Friday, April 30, 2010

Mojave Cross can stay on display in National Preserve

An 8-foot cross honoring fallen soldiers in the remote Mojave National Preserve in California can stay where it is, because the Supreme Court said Wednesday that the Constitution nowhere requires the "eradication of all religious symbols in the public realm." Justice Anthony M. Kennedy, writing the lead opinion in a 5-4 decision in which several justices wrote separate concurrences and dissents, compared the Mojave Cross to a hypothetical highway memorial marking the death of a state trooper to make the point that such displays "need not be taken as a statement of governmental support for sectarian beliefs." "The Constitution does not oblige government to avoid any public acknowledgment of religion's role in society," Justice Kennedy said in his opinion. "Rather, it leaves room to accommodate divergent values within a constitutionally permissible framework." Leading the dissenters was Justice John Paul Stevens, who called the war memorial "unprecedented" in its starkly religious tone. "Congressional action, taken after due deliberation, that honors our fallen soldiers merits our highest respect," said Justice Stevens, who recently announced his plan to retire. "As far as I can tell, however, it is unprecedented in the nation's history to designate a bare, unadorned cross as the national war memorial for a particular group of veterans." The justices didn't rule technically on the constitutional issue of whether the cross constitutes an establishment of religion. However, they declined to rule that the cross was a First Amendment violation, as asked, and the majority justices' language indicate a more benign view of religion expression on public lands...more

Wolf vs. Livestock Compensation Gets $1 Million

Ten states will share $1 million from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) to help compensate ranchers for losses caused by wolves and to help them implement non-lethal methods of preventing the wolves from killing their livestock. Since being listed as a federally-protected endangered species in 1967, the gray wolf has staged a rapid comeback and the violent interface between wolves and livestock producers has again become an issue. For example, the Montana Department of Fish and Wildlife reported confirmed wolf kills of 298 cattle and 461 sheep from 1995 to 2007. "Wolf populations are expanding in several parts of the nation, and this grant program gives us another tool to help states minimize conflict where wolves and human activities overlap," said Rowan Gould, acting Director of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in a press release. States to receive compensation funds include; Minnesota, Michigan, Wisconsin, Idaho, Montana, Wyoming, Arizona, New Mexico, Oregon and Washington. According to the FWS, amounts awarded to each state were based the number of livestock killed by wolves in each state, the number of wolves in each state, and need in each state...more

Sagebrush stirrings

Utah State Representative Chris Herrod has gotten a lot of attention since his bill to explore seizing federal land through eminent domain became law last month. Colleagues in other Western legislatures have called seeking tips on replicating his success in their states. And the law was a topic of discussion this week when U.S. Interior Secretary Ken Salazar paid a visit to Salt Lake City. A majority of the land in Utah, as in many Western states, is owned by the federal government. Herrod’s measure treats the federal government like any other property owner in the state. It allows Washington to keep the rights and title to the land but not ultimate jurisdiction over it. That jurisdiction rests with Utah, and it means that federal land holdings may be subject to state eminent domain authority. Outrage over federal land policies is nothing new in Western states, where local officials have long sought to develop public land and collect tax revenue from it. Now, with Democrats in charge in Washington and conservative activists energized in their opposition towards the Obama administration’s health care, energy and budget policies, some in the West are trying to counter what they see as federal heavy-handedness in land-use matters...more

Judge: Enviros must file new suit on grouse decision

A federal judge has rebuffed a first attempt by an Idaho-based environmental group to challenge a March 5 decision on federal protection for the greater sage grouse. But to Western Watersheds Project, which has its main office in Hailey, Tuesday’s decision by U.S. District Judge B. Lynn Winmill won’t really end up a setback. The organization still plans to urge the judge to tell the federal government to list the grouse under the Endangered Species Act, said its longtime attorney, Laird Lucas of Advocates for the West. It just will do so in a separate case. So, the debate over the bird’s future — imperiled by numerous threats to its sagebrush habitat across the West — will continue to play out in the courts...more

BLM settles dispute over San Juan Basin plan

The Bureau of Land Management and conservation groups have settled an eight-year dispute over a management plan for nearly 10,000 natural gas wells in the San Juan Basin of northwestern New Mexico. The groups claimed the BLM violated the National Environmental Policy Act and other federal laws in developing a 2003 management plan for drilling over 20 years in the 16,000-square-mile basin that straddles the border of New Mexico and Colorado. A federal court ruled in favor of the agency in 2008, and the groups countered with an appeal. That appeal was dismissed Monday after both sides reached a compromise that, in part, calls for the BLM to consider impacts to cultural, wildlife and other resources when reviewing new lease sales. The agency also plans to hold annual meetings to discuss proposed oil and gas development in the basin, consult with tribal officials from the Navajo Nation and develop an online system that the public can access for information on existing wells and lease locations as well as proposed oil and gas projects...more

Obama’s EPA Gave Energy Star Certification to ‘Gas-Powered Clock Radio’ and 14 Other Phony Products

The Environmental Protection Agency certified that a “gas-powered clock radio” was an energy-efficient product under the government’s Energy Star program, despite the fact that neither the clock nor its manufacturer ever existed. The clock and 14 other phony products were part of an investigation into the Energy Star program conducted by the Government Accountability Office, which submitted 20 fraudulent Energy Star applications from four fake companies. The EPA evaluated 16 of those products while the Department of Energy (DOE) evaluated four. Fifteen of the phony products – including the gas-powered alarm clock – and all four of the fake companies were certified by EPA/DOE under the Energy Star program. GAO conducted the investigation between June 2009 to March 2010. One of the phony products, which GAO submitted as an energy-efficient air cleaner, was pictured on a phony Web site as nothing more than a space heater with a feather duster taped to it. “Using fictitious information, we were able to obtain Energy Star partnership for four bogus manufacturing firms, using only Web sites, commercial mailboxes, and cell phones to serve as a backstop corporate presence,” GAO reported. “All four bogus companies were granted Energy Star partnership by EPA and/or DOE within 2 weeks.”
In addition to certifying 15 of the 20 bogus products, EPA/DOE rejected only two and failed to act on three...more

Mourning The Loss Of A Tree

Herb, after watching this, would you really tie hard and fast to these folks?

What would Gus and Woodrow do? Dally and drag.


A Georgia farmer was selling his peaches door to door. He knocked on a door and a shapely 30 something woman dressed in a very sheer negligee answered the door. He raised his basket to show her the peaches and asked, 'Would you like to buy some peaches?'

She pulled the top of the negligee to one side and asked, 'Are they as firm as this?' He nodded his head and said, 'Yes ma'am,' and a little tear ran from his eye.

Then she pulled the other side of her negligee off asking, 'Are they nice and pink like this?' The farmer said, Yes,' and another tear came from the other eye.

She unbuttoned the bottom of her negligee and asked, 'Are they as fuzzy as this?' He again said, 'Yes,' and broke down crying. She asked, 'Why on earth are you crying?'

Drying his eyes he replied, ''The drought got my corn, the flood got my soy beans, a tornado leveled my barn, and now I think I'm gonna get screwed out of my peaches.

Song Of The Day #298

Ranch Radio today thanks Glenda Price for getting it right.

On my post Song Of The Day #295 I wrote the following:

Ranch Radio will bring you some "answer songs" this week. We'll start with two classics by Hank Thompson and Kitty Wells: The Wild Side Of Life and It Wasn't God Who Made Honky Tonk Angels.

I remember reading somewhere that this same melody went to #1 on the charts 4 times. The two offered here, The Great Speckled Bird by Roy Acuff and for the life of me I can't remember the fourth this morning. If you know, please email me.

Glenda Price knew, and emailed me the following:

Hi Frank,

Our band used to do this…we did snitches of all four songs.
This is “The Prisoner’s Song” (words by Bill Monroe)
Here is the last verse, the one we liked doing.

Now, if I had the wings of an angel,
Over these prison walls I would fly.
And I'd fly to the arms of my darling,
And there I'd be willing to die.

