We are living in a time of unprecedented rollbacks of bedrock environmental laws that were put in place to protect clean water, clean air, public lands, and wildlife. The National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) was passed in 1970 just as modern environmentalism and the efforts of Rachel Carson via Silent Spring were starting to hit the public consciousness. This innovative law sought to ensure any actions taken by a federal agency to be evaluated so that the effects to the environment could be assessed and that the public would be informed and given a chance to speak out either for or against these actions. It also forces the federal agency to consider alternative actions that may have a lesser impact. Now, the proposed changes to NEPA would significantly weaken the law by:

  • Companies proposing actions would be allowed to do their own environmental reviews instead of the government doing the review or contracting with a neutral third-party
  • Only direct and short term impacts would be considered, eliminating consideration of indirect or long term impacts. which are often the impacts that stand to do the most harm
  • Government agencies can ignore public comments (like yours) on projects that stand to degrade the wild places you love and the health of a planet we all rely on
  • And the list goes on... For a full breakdown of the changes please reference this NEPA Changes Document compiled by our friends and partners at the Sierra Club

Due to the death of a dog in Fremont County by a snare, the Wyoming Game and Fish Commission will discuss changes to trapping regulations at their next meeting on Thursday, March 19 in Cody.

The proposed changes are being brought both by Wyoming Untrapped and a newly formed group called WY TRAP-FREEmont County. The new group in Lander was created by Karen Zoller (who's dog Mac was the one recently killed by a snare) and other concerned citizens. Both groups will be asking for trap-free areas in Teton and Fremont Counties where dogs can be safely walked without fear of injury or death.

Meeting Details:
When: March 19, 2020, 3:15-3:45 (although the schedule can change, best to show up early)
Where: Holiday Inn, 1701 Sheridan Ave, Cody, WY

Send comments ahead of the meeting to the Commissioners:

The Teton Range Bighorn Sheep Working Group held another round of public meetings on February 20 and March 5 to discuss the effects of recreation on the sheep and to gather comments from the public. These meetings, while well intentioned, are the typical convening of special interests groups to come and try and get what they want rather than thinking of what would be best for the wildlife and our shared resources for the years to come. The agencies will now review the public comments and come up with a plan they will present on April 9 at Snow King Resort in Jackson from 6pm-9pm. We will keep you informed as this develops.

After being postponed due to weather and scheduling of the helicopter, Grand Teton National Park went through with their plan to aerially eradicate mountain goats from the park to protect the struggling bighorn sheep herd. Thirty-six goats were killed before the Governor called in Department of Interior Secretary David Bernhardt. The state is not against the goats being killed but were appalled that the goats were being "executed" by helicopter and not killed by hunters. In what became a battle over resources between the state and the federal government, Secretary Bernhardt set a dangerous precedent of interfering on behalf of a state. The park is now working with the state to determine the path forward. Most likely we will be seeing hunters permitted to go into the park this fall to kill mountain goats. With elk hunting already allowed in Grand Teton National Park, we don't need more hunting and further disturbance of the bighorn sheep. The mountain goats are the definitive losers here. We are working on this issue and will keep you updated as developments occur.

More info here.

WWA submitted a letter along with the The Jackson Hole Conservation Alliance, National Parks Conservation Association, Greater Yellowstone Coalition, Wyoming Wilderness Association, Teton Raptor Center, Teton Backcountry Alliance, Northern Rockies Conservation Cooperative, Cougar Fund, Riverwind Foundation and, the Wyoming Outdoor Council to convince the FAA to revoke the Letter of Authorization for Wind River Air to operate in Jackson. In spite of the fierce opposition from the community, the FAA signed off that there are no safety violations or problems with Wind River Air, LLC to operate scenic helicopter tours in Jackson Hole, including over Grand Teton National Park. These scenic flights will be highly disruptive to wildlife, especially the already threatened Teton Range bighorn sheep. A meeting will be held March 18 at the Jackson Hole Airport at 9:000 am in the firehouse to discuss the permit for Wind River Air. Please send an email to our Congressional representatives ahead of the meeting to convince them to intervene on behalf of our residents, community, and wildlife.

