Thursday, March 07, 2013

Appeals court weighs arguments in SE Oregon grazing case

Environmentalists want a federal appeals court to halt grazing on a half-million acres of public land in Oregon because they say cattle are hazardous to the sage grouse. The Oregon Natural Desert Association claims that grazing threatens "irreparable harm" to the bird's habitat in the Louse Canyon area of southeast Oregon overseen by the U.S. Bureau of Land Management. The group recently asked the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals to issue an injunction against grazing in 2013 to prevent multiple threats to the sage grouse, such as a potential outbreak of West Nile virus. Mosquitos breed in water troughs and puddles from hoof prints, encouraging the spread of the virus, which kills virtually all infected sage grouse, ONDA said. "There's a clear and inescapable risk of exposure if these cows are released," said Mac Lacy, an attorney for the group, during March 6 oral arguments before the 9th Circuit in Portland. An attorney for the BLM countered ONDA hasn't met the burden of proof that such an injunction is necessary. The livestock troughs used in the region are deep and designed to keep water flowing to prevent mosquito reproduction, said John Smeltzer, attorney for the government. The connection between hoof prints and West Nile virus is a "conjectural possibility" but there's no evidence to suggest it's a "significant game changer," Smeltzer said...more

Hoof prints and puddles left by elk, deer and snoopy environmentalists don't result in West Nile virus.  No sir, it's just those damned old cow tracks that breed skeeters.

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