Volume 3, Number 21 - August 21, 2003
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Bolgiano, Andrikopoulos appointed
At Tuesday's Sublette County Commission meeting, commissioners appointed Randy Bolgiano and John Andrikopoulos to serve as the county's representatives to the Upper Green River Basin joint powers board.
The commission received four letters of interest for the two available seats. Applicants included Bolgiano, Andrikopoulos, Mark Eatinger and Tony Gosar.
The joint powers board is a new creation involving Lincoln, Sweetwater and Sublette counties. Its creation is an outgrowth of the Green River Basin Advisory Group that worked diligently over several years to develop a plan for future water use in this basin. The purpose of the joint powers board is to sponsor water-development projects in the basin.
Bolgiano was very involved in the Green River BAG and has persistently contacted the commission about getting the joint powers agreement in place and its members appointed. Bolgiano was appointed to a three-year term, while Andrikopoulos was appointed to a one-year term.
There are petitions circulating in Sublette County proposing that the county increase the number of county commissioners from the current board of three to a five-member board. According to the petition, if the appropriate signatures are collected by electorate of the county, the issue will appear on a special general election to be held in November. Should the majority of the qualified electors voting in the special election vote for the increase, the seats would be filled in the general election of 2004.
Another calf killed
The Wyoming Game and Fish Department reported Wednesday morning that the unofficial count of cattle killed by grizzly bears in the Upper Green River region this grazing season now stands at 23.
WG&F's Mark Bruscino said one kill was found over the weekend. Although capture efforts were made in attempt to get the offending bear, those efforts were unsuccessful and the traps have been pulled.
Pursuant to federal guidelines, wildlife officials attempt to capture and relocate bears involved in their first depredations. The bears are moved to locations adjacent to Yellowstone National Park and western Wyoming's wilderness areas away from livestock.
Although bears used to be able to be transplanted in Yellowstone National Park, that practice ceased about five years ago as the bear population continued its expansion.
The comment period for the Grizzly Bear Habitat Amendments has been extended until Sept. 2 in response to requests from the public, according to a press release from the Bridger-Teton National Forest.
The U.S. Forest Service is proposing to amend forest plans for six national forests in the Greater Yellowstone Area to provide additional direction for managing grizzly bear habitat, developed sites and livestock grazing within the Grizzly Bear Recovery Area. An environmental impact statement will analyze the environmental effects of amendments to land and resource management plans for the Beaverhead, Custer and Gallatin National Forests in Montana, the Targhee National Forest located in Idaho and Wyoming and the Bridger-Teton and Shoshone national forests in Wyoming.
The agency expects to have the draft EIS available for public comment in October 2003 and to have the final EIS by February 2004.
The goal of this amendment is to promote the continued recovery of the Yellowstone grizzly bear population.
A website is available from the Interagency Grizzly Bear Committee at http://www.fs.fed.us/r1/wildlife/igbc/ .
Comments can be sent by email to firstname.lastname@example.org, or mailed to Grizzly Bear Habitat Amendments Team, 808 Meadow Lane Avenue, Cody, Wyo., 82414-4549. The scoping comment period began in July and the draft EIS is scheduled to be published this fall, with an additional comment period at that time. The final decision will be next spring.
Wild horse settlement
State and federal officials have settled imminent litigation involving the proper management of wild horses in Wyoming, Governor Dave Freudenthal and Attorney General Pat Crank announced last week.
Lawyers for the state had previously drafted, but not filed, a lawsuit asserting that the U.S. Department of Interior and Bureau of Land Management have violated federal statutes in their management of wild horse populations in Wyoming.
Excess populations were damaging fragile public lands throughout Wyoming as well as the habitats of other species, including potential threatened and endangered species. They also had the potential of jeopardizing the health of the wild horse herds themselves and were forcing the BLM to curtail grazing leases on federal lands.
Now state and federal officials have reached a settlement, which involves entry of a consent decree by the U.S. District Court in Cheyenne. A consent decree is a court order that allows for continuing court enforcement of the settlement's terms.
According to Freudenthal, "Entry of this consent decree will empower Wyoming to force the federal government to maintain the wild horse herds at appropriate management levels."
The BLM estimates that Wyoming has about 7,000 wild horses. The BLM has agreed to remove approximately 3,000 of the excess wild horses by Dec. 15 of this year. Approximately 1,500 additional horses are to be removed by Dec. 15, 2004, in order to bring the wild horse population into compliance with federal law.
The BLM is then under the continuing jurisdiction of the federal court until 2013 to keep wild horse populations in Wyoming at the appropriate federally mandated levels.
National animal ID planned
A national animal identification plan is being developed to help protect American animal agriculture and homeland security, according to information supplied by the American Sheep Industry. State animal health officials, livestock industry groups and the United States Department of Agriculture are working together to finalize the plan, with hopes of having the first phase, "premises identification," in place by July 2004.
This phase would require that standardized premises identification numbers be established for all production operations, markets, assembly points, exhibitions and processing plants.
Once the premises ID systems are in place, the plan will proceed to phase two, which calls for individual identification for cattle in commerce. This phase would be in place by the beginning of 2006.
States, industry and the USDA have been working in partnership on the plan through the National Animal Identification Development Team. The team, which includes a steering committee and five working groups, has produced a draft U.S. Animal Identification Plan.
The draft plan draws on existing voluntary and compulsory animal identification programs currently in place in the United States and coordinates them into a truly national program for the first time. Details are still to be finalized, but the development team expects to complete its work within the next 60 days. It is anticipated that the plan will then be formally delivered to USDA/APHIS, which in turn will develop rulemaking and continue the process of review and comment by industry stakeholders.
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