Subject: FW: SW BIODIVERSITY ALERT #163

      ____________________________________________________
      \       SOUTHWEST BIODIVERSITY ALERT #163          /
       \                    12-8-98                     /
        \                                              /
         \ SOUTHWEST CENTER FOR BIOLOGICAL DIVERSITY  /
          \        http://www.sw-center.org          /
           \________________________________________/

1. HABITAT PROTECTION ORDERED FOR ENDANGERED OWL, PLANT

2. MEXICAN SPOTTED OWL STILL DECLINING- MAY BE UPLISTED
   TO ENDANGERED STATUS

3. GUNMAN BLASTS ANIMAL RIGHTS OFFICE, THREATENS WOLVES

4. RANCHER CONVICTED OF KILLING JAGUARS AND OCELOTS

5. WASHINGTON POST: SUITS & SPECIES TURNING LIVESTOCK
   INDUSTRY UPSIDE-DOWN IN SW

     *****    *****     *****     *****

JUDGE ORDERS HABITAT PROTECTION FOR ENDANGERED PYGMY OWL
& WATER UMBEL
On 11-25-98, a federal judge ordered the U.S. Fish &
Wildlife Service to propose critical habitat for the
Huachuca water umbel and the Cactus ferruginous pygmy owl
within 30 days. He gave the agency six months to make a
final decision on the proposal. The order came in response
to a lawsuit by the Southwest Center challenging the
agency's refusal to protect the two species' habitat. The
Fish & Wildlife Service argued that publicly identifying
protected habitat could endanger the species by alerting
wildlife collectors to their presence. The judge, however,
agreed that the overwhelming threat to both is habitat
loss, and that critical habitat designation is designed to
prevent habitat loss.

The water umbel lives along the San Pedro River and its
tributaries in southeast Arizona. The SW Center has been
fighting a protracted battle to halt the dewatering of the
river by urban sprawl and the Army's Fort Huachuca. The pygmy
owl lives along desert rivers, washes and pristine Sonoran
desert habitats. Critical habitat for it will likely include
northwest Tucson, the Gila River, the San Pedro River, and
Aravaca Canyon.
     ___________________________

MEXICAN SPOTTED OWL STILL DECLINING, MAY BE UPGRADED TO
ENDANGERED STATUS
A recent study of Mexican spotted owl populations on the
Gila and Coconino National Forests by Dr. Rocky Gutierrez
has documented an enormous decline averaging at least 10%
per year between 1991 and 1997. Since the two populations
are at opposite ends of the Mogollon Plateau, over 200 miles
apart, Gutierrez suggests that the entire metapopulation may
be declining.

The Mexican spotted owl was listed as threatened under the
Endangered Species Act in 1993 in response to a petition by
the Southwest Center. Recent genetic analysis suggests it is
a unique species, rather than a subspecies of spotted owl. We
are reviewing additional demographic data to determine whether
it should be uplisted to endangered status.
     ______________________

GUNMAN BLASTS NM ANIMAL RIGHTS OFFICE, THREATENS WOLVES
On 12-6, the Santa Fe office of Animal Protection of New
Mexico (APNM) was strafed with shotgun blasts. No one was
present at the time.  APNM, made up almost entirely of
women, has been an aggressive and successful opponent of
abuse to wild and domestic animals. It has taken on the
fur industry, the U.S. Forest Service, wolf killers, bison
killers and circuses.

It's director, Lisa Jennings, recently a letter warning:
"you are approaching a point where we will have to hurt you.
We are going to make a concerted effort to kill any wolf
reintroduced in to the wild and poison bison as long as you
interfere with wildlife issues."
     ________________________

RANCHER CONVICTED OF KILLING ENDANGERED JAGUARS
AND OCELOTS
On 11-25-98, two Arizona men were convicted by a Tucson
jury of selling endangered jaguar and ocelot hides to an
undercover wildlife agent. They face up to five years in
jail and a $250,000 fine. John Klump, a southern Arizona
rancher, tracked the jaguar through the Dos Cabezas Mountains
for 10 days in 1986 before killing it. The two also illegally
killed black bears, javelinas, and bighorn sheep.
     _______________________

WASHINGTON POST: SUITS & SPECIES TURNING
LIVESTOCK INDUSTRY UPSIDE-DOWN IN SW
The following excerpt is from a lengthy front page story in the
Washington Post on 11-29-98. It is the second of two stories the
Post has done this year on the decline of the livestock industry
in the Southwest. After nearly a hundred years of political
dominance, the industry has been shaken by a barrage of
Endangered Species Act petitions by the Southwest Center,
copious environmental litigation, scathing critiques by Forest
Service and academic scientists, and changing public attitudes
about the management of public lands.