Glenda Price

Glenda is not just a music fan. She's also a columnist and writer who's done an excellent job covering the agriculture industry and the folks who produce our food and fiber. Readers should check out the collection of her columns in A Goat Tale and Other Stories Heard Around the Supper Table

Our two songs today go out especially for Glenda: Roy Acuff performing The Great Speckled Bird and Eddy Arnold singing The Prisoner's Song.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

The Krentz Bonfire

A little more than a month has passed since the death of Cochise County rancher Rob Krentz, and the emotion generated by his murder, the pure shock of it, has ignited a bonfire that still burns across Arizona's borderlands—and all the way to Washington, D.C...When the bonfire cools, will we be able to look back and say, as the heartbroken Krentz family hopes, that Rob's death wasn't in vain? Last week, Rob's brother, Phil, described how surprised and heartened the family has been at the outpouring of support they've received from around the country. "It has really woken people up to what's going on," he says. "But I don't know if anything will be done about it. It's too early to tell. Meantime, we're coping any way we can." Rob's sister, Susan Pope, says, "This has really taken legs, and I think some things will change for the better. But I don't think it'll ever get to where we feel secure." The Popes' home in the Chiricahua Mountains has been broken into three times. Susan works as a bus driver and teacher at the one-room Apache Elementary School, which has been hit so often that nothing of value remains inside...Life in the Chiricahua Corridor north and east of Douglas, as the Tucson Weekly has been reporting for two years, has become a nightmare of break-ins, threats, intimidation and home invasions. The stories residents told this newspaper, the frustration they feel trying to keep property and family safe in smuggler-occupied territory, were like a freight train in the night...Around Nogales, where arrests are down 20 percent, Susie Morales—who lives 2 1/2 miles from the line in the national forest west of Interstate 19—has seen no letup in crossings. As she cooks dinner in her kitchen, she can look out and see mules backpacking drugs on a trail 75 yards from her front door. Another trail runs 50 yards behind her house. These trails are so close that when Susie spots incursions, she runs into her bathroom with her cell phone and shuts the door. She has to keep her voice down so the crossers can't hear her calling for help. "There are more Border Patrol agents around, but the tide hasn't abated," says Morales. She carries a .357 magnum everywhere she goes. Foot traffic still pours over the Huachuca Mountains, south of Sierra Vista, to the tune of 1,500 a week, according to a citizen who places game cameras on trails there and counts crossings. East of the Huachucas, John Ladd tells me that in the 18 days prior to April 10, he counted some 350 illegals on his San Jose Ranch. Every one had climbed the fence. Ladd's property near Naco has been fenced since 2007, with the barriers ranging from 10 to 13 feet. But fencing just west of Ladd's, across the San Pedro River, stands 18 feet tall, so why would anyone bother with an 18-footer when you can walk east and climb a 10-footer? "I'm on the phone to Border Patrol on average three times a day, seven days a week, to report groups," Ladd says. "I don't know what normal is anymore. I've become cynical, untrusting and pissed off." East of Ladd's at Douglas, drug-laden ultra-light aircraft fly up from Mexico—right over Border Patrol headquarters, and Immigration and Customs Enforcement headquarters, every night of the week...Now, when men go out to work at their corrals, sometimes miles from the house, wives follow along, afraid to be home alone. Up in Rodeo, N.M., Tess Shultis no longer allows her two boys to play outside the house. "Not unless me or their dad is with them," says Shultis, a clerk at the market in Rodeo. "It's too dangerous."...If you encounter the wrong guy, and he thinks you're calling Border Patrol, he might start shooting. That's likely what happened to Krentz. It's supposition, but his killer probably has a criminal record, and rather than get arrested for it, he opened fire. For good measure, he shot Rob's cow dog, too, breaking its back. The animal had to be put down later. The killer's tracks led to Mexico along Black Draw, a heavily used smuggler trail through the San Bernardino National Wildlife Refuge...The idea of ceding American ground to the cartels is the pulse point of this crisis, because fundamentally, this is a fight for land...more

Note the assailant used the federal wildlife refuge for cover. The USFWS has imposed wilderness-like restrictions on the border patrol, making it a safe haven for illegal trafficking. Let's not forget Senator Bingaman's S.1689 which would designate over 400 square miles with similar restrictions. Bad idea.

What I've posted is just snippets from an excellent article by Leo Banks which is the cover story for the April 29 edition of the Tucson Weekly.

If you have any interest at all in this issue, read the complete article.

Justice Department: Three Border Patrol Agents Assaulted Per Day; Someone Kidnapped Every 35 Hours in Phoenix

Three Border Patrol agents are assaulted on the average day at or near the U.S. border. Someone is kidnapped every 35 hours in Phoenix, Ariz., often by agents of alien smuggling organizations. And one-in-five American teenagers last year used some type of illegal drug, many of which were imported across the unsecured U.S.-Mexico border. These facts are reported in the recently released National Drug Threat Assessment for 2010, published by the National Drug Intelligence Center, a division of the U.S. Justice Department. The assessment indicates that kidnappings have become commonplace in Phoenix, Ariz., because families involved in alien smuggling have moved there to escape inter-smuggling-organization violence in Mexico. “Although much of the violence attributed to conflicts over control of the smuggling routes has been confined to Mexico, some has occurred in the United States,” says the Justice Department assessment. “Violence in the United States … has been limited primarily to attacks against alien smuggling organization (ASO) members and their families—some of whom have sought refuge from violence in Mexico by moving to U.S. border communities such as Phoenix. For example, in recent years, kidnappings in Phoenix have numbered in the hundreds, with 260 in 2007, 299 in 2008, and 267 in 2009.” The 267 kidnappings in Phoenix in 2009 equals one kidnapping every 1.37 days—or one every 35 hours...more

Border "Secure as Ever," DHS Chief Says

Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano told the Senate Judiciary Committee on April 27 that the Southwest border is "as secure as it has ever been," while the Associated Press reported that the capital of the former Arizona governor's home state has been dubbed the "kidnapping capital" of the U.S., due to cross-border human smuggling and drug trafficking. The Department of Homeland Security's Southwest Border Initiative is making "unparalleled progress in creating a safe and secure Southwest border," the DHS Secretary told the committee, while citing significant increases in law enforcement personnel and crime-fighting technology ad physical barriers along the 2,000-mile U.S.-Mexican border. The federal government has put up 652 miles of fences and vehicle barriers in California, making Arizona an easier alternative for human and drug trafficking. Some 990,000 aliens were caught illegally crossing into Arizona from Mexico in the last three years, an average of 900 a day, Associated Press writers Jonathan C. Cooper and Amanda Lee reported in an article chronicling events leading up to last week's enactment of the controversial Arizona law aimed at cracking down on illegal immigrants. Local police have grown frustrated at their inability to keep up with the drug trafficking and violent crime often associated with the illegal border crossings. Federal agents seized 1.2 million pounds of marijuana last year in Arizona, an average of 1.5 tons per day. But it is the violent crime, much of it believed to be related to the drug trafficking that has most troubled the state's residents. Phoenix has averaged a kidnapping a day in recent years, the AP reports, with some resulting in torture and death. Last month prominent cattle rancher Rob Krentz was murdered near the border and authorities suspect the killer or killers came from across the border...more

Why is Ken Salazar hiding memo on new monuments, wilderness areas?

Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar was asked in a Feb. 26, 2010, letter from Western Caucus Chairman Rep. Rob Bishop, R-UT, and other representatives from western states for the missing pages from a leaked government memo that “contained detailed information about the administration’s plans to designate as many as 14 new national monuments and lock up as much as 13 million acres in states throughout the West.” Bishop and his colleagues asked Salazar to provide the missing pages by March 26, or a month after their letter went to the Interior chief. More than two months later and Bishop has received exactly nothing from Salazar in response to the February 26 request. Joining Bishop in making the request of Salazar were Rep. Doc Hastings, R-WA, the ranking GOP member of the House Natural Resources Committee, and 14 other members of the Western Caucus. The congressmen have seven pages from the memo, including pages 15 – 21, which list the 14 potential new monuments and costs associated with the project, but the members have no way of knowing what else was in the memo or how many pages it totalled...Salazar was asked about the leaked memo during a recent Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee hearing and responded only by saying “there’s no hidden agenda on the part of my department.” That elicited the obvious response from Bishop, who now asks “if there is no hidden agenda then why do these documents, which are public information, remain under lock and key? Unfortunately for Secretary Salazar, this is where the rubber meets the road, and once again, his rhetoric fails to match reality.”...more

