as far away from a tractor and a cow as they can be!

Ray said he first became a rancher. He loved it but he found that he had to work all the bad days. They waited until it started snowing on the mountain before they gathered the cows. They spent frigid days ridin’ the high country chasin’ cows outta crevices and thickets, suffering stiff fingers, frozen toes and icicles in his moustache!

He was often preg checking and shippin’ calves in a bone damp fall drizzle. He was calvin’ in snowdrifts, chainin’ up to feed the cows and choppin’ ice on Christmas morning. It was followed by brandin’ in the blowin’ dirt. Then, about the time they were ready to turn the cows and calves out, the weather got beautiful.

So, he became a farmer. He enjoyed farming as much as ranching. But he found that in farming he had to work on all the good days! As soon as the birds started chirping, he was out in the field breakin’ ground. Planting as the springtime flowers bloomed. Spraying and cultivating in the heat of the summer when he should have been drinkin’ iced tea in the shade. Harvesting cut into his fishing. Then, he laid around the house all winter because it was too miserable to go outside!

Finally, Ray had a stroke of genius. He decided to become a rancher/farmer combination! His brilliant solution to be a rancher on the good days and farmer on the bad days!

Ranch Radio Song Of The Day #1649

Today's gospel selection is That's Enough by Johnny Cash.  The tune is on his 1958 album The Fabulous Johnny Cash.

Friday, July 01, 2016

Conservation group warns of political battle over public lands

Montana should brace itself for a battle over public lands this election cycle, a left-leaning public interest group cautioned Billings voters Wednesday.

Pressure is building in Western states to transfer ownership of the federal lands to state governments, ultimately resulting in a selloff, according to the Center for Western Priorities. The Center used an armed militia’s takeover last winter of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in Oregon as a cautionary tale of a Western movement to take control of federal land.

A Center for Western Priorities poll of the Montana voters revealed that most Montanans opposed the takeover orchestrated by anti-government protester Ammon Bundy. The group identified sympathizing with such extremism as sure way for political candidates to lose in November.

“Our poll results show that regardless of political party, voters in Montana and across the West favor balance and pragmatism and reject the extreme anti-public-lands agenda of the Bundy family and those who participated in the occupation of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in Oregon earlier this year,” said Jennifer Rokala, CWP director.

Members of a six-member panel, including two Oregon Public Broadcasting reporters who covered that standoff, linked the Bundy militants’ frustration with federal management of public lands to a larger Western movement to transfer ownership of federal lands to the states.

Members of a six-member panel, including two Oregon Public Broadcasting reporters who covered that standoff, linked the Bundy militants’ frustration with federal management of public lands to a larger Western movement to transfer ownership of federal lands to the states. 

It appears the sole purpose of this column is to tarnish the non-violent movement to transfer lands with the Bundys, the militia, militants and violence.

Notice how they frame the argument:  If you are frustrated with federal management, then you are a Bundy supporter, and if you are part of the movement to transfer ownership, then you are a Bundy-type.

Rather than debate the pros and cons of a transfer, they resort to personal attacks and guilt by association.  This has been going on for awhile, but the column linked to is the most flagrant example I've seen so far.

The only transfer issue brought up in this column is these lands might wind up in private hands.  Personally, I would like to see a clean transfer to the states, where the local needs and concerns can influence the highest and best use of the resource.  However, if there is a legitimate concern for maintaining public access to certain parcels or areas, you simply place a reverter clause in the transfer instrument.  If the state or private owner doesn't, in this case, maintain public access, the land reverts back to the feds.  Reverter clauses already exist in law, such as the Recreation & Public Purposes Act, so that language could be easily adapted for public access.  In other words, the one issue they raise can be easily resolved.

Feds hand counties a tiny fraction of public land revenue


It is that time of year again. The Interior Department has just announced the paltry sums it will dole out this year to counties that have federal public lands from which they can collect no property taxes to support public services.

This year the feds are magnanimously returning to the counties a whopping $452 million in payment in lieu of taxes (PILT) out of the $11 billion they receive in revenue off those public lands – about 4 percent. That $11 billion is down from $14 billion in previous years, showing how poorly those lands are profitably managed. The money is generated from commercial activities such as oil and gas leasing, livestock grazing and timber harvesting.

Since created by Congress in 1977 PILT payments have been calculated based on the number of acres of federal land within each county and its population.

This year Nevada is slated to get $25.6 million, up $400,000 from the previous year. Most counties will receive payments approximately the same as this past year, some more, some less.
Once again the PILT formula short changes Nevada compared to our neighboring states. Nevada is to get 45 cents an acre, up 4 cents from a year ago. Meanwhile, California is get $1.06 per acre, up 12 cents. Arizona is to get $1.24 an acre, up 12 cents. New Mexico, $1.69, up 15 cents. Utah, $1.17, up 12 cents.

If the states were allowed to control what are now federal lands, instead of getting 4 percent of the revenue, they could collect it all. 

A report from the legislatively created Nevada Public Land Management Task Force noted a year ago that the Bureau of Land Management, a division of Interior, loses 91 cents an acre on land it controls, while the average income for the four states that have public trust land is $28.59 per acre. It also estimated the state could net $114 million by taking over just 4 million acres of BLM land, less than 10 percent.


