Update, 8 January:
Through the Governor's Club, Bill Janklow enabled South Dakota Game, Fish, and Parks to manipulate cattle grazing leases (not to mention negotiating a failed gold mine on public land) then drove cougar extirpation to frustrate the efforts of the US Forest Service to reverse the Black Hills' pine monoculture.
Remove the predators, expect pine beetle outbreaks!
A recently completed study of Yellowstone wolves has shown how important apex predators are to forest health.
150 years ago Populus tremuloides was the predominant deciduous tree species on the Black Hills and the Rocky Mountain Complex. Aspen, the most widely distributed deciduous tree species on Earth, is critical to the survival of the Black Hills’ unique ecotones. Beaver communities rely on aspen to slow runoff and store water supplies.
Aspen shoots are favorite browse for elk and bison. Brown and Sieg have noted at least 77 instances of human-induced wildfire on the pre-settlement Hills. Paha Sapa (”hills that are black” is likely a reference to burnt timber instead of the accepted, “seen from a distance”) hasn’t been a natural forest since the mid-1800s when a nearly Hills-wide fire (possibly set by humans hoping to clear pine), opened grazing for distinct historic ungulates.
The Black Hills are broken.
From Yellowstone Public Radio via the Billings Gazette:
The BLM argues that reducing herd sizes are necessary to protect the range and to keep the horse populations healthy into the future. The agency intends to apply a fertility vaccine called PZP to 890 mares, then release the animals back to the areas from which they were captured.The technology exists to administer this drug to predators without capture even as western states are suing to force the United States Fish and Wildlife Service to remove gray wolves from the endangered species list pressured by livestock producers.
GFP could generate revenue by selling darts loaded with birth control to hunters eager to preserve “balance,” even use dogs to better administer this medicine.
Orphaned kittens are the trouble-makers. Cattle, elk, and deer are the biggest threats to aspen restoration efforts.
There are no viable wolf packs (there is evidence of solo lobos) in the Black Hills because it has been able to support a healthy cougar population…until now.
Connect the dots.
Urge GFP to end the cougar slaughter now!
Rewild the West.