At the crossroads

Last May, the Obama administration removed the gray wolf from the endangered species list in Idaho and Montana, marking the most significant development since wolves were reintroduced to Yellowstone National Park and central Idaho 14 years prior. And, as expected, it prompted a federal lawsuit. Today, that case is before U.S. District Judge Donald Molloy in Missoula, and represents a crossroads for wolves in Montana. The plaintiffs, a coalition of environmental groups, say the federal government made weak demands when handing management over to Montana and Idaho, allowing the states to cut their wolf populations to as few as 100 and cause a population collapse. Many biologists involved in the reintroduction of wolves scoff at the notion that the gray wolf is still endangered in the region. "The population is in great shape," said Ed Bangs, wolf recovery coordinator for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. "You can't do any better." "If this ain't wolf recovery, I don't know what is," said Mike Phillips, who helped with the Yellowstone reintroduction as a federal biologist and now works for Ted Turner. However, Phillips said, there is more at play than wolf numbers. There is also the question of laws. Specifically, Judge Molloy in a preliminary ruling questioned whether it was legal for the Fish and Wildlife Service to carve Wyoming out of the delisting, suggesting that using a state line to manage wolves may be arbitrary. Excluding Wyoming is "a fine idea," Phillips said. "I kind of like it and I understand it, but (Fish and Wildlife Service's) own policies don't allow them to do it. You can't use state boundaries as a boundary for different management schemes."...more

Senators sponsor bill to repeal recreation fees

On Friday, Senator Jim Risch (R-ID) joined Senator Mike Crapo (R-ID) and Montana’s Senators Max Baucus and Jon Tester, both Democrats, in co-sponsoring S. 868, the Fee Repeal and Expanded Access Act, which would repeal most provisions of the Federal Lands Recreational Enhancement Act (FLREA), the law federal agencies use to charge fees for accessing public lands. Repealing FLREA--or RAT (Recreation Access Tax) to its detractors--is also, it seems, a truly bipartisan issue with two Democrat and two Republican Senators carrying the bill. If passed, S. 868 would allow the fees authorized under the Land and Water Conservation Fund Act of 1965, such as those charged for entering national parks and camping in developed campgrounds, to continue, but federal agencies could no longer charge for general access to public lands, as they now do in many states. Since FLREA became law in 2004, notes Kitty Benzar, president of the Western Slope No-Fee Coalition, over 1,000 new or increased fees have been put in place by federal agencies...more

Dominy Remapped Rivers Across West

With a cattleman's regard for water, Floyd Dominy ran some of the federal Bureau of Reclamation's biggest dam projects, including the Glen Canyon Dam on the Colorado River. Mr. Dominy, who died April 20 at age 100, was reviled by environmentalists, who criticized his irrigation and power-generating projects for destroying pristine habitats and flooding scenic canyons. But Mr. Dominy, whose personality was as imposing and audacious as some of his projects, was proud of the dams his agency built. I'm a different kind of environmentalist," he told High Country News in 2000. "I believe that nature can be improved upon." Mr. Dominy said his critics, organizations like the Sierra Club, were elitist. At Glen Canyon in Arizona, Mr. Dominy oversaw construction of the second-largest dam on the Colorado. The dam, which opened in 1966, became a major source of power. It also created Lake Powell, a reservoir and tourist destination that attracts millions of boaters and hikers annually. He called Lake Powell "my crowning jewel" and had the Bureau of Reclamation publish a pamphlet celebrating how it made the wilderness accessible to tourists. "Dear God," he wrote in the pamphlet. "Did you cast down two hundred miles of canyon and mark: 'For poets only?' Multitudes hunger for a lake in the sun." Raised on a struggling Nebraska cattle farm that lacked electricity and running water, Mr. Dominy left home at age 17...more

E.U. Push on Animal Welfare May Open New Trade Front With U.S.

One of the first things the European Union’s new health and consumer affairs commissioner did after taking office was to approve the planting of a genetically modified potato in Europe — riling environmentalists but giving hope to U.S. officials that an end to a long trade dispute over biotech crops might be in sight. But John Dalli, who began his first official visit to Washington on Monday, may open a new, potentially disruptive front: animal welfare. In an interview ahead of the trip, Mr. Dalli said he planned to tell his American counterparts that he intended to propose a new law on animal welfare. According to E.U. experts familiar with the plans, Mr. Dalli’s law probably would promote the use of cruelty-free labels for some meat products, which could lead to European consumers shunning U.S. products. He signaled there would be no end to Europe’s bans on imports of chickens washed with chlorine and beef treated with hormones, which have long irritated American meat exporters. And he said that Europe needed further time to determine whether to allow imports of meat from cloned animals, which U.S. regulators have declared safe to eat. Promoting higher standards for animal welfare would not only address the concerns of a growing number of Europeans who — in the wake of mad cow disease and dioxin-tainted poultry of recent years — have become sensitized to the way animals are treated in certain industries, Mr. Dalli said...more

I wonder how our Lonesome Dove friends, Gus McCrea and Capt. Woodrow Call would have handled our trade relations with Mr. Dalli?

I figure they would dally Dalli.

Gus would distract Dalli with a long dissertation on how the female species really isn't attracted to animal rights activists. Meanwhile, Capt. Woodrow Call would slip a rope over Dalli's upper torso, take a dally, and drag him up to the Hat Creek Cattle Company and Livery Emporium. Kind of a dally and drag approach to international relations.

In a very short period of time Dalli would emerge from the Emporium saying, "What the hell, they're just critters."

Dally and drag. Sounds like a promising new approach to political science.

Wyo. Plan Seeks Slaughter Of Some Unwanted Horses

The state representative behind a new law allowing the Wyoming Livestock Board to slaughter unwanted horses says the plan could include using a Cheyenne stockyard as a holding bin for the animals. State Rep. Sue Wallis, R-Recluse, is executive director of the United Organizations of the Horse, the nonprofit group pursuing the plan. She sponsored House Bill 122, which passed during this winter's legislative session to make the plan possible. Wallis said United Organizations of the Horse is discussing the plan with the Wyoming Livestock Board. Under the plan, horses would be screened and then rehabilitated, trained or slaughtered, depending on their condition. "Many of us believe that the best and responsible solution is humane slaughter and good use of that meat," said Wallis, a rancher. Wallis said the group would take horses either from people who couldn't sell or keep their horses for some reason, or from brand inspectors and law enforcement officers who find starving horses with clear titles. Horses in reasonably good condition would be rehabilitated, while horses that are old, untrainable or dangerous would be slaughtered...more

Horse-slaughter plans on track, Montana rep. says

State Rep. Ed Butcher is confident that investors he’s working with will be able to open several horse-slaughtering plants in the United States, possibly including one in Montana, despite the loss of Hardin as a prospective location for a plant. Butcher, R-Winifred, said the abandoned sugar plant in Hardin that his investors were looking at proved to be an undesirable location anyway, so a local ordinance banning large slaughtering plants won’t affect them. Butcher and a group with ties to China toured the old sugar beet plant in January, and in March the Hardin City Council passed an ordinance prohibiting facilities that would slaughter more than 25 animals within any seven-day period from opening in Hardin. Meanwhile, he said, the original group of investors, plus a couple of other interested parties, are pushing ahead with their plans. He said they have been looking at several locations in the United States, including some promising sites in Montana, which he declined to identify. “We’d get all the nutcases out there harassing the community,” he said. He said the investors are also busy lining up markets for horse meat and other products, and he is confident that several horse-slaughter plants will be built in the near future...more

High court hears Roundup Ready case

The battle over Roundup Ready alfalfa edged closer to conclusion Tuesday as the U.S. Supreme Court considered lifting a three-year ban on the genetically engineered crop. In a case closely watched by Montana farmers, agrichemical giant Monsanto Co. argued that its herbicide-resistant alfalfa posed no irreparable harm to other crops or the environment. Three years ago, the hay was growing in popularity before a lower court, siding with organic farmers and seed exporters, banned the crop until further environmental study could be done. Study conclusions aren’t expected until next year. Curbed with the ban was an expanding genetically engineered seed industry in Montana and Wyoming, which used Laurel silos as a primary collection point. A Supreme Court ruling expected by June’s end could give farmers the OK to plant Roundup Ready alfalfa ahead of the environmental impact study being performed by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Conversely, a ruling favoring the farmers who brought the original lawsuit could permanently force the government to increase its scrutiny level of genetically engineered crops. If so, the Supreme Court will have sided with judges in lower districts who concluded that cross pollination by migrating bees and pollen drift is a possible danger...more

I posted an analysis of this case here.