Commentary: Pershing lands bill a win for everyone

June was a red-letter month for Pershing County. The Pershing County Board of Commissioners voted unanimously to support Federal public lands legislation for Pershing County and Senators Heller and Reid introduced S. 3102, the Pershing County Economic Development and Conservation Act on June 28th. This bill is the result of the County Commissioners’ hard work with many stakeholders and will bring great benefits to Pershing County and everyone that relies on, or cares about, public land. Conservationists, mining companies, ranchers, prospectors, and Pershing County residents worked hard with the County Commissioners to make this proposal the best it can be. And while this broad stakeholder group did not agree on everything, we all agreed that this proposal is good for Pershing County and good for Nevada. Under the leadership of the County Commissioners, Pershing County stakeholders have crafted a locally-made proposal that balances conservation, recreation, and economic development based on the original Checkerboard Committee’s work, which has been updated to reflect changes in the past decade. The bill that Senators Heller and Reid introduced is based on the Pershing County stakeholders’ discussion of what the proposal should include. The bill would authorize the Bureau of Land Management to sell or exchange appropriate lands in the checkerboard area. It would allow mining companies to purchase at fair market value public lands with current mining operations, thus expediting mine expansion and reclamation. The proposal would also resolve the status of the county’s wilderness study areas by designating some of these areas as wilderness while releasing others to uses other than wilderness...more

Interior Secretary: More Diversity Needed In National Monuments – ‘Bronze White Guy’ Too Prevalent

Interior Secretary Sally Jewell said on Tuesday at an event focused on Hispanic-American Entrepreneurship that the national monuments in the nation’s capital need to be more diverse. “If you drive around Washington, D.C., in every circle and every square you generally see a bronze white guy – sometimes on a horse, sometimes not - you have to work really hard – like in front of the Indian embassy you’ll find Mahatma Gandhi,” Jewell said. “A handful of women – maybe – if you look really hard – sprinkled around the city, but there are very few places and memorials that tell the story of the rich diversity that has made this country great,” Jewell said...more

Human, bear conflicts on the rise in Northern Rockies

Grizzly bears have rebounded from widespread extermination across the Northern Rockies over the past several decades. But conflicts with humans have been on the rise, and the death of a Montana man on Wednesday brings to at least seven the number of people fatally mauled by bears in the region since 2010. An estimated 1,000 grizzlies live in and around Glacier National Park, and at least 700 in and around Yellowstone National Park. The last time a bear killed someone in Glacier was 1998, when three bears killed and partially ate a park vendor employee while he was hiking. Here's a look at recent fatal bear attacks in the Northern Rockies: June 17, 2010 — Erwin Evert, 70, a field botanist from Park Ridge, Illinois, is killed by a male grizzly bear in Wyoming, about 7 miles east of Yellowstone National Park. Researchers had recently captured and released the bear. --- July 28, 2010 — Kevin Kammer, 48, of Grand Rapids, Michigan, is killed when a female grizzly with three cubs pulls him from his tent in the middle of the night at the Soda Butte Campground where Kammer was sleeping alone near Cooke City, Montana. Two others in the campground were injured in separate attacks. --- July 7, 2011— Brian Matayoshi, 57, of Torrance, California, is killed after attempting to run from a female grizzly that he and his wife encountered while hiking the Wapiti Lake Trail in Yellowstone National Park...more

New Federal Rule Strikes Another Devastating Blow Against Coal Industry

The Department of the Interior changed the rules governing royalty rates that oil and coal companies must pay to the federal government to extract gas and coal from public lands. The regulation essentially uses the gross proceeds from a sell, not a percentage, to determine the royalty rates energy producers must pay to use public lands to extract oil and coal. There will be modest reductions taken into account, based on transportation and processing costs. Up until now, royalty rates did not take into account the supposedly high costs associated with climate change, environmentalist group Friends of the Earth wrote in a press statement announcing the rule change. The new rule essentially seeks to wring money out of energy providers who use public lands to extract oil and coal, as well as natural gas. Energy analysts also fear a royalty tax would stunt oil and coal production...more

These federal rules are supposed to help solar power. Critics say they would do the opposite.

In a landmark announcement this week, President Barack Obama joined with the leaders of Canada and Mexico to pledge that North America will get half of its electricity from climate-friendly energy sources by 2025, in an effort to slow global warming. But in California, renewable energy developers are wondering whether Obama's actions will live up to his words. Over the last few months, solar and wind industry groups have been fighting federal regulations they say would make it difficult if not impossible to build clean energy projects on public lands in the California desert, home to some of the state's strongest sunlight and most powerful wind. If the new regulations are finalized as planned later this year, developers say, the United States could lose a major source of relatively cheap clean energy, and California could be forced to meet its own climate goals by buying more solar and wind power from out of state. Federal officials and environmental groups have rejected most of those criticisms as baseless...more

50 companies apply to flaunt New Mexico True

More than 50 companies have applied for the right to flaunt their official “New Mexico True” bona fides to the world, according to the state tourism department. The department in April launched the New Mexico True Certified program, giving qualifying local producers the ability to use special branding on their packages and marketing materials. Officials say it allows the state’s ranchers, farmers, wineries, salsa-makers and other producers to tap into the “New Mexico True” brand already backed by more than $30 million worth of tourism-related advertising since 2012. Tourism Secretary Rebecca Latham said 53 companies had applied for the program as of last week. Each gets vetted to ensure its products are 100 percent made, grown, or born and raised in New Mexico. The state has accepted 24 of those applicants into the program and is reviewing and verifying the rest, she said...more

Ranch Radio Song Of The Day #1648

You can't have a Johnny Week without featuring Johnny Cash.  Here's his 1957 recording of Rock Island Line.  The tune is on his album Johnny Cash With His Hot & Blue Guitar.  I remember having this album in high school and practicing that chorus 'till I could sing it as fast as Cash.

Thursday, June 30, 2016

Search continues for grizzly bear that killed cyclist near West Glacier

Wildlife officials have confirmed that it was a grizzly bear that killed Brad Treat on Wednesday near Glacier National Park. Treat was a 38-year old career law enforcement officer with the Flathead National Forest. The grizzly bear attack happened shortly after 2 p.m. in the Halfmoon Lakes area near West Glacier on U.S Forest Service land. Treat was mountain biking on a trail with another male at the time of the attack. It appears they surprised the bear and Treat was taken off his bike by the bear, according to Flathead County Sheriff Chuck Curry. Treat was pronounced dead at the scene. The second rider was able to escape the area to get help, and was not injured or involved in the attack. Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks report that the Green Gate/Half Moon trail system remains closed by the USFS because of public safety concerns...more

