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

ASI comments support continued grazing at sheep station

The American Sheep Industry Association filed extensive comments to the U.S. Sheep Experiment Station Grazing and Associated Activities Project 2016 Revised Draft Environmental Impact Statement. The comments in their entirety are available at “The Agricultural Research Service has provided a critical venue for sheep breed development, evaluation and improvement,” read the written comments submitted by ASI Executive Director Peter Orwick. “Because the majority of America’s sheep are bred and raised west of the 100th meridian, mostly in the Intermountain West, the research and development conducted at the station is invaluable. For example, the station has made germplasm available to ranchers and has developed three of the most important sheep breeds: the Columbia, the Targhee and the Polypay. ARS has also conducted extensive research on the effects of fire on rangelands, the health and recovery of the sage grouse and its habitat, controlling invasive and noxious plants and limiting impacts of livestock grazing practices on natural resources. “The purpose and need of the EIS are defined by the mission of ARS and the station itself. ARS’s mission is to ‘conduct research to develop and transfer solutions to agricultural problems of high national priority and provide information access to and dissemination to...more

Details on the new Veterinary Feed Directive outlined

Those attending the recent North Dakota Stockmen’s Association Spring Roundup meeting in Montpelier had the opportunity to learn about the Veterinary Feed Directive (VFD) that will take place on Jan. 1, 2017. Gerald Stokka, NDSU Extension veterinarian, explained to ranchers what the VFD will mean for those raising cattle. “The old way of going to town and going to the elevator and getting antibiotics to put on feed is going to change in January 2017,” Stokka said. “What you are going to need after January 2017 is one of these – a permission slip that is given to you by your veterinarian that allows you to use antibiotics in the feed.” He said there are three things that producers should know, in terms of the VFD: • The VFD is a permission slip written by your veterinarian for you to use medicated feeds; • A relationship needs to be developed between the producer and their veterinarian; • Medicated feeds have never been able to be used for uses not on the label, and this new rule doesn’t pertain to injectable antibiotics, which are still governed by prescriptions from the veterinarian. The driving force behind this new regulation is antibiotic resistance in human beings, Stokka noted. Stokka referred to the Veterinary-Client Patient Relationship by the acronym VCPR. This takes the form of a veterinarian knowing your operation well enough that he/she doesn’t have to go out to your place and look at these animals in order to write a permission slip for you to use an antibiotic for your feed.  As a veterinarian, Stokka said he cannot write a producer a permission slip (VFD) for any other reason than what is listed on the label; they can only follow what the label says. But this does not apply to injectable prescription antibiotics. The VFD also does not apply to such things like ionophores and coccidiostats.  According to Stokka, there are a few things the producer will need to provide in order for the veterinarian to issue a VFD. First, you must state who you are, and how many animals you are going to treat. The calculations can be made from there. The veterinarian then goes to his/her computer and fills out a form and makes three copies of that form. The vet retains one for his/her records, one will go to the feed dealer that will authorize the sale of the medicated feed, and the third goes to the producer...more

Obama administration decries judge’s ruling in Utah fracking case

The Obama administration last week decried a ruling by a federal judge that blocks rules for hydraulic fracturing, saying the decision prevents regulators from using “21st-century standards” to ensure that oil and gas operations are conducted safely on public lands. Jessica Kershaw, a spokeswoman for the Interior Department, said “modernized fracking requirements” imposed by Interior Secretary Sally Jewell reflect best industry practices and are aimed at ensuring adequate well control, preventing groundwater contamination and increasing transparency about the materials used in fracking. Kershaw’s comments came after a judge in Wyoming ruled late the day before that federal regulators lack authority to set rules for hydraulic fracturing, also known as fracking. The ruling by U.S. District Judge Scott Skavdahl deals another setback to the Obama administration’s efforts to tighten how fossil fuels are mined. The states of Colorado, North Dakota, Utah and Wyoming oppose the rules involving hydraulic fracturing, which involves injecting a mixture of water, sand and chemicals underground to increase production from oil and gas wells. The White House cast the ruling as a temporary setback while it awaits a decision from the Court of Appeals for the 10th Circuit, which is also reviewing the rule...more

I wrote about this excellent ruling here.

