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More Than 3,500 Turtles Are Rescued From Texas Cold

www.ecowatch.com

In particular, the freezing temperatures are cold stunning endangered sea turtles — making them so cold that they lose the ability to swim or feed.

“You could put a cold-stunned turtle in a half an inch of water and they’d drown,” Wendy Knight, executive director of conservation nonprofit Sea Turtle Inc., told The New York Times.

Turtles can become cold stunned when temperatures fall below 50 degrees Fahrenheit, according to The Washington Post. But that is unusual for South Padre Island, a beach town at the southern tip of Texas where Sea Turtle Inc. is located. Usually, volunteers might rescue dozens to hundreds of cold-stunned turtles. But by Tuesday, the group wrote on Facebook that they were caring for more than 2,500 turtles. By late Tuesday, more than 3,500 turtles had been rescued and brought to the town’s convention center, where they were being warmed in kiddie pools and tarps, The Washington Post reported.

The rescue involved a collective effort. Social media posts showed a retiree hauling turtles in the back of her car and Texas Game Wardens lining the deck of their ship with turtles.

Texas Game Wardens assigned to Cameron county rescued 141 sea turtles from the frigid waters of the Brownsville Shi… https://t.co/I9IFZwTqnl — Texas Game Warden (@Texas Game Warden)1613523864.0

“It is a huge, huge community effort,” Gina McLellan, a 71-year-old retired professor and volunteer, told The Washington Post. “We very often don’t even think about the [cold’s] impact on animals, because we’re so worried about our own electricity and water. With this kind of event, it’s a classic display of humanity toward animals.”

However, the turtles currently face the same problem as people: a lack of power. Knight said that Sea Turtle Inc. is still in the dark. The convention center they are using as an overflow space has generators, but sick or injured animals need the heated tanks only their fully powered hospital can provide.

“All of these efforts will be in vain if we do not soon get power restored,” Knight said in a Facebook video, reported HuffPost. “We need our power back on.”

It is also unclear how many of the rescued turtles will ultimately recover, volunteers told The Washington Post. Knight told The New York Times that the cold-stunning event could impact the turtles’ overall population. Five Texas sea turtle species are listed as threatened or endangered, according to the Fish and Wildlife Service.

The turtles aren’t the only ones harmed by the cold spell. At least 23 people have died in the winter storm that froze the south and central U.S., The New York Times reported. More than a dozen dogs were rescued from the cold near Houston, while one was found dead, according to The Washington Post. A chimpanzee, several lemurs and monkeys and many tropical birds died at an animal sanctuary near San Antonio after the facility lost power Monday morning, The San Antonio Express-News reported.

The sanctuary, Primarily Primates, evacuated some of the animals Monday night, but could not save them all.

“I’ve never faced a decision like this,” Executive Director Brooke Chavez told The San Antonio Express-News. “Having to decide who we can save, depending on the predictability of which animals we can catch.”

https://www.ecowatch.com/turtle-rescue-texas-2650597417.html?rebelltitem=1#rebelltitem1

Wisconsin Approves February Wolf Hunt

Feb. 16, 2021 12:44PM EST

AnimalsWisconsin has approved 200 wolves to be killed in a February hunt. Michael Cummings / Getty Images

As the former and current administration’s endangered species policies battle for prominence, Wisconsin’s wolves are caught in the crosshairs, literally.

When the Trump administration delisted gray wolves from the Endangered Species Act, it triggered a Wisconsin law requiring the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (DNR) to hold a wolf hunt from mid-October through February, Wisconsin Public Radio reported. The DNR originally said it would wait until November 2021 to prepare a hunt, but hunting advocates sued to speed up the process, and last week a judge ordered the board to prepare a February hunt. This prompted the DNR to set a quota on Monday of 200 gray wolves that can be killed before the end of the month.

Wildlife advocates oppose the move, pointing out that the rushed hunt will take place during the wolves’ breeding season.

“You remove one, you’re essentially destabilizing and killing the entire pack,” Friends of the Wisconsin Wolf and Wildlife Executive Director Melissa Smith told Public News Service. “So, we expect this to be pretty detrimental to our wolf population.”

The federal delisting of wolves officially went into effect in January. In December, the DNR said it would wait until November to set a hunting quota, arguing that it needed more time to make a scientifically sound plan and consult with tribes and the public, according to Wisconsin Public Radio. In late January, the state’s Natural Resources Board rejected a push from Republican lawmakers to speed up the quota, Wisconsin Public Radio reported at the time.

However, Kansas-based group Hunter Nation sued the state to start the hunt this winter. It argued that delaying the hunt violated hunters’ constitutional rights, according to the Wisconsin State Journal. Circuit Judge Bennett Brantmeier ruled in the group’s favor. While Wisconsin is appealing this decision, the Natural Resources Board still voted Monday to authorize a February hunt.

The hunt will allow the killing of 200 wolves that aren’t on tribal reservations, according to the DNR website. The hunt will last from Feb. 22 to Feb. 28, and hunters can apply for a permit between Feb. 16 and Feb. 20. The state will issue 4,000 permits, the Wisconsin State Journal reported, which is twice the number that staff recommended.

The department said it based the quota on the best available science, without intending to increase or decrease the state’s wolf population. However, DNR members said they would have made a more accurate decision given more time. They also did not have a chance to fully consult with tribes or gather public input.

“Was there more we would like to do? Yes,” Keith Warnke, administrator of fish, wildlife and parks for the DNR, told Wisconsin Public Radio. “Are we confident and comfortable with the quota recommendation we made? I think… we would have been more confident and more comfortable had we taken more time.”null

There are currently 1,195 wolves in Wisconsin, according to DNR. The last time the state managed the population, it set a quota of 350 wolves in 1999 and last updated it in 2007, wildlife advocates point out. Indigenous groups also argue that wolves are sacred to their communities, the Wisconsin State Journal reported. On the other side, those who support hunting argue that wolves are a threat to livestock and rural residents. But wildlife advocates counter that hunting is not the solution to human and wolf conflicts.

“Indiscriminate killing of wolves actually increases conflicts and spreads deer disease like CWD, so the special interests like the farm bureau and sportsmen’s groups are not only doing a disservice to themselves pushing an early wolf hunt but may cause the wolf to be relisted again,” Northern Wisconsin resident Britt Ricci said in a Friends of the Wisconsin Wolf and Wildlife statement.

Fear of new federal protections are partly behind the push for a hunt this winter, Wisconsin Public Radio reported. The Biden administration has called for a review of the Trump administration’s agency rules, including the delisting of wolves.

“And so, they want to rush and try to kill as many as they can in a short time as possible during a sensitive breeding season,” Friends of the Wisconsin Wolf’s Smith told Public News Service.

https://www.ecowatch.com/amp/gray-wolf-wisconsin-hunt-2650553450?__twitter_impression=true