Report: BLM favors oil and gas on public lands

The U.S. Bureau of Land Management favors oil and gas development over all other uses of public lands and doesn't ensure environmental protections for areas such as those near Chaco Culture National Historic Park, according to an environmental group's report released today . The Wilderness Society made the claim in its June 28 report, "No Exit: Fixing the BLM's Indiscriminate Energy Leasing," but oil and gas and agency officials in New Mexico argue that the BLM oversees public lands fairly with adequate consideration for all possible uses. According to the report, "90 percent of the public lands managed by (the BLM) are open to oil and gas leasing and mineral resource extraction even in areas of little or no potential for developing these resources." That number leads to a broken multiple land use policy by the BLM and an unfair monopoly by the oil and gas industry at the expense of land use considerations such as conservation, according to the report. New Mexico Oil and Gas Association President Steve Henke was the BLM's Farmington district manager before he joined the oil and gas advocacy group. Henke said the Wilderness Society is choosing to take "a one-sided view" of the BLM's mission without fully considering the actual land uses in place. "There's 32 million acres leased for oil and gas — half of those leases have production, about 16 million acres — of the BLM's 250 million acres and there's about 53 million acres that are permanently closed to oil and gas production, one-fifth of the BLM acreage," Henke said. "To suggest that the BLM is somehow out of balance is a broad misrepresentation of the facts. ... I think it's a piece of propaganda to try to influence public opinion to move the federal government and the BLM away from the very legitimate role of minerals development." Nada Culver, director of the Wilderness Society's Denver, Colo.-based BLM Action Center, said the BLM's decisions on public lands exhibits a trend that has been out of balance in favor of oil and gas development for more than a decade...more

Congressman hopeful lands transfer bill will get a hearing in September

ELKO – U.S. Rep. Mark Amodei said Tuesday that he expects a hearing this year on his Nevada lands bill, HR 1484, which would transfer federal land to the state. The Nevada Lands Council hosted a meeting in Elko to discuss the bill with ranchers, city and county officials, recreationists and other interested parties. Amodei said he wants a hearing on HR 1484 -- Honor the Nevada Enabling Act of 1864 Act – this September. “We know it’s not going to pass the Senate this year and this administration won’t sign it … but we want to continue building on the work that we’ve done at the state level and the organization level,” Amodei said. He hopes to get a hearing to have people start talking about the bill. The bill calls for the transfer of federal public lands in two phases. The first phase would transfer 7.2 million acres and about 2 million acres of this, which consists of land already designated for disposal by the federal government, would be sold to finance management divisions of the state lands office. The lands to be transferred would include Bureau of Land Management and U.S. Forest Service lands, BLM Interstate 80 checkerboard land, surplus Bureau of Reclamation Land and other surplus federal land. The land transfer would not include wilderness areas, national parks and monuments, national recreation areas, national wildlife refuges and conservation areas, federally recognized Indian reservations, areas of critical concern and military installations...more

Ammon Bundy's bodyguard Brian Cavalier pleads guilty to two federal charges

Ammon Bundy's bodyguard, Brian Cavalier, pleaded guilty Wednesday to conspiring to impede federal workers at the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge and carrying guns in offices, sleeping quarters and other buildings there. Assistant U.S. Attorney Craig Gabriel said the government will recommend a prison sentence ranging from one year and three months to one year and nine months for Cavalier, the first defendant in Bundy's inner circle to accept a plea deal. The negotiated sentence falls far below the maximum penalties for the two federal charges -- six years in prison for the conspiracy offense and five years for possessing firearms in a federal facility. Cavalier also is the first of the 26 defendants indicted in the conspiracy case to plead guilty to the firearms charge. Five others had the gun charge dismissed after they pleaded guilty to the single charge of conspiring to impede employees for the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service and the U.S. Bureau of Land Management from doing their work at the eastern Oregon refuge during the 41-day armed occupation. "These are the times that try men's souls, and Mr. Cavalier did what he felt is best for his case,'' Cavalier's attorney, Todd Bofferding, said in a statement after the hearing. "Mr. Cavalier still loves America no matter what.'' Whatever sentence Cavalier, 45, of Bunkerville, Nevada, receives could run consecutively with a sentence imposed in Nevada if Cavalier is convicted there on a federal indictment pending against him in the 2014 standoff with federal officers near the Bundy ranch. Cavalier identified himself as the personal bodyguard of Ammon Bundy and Bundy's parents Cliven and Carol, on a video posted on the internet Sept. 9, federal prosecutors have said. Cavalier did work as a ranch hand for Cliven Bundy in exchange for room and board for several years, according to his attorney. Cavalier, dressed in striped gray jail scrubs, told the court he accepted responsibility for the offenses and said he was "fully aware'' of the conditions of the agreements reached with the U.S. Attorney's Office in Oregon...more

Farm Bureau Seeks Block to Overreach on Sage Grouse

The American Farm Bureau Federation and Utah Farm Bureau Federation have asked a federal district court in Utah to overturn a host of illegal land-use restrictions hampering ranchers in the western states. The groups made the request as part of a motion to intervene on the side of the State of Utah in a lawsuit against the federal government. The litigation challenges federal land management plans imposing restrictions on ranching and other human activities in Utah as part of a larger effort to manage federal lands for species protection rather than for “multiple uses” as required by law. In papers filed Tuesday, the Farm Bureau organizations asked the U.S. Court for the District of Utah to find that the federal government broke the law when it drew up rules designed to protect the habitat of the Greater Sage Grouse. Among other things, the complaint alleges that the Bureau of Land Management and U.S. Forest Service ignored numerous congressional mandates designed to ensure transparency and management of federal lands for multiple uses and sustained yields. The suit cites violations of the Administrative Procedure Act, the Federal Advisory Committee Act, Federal Land Policy and Management Act, the National Forest Management Act and the National Environmental Policy Act. “Ranchers have long used federal lands for grazing,” AFBF President Zippy Duvall said. “And all that time, ranchers have been at the forefront of protecting forage and water resources so that wildlife and ranching can thrive together. These plans, however, hang ranchers out to dry in the drought. Western ranchers have faced continued threats to their water rights and reductions in their ability to graze livestock on federal lands. We have to intervene now to preserve our ranches and our way of life.”  press release