N.M. Game and Fish captures cubs of bear who mauled runner

The black bear cubs orphaned last weekend after their mother was shot and killed for attacking a runner are now in captivity in an Española shelter. “My ultimate goal is for these kiddos to go back into the wild and we never hear about them again,” said Dr. Kathleen Ramsay, owner of Cottonwood Veterinarian Clinic and founder of the New Mexico Wildlife Center. The New Mexico Department of Game and Fish announced Sunday evening that officers captured the bears Saturday afternoon using a PNM cherry picker after they had climbed nearly 90 feet above the forest floor. The department had reported that the mother bear it killed on June 19 had three cubs, but wildlife officers captured only two. Ramsay said the department was mistaken because when officers — like they do with all radio-collared bears — tranquilized the mother in her den over the winter to change her collar, they counted three cubs. Ramsay said it was possible the third cub starved to death long before its mother attacked Karen Williams on June 18 in the Valles Caldera National Preserve as she was running a marathon. One bear, a female, is 12 pounds and feisty. Her brother weighs 8 pounds. Both were dehydrated when they arrived at Ramsay’s shelter, but they are doing well now, she said...more

Ranch Radio Song Of The Day #1645

Max H., a Ranch Radio subscriber said he enjoyed the Hank Week, and that "You can never seem to go wrong with a Hank or a Johnny in country music" and suggested a Johnny Week.  I'm happy to oblige with Johnny Bond & His Red River Valley Boys - Saddle Serenade.  The tune was recorded in Hollywood in 1944 and is available on his CD Country & Western: Standard Transcriptions.  That was quite a group.  In addition to Bond there was Jimmy Wakely, Wesley Tuttle, Merle Travis, Dick Reinhart and Paul Sells.

Monday, June 27, 2016

King Brothers’ Alamo ranch sold to Santa Ana Pueblo

A sprawling New Mexico ranch owned by the family of former Gov. Bruce King has been sold to an American Indian tribe. Purchased by the late King and his brothers in 1961, Alamo Ranch is considered part of the state’s legacy ranches. It stretches across more than 100 square miles of high desert hills, prairies of native grass and arroyos in Sandoval County. The ranch went on the market in February for $33 million. It was sold for an undisclosed price on June 14. Hall and Hall Real Estate partner Jeff Buerger declined to release any details about the new owners, noting that the transaction has been discreet. Bill King, the son of the former governor, told the Albuquerque Journal the ranch was sold to Santa Ana Pueblo. “We’re glad that they purchased the ranch,” King said. “They’ve been our neighbors for a long time.” The Alamo Ranch is a working ranch that’s made up of more than 93 square miles of deeded land and another 21 square miles of leased property. It used to support a year-round cattle operation with herds that ranged from 400 to 1,200 depending on drought conditions. There are no public roads through the ranch, but there are numerous earthen stock tanks on the property along with cattle pens, a ranch headquarters, two wells and an assortment of wildlife...more

Oregon refuge takeover is over, but aftershocks remain

Winter and spring have passed since an armed occupation of a federal wildlife refugeended, but its aftershocks are still shaking this high desert region of Oregon, with activists setting up “Camp Freedom” where an occupier was killed and organizing a recall election this week against a top county official.  The headquarters of the 188,000-acre Malheur National Wildlife Refuge, which was occupied for 41 days, is still closed. Down the road, at The Narrows cafe, saloon, shop and gas station, things have settled. Co-owner Linda Gainer said the business she got from journalists, agents, occupiers, protesters against the occupation, and from protesters protesting the protesters, more than made up for any slower days now. The last militants surrendered Feb. 11. “I met some awesome people. And you know, everybody that came through, they were all polite,” she said, describing how even militia members and anti-occupation protesters exchanged greetings. Those divisions are evident in the signs about Tuesday’s special recall election against County Judge Steve Grasty, who for the past 18 years has been the county’s top administrative official. Grasty blocked occupation leader Ammon Bundy from holding a public meeting in a county building, an act cited as justification for the recall effort. Grasty says it was absurd for Bundy, who said he wanted to turn the federal refuge over to local residents, to ask to use county property...more

Tribes Threaten Lawsuit Over Klamath Flows

The Karuk and Yurok tribes have both put the federal government on notice that they intend to sue, alleging the feds have violated the Endangered Species Act by failing to ensure adequate water flows for Coho salmon on the Klamath River. Citing a disease infection rate of 90 percent for juvenile salmon last year, spurred by low flows and warm water temperatures, coupled with historically low salmon run projections, the tribes said they felt they had to act. The tribes are hoping the federal agencies will work with them to develop a Klamath management plan that includes the release of pulse flows — large, fast releases of water downriver from the dams — that the tribes hope will disrupt the lifecycle of the disease parasite by moving gravel, scouring the river channel and flushing algae and polychaetes downriver...more