No success yet with birth control for feral hogs

There's a saying that when a feral hog has six piglets, only eight are expected to survive. That's no joke in Texas, however, where the 400-pound beasts do an estimated $50 million in damage to crops and property each year. Texas has half the nation's feral hogs, but they're now found in about 38 other states, up from fewer than 20 states 15 years ago. One Texas researcher had hoped to slow their rapid reproduction with a birth control pill, but that hasn't worked out well. Two compounds proved ineffective. One required a very exact dose to work, and the other wore off too soon, said Duane Kraemer, a Texas A&M University veterinarian and researcher. There also are the problems of getting the hogs to take the drug, keeping it from other animals and ensuring humans who eat hog meat aren't harmed...more

Cletus the 3,000-pound steer sold at Ramsay auction

Cletus, a 2,950-pound Hereford, walked into the ring Tuesday at the Montana Livestock Auction in Ramsay. The 10-year-old behemoth doesn't go anywhere quickly, especially not when you want him to, so the men in cowboy hats lounging against bleachers had to sit and wait. Finally, Cletus made his entrance and the crowd whistled and gasped. Owner and breeder Bill McIntosh of Avon watched the bidding. "I do kind of hate to see him go," he said. "But you've got to be practical in this business." Cletus sold to a buyer from Minnesota for about $1,600, and the big Hereford who was lead steer for almost a decade, was sent off for slaughter. Cletus has always been big, about 725 pounds as an April calf, and he just kept getting bigger. McIntosh's children wanted to put him into the fair circuit, but he was worried that Cletus was just too large. Still, the animal found a home on the ranch and made himself useful. When it came time to say goodbye, McIntosh was disappointed the Hereford didn't break the 3,000-pound mark. He weighed 3,100 pounds last year and just over 3,000 pounds earlier this month, but transit usually causes them to lose weight. "I guess he wintered a little rough," said McIntosh...more

Song Of The Day #297

Ranch Radio continues our answer song series with Roger Miller and Jody Miller performing King Of The Road and Queen Of The House. Both songs were recorded in 1965.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Death of a Rancher

By all descriptions, Rob Krentz was such a man. The 58-year-old third-generation rancher was a peacemaker, respected by all who knew him. They say his very presence could calm. His 38,000-acre spread outside Douglas, Ariz., lay astride the Chiricahua Corridor, an old smuggling trail that meanders up from Mexico. Of late, with the drug wars crossing the border from Juarez and Tijuana, the lives of those who just want to be left alone to live along the border have been turned into lives of fear. Their homes are regularly burglarized, their security a thing of the past. Rob Krentz was a peaceable man who bore no one ill will, including the illegals who regularly crossed his property. He even sympathized with their desire to get a new start in the Land of Opportunity. As he once told an interviewer, "If they come and ask for water, I'll still give them water. You know, that's just my nature." Only if the trespasser looked as if he needed help might the rancher call the Border Patrol. His was the code of any people who live in a desert climate, where hospitality isn't just a gesture but a necessity. When some lost soul comes wandering into your tent, he is your responsibility. See the Book of Genesis. Rob Krentz was trying to help a stranger one Saturday morning, March 27, when he radioed his brother Phil. "I see an immigrant out here and he appears to need help," he said. "Call the Border Patrol." That would be his last transmission. They found his body just before midnight. He'd been shot but managed to drive away before losing consciousness, and his life. Nothing had been taken from him, his gun was still in its holster. His dog was dead, too. The old-time ranchman was just the latest, if one of the more prominent, victims of the violence that is spreading like an oil stain all along the border. Many of us have resisted calling for the National Guard to guard the border; the armed forces of the United States already have a couple of wars on their hands. But there comes a time when only a show of force, and more than just a show of it, will do. It's time to protect our people at last. And mobilize our own federales. Call it a memorial to Rob Krentz. And the way of life he stood for...more

Praising Arizona In Border Battle

Arizona moves to protect its citizens from a raging border war, and the administration and its activist supporters cry racism. Why is antelope protection more important than protecting American lives? 'We in Arizona have been more than patient waiting for Washington to act," Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer said Friday after signing a tough new immigration law giving police more power in dealing with illegal immigration. "But decades of inaction and misguided policy have created a dangerous and unacceptable situation." Arizona's new law is a reminder that the states formed the federal government and not the other way around. One of the federal government's functions was to provide for the security of the new country against foreign enemies and intruders. At this, and particularly under this administration, it has failed miserably. On March 27, the consequences of a porous and unprotected border claimed the life of Arizona rancher Robert Krentz after he radioed his brother that he was checking out someone he believed to be an illegal immigrant. Incredibly, his murderer escaped to a pronghorn antelope area that the Interior Department of Secretary Ken Salazar had placed off-limits to U.S. Border Patrol agents. So unserious is the administration about protecting the border that it has allowed a bureaucratic turf battle between Interior and Homeland Security to let 4.3 million acres of wilderness area become a haven and highway for illegal aliens, drug smugglers, human traffickers and potential terrorists...more

Giffords town hall focuses on border

Democratic U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords on Monday hosted a telephone town hall for Congressional District 8 residents, which includes Green Valley. Along with a senior U.S. Border Patrol official, a special U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agent, a Cochise County rancher and veterinarian, they talked about successes and challenges along the border. The recent murder of Douglas-area rancher Robert Krentz was also a major subject of discussion, by her, the three guests and some of the callers. Matthew Allen, the special agent in charge of the Arizona Office of Investigations for ICE, said while he could not speak about specifics involving the case, the multi-agency actions led by the Cochise County Sheriff’s Office are making headway. Without going into detail about the investigation into the late-March death of Krentz, Allen said, “There are good, viable leads we (the investigating agencies) are pursuing. I’m hopeful for a successful conclusion (of the case).” However, he said many reports about the investigation that are turning up in the media are not true and are coming from people who do not have the inside knowledge of what is happening. Because of the sensitivity of the case — an unknown illegal immigrant allegedly is the suspect in the shooting death of the rancher — what is known by investigators is not being shared outside of the agencies, Allen said...more

Aerial drone will fly on Texas border soon, Napolitano says

Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano told a Senate hearing Tuesday that an unmanned aerial drone will soon fly through Texas skies as drug-cartel violence continues to escalate on the U.S.-Mexico border. Texas is the last border state to receive a Predator drone, and Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, said the absence of one has hurt intelligence capabilities of federal, state and local law enforcement. Napolitano said Texas was the last Southwest border state to receive a drone because "Texas airspace is more crowded." Napolitano, under questioning by senators, said the timeline for placing a drone in Texas remains a decision for the Federal Aviation Administration. "The FAA now has to go in and carve out, as I understand it, space for the Predator," she said...more

'Where's the Beef? Circuit Asks in Grazing Flap

The 9th Circuit ruled that an Oregon cattle rancher who won a permit to use federal grazing lands must prove that it is not harboring someone else's cows on the land. "The issue in this case boils down to a simple question: Where's the beef?" Judge Richard Tallman wrote for the three-judge appeals panel before determining that cows not owned by a grazing permit holder cannot be kept on federal allotments. Fence Creek Cattle Company challenged the U.S. Forest Service after it revoked the rancher's grazing rights for two of its four allotments. The forest service suspected that the rancher was grazing about 1,500 cattle it did not own on the federal land after finding cows that did not bear Fence Creek's brand. The panel ruled that the forest service was not out of line in canceling the rancher's rights to the two allotments. "Fence Creek applied for a grazing permit because it had allegedly purchased over 1,500 head of cattle. However, it could not prove that any such transaction ever took place," Tallman wrote for the Portland, Ore.-based panel...more

Wildland Fire Leadership Council

Yesterday I posted about the National Blueprint On Fire Management

That generated some comments from Mike Dubrasich the creator of SOS Forests and the Western Institute for Study of the Environment.

There are many good reasons to visit Mike's sites, not the least of which is his coverage of the Wildland Fire Leadership Council.

For his most recent commentary see WFLC Cohesive Strategy Field Forums.

For some interesting background see his WFLC Back Online and The Forest Fire Mis-Leadership Council

Colo. Panel May Help Sheepherders With Complaints

Colorado lawmakers have put off for at least a year passing legislation that would set minimum wages and working conditions for immigrant sheepherders. But they voted Tuesday to set up a committee this summer that they say could work with the federal government to resolve complaints against employers. Rep. Daniel Kagan, a Denver Democrat, says the 11-member task force will review work conditions and complaint procedures. Kagan says foreign workers are sometimes subjected to 90-hour work weeks for anywhere from $600 to $750 a month on ranches in the West. "This is a human rights issue. My constituents want Colorado to treat guest workers in this state properly," he said. Kagan had hoped to increase sheepherders' pay to $9.88 an hour, the amount other Colorado farmworkers are paid. He also wanted workers to get days off — some claim they never do — and prohibit ranchers from withholding employees' immigration documents, which immigrant advocates say is common. Instead, Kagan said he was forced to settle for a yearlong delay and another study...more

Earth Day predictions of 1970

This is from 2009, but still fun to read.