Minnesota prairie restorers recruit a surprising ally: cows

Records say when the first plows sliced through the great Midwestern prairie, a popping sound rang through the air like a volley of pistol shots. It was the sound of millions of roots snapping against the plow's steel blade. Vast tallgrass prairie once covered about a third of Minnesota's landscape. But less than 2 percent of that native grassland remains, much of it plowed under for agricultural use. "The places where you still have prairie and grass, are places where it was very difficult, or unprofitable to farm," Steve Chaplin, prairie conservation coordinator for Minnesota and Dakotas for the nonprofit Nature Conservancy, said he stood on a stretch of prairie outside Moorhead. Now, though, state agencies and private conservation groups are pushing ahead on plans to preserve tracts land -- and cattlemen and their cows are playing a surprisingly important role. Preserving prairie has meant figuring out ways to mimic certain elements of the environment before settlers moved in. Conservationists say cattle can mimic much of the grazing patterns of bison, which once covered the prairie and whose presence was vital to the ecosystem. "We, the conservation community in general, have been saying cows and conservation don't work together," said Greg Hoch, prairie habitat team leader for the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources. "After further research ... we've figured out cows and conservation can work very very well together."...more

Indian tribes to be allowed to gather plants in national parks

he gathering and removal of plants or plant parts for traditional purposes will now be allowed in national parks by members of federally recognized Indian tribes. The rule change was announced by Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell on Wednesday at the National Congress of American Indians Mid-Year Conference in Spokane, Wash. “The changes to the gathering rule support continuation of unique cultural traditions of American Indians and support the mission of the National Park Service,” said National Park Service Director Jonathan B. Jarvis in a press release. The changes to the regulation take effect 30 days after the rule is published in the Federal Register in the coming days. After that time, tribes will be able to request to enter into agreements to conduct gathering activities. The pre-published final rule can be read online at To be eligible under the rule, the tribe must have a traditional association to lands within the national park system and the plants must be gathered only for traditional purposes...more

IRS to Return $30K It Seized From Maryland Dairy Farmers

by Melissa Quinn 

...Sowers’ saga began in February 2012, when IRS agents went to the dairy farm he runs with his wife, Karen, and told Sowers that the tax agency had seized their farm’s bank account.

The agency emptied the account, taking all $63,000.

According to the IRS, the Sowerses were making consistent cash deposits of just under $10,000. Agents said the Maryland couple had been “structuring” cash transactions to evade bank reporting requirements.

But Sowers and his wife frequently sold their eggs and milk at weekend farmers markets, and because many of their customers paid in cash, they often deposited cash into their bank account.
A bank teller previously told Karen Sowers that any deposits or withdrawals of more than $10,000 meant the bank had to fill out extra paperwork, so the couple decided to keep their deposits under that amount.

Under federal law, intentionally structuring cash transactions to avoid reporting requirements is illegal. And under civil asset forfeiture laws—a subset of which govern cash transactions and were designed to prevent money laundering and drug trafficking—the government was able to seize the couple’s money.

Civil asset forfeiture is a tool that gives law enforcement the power to take cash, cars, and other property that  investigators suspect is tied to a crime.

Sowers and his lawyers attempted to negotiate with the government, hoping to have most of the couple’s money returned. But those negotiations soured after the Frederick County farmer spoke with a reporter from Baltimore City Paper about his experience.

The day City Paper published its article featuring Sowers, Stefan Cassella, the assistant U.S. attorney handling the case, emailed the family’s lawyer saying the two parties had a “problem” because Sowers had spoken to the press.

As a result, Cassella said, prosecutors told the Sowerses they would have to forfeit $29,500 to the government—nearly half of what initially was seized.

The couple never was charged with a crime.

Drone inspects New Mexico river dam

No one says the 100-year old Elephant Butte Reservoir Dam is in any danger. But it is the first Bureau of Reclamation (USBR) dam in America to try out drone technology for some of its safety inspections. “So when there’s new technology out there, we will take our structures within Reclamation, we will apply those under a research type activity, just to see if they can be used in the future,” said Reclamation Assistant Area Manager Ken Rice. Some in USBR are hoping drones will be able to find cracks and other issues and reduce the need for workers to hang over the sides of dams on long ropes. They also hope drones can reveal new information about the dam by surveying the structure with other sensors like infrared instruments. The drone buzzing around the Elephant Butte dam this week is a single-rotor small helicopter called the Avenger. Built by Denver-based Geotech subsidiary Leptron, it is packed with a high resolution camera and other sensors that can create an extremely accurate 3-D computer model of the dam...more

Ranch Radio Song Of The Day #1647

Today for Johnny Week, even though he spells it differently, is Johnnie Lee Wills & His Boys with his 1953 recording of Two Step Side Step.  Wills was the younger brother of Bob and started in Bob's band in 1934 playing banjo.  When Bob moved his group to California Johnnie Lee stayed in Tulsa, switched to fiddle and started his own group.  The tune is on his CD Rompin' Stompin' Singin' Swingin'.

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Report: Chupacabra attacks farm animals

It's back. A farmer claims the legendary Chupacabra attacked his lambs in a farm in central Chihuahua last week, according to Mexican news reports. The farmer said that he found 10 of his animals Thursday morning with head and neck wounds that he believes were caused by the infamous "goat sucker" in a rural community southeast of Delicias, La Opción de Chihuahua reported. One lamb was killed. La Opcion reported that another man in the same community reported a Chupacabra attack years ago, but it had been five years since the last attack. Delicias is southeast of Chihuahua City, about 300 miles south of El Paso. Chupacabra stories first emerged in Puerto Rico in the early 1990s and reported sightings over the years have spread to several parts of the North and South America, including the U.S. and Mexico. Chupacabra tales first hit the El Paso-Juárez region in 1995, including a report of a married woman from the Juárez area who claimed that the blood-sucking creature had bitten her on the neck. Her claim was later debunked as an attempt to divert attention from a lover's hickey. In 2010, two men said they believed the Chupacabra was responsible for the deaths of at least 30 of their chickens in Horizon City, according to El Paso Times archives...more