Study finds surprising source of Colorado River water supply

Every spring, snow begins to melt throughout the Rocky Mountains, flowing down from high peaks and into the streams and rivers that form the mighty Colorado River Basin, sustaining entire cities and ecosystems from Wyoming to Arizona. But as spring becomes summer, the melting snow slows to a trickle and, as summer turns to fall, all but stops. Scientists have known for a long time that flow in rivers is sustained by contributions from both snowmelt runoff and groundwater.  The groundwater is composed of rivulets of water hidden below ground —some thousands of years old — that are particularly important for sustaining a river’s flow after the spring snowmelt has subsided. Less clear, however, was exactly how much of the flow in rivers came from groundwater, a critical source of much of the West’s water supply. Now, a new study, released last month by the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), helps quantify just how much: more than half the flow of rivers in the upper part of the Colorado River Basin is sustained by groundwater. That finding, say experts, highlights the need to better protect a resource threatened by overuse and climate change...more

TransCanada Formally Seeks NAFTA Damages ($15 billion) in Keystone XL Rejection

TransCanada Corp is formally requesting arbitration over U.S. President Barack Obama’s rejection of the Keystone XL pipeline, seeking $15 billion in damages, the company said in legal papers dated Friday. TransCanada submitted a notice for an arbitration claim in January and had then tried to negotiate with the U.S. government to “reach an amicable settlement,” the company said in files posted on the pipeline’s website. “Unfortunately, the parties were unable to settle the dispute.” TransCanada said it then filed its formal arbitration request under North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) provisions, seeking to recover what it says are costs and damages...more

The great tradeoff

The U.S. Energy Information Administration recently released data showing that in 2015 carbon dioxide emissions from electricity generation dropped to the lowest level since 1993, or 21 percent below 2005 levels. “A shift on the electricity generation mix, with generation from natural gas and renewables displacing coal-fired power, drove the reductions in emissions,” the EIA reported. Burning natural gas releases about half as much CO2 as coal. This shift to natural gas, the rapid rise of renewables, and the prospect of federal limits on CO2 emissions have combined to wallop the coal industry. Coal output hit a 30-year low in 2015. The EIA forecasts that 2016 will be the first year natural gas-fired generation exceeds coal generation; it did so for seven months of 2015. Companies accounting for about 45 percent of U.S. coal production have filed for bankruptcy. Nearly 34,000 jobs have been lost in the industry since 2011. Coal production from Powder River Basin mines, in Wyoming and Montana, was down 35 percent in the first quarter. But as the market spurns coal and the U.S. increasingly relies on natural gas, the environmental risks associated with hydraulic fracturing, or fracking—the game-changing drilling technique that’s unlocked an abundance of oil and gas from shale formations around the country—are coming into sharper focus. Researchers at Stanford and Duke recently released studies revealing the extent to which fracking pollutes water and soil. Michigan researchers uncovered how fracking in the Bakken oil patch has led to rising global ethane levels. Harvard scientists are finding that the amount of methane—a much more potent greenhouse gas than CO2—seeping from oil and gas wells is far greater than previously thought. And University of Texas researchers have linked much of the recent earthquake activity in the state to the injection of fracking wastewater underground. Taken together, these studies, all published since March, further illustrate the tradeoff of one set of environmental consequences for another as we increasingly rely on fracking in moving away from coal...more

Park plans to remove feral plants, animals on former ranch

An $830,000 proposal would remove feral animals such as pigs and goats from Haleakala National Park land. People have until July 14 to provide comments on a draft environmental impact statement released June 12, the Maui News reported ( Plans funded by the national park and the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation call for restoring the area’s natural habitat by removing non-native plants as well as feral pigs, goats, dogs and axis deer. The park acquired the 4,300 acres that make up the former Nuu Ranch in 2008. The draft report says this is among the island’s largest tracts of undeveloped land and is inhabited by endangered species. “Without management and removal of feral animals within the HNP (Haleakala National Park) Nuu exclosure, other conservation activities are unlikely to succeed,” the draft report said...more

