Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Blog dump!

Between moving, traveling, getting engaged and becoming a dog owner, I've been terribly remiss in keeping this thing updated. Here are a few of my latest stories for High Country News:

1. Sweeping new rule for Alaska's predator control: Federal versus state wildlife politics get even hotter.

When Jim Stratton, deputy vice president for the National Parks Conservation Association, heard last week that the National Park Service had announced a sweeping new rule banning the manipulation of predators and prey in Alaska’s national preserves, his reaction was — to put it mildly — unfettered joy. “This is totally exciting news,” he says. “I’ve only been working this for ten years. Game on.”

The reaction of the state Division of Wildlife Conservation? A little more tepid. Director Doug Vincent-Lang sees any attempt by the feds to usurp Alaska’s wildlife management authority as overreach, and this new rule — which maintains hunting rights on Alaska’s 22 million acres of national preserves but bans certain controversial practices — is overreach at its worst: “unfounded and unjust,” he told Alaska Dispatch News.

The proposed rule is currently up for public comments, and will likely be implemented next year. It prohibits the baiting of brown bears, the killing of wolves and coyotes when pups are in tow, and the use of artificial light to kill black bears in their dens. It also pre-emptively prohibits any other practice “with the intent or potential to alter or manipulate natural predator-prey dynamics.” In other words, killing predators to boost ungulate populations will no longer be allowed in Alaska’s national preserves.

To understand just how big this is, it helps to backtrack to 2002, when former Republican governor Frank Murkowski took office...

As always, to read the entire story, just click here. 

Photo courtesy John Burch

2. The nice folks at the National Parks Conservation Association hooked me up with former Alaskan governor Tony Knowles for his take on Alaskan wildlife management and the new rule. Read my interview with him here.

3. Manmade quakes shake the Southwest: Tremors in Colorado and New Mexico linked to coalbed methane extraction.

Colorado, northern New Mexico and even western Kansas felt their beds shake. Historic buildings crumbled and chunks of mountainsides slid onto highways, but no injuries were reported in the 5.3 magnitude quake that the New York Times deemed “the largest natural earthquake in Colorado in more than a century.”

Except that it wasn’t natural at all. A study released Monday in the Bulletin of the Seismological Society of America confirms what scientists have suspected for years: That the 2011 quake — along with dozens of others in the Raton Basin of Colorado and New Mexico — were caused by a byproduct of coalbed methaneextraction. Other studies have made similar connections in Oklahoma and Ohio, but this is the first to conclusively link oil and gas development with increased earthquake frequency in the Southwest.

It also skews the popular notion that fracking alone is responsible for tremors in oil and gas country. U.S. Geological Survey research geophysicist Bill Barnhart, who reviewed the study and has worked in the Raton Basin, emphasizes that the human-induced seismicity there is “completely unrelated” to fracking.

Instead, the culprit is coalbed methane extraction — or, more specifically, the wastewater it produces...

Again, to read the whole thing, click here.
Nature Blog Network