Young bull riders dare to ride the best athletes in the world

With no bull riders completing a qualifying ride by staying atop their animals during the weekend, it could be said that the bulls were the winners at this year’s Rodeo de Taos. Both Saturday and Sunday saw rider after rider get tossed about and thrown down onto the tilled turf of the Taos County Sheriff’s Posse Arena. And although the bulls seemed to have had enough of the corrals in Taos and were hot and angry during the final hours of the rodeo, three young teens were more than willing to give it a go to try riding these one-ton beasts. These are the nearly impossible demands that are put on all bull riders, and it’s a lifestyle that only the bravest of performers choose to fulfill. But, during the lead-up to the bull riding on June 26, Kyle Cordova, Javon Maestas and Eddie Maestas coolly accepted the challenge to put on a show for the fans who stayed to see man versus beef. Cordova, a 14-year-old local rider from Taos, claims to have close to 100 rides under his belt in recent years and showed no signs of worry, though he was selected to ride a full-sized, Pro Bull Riders (PBR) bull. Focused and sure, Cordova knowingly tipped his cowboy hat to his elders and respectfully listened to their advice as he prepared for his Sunday ride. Much like Cordova, Eddie Maestas is a passionate 14-year-old bull rider from Canjilon, New Mexico, who also has no qualms about his craft. Eddie Maestas was inspired by cousins who also ride bulls and has friends that own practice bulls for working on different techniques. “I go over to my friend’s place every Sunday when we’re not at rodeo to practice,” said Maestas. Javon Maestas, a 15-year-old from Mora (no relation to Eddie Maestas), had a different kind of experience on Sunday, in that he got on a full-sized bull for the very first time in his life. It was a “hold-your-breath moment” for rodeo fans attending the 49th Rodeo de Taos as the gate flew open and the rookie set out to try his luck. In less than a second, Javon was thrown from his bull...more

Owners to liquidate contents of historic lodge in Santa Fe

SANTA FE, N.M. — The entire contents of the historic Bishop's Lodge will be up for sale as the owners work on renovating the resort and spa just north of Santa Fe. The liquidation begins Thursday and will continue for 14 days. Organizers say it will be the largest garage sale of its type in the Santa Fe area. Everything will be up for grabs — from furniture and fixtures to kitchen equipment, linens and thousands of other items. The lodge shut its doors in late 2015 so construction could begin. The work is expected to be complete in 2017, with the addition of nearly three dozen rooms and remodeled public spaces. Situated on more than 300 acres in the Sangre de Cristo Mountains, the resort at Bishop's Lodge dates back to the 1920s.  AP

Heinrich is my hero on this one

U.S. Sen. Martin Heinrich put a hold on an intelligence bill over what his office calls a “massive expansion of government surveillance.” Heinrich’s office announced the hold on the Intelligence Authorization Act, which essentially blocks the legislation, on Tuesday morning. Heinrich said that he is doing so because of concerns over the constitutionality of the expanded authorization for domestic surveillance. At issue are National Security Letters, which the federal government can use to get information without approval from a judge. The Electronic Privacy Information Center says the letters give “the FBI the power to compel the disclosure of customer records held by banks, telephone companies, Internet Service Providers, and others.” The proposal would expand the list of information the FBI could get using these letters. “This represents a massive expansion of government surveillance and gives the FBI access to law-abiding Americans’ email and browser histories without judicial approval or independent oversight,” Heinrich said in a statement. “There is no question that our Intelligence Community needs the ability to collect critical information to guard against terrorist threats. However, the government shouldn’t have access to every Google search you’ve ever made and emails you’ve ever sent or received without a court order. Obtaining this warrant is straightforward and the FBI simply needs to establish a reasonable connection to terrorism or national security.”...more

Thank you Senator Heinrich for stepping forward on this important privacy issue.  Let's hope your action results in the death of this amendment.  It takes fortitude to put a hold on legislation of this type and your leadership is applauded.

How do Trump and Clinton differ on conservation?

Joshua Zaffos

...While speaking at a media summit last week organized by the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership in Fort Collins, Colorado, Trump Jr., an avid hunter and angler, defended keeping federal lands managed by the government and open to the public. He also reiterated his father’s strong support for U.S. energy development, proposed some corporate sponsorships in national parks, questioned humans’ role in climate change, and criticized Hillary Clinton for “pandering” to hunters with “phoniness.” U.S. Rep. Mike Thompson, D-California, spoke for Clinton’s campaign at the summit a day later, and provided plenty of contrast between the presidential candidates.

Trump Jr. has served as an adviser to his father on natural-resources issues and has even joked with family that, should his father win, he’d like to be Secretary of the Interior, overseeing national parks and millions of acres of federal public lands. In Fort Collins, he said he’s not “the policy guy,” but repeated his frequent pledge to be a “loud voice” for preserving public lands access for sportsmen. Trump Jr. also mocked some gun-control measures, such as ammunition limits, boasting, “I have a thousand rounds of ammunition in my vehicle almost at all times because it’s called two bricks of .22 … You know, I’ll blow…through that with my kids on a weekend.”

Trump, the presumptive Republican candidate, partly distinguished himself among other GOP candidates during primary season—not that that was a problem for the New York real-estate developer—by balking at the transfer of federal public lands to states or counties. While Ted Cruz, Marco Rubio and others expressed support for public-land transfers, kowtowing to some Western conservatives, Trump rejected the idea. Speaking to Field & Stream in January, Trump said: “I don’t like the idea because I want to keep the lands great, and you don’t know what the state is going to do. I mean, are they going to sell if they get into a little bit of trouble? And I don’t think it’s something that should be sold. We have to be great stewards of this land. This is magnificent land.”
Trump Jr. reaffirmed that stance, but also supported more input for states as long as those efforts don’t jeopardize public access.

Editorial - 2 competing views of the hikes in grazing fees on federal land

In 2015, ranchers paid the federal government $1.69 per animal unit month (AUM) to allow their livestock to graze on federal land. As of March, that amount has risen to $2.11, a 25 percent increase. Utah Rep. Rob Bishop has called the fee hike “outlandish,” and most of the approximately 22,000 public-land ranchers are likely to agree.

But critics are quick to point out that a $2.11 AUM fee pales in comparison to private grazing leases, which are often nearly 10 times that amount. Travis Bruner, the executive director of the Western Watersheds Project, told High Country News that “taxpayers are getting a raw deal regarding grazing” and that the current system constitutes nothing more than “a narrow welfare program for the benefit of Western livestock operations.”