'Horrific' First Amphibious Centipede Discovered

Just when you thought it was safe to go in the water—look out for giant, swimming centipedes! Scientists have recently described the world’s first known amphibious centipede. It belongs to a group of giant centipedes called Scolopendra and grows up to 20 centimeters (7.9 inches) long. Like all centipedes, it is venomous and carnivorous. Thankfully, this new water-loving species appears to live only in Southeast Asia. The creature’s description was published last month in the journal ZooKeys. George Beccaloni of the Natural History Museum in London was on his honeymoon in Thailand in 2001. And like any good entomologist, he was looking for bugs. “Wherever I go in the world, I always turn over rocks beside streams, and that’s where I found this centipede, which was quite a surprise,” says Beccaloni. “It was pretty horrific-looking: very big with long legs and a horrible dark, greenish-black color,” he says.  When Beccaloni lifted the rock it was hiding under, the centipede immediately escaped into the stream, rather than into the forest. It ran along the stream bed underwater and concealed itself under a rock...more

The Evolution of Western Wear


...With their apparel sometimes proving inadequate to long days in the saddle, American cowboys subsequently bought, or made, clothes designed to meet the needs of their profession. Fancy embellishments on cowboy clothes would come slowly, grounded in practical considerations for structure or durability.

Sombreros to Stetsons

Long before cowpunchers began trailing beeves out of Texas in the 1860s, Hispanic horsemen tended vacas, Spanish for cattle, in Mexican Territory from Tejas to California. Known as “vaqueros,” these mounted herdsmen wore flashy garments: wide-brimmed sombreros, short waistcoats and jackets, colorful serapes, leather chaparreras over short pantaloons and tall-topped boots.

In a fatal decision to populate the area, the Mexican government invited American settlers to immigrate. As Texian cattlemen appropriated Mexican cattle and land, they adopted elements of the vaquero’s working attire. Modern buckaroos throughout the Southwest inherited much of their forebearers’ culture, including their name—an imprecise rendering of the word vaquero.

The dimensions of the sombrero overwhelmed the anglo interlopers who wore small-billed caps, slouch hats, bowlers and derbies. In 1865, Philadelphia hatmaker John B. Stetson designed a more modest version that still sheltered its wearer from the sun and rain. Stetson’s “Boss of the Plains,” originally a hand-felt design meant to amuse traveling companions on a tour of the American West, quickly became the first, and arguably the most distinct, identifiable part of a cowboy’s ensemble.

Cowboy Boots

The cowboy boot came next, leaving an indelible footprint on the Western landscape.
American and European horsemen decamping for the West after the Civil War arrived wearing low-heeled stovepipe boots or military issue cavalry boots and Wellingtons—calf-high boots with a standard shoe heel. Immigrants traveling West by foot or on wagons or in trains wore Wellies, brogans, moccasins or even went barefoot.

None of these footwear options suited cowboys spending 10 to 12 hours at a time in the saddle. Cobblers in Coffeyville, Kansas, are generally credited with producing the first boots that satisfied the needs of drovers trailing herds through the area in the early 1870s. These boots featured round toes, narrow, reinforced arches and higher heels.

The first boots were custom made and handcrafted. They lacked the stitching and other ornamentation commonly seen on modern cowboy boots. Stitching would come about as a way to stiffen the tall leather shafts and keep them from slouching. Another shift in the boot’s design was the high, underslung heel—adapted from the similarly-styled “Cuban heel”—which helped prevent the rider’s foot from slipping through the oversize stirrups on Western saddles. (Some observers contend that the heel made cowboys feel taller and gave them a little swagger when they walked. The reality is probably a little of both.)

In 1879, H.J. “Joe” Justin moved to Spanish Fort, Texas, to make boots for cowboys herding cattle north. Justin and other pioneer bootmakers, such as Tony Lama and Sam Lucchese, soon dominated the cowboy market with their high quality, comfortable boots. Justin was the first firm to offer mail order boots, with a measuring system invented by Joe’s wife Annie. The system revolutionized custom bootmaking, making Justin famous throughout the West as it became settled.

Cowboy boots eventually became palettes for artistically-inclined bootmakers who were happy to oblige the vanities of preening cowpunchers and, later, Hollywood cowboy actors and Nashville musicians. The comfort and fit demanded by Western boot customers in the 1980s would radically change the components and construction of  cowboy footwear. Plain Wellingtons, known as “ropers,” became a fad in the 1980s, largely because of their shoe-like fit. In the early 1990s, technologically-advanced boots introduced by a new company, Ariat, revolutionized Western boots and created a whole subcategory of Western and riding boots...

