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Snippets of environmental news content from EarthFix and other trusted places. Curated by Toni Tabora-Roberts.
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The enviro journalists at Grist assess where Washington Governor-elect Jay Inslee may stand on the coal export issue.

EarthFix Photo Contest October 2012 - Outside This Summer in the PNW

As Fall descends upon us, we want to prolong the summer! Share shots of your outdoor summer adventures around the Pacific Northwest. This time, we’ll select two winners, one for each of these themes:

Northwest Vistas
Goofing Off in Nature

Winners get local chocolate and their winning photo on the cover of the EarthFix FB and G+ pages! Check out the rules below.

To inspire you, above are some fun samples from our Team. 

Rules:

  1. Please post your own photos!
  2. Eligible photos were taken in the Pacific Northwest sometime this past summer.
  3. Post up to 3 photos.
  4. Include your name, location of photo and a brief caption or description.
  5. Deadline to submit Wednesday, October 10, 5pm Pacific.
  6. Winner will be announced Friday, October 12.

How to submit:

By Jessica Robinson

Washington wildlife officials killed three more grey wolves near the Canadian border Wednesday. That brings the total kill to five this week.

The state’s decision to take out an entire wolf pack is causing blowback for state wildlife managers –- and for one environmental organization that supported the action.

When you dial the main number for the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife, the very first thing you hear might give you some indication of the level of public interest in the wolf issue.

A recording says, “If you’re calling regarding the Wedge Wolf Pack, please press pound or the number sign now.”

Jasmine Minbashian has also been getting feedback. The organization she works for, Conservation Northwest, reluctantly gave the state its stamp of approval to remove the livestock-hungry wolf pack. That move puts Minbashian at odds with many wolf advocates.

“I understand,” she says, “I understand the anger and the questions and how people are feeling.”

Minbashian says biologists they talked to find it’s hard to stop wolf predation once a pack becomes dependent on livestock. She hopes to establish a middle ground in the wolf debate that will lead to non-lethal measures in the future.

(This was first reported for the Northwest News Network.)

Old farm in Arlington has new job: cleaning stormwater

  • EarthFix: How many wolves are there in the Wedge Pack?
  • Pamplin: We don’t know the total number. There was, we thought, four adults, the alpha male and female and two non-breeding members and an undetermined number of pups.
  • EarthFix: And these wolves, the Wedge Pack, are not on the endangered species list right? There’s a difference.
  • Pamplin: There’s a couple regulatory jurisdictions. Under the Federal Endangered Species wolves are listed as endangered West of highway 97 so essentially the western two thirds of the state. The eastern third of the state is considered part of the federally delisted portion of the northern rocky mountain distinct population segment of wolves so the state is on point for the management of wolves in the Eastern third. Under state law wolves are listed as endangered. That was the premise behind developing the wolf conservation management plan that essentially our recovery plan where we set recovery objectives across the state where we have 15 successful breeding pairs for three years distributed across three recovery regions.
  • Another way we could delist wolves is if there’s 18 successful breeding pairs with a similar distribution throughout each of the three recovery zones observed even in one year, we could delist.
  • At this stage it’s under state law wolves are listed as endangered and this portion of the state under federal law wolves are delisted.
  • EarthFix: Ok, so how far are we from the 18 breeding pair number?
  • Pamplin: We’re quite a ways away. It’s important to share some perspective. Just last year we had 5 packs within the state and a pack is defined as two or more wolves running together. For recovery objectives the metric that’s used across all the states that are managing wolves is a successful breeding pair, that is an adult pair of wolves that have successfully raised two pups through the end of the calendar year.
  • So last year for instance of the 5 packs we had 3 were considered successful breeding pairs. As part of our recovery objectives I’d mentioned about the need to have a geographic distribution so we have three recovery zones throughout the state – eastern Washington zone, a north cascades zone and a southern cascades that also includes Southwest and up into the Olympic Peninsula. And we need to have at least 4 successful breeding pairs in each of those zones. Currently we don’t have any packs in the south cascades. We have two packs up in the north cascades and the balance of our packs are in the eastern Washington recovery zone so we’re still a ways away from being able to consider a state delisting.
  • EarthFix: So how can you be recovering a population and killing them at the same time?
  • Pamplin: Well I understand that that’s counter intuitive at first glance. Wolves are – they’re habitat generalists, they’re prey generalists and with the reintroduction into Yellowstone National Park and Central Idaho in the mid-90s wolf populations have been rebounding very well.
  • There are wolves that end up getting into trouble and end up having negative interactions with livestock producers so as part of our goal for longterm persistence of having wolves on the landscape is also having that social tolerance and public acceptance that wolves are there and unfortunately when wolves are no longer responding to non-lethal measures, lethal measures do become necessary.
  • And that was an important part of our decision earlier this week of lethal removing up to two wolves in the Wedge Pack, was looking at the conservation status within that Eastern Washington region. We have 3 packs in the North Cascades but 9 packs within the Eastern Washington recovery zone where the Wedge Pack is located. In addition the Wedge Pack is very close proximity to Idaho where there’s numerous wolves as well as British Columbia and so the balance of that information and the population persistence modeling we had done in the development of the wolf conservation and management plan demonstrated and supported that wolf lethal removal can be accomplished and does not inhibit population recovery.
  • EarthFix: Could you have just moved this female – just put her elsewhere where the recovery’s not going as well?
  • Pamplin: That is something we’ve identified in the plan but in this scenario a couple things are at play. Number one is there are numerous areas within Northeast Washington that have already been occupied by wolf packs and then in addition, moving wolves that are known livestock depredators would be a real challenge. This pack at this point in time would not be considered a candidate for moving within the recovery region.
  • EarthFix: But I mean, aren’t all wolves candidates for livestock depredation?
  • Pamplin: Not necessarily. There are numerous examples of wolves living in the vicinity of livestock that continue to focus on what I’ll call the naturally available prey – deer, elk and moose. In certain instances they focus in on livestock and once that happens it’s very difficult to modify that behavior.

This is video of the Huckleberry Pack, the 7th pack of wolves in Washington. An 8th pack, dubbed the Wedge Pack, has just been confirmed.

Via the WDFW’s YouTube page:

"n late June of 2012, five wolf pups were video-recorded on a remote camera set by WDFW biologists in southern Stevens County east of the town of Fruitland and north of the Spokane Indian Reservation. Cameras were set up in that area based on reports of wolf activity, including wolf tracks and sign at a moose kill and Spokane Indian Reservation information.

The pack is named for nearby Huckleberry Mountain. The Huckleberry Pack is Washington’s seventh confirmed pack, including the Nc’cin pack on the Colville Confederated Tribes reservation.”

I’m on these coal trains myself. I’m either rolling them by or I’m seeing them go by. I’ve never once even seen coal dust come off of them at all. You just can’t give ‘carte blanche’ to things like this. Hopefully this will be good for everybody— financially and environmentally.
Robert Hill, locomotive engineer with Burlington North Santa Fe, living in Washougal, WA, speaking to Amanda Peacher about pass-through towns wanting a voice in the coal export proposal discussions.

See how a farm family, including savvy kids and kid goats, is impacted in efforts to clean up water pollution on Washington’s Kitsap Peninsula. Warning: you will see and hear cute kids and animals.