Deride 'Em, Cowboys
Ranchers and enviros in nine Western states are teaming up to file suit today against the Defense Department to halt low-level military training flights that they say harm livestock, fish, and wildlife. The Air Force flies planes over more than 1 million square miles, most of it public land in the West, and some of the aircraft fly as low as 100 feet off the ground at speeds of up to 645 miles per hour, the lawsuit says. The flights are "sometimes deafening and startling to human beings and animals, causing wildlife and livestock to panic and stampede and impairing their ability to reproduce and raise their young," said Peter Galvin, a biologist for the Center for Biological Diversity in Tucson, Ariz. The suit accuses the Air Force of intentionally underestimating the impacts of the overflights by assessing the flight routes individually rather than as a whole across the country, and it asks for a ban on the flights until the government conducts a broad assessment of their environmental impact.