I wonder what the robots will wear?

Ranch Radio Song Of The Day #1644

Its Swingin' Monday and this one goes out to A-10, a.k.a Etienne Etcheverry, the award-winning western cartoonist who has an unusual affection for risque songs.  This one is Dirty Boogie by Roy Hall & His Cohutta Mountain Boys.  The tune was recorded in 1949 for the Fortune label and is available on his British Archives of Country Music CD The Complete Detroit & Nashville Recordings.

Sunday, June 26, 2016

Cowgirl Sass & Savvy

At war with the honeybees

by Julie Carter

It’s the season for fighting honeybees. Not something that would immediately come to mind when you think about cowboys, but then, there is a long list of things that cowboys do just because it needs doing. Doesn't mean they are good at it, or that they ought to, but they just do.

It takes a lot to back down a cowboy because his very nature is to fight things until the bitter end. Wisdom is rarely involved. So, when a cowboy finally throws up his hands and says, "Call for help," you know he's reached the end of it.

This cowboy had been fighting uninvited honeybees for most of the spring. He managed to convince them to relocate a number of times. The last had been from the front porch where he used a guaranteed bee-removal spray that had a range of 27 feet. If you hit them square in the eye, they would get only mildly ill on their way to find a new nest. Decimation was minimal.

After feeling somewhat confident that visitors were now safe at the front door, the cowboy realized his opponents had taken up residence in the horse pasture. Using height as a human deterrent, they were busy buzzing in a huge oak tree, about 25 feet from the ground.

Not wanting to be on a ladder with hundreds of angry, buzzing, stinging bees on attack, the cowboy wisely called in a professional. Everyone, in theory, finds his or her specialty in life and in the geographical area of this bee infestation, there is a man known as the "Bee Guy."

When telephoned, he promised to come that very morning and ended the conversation by sharing some of his bee knowledge. "The bees are just like the English. Kill the queen and the whole colony will fold up."

He promised his mission would be the assassination of the queen.

The bee guy arrived and offered his business card that read, "Beez-R-Us, If you've got'em, we'll come swat'em." He said his fee would be $150 but he guaranteed his work.

The bee guy donned a rather spectacular suit similar to those used for moon walks, along with a fetching hat reminiscent of a cross between "Dr. Livingston, I presume" head covering and a diving helmet.

The cowboy felt this was one project he did not particularly need to supervise personally, which in itself, was a rare occurrence. The only other time in recent memory was when the rattlesnake hunters arrived at the New Mexico ranch.

The goofy snake hunter insisted on showing the cowboy his biggest catch of the day. He scooped him out of the snake box and laid him on the ground at the cowboy's feet. Didn't take the cowboy long to look at him.

Meanwhile back at the beehive, it was only a day after the bee guy's attack on the oak tree bees that the lady of house was startled to find bees swarming in her master bath. The queen-less colony of bees apparently had a Lady Camilla bee-in-waiting for a leader.

They had migrated to the eaves over the bathroom window, set up housekeeping and were coming through the attic, down the light fixture and into the bathroom. The little lady's effort to discourage them from joining her bath was to fog them with an entire can of spray aimed at their general vicinity.
The bee guy was promptly requested to return, based on the guarantee of his work. When the cowboy called, he explained that the bees had migrated back to the house.

With a wily tone to his voice, the bee guy asked the cowboy how was it he recognized them to be the same bees? Warranty coverage may prove difficult with that looming question.

Stay tuned. Bee season is just now in full swing.

Julie can be reached for comment at

The old Corral

Summer Rains
The old Corral and screened Porch of Shady Bend
By Stephen L. Wilmeth