Contact info:
Senator Mike Enzi
Representative Liz Cheney

  • Montana's grizzly bear council will meet once again on March 19 and 20 at the Stage Stop Inn Conference Center, 1005 Main Ave N in Choteau. This meeting will focus on trophy hunting and "wildlife damage compensation program challenges and opportunities." Panelists will be from Fish, Wildlife, and Parks, the Montana Livestock Loss Board, Wildlife Services, and the USDA Farm Service Agency. YOUR VOICE IS NEEDED to help speak against trophy hunting of grizzlies as a method to reduce conflicts with ranchers. The research and data shows that non-lethal coexistence methods are more effective than lethal removal of bears. Prevention of conflicts is the best path forward for both people and bears.

  • Please submit a comment telling the council to fund non-lethal methods of coexistence. If we can educate ranchers and citizens in areas with bears, and prepare people where bears haven't shown up yet, on how to live with grizzlies, we can have a landscape where both bears and people can survive. Bears aren't going to change their behavior, we must be the ones to take action.

Public comment is continuously being accepted. Please send your thoughts to the committee. If you can attend the meeting, even better.

On March 19 the Idaho Fish and Game Commission will be holding a public hearing on its recent decision to open a 12-month hunting season on wolves in much of the state.

This Saturday, March 14 there will be a wolf activist training where you can learn more about wolf management in Idaho and how to testify before the commission to protect wolves. FREE PIZZA will be provided.

Saturday, March 14, 12-1:30 p.m.
Boise Public Library, Marion Bingham Room, 715 S Capitol Blvd, Boise, ID 83702

Click here for more information and to register.

A proposal by Snow King Resort seeks to expand operations significantly into valuable wildlife habitat on the backside of the mountain. Northern goshawks, black bears, elk, deer, great gray owls, and more stand to be disrupted by yurt camping, a 25,000 square foot building, mountain biking trails, wedding venue, high-speed zipline, and skiing.

Some of the larger problems with the Snow King Draft Environmental Impact Statement:

  • The “purpose and need” is written in a way to predetermine the outcome (full development). It is written from the developers’ perspective, not true purpose & need for the USFS. Because of this flawed purpose and need, they discounted other viable alternatives.
  • The FS did not include a reasonable range of alternatives, as NEPA requires. Other than the no-action alternative, the 3 alternatives are identical in all substantive questions (boundary expansion, backside expansion, etc).
  • Wildlife impacts were generally dismissed by the consultants, including sensitive species like Northern Goshawk (home territory in the proposed east road expansion and new ski runs) and Great Gray Owls (courtship territory in Leeks Canyon) and big game habitat in Leeks Canyon. Elk winter range in Leeks Canyon will become more important if/when the Elk Refuge and WGFD reduce feeding. Elk calving range in Leeks Canyon, Skyline Trail, etc is important until July 1 – no mountain biking should be allowed during calving.
  • Creation of a wedding venue at the top of the mountain which will disturb wildlife during evenings and nights.
  • A year-round yurt camp with nine yurts and a pathway to them will be constructed on the backside of the mountain to provide for camping which will greatly disrupt wildlife.

Ask the Forest Service to create an actual alternative that avoids the above impacts including - No development in Leeks Canyon. In exchange for expanding the west boundary, pull back the backside boundary to the ridgeline. No mountain bikes allowed on chairlift/gondola to the top. An alternative without a top-to-bottom zipline. Upgrade the existing buildings at the top instead of construction of a large new building and ski school building. No wedding venue at the top so wildlife isn't disturbed during summer evenings. No additional ski runs or chairlifts on the backside of the resort. No yurt construction and year-round camping.

WWA to be Featured on
Projects for Wildlife Podcast!
We are super excited to be featured on an upcoming episode of the Projects for Wildlife Podcast. The mission of the Projects for Wildlife Podcast is to put a spotlight on conservation leaders and advance projects that benefit wildlife and their habitat. Projects For Wildlife Podcast was featured in the Feedspot Blog Top 20 Wildlife Podcasts for 2020. We will be recording this week and will send out a message when it's posted to the site! Stay tuned!
Photos credits (in order of appearance): Grizzly bear: Bobbi Leigh Photography
WY TRAP-FREEmont logo: Cayla Nimmo
Bighorn sheep: Wild and Nature Photo
Mountain goat: Rebecca King Photography
Yellowstone grizzly: Tanner Haver
Grizzly cub: Charles O. Jones