January 12, 2016
Online Messenger #327
In addition to closely tracking the developments at the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge where the takeover by armed militants has entered its second week and has escalated to fence-cutting and personal harassment of refuge staff, Western Watersheds Project has been involved in many non-Bundy issues as well!
First, some legal wins:
In Wyoming: At the end of December, the State of Wyoming lost its bid to get the lawsuit against its “Data Collection Laws” thrown out. This means that WWP and our allies will proceed with our case against the unconstitutional laws passed last spring with the specific intent of penalizing people who collect and report resource data. The order in the case was quite strong and shows that the State of Wyoming is on thin ice.
In Idaho: Another federal judge ruled against the State of Idaho because its current trapping regulations put imperiled Canada lynx in danger of being caught by traps set for other species. The ruling will require Idaho to make much-needed reforms to its trapping regulations to prevent the accidental killing of wildlife. WWP and our co-plaintiffs hope that these changes will also provide better protection for bobcats, wolves, fishers, coyotes, foxes and a host of other species that are incidentally trapped each year.
Next, some good and bad news from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service on whether it will protect two of the species WWP has petitioned to list under the Endangered Species Act:
Northern Rockies Fisher: In positive news, the FWS found that the species does merit further consideration for Endangered Species Act protection. The next step is a 60 day public comment period wherein the agency gathers more information followed by a final decision. WWP and our allies are confident that with all the threats faced by this elusive forest carnivore ESA protection will help the population recover.
Yellowstone Bison: Unfortunately, here’s the bad news. WWP and alllies submitted this listing petition in November 2014; this week, the Service acknowledged that the Yellowstone herds are a Distinct Population Segment, but declined to protect them. WWP will be considering our options moving forward, but we’re not done fighting for this iconic species.
We’ve got plenty more victories in queue for 2016, and these are just the beginning.
Thank you for all of your support as we move forward!