That position presupposes that the government is somehow doing the ranchers a favor by allowing them on public lands at all. There is a growing body of evidence, however, that there is a genuine environmental benefit to well-managed grazing. In 2015, the Utah Legislature recognized that well-managed public land can naturally sequester carbon emissions and passed HCR 8 in an effort to achieve that goal. Grazing is a critical component of that process, as it regularly turns the soil and makes it more fertile than land that is left untouched and untended. Of course, overgrazing can become a problem, but the idea that the government would be better off without any private animals grazing on public land is belied by the facts.

The Center for American Progress, a nonprofit think tank headquartered in Washington, outlines another compelling reason to encourage grazing on federal land. In a recent report titled “The Disappearing West,” the group found that from 2001 to 2011, 4,300 square miles of open Western land were lost to development. “Every 2.5 minutes, the American West loses a football field's worth of natural area to human development,” its website states.

The group's answer to this problem is to preserve that land by purchasing it for private environmental groups. Yet the more cost-effective solution is to encourage and even expand grazing on public lands.

How the West Was One

JACKSON HOLE, WY – The battle for the Wyoming Range wore on and on. So long, it’s been a difficult story to follow with rapt interest. Most know the outline: Big Oil threatened to drill in some of the most pristine acreage the state has to offer. Opposition mounted. Citizens rallied.

And then, the most unlikeliest of endings. Bambi beats Godzilla. A loose-knit band of sportsmen, hunters, ranchers, and tree-huggers put away their differences long enough to stare down a common enemy. Only that wasn’t the end. After the credits rolled came a teaser for the sequel. Energy extraction companies are again polishing their drill bits, hoping to squeeze out some of the estimated three trillion barrels of shale oil from beneath the surface—the largest such deposit on the planet.

Years ago, it took an act of Congress and nearly nine million in payoff money to ransom the range back from oil interests. But one thing bothered conservation movement leaders like Dan Smitherman and Lisa McGee. Even as they popped the champagne in 2012, they had an uneasy feeling. A map of the protected mountain range revealed tiny pockets of grandfathered drilling permits. They were nothing, right? Totaling just three percent of the 1.2 million acres, maybe the oil companies would forget about them.

They didn’t.

The dispute over which was more valuable—the land or the juice trapped in the rock beneath it—began long ago. What made the Wyoming namesake range so special happened much, much earlier.

Geologists call it the Green River Formation. It’s a product of the Eocene epoch dated to about 40 to 55 million years ago. At the beginning of this six million year period, earth was a sauna—Wyoming, a lush jungle. Dinosaurs had been dead and gone for some 10 million years and now other stuff was growing like crazy.

And you think we have greenhouse gasses? Scientists estimate oxygen levels were double what they are today. Plant and animal life flourished to the degree that carbon dioxide and methane gases were correspondingly off the chart. All this kept the planet warm until it didn’t. By the end of the epoch, massive glaciers covered Wyoming, and trapped all that prehistoric photosynthesis under varves and varves of sediment.

Add a few uplifts and a fold-and-thrust belt, and the surface of the Wyoming Range sprouted mountains, rivers, and valleys. But the rugged land’s beauty ran more than skin deep. When the energy age came, roughnecks and riggers powered a nation on the mineral trapped underground. Recent improved technology suddenly made a forgotten lake algae known as cyanobacteria the hottest commodity going. Oil shale deposits could literally be wrung from rock, brought to the surface, and burned in our cars and homes. And far below the hooves of her wild animals, Wyoming was sitting on a fortune of it.

Senate holds oversight hearing on sage grouse habitat management

Recently, the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Subcommittee on Public Lands, Forests and Mining held an oversight hearing on the federal sage grouse plans and their impact to successful ongoing state management of the species. Brenda Richards, Owyhee County Idaho rancher and president of the Public Lands Council, testified on behalf of the PLC and National Cattlemen’s Beef Association. Richards said that any federal management plan must first recognize the essential contribution of grazing to conservation. “Ranchers across the west have a vested interest not just in the health of their livestock, but in the rangelands that support their herds and the wildlife that thrive alongside them,” said Richards. “The businesses they operate form the economic nucleus of many rural communities, providing jobs and opportunities where they wouldn’t exist otherwise. Additionally, ranchers often serve as first responders in emergency situations across vast, remote stretches of unoccupied federal lands. Simply put, public lands ranchers are an essential element of strong communities, healthy economies and productive rangelands across the west.” Across the west, roughly 22,000 ranchers steward approximately 250 million acres of federal land and 140 million acres of adjacent private land. With as much as 80 percent of productive sage grouse habitat on private lands adjacent to federal permit ground, this makes private partnership essential in increasing sage grouse numbers. However, concern remains that local stakeholder input is being ignored by the Bureau of Land Management. “Items such as Focal Areas, mandatory stubble height requirements and withdrawals of permits impose radically severe and unnecessary management restrictions on this vast area in opposition to proven strategies,” said Richards. “Rather than embracing grazing as a resource and tool for conservation benefit, these plan amendments impose arbitrary restrictions to satisfy requirements for newly minted objectives such as Focal Areas and Net Conservation Benefit. Wildfire, invasive species and infrastructure are the major threats to sage grouse habitat and they are all most effectively managed through grazing.”...more