            If there is a place of heritage called home, it sits in the cove above Shady Bend.
            The suggestion of Shady Bend gives it a nice feel, and it should. It remains a spot on the map amidst a great place on earth, the upper Gila Valley. Shady Bend was just south from where Bell Canyon crosses the paved road. It became the site of Peter Shelley’s home and first store. It lays at the intersection of the trail from the “Shelley Crossing” and the north south Gila Valley thoroughfare. That old house and barn are now gone. Although I don’t remember ever being in the house, I knew the outside by the frequency of passing the place. Susie and Frankie Carrasco lived just down the ditch from it and my maternal grandparents lived just up the ditch in the mentioned cove on the west side of the road.
            The latter home remains standing as does an historical barn and an adobe garage and pump house. I am seldom there, but, when I am, the place has a strong draw. It remains … home.
            The old Corral
            The corral at the barn is now gone. The only remaining structure to mark it is a three way concrete trough that served the three major pens within the design. The corral was, in succession of time, working pens, a garden spot, and a footprint of memories. We never branded there always leaving that work to another set of pens across the road against the ditch. Built out of rough cut lumber and posts, it was well constructed.
            Events and memories are numerous. When it wasn’t work, it was a playground where my imagination and my stick horses worked herds of make believe cattle. I was jerked off the fence one day when I roped a pig out of a litter circling in the corner pen. That little pig jerked me off on my head with such force I didn’t know which direction was up, but it was left to me to sort out the hurt.
            “Don’t you be roping those pigs,” had been the order. “You leave them alone!”
            I wouldn’t leave a colt alone another day and it jumped the gate from the milking pen into the big pen. He splintered the gate and I was in yet another dilemma.
            “Don’t you bother that colt,” had been the order. “You leave him alone!”
            I remember Bessie of the milk cow duo of Bessie and Tessie. I sat on the fence talking to my uncle as he milked Bessie one evening. She had enough of my feet on her and she hooked at me with her horns in likely growing impatience. My uncle told both of us to “knock it off”.
            I am sure he swung the pail of milk in a 360° arc as we walked to the house if I asked him. I was amazed he could do that without spilling a drop of milk. I just knew it was an extraordinary feat of brilliance.
            All butchering started in that corral. Some conveyer belting was chained to the Ford 9N and run in before the beef or pig was shot. It was then bled and skidded out to the A frame on the north side of the barn. In the days of pigs, the scalding water was boiling in the barrel suspended over the wood fire to dip the pig in. The day the pig came alive when it was plunged into the water scared the stuffing out me. I remember looking out through the back window of the pickup at its head as we hauled it over to Gila to have tamales made by Mrs. Peru. It was looking at me eye to eye every time I looked back. The whole thing gave me the willies, but, oh, those tamales!
            The garden plot came later in the life of my grandparents. Made richer with the passing years of livestock occupancy, the dirt was rich. It grew vegetables with zest. The water came in the old pipe from the ditch that carried water up to the yard. The hand dug well for drinking just wasn’t strong enough to water the yard or the garden.
            The memories are what remain. The times when I was alone in the corral just thinking were important times. Whether I was on my bicycle or my stick horse, the smells and the ambience of that place made a huge impact on me. I don’t remember the smell of the pigs, but certainly I do of the horses and the cows. I also remember the sweet smell of New Mexico summer rain mixed with the rest, and it was all part of the immense security of those surroundings.
            Indeed, it was … home.
            The screened Porch
            I must admit the images of the screened porch are most pronounced this morning.
That comes from reading from “a little history and a few memories” from my uncle who knew the porch even better than I. His tenure included his youth from age six or seven until he left home sleeping out there every night of the year. Mine came every chance I got to escape to be with my grandparents.
The impressions we share are nearly identical.
When he was there, there was a kerosene operated refrigerator along with a propane fired hot water heater that he grew used to hearing. I heard only the hot water heater. I would surmise we both heard “The Louisiana Hayride” playing on his father’s (my grandfather’s) radio. He remembers canvas curtains that could be pulled in the most inclement weather. I never saw them. They were gone by the time I came along.
What I remember most profoundly was the soundest sleeping of my life. There were nights that would simply blink away and morning would dawn. It was there my affinity for cool houses and a warm bed was sewn. The porch was a special place.
He wrote about the sounds of the rural night with cattle bawling, coyotes howling, and the sound of water in the ditch. I had forgotten the latter. Although I couldn’t hear that today, I did then.
What he didn’t write about was the rain.
There is nothing on earth more beautiful than a New Mexico summer rain. It is a precious reward of marathon crossings between times of drought. When it comes at night with all of its monsoonal ferocity on an old tin roof it is something to behold. When it comes at night first softly, and, then, with increasing crescendo, it is a gift of God. The lightning displays and the smell that wafted across that screened enclosure were part of the gift. I knew if I ever owned a home of my own I wanted a tin roof.
No matter where I might be, it would be a connection to that screened porch, just north from the old corral, and up the ditch … from Shady Bend.

Stephen L. Wilmeth is a rancher from southern New Mexico. “Indeed, it was a very safe, warm place.”