For the next 24 hours, the media will assault us with tales of imminent disaster that always accompany the annual Earth Day Doom & Gloom Extravaganza. Ignore them. They’ll be wrong. We’re confident in saying that because they’ve always been wrong. And always will be. Need proof? Here are some of the hilarious, spectacularly wrong predictions made on the occasion of Earth Day 1970.

“Population will inevitably and completely outstrip whatever small increases in food supplies we make. The death rate will increase until at least 100-200 million people per year will be starving to death during the next ten years.”
Paul Ehrlich, Stanford University biologist

“It is already too late to avoid mass starvation.”
Denis Hayes, chief organizer for Earth Day

“Scientists have solid experimental and theoretical evidence to support…the following predictions: In a decade, urban dwellers will have to wear gas masks to survive air pollution…by 1985 air pollution will have reduced the amount of sunlight reaching earth by one half….”
Life Magazine, January 1970

“The world has been chilling sharply for about twenty years. If present trends continue, the world will be about four degrees colder for the global mean temperature in 1990, but eleven degrees colder in the year 2000. This is about twice what it would take to put us into an ice age.”
Kenneth Watt, Ecologist


Idaho Scientists Find Spitting Earthworm

Scientists at the University of Idaho have captured two specimens of the fabled giant Palouse earthworm. After years of searching, researchers on March 27 located an adult and a juvenile specimen of the large, fragrant worms that have become near mythic creatures in the Palouse region of Washington and Idaho. The adult specimen was positively identified by University of Kansas earthworm expert Sam James a few weeks later. The Center for Biological Diversity had described the earthworm, or Driloleirus americanus, as a large, pinkish-white earthworm that can grow as big as 3 feet long. According to the group's site, the worms live in permanent burrows as deep as 15 feet and are said to spit at attackers. The group petitioned the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service last year to grant endangered species status to the creature. But the find by Karl Umiker, a University of Idaho research support scientist, working with Shan Xu, a graduate student from Chengdu, China, gives the lie to these reports of giant spitting worms. “When we stretched it out and relaxed it, the adult earthworm got bigger,” Jodi Johnson-Maynard an associate professor of soil and water management and Umiker’s supervisor, told the New York Times. “It’s between nine and 10 inches.” She admits that’s a far cry from earlier claims of three-foot worms. “We tried to track that story down,” Johnson-Maynard said, and discovered that many years ago there was one giant specimen. “Apparently some boy was swinging it in the air like a rope and it stretched.”...more

Tucumcari plane crash turns to drug bust

New Mexico State Police are investigating a Monday night "controlled crash" of a plane filled with more than 400 pounds of marijuana. NMSP Lt. Cleo Baker said the plane landed in a field south of Tucumcari. The pilot, identified as a 34-year-old man from Louisville, Ky., was traveling to an unknown location when he landed the fixed wing plane on ranch land a half mile off of State Road 209 in Quay County, according to an NMSP press release. Baker said no arrests have been made. The land 14 miles south of Tucumcari where the crash occurred belongs to rancher Gerald Hight, said Quay County Sheriff Joe Schallert. “Gerald told me he heard, then saw, a plane flying low over his home with their landing gear down and no lights on,” Schallert said. Schallert said the plane continued eastbound from Hight’s house toward state Highway 209. He said the plane then turned around and crashed in a field 500 yards from Hight’s home...more

The Green Future of Great Tequila

Tequila has been made for hundreds of years in Mexico from fermented agave. When the makers of Artá Tequila asked me to try their sustainably produced tequila, I wasn’t sure I could say something new about tequila. But not every tequila is made the same, and this one is decidedly different. First and foremost, Artá is a great tequila. I knew I would probably like it, but this tequila knocked my socks off. I’m still looking for them. It goes down warm and smooth, like lying on a Mexican beach. I haven’t tried making an Artá margarita yet, but I’ve got to think this would just plain rock as well. Then comes the sustainability. Artá is not just a great tequila – it’s also one of a kind when it comes to how it’s made. Produced organically (certification pending) and sustainably, Artá respects the land in Mexico in which it is made in Arenal, Jalisco. It also respects the people as well, giving back to the people of Mexico in many ways and working with local craftsman in production. Artá has pledged to give 1% of their profits to charitable causes. The blue agave it is made from is grown by an 11th generation rancher, and distilled using methods unique to this family...more

Bing Crosby's niece looks at his life in Nevada

But Bing Crosby as a Nevada rancher? That's a stretch, right? Not really, after reading Carolyn Schneider's book, "Bing: On the Road to Elko" (Stephens Press, $19.95 hardcover). Schneider, Crosby's niece, visited her uncle on his Elko County, Nev., spreads and has spent the past few years researching his life on the range. Crosby bought his first Nevada ranch in 1943, the 7Js Livestock Co., east of Elko. A year later, he traded the 7Js for the Quarter Circle S, near Tuscarora. At the height of his property ownership, Crosby had seven ranches, raising cattle on tens of thousands of acres around Elko. "When I was in Elko researching, I was able to interview a few people," Schneider said. "One lady said, 'We knew when he started buying property. The word was not to annoy him or he'd leave. We wanted him to stay so we did not bother him.'" But once "Uncle" Bing showed up with holes in his jeans, he became one of the guys, Schneider said...more

6-pound foal born in NH may be world's tiniest

A diminutive horse born in New Hampshire could lay claim to the world record for lightweight foal. The pinto stallion named Einstein weighed just 6 pounds and measured 14 inches tall when he was born Friday in Barnstead, N.H. Those proportions fit a human baby just about right but are downright tiny for horse, even a miniature breed like Einstein. Dr. Rachel Wagner, Einstein's co-owner, says the Guinness Book of Records lists the smallest newborn horse as weighing in at 9 pounds. Breeders say that unlike the current record holder, Thumbelina, Einstein shows no signs of dwarfism. He's just a tiny horse. AP

Song Of The Day #296

Ranch Radio continues with answer songs this morning. Today's selections are Geisha Girl by Hank Locklin (1957) and Lost To A Geisha Girl by Skeeter Davis (1958).

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

National Blueprint on Wildfire Management

On Wednesday April 21 at the Wildland Fire Leadership Council in Washington, DC, Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary Janet Napolitano, Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack, and Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar jointly announced a blueprint for the first comprehensive national strategy for wildfire management. The council was attended by numerous state governors, as well as local and tribal government representatives. The FLAME Act of 2009 requires the Forest Service and Department of Interior to submit to Congress a report that contains a cohesive wildfire management strategy consistent with recommendations in recent General Accountability Office (GAO) reports regarding management strategies. Following its formal approval by the Secretary of Agriculture and Secretary of Interior by October 2010, the Cohesive Wildfire Management Strategy is to be revised at least once during each five year period to address any changes with respect to landscape, vegetation, climate, and weather conditions...more

According to the blueprint, the report will emanate from a "Cohesive Strategy Oversight Committee" made up of rep's from "National Association of State Foresters, International Association of Fire Chiefs, Western Governors’ Association, National Association of Counties, Intertribal Timber Council, non-governmental organizations, Forest Service, Fish and Wildlife Service, Bureau of Indian Affairs, National Park Service and the Bureau of Land Management." This then goes to the "Wildland Fire Leadership Council" who...well hell here is their schematic:

I'm sure it will be a short, jargon-free report which will save The West. FYI, "cohesive" may soon be joining "collaborate" on my b.s. list.

Similar committees should be forming soon to manage your health care.

Livestock waste found to foul Sierra waters

As director of the emergency room at the UC Davis Medical Center, Robert Derlet always wondered what made people sick. Each summer, on hiking trips into the high Sierra, he brought that curiosity along, asking himself: Where do you get infections in the wilderness? The most obvious possibility, he believed, was the water. Now, after 10 years of fieldwork and 4,500 miles of backpacking, Derlet knows for sure. What he has learned – after analyzing hundreds of samples dipped from backcountry lakes and streams – is that parts of the high Sierra are not nearly as pristine as they look. Nowhere is the water dirtier, he discovered, than on U.S. Forest Service land, including wilderness areas, where beef cattle and commercial pack stock – horses and mules – graze during the summer months. There, bacterial contamination was easily high enough to sicken hikers with Giardia, E. coli and other diseases. In places, slimy, pea-green algae also blossomed in the bacteria-laden water. Overall, the worst water quality he found was on the Stanislaus and Humboldt-Toiyabe national forests, north of Yosemite National Park. Elsewhere, particularly at high elevations in Yosemite and Sequoia and Kings Canyon national parks, Derlet found a striking difference: Most lakes and streams were clear as champagne and pollution-free. That contrast has prompted Derlet and Charles Goldman, director of the UC Davis Tahoe Research Center, to mount a publicity campaign calling for dramatic management change in the Sierra. Cattle, they say, should be moved to lower elevations. And Forest Service areas where they now graze should be turned into national parks. "At one time, cattle were important for developing civilization here," said Derlet. "But now, with 40 million people in California, the Sierra is not for cattle. It's for water. We need water more than Big Macs."...more

I'm sure Derlet is an objective collector and analyzer of data, especially since he calls cattle "weapons of mass destruction" and considers himself to be like Gandhi.