  Grazing Laws Feed Demise Of Ranchers' Way of Life
  By Tom Kenworthy

  "Spurred by lawsuits from without and new leadership within --
  and in response to the changing values -- the Forest Service is
  changing the way it manages millions of acres of forest and range
  in the Southwest. The new management, designed to better protect
  ecologically sensitive stream corridors and the wildlife that
  depends on them, is having a dramatic impact on Southwest
  ranchers, who often own just a few hundred acres of private land
  and must rely on public rangeland for most of their cattle forage."

  ...

  "Forest Service officials concede that protecting fish and wildlife
  has historically not been their top priority. Created in 1905, the
  Forest Service has been guided by the philosophy of founder
  Gifford Pinchot, who with President Theodore Roosevelt added
  nearly 150 million acres to the country's forest reserves. Natural
  resources, preached Pinchot, should be managed to provide "the
  greatest good to the greatest number."

  In practice, that has largely meant using the forests to produce
  timber and forage. And it is only relatively recently that this has
  come under serious challenge, from without and within. Early this
  year, the recently retired head of the Forest Service's endangered
  species program in the Southwest wrote to the agency's chief
  blasting the service's "unwillingness to manage resources for the
  public good instead of the financial benefit of the livestock
  industry." Livestock grazing, wrote Leon Fager, "is the major
  reason that ecosystems are deteriorating, species are near
  extinction and watersheds have lost much of their ability to yield
  high quality and quantities of water."

  Over the years the Forest Service has been adept at muzzling or
  shrugging off internal critics such as Fager. But the agency is
  finding it more difficult to fend off a ferocious legal assault by
  environmental groups such as the Santa Fe-based Forest
  Guardians and the Southwest Center for Biological Diversity in
  Tucson. They have bombarded the agency with lawsuits
  demanding better protection for endangered species and less
  intrusive ranching. Leaders of both groups make no bones about
  their agenda: ending ranching on public land in much of the arid
  Southwest.

  Cattle grazing "is the single most devastating impact on the
  ecosystems of the Southwest," said Kieran Suckling, executive
  director of the Southwest Center for Biological Diversity. "It just
  doesn't belong here."

  In a broad suit, the two conservation groups allege that the Forest
  Service has repeatedly violated the Endangered Species Act by
  failing to determine whether grazing on scores of federal
  allotments in New Mexico and Arizona is harmful to threatened
  and endangered wildlife and fish.

  Last spring, to clear away some of the underbrush in that suit, the
  Forest Service and the environmental plaintiffs signed off on an
  agreement under which the government promised to ensure that
  cattle are kept away from rivers and streams on almost 60 grazing
  allotments in the Southwest. At the same time, the agency has
  been conducting what are known as environmental assessments
  under the National Environmental Policy Act on hundreds of
  southwestern grazing allotments to determine the appropriate
  level of usage. More often than not, the number of cattle is being
  cut substantially after those reviews are completed.

  The key findings for many of the Blue River ranches: The soils
  have "an inherent inability to withstand grazing," and in river
  areas, as much as 95 percent of the habitat for wildlife is in
  "unsatisfactory" condition.

  "It's painful for us to see" the wrenching changes taking place on
  the Blue, said Dave Stewart, head of the range program in the
  Forest Service's Southwest region. "But our number one
  obligation as federal public servants is to the resource itself, and
  to make sure these lands are managed on a sustainable basis."

  The sense of doom that pervades the Blue is based in part on a
  solid reading of recent history. Within the past three years,
  measures taken to protect the Mexican spotted owl have
  decimated the Southwest timber industry, which is unlikely to
  ever recover from logging restrictions and two court-imposed
  logging moratoriums, now lifted."

_____________________________________________________________________________

Kierán Suckling                               ksuckling@sw-center.org
Executive Director                            520.623.5252 phone
Southwest Center for Biological Diversity     520.623.9797 fax
http://www.sw-center.org                      pob 710, tucson, az 85702-710