Predator hunters and their competitive events

...Now for predators! Competitive predator hunting is big — perhaps too big. So far, the field for the World Championship Predator Calling Contest has been limited to 130 teams and there is a waiting list. Arizona, Colorado, Nevada, New Mexico, and Utah have hosted the annual event, and the purse is attractive enough to require the use of lie detector tests on all teams that submit dead critters. This event could come to South Dakota, but I don't know that we would want it. I'd be interested in thoughts from readers on this topic. I have some mixed emotions about the World Championship. Because I abhor political correctness, there is no way that I'd bow to animal rights activists. The World Championship people do so by not allowing the photography of dead predators, and encouraging participants to keep their kills off of the Internet. They are very low-key about advertising, promotion, and location of the contest. While I understand their reasons, I say "bring it on!" I asked a rancher friend if competitive predator hunting — primarily coyotes — is taking place in South Dakota. I was surprised to learn that in his area alone, Bison, Dupree, Isabel, and Watauga host competitions that begin with a Friday night Calcutta auction of participating teams. This enables the entire community to participate in the activity. Prizes are given for the most and largest coyotes. Like the world competition, cheating has become an issue. What a sad commentary on an otherwise wholesome event among friends and neighbors. According to my rancher friend, most ranchers support the predator hunts. I assume that this relates in part to the coyote threat to livestock. He has no problem with local hunters, but I did detect some apprehension on his part about prizes becoming more lucrative and attracting hunters from greater distances. I would guess that his neighbors share similar concerns. California has addressed this issue by banning the awarding of prizes for predator hunts. Though I'm not a predator hunter per se, I've killed a dozen or so foxes and coyotes while hunting deer, antelope, or pheasants. Serious prairie dog/predator hunters use a quality bolt-action rifle with a high-power scope. Popular calibers are .204 Ruger, .22-250 Remington, and .243 Winchester. I'd pick the .243, as it bucks the wind better than the others. Predator hunters also rely on calls — mouth or sophisticated electronic calls. In spite of the technology, calling in a "once-fooled" coyote works about as well as make-up on a 70 year-old woman, not to mention men dyeing their hair. Judging by what I see mounted on a cowboy ATV, AR-15's are popular varmint rifles and operate contrary to the image presented by our media today. AR does not stand for assault rifle. It is a trademark for a gun made by ArmaLite, similar to how Kleenex is the trademark term for paper tissue. ArmaLite developed the AR-15 for civilians, not the military. As they are surprisingly accurate, they make a great coyote rifle, especially when equipped with a suppressor or silencer...more

Mexico resumes Canadian beef imports

The first case of mad cow disease, or BSE, hit Canada in 2003. That led to the virtual shut down of beef sales overseas. Well, on Tuesday Mexico has lifted the last restrictions on Canadian beef imports. John Masswohl with the Canadian Cattlemen’s Association explains the limitations that Mexico had over beef imports from Canada. “Mexico was one of the first countries to re-open to beef from cattle under 30 months, but about a quarter of our trade was cattle over 30 months, and that’s 13 years later now we’ve been working on trying to get that over 30 month trade and they have now removed the restrictions to that finally as well.” Masswohl says it will take a little while for trade volumes to increase. The depression in the price of beef following the BSE announcement had led to a thinning of domestic herd sizes. With the Mexican market now open, domestic cattle ranchers will start to increase herd sizes. He says once herd sizes start to approach the volumes seen in 2003, we could see 250 million dollars in trade to Mexico annually. Masswohl says he hopes that the easing of Mexican restrictions will be mirrored by China...more

Crews fighting blaze at train collision site with 3 missing

Three crew members were missing and one was hurt after a head-on train collision in the Texas Panhandle that caused several box cars to erupt in flames and led authorities to evacuate residents in the area. The two BNSF Railway freight trains were on the same track when they collided Tuesday near the town of Panhandle, about 25 miles northeast of Amarillo. Each train carried two crew members; one man jumped before the collision, according to BNSF spokesman Joe Faust. That man was in stable condition at an Amarillo hospital with injuries that were not life-threatening, said Sgt. Dan Buesing of the Texas Department of Public Safety. His identity wasn't available. Because the fire was still burning Tuesday night, crews had not been able to search the wreckage for the three missing crew members, Buesing said, adding that crews are still pouring water on the fire. Freight cars and containers were derailed and strewn for about 400 yards from the collision site, Buesing said. As nightfall approached, floodlights were being brought in as efforts to quell the flames and search for the missing crew members was expected to continue well into the night, he said. "I don't know how anyone survived," said Billy Brown, a farmer in the area who saw a fireball after the collision. "It's terrible. I've seen a number of train wrecks but I've never seen one like this."...more

Bear attack victim wants change in New Mexico wildlife law

A New Mexico marathon runner who was attacked by a black bear is pushing to change the state law that forced wild officials to kill the animal. Karen Williams tells the Santa Fe New Mexican in an interview published Tuesday that the female bear that charged and mauled her was acting on its protective instincts to defend its cubs. It shouldn't have been killed, she said. Williams was treated at an Albuquerque hospital for bites, scratches and a fractured eye socket after the June 18 attack in the Valles Caldera National Preserve. The 53-year-old was competing in the Valles Calderas Runs organized race when she reached a hilltop and unknowingly startled the bear and at least one of its cubs, which ran up a tree. A day later, state wildlife officials tracked the female bear in New Mexico's Jemez Mountains and killed it, saying state law mandates euthanizing any animal that attacks a human. Authorities also must test the animal's brain for rabies. The bear's cubs were found a week after the attack and taken to a nearby wildlife center. Williams says officials should be allowed more discretion to weigh the circumstances surrounding an attack before making a decision on whether to put down an animal. Similar policies are already in place in many states on the East Coast, the New Mexican reported. Meanwhile, bears in Yellowstone National Park aren't killed unless they prey or feed on a human. In Williams' case, the bear wasn't preying on her, she said. And it also tested negative for rabies...more

Activists ask fed court to stop more cougar trapping in NM

Animal protection groups are suing the state in federal court, trying to block a major expansion of cougar trapping they say would also illegally snag endangered Mexican wolves and jaguars. The lawsuit asks the U.S. District Court to rule that the expanded cougar trapping violates the federal Endangered Species Act and to prohibit state officials from implementing it. The animal protection groups – which have a similar challenge pending in state District Court – filed the federal lawsuit Monday against the Game Commission and the Department of Game and Fish. The department said in a statement that the lawsuit “is only a distraction.” “The rule was crafted after nearly a yearlong process of public and scientific scrutiny, including consideration of potential impacts on endangered species,” the statement said. “The department will vigorously defend the rule, which is part of a world-class effort to manage New Mexico’s wildlife.”...more

Ranch Radio Song Of The Day #1646

Continuing with Johnny Week, we have Johnny Horton's 1954 recording of The Train With The Rhumba Beat.  The tune is on his Mercury album The Fantastic Johnny Horton