Still though, curiosity leads me to ask Derlet the following: Of the 178 million annual recreational visitors to Forest Service lands, what percentage wind up in emergency rooms from their exposure to the water?

Idaho sheep station won't graze grizzly area

The U.S. Sheep Experiment Station north of Dubois in eastern Idaho won't turn out sheep in one of its grazing plots because of concerns over grizzly bear habitat. Sandy Miller Hays is a spokeswoman for the U.S. Department of Agriculture, which oversees the sheep station. Hays said the East Summer plot wouldn't have a direct effect on grizzly habitat, but to reach it sheep would have to cross U.S. Forest Service land designated as a sensitive habitat area for grizzlies. "Our allotment has not been shut down," Hays told the Post Register. "We just can't get there."...more

I'm immediately reminded of the old joke with the punch line "you just can't get there from here."

Anyway, somebody up there in Idaho should tell Hays if you "can't get there", then yes, you have been shut down.

After reading many times about grizzlies killing livestock I'm surprised there is no grazing in grizzly bear habitat. And to not even be able to cross habitat when it doesn't have "a direct effect"? I'm thinking that during the cold winters in Idaho those U.S.D.A researchers lost all their gonads. Please take the name Dubois off that place. Besides they don't even spell it right.

Come to think of it, there is a scientific explanation for what is happening. Those researchers were around so much of that water polluted by livestock ("weapons of mass destruction"), that their gonads shrunk up and sloughed off before they could get to Derlet at the UC Davis Medical Center!

ESA lawsuit against Forest Service in Ariz. & NM

Today the Center for Biological Diversity formally notified the U.S. Forest Service that it will sue the agency for failing to protect endangered species in Arizona and New Mexico national forests, where it continues to approve projects that destroy endangered species habitat without carrying out legally required monitoring of the species and their habitat. The lawsuit will involve at least nine threatened and endangered species, including the Mexican spotted owl, southwestern willow flycatcher, New Mexico ridge-nosed rattlesnake, Chiricahua leopard frog, Apache trout, Chihuahua chub, loach minnow, spikedace, and ocelot. “The Forest Service’s refusal to honor its responsibility to monitor and protect endangered species is not only illegal but potentially devastating to wildlife,” said Taylor McKinnon at the Center for Biological Diversity. On June 10, 2005, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the agency charged with enforcing the Endangered Species Act, issued a formal “biological opinion” on the impacts of implementation of forest plans for Arizona and New Mexico’s 11 national forests on threatened and endangered species. The document requires the Forest Service to monitor populations and habitats for the species that occur on the forests. In October 2008 the Forest Service issued a report admitting that it had not done the monitoring. It also conceded that it might have exceeded the amount of harm, or “incidental take,” allowed by the biological opinion. On April 17, 2009, it requested that the Fish and Wildlife Service redo the opinion...more

Forestry trend is putting Oregonians out of work

Another logger is out of work today. Actually, it is Jamie the loader operator, Rex the hook tender, Don the chaser, Jerry the truck driver and a half dozen other men, all with names and families. Last week they were taxpaying citizens; this week they will begin collecting unemployment checks and food stamps. To the greenies, this is good news. Fewer trees will be harvested, and that's what the zealots have wanted all these long decades. They have protested and litigated forest plans and timber sales for every real, theoretical and whimsical reason they could conjure up. Please don't ever complain about the price of toilet paper, lumber or new houses in the future. More sympathetic readers may sadly wag their heads and talk about how those loggers should have seen it coming. The company should have bought new equipment to embrace forest health and bio-energy. Nice theory, except the new equipment costs hundreds of thousands of dollars with no guarantee there will be any work for it. Banks won't loan money to distressed homeowners, let alone to loggers who are viewed with disdain. After 27 years of impeccable credit and financial solvency, the bank suddenly canceled the credit line and bank accounts of this logging company because it was deemed a "bad risk." How's that for stimulation?...more

Hidden Gems Wilderness Unsafe

With the growing threat of catastrophic wildfires, due to the mountain pine beetle infestation, it is unconscionable for the Hidden Gems (HG) Campaign to be proposing wilderness designation for so much of Eagle and Summit counties. The HG Campaign itself acknowledges “extensive impact from the mountain pine beetle in recent years.” Especially “…Summit County, where many communities and neighborhoods lie near or in the forest and near the wilderness proposal areas.” The Wilderness Act of 1964 and documents supporting the proposed Hidden Gems all have a clear intent of “fire control,” but no fire prevention. A wilderness designation would impact the Forest Service and our local fire district's ability to prevent wildfires through programs like fuel mitigation and forest treatments. We have seen valiant efforts by our government officials to reduce wildfire risks; including Governor Ritter's “Colorado Healthy Forests and Vibrant Communities Act” and the USDA announcement in Dec. 2009; “U.S. Forest Service will commit an additional $40 million to address public safety concerns and forest health needs arising from the millions of acres of dead and dying trees from bark beetle infestation in the West.” Our own Senator Gibbs and State Rep. Scanlan just testified in Washington in support of a bill which “would enable the Forest Service to better protect communities and watersheds from catastrophic wildfire in anticipation of the upcoming fire season.” Hidden Gems is directly contrary to these efforts and jeopardizes the safety of our communities...more

Scientist: Money to fight beetles as fire mitigation not productive

Insect infestations are not the major cause of forest fires in Colorado, and allocating federal assistance to combat the critters would be unproductive, one scientist has told a U.S. Senate subcommittee. “The best available science indicates that outbreaks of mountain pine beetle and spruce beetle do not increase the risk of fire in most types of forests," said Dominik Kulakowski, testifying Wednesday before the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Subcommittee on Public Lands and Forests. Udall's bill, in part, seeks to provide increased federal assistance to 12 “affected" Western states, including Colorado, which have large numbers of forest lands containing disease-ridden trees caused by beetle outbreaks and other insect infestations. Kulakowski, a former research scientist at the University of Colorado at Boulder and current professor at Clark University in Massachusetts, discounted this notion during his testimony. He said climate, not insects, plays the most important role in forest fires, as wildfires are more likely to occur during droughts. Scientific evidence indicates that fires do not burn more quickly or more severely in dead, disease-ridden forests than in dense, live forests under current climate conditions, Kulakowski said...more

Horse meat in Wyo?

A plan to give the Wyoming Livestock Board an alternative to selling abandoned horses is getting stiff opposition from animal rights advocates. And it is coming even before the new law goes into effect July 1. The plan by members of the United Organization of the Horse is to set up something like a triage operation at the old railroad stockyards in Cheyenne for abandoned or unwanted horses. The horses would be screened and provided rehabilitation, training or slaughter, depending on their condition. The plan is ultimately to market horse meat in the state. Rep. Sue Wallis, R-Gillette, was the prime sponsor of House Bill 122, which was signed into law by Gov. Dave Freudenthal. "The animal rights people have put this on their agenda," Wallis said last week in a telephone interview. She said members of the United Organization of the Horse met April 2 and developed a plan for a "unified equine system." If people have horses they cannot sell or keep, they can donate the horses to the nonprofit United Organization of the Horse and get receipts for tax deductions for the value of the horses, Wallis explained. Brand inspectors and law enforcement officers who find starving horses can turn them over to the organization if they can provide clear titles, she added. If the horses are in reasonably good condition, they would go into a rejuvenation program with special food and care. If they have any potential and are in good shape, they can go into a rescue and training program. Horses unsuitable for slaughter, such as horses with foals, will be held. Horses that are old and past a productive life or are dangerous and untrainable will be slaughtered, but in a humane way, Wallis said...more

Song Of The Day #295

Ranch Radio will bring you some "answer songs" this week. We'll start with two classics by Hank Thompson & Kitty Wells: The Wild Side Of Life & It Wasn't God Who Made Honky Tonk Angels.

I remember reading somewhere that this same melody went to #1 on the charts 4 times. The two offered here, The Great Speckled Bird by Roy Acuff and for the life of me I can't remember the fourth this morning. If you know, please email me.

Monday, April 26, 2010

The myth of the harmless wolf

On March 9, 2010, Candice Berner, a 32 year-old special education teacher working in Chignik Lake, Alaska, went jogging at dusk on a road near town and was attacked and killed by wolves. On October 28, 2009, Canadian folk singer Taylor Mitchell was hiking in a Provincial Park in Nova Scotia when she was attacked and killed by two coyotes, which were subsequently identified by park rangers as a wolf-coyote hybrid. In November of 2005, college student Kenton Carnegie was hiking on a road near Points North Landing in northern Saskatchewan when he was attacked and killed by wolves. There was some dispute over whether Carnegie was killed by wolves or a bear, but a provincial inquest found that wolves were responsible. The attacking wolves in these three incidents were not rabid. Some light on wolf-human encounters was shed in 2002 when Alaskan wildlife biologist Mark McNay published a report of a two-year study documenting 80 aggressive encounters between wolves and people in North America in the 20th century. In only 12 of the attacks were the wolves rabid. Since McNay's report came out there have been three fatal attacks by healthy wolves, and an unknown number of non-fatal aggressive encounters and attacks on people and their pets in the U.S. and Canada. So what's up? "In Wolves In Russia," Will Graves reports on a long history of wolf attacks on people in Eurasia, especially Russia, Pakistan, India and Kazakhastan, including thousands of fatal ones. Have Siberian wolves sneaked across the Bering Sea ice in winter and turned our harmless wolves into bad guys? People were killed by wolves in North America before the 20th century. The appearance of people with firearms led to the demise of wolves in the Lower 48 as there was concentrated effort to eradicate Canis lupus. More than two million wolves were killed in the process. Not nearly as many people in Eurasia are armed...more

Senators postpone climate bill unveiling

Monday's unveiling of a compromise Senate climate bill was postponed on Saturday, Democratic Senator John Kerry said, after a dispute arose over unrelated immigration reform legislation. Republican Senator Lindsey Graham said earlier on Saturday he would have to pull out of the bipartisan climate change effort because of concerns Democrats would push forward with a debate on immigration reform, rather than the climate change bill, in the Senate. Kerry said he hoped to keep working for passage of a climate bill. He said that after more than six months of detailed meetings with Graham and independent Senator Joseph Lieberman, "we believe that we had reached" an agreement on the details of a bill to reduce smokestack emissions of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases associated with global warming. They were planning to outline those details at a news conference on Monday that would have been attended by some environmental and industry representatives...more

Something is awfully fishy here. Let's be kind and hope Graham finally realized this was a bill to ration energy and raise taxes.

President Barack Obama wields executive clout on green policy

For eight years, environmentalists cried foul as President George W. Bush used his executive power to weaken clean-air and clean-water regulations, open public lands to increased oil and gas drilling and block action to fight climate change. Now, President Barack Obama is exercising that same authority to reverse course, and business groups are the ones yelling. Obama has moved to improve the fuel efficiency of cars, halt new uranium mines near the Grand Canyon, strengthen anti-smog rules, protect endangered species and regulate global-warming emissions from power plants, factories and cars. Environmentalists say that unchecked climate change is a much greater threat to the U.S. economy than regulation because of the potentially devastating coastal flooding, Midwest droughts and other disasters it could cause. And the Obama administration touts its efforts to boost renewable energy
and wean America off foreign oil as a way to create more U.S. jobs. While denouncing what he called Obama's move toward "a regulation nation," conservative energy analyst Myron Ebell acknowledged that the administration is taking some business concerns into account. One thing both sides agree on is that Obama and Bush used presidential power on environmental issues in part because they saw Congress as unwilling or unable to act...more

Earth Day Agriculture and Sustainable Intensification

What’s the most sustainable way to grow the food we eat? The answer environmentalists give is always “local and organic.” But, increasingly, the answer from the scientists who’ve studied the question is the exact opposite. A study from England’s Royal Society issued last October concluded that genuinely sustainable agriculture must embrace the use of science and technology for producing more food on less land. It suggests that a healthy concern for protecting the environment necessitates the greater adoption of sophisticated agricultural technologies, including fertilizers, pesticides, and bioengineered (or GM) crops. Why? Because protecting the environment will require growing vastly more food without bringing new land into agriculture–what the report calls “sustainable intensification.” And, just last week, the US National Academy of Sciences’s National Research Council issued an in-depth study on The Impact of Genetically Engineered Crops on Farm Sustainability in the United States, concluding that, “when best management practices are implemented, GE crops have been effective at reducing pest problems with economic and environmental benefits”...more

Los Payasos - Gov't At Work

As the country was sinking into its worst financial crisis in more than 70 years, Security and Exchange Commission employees and contractors cruised porn sites and viewed sexually explicit pictures using government computers, according to an agency report obtained by CNN. "During the past five years, the SEC OIG (Office of Inspector General) substantiated that 33 SEC employees and or contractors violated Commission rules and policies, as well as the government-wide Standards of Ethical Conduct, by viewing pornographic, sexually explicit or sexually suggestive images using government computer resources and official time," said a summary of the investigation by the inspector general's office. More than half of the workers made between $99,000 and $223,000. All the cases took place over the past five years...more

Coyote vs. Greyhound: The Battle Lines Are Drawn

Hunting coyotes with greyhounds goes back generations. President Theodore Roosevelt did so on this land, about 70 miles southwest of Oklahoma City, in the early 1900s. It remains largely a regional pursuit that is part of the area’s lore, like the cattle drives along the Chisholm Trail. Ranchers and farmers have long viewed coyotes as pests because they kill livestock. Yet hunting coyotes with greyhounds — all members of the Canidae family — is banned in some states, including Washington and Colorado. But Hardzog, a 65-year-old lifelong Oklahoman who wears pressed Wrangler jeans and a rodeo belt buckle the size of a bread plate, called his favorite form of hunting “one of the cleanest sports out there.” Using greyhounds to hunt is natural, Hardzog said. “When you get the dogs running in a dead run after a coyote, now that’s a sport,” Hardzog said before spitting snuff into a tiny gold spittoon. “The coyote is just about the smartest wild animal alive because they always have an escape route. I respect them. They can outsmart you. But greyhounds are smart, too. I think they’re the neatest dog ever made.” Hardzog, who eschews seat belts and scoffs at “too many laws,” was 7 when he first hunted coyotes with his father. Now he has 40 greyhounds and greyhound mixes, some with scarred legs and faces, that he bred on his 318-acre ranch. Sometimes, they gnaw on stillborn calves and clean their teeth on the bones. He said he spent $600 on their monthly upkeep. They have names like Matthew, Luke, Venus and Little Bit. Some are part Irish wolfhound, others part Saluki. All have a strong prey drive and hunt by sight. Only a handful have failed as coyote hunters, Hardzog said...more

Famed Writer, Rancher, and Environmentalist to Speak at Carleton College

Dan O’Brien, famed western writer and Headley Distinguished Visitor-in-Residence in environmental studies, will present a public reading on Tuesday, April 27 at 5 p.m. in Boliou Hall, room 104, on the Carleton College campus. A wildlife biologist, falconer, and rancher for almost 30 years, O’Brien has used his “keen and poetic eye…” to give a bold literary voice to the Great Plains through his numerous works of award-winning fiction and non-fiction. This event is free and open to the public. For twenty years Dan O’Brien struggled to make ends meet on his cattle ranch in South Dakota. But when a neighbor invited him to lend a hand at the annual buffalo roundup, O’Brien was inspired to convert his own ranch, the Broken Heart, to buffalo. Starting with thirteen calves, “short-necked, golden balls of wool,” O’Brien embarked on a journey that returned buffalo to his land for the first time in more than a century and a half. Intent on narrating the story of his ranch’s conversion from beef to buffalo, O’Brien wove the history of the Great Plains, the hardships of ranching, and vivid portraits of the Great Plains together to create Buffalo for the Broken Heart: Restoring Life to a Black Hills Ranch (Random House, September 2001). The book was recently purchased by Universal Studios to be commissioned into a screenplay starring actor Edward Norton...more