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Disarmed and dangerous: Officers across the Bay Area and state are losing firearms at an astonishing rate — and the consequences can be deadly

From Glocks, Sig Sauers and Remingtons to sniper and assault rifles, some equipped with grenade launchers. They used to belong to law enforcement officers across California, but a new Bay Area News Group investigation found hundreds of police-issued weapons have been either stolen, lost or can’t be accounted for since 2010, often disappearing onto the streets without a trace. A year after a bullet from a federal agent’s stolen gun killed 32-year-old Kate Steinle on a San Francisco pier, this news organization surveyed more than 240 local, state and federal law enforcement agencies and discovered an alarming disregard for the way many officers — from police chiefs to cadets to FBI agents — safeguard their weapons. Their guns have been stolen from behind car seats and glove boxes, swiped from gym bags, dresser drawers and under beds. They have been left on tailgates, car roofs and even atop a toilet paper dispenser in a car dealership’s bathroom. One officer forgot a high-powered assault rifle in the trunk of a taxi. The tally includes Colts, Rugers, Smith & Wessons, a Derringer, a .44-caliber Dirty Harry hand cannon and a small snub-nosed revolver called a “Detective Special.” In all, since 2010, at least 944 guns have disappeared from police in the Bay Area and state and federal agents across California — an average of one almost every other day — and fewer than 20 percent have been recovered. Little attention had been paid to the issue before Steinle’s highly publicized death. But at least 86 weapons were snatched from officers’ vehicles between January 2010 and last June’s smash-and-grab burglary of a U.S. Bureau of Land Management ranger’s gun recovered after Steinle’s shooting. Police have not determined who stole it, but an illegal immigrant is charged in her killing. The thefts are revealed in records obtained from government agencies in one of the most comprehensive examinations of missing police guns of its kind. While last year’s highly publicized killings of Steinle and Oakland muralist Antonio Ramos brought attention to the tragic consequences of stolen police guns, the scope of the problem has been far less clear — until now. The numbers “are staggering,” said Frank Pitre, an attorney representing Steinle’s parents, Jim Steinle and Elizabeth Sullivan, in a federal lawsuit over their daughter’s death. The BLM is one of three defendants. This news organization’s investigation also uncovered that a gun stolen from a Tracy cop in 2010 was used to kill a man in Contra Costa County four years later, and a now-retired Piedmont police chief’s stolen gun in 2012 was used in a San Francisco gang shooting that year...more

Case of possible misconduct by FBI in LaVoy Finicum shooting now before grand jury

The federal investigation into an FBI agent's apparent firing of gunshots at Robert "LaVoy" Finicum and the alleged FBI tampering with evidence at the scene has gone to a grand jury. Assistant U.S. Attorney Charles Gorder Jr. revealed the grand jury hearing in court papers Thursday explaining the government's desire to keep its memorandum about the inspector general's investigation into the FBI's handling of the Jan. 26 shooting out of the hands of defense lawyers. "The Declaration provides details of an ongoing investigation by the United States Department of Justice, Office of Inspector General, and concerns matters occurring before the grand jury protected from disclosure,'' Gorder wrote to the court. "The Declaration more fully describes to the Court alone the nature of the material which is the subject of defendants' motion to compel and which the government contends should be denied from discovery.'' Gorder had previously asked U.S. District Judge Anna J. Brown to allow the criminal division's chief prosecutor in the U.S. Attorney's Office to file a memo under seal and only with the judge concerning the investigation of the FBI agents. Defense lawyers in the Oregon standoff case have asked the judge to compel the government to turn over the investigative records regarding the FBI's alleged misconduct. Late Wednesday, Brown said she'd allow prosecutors to file the memo under seal, but ruled it must be shared with defense lawyers. She said, however, that she would allow the government to make further argument why it shouldn't be shared with the defense...more


Judge Brown rules prosecutors haven't met the bar to file the document only with the court, so must file it sealed, and share it with defense lawyers. The practice of filing legal briefs out of the eye of one party in a pending criminal proceeding, the judge wrote, is "strongly disfavored.''

Corpses of Dead Migrants Plague Rural Texas County — 90 Miles from Border

More dead bodies of illegal immigrants are being found in Brooks County, Texas, as the summer heat begins to kick-in. This comes despite a 47 percent increase in the number of rescues successfully carried out by Border Patrol agents in the area. The number of dead bodies recovered by the Brooks County Sheriff’s Office this year stands at twenty-seven – five from this month alone, according to information provided to Breitbart Texas by the Brooks County Sheriff’s Office. Brooks County is located around the town of Falfurrias, about 80 miles north of the Texas border with Mexico. There is a U.S. Border Patrol checkpoint located in the middle of the county on the only road leading from the border through this county. Human smugglers have been taking their “cargo” through the dangerous ranch lands in this county for years to avoid the checkpoint. When an illegal immigrant cannot keep up, or becomes injured walking in the soft sand of these ranches, they are left behind to die...more

Alaska Natives, environmentalists add to push for action on nearby Canadian mining

Alaska Native and environmental groups on Monday petitioned the Interior Secretary to launch a formal investigation into whether pollution from mines in British Columbia is causing problems for wildlife across the border in Southeast Alaska. The groups pointed to a 1971 amendment and several international agreements to argue that Interior Secretary Sally Jewell has a duty to launch an investigation into the potential Alaska environmental impacts from six hard-rock mines in British Columbia. And they want the agency to support a joint United States-Canada commission to hash out the issue. Earthjustice attorney Kenta Tsuda charged the U.S. government with "waiting on the sidelines" as Canadian mine companies barrelled ahead, and Frederick Olsen Jr., chairman of the United Tribal Transboundary Mining Work Group, called the state of affairs "federal under-reach. "This isn't the first time the Interior Department and the Obama administration have heard from Alaskans concerned that pollution from the mines could devastate Southeast Alaska fisheries: The state's U.S. Sens. Lisa Murkowski and Dan Sullivan and Congressman Don Young, as well as officials in Gov. Bill Walker's administration, have all raised the issue with officials from Jewell to Secretary of State John Kerry to White House staff. But the delegation said pleas for White House officials to raise the issue in recent talks with Canada have gone unheard...more