We got seed grain, boys

When Morey Skaret turned eight, the age at which a lad made the leap from haphazard chores to full-time farmhand, his father made him the hog boss. Morey took his new position seriously, executing his duties with the same care, precision and panache that would one day make him a leader of men, and propel him to the top of many professions. Not only did life on the prairie make men out of boys before their time; it meted out many other tough lessons as well. "My mother had six children, all told," Morey says, combing through an old photo album. His older brother, Johannes, died in 1909. "He was just a child," Morey recalls. "They buried him behind the house. All the homesteaders had private plots." They didn't have a cemetery. There was just a house here; then two miles, another house. And they just buried their dead at the home place. Another of the prairie's more sobering lessons was on the danger of shortcuts. Literally. "A kid came from Crow Hill School," Morey recalls, "and his last name was Zeemer. We followed the fence when the snow was blowing hard, almost a blizzard. But we followed that fence. And then the snow got higher and higher. Pretty soon you can't see the fence ahead of ya. You gotta feel for it. "And this one fellow, Zeemer-I forget his name-he said he's gonna short-cut. He said, 'I don't wanna follow this fence line all the way along here to your house, and then follow your fence line down to my house,' which was another two miles. "So he says, 'I'm gonna short-cut from here, right across the prairie, and catch this fence over here. And then I can catch the other fence that goes to our farm, over here.' "Well, the sad part of it was: he started to short-cut. But boy, in a blizzard, you don't have any sense of direction, and that prairie's flat. There's no trees or anything. And what you usually do is you walk in a circle, when you get to the point where you can't see any marks to go by. "And you walk to the left if you're right-footed. Your right foot is stronger, and it'll gain maybe half a foot on every step you take; you just go in a circle."...more

It's All Trew: Book offers county tales of the Texas Panhandle

A book titled "Presenting the Texas Panhandle" by Lan-Bea Publications in 1979 provides many interesting facts about the Texas Panhandle.

--"The counties of the Texas Panhandle were originally drawn in a "paper survey" by politicians in Austin laying a ruler on a Texas map, starting on the east with the 100th Meridian and drawing lines every thirty miles in every direction."

--The town of Panhandle was first named Panhandle City. Childress was first named Childress City, barely beating out a town named Henry for county seat.

--The census taker for the 1880 census count in today's Collingsworth County rode horseback for nine days trying to find six young cowboys, the only residents for the vast open prairie area.

--During an election in Collingsworth County, only after "the whiskey flowed generously" did the name of Wellington beat out the name of Aberdeen for county seat.

--Dalhart was once named Denrock, Twist and Twist Junction in its earliest days.

--Texline once boasted, "It is the biggest and best and the fastest and hardest and the busiest and wildest and roughest and toughest town in this section of the Panhandle."...more

Song Of The Day #294

Ranch Radio will get your blood pumpin' this Monday morning with a fiddle tune by bluegrass fiddler Barbara Lamb.

The tune is Bumblebee In The Gourdvine and is available on her 13 track CD Tonight I Feel Like Texas.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Cowgirl Sass & Savvy

Gettin' old - not a pretty sight

by Julie Carter

The plan all along is to get old, but it happens to some folks faster than others.

Cowboys pretty much across the board fit into that category.

The life of cowboy is hard on the physical body.

It doesn't seem to hurt their mind much, but one could argue that if they had much of a mind to begin with, they'd have another vocation.

Perhaps a career that offered better hours and monetary rewards.

A life of having horses pound you into the ground, cows run you over and assortment of other wrecks involving gates, pickups and trailers have cowboys feeling serious aches and pains at an early age.

And that's just from the work part of the job.

The horseplay that goes on endlessly is as frequently the culprit for injury and subsequent lifetime handicaps.

The body is just not made to bend the wrong way as many times as cowboying can make that happen.

Looking older than they are and feeling twice as old happens sooner than usual if the vocation involves the word cowboy.

Bowlegs are a visible symptom of a much worse problem.

Those knobby knees in the middle of that bow are a never ending source of pain, agony and frustration.

An old-in-miles but not-in-years cowboy with knees that had seen Olympic-quality abuse wrote this about the situation:

Where ever you go either you walk or ride.
You use your knees with every stride.
Your stride gets short and the trail gets long.
It sure is hell when your knees are gone.
You jump right off but when you land,
Sometimes your mouth gets full of sand.
You can't stand up and it hurts to crawl.
You ain't no good on the ground at all.
You can't run your horse with any ease,
'Cause of the real bad hurtin' in your knees.
But don't you worry about that ol' pard,
The cowboy life was always hard.

With today's technology, more and more cowboys are signing up for the "spare parts" surgery. Usually these guys need the new knees long before the doctors think it's advisable.

The new parts come with life-span that leaves the cowboy needing a second replacement even before he is eligible for social security.

In an effort to avoid that and to buy a little time, they hobble around dragging a leg, thinking everything they see looks like it needs to be set on, and giving the anti-inflammatory drug business a dramatic sales boost.

At the branding corral, they look for a place to sit and rest where they don't have to be tailed back up when it is time to go back to work.

The grunts and moans you hear is just them trying to get their foot in the stirrup and get back on their horse.

No longer is there any shame in using a log, rock or trailer fender to make that easier.

They find it acceptably easier to the let the young buttons do the work even if it takes longer than it should.

With no apology, they discover a new found fondness for shorter horses and slower women.

And those old cowboys that are recreational ropers?

The secret to their quick catch is simply because their shoulders won't hold up past a few quick swings of the loop.

It can be noted that most of the senior roping events start early in the morning. It's paramount that they get their shot at roping for the money before their pills start to wear off.

This getting' old ain't for sissies.

Julie, somewhat long in the tooth herself, can be reached for comment at Visit my website at

It's The Pitts: Dudes & Desperadoes

Lee Pitts

Greed and stupidity must both travel on the same chromosome.

Greedy people are usually stupid people. That’s why dumbos lined up to get in on the action when Charles Ponzi promised a 50% return on their money in just 90 days. Ponzi patterned his scheme after a guy named William Miller who promised a 10% return. PER WEEK! Then there’s Bernard Madoff. He was able to separate his “friends” from fifty billion of their dollars because he supposedly had a secret formula for making money that no one else knew. I’m just glad I wasn’t one of his friends.

In the past, smooth talking shysters have coaxed greedy idiots into investing in sunken treasure, Florida swampland and even loaves and fishes. Yes, a gun-toting minister in Florida told his parishioners that God had modernized the multiplication of the loaves and fishes and that God had made him a special offer that would allow the minister to double his parishioner’s money faster than you can say “sucker.”

No one would be so stupid to fall for that, you say? Sadly, the believers lost $500 million in trying to corner the loaf and fish market.

Although it pains me to say this, we’ve had our share of crooks in the cattle business too. Some of the great ranching empires in the West owe their existence to a Great-Great grandpappy who had a running iron and the gumption to use it. These “brand artists” gave way to syndicates in the late 1800’s that were put together to fleece Scotsmen. On paper the syndicators showed their investors a huge profit because nearly every cow had twins every year. At least on paper anyway. The crooks were saved when a nasty winter killed so many cattle that the “book count” and the actual head count could never be reconciled.

In more recent times the cattle business has been plagued by check kiters, tax cheats and common cattle crooks. Due to hard economic times, thieves with an aversion to work have made cattle rustling a popular criminal activity once again. Such crooks must be dumber than a dead jelly fish. Anyone who’d risk spending several years in prison for a gooseload of cattle has got to be intellectually challenged. Even if they are free, they are still cows folks! I heard of one case in Texas where one brother stole the cattle and another other brother sold them and they still lost money! Adding insult to injury, their days were soon filled with body-cavity searches and communal showers in a crossbar hotel.

At least the rustlers have to get their hands dirty. Not so, the class of crooks who deal in phantom cattle. You may have heard that the actor Kiefer Sutherland was allegedly bilked for nearly $900,000 by Michael Wayne Carr of Linden, California. Carr supposedly told the television star that he could buy cattle really cheap in Mexico and sell them on this side of the border and make a big killing. All he needed was the seed money to buy the cattle. You can probably figure out what happened next.

A friend of mine knows this Carr character and says he’s so crooked he could sleep in the shade of a post hole auger. My friend told me a story about Carr that I think irrefutably proves that greed and stupidity are genetically linked. Supposedly Carr walked into the office of a wealthy businessman and presented his get-rich-quick spiel. The potential investor started asking a lot of questions so Carr pulls out his cell phone and said he’d get his American buyer on the line to prove the validity of his claims. Carr dialed numbers on his cell phone and was carrying on a conversation in front of the investor, asking the supposed buyer how many cattle he needed, what weight, and what price he’d be willing to pay. Then his cell phone rang!

The moral of the story? Never buy cattle from a crook who’s not smart enough to turn off his cell phone when he’s